How Debian-type Centralisation Made GNU/Linux Very Secure

Posted in Debian, GNU/Linux, Security, Windows at 6:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Data storage with USB

Summary: Contrary to some malicious allegations, Microsoft remains the one copying security features from Linux, not the other way around

THE technology news sites have begun pushing the “USB” story, suggesting that inheriting Windows-like behaviour makes Linux less secure. There are rebuttals written about it and we may address them at a later stage. For the time being, let us recall the advantage GNU/Linux has not only when it comes to software centralisation in trusted repositories (which verifies safety and protects from malicious downloads from arbitrary sites). One of the big advantages of this approach is that using the same mechanism GNU/Linux keeps all the underlying software — not just the core of the operating system — up to date with security patches. Windows does not have that (Apple emulates this and Microsoft only expresses hopes to emulate that, just like it emulates sudo) and in fact one writer is now saying that “Microsoft has to open Windows Update to third-party developers”:

There’s a lot of confusion out there about when attacks against computers occur as a result of vulnerabilities in software as opposed to some other weakness, usually social engineering. Considerable progress has been made in protection against vulnerabilities on Windows, and we can make exploitation even harder if Microsoft can be talked into my scheme: open up Windows Update to third-party applications.

My own opinion is that social engineering is far more important than vulnerabilities and has been increasing in importance. One reason for this is that vulnerabilities are a harder target than they used to be, and that’s in large part because of the work Microsoft has done over the last 6 or 7 years.

Glyn Moody wrote about the William Hague confession which we mentioned the other day, arguing quite rightly that operating systems play a role here:

The key thing to notice is that the dangerous link that the UK government idiots clicked on downloaded to their PCs the Zeus trojan horse – a keylogger that only affects Windows (not that you’d ever guess that from the pathetic mainstream coverage of any Zeus infection). So if the UK government swapped out lots of those expensive and vulnerable Windows systems with low-cost and rather more secure GNU/Linux ones, we’d be spared most of the losses from those cyber-wallies, for almost no outlay.

But that would be too easy, efficient and intelligent – especially when there’s a baying pack of security companies who have the scent of those 650 million smackeroonies in their dilated nostrils. To avoid that threat of minimising the threat with such simple means, they’ll doubtless create a crescendo of FUD about the imminent “cyber-Armageddon” we all face if the UK government doesn’t throw buckets of dosh in their direction to “defend, delay, attack and manoeuvre in cyberspace”, as General Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, put it in the article quoted above (how on earth do you “manoeuvre in cyberspace”?)

The trouble is, no matter how much security firms claim their costly solutions are idiot-proof, they underestimate the cleverness of idiots – or the deep and intrinsic lack of security offered by a Microsoft monoculture, which is even more durable than that pesky “cyber” prefix….

On the very same day, Moody also shared a link to this curious PDF, suggesting that “Nearly 1/3 of internet users in the EU27 caught a computer virus” (Moody added: “no mention of Windows, just for a change”).

It was almost 3 years ago that we wrote about statistics suggesting 40% of Windows PCs had become zombies, whether the users know this or not.

Here It Goes Again: Insinuations That Microsoft’s CEO Should be Ousted

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 6:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Exit sign

Summary: Steve Ballmer wants to reorganise, but the reorganisation should include removing him, argue pundits

SUCH suggestions, rumours and speculations about Steve Ballmer are nothing new. They go back at least to 2008 and the subject was brought up here on many occasions, e.g.:

Amid crisis at Microsoft (inability to find an alternative direction), there are more yet suggestions that Ballmer should get canned, e.g.:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is reportedly looking to shake things up at the top by bringing in senior managers with more tech and engineering backgrounds, according to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources. The move, on the surface, is supposed to accelerate Microsoft’s push into tablets, smartphones and other categories where the company has fallen behind.

But dare I say again that the problems with Microsoft have more to do with senior managers not having the technology and engineering know-how that’s needed to keep one of the pioneers of technology ahead of the game? You see, the root of the problem is not product managers. The root of the problem goes much higher than that – all the way to the CEO’s office.

Microsoft booster Matt Rosoff [1, 2, 3, 4] has another take on it. The Microsoft booster takes it in a different direction by suggesting that existing people (some of whom are leaving) were technical. The former article wrongly suggests that Gates as opposed to Ballmer was a “techie”, conveniently forgetting what Gates went to college for and what his colleagues thought of his code (they used the “S” word to describe it). According to this page, Kildall said that “Steve Jobs is nothing. Steve Wozniak did it all, the hardware and the software. All Jobs did was hang around and take the credit.” Sounds pretty familiar, eh?

“Now it was time to annihilate a new competitor, and Gates wanted Eller for the job. [...] By February 1990, Eller’s group was partially staffed. They were already working on their first demo, and their mission was clear: Kill GO Corp. Raikes had said as much. Squashing the competition was not a written policy, but something woven into the ethos of Microsoft.”

Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul

Links 8/2/2011: Linux, Food for the Hungry Uses GNU/Linux, Mint 10 KDE is Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 3:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • The Tragedy of ‘Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome’

    MTBS doesn’t affect only Microsoft users, consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack asserted. “The saying used to be that ‘no one ever got fired for buying IBM,’” he noted. “People have a tendency to stick with what they consider safe, and it takes something large to force a change.”

  • Events

    • There’s Less Than Three Weeks Left To SCALE
    • Register now: General Hugh Shelton webcast, February 16

      Join us Feb. 16 when we host General Hugh Shelton, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now Chairman of the Board of Directors of Red Hat, in the next Open Your World Forum webcast.

    • OSCON 2011 Call for Participation

      Speaking the language of open, O’Reilly’s Open Source Convention wants to foster conversations about the technology work that you do. Open Source, FOSS, free like beer, free like a puppy or free like a bird–share what engages you. Submit original session and tutorial ideas that share your excitement.

    • Camp KDE 2011 & Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit

      The KDE developers have announced Camp KDE 2011 which will be held at the Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco, California, on 4 and 5 April. The Camp will be immediately followed by the Linux Foundation’s Collaboration Summit which takes place on 6 and 7 April at the same location.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux longterm has been released
    • Linux longterm kernel release
    • Graphics Stack

      • ATI R300g / R600g Unify Their Vertex Buffer Manager

        Hitting the Mesa tree this weekend were messages of “r600g: use the new vertex buffer manager” and “r300g: use the new vertex buffer manager.”

        However, before getting too excited, this is not a radically new vertex buffer manager for these two ATI Gallium3D drivers that support the spectrum of Radeon GPUs. R300g is responsible for ATI R300 ASICs up through the ATI Radeon X1000 (R500) GPUs. R600g currently covers the R600 (Radeon HD 2000 series) through the latest Radeon HD 6000 (Northern Islands) and Fusion (Ontario) chipsets.

      • X.Org Server 1.9.4 Released; 1.9.5 Expected

        Before ending out last week, Jeremy Huddleston released X.Org Server 1.9.4. At least one more release, X.Org Server 1.9.5, is also expected before this branch is retired in favor of X Server 1.10, which will be released in the coming weeks.

        X.Org Server 1.9.4 isn’t too exciting as it just pulls in about two dozen bug-fixes. There’s a couple fixes to EXA, DRI2, EDID, and RandR, but nothing too noteworthy. A bulk of the fixes are by Jeremy himself for XQuartz.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Drawing up a roadmap

        When we drew up the roadmap for the GIMP for versions 2.0 and 2.2 in 2003, we committed some of these mistakes. By observing some projects like Inkscape (which has a history of excellent roadmapping) and learning from our mistakes, I came up with a different method which we applied to the WengoPhone from OpenWengo in 2006, and which served us well (until the project became QuteCom, at least). Here are some of the techniques I learned, which I hope will be useful to others.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Is PCLinuxOS on the Ropes?

        PCLinuxOS has suffered from its share of issues over the years. With difficulties ranging from personnel shake-ups to hosting problems, it seems developing and managing a Linux distribution can be challenging work. Perhaps sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

        PCLinuxOS is a popular distribution, at one time wildly so and rivaled Ubuntu for the top spot on Distrowatch.com’s Page Hit Ranking. It has fiercely loyal users that stand ready to defend it all across the Linux landscape. And even though it has suffered major issues over the years, it still remains popular and firmly entrenched in the top 10 of Distrowatch PHR.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat’s Management Is Creating Value

        Warren Buffett’s partner, Charlie Munger, once said, “I think I’ve been in the top 5% of my age cohort all my life in understanding the power of incentives, and all my life I’ve underestimated it. And never a year passes but I get some surprise that pushes my limit a little farther.”

        When corporate boards use bad incentives for management’s pay, disaster often ensues. (Think Lehman Brothers.) Incentives based on singular metrics such as revenue growth, EBITDA, ROE, or earning per share are easily manipulated and gamed. Fortunately, there is a better way: EVA momentum.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 6.0 is out, Wheezy kicks off

        The best part of the release for us — the developers — is that wheezy is now open for development and we can work on new features for the next release. ;-)

      • Debian Linux was important: Will it continue to be?

