Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 26/12/2010: GNOME on GNUstep, Red Hat Upgraded

GNOME bluefish



  • Celebrating 1000 Posts
    In the larger world of IT, I see many things happening in 2011, almost all of them are huge positives. ARM will advance on all fronts as will GNU/Linux. I see thin clients moving along smartly. Many will use the expensive VDI systems but many will revel in the efficiency of an old-fashioned virtual terminal provided by the x-window system of GNU/Linux. If GNU/Linux evolves away from X, there surely will be some suitable networked display to permit the thinnest of thin clients to operate. There are moves to eliminate the VGA adaptor but I cannot see that being universal. There are just too many VGA monitors out there with years of life left. Changing the connector is one way to make thin clients obsolete but they are a quick-to-market product and can adapt. I see an end to up-selling. It delayed innovation but has not stopped it. Small cheap computers will soon be everywhere.

  • It's too hard is no excuse.
    People come up with all of these reasons to explain why they don't use Linux. But really they are not reasons at all but simply excuses for laziness. You might even think that with all the tripe that is trotted out that most people don't have the intelligence to be able to use Linux.

  • Ballnux

  • Kernel Space

    • Getting grubby with ZFS
      The GRUB bootloader is widely used to get Linux (and other) systems running. Its flexibility and configurability make it a logical choice for many types of computers, as does its "just works" factor: your editor cannot be the only one to smile when he realizes how long it has been since the last "I forgot to run LILO and my new kernel won't boot" episode. One of GRUB's nice features is its ability to understand filesystem structures and find bootable kernels on the fly. So the addition of support for another filesystem type would not normally be a noteworthy event. When that filesystem is ZFS, though, people will pay attention.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME on GNUstep: First look
        As you can see, it's not perfect. The icon is still on the bottom left, the menu is still floating. I've made all of the changes necessary to get the GNOME theme working again. I've also refactored it so that it loads nicely from SystemPreferences, which the previous version didn't do.

        Once I get the final details worked out, you should be able to run your GNUstep applications alongside GNOME applications without any problems and without them sticking out like a sore thumb.

  • Distributions

    • App Stores
      I find it amazing that in 2011 the advantages of GNU/Linux package management systems are considered an innovation by “mainstream” IT folks. APT and RPM have been providing such features for more than a decade. I started using GNU/Linux with Caldera eDesktop in 2000. Then “the store” was a single CD. Soon distros were using 3 or 4 CDs of software. Now Debian lists 53 CDs in the set. The CDs are rarely used these days. They are more a unit of measure of the size of the app store. Folks mostly do some default installation and add packages from the store to customize it. The package management system installs requested packages and all dependencies automatically from web servers.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • The evolution of the Linux desktop
          When Ayatana was founded, a comprehensive design team was hired by Canonical. The team came from a variety of backgrounds: many came from brand, graphic design, product development, interaction design and other walks of life.

          The term 'melting pot of personalities' is an understatement, and many were new to open source and still taking it all in, but all were enthused and inspired by the idea of great design infused with strong community.

          The first project to come out of the team was called Notify OSD and provided a new approach to notification bubbles, which we were all too familiar with in Ubuntu. For years we had seen these boring yellow square bubbles appear in the top-right of the Gnome desktop when an application needed to tell you something.

        • Unified Me Menu And Messaging Menu Mockups; Ubuntu May Get A "Silent" Mode
          There is a discussion going on @ Ayatana mailing list regarding the merge of Me Menu (the applet that displays your name, used to set your status) and Messaging Menu (Chat, Email, etc.) and mockups have already started to be posted:

        • Google Reader Indicator For Ubuntu

        • Announcing the next Ubuntu User Days Event
          We are pleased to announce that the next Ubuntu User Days event is scheduled to take place from Saturday January 29th 2011, 09:45 UTC until Sunday January 30th 2011, 03:00 UTC. To quote the wiki page, “User Days was created to be a set of courses offered during a one day period to teach the beginning or intermediate Ubuntu user the basics to get them started with Ubuntu”. Logs from the last Ubuntu User Days event are also available for anyone who might be interested.

        • Unity Testing in a VM
          Oracle released VirtualBox 4.0 yesterday.

          Amongst other major changes [1] one the most noticeable improvement is that they fixed Unity/Compiz crashes in Natty. This means that we can now run Unity in a VM and the performances are pretty good.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Intel, Microsoft may face strong challenge from ARM/Android

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • Is Nokia Doomed?
          First of all, I think there is a huge difference in American and European assumptions and perspectives, and a big question is whether the rest of the world will end up looking more like Europe or America vis-a-vis two key areas: cost of data plans, and whether phones become much more application centric.

        • Ars Technica's Christmas wishes for 2011
          Ryan Paul, Open Source Editor

          My Christmas wish for 2011 is a truly competitive and open MeeGo-based phone from a major vendor. Although Linux has gained considerable traction in the mobile and embedded market, most of the available devices are locked down or have insular software stacks that don't allow the user to take advantage of the platform's true underlying power.

          MeeGo has the potential to be a game changer because it is closely aligned with the upstream technology ecosystem and gives application developers significantly more flexibility, including a rich, high-performance native toolkit. It could bring much-needed competition to the Linux smartphone space by offering a strong alternative to Google’s excellent Android platform.

