06.09.10

Links 9/6/2010: Software Freedom in UK Government, Sharing Recommended

Posted in News Roundup at 11:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

Free Software/Open Source

  • Government

  • Openness

    • Missing the Message in Nanotechnology

      But this idea of sharing, which is so critical to the advancement of science, is almost anathema to nationalistic aims that fuels so much government nanotech funding. So all of these huge government investments that are supposed to put one country or region ahead of all the others is almost diametrically opposed to the sharing of these facilities. The rub will be that the nanotechnology advancements that these various governments are seeking will not come about through this race to put your region ahead of all the others but sharing your facilities with all the others.

    • Cathy Casserly: Open Education and Policy

      At the beginning of this year we announced a revised approach to our education plans, focusing our activities to support of the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. In order to do so we have worked hard to increase the amount of information available on our own site – in addition to a new Education landing page and our OER portal explaining Creative Commons’ role as legal and technical infrastructure supporting OER, we have been conducting a series of interviews to help clarify some of the challenges and opportunities of OER in today’s education landscape.

    • What’s the Point of Hacktivism?

      Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to engage in big issues – environmental crises, oppression, injustice. Too easy: all it takes is a click and that email is winging its way to who knows where, or that tasteful twibbon has been added to your avatar. If you still think this helps much, try reading Evgeny Morozov’s blog Net Effect, and you will soon be disabused (actually, read it anyway – it’s very well written).

    • Why Sharing Will Be Big Business

      In answer to that last question, no and yes: I don’t think we should regard this as old-style rental over the Internet, but a new kind of sharing where people spread the cost of rivalrous goods. However you look at it, though, it is going to be big.

Leftovers

  • Bletchley Park WWII archive to go online

    Millions of documents stored at the World War II code-breaking centre, Bletchley Park, are set to be digitised and made available online.

  • Thinking about democratised curation
  • Science

    • We need to fix peer review now

      Yesterday the UK parliament heard that studies at the University of Texas have shown that homeopathic remedies kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells intact.

      The revelation came from David Tredinnick, who continues to use his position as a public representative to argue for more NHS spending on complementary and alternative medicines.

      To my mind, the fact that this study was mentioned in parliament, and the statement that homeopathy can kill cancer cells is now a matter of public record, is a spectacular failure. But it is not a failure of politics or politicians: it is a failure of science.

    • Genetic Testing Can Change Behavior

      People who find out they have high genetic risk for cardiovascular disease are more likely to change their diet and exercise patterns than are those who learn they have a high risk from family history, according to preliminary research. The findings, from a personalized medicine study at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, a non-profit research institute based in Camden, NJ, suggest both a potential benefit of genetic testing–inspiring patients to get healthy–and a misunderstanding of the power of genetics.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Hacker turns in US soldier over WikiLeaks Iraq video
    • A very rapid betrayal

      Last year colleagues and I wrote Database State, a report for the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which studied 46 systems that keep information on all of us, or at least a significant minority of us. We concluded that eleven of them were almost certainly illegal under human-rights law, and most of the rest had problems. Our report was well received by both Conservatives and Lib Dems; many of its recommendations were adopted as policy.

    • London councils use anti-terror law to catch charity shop donors

      London councils used anti-terror laws to snoop on residents more than 1,000 times in two years, it was revealed today.

  • Environment

    • Timberland takes up forestry management

      It may not surprise you that a company with a tree as its logo spends a lot of time in the forest. But it may surprise you just how involved it is and the level of commitment it has made.

      [...]

      In a partnership with GreenNet, a Japan-based nongovernmental organization, Timberland plans to restore the desert’s grasslands by developing irrigation and planting new shrubs and trees while educating the local population on more sustainable farming practices.

    • Barbour compares small animals suffocating from oil to people covered in toothpaste.

      On Tuesday, “oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster hit Mississippi shores for the first time,” covering about two miles of Petit Bois Island’s beach. And that meant more tone-deaf greenwashing from dirty energy lobbyist-turned-Governor Haley Barbour, as reported in this Think Progress repost.