        Not everyone, to no surprise, agrees with me. My buddy Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier wrote, “Debian has never been a user-friendly distribution, or one that was really targeted at a mainstream audience. Debian 6.0 continues a long tradition of shipping a brand-new stable release that is already outdated, with little to appeal to new users.”

        Really? That’s not how I see it. Debian has always tried to stay true to its Social Contract, but it community of developers have also strived to make it a popular distribution as well. To quote from Debian 6.0’s news release, “Debian once again stays true to its goal of being the universal operating system. It sounds to me like they want both old and new users.

      • Debian Squeeze Wallpapers
      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • do you think bug search should match target names?

          We have a small quandry on the Launchpad development team at the moment. As bug 268508 discusses, when one searches for a bug on Launchpad we do a substring search on the names of bug targets.

        • Canonical And Cisco Welcome OpenStack’s Bexar Releases

          Canonical and Cisco join the open-source OpenStack federated cloud initiative as new releases arrive

          OpenStack has announced the release of updates, codenamed Bexar, to its Compute and Object Storage cloud implementations. The OpenStack open-source cloud project has also recruited four new members, including Cisco and Canonical.

          The addition of influential members like Cisco and Canonical alongside Extreme Networks and Grid Dynamics has added breadth to the OpenStack community, founded by Rackspace Hosting and NASA. The membership now numbers 50, including AMD, Citrix, Dell and Intel.

        • Why Food for the Hungry runs Ubuntu

          John: Tell me a little about Food for the Hungry and what you do there.

          Rick: Food for the Hungry is a Christian relief and development organization. We go in to relief situations — maybe there has been a natural disaster or war — and provide life-sustaining needs: food, shelter, whatever the need may be. For example, the recent earthquake in Haiti. But the other part of what we do is the sustained, long-term development on the community level. The idea is to work with leaders and churches to better take care of themselves rather than relying on outside organizations for support.

        • Ubuntu Unleashed 2011 Edition & The Official Ubuntu Book, 5th Edition
        • A diversity statement for Ubuntu

          The Ubuntu website states that “we aim to make Ubuntu a wonderful place to participate”. We developed the Ubuntu Code of Conduct to set a standard for participants to accept each other in the spirit of cooperation, and have improved it over time to state these principles more clearly.

          It is implicit in our philosophy that these and other Ubuntu values should hold equally true for everyone. I would like to propose that we upgrade this to an explicit statement on behalf of the project.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Mint 10 KDE approved for RC release

            Both 32-bit and 64-bit ISO images were approved. The Linux Mint 10 KDE Edition, featuring KDE 4.6, will be publicly available this week as an RC release.

          • Ikey Doherty full-time on Linux Mint

            I’m happy to announce that Ikey Doherty is joining the paid-staff and will be working full time on Linux Mint, starting from today.

            Ikey started getting involved with the project as an IRC operator. He later joined the development team and participated in many sub-projects, bringing improvements to some of the tools developed for Linux Mint, fixing bugs and designing new features for Linux Mint 10. He played a major role in the design and the implementation of the Backup Manager and the Debian Live Installer and his full presence within Linux Mint will have a significant impact on its development.

          • Ubuntu based Penetration Testing Distribution – Blackbuntu

            Blackbuntu is distribution for penetration testing which was specially designed for security training students and practitioners of information security.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • TwimGo

          TwimGo is a Twitter client for Maemo, Symbian and MeeGo devices. It containes all the basic functionality like home, mentions, favourites etc. timelines, search, lists, trends. You can also easily open links and search mentioned hashtags. TwitPic and yFrog photo preview is shown in tweet details.

      • Android

        • Google opens Android web store

          USERS of phones running Google’s Android operating system are getting more ways to browse and buy apps for playing games, reading the news and other tasks.

          The internet search leader has announced its Android Market Web store open for business.

          The store lets users choose apps through a Web browser and have them installed remotely to their smart phones and tablets.

        • Motorola’s Android Tablet Locks Wi-Fi until 3G Service Purchased

          But, really: You have to activate Verizon Wireless service, even if you then cancel it, to unlock Wi-Fi? Big misstep. It’s along the lines of that common scene in a car dealership when you’re about to sign the papers, and the sales regretfully informs you that his manager won’t sell the car without the underbody rust inhibitor treatment.

        • Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Superbowl video, for a 13 February launch

          MOBILE PHONE MAKER Sony Ericsson splashed an advert during yesterday’s Superbowl game in the US to show off its Xperia Play, that is, the Playstation smartphone.

    • Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

  • Your open source management approach: Red Team or Blue Team?

    When I hear people in the technology industry talk about the benefits of open source software, one of things they mention often is their belief that open source software “gets better faster” than traditional software (David Wheeler has done a nice job collecting many of the proof points around the benefits of open source software here). While the speed of innovation in open source is in part due to the power of Linus’s Law (“Given enough eyes, all bugs are shallow”), I believe it also has a lot to do with the way open source projects are managed.

  • Open source app store

    Apps are the big thing in technology right now. Any company that has an operating system but doesn’t have a dedicated app store is doing it wrong.

    Traditionally app stores were limited to mobile devices such as the iPod and Android platform but now it looks likely that Linux vendors will also jump on the app store train to spur greater adoption of desktop Linux.

    Historically, installing applications on Linux was viewed as cumbersome, compounded by the fact that many Linux distributions used their own formats for packaging applications.

  • Open source as an alternative “study abroad” experience?

    Multiple benefits accrue to those who spend significant time in open source, and a significant proportion of students see the experience as an important part of their college years. You’re likely to have fun. But if you’re also thinking about open source as a way to gain a critical career advantage, read on. You’ll find that all contribution experiences are not created equal in the minds of employers.

    Employers are looking for graduates who can communicate well with others, both in person and in writing. They know the importance of cross-cultural understanding and an appreciation for different points of view. They gravitate toward students who demonstrate maturity, initiative, and creativity. All of these assets can be demonstrated through participation in open source communities, but it’s going to be much harder to set yourself apart if you’ve taken the easy route.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chromium and Firefox: a comparision

      - It is very stable. I have not seen it crash for over a year now.
      - With AdBlock Plus by Wladimir Palant, I can easily get rid of ads as well as unwanted iframes, images etc.
      - With Ghostery, I can easily get rid of tracking sited too.

    • Mozilla

      • Community Town Hall Asia meeting – Feb. 8th

        We have participants from: Sri Lanka, India, S. Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

        We do NOT have participants from Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore at this time.

      • First Transmediale Open Web Award

        Mozilla is moving is beyond software, looking for ways to bring open technologies and culture into new areas like art, media and education. We recently sponsored the Open Web Award as part of the Transmediale art festival in Berlin, Germany, combining digital art and the open web. With our new Mozilla Drumbeat initiative, we are engaging creators globally to shape the future of the web.

      • Home Dash: Try The New Mozilla Labs Experimental Addon For Firefox 4

        Home Dash is an experimental Firefox 4.0 extension that remove the conventional Firefox user interface items (location bar, search bar, the tabs) and provides a dashboard with search functionality which you can use to find your top sites, tabs, history or do a web search. It’s like using Firefox in full-screen, but without the actual full-screen (weird, I know, but you’ll understand exactly what I mean after watching the video).

      • Game On Spotlight: Bar Fight

        Well, we’re Steve and Oliver Baker – a father and son team from the UK, now living and working in Texas. We’re long-time 3D graphics enthusiasts and amateur games writers. Linux folk may remember Tux the Penguin – A Quest for Herring which we created back in 1997 when Oliver was just 7 years old – it was the first ever 3D game for Linux. Back then graphics cards could draw just a few hundred triangles and the artistic demands were minimal at best. TuxKart was a much better game – that came along in 1999 and was to be found on most Linux distro’s for years afterwards. Fast-forward to August 2010; we’d been watching the progress of WebGL and decided to try to write some online games using it. Because we intend to fund the web site using advertising revenue alone, we can’t afford a massive server farm to host the games. So we needed to come up with games with low server demands. Turn-based games fit the bill quite well because the server code can sleep while players are deciding what to do. Thus was born “TuBaGames.net” (TUrn BAsed GAMES for the NET). Our vision – though constantly subject to redirection – is that we will have a large library of games, in which players can compete in, and are ranked. The BarFight serves as a lobby in which people can hang out and let off some steam. We have some interesting ways of publicizing matches and making high-ranked games the “must see attraction”; so stick around and see how far TuBaGames will go.

      • Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership Announced

        We are excited to announce the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership, a Mozilla Drumbeat project supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Journalism Program.

      • Firefox 4 beta 11 slated for release tomorrow

        The 11th beta of Firefox 4 is expected to be released tomorrow, Feb. 8, one lead developer announced.

        In an update posted this evening, chief developer Christian Legnitto said the time has come for the next-to-last beta of Firefox4.