          Although MeeGo has considerable potential, the platform is still a work in progress and none of the major hardware companies behind it have been able to bring all the pieces together into a compelling product yet. I'm hoping that 2011 is the year that Nokia or one of the other major MeeGo stakeholders will finally deliver MeeGo on a desirable handset.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Netflix and FOSS Hypocrites
    It's a shame there aren't any video streaming programs on that list. If you use Linux and are familiar with Netflix then odds are you are aware of (what at this point feels like an age old argument) the issue of getting Netflix's instant stream functional on your Linux system. In case you are not aware of this dilemma, in short:

    It does not work

    You see, even with all of the FOSS projects Netflix supports they choose to use the DRM ridden Silverlight plugin to stream video over the Internet. This prevents the streaming service from functioning on FOS operating systems (Linux, BSD, ect.) at this current point in time. Why the lack of support? Some will say Linux has a small market share so is not worth the extra time it takes to support the platform.

  • Open Source at SAP in 2010
    According to the Eclipse committer statistics of the Eclipse Dash project, SAP is now the 4th largest corporate contributor to Eclipse projects based on the number of active committers.

  • What's up with free multimedia production tools in 2010
    The v0.4 released in January 2010 was the first version when darktable, a digital photography workflow tool for Linux, became actually usable for daily use. With basic catalog management features, advanced editing tools and, above all, HDR precision darktable is rapidly becoming important part of Linux powered photographers's workflow.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla announces first beta of MPL 2.0 license
        Mozilla has announced the release of the first beta for version 2.0 of the Mozilla Public License (MPL). Changes in MPL 2.0 include the removal of the “Original Software” and “Initial Developer” concepts, improved globalisation with the removal of many US-specific terms and concepts, better compatibility with other licences, as well as updated patent language that's more in line with other major open source licences.

      • Mozilla Proposes New Icons to Clarify Websites' Privacy Policies
        As the FTC eyes consumer privacy issues and investigates an online "Do Not Track" option, it seems as though web browsers are responding in kind, offering their own solutions to better protect Internet users' data. For its part, IE9 says it will offer "Tracking Protection" via the browser.

      • Mozilla improves sync setup and WebGL in Firefox 4 beta 8
        Mozilla has announced the availability of Firefox 4 beta 8, a new pre-release milestone build of the open source Web browser. Beta 8 brings better support for WebGL and introduces an improved setup process for Firefox Sync that simplifies the steps for configuring the synchronization service across multiple devices.

  • Databases

  • Project Releases

    • Drupal 7 Will Be Released On January 5
      With the release of Drupal 7.0 RC 3, expected to be the final release candidate, the stage is set for the arrival of Drupal 7, the next major release of the most popular open source content management system. The team has announced January 5 as the release date of Drupal 7.

    • Virtual Box 4.0 Is Here
      Oracle has announced the availability of VM VirtualBox 4.0. Acquired through Sun, VirtualBox enables desktop or laptop computers to run multiple guest operating systems simultaneously, allowing users to get the most flexibility and utilization out of their PCs, and supports a variety of host operating systems, including Linux, Windows, Mac OS X and Oracle Solaris.

  • Government

    • UK and One Canadian Province Lean to FLOSS
      Maude is a cabinet minister in the government of the United Kingdom. “In December, the local government in the Canadian province of Quebec were the latest to announce a preference for open source. According to treasury board president Michelle Courchesne, free and open source software must satisfy three criteria: Does it meet our needs? Is it a quality product? Is the cost favourable?”

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Letter from CC Superhero Josh Sommer of the Chordoma Foundation

    • The potential for Project REALISE
      3) How does Project REALISE leverage principles of the open source way?

      REALISE will build on the growing awareness and interest in open source development, including assistive technologies, by:

      * Developing an online community with trust in an open development culture * Identifying relevant projects and people * Engaging users to help define the problem * Connecting parties interested in collaboration * Building the solutions * Identifying potential revenue streams * Managing the collaboration and any intellectual property * Engaging external parties in education and research

    • Why the open source way trumps the crowdsourcing way
      It finally hit me the other day just why the open source way seems so much more elegantly designed (and less wasteful) to me than what I'll call "the crowdsourcing way."

      1. Typical projects run the open source way have many contributors and many beneficiaries.

      2. Typical projects run the crowdsourcing way have many contributors and few beneficiaries.

    • Ukranian Wikipedia Reaches 250,000 Article Milestone
      Congratulations to Ukrainian Wikipedia on reaching 250,000 articles! The milestone article was officially created on Tuesday, December 21 at 8:45pm, Kyiv Time by user Anatoliy-024. Anatoily-024, a Wikipedian since 2008, has created 206 articles and made 6,000 edits to the Ukranian Wikipedia making this user the 110th most active contributor to this language Wikipedia.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia/Web


  • Missoula District Court: Jury pool in marijuana case stages ‘mutiny’
    A funny thing happened on the way to a trial in Missoula County District Court last week.

    Jurors – well, potential jurors – staged a revolt.

    They took the law into their own hands, as it were, and made it clear they weren’t about to convict anybody for having a couple of buds of marijuana. Never mind that the defendant in question also faced a felony charge of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs.

  • Pat Robertson Questions Prison for Pot Convictions
    Pat Robertson, the televangelist who once ran for president, said on his show “The 700 Club” that he thought marijuana should be legalized.

