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04.10.14

Political News: Western Foreign Policy, Torture, Surveillance, and Assassination

Posted in News Roundup at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PRISM

Torture

Syria

Iraq

  • The Feminist Defence of Blowing Out the Brains of Small Children

    Rather a side issue, but even if we accept Zoe Williams view that dead Iraqi children don’t matter, she appears not to have noticed that Blair introduced tuition fees, academies, kick-started NHS privatization, allowed the banksters’ bonanza leading to worldwide economic crash and oversaw the greatest widening of the gap between rich and poor in British history.

Somalia

  • You Been Lied To: 7 Things You May Not Know About Somali ‘Pirates’

    In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. It’s nine million people who have been battling widespread starvation ever since. America and other European nations saw this as a great opportunity to rob the country of its food supply and dump their nuclear waste in Somalia’s now unprotected seas.

    According to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, approximately 12 miles into the ocean from the coast is sovereign territory of the state. Every Somali highjacking that has ever occurred happened within those 12 miles.

Venezuela

Ukraine

  • How Many Americans Can Find Ukraine On A Map?

    *Since Russian troops first entered the Crimean peninsula in early March, a series of media polling outlets have asked Americans how they want the U.S. to respond to the ongoing situation. Although two-thirds of Americans have reported following the situation at least “somewhat closely,” most Americans actually know very little about events on the ground — or even where the ground is. On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans (fielded via Survey Sampling International Inc. (SSI), what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: In addition to measuring standard demographic characteristics and general foreign policy attitudes, we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views. We found that only one out of six Americans can find Ukraine on a map, and that this lack of knowledge is related to preferences: The farther their guesses were from Ukraine’s actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene with military force…* The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

  • Exposing the U.S. Corporate Interests Behind Ukraine Coup [a little old]

    Behind the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the democratically elected president of Ukraine are the economic interests of giant corporations – from Cargill to Chevron – which see the country as a potential “gold mine” of profits from agricultural and energy exploitation, reports JP Sottile.

  • ‘Blackwater’ footage: Who are the Mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine?

    Surely these men were not Blackwater – simply because such a company does not exist anymore. It has changed its name twice in recent years and is now called Academi.

    [...]

    Greystone Limited mercenaries are part of what is called ‘America’s Secret Army,’ providing non-state military support not constrained by any interstate agreements, The Voice of Russia reported.

  • Geopolitics of Empire: Mackinder’s Heartland Theory and the Containment of Russia

    What’s been happening in the Ukraine recently makes little sense without seeing it in broader geopolitical and historical contexts, so in my search for a firmer understanding of what’s going on, I’ve been consulting the history books. First off, it needs to be said that the Ukraine is historically a part of Russia. It has been “an independent nation-state” in name since 1991, but has been completely dependent on external support ever since. And most of this “support” has not been in its best interest, to say the least.

  • Meet Obama’s New Ukrainian Friends

    Many are militant fascists. They’re thugs. They’re criminals.

  • A Press Kit on Human Rights in Ukraine

    The flywheel of political repressions in Ukraine is gaining momentum these days. In sharp contrast with the liberal approach by president Yanukovych to the “Euromaidan” rout, the interim Kievan administration did not hesitate much about cracking down the public uprising against the “neo-Nazi regime” on the rise in the East and South of Ukraine. Today only in Kharkov at least 70 activists have been arrested during so-called “anti-terrorist operation”. According to the reports, foreign mercinaries presumably from the US Greystone Ltd private military contractor firm were participating in the operation along with the National Guard (majorly consisting of the ultranationalist Pravy (Right) Sector fighters) and some loyal Interior Ministry units.

AstroTurfing

Privacy

  • How advertising cookies let observers follow you across the web

    Back in December, documents revealed the NSA had been using Google’s ad-tracking cookies to follow browsers across the web, effectively coopting ad networks into surveillance networks. A new paper from computer scientists at Princeton breaks down exactly how easy it is, even without the resources and access of the NSA. The researchers were able to reconstuct as much as 90% of a user’s web activity just from monitoring traffic to ad-trackers like Google’s DoubleClick. Crucially, the researchers didn’t need any special access to the ad data. They just sat back and watched public traffic across the network.