      • Mozilla embracing Chrome’s fast-rev ethos

        Mozilla has a new plan for Firefox in 2011: Turn the crank faster.

        The organization is set to deliver Firefox 4 in coming weeks. And according to a draft Firefox roadmap, Mike Beltzner, Mozilla’s director of Firefox, proposed releasing versions 5, 6, and 7 in 2011, too. This fast-release ethos, pioneered in the browser world by Google’s Chrome, means smaller changes arrive more frequently.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • [LibreOffice] Release Party in Munich

      …Release-Party on Friday, February 11th, in Munich.

    • Review: Hands on LibreOffice 3.3

      The Document Foundation released the first new version of its LibreOffice suite on January 25th, and it was far too tempting not to grab a copy and run it through its paces. And while there are a few new features of note, this is still pretty much OpenOffice.org, with all the attendant advantages and foibles.

    • Oracle offers file management package for cloud

      Hoping to service the growing market for cloud computing systems, Oracle has packaged two file management software programs into a single integrated offering, called the Oracle Cloud File System, the company announced Monday.

    • ‘Mark-of-the-Beast’ bug topples Java apps

      A bug in Oracle’s Java programming framework causes computers to freeze when they encounter certain numerical values with large numbers of decimal places, a flaw that makes websites susceptible to highly efficient denial-of-service attacks.

      The vulnerability in the latest version of Java is similar to a flaw discovered last month that plagued the PHP language. It is trigged when applications attempt to process values such as 2.2250738585072011e-308. Systems running both Windows- and Linux-based apps that try to assign the value to a “double” variable succumb to an infinite loop that consumes 100 percent of their CPU’s resources.

    • Fix for JDK Double.parseDouble infinite loop
    • Oracle v. Google: Food Fight in Discovery Already – Hearing Feb. 9 – Updated 2Xs

      Believe it or not, there is already a discovery dispute in Oracle v. Google. And I’m really glad, because that’s the only way we can find out what has been going in discovery. What we find out now is that both parties have served the other with interrogatories, and neither is happy with the other’s answers, so both are writing letters to the judge, calling them motions to compel. We get to see Google’s answers to Oracle’s interrogatories, and that really fleshes out Google’s position for me.

      Oracle, though, feels that there’s not enough flesh on the bones, not enough for them to prepare for depositions, so Oracle filed a motion to compel [PDF] in the form of a letter to Judge William Alsup, the presiding judge, on February 1, seeking to force Google to supplement its responses to interrogatories. But Google feels that it can’t do any better until Oracle provides more specificity, so it then sent a couple of letters to the judge also, one responding [PDF] to the issues raised by Oracle’s motion to compel and a second a motion to compel [PDF], telling the judge that Oracle has failed to fulfill its obligations in discovery and that “the parties have reached an impasse regarding the adequacy of Oracle’s Patent Local Rule 3-1 disclosures, and we request the Court’s assistance in resolving the issues about which the parties disagree.”

  • Government

    • European Parliament starts free software user group

      One member of the European Parliament and a handful of their advisors and assistants started a free software group last Saturday, aiming to increase the use of free and open source software in the European Parliament’s IT infrastructure. The user group is open to all who works in the European Parliament, including staff and assistants working in political groups.

      The European Parliament Free Software User Group (Epfsug) is an initiative from MEP Indrek Tarand (The Greens) from Estonia. “We will assist all MEPs and their staff who are interested in using free software in the European Parliament,” explains Erik Josefsson, who advises the European Greens on Internet policies. In the long run, the group wants to increase the amount of free and open source software used in the IT infrastructure of the EP.

    • US Intelligence Agency: Linux Help Wanted

      In a just released “report card” on the use of open source technology at the federal level, the Defense Department received the highest rating — 82 percent — from Open Source for America. “The Department is looking to adopt transparent policies and procedures in line with President Obama’s Open Government Directive,” said Daniel Risacher, associate director of enterprise services and integration at DoD.

    • European Commission extends Windows contract, Linux activists are angry

      As recent reports show, the European Commission has decided to extend its software contract with Microsoft. The $66.8 million deal has generated large controversies and has been extended with Fujitsu as a reseller on the 8th of December instead of February. The Directorate of Informatics of the European Commission, also known as Digit, decided to renew the contract the very day after the FSFE (Free Software Foundation Europe) began a campaign directed against any deal based on closed-source software.

    • Administrative Court in Lille Finds for Open Source

      My French partner, Sandrine Rambaud, brought to my attention a decision dated December 29, 2010, that leveled the playing field for open source vendors: the Administrative Court of Lille, France cancelled a public procurement procedure because the procedure excluded the possibility of proposing open source software in bid responses. Instead, the municipalities that put out the bid expressly required bidders to propose an Oracle database and Business Objects environments for the generation of reports.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open letter to President Dilma Rousseff

      This is an open letter to President Dilma Rousseff signed by international organizations, academics and activists in support of the work of the Brazilian society and government for the cultural commons

    • Get Your Limited Edition “Share” Shirt!

      We are thrilled to announce a limited edition shirt designed by the creative folks at Imaginary Foundation. The shirt speaks to the power of shared knowledge and creativity, and can be yours for $30 in the CC Store.

      This is a great way to show your support for CC’s mission to realize the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research, education, full participation in culture, and driving a new era of development, growth, and productivity.

    • How can we promote the public domain?

      A few weeks back we ran a small workshop in Berlin for Public Domain Day 2011. It was attended by a mix of artists, scholars, legal experts, technologists, and passers by.

    • Open Access/Content/Attribution

      • give credit where credit is due.

        The problem: Creative Commons licensed content is awesome, but attributing it properly can be difficult and confusing. The first rule for re-using openly licensed content is that you have to properly attribute the creator. There are specific requirements for what needs to go into that attribution, but those requirements can be confusing and hard to find.


        Open Attribute is a Mozilla Drumbeat project born at the “Learning, Freedom and the Web” Festival in Barcelona. A team of volunteers from all over the world has been collaborating to design, build and now distribute Open Attribute. Special Thanks to those who have worked so hard to make this a reality!

      • Open Attribute, a simple way to attribute CC-licensed works on the web

        Open Attribute, “a suite of tools that makes it ridiculously simple for anyone to copy and paste the correct attribution for any CC licensed work,” launched today with browser add-ons for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. The add-ons “query the metadata around a CC-licensed object and produce a properly formatted attribution that users can copy and paste wherever they need to.”

    • Open Hardware

      • Open hardware can yield dividends

        His experiments have yielded unexpected dividends – soon, under the label Freetronics, several products built using the Arduino as a base, will start appearing on the shelves of Jaycar Electronics, a popular store in Australia.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Launches Web and TV Interest Group

      At the occasion of the Web and TV Workshop in Berlin, W3C announces the creation of a new Web and TV Interest Group. The new group’s mission is to provide a forum for Web and TV technical discussions, to review existing work, as well as the relationship between services on the Web and TV services, and to identify requirements and potential solutions to ensure that the Web will function well with TV. See the group’s charter for more information. Learn more about Web and TV at W3C.


  • Multiculturalism has failed in Britain, PM says

    State multiculturalism has failed and left young Muslims vulnerable to radicalisation, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Saturday, arguing for a more active policy to heal divisions and promote Western values.

    Cameron, in a speech to a security conference in Munich, argued that Britain and other European nations need to “wake up to what is happening in our countries” as well as tackling terrorism through military operations overseas.

  • Elizabeth May’s office destroyed after truck crashes through wall

    Green party Leader Elizabeth May’s office in Saanich, B.C., has been destroyed after a truck crashed into the building.

  • Councillor Geoff Lilley arrested over comment claims

    A COUNCILLOR arrested by police after complaints about comments posted on an internet forum says he is looking forward to his day in court.

    Geoff Lilley, an independent Hartlepool borough councillor, spent eight hours in custody before he was released on bail.

    It is understood the former bus driver made remarks about fellow councillor Marjorie James, who represents Labour in the Owton ward.

    The grandfather, who represents the Greatham ward, said he had been to a routine council planning committee meeting on Friday morning when his wife left him a message on his phone saying police wanted to speak to him.

  • Consumers in emerging markets using multi SIM cards for cheaper calls

    In the Western world where mobile phone contracts are relatively inexpensive, mobile phone users are accustomed to using just one SIM card to power all their mobile communications; however, in places like the Middle East, Africa, Asia and India, mobile users are snapping up phones with multiple SIM facilities so they can make cheaper calls.

    “We are already seeing triple SIM card devices being launched and this multi SIM behavior looks set to grow as a phenomenon, especially amongst the newer and more emerging markets,” commented GfK Global Telco marketing director, Aaron Rattue in a study released on February 3.

  • DEC founder Ken Olsen is dead
  • Science

    • Astrology is a science: Bombay HC

      Astrology has been debunked by most world scientists including India’s renowned physicist Prof. Yash Pal. However, it is “science” in India.