    Yep, the Christian conservative preacher who said Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of punishing America for its abortion policy is now on the side of the marijuana lobby.

  • Search for Cardiac Analysis Code
    I will soon publish the code (GPLv3-licensed), but in a more scientific society more code would have already been out there for others to collaborate and build upon the work of others.

  • Bell Canada is Terribad Part One
    This blog is going to be very interesting to readers who feel that being a customer of Bell Canada Enterprises is a lot like flushing your hard earned money down the toilet.

  • Interview with imprisoned Russian art group

  • Skype still staggering after major blackout
    Skype is the process of recovering from a major outage that left users across the world unable to log into the VoIP service on Wednesday.

  • A Christmas Techeye bible reading
    How a star came from the East and was of East and how Ballmer was vexed by ARM

  • Crookes, RIAA, MPAA, ICE — 'Linking Is Publishing'
    What do Canada's Wayne Crookes, the Big 4's RIAA, Hollywood's MPAA and brand new ICE agent Andrew Reynolds have in common? They all claim linking is the same as publishing. Crookes is using it to demand Canada's Supreme Court effectively shut down the net in Canada.

  • Science

    • White House Memo on Scientific Integrity released
      The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy released the long-awaited Memorandum on Scientific Integrity today.

      If fully implemented by federal agencies and departments, the directive could help protect government scientists from pressure by special interests, and would ensure that the government can make fully informed decisions about public health and the environment.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • A Cheery Holiday Message from Bankster: Death Eaters on Wall Street
      Today’s Wall Street Journal has a stunning exposé on a publicly-traded company called Life Partners Holdings. Are you ready for this? Life Partners creeps around asking the unemployed, the elderly and the sick (especially people with HIV/AIDS) to sell them their life insurance policies for cash. Then they bundle these policies into securities and sell them to vultures -- oh, I am sorry, “investors.” Then the “investors” sit around and wait for people to die -- the sooner the better for the purchasers of these death bonds. The future of this industry “looks bright,” chirps National Underwriters.

    • US Catholic hospital's ties to church cut over abortion that saved mother
      St Joseph's in Phoenix no longer affiliated to church as bishop also excommunicates doctor who allowed procedure

    • Senate Passes $4.3 Billion Health-Care Bill for Sept. 11 First Responders
      The U.S. Congress approved legislation today to help rescuers and clean-up crews suffering from illnesses linked to the wreckage caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

    • WikiLeaks: US Should Retaliate Against EU for Genetically Modifed Resistance
      WikiLeaked cables released over the weekend revealed more about the US' role as a global bully, trying to thrust unpopular genetically modified (GM) crops onto cautious governments and their citizens. In a 2007 cable from Craig Stapleton, then US Ambassador to France, he encouraged the US government to "reinforce our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list." A list, he added, that "causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility."

    • Monsanto to fight GM contaminated organic farmer
      A West Australian organic farmer is in limbo, awaiting state government test results and facing genetic manipulation giant Monsanto's legal wrath. Steve Marsh's organic farm has been decertified over GM canola contamination from a neighbour's farm.

      Monsanto revealed today that it would give legal support to the GM grower if Mr Marsh sought redress for his losses through the courts.

      "For years we called for Farmer Protection laws because GM contamination was inevitable once the Gene Technology Regulator issued unrestricted and unconditional commercial licences," says Gene Ethics Executive Director, Bob Phelps.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • London's top cop wishes he could ban protest marches
      Sir Paul Stephenson, the chief of London's police force, has floated the idea of banning protest marches altogether, although he admits that it might be hard to do this because protesters might be so frustrated by a ban on marching that they become unruly. Interestingly, he doesn't disqualify the idea on the grounds that protest marches are a legitimate form of political discourse.

    • Kettling video 'appalling', police watchdog panel chair says
      Victoria Borwick encourages protesters at anti-student fees demonstration to make complaints against Metropolitan police after 'ghastly' incident

    • Doctor Who, Ethics, And The British Fee Protests
      So when they see government acting in what appears to them an unethical manner, what do you expect them to do?

      They protest.

      And when the police act in what appear to them an unethical manner, they get even more upset. Even the Police Watchdog has called a video of Police actions ‘appalling.’

      You teach them ethics, and then expect them to ignore it when you treat them in what they consider an unethical manner?

      David Cameron and Nick Clegg have just given the next election to Labour. The kids won’t forget.

    • SIU knows all 3 officers in alleged G20 assault
      Ontario's Special Investigations Unit says it knows the names of all three police officers involved in an alleged assault during last summer's G20 summit — but without independent witnesses it can only lay charges against one officer.

      Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani, attended the SIU office on Wednesday morning accompanied by legal counsel, and was served with a summons and had the charge of assault with a weapon explained to him.

    • The State of Israel vs. Jonathan Pollak
      The verdict in the case of Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak, charged with illegal assembly for his participation in a January 2008 Critical Mass ride against the siege on Gaza, will be handed down on December 27, 2010 at 10:00 at the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court. If convicted, Pollak is expected to be sentenced to three to six months in prison. A conviction in this case will activate an older three month suspended sentence, imposed on Pollak in a previous trial for protesting the construction of the Separation Barrier.