NSA

Thomas Drake

Europe

NETmundial

Germany

Holder

Censorship

Reform

Drones

  • WE CAN DO BETTER | Droning About Drones
  • Strategic Horizons: Amid Debate, U.S. Shares Drone Approach With Partners

    While Americans debate when and where the United States should use drones to strike at insurgents and terrorists who cannot be reached by other means, they may be overlooking an important trend: the move to supply a targeted killing capability to allied nations. This began when the Bush administration decided to provide technology and advice to help the government of Colombia kill the leaders of its narco-insurgency. Today, the U.S. military is also helping the armed forces of Yemen field systems for the targeted killing of anti-government extremists associated with al-Qaida. This is the beginning of a trend, as more states will field such capabilities, including drones, with or without American help.

  • Killer Drones in a Downward Spiral?
  • The Homebound “Imperial Presidency”

    The eponymous charge of presidential imperialism, by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. back in 1973, was largely centered on the waging of secret, unilateral war (in Cambodia, say). Such issues were also front and center in the debate over George W. Bush’s claims to executive authority — recall “enhanced interrogations,” the creation of military commissions, surveillance, treaty rights, and the like. And the Obama administration is surely vulnerable to these criticisms. Obama has shown more continuity than change in these areas, embracing a number of Bush-era practices and even pushing past them in some areas, for instance in authorizing the use of drones to kill American citizens overseas and in using military force in Libya without seeking congressional approval. (Bush, by contrast, sought and received legislative sanction for both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.)

  • City Theatre’s Grounded
  • Can Any Court Hold U.S. Accountable for Killing Americans Overseas with Drone Strikes?

    A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s killing of three Americans in Yemen drone strikes. The case was filed by the families of Samir Khan, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his teenage son, Abdulrahman, accusing top U.S. officials of unlawful killings. But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled the victims’ constitutional rights were never violated and said the U.S. officials involved cannot be held liable. We get reaction from Maria LaHood, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and one of the attorneys working on Anwar Al-Awlaki’s case. “The courts have abdicated their roles with torture, they’ve abdicated their roles with indefinite detention,” LaHood says. “Here we thought finally the courts would uphold the Constitution with the killing of American citizens.”

  • Bipartisan Team Wants More Transparency in U.S. Drone Policy
  • Pass the Drone Strike Transparency Act

    Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, we all believe that government should be transparent and accountable, right?

    How should we decide where we stand on a controversial government policy? A crucial first step is to try to establish key facts in the public record.

  • American Held Incommunicado in Yemen for 39 Days, Legal Team Still Doesn’t Know Why
  • What are the drones for?

    We also know that the US has eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, even though we don’t know yet about the content of her conversations. This eavesdropping scandal could have started a huge diplomatic war between the US and Germany, but in a time when Russia was invading Crimea, these two decided to postpone the crisis for a while. Maybe the US believed this was a good opportunity to remind Germany that its hands are not clean on a number of international issues, too, and that the US knows everything about it. There is a lesson here for Turkey as well.

Snowden

Europe

Police

  • ​Nevada rancher’s land surrounded by heavily-armed federal agents, his cattle confiscated

    After 20 years of battling the US government for use of his family’s land, a Nevada rancher’s “one-man range war” may soon end. The family says heavily-armed federal agents have surrounded the ranch as “trespass cattle” are removed from the disputed land.

  • LAPD Cops Sabotaged Equipment Installed to Monitor Them

    Police officers generally insist that they are the biggest fans of being recorded. A PoliceOne explainer on how cops can beat a lawsuit that I’ve highlighted before stresses the important of having footage of an incident that may later be called into question. Video evidence, police instructor Richard Weinblatt wrote, “should actually be welcomed, as the majority of officers do what they are supposed to do and thus will be cleared by the video from any allegations of wrongdoing.”