      The Bombay High Court reaffirmed this on Thursday when it dismissed a PIL that had challenged astrology as science.

    • Print Previews and the Future of Slicing

      Simon Kirkby has created this marvelous script for previewing GCode that uses Blender 2.5′s scripting system to create a duplicate of the object within Blender as paths. I think my favorite thing is that he leveraged the animation system so that you can slide the bar at the bottom of the screen (which changes which frame of the animation you’re viewing) to allow the user to see the object at different times during the build. Awesome.

    • Tiny device could transform mobile communications, says its creator

      Mobile phone base stations no bigger than a golf ball could help to bridge the digital divide and bring mobile broadband to distant areas both in the developing and developed world, the networking company Alcatel-Lucent has claimed.

      The company said on Monday that its new technology, which shrinks many of the functions of a standard base station down to a few chips which fit in a cube it calls “lightRadio”, would mean that mobile networks could run their systems with lower power demands and half the cost overall, while broadening deployment.

    • Humble water flea packs giant genetic punch

      The humble water flea might be diminutive in size but it packs a big genetic punch.

      Just a few millimetres across, Daphnia pulex is the first crustacean to have its genome sequenced. With 30,907 genes, it has more than any other species sequenced so far, including nearly 5000 more than humans.

  • Security

    • Third of EU is crap at web security
    • Monday’s security advisories
    • USB Autorun Attacks Against Linux
    • USB autorun attacks against Linux

      Many people think that Linux is immune to the type of Autorun attacks that have plagued Windows systems with malware over the years. However, there have been many advances in the usability of Linux as a desktop OS – including the addition of features that can allow Autorun attacks.

    • Anon pwns HBGary Federal UPDATED w/PRESS RELEASE

      Yesterday, I posted a press release noting that the Financial Times article that appeared yesterday and which drew on input from HBGary Federal employee Aaron Barr was laughably inaccurate. An hour ago, Anon seized control of the internet security firm’s website, defaced its pages, acquired 60,000 company e-mails, deleted backup files, seized Barr’s Twitter account, and took down the founder’s website rootkit.com. Anonymous also acquired this document, which HBGary was set to provide to the FBI at a scheduled meeting tomorrow.

    • Anonymous v. Computer Insecurity Expert Aaron Barr – Updated

      Everyone has heard of Anonymous. A lot of people think that Anonymous is a bunch of dangerous anarchistic radicals. They are right. Anonymous is a bunch of dangerous anarchistic radicals. They believe in the most perverted concept ever invented. Ethics.

      Let’s take the most recent attack. Aaron Barr of HBGary Federal had claimed that he had infiltrated Anonymous. And that he had learned who the leaders were.

      Now Anonymous is rumored to have gotten it’s start in /b on 4chan. Like a lot of writers interested in the phenomenon, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in /b, trying to understand the culture. One thing I learned immediately. Anonymous doesn’t have leaders.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • South Sudan votes for independence by a landslide

      South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to declare independence in final results of a referendum announced on Monday, opening the door to Africa’s newest state and a fresh period of uncertainty for the fractured region.


      The referendum is the climax of a 2005 north-south peace accord that set out to end Africa’s longest civil war and instil democracy in a country that straddles the continent’s Arab-sub Saharan divide.

    • The Revolution Will Not Be Televised — It Will Be Remixed!
    • Bush, Rumsfeld and Iraq: Is the Real Reason for the Invasion Finally Emerging?
    • John McCain on Egypt

      At the Munich Security Conference, Arizona senator John McCain delivered remarks on the protests in Egypt. “I believe the events in Egypt and elsewhere call for a new look at our approach to undemocratic governments everywhere, especially in the broader Middle East,” McCain said, clearly suggesting that the Obama administration should reconsider its policies. “Make no mistake, what is happening in Egypt is nothing short of a revolution, and it should put other undemocratic governments on notice that their presumed stability is a false stability.”

    • U.S. has secret tools to force internet on dictators

      When Hosni Mubarak shut down Egypt’s internet and cellphone communications, it seemed that all U.S. officials could do was ask him politely to change his mind.

      But the American military does have a second set of options, if it ever wants to force connectivity on a country against its ruler’s wishes.

  • Cablegate

    • In break with U.S., Ottawa backs gradual handover in Egypt

      The Harper government has endorsed the go-slow transition plan set out by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, signalling that Mideast stability and peace with Israel are its paramount concerns while other Western nations push for faster change.

    • Australia and US sign secret satellite spy deal

      AUSTRALIA and the United States have begun a partnership to share top-secret intelligence from spy satellites as Australia moves to acquire its own satellite to boost surveillance of Asia and the Pacific.

    • The WikiLeaks Roundtable
    • Canadian: Pirates have links to Somali government, terrorist organizations

      Two months after Somali pirates made their debut in the international spotlight by hijacking the MV Faina, a ship filled to the brim with Ukranian tanks and weapons, the U.S. government sent a cable from London with alleged details about the piracy circuit, recounted during a debriefing with a Canadian captain who had recently escorted an aid ship ashore: “there is clear evidence of collusion between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and pirates in Somali waters and links between pirates and terrorist networks,” a November 2008 cable claims.

    • WikiLeaks Finds New Source Of Funding: T-Shirts And Tote Bags

      Running the world’s most controversial website on charity alone isn’t easy. So WikiLeaks is trying out a new source of funding: good, old-fashioned capitalism.

    • The age of the WikiLeaks-style vigilante geek is over

      Now that the dust over the US embassy cables is beginning to settle, WikiLeaks finds itself at a crossroads. To effectively continue its war on government secrecy, it will need to make fundamental adjustments to how it operates – with no guarantees that the new, more mainstream WikiLeaks will be in much demand.

      Its other option is to sidestep its transparency work, delegate it to more nimble and decentralised WikiLeaks-clones, and focus on solving a problem that is likely to be a determining factor in the success of this nascent global transparency movement. It’s only by making the publishing of leaked materials insusceptible to the whims of corporate intermediaries such as Amazon or PayPal as well as by increasing its resilience against cyber attacks and other forms of political and legal pressure that this movement can succeed. In other words, Julian Assange’s other option is to dedicate himself to campaigning on freedom of expression issues, with the explicit goal of creating technical infrastructure that would allow the next generation of WikiLeaks-clones to remain uncensorable.

    • Air Force legal office: All of our members’ families can be prosecuted for reading WikiLeaks

      Almost anyone in the United States, and especially soldiers or the families of US Air Force members, could be under the threat of prosecution by the military, according to a recent “guidance” document issued by the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) public affairs office.

      The advisory took on new significance Monday as Julian Assange, founder of the secrets peddling website, was in a British court to argue against his extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in relation to allegations of sexual assault and impropriety.

    • UK Guardian journalist ‘expelled from Russia’

      A British journalist who reported on Wikileaks cables containing criticism of Russia’s leadership says he has been expelled from the country.

      The Guardian’s Moscow correspondent Luke Harding had reported on US cables describing Russia under Vladimir Putin as a “virtual mafia state”.

      He said he was stopped from re-entering Russia at the weekend and sent back to the UK. Russia has not yet commented.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • China Moves to Strengthen Grip Over Supply of Rare-Earth Metals

      China is building strategic reserves in rare-earth metals, an effort that could give Beijing increased power to influence global prices and supplies in a sector it already dominates.

    • Scientists Successfully Use Sedation to Help Disentangle North Atlantic Right Whale

      Scientists from NOAA Fisheries Service and its state and nonprofit partners successfully used at-sea chemical sedation to help cut the remaining ropes from a young North Atlantic right whale on January 15 off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla. The sedative given to the whale allowed the disentanglement team to safely approach the animal and remove 50 feet of rope which was wrapped through its mouth and around its flippers.

      This is only the second time a free-swimming whale has been successfully sedated to enable disentanglement efforts. The first time a whale was successfully sedated and disentangled was in March 2009 off the coast of Florida.

    • Arctic fish catch vastly underreported (by hundreds of thousands of metric tons) for 5 decades

      From 1950 to 2006 the United Nation Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) estimated that 12,700 metric tons of fish were caught in the Arctic, giving the impression that the Arctic was a still-pristine ecosystem, remaining underexploited by the world’s fisheries. However, a recent study by the University of British Colombia Fisheries Center and Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences throws cold water on this widespread belief. According to the study, published in Polar Biology, the total Arctic catch from 1950 to 2006 is likely to have been nearly a million metric tons, almost 75 times the FAO’s official record.

  • Finance

    • Scientology founder’s tenets drive Pinellas title company, under fire for rapid document processing

      In 2009, a low-profile Pinellas County company drew unwelcome attention in a growing national controversy over home foreclosures.

      Employees of Nationwide Title Clearing, a leading processor of mortgage-related documents for banks, loan servicers and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., were under fire for signing paperwork as “vice president” of various banks although they actually worked for NTC.