    • Testimonies reveal IDF campaign to dismantle Palestinian society
      According to the new thinking, an easier way to defeat the enemy was by attacking its rationale. In this context, “rationale” stands for whatever enables the enemy to operate as a coherent entity which works to achieve certain goals. Even with the enemy’s fighting force largely intact, without a rationale, it cannot pose a serious threat. Fighters can engage in random violence, but they no longer work together to achieve a purpose your own side considers undesirable.

    • Gaza teen dead after Israel fires on fishing boat
      A Palestinian boy died Friday afternoon after Israeli gunboats opened fire on his fishing boat and flipped it over off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

    • Obama walks back on Guantánamo
      The Obama administration, ProPublica's Dafna Linzer first reported, is about to issue an executive order that gives shape, contour and future life to indefinite detention for Guantánamo detainees. The order will provide for the continual detention of several dozen detainees – who will have access lawyers in order to periodically contest their detention.

    • TSA has no regular testing system for its pornoscanners
      Many experts are skeptical that the TSA's new backscatter pornoscanner machines are safe, but even the experts who endorse them are careful to bracket their reassurances with certain caveats: the safety of the machines depends heavily on their being properly maintained, regularly tested, and expertly operated. Whether or not you're comfortable with the intended radiation emissions from the scanners, no one in their right mind would argue that a broken machine that lovingly lingers over your reproductive organs and infuses them with 10,000 or 100,000 times the normal dosage is desirable.

    • AOL Investigation: No Proof TSA Scanners Are Safe

    • SCC reinstates military veterans class-action lawsuit
      The Supreme Court of Canada knocked down a legal roadblock on Thursday and paved the way for a class-action lawsuit over military veterans' pensions.

      Military mechanic Dennis Manuge filed the suit on behalf of about 6,500 injured veterans and it was certified by the Federal Court. But that certification was later rejected by the Federal Court of Appeal.

    • Judge 'astonished' by corruption denials as he fines BAE €£500,000

    • Suicide bombers: fanatics, or suicidally depressed?
      A growing body of psychological literature suggests that suicide bombers aren't ideologues who are so committed to their cause that they're willing to die for it -- rather, they are suicidally depressed people who use the excuse of dying for a cause to psych themselves up to commit the deed, and as a loophole for committing suicide without committing a sin.

    • Tree That Survived 9/11 Attack Is Replanted At Ground Zero
      The Wall Street Journal notes that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg "said the tree symbolizes the city and country's resilience. ... It was discovered in the rubble in October 2001 with snapped roots and a blackened trunk. The (pear) tree measured about eight feet high when it was taken to a Parks Department nursery in the Bronx to be nursed back to health. It now stands about 30 feet high."

    • Tennessee anti-terrorism officials put ACLU on map of "terrorism events and other suspicious activity"
      Ho ho ho: Tennessee anti-terrorist official gave the ACLU of Tennessee a hell of a Christmas present: according to them, the ACLU belongs on a map of terrorism events and other suspicious activity: "Equating a group's attempts to protect religious freedom in Tennessee with suspicious activity related to terrorism is outrageous.

  • Cablegate

    • 2010-12-23 United Nations to look into complaints about treatment of Bradley Manning
      The potential United Nations investigation should therefore provide a gleam of hope to all of the other political prisoners in the US being held without trial and in solitary confinement.

    • Bradley Manning and the Convenient Memories of Adrian Lamo
      So far every known piece of evidence against Bradley Manning comes from one source, Adrian Lamo, a hacker who was institutionalized by the police three weeks before he alleges Manning contacted him and confessed to turning over materials to Wikileaks.

    • UN to investigate treatment of jailed leaks suspect Bradley Manning

    • Bradley Manning Speaks About His Conditions
      The conditions of Bradley Manning’s confinement became a top issue in the press last week as bloggers traded blows with US officials over allegations that Manning endures inhumane treatment at the Quantico, VA detainment facility. In the midst of this rush by the Defense Department to contextualize Manning’s confinement, I traveled to see the man himself at the Marine Corps detainment facility in Quantico, VA.

    • Wikileaks Mirror Taken Down: Host Buckles Under Demands from Upstream Provider
      Wikileaks isn't the only site struggling to stay up these days because service providers are pulling their support. It appears that at least one person who wants to provide mirror access to Wikileaks documents is having the same trouble.

      Recently we heard from a user who mirrored the Cablegate documents on his website. His hosting provider SiteGround suspended his account, claiming that he "severely" violated the SiteGround Terms of Use and Acceptable Use Policy. SiteGround explained that it had gotten a complaint from an upstream provider, SoftLayer, and had taken action "in order to prevent any further issues caused by the illegal activity."

    • Assange: US pushing "Digital McCarthyism" in assault on Wikileaks
      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange gave an interview with msnbc's Cenk Uygur today.

    • Wikileaks timeline

    • Wikileaks Exposes Internet's Dissent Tax, not Nerd Supremacy
      Horrifying as this vision is, it simply distracts from the main lessons of the Wikileaks affair: the increasing control of (relatively) unaccountable corporations and states over the key components of the Internet, and their increased willingness to use this control in politicized ways to impose a "dissent tax" on content they find objectionable. Ability to disseminate one's ideas on the Internet is now a sine qua non of inclusion in the global public sphere. However, the Internet is not a true public sphere; it is a public sphere erected on private property, what I have dubbed a "quasi-public sphere," where the property owners can sideline and constrain dissent.