Human Rights

Red Hat News: OpenStack Training, Google Deal, Fedora 21

Posted in News Roundup at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpenStack

Oracle’s Clone

Google

Fedora Web Site

  • Five Things in Fedora This Week (2014-04-08)

    Although she posted it on April 1st, Fedora designer Máirín Duffy’s proposal for Fedora’s website (considering Fedora.next) is no joke. I mentioned this effort last month, but there’s a lot more detail here, with sections on the brochure site, a user support site, and the “community hub”. Worth a read — and we’d love your input, especially on how we might make this idea succeed now when somewhat similar efforts have faltered in the past.

Fedora 21

  • Fedora 21 Might Include GNOME 3.14
  • Fedora 21 Looks To Have A “Playground” Repository

    The Fedora Playground Repository would effectively be a staging area for new packages before they are up to the standards of being added to the main Fedora repository. Fedora Playground packages would be packages destined for inclusion into the main archive along with other packages that are never going to make it there. Stability wouldn’t be guaranteed by this archive and it would continue to meet Fedora’s strict requirements for packages needing to be free software and cannot contain proprietary or patented software.

  • Fedora Linux Plans Changes for Open Source OS

    Fedora Linux, the open source operating system associated with Red Hat (RHT), has major changes on the horizon. That’s the plan, at least, as open source developers discuss revamping the platform through the initiative they’re calling Fedora.next.

CMS News: WordPress, Drupal, and More

Posted in News Roundup at 4:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

WordPress

  • WordPress Customers Receive Automatic Security Updates

    WordPress blogs around the world began to receive an automatic security update late on April 8 to fix security vulnerabilities. The WordPress 3.8.2 and 3.7.2 updates each provide five security fixes, as well as multiple non-security bug updates.

  • WordPress 3.8.2 Security Release
  • Open Source WordPress 3.9 Now at Beta 2

    The next major release of the widely deployed open source WordPress blogging and content management system software is continuing to mature. The WordPress 3.9 beta 2 is now available, providing a long list of changes. The WordPress 3.8 release debuted back in December of 2013.

Drupal

  • Angie Byron on Drupal 8 out of the box

    Opensource.com community manager Jason Hibbets interviewed Angie Byron, a Drupal core co-maintainer, about the latest version of this open source content management system.

  • Acquia’s Dries Buytaert: It’s open-source software that’ll eat the world

    Expect a larger portion of software innovation to come from the world of open source in the future, says Dries Buytaert, original creator of Drupal and co-founder of Acquia. While open source once drew its appeal from being free, now it’s the quality of the software projects — which draw on the skills of huge numbers of contributors — that attracts businesses and developers to use it, he said.

Misc.

ODF News: ODF 1.2, European Support for ODF, LibreOffice and More

Posted in News Roundup, Office Suites, OpenDocument at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Standard

  • ODF 1.2 Submitted to ISO

    Last Wednesday, March 26th, on Document Freedom Day, OASIS submitted Open Document Format 1.2 standard to the ISO/IEC JTC1 Secretariat for transposition to an International Standard under the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) procedure.

  • ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 5: Open Standards

    Plug.and.socket 142One of the two articles of faith that Eric Kriss and Peter Quinn embraced in drafting their evolving Enterprise Technical Reference Model (ETRM) was this: products built to “open standards” are more desirable than those that aren’t. Superficially, the concept made perfect sense – only buy products that you can mix and match. That way, you can take advantage of both price competition as well as a wide selection of alternative products from multiple vendors, each with its own value-adding features. And if things don’t work out, well, you’re not locked in, and can swap out the loser and shop for a winner.

Europe

  • Galicia recommends use of Open Document Format
  • Call to fix interoperability of office suites

    Last week Monday, five European public administrations published a new call for tender, to further improve interoperability between free and open source office suites and the ubiquitous proprietary alternative. This is the second time that the German cities of Munich, Leipzig and Jena, the Swiss Federal Court and the Swiss Federal IT Steering Unit have issued such a call. ICT specialists have until 30 April to submit proposals.