      The assembly-line process in which workers scrawled their names or initials on hundreds of documents at a time — typically without reading them — helped prompt the term “robo-signing.” Critics said robo-signing raised questions about the accuracy of documents and the legality of thousands of foreclosure cases.

  • Privacy

    • Did the Internet Kill Privacy?

      The pictures were exactly what you’d expect from a European summer vacation: Cafes in Italy and Spain, the Guinness brewery in Ireland. So 24-year-old Ashley Payne, a public high school English teacher in Georgia, was not prepared for what happened when her principal asked to see her in August 2009.

      “He just asked me, ‘Do you have a Facebook page?’” Payne said. “And you know, I’m confused as to why I am being asked this, but I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Do you have any pictures of yourself up there with alcohol?’”

      In fact, the picture that concerned the principal – showing Payne holding a glass of wine and a mug of beer – was on her Facebook page. There was also a reference to a local trivia contest with a profanity in its title.

  • Civil Rights

    • Caught: Is This Man A Shill For CCTV’s Spring Festival Gala?

      Chinese netizens recently discovered what they suspect to be a shill or plant (identified above) in the audience of the annual CCTV New Year’s Gala (aka Spring Festival Gala) television program broadcast on the eve of Chinese New Year. How?

      They’ve spotted him on camera in the audience at every show since 2001!

      This discovery, including screen captures and timestamps of each time he appears) seems to have been first posted on the popular Chinese internet discussion forum Tianya. It soon spread to other popular forums and portal websites such as Mop and NetEase, all receiving pages and pages of netizen comments.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • Cartoon about UBB
    • UBB is Bad

      It’s not over yet.

      Regulating Canada into the last century will not help our digital economy survive in this one.
      We need to Stop Usage Based Billing before it starts.

    • Explaining confusion around Usage Based Billing

      Reading people’s tweets about this subject, I felt the need to clarify the situation around Usage Based Billing (UBB). There are people on the sidelines, who are saying things like “what’s so bad about UBB”. The same people also argue that companies such as Bell and Rogers have invested large amounts of dollars therefore they need to recoup their costs by implementing UBB. They appear to fear that if we don’t pay up our networks will get “clogged up” and will therefore end up with slow internet service. This is simply propaganda in my opinion.

    • Verizon to start bandwidth throttling top 5 percent bandwidth users

      IF YOU’RE A HEAVY bandwidth users with Verizon you might want to re-think your choice of network, as the company has issued some changes to its data usage policies as of today that allows them to throttle the top five percent of its users. On top this, the cellular network operator has decided that streaming media uses up too much of its bandwidth and will from now on transcode all streaming video passing through its network.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Piracy/Counterfeit Bait and Switch

      As I’ve noted before, one of the tricks used in the current ACTA negotiations is to blur the lines between counterfeiting and piracy, and to switch between the two whenever it suits the argument. So it’s no surprise that a conference bringing together many intellectual monopoly maximalists, the grandly-titled “Global Congress Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy”, used the same trick.


      Significantly, as the speaker seeks to address “civil society concerns with ACTA”, he does not mention the fact that ISPs will be forced to become agents of intellectual monopolists, or the knock-on loss of privacy that will result, or the chilling effect this will have on free speech. That’s because he has no answer to these very serious criticisms of ACTA, which has been pushed through largely by exploiting the deliberate confusion between counterfeiting, with its undoubted analogue risks, and digital piracy, which has none.

    • Copyright as a Fundamentalist Religion

      An advantage of doing a lot of original research on copyright, and the history of copyright in particular, is that you start seeing very strong parallels to previous power struggles in society. I frequently say in my keynotes that there is nothing new under the sun.

      What is happening now with the copyright industry vs. the people is practically identical to what happened when the printing press was introduced and the Catholic Church declared war on the self-educated people. In both cases, it is not really about religion or law, but about the very simple principle that people are people and that powerful people will use their power to keep their power.

    • Copyrights

      • David Guetta: ‘Music should be free’

        “I have never been very nervous about online pir­acy,” the Daily Star quotes him as saying.

        “Sometimes you have to give away content, even if it isn’t bringing you money. It doesn’t have to be music, it can be videos, images and so on.”

      • Arrr! The Music Pirates Are Still Here

        A new study that surfaced last week came to the incomprehensible conclusion that two thirds of all BitTorrent traffic is likely to be related to copyright infringement. Even more shocking, it seemed to suggest that music piracy on public BitTorrent trackers is a thing of the past. But is this really the case? We’re afraid we have to disappoint the music industry once more.

        A few days ago the piracy research firm Envisional published an elaborate study into (unlawful) file-sharing traffic on the Internet. Commissioned by NBC Universal the researchers combined older Internet traffic estimates with their own research on the use of various file-sharing platforms.

      • RIP: Not a ‘Remix’ Manifesto, a Moratorium

        So lets get into it. The first flag in the video is the very definition of ‘remix’ – “to combine or edit existing materials to produce something new.” The filmmaker claims that the word “rose to prominence late last century during the hey day of hip-hop” which he says was the first popular form to incorporate samples from existing recordings. While there is some truth in this, it is extremely misleading and wrong in its implications. His definition is not one of a remix, but rather a definition of collage. Perhaps if he replaced the word remix with the word collage throughout the piece it would have held more weight (maybe not), but because he didn’t it leaves the whole piece open for harsh criticism.

      • ACTA

        • EU Academics Opinion on ACTA Criticized by European Trade Negotiator at EC Stakeholders Meeting – Deadline for Signing Is Today

          An opinion on ACTA drafted by European academics identifies the most critical aspects of ACTA and shows how it clashes both with EU law and with the enforcement provisions of the TRIPS Agreement. FFII reports that EU trade negotiator Pedro Velasco Martins has lashed out at the letter, saying that “ACTA does not require the introduction of any modification of EU legislation and will not require any legislative implementation in Europe,” and that the professors should know better.

        • De Gucht responds to MEP Françoise Castex. Says ACTA is binding agreement, consistent with EU ‘acquis’

          Commissioner Karl De Gucht of DG-Trade has responded to a November 3, 2010 MEP question by Françoise Castex, regarding the binding nature of ACTA (See below for copy of the Castex question). De Gucht says the ACTA is “a binding international agreement on all its parties, as defined and subject to the rules of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.” De Gucht does not say, one way or the other, that ACTA is consistent with US law, and he acknowledges that ACTA will likely require changes in criminal statutes for some EU member countries, but says these provisions were negotiated by the Member States themselves, and are not subject to EU jurisdiction.

Clip of the Day

Inkscape + Spiro

Credit: TinyOgg

With Novell’s Intervention, MeeGo Now Poisoned by Mono

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 3:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft-patented bits of software (Novell-sponsored and containing Microsoft code), which are not covered by the Microsoft Community Promise, are now included in MeeGo

Banshee’s developer may be gone from Novell, but a lot of damage was done. Linux-based platforms were made dependent on Microsoft APIs and Microsoft patents that apply to Mono, for example (the Microsoft Community Promise (MCP) does not cover that). Banshee’s most recent incursion involved Ubuntu 11.04, as we noted over time in:

Banshee also tried to find its way into MeeGo, just shortly after MeeGo was first introduced. We wrote about this several times last year [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. According to Microsoft booster Gavin Clarke, “Banshee is now the default music player for MeeGo.” To quote in context:

Novell is losing a key figure driving development of the Banshee open-source music player it helped pioneer.

Banshee creator Aaron Bockover is leaving Novell after six years and joining Skype co-founders Janus Friis with Niklas Zennström on their latest venture: an on-demand, social music service called Rdio.


Banshee is now the default music player for MeeGo.

It is also the default in future releases of Ubuntu. What a mess. Last night a reader notified us that Banshee pusher David Nielsen (part of the so-called ‘Mono lobby’ [1, 2]) is doing it again:

We wrote about it, and now, after literally weeks of planning, it is here. The post-FOSDEM GNOME+Mono hackfest.

GNOME 3.0 is almost here and fortunately, with the exception of Tomboy, GNOME does not yet depend too much on Mono. To quote the GNOME 3 Myths Wiki (last updated two months ago): “Currently the only application written with the Mono bindings is the notetaking application Tomboy which has been part of GNOME since version 2.16 released in 2006. Tomboy will of course continue to be available in GNOME 3.0, but no component introduced explicitly in GNOME 3.0 will depend on Mono – GNOME Shell is written in C and Javascript, Zeitgeist and the GNOME Activity Journal use Python. And by the way, you can safely remove Tomboy if you don’t like it. Alternatively Gnote can be used which is a port of Tomboy to C++. Other Mono based applications like F-Spot and Banshee are not officially part of the GNOME release and have alternatives such as Shotwell, Rhythmbox and others.” As far as we know, Tomboy’s developer still gets his wage from the Microsoft-funded Novell.

“I’d like to see Gnome applications written in .NET in version 4.0 – no, version 3.0. But Gnome 4.0 should be based on .NET.”