    • The Blast Shack
      The Wikileaks Cablegate scandal is the most exciting and interesting hacker scandal ever. I rather commonly write about such things, and I’m surrounded by online acquaintances who take a burning interest in every little jot and tittle of this ongoing saga. So it’s going to take me a while to explain why this highly newsworthy event fills me with such a chilly, deadening sense of Edgar Allen Poe melancholia.

    • Were WikiLeaks-linked cyber attacks over hyped?
      Uncovering the true scale of the WikiLeaks-inspired Anonymous cyber attacks, they were not as bad as we were led to believe, writes Technology Correspondent Benjamin Cohen.

    • Why EL PAÍS chose to publish the leaks
      When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange called my cellphone on a Friday afternoon in November, I could barely hear him. The conversation, held amid the usual tumult of Rome's airport on a weekend, was strangely short. Assange talked slowly, making sure to pronounce each word carefully, his deep, almost baritone voice, reducing itself almost to a whisper at the end of each sentence. A few moments before the conversation, I had noticed how the Italian police seemed particularly interested in the little luggage that I was carrying, and that as the phone had rung, they were examining the cloth that I had used to wipe the screen of my iPad. Were they looking for drugs, or explosives, or both?

    • Assange named Le Monde Man of the Year
      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been named "Man of the Year" by French newspaper Le Monde.

      The newspaper is one of five publications to cooperate with the whistleblowing website on its its latest release of leaked documents.

    • Traitor?
      There's a lot of people using the word "traitor" in conjunction with Pte Bradley Manning, and "anti-American" in conjunction with both Wikileaks and it's public face and founder Jullian Assange. This post is about whether that's fair or not; it's about the motivations of whistleblowers.

    • I am Boycotting Amazon for the Holidays
      I wrote a book to teach kids and beginners computer programming by making games entitled, “Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python”. After a few months of distributing it online for free, I began to use the print-on-demand service at (owned by to self-publish the book. I continue to make the book available for free online ( at ), but it was nice to receive a form of compensation I could buy burritos with.


      But this is why it is up to us to make defending freedom of speech one of its business interests. Amazon’s own claims that it pulled WikiLeaks for violation of its Terms of Services and not due to political pressure are equally lame and preposterous. We must vote with our voices and our pocketbooks, and I hope to set an example for others with my actions.

    • Wikileaks Has Committed No Crime
      But in the United States, generally publishing classified information is not a crime. The sort of information that a news organization can be prosecuted for publishing is limited to: nuclear secrets (Atomic Energy Act), the identities of covert agents (Intelligence Identities Protection Act), and certain forms of communications intelligence (Section 798 of the Espionage Act).

      Perhaps lamenting that the U.S. does not have an Official Secrets Act like the United Kingdom, right wing columnists have consistently misinterpreted these Acts, or have cited other provisions of our espionage laws which almost surely do not apply to Wikileaks.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Palast Arrested- Busted by BP in Azerbaijan
      I was here in the desert to investigate a tip-off I'd had that BP had a near-disaster at its Caspian offshore rig that was extraordinarily similar to the Deepwater Horizon blow-out. But BP covered it up.

      What I didn't know was that WikiLeaks was about to release a State Department memo which referred to a small piece of this BP game. Rather than go to Azerbaijan to check the facts, the Wiki newspapers called BP in London for comment.

      That put BP on high alert and my sources in high danger.

    • Climate Change Redux
      Take Climate Change. I know a lot of people who don’t believe that humans can have any effect upon climate. Others think that there’s still question about the issue. It’s not that they are stupid. It’s that there are a lot of people with a vested interest in fooling the general public, mostly because if could hurt their profits.

      Over year ago I wrote Astroturf in the Climate Change discussion, which covered how industry has been using fake organizations to fool the general public. Things have only gotten worse since. So I thought it was time to visit the topic again.


      Seriously. British Petroleum helped to write the Climate Legislation adopted by the European Union. The changes that BP asked for will help their profits, by passing the costs for BP’s actions onto the taxpayers of the EU. Wasn’t that nice of them?

      And then we’ve got our friends at Wikileaks, who have released a cables covering United States embassy actions to block substantive Climate Change action at Cancun. Curiously those actions seem to benefit the powerful United States energy industry. It’s a rather unusual government conspiracy that benefits those who are complaining about it.

    • Screw caps’ environmental cost
      There is a strong Asterix vibe to the annual cork oak harvest of the Alentejo in Portugal. Deep into one of the 350 remaining cork oak forests (in my case Herdade dos Fidalgos, near Lisbon) sometime between June and August you'll suddenly come across a team of about 20 men, ranging in ages from 16 to 70, striking huge twisted trees with axes. Then, with a sensitivity you would not associate with an axe, they prise the juicy bark from the tree and it is levered from the trunk in great, satisfying pieces. From the base, right up to the beginning of the branches, it is peeled away to reveal the oak's red, nude surface underneath.

    • The year of living dangerously. Masters: “The stunning extremes we witnessed gives me concern that our climate is showing the early signs of instability”
      NASA reported that it was the hottest ‘meteorological year’ [December to November] on record and likely to be the hottest calendar year.