    The office suites’ interoperability project is again managed by the OSB Alliance, a trade group representing open source service providers from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

    According the alliance’s press release, one of the main features to be developed concerns change tracking between open source and proprietary office suites. The public administrations issuing the call want to improve the specification of change tracking, and make this part of the Open Document Format ISO standard.

  • South Tyrol governor: ‘EC, use open formats’

    Such a policy would help the South Tyrol government in its new IT approach, increasing its use of ICT solutions based on free and open source, the governor says.

    South Tyrol’s new policy was announced on 11 March. Responding to emailed questions, Governor Kompatscher said that the region is in favour of using free and open source solutions not only for new IT solutions, but also when upgrading existing IT components. “We’ve started to review our license costs. If there are free and open source alternatives, and where the costs and risks of changing are justified, we will switch to these.”

LibreOffice

Misc.

  • New Document Liberation Project aims to free users from vendor lock-in

    The Document Foundation (TDF) has announced the Document Liberation Project, in an effort to empower individuals, organizations, and governments to recover their data from proprietary formats and offer a mechanism to transition that data into open file formats.

  • 4 Spreadsheet Alternatives to MS Excel

    There was a time when office compatibility was a bit of a problem on Linux, but with the latest office suites out there available for Linux, this is not an issue anymore. The applications here mimic MS Excel’s behavior, so switching to one of them should be pretty straightforward. Exporting and importing to and from MS Excel format works as well, and there aren’t many compatibility issues (however, the native format these programs use is the OpenDocument Spreadsheet (ODS) format.

eGov News: Moves to Free/Libre Software

Posted in News Roundup at 3:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UK

HMRC

Continental Europe

  • EU institutions accused of doing nothing to free themselves from dependence on Microsoft

    The European Commission and European Parliament are doing nothing to rid themselves of their dependance on Microsoft, two lobby groups said Wednesday, Document Freedom Day.

    The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and Open Forum Europe urged EU institutions to support open standards in an open letter to Giancarlo Vilella, president of the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support. He also chairs the body that coordinates IT activities for government agencies including Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the E.U.

  • A council of hope – the free software column

    For most organisations the primary reason for moving from Windows to Linux is perceived cost savings. The secondary reasons are factors such as interoperability and greater compliance with standards, which themselves bring longer- term cost benefits. Unlocking interfaces and data from vendor lock-ins may be rather time consuming and costly in the short term, but doing so brings considerable cost and efficiency pay-offs in the long term.

    One of the payoffs for the City Council, other German councils, the Linux community and other interested parties, has been the development of LiMux, the German language Linux distribution which has since been approved as an official distribution by the German government. The work of Munich will make it easier for others to follow.

    In an ideal world, LiMux would provide a model that would inspire more government-sponsored IT projects in the UK, which are all too often outsourced to proprietary interests. Whether it does or not, is yet to be seen.

  • Dutch municipality group adopts and fosters open source

    The TYPO3 CMS project has a long history as open source project, with its foundation going back as far as 1997 when it was initially developed by Danish Kasper Skårhøj. Currently, the TYPO3 project has a solid foundation in Europe. Large cooperations like Deutsche Bank, Airbus, Air France, as well as, universities and non-governmental organizations like Food and Agriculture Organization, Greenpeace, and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons run on the TYPO3 CMS.

National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

  • NGA releases open source code on GitHub

    The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency did a first for a U.S. intelligence agency by opening an account on open source site GitHub earlier this month.

NASA

Misc.

  • Pursuing adoption of free and open source software in governments

    LibrePlanet examines our modern technological society and finds much to criticize. But it is not a crabfest for frustrated policy wonks: these people are making new tools in hardware, software, and networking — tools that may well become as mainstream as GNU/Linux is already in data centers, cell phones, and stand-alone computer systems.

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