“Gnome to be based on .NET – de Icaza”

How Bill Gates Got Control of a Budget of $500 Billion Per Year (Taxpayers’ Money)

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Microsoft at 3:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The Gates Foundation helps us understand why children are brought up to accept those who rob them and why certain “foundation”-named umbrellas increasingly become a burden to society

PUBLIC education is big business and private education can substitute public education, too. The Gates Foundation is the vehicle Bill Gates uses to influence this big business and even buy publications that cover the subject of education. He pays them millions (i.e. slush funds) to deceive the public and expand coverage of his paid-for ‘studies’ whose purpose is to tilt the education agenda. Not just the United States is affected by this anymore and our last comprehensive coverage of this was centered on Teach for America (TFA), which is one of Gates’ many lobbying groups that he keeps at his disposal (not lobbying per se, but a vehicle of influence nonetheless). If Gates can control how money is spent on education in the United States alone, then he has in his hands a budget of $500 billion per year (yes, that’s half a trillion, nearly the cost of the big bank bailout). A reader has just told us that PR Watch (an excellent Web site by the way) is addressing the subject right now. The headline is telling. It is “How Billionaires Rule Our Schools”, but the pluralism is perhaps an attempt not to criticise Mr. PR Love directly (although his photo is right there). To quote the opening:

The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy — where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision — investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

Hundreds of private philanthropies together spend almost $4 billion annually to support or transform K–12 education, most of it directed to schools that serve low-income children (only religious organizations receive more money). But three funders — the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation — working in sync, command the field. Whatever nuances differentiate the motivations of the Big Three, their market-based goals for overhauling public education coincide: choice, competition, deregulation, accountability, and data-based decision-making. And they fund the same vehicles to achieve their goals: charter schools, high-stakes standardized testing for students, merit pay for teachers whose students improve their test scores, firing teachers and closing schools when scores don’t rise adequately, and longitudinal data collection on the performance of every student and teacher. Other foundations — Ford, Hewlett, Annenberg, Milken, to name just a few — often join in funding one project or another, but the education reform movement’s success so far has depended on the size and clout of the Gates-Broad-Walton triumvirate.

Gates’ subversion of US education for his selfish purposes is similar to his lobbying for visas*. Nobody should assume that Gates is interested in improving education. It’s about money and power. This subject is to be covered properly at a later date and that’s a promise. Maybe it will take until March. In the mean time, we wish to share the words of a a reader who mailed us yesterday. In her message she wrote about what Microsoft calls “the slog” [PDF] (or sloggers), stating: “speaking of slogging and Microsoft spin…after the Google accusations about Bing cheating, and after the ghost data problem on the Win7 phone, as well as the lack of sales, and all the Patch-Tuesday news…oh yes, and the Quarterly Reports news…

“It seems that Bill (Senior Slogger in Chief) felt the need to do some damage control. The Slashdot headline regarding Bill’s talk about vaccinations (and the B&G Foundations vaccination goals), came at the perfect time to help defuse all the bad Microsoft news.

“It seems that whatever damage Steve causes, Bill just has to fire up the PR machine and swoop down like the Pope waving his saintly halo, and proclaim His Goodness throughout the land.

“In the end, it will be much harder to undermine the Foundation than it’s been to undermine Microsoft.”
      –Anonymous reader
“Since most people in the world still connect Bill Gates with Microsoft, they couldn’t possibly dislike a guy who gives his billions away just to keep children healthy. Therefore, continuing to buy Microsoft’s products will help Bill to support children’s health.

“It just seemed to me that the timing was interesting. The “good works” by the Foundation (children’s health, etc) obviously trumps any sleazy behavior by the company.

“You’ve likely already noticed this, but the waning power of Microsoft seems to be equal to the growing power of B&M Gates Foundation (and its investment arm). In the end, it will be much harder to undermine the Foundation than it’s been to undermine Microsoft. People tend to be less sympathetic to a giant corporation, when it comes to bad behavior. But pointing out bad behavior of a saintly foundation that “helps” children will be viewed as baseless criticism.”

As we pointed out before, the tactic of Gates right now is to buy the media and then harm society enormously behind closed doors while every critics who stands in his way will be discouraged with a statement like, “by criticising Gates you are killing hungry African children.” For what it’s worth, Gates is not the only person using this tactic as it has been done many times before. It’s a form of sentimental blackmail.
* As we’ve explained in separate posts, Gates also drains the coffers of taxpayers’ money all around the world by lobbying politicians to license patents and solicit purchases from the likes of Monsanto and the Pharmaceutical Cartel (incidentally, they have staff inside the Gates Foundation which they use as a lobbying vehicle for their former employers).

IRC Proceedings: February 7th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 8/2/2011: Xfce Foundation e.V. Launched, Firefox 7 Expected in 2011

Posted in News Roundup at 1:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux gets work done!

    So instead of wasting time I went straight to a method which I knew would work. I booted the computer using a Linux Parted Magic CD. This ran straight from ram so was super fast and freed up the CD drive for other uses. I mounted the hard disks via the graphical mount manager then copied the files via the graphical file manager and had no problems whatsoever.

  • Do not be a Nerd!

    This is important to know, because if you are a nerd and you want to be an entrepreneur, you are in trouble.

  • Server

    • Johannesburg Stock Exchange to move to Linux

      The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has announced that it is moving to an all Linux based trading platform when it relocates to Johannesburg. The JSE currently operates out of London and runs on the TradElect platform which is based on Microsoft .Net and SQL Server 2000. It plans to move to MilleniumIT’s Millennium Exchange platform by the first half of 2012.

  • Applications

    • Shotwell – First date was a ruin, second date was nice
    • Top 5 Linux DVD RIP Software

      Please note that most of the following programs can rip encrypted DVDs, as long as you have libdvdcss2 installed as described here.

    • Sabayon KForensics Available

      As of February 7th 2011, the KDE edition of Sabayon Forensics is available, see link for info and mirrors. Same tools as the GForensic, but in the KDE desktop environment. The forensic spins are based on the Daily KDE and Gnome x86 editions. Kpkglist can be viewed to see the packages on the Kforensics iso.

    • 6 Linux Groupware Servers

      The Linux/FOSS world offers a wealth of excellent Linux-based groupware server choices, suitable for small shops to giant enterprises. Eric Geier rounds up six to get you started.

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • Linux Distro: Linux Console

      The strangely named Linux Console seems to be designed to work equally well as a Live distribution and as a permanent installation. It offers an LXDE based desktop alongside a collection of standard applications. It could be used as a typical desktop Linux distro, but I have a feeling that it could see some use as a front-end in appliance type set-ups that need to be a bit more of a typical desktop layout than some of the kiosk or media player distributions. However, I’m not absolutely sure what the aim of this distro actually is.

    • Reviews

      • Free time experiments: GhostBSD, Zorin OS4, Mandriva 2011 TP

        I have to say that I loved Zorin OS 4 and I agree, it’s a wonderful distro. My concern is that it is an Ubuntu derivative. Please do not misinterpret me; I’m not an Ubuntu hater. I’m only thinking about what srlinuxx commented: with the new moves that Ubuntu is taking, its derivatives might have a hard time (Read the comment on Tuxmachines). It would be sad to lose a project like Zorin.

      • Reviews: First impressions of Saline OS 1.0

        When I began this review Saline 1.0 had just been released and, as I concluded my trial, I noticed Saline 1.1 was already available. I haven’t tried it yet, at least not from scratch (I have applied all pending updates), but the release announcement claims fixes have been made to the Update script, which will hopefully fix my biggest complaint. Saline is a pretty good Xfce distro; it’s fast and comes backed with a large collection of software on a stable Debian base.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Linux shakedown: Testing both GNOME 3 and Fedora 15

          The good folks at the Fedora Project decided to do something very intelligent – they released a candidate of Fedora 15 along with what will be the new default desktop – GNOME 3 for testing purposes. I decided to download the special GNOME 3 test ISO image and shake it down to see what happens. I have to say, I was fairly surprised at what greeted me. Not only had GNOME 3 undergone some changes since I last used it, but the release, as a whole, was in very good shape for such an early candidate.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian GNU/Linux

        Free Software versus non-free software is still as relevant an issue as it ever was. The monopoly is not quite dead. Businesses are still suing each other over ideas. A distro that leaves itself open to this attack by competitors is not long for this world. When Ubuntu is nothing but a crater in a courtroom because M$ and its partners have sued it into oblivion Debian GNU/Linux will still be going strong and so will its partners. GNU/Linux is taking a bite out of M$’s bottom line and when that bite is big enough, M$ will fire all of its guns and it will bring to bear all of the “intellectual property” guns of all its partners including hardware manufacturers. A distro that is making money and not staying true to the principles of Free Software will be toast.

        The non-free binary blobs in device drivers is not irrelevant.

      • Sweet Six: Falling In Love With Debian, Again

        Debian used to be my favorite distro, just before I made a switch to Ubuntu. The reason was fair and simple – I wanted latest packages. Over time I realized I need stability more than newest packages.