    • Oil spill doomsday debunked. Did peer review journalism fail or succeed?
      And if you haven't seen that article that's spreading across the Internet faster than the methane it describes in the Gulf, let me summarize. The media blackout in the Gulf has mostly prevented the news from spreading, but Terrence Aym (the author of the article) wants everyone to know the truth. A massive undersea methane bubble has been disturbed by the Gulf oil spill. Add in a cracked ocean floor and elevated seabed, and you have the recipe for Instant Doomsday, which will be ready for delivery within the next six months or so.

    • 'Resisting The Green Dragon': Religious Right Attacks Environmentalism As 'Deadly' And 'Destructive' In New DVD Series
      Various conservative Christian leaders have united with the Cornwall Alliance for the release of a shocking new 12-part DVD series, "Resisting The Green Dragon," that attempts to debase and discredit the environmental movement by portraying it as "one of the greatest deceptions of our day" that is "seducing your children" and "striving to put America and the world under its destructive control."

      The hyperbolic accusations spewed throughout the video give it the appearance of a ridiculous parody, calling environmentalism "deadly," a "cult" and a "spiritual deception." Unfortunately, the comical PSA is anything but a joke.

  • Finance

    • Smart, Young, and Broke
      At first glance, Guo Yilei looks like a Chinese success story. Born to a poor peasant family in China’s remote Gansu province, he’s now a 26-year-old computer programmer in the Big Cabbage (as some call Beijing nowadays). By Chinese standards he makes decent money, more than $70 a week. When he has work, that is. It can take months to find the next job. And meanwhile, he’s living in Tangjialing, a reeking slum on the city’s edge where he and his girlfriend rent a 100-square-foot studio apartment for $90 a month. “When I was at school, I believed in the saying, ‘Knowledge can help you turn over a new leaf,’” says Guo. “But since I’ve started working, I only half-believe it.”

    • The ‘Subsidy’: How a Handful of Merrill Lynch Bankers Helped Blow Up Their Own Firm
      Two years before the financial crisis hit, Merrill Lynch confronted a serious problem. No one, not even the bank's own traders, wanted to buy the supposedly safe portions of the mortgage-backed securities Merrill was creating.

      Bank executives came up with a fix that had short-term benefits and long-term consequences. They formed a new group within Merrill, which took on the bank's money-losing securities. But how to get the group to accept deals that were otherwise unprofitable? They paid them. The division creating the securities passed portions of their bonuses to the new group, according to two former Merrill executives with detailed knowledge of the arrangement.

    • The WikiLeaks strategy: Bank of America buys up abusive domain names
      Bank of America has snapped up hundreds of abusive domain names for its senior executives and board members in what is being perceived as a defensive strategy against the future publication of damaging insider info from whistleblowing Website WikiLeaks.

    • From the People Who Brought You the Pay Toilet
      Although there are many (too many to list) superb categories in which the United States is undeniably “exceptional,” there are several important categories where we lag behind the world.

      By “lag behind,” we don’t mean the U.S. simply falls a bit short of the leaders; we mean the U.S. is not even on the same page. And by “the world,” we’re not referring to countries like Sweden, Norway, Germany and Switzerland; we’re referring to places like Latvia, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Pakistan and Haiti.

      Dr. Jody Heymann is director of the Institute for Health and Social Policy, chairwoman of the Project on Global Working Families, and adjunct professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. Recently, Dr. Heymann and her team put together some statistics comparing America with the rest of the world.

    • Brazil’s highway to China
      A huge new port along the Rio coast highlights the Chinese drive into South America, writes Tom Phillips. Investments will guarantee China access to soy, oil and other resources.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Bryan Fischer: Obama Wants 'Indian Tribes To Be Our New Overlords'
      Fischer, who also wants to get rid of the "curse" that is the grizzly bear...

    • Reclaim The Cyber-Commons
      They are the online equivalent of enclosure riots: the rick-burning, fence-toppling protests by English peasants losing their rights to the land. When MasterCard, Visa, Paypal and Amazon tried to shut WikiLeaks out of the cyber-commons, an army of hackers responded by trying to smash their way into these great estates and pull down their fences.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Case Closed? Court Issues Final Judgment in NSA Spying Case, Al-Haramain v. Obama
      Yesterday, following on his ruling this Spring that the NSA's warrantless wiretapping of an Islamic charity's lawyers in 2004 violated federal surveillance law, Judge Vaughn Walker in the Northern District of California federal court issued his final order in the case of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama. The order granted the plaintiffs an award of $2.5 million in money damages and well-earned attorneys' fees for the government's violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the same law underlying many of the claims in EFF's ongoing lawsuits against the NSA's mass surveillance program, Hepting v. AT&T and Jewel v. NSA. As one of the plaintiffs said of the ruling to the Associated Press, "the system worked."

    • Privacy Icons: Alpha Release
      We are now ready to propose an alpha version of Privacy Icons that takes into account the feedback and participation we’ve received along the way. We’ve simplified the core set dramatically and tightened up the language. While the icons don’t touch on all topics, we do think they significantly move the discussion on privacy, as well as the general level of literacy about privacy, forward. We do not want to let perfection or devotion to taxonomy get in the way of the good.