      As ThinkProgress noted, the appearance of oil onshore led Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to shift his upbeat rhetoric about the approaching oil, acknowledging that “this could turn out to be something catastrophic and terrible.” But after Barbour visited Petit Bois Island yesterday and saw that the oil that came ashore had “been washed away by storms,” he returned to the positive spin, saying, “I don’t think the island was hurt one iota.” Barbour even downplayed concerns about animals being suffocated by the oil in the ocean, comparing it to humans being covered in toothpaste

    • BP’s spill plan: they knew where it would go, that ecology would never recover, “No toxicity studies” on dispersants
    • BP’s Spill Plan: What they knew and when they knew it

      I have obtained a copy of the almost-600-page BP Regional Oil Spill Response Plan for the Gulf of Mexico as of June, 2009, thanks to an insider. Some material has been redacted, but these are the three main takeaways from an initial read. The name of the well has been redacted, but if it’s not Deepwater Horizon, then there’s another rig still out there pumping oil and aimed at Plaquemines Parish.

    • BP capturing ’10,000 barrels of oil’ a day from Gulf of Mexico

      BP’s containment cap is capturing 10,000 barrels of oil a day from the leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the company’s chief executive said today.

    • Oil in the Courts

      In 2008, the Supreme Court gave Exxon Mobil a $2 billion gift by reducing the punitive damage award from $2.5 billion to $507.5 million for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Roberts Court’s willingness to invent a rule capping punitive damages against Exxon does not bode well for those hoping to hold BP accountable for this most recent disaster.

  • Finance

    • Muhammad Yunus: The Missing Link in Capitalism

      Fortunately, human beings are not money-making robots. The truth of the matter is that human beings are actually multi-dimensional beings: All beings have a selfish side. Their happiness comes from many directions, not just from making money.

    • How Foxconn is fixing the global economy

      Wages are rising and the supply of surplus labor in China is vanishing. On these points, just about everyone agrees — although the lightning speed at which it is happening is a source of surprise. But why it is happening is a topic for great debate. In the case of Foxconn, China’s largest employer, a cluster of suicides sparked a media frenzy and international embarrassment. In the case of Honda, good old-fashioned labor organization — strikes! — resulted in a wage increase.

    • Possible Boycott of Nature Publishing Group Journals: an Open Letter from Gary Strong, University Librarian, to UCLA Faculty

      Please see the attached document regarding a possible boycott of Nature Publishing Group journals by UC faculty. We urge you to read this important update, which has been jointly prepared by the University Libraries and the University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication. Please contact me directly with your comments and concerns.

    • Coins database: Figures show government spent £1.8bn on consultants

      Newly-published Treasury data shows Department of Health spent most, followed by Department for International Development and Home Office

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Please Help Fight EU Search Engine Surveillance
    • Thai and Argentine workers launch global sweatfree garment brand
    • On the virtues of keeping OpenStreetMap uncensored

      Mikel Maron reports on an interesting development in the OpenStreetMap community of volunteer mappers — the Russian OSM community is debating whether Russian military installations should be removed from the OSM dataset, on security grounds.

    • Twitter With Chinese Characteristics: 马马虎虎?

      Perhaps it is because the Chinese authorities see things the same way that they have blocked Twitter through much of the past year. Through the past 48 hours, of course, they have blocked Foursquare, apparently to avoid the possibility of even a virtual “demonstration” in Tiananmen Square on the 21st anniversary of the crackdown there. (My Beijing friend Kaiser Kuo archly noted via Twitter: “Finally, the freakin’ GFW does something good and blocks Foursquare. No more ‘mayor of blah blah’ messages in my Twitter stream!”) How this part of the dissent/control balance will swing in the long run is impossible to say. It’s all reminder number five million that today’s Chinese system has big, big strengths and big, largely self-imposed limitations.

  • Copyrights

    • UK Government Uses BitTorrent to Share Public Spending Data

      The UK Government has discovered that BitTorrent is the cheapest and most effective method of sharing large files with the public. As part of the UK Prime Minister’s transparency initiative, the Treasury has today released several torrents with details on how the Government spends the public’s money.

    • ACTA may hamper fight against climate change

      The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) may hamper the fight against climate change by inhibiting the diffusion of green technology, according to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII).

      Behind closed doors, the European Union, United States, Japan and other trade partners are negotiating an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. ACTA will contain new international norms for the enforcement of copyrights, trade mark rights, patents and other exclusive rights.

Clip of the Day

Building GUI applications with Python, GTK and Glade (2006)


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