      • Why Debian matters more than ever

        Debian has never been a user-friendly distribution, or one that was really targeted at a mainstream audience. Debian 6.0 continues a long tradition of shipping a brand-new stable release that is already outdated, with little to appeal to new users. This was true more than 10 years ago when a Vancouver-based startup tried offering a prettified Debian with a simple GUI installer called Storm Linux. Stormix failed, but many others tried and finally Canonical has had a measure of success popularizing Debian with Ubuntu.

      • First look: Debian 6.0 Squeeze

        Debian 6.0, alias Squeeze, has been nearly two years in development. The new version is the first completely free Stable Release – and also the first Debian distribution that not only has the Linux kernel, but also the FreeBSD kernel.

      • Joining the fray: Why Debian matters

        Debian never gets the credit it deserves by the wider public, and that may be OK with them; or not. Personally, I think this is a tragedy — my first distro in 2006 was Debian, and while I went to Ubuntu and then to Fedora, Debian was the one where I started. If you started with Ubuntu, you really started with Debian.

      • Debian Squeeze: an Overview

        Debian was, in a sense, my first distro. I actually started out with Ubuntu, but it’s extreme bugginess quickly sent me in search of alternatives. I settled on Debian, and used it’s stable branch (first Etch, then Lenny) exclusively for three years. More recently I’ve switched over to Slackware and Arch, but a new release of Debian stable is still something I get excited about, so when Debian 6.0 (Squeeze) hit the streets late last week I installed it on a VM and took it for a test-drive.


        Debian is now shipping with a completely free kernel…

      • Richard Stallman: Re: The “Free” Kernel In Debian Squeeze

        It sounds like the new Debian version of Linux will recommend specific nonfree firmware programs, which is undesirable.

        I talked with Alexandre a few months ago, and we decided to change the way Linux Libre deals with outside nonfree firmware.

        The current practice is to change the code to fail instead of trying to load any firmware.

        The change is to obfuscate the names of the firmware files in the Linux source code. That way, if a user tracks down what firmware to install and installs it under the name that the code wants, it will.
        But Linux Libre will still not suggest installation of the nonfree firmware file to handle a particular device.

        In either case, it is possible to run the nonfree software. Free software has no way to stop users from doing something, since users an change it.

        Alexandre, how is progress on this?

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android Constructors

          At the Honeycomb event today, I was immensely pleased to hear both Andy Rubin and Chris Yerga shout-out to the engineers; Andy followed up on Twitter.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Alternatives to Google

    Is it feasible to drop Google for a period of time in exchange for unfettered open source alternatives?

    When I first pondered the notion of such an idea, I figured I must be losing my mind. Drop Google? The search giant, regardless of how well-intentioned it may be, has an octopus-like hold on the Internet – its tentacles are everywhere.

    Oddly enough, though, it turned out to be easier than I expected. Let’s look at the mindset, software choices and habit changes needed to make this idea doable.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 2011 Roadmap Updated, Expect Firefox 7 in 2011

        News made the round at the end of January that Mozilla had plans to accelerate the development of the Firefox web browser by releasing major version updates more frequently.

      • Firefox 4, 5, 6 and 7 to be released before the end of 2011

        Firefox’s official roadmap has been updated, and boy are there some interesting changes afoot. Most notably, Firefox 7 will ship in 2011. The second biggy, and the main focus of Firefox development in 2011, is to make sure there is no more than 50ms between any user interaction and feedback from the browser.

  • Openness/Sharing


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Is it time to refer to mitochondria as bacteria?

      In the article Pallen argues for giving mitochondria their own family w/in bacteria. I think that would be a good idea as they are really just a highly reduced form of bacteria. We give endosymbionts, even those with tiny genomes, their own groups. So why note organelles that are derived from bacteria? After all – phylogenetically they are bacteria.

    • Don’t let them “Shirley Sherrod” Planned Parenthood

      The rightwing smear machine that took down Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones and ACORN is at it again. This time they are going after Planned Parenthood.

    • First Study of Dispersants in Gulf Spill Suggests a Prolonged Deepwater Fate

      To combat last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nearly 800,000 gallons of chemical dispersant were injected directly into the oil and gas flow coming out of the wellhead nearly one mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, as scientists begin to assess how well the strategy worked at breaking up oil droplets, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) chemist Elizabeth B. Kujawinski and her colleagues report that a major component of the dispersant itself was contained within an oil-gas-laden plume in the deep ocean and had still not degraded some three months after it was applied.

      While the results suggest the dispersant did mingle with the oil and gas flowing from the mile-deep wellhead, they also raise questions about what impact the deep-water residue of oil and dispersant—which some say has its own toxic effects—might have had on environment and marine life in the Gulf.

  • Security

    • FLAMING RETORT – Cooling the friction when Linux meets anti-virus
    • Scareware: How Crime Pays

      Scareware is fraudulent software that uses deceptive advertising to trick users into believing they’re infected with some variety of malware, then convinces them to pay money to protect themselves. The infection isn’t real, and the software they buy is fake, too. It’s all a scam.

    • $100 Bribe to Ticket Agent Allows Unknown Package to Fly on JetBlues

      Although millions of dollars are spent on airline security each year in the United States, it only took $100.00 for a JetBlue ticket agent to allow a unknown package to go onto a flight, coming from an unknown person.

      On November 19, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was at Charlotte Douglas Airport testing out JetBlue’s security. Their goal was to try and get an unaccompanied package onto a flight headed to Boston and unfortunately, they succeeded. An undercover TSA agent told a JetBlue ticket agent that he needed to get a package to Boston that day and would pay the agent $100.00 for helping. The agent took the $100, put it in his pocket and proceeded to follow the unknown person’s instructions. The ticket agent chose a passenger’s name at random, which just happened to be an unaccompanied minor, and the package went through the screening process with no problems. Although the package was harmless, the TSA pulled the package just before being loaded onto the aircraft.

    • The Moscow Attack and Airport Security

      The Jan. 24 bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport killed 35 people and injured more than 160. The attack occurred at approximately 4:40 p.m. as passengers from several arriving international flights were leaving the airport after clearing immigration and customs. The attacker (or attackers; reports are still conflicting over whether the attack was conducted by a man or a man and a woman together) entered the international arrivals hall of the airport, a part of the facility that is outside the secure area and that is commonly packed with crowds of relatives and taxi and limo drivers waiting to meet travelers.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Deputies: Fla. man stabbed because he was Muslim

      Authorities say a Florida man is accused of stabbing another man in the neck after learning he was Muslim during a discussion about religion.

    • John Ivison: Security Perimeter could make Canada a very different place

      In his excellent new paper: “Now for the Hard Part: Renewing the Canadian-American Partnership,” former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson offered some advice for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the eve of his departure for Washington to sign a new perimeter security deal with President Barack Obama.

      He quoted Daniel Burnham, the great Chicago architect, who once said: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” Mr. Robertson suggested that Mr. Harper should think big.

    • Reagan: Killer, Coward, Con-man

      You’re not going to like this. You shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone’s got to.

      On the 100th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, as we suffer a week of Reagan-kitcheria and pukey peons, let us remember:

      Reagan was a con-man. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.

      In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis.

    • Berlusconi and Murdoch: Two Fascists Peas in the Pod?
    • Bush to face torture case whenever abroad: activists

      Activists vowed on Monday that former U.S. President George W. Bush will face a torture case against him wherever he travels outside the United States.

      Human rights groups had planned to lodge a Swiss criminal case against Bush on Monday, before his address to a Jewish charity in Geneva on February 12. Organisers canceled his speech last weekend, invoking security concerns.

    • George Bush issued travel warning by human rights organisations

      Human rights groups have vowed to track George W Bush round the world after their success in forcing him to cancel a trip to Switzerland amid concerns over protests and a threatened arrest warrant.

      Katherine Gallagher, a lawyer with the New York-based Centre for Constitutional Rights, said: “The reach of the convention against torture is wide. This case is prepared and will be waiting for him wherever he travels next.

      “Torturers, even if they are former presidents of the United States, must be held to account and prosecuted.”

    • Extrajudicial Killing in Egypt

      [T]here are estimates of up to 300 deaths as a result of the protests and reactions.

    • Corruption in Egypt

      The violence/repression in Egypt is not just about power or ideology, it is about corruption.
      “The wealth of Ahmed Ezz, the former NDP Organisation Secretary, is estimated to be 18 billion Egyptian pounds;

      The wealth of former Housing Minister Ahmed al-Maghraby is estimated to be more than 11 billion Egyptian pounds;

      The wealth of former Minister of Tourism Zuhair Garrana is estimated to be 13 billion Egyptian pounds;

      The wealth of former Minister of Trade and Industry, Rashid Mohamed Rashid, is estimated to be 12 billion Egyptian pounds;

    • Egyptian Government Must Release International Human Rights Observers, Stop Crackdown on Civil Society

      We are happy to report that our Amnesty staffers have been released! Thank you so much for your incredible outpouring of support.