    • Porn, cash and the slippery slope to the National Security State
      The Register doesn’t take this terribly seriously, because it’s convinced that Vaizey is too shrewd to get dragged into the filtering mess that afflicted the Australian government. Maybe he is, but suppose he finds himself unable to hold back the tide of backbench wrath towards the evil Internet, with its WikiLeaks and porn and all. The implicit logic of the approach would fit neatly with everything we’ve seen so far. First of all, the objective is self-evidently ‘good’ — to protect children from pornography. Secondly, we’re not being illiberal — if you want to allow porn all you have to do is to register that fact with your ISP. What could be fairer than that?

    • Now Random Webhosts Are Demanding Wikileaks Mirrors Be Taken Down Over Possibility Of DDoS?
      With all the attempts by corporations to distance themselves from Wikileaks -- often claiming dubious legal issues or terms of use violations that don't seem to really exist -- the EFF is pointing out that one of the (many, many) Wikileaks mirror sites was told by his hosting company he had to remove it or he'd lose his account.


      Taking down a site because it might possibly be subject to a DDoS attack in the future? How does that make sense? We were confused enough when EveryDNS claimed that getting hit by a DDoS violated its terms of service, but its even more confusing to think that the remote possibility that at some date in the future you might get hit by a DDoS is a terms of service violation.

    • ISP shuts down Wikileaks mirror over complaints from upstream provider
      From EFF, a disturbing story about a customer of SiteGround, an ISP, who had his account suspended and was forced to remove a mirror of the Wikileaks Cablegate archive because SoftLayer, the ISP that provides SiteGround with its bandwidth, objected. Imagine a future in which your ability to host a website depends on not upsetting your ISP, its upstream provider, the provider upstream of that, and so on, all the way up to some giant tier-one telco like AT&T.

    • Building a censor-resistant web with distributed hashes

    • Christmas travel: Airlines 'ignoring passenger rights'
      Some airlines' behaviour towards passengers during the snow-disrupted Christmas getaway was 'unacceptable', according to a regulator.

      The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) found a number of cases when airlines had failed to meet their obligations to passengers during the disruption.

    • 2010 Trend Watch Update: Books and Newspapers
      At the beginning of this year EFF identified a dozen important trends in law, technology and business that we thought would play a significant role in shaping digital rights in 2010, with a promise to revisit our predictions at the end of the year. Now, as 2010 comes to a close, we're going through each of our predictions one by one to see how accurate we were in our trend-spotting.

    • 2010 Trend Watch Update: Social Networking Privacy

    • 2010 Trend Watch Update: Attacks on Cryptography

    • Sending Money Overseas for the Holidays? The Government Wants to Know.
      What do an online donation to the International Red Cross, a bank transfer to family members living in Vietnam, and a payment sent through PayPal for an expensive rug in Turkey have in common? The government wants to know about them. And, if new rules proposed by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, go into effect, the government will — along with your name, address, bank account number, and other sensitive financial information.

    • Free Speech Apparently Less Important Than US Attorney & Courts Silencing 'Annoying' Woman
      Unfortunately, since then, things only got worse. Radley Balko has the full details on what the case was all about, and it seems like a clear case of the government abusing its powers to stifle the speech of someone they found to be annoying. And, unfortunately, it's worked. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case and so the harassment succeeded. You should read the full details, but the short version is that Reynolds was a very vocal activist on the issue of pain relief. When Assistant US Attorney Tanya Treadway indicted a doctor and his wife, supposedly for over-prescribing painkillers, Reynolds organized protests which apparently succeeded in getting a fair amount of attention.

    • Who is Dr Binayak Sen?
      Tags:Maoist|Dr Binayak Sen|Christian Medical College Dr Binayak Sen is a 58-year-old paediatrician and public health physician with a 25-year record of providing health care to the adivasi people of Chhattisgarh.

      Binayak sen is a graduate of Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore. One of the top students of his batch, Binayak completed his post graduation in paediatrics in the early 1970s. For most of the years since then, he has devoted his life to health care in poor communities.


      Binayak was among the first to draw public attention to widespread human rights violations in the wake of the Salwa Judum. An all-India team investigated and published a report on Salwa Judum in November 2005.

    • Unsigned letter holds the key to Binayak Sen case
      A smooth, creaseless type-written sheet of paper might prove to be the decisive piece of evidence in the trial of celebrated doctor and activist Binayak Sen. ‘Article 37' (A-37) is an unsigned letter urging Dr. Sen to send a fact-finding mission to probe alleged police atrocities in Chhattisgarh in his capacity as the State president of the People's Union for Civil Liberties.

      The prosecution insists that the document proves Dr. Sen was in direct correspondence with the banned CPI (Maoist). The defence believes that the letter is the clearest indication that the Chhattisgarh police fabricated evidence to frame Dr. Sen.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • WWF Germany's anti-printing PDF campaign exposes internal rifts
      An email, allegedly sent by WWF International director of corporate relations Maria Boulos to WWF Germany executive marketing officer Dirk Reinsberg on 10 December, warned that the campaign was "misleading".

      According to the contents of Boulos email, WWF Germany launched "a global product" (the WWF file format) "on a global website", without advising WWF International of its intentions.

    • Viral marketing: the truth behind the WWF format
      The driver does not just disable printing it also adds an extra page to the end of the document. They say it's there "just to inform the receiver", but I don't buy it. Marketing, that's what it is really all about. Every time you make and spread a .WWF file, you are making publicity for the WWF. Bottomline.

    • Spanish Congress Rejects Internet Censorship Law

    • Scrooged out of Net Neutrality?
      “A Guide to The Open Internet” is a wonderful InfoGraphic that does a masterful job of visually explaining the importance of Net Neutrality, by contrasting the Internet of the present with The Ghost of the Internet Yet to Come. Anyone who doesn’t understand the issue should definitely take a look.

    • FCC: Yup, we're going to stop "paid prioritization" on the 'Net
      The Federal Communications Commission is releasing the details of its new net neutrality Order in stages. Although the FCC's new ban on "unreasonable discrimination" for wired ISPs allows certain kinds of traffic discrimination (not all bits need be equal), the agency made clear after today's meeting that "paid prioritization" deals with Internet companies are unlikely to be allowed. Critics had worried that the new Order would only affect outright website blocking, leaving paid prioritization untouched (or even implicitly sanctioned).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Congress Brings Back Recently Removed 'IP Subcommittee' Now That Copyright Reformer Won't Lead It
      The IP subcommittee was around for ages, when it was under the control of those who represented the industry. When a reformer is finally in position to be put in charge, the subcommittee is killed and its duties are handed over to the larger committee (controlled by someone who represents the industry). Then, as soon as the reformer is out, the subcommittee comes back? Congress at it's most shameful: a pretty clear indication that Congressional decisions on intellectual property are driven by the industry. This is how regulatory capture works.

    • Copyrights

      • Exclusive: MegaUpload Issues Response to RIAA Over Mastercard Cutoff
        Yesterday, we reported on the RIAAs efforts to get Mastercard to cut off payments to MegaUpload. Today, we have received an exclusive response from MegaUpload on this news.

        Blocking so-called “rogue websites” isn’t necessarily in the law books in the US yet, but things are heating up between the RIAA, MPAA and several websites they accuse of facilitating copyright infringement. Some of these sites, it turns out, are cyberlockers – websites that host large files for their users and allows for many to download those files as a side bonus of saving some companies bandwidth costs. Some note the recent strategy of pressuring payment methods to cut off funding from websites they accuse of duping consumers into paying for pirated content as a more recent change in strategy in the organizations strategy to fight piracy.

      • Leave to Appeal Granted in SOCAN iTunes "Previews" case
        This augurs well for leave to appeal also being granted in the CMEC K-12 case, in which the application was filed a few weeks later.

        If the Supreme Court proceeds in its usual prompt manner, we will likely have a judgment in the CMEC K-12 leave application in late January or February.

      • Indie Music Association Comes Out In Favor Of Seizing Domain Names Of Blogs That Promote Their Music
        If there ever were a group that should be embracing new business models and encouraging the music industry to look forward instead of back, you would think it would be A2IM -- the American Association of Independent Music. After all, they don't have the same legacy issues facing the big four record labels represented by the RIAA. Instead, they can be more creative and willing to experiment with what works well. In fact, over the years, we've noted some really cool and unique experiments done by lots of truly creative and innovative indie labels -- including many who are members of A2IM (and even some represented on A2IM's board).

      • Help EFF Defend Against Righthaven Trolls
        Just as in many other copyright troll shakedowns, Righthaven relies on the threat of enormous copyright statutory damages (up to $150,000) to scare defendants, often individual bloggers operating non-commercial websites, into a quick settlements. They also threaten to seize the domain names, a threat without basis in law. Even if a blogger has meritorious defenses, the costs of defending can often be overwhelming - unless they blogger has pro bono counsel to help even the odds.

      • Incentive to Create

      • Please ignore this SPECIAL BONUS HOLIDAY CARTOON!

      • Perfect 10 Claiming That Passing Along Its DMCA Notices Is, Itself, Infringing
        Perfect 10 is a company that, for a brief period of time, apparently published a rather expensive porn magazine. Since then, it seems to have served a single purpose: to file ridiculous copyright lawsuits that it almost always loses, but which have helped to define case law concerning copyright issues. Various Perfect 10 decisions are frequently cited in copyright lawsuits -- for example, its multiple losses concerning claims that search engines showing thumbnails infringe on copyrights. Earlier this year, Rapidshare filed a very entertaining countersuit against Perfect 10, which goes into great detail suggesting that the company serves little purpose other than being something of a copyright troll. In fact, it seems to go out of its way to not use tools provided to take down infringing content, and to alert internet service providers of potential infringement in ways that are almost impossible for them to do anything about. For example, it's famous for filing deficient DMCA notices that do not properly indicate where the specific content is located.

      • ACTA

        • The Final Acts of ACTA
          Although the current excitement over the gradual release of the Wikileaks documents is justified in that it concerns what is undoubtedly an important development for the future of the Internet, it has rather overshadowed another area where crucial decisions are being made: the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). In fact, ACTA finally seems to be nearing the end of its slow and painful crawl through the secret negotiation process that only recently we have been allowed glimpses of. And the more we learn, the more troublesome it is.

        • EU's Main ACTA Supporter Caught Lying About ACTA
          But it was a lie of omission. De Gucht has now admitted that some countries may have to change their local laws to comply with ACTA, but tried to defend the earlier statements by saying since there are no uniform EU rules on penal enforcement for IP, it was technically correct that no changes were required to the EU-wide rules.

Clip of the Day

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Viva Voce

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Credit: TinyOgg

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