    • Senators decry link between Egypt, ‘kill switch’ bill

      Three U.S. senators who want to give the president emergency powers over the Internet are protesting comparisons with the “kill switch” highlighted by Egypt’s Net disconnection.

      In a statement yesterday, the politicians said their intent was to allow the president “to protect the U.S. from external cyber attacks,” not to shut down the Internet, and announced that they would revise their legislation to explicitly prohibit that from happening.

    • WikiLeaks: Israel’s secret hotline to the man tipped to replace Mubarak

      As a key figure working for Middle East peace, he once suggested that Israeli troops would be “welcome” to invade Egypt to stop weapons being smuggled to Hamas terrorists in neighbouring Gaza.

      The details, which emerged in secret files obtained by WikiLeaks and passed to The Daily Telegraph, come after Mr Suleiman began talks with opposition groups on the future for Egypt’s government.

      On Saturday, Mr Suleiman won the backing of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to lead the “transition” to democracy after two weeks of demonstrations calling for President Mubarak to resign.

  • Cablegate

    • Political Instability

      A recent political trauma occurred in January at the Churchill Club WikiLeaks event. The featured speaker was Daniel Ellsberg, a an old lion of the left, and boy was he ever convincing. I realized that I was listening to someone apparently positioned several leagues left of where I see myself, and admiring every word. Just one example: his pointing out, in terms that made anger unavoidable, the Obama administration’s refusal to prosecute anyone for the widespread torture conducted by its predecessors (both direct and via extraordinary rendition, which is what they call it when you hand your political prisoners over to Arab autocracies for them to do the dirty); and simultaneous willingness to unleash the Justice Department against whistleblowers and leakers.


      EGIS Chief Omar Soliman told Ambassador and
      a visiting Codel led by Senator George Voinovich December 31
      that he is optimistic progress will be made on
      Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. However, Soliman was
      concerned with continuing Israeli criticism of Egyptian
      anti-smuggling efforts. He was worried that the Egyptians
      would not be able to work out an arrangement with the
      Israelis for Hajj pilgrims to return to Gaza. On Iran,
      Soliman said that the USG’s release of the National
      Intelligence Estimate had altered the calculus through which
      Arab states are interacting with Iran. On Iraq argued that
      the Iraqi government needed to amend its constitution and
      that Prime Minister Malaki should not deal with the Iraqi
      people in a “sectarian way.”


      Egyptian-Israeli communications have suffered because of Egypt’s management of the Gaza border, its contacts with Hamas and the impact of both issues on Congressional action to impose conditions on Egypt’s FMF. The Israelis charge that Cairo is soft on Hamas and not just tolerating, but complicit in smuggling. The Egyptians insist that they are doing their best to stem smuggling and claim national interests, including security, require them to sustain communications with Hamas. They also blame Israel for the Congressional debate over conditioning USD 200 million of FMF on improvements in Gaza border security, and call this a “hostile act.” The Egyptians are so aggrieved that they now welcome U.S. mediation in their discussions with the Israelis. Each side appears seriously to misjudge the other’s national security and political interests at stake over Gaza/Hamas, and much else. We believe our offer to help get things back on track by joining Egyptian-Israeli border security discussions should remain on the table. The offer alone may help repair the seriously strained Egyptian-Israeli bilateral dialogue and thereby enable more cooperation.

    • 05CAIRO8938,

      Thank you for including Cairo in your travel to the Middle East. Your visit presents an opportunity to review and upgrade our law enforcement/intelligence cooperation with the Egyptians. The CIA already has a strong and growing relationship with the Egyptian Intelligence Service (EGIS). We would like the FBI to establish a similarly robust and productive partnership with the State Security Investigative Service. The Ministry does not yet recognize the benefit for their side of enhanced ties with the FBI. But leaders like Omar Soliman and especially President Mubarak, with whom we hope you will be able to meet, have the vision and influence to overcome these reservations. On our side, we should be ready with concrete proposals to kick start new levels of practical cooperation. Exchange of forensic and biometric data and associated upgrades of Egypt’s capabilities in this field could provide a good beginning.


      Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s August 23 visit to Egypt was a success, according to MOD Arab Affairs Adviser David Hacham. Barak’s meetings with President Mubarak, Intelligence Minister Soliman, and Defense Minister Tantawi focused on reviving negotiations for the release of Corporal Shalit, the Israeli assessment of the Tahdiya (Calming) with Hamas in Gaza, and Egypt’s anti-smuggling efforts. Hacham said the Israelis were “shocked” by President Mubarak’s aged appearance; their most substantive exchanges were with Soliman. Hacham said Iran was also on the agenda, with the Israeli and Egyptian sides agreeing they had a common strategic interest in containing Iran’s regional ambitions. Our sense is that the Israeli-Egyptian relationship is gradually improving since the beginning of the Tahdiya in June. Barak and MOD in particular are committed to maintaining a strategic relationship with Egypt. MFA Director General Abramovich reportedly also is planning to visit Egypt next week to meet Foreign Minister Abul Gheit.


      Deputy Assistant Secretary Rob Danin and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Mark Kimmitt met November 6 with Israel Security Agency (ISA) Director Yuval Diskin to discuss relations with Egypt regarding the Gaza border. Diskin said the ISA had provided detailed information on smuggling networks, but the Egyptians had failed to take action. Concern about Congressional moves to link Egyptian aid to Gaza smuggling has prompted new bilateral discussions, and Diskin indicated some flexibility on Sinai troop levels in return for serious cooperation on this issue. Diskin contended that Egypt generally seeks to avoid conflict with Hamas and Bedouin tribes, and tolerates their activities outside Egyptian borders. He also suggested that the central government has weakened in recent years, and has less control over security officials in Sinai. The ISA asked for U.S. support in efforts to establish direct ties with security services within the Egyptian Ministry of Interior. Diskin provided specific details on smuggling from Egypt, and warned that trained personnel returning from Syria and Iran were of even greater concern.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Swimming accessories presented to Russian Governor for a swim in the Neva River

      This morning Greenpeace activists brought a very unusual gift to the Governor of St. Petersburg – a set of swimming accessories: beach towel, air bed, diving pipe, underwater mask, flippers and beach umbrella. Also attached to the gift was a set of measures on what needs to be done to make the Neva River clean and safe for swimming.

      Two weeks ago the Governor of St. Petersburg Mrs. Valentina Matvienko announced that in 2012 the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland waters will be so clean that it will be possible to swim there. But unfortunately without adequate measures from state and business only a miracle can make the Governor’s dream come true in such a short period of time.

    • The Koch Brothers’ Vast Right-Wing Media Conspiracy

      Last June, Glenn Beck paused in the middle of a rant about the economy and climate on his television show for an important, if rather unexpected, aside. “I want to thank Charles Koch for this information,” he said. Beck’s statement was totally without context, thrown in amid jabs at Al Gore and endorsements of the free market. Months later, it came to light that he recently had been a guest of honor at a semiannual confab sponsored by fossil-fuel billionaire Charles Koch and his brother, David, an event the pair hosts to connect conservative think tanks, politicos, and media types like Beck.

      Koch Industries, a Kansas-based company founded in 1940 by father Fred Koch, is the second largest privately held company in America. Charles and David Koch are tied as the fifth wealthiest people in the nation, worth a combined $43 billion. Their money comes through a variety of business interests—ranching, mining, oil refining, and production of paper products, fertilizer, and chemicals. It would be an understatement to say that they have much at stake when it comes to efforts to cut climate-changing emissions.

  • Finance

    • Ontario beer too expensive, Tory leader says

      Ontario’s opposition Progressive Conservatives are considering lowering beer prices in the province if they win power in the fall election, aiming to reduce the cost of living.

      PC party leader Tim Hudak left the door open to a return to “a buck a beer” — or $24 per case of 24 beers — in a scrum with reporters Monday. While Hudak wouldn’t commit to the policy change, he said rising beer prices “are just one of the many things that hitting Ontario families in the pocket.”

    • Why Obama and the chamber are getting friendlier

      There was a lot of hype surrounding Barack Obama’s speech at the Chamber of Commerce today, but not much reason for it. The speech was an articulation of the agenda that the White House has already laid out. Indeed, Obama previewed as much at the beginning of the address. “I’m here in the interest of being more neighborly,” he said. Not in the interest of announcing a new policy, or telling some tough truths, or cutting a deal. In the interest of being neighborly. “Maybe we would have gotten off on a better foot if I had brought over a fruitcake when we first moved in.”

    • Obama to CEOs: Ask what you can do for America

      Echoing John F. Kennedy, President Barack Obama prodded business leaders Monday to “ask yourselves what you can do for America,” not just for company bottom lines, even as he sought to smooth his uneasy relations with the nation’s corporate executives.

    • Republicans call for swift action to weaken Fannie and Freddie

      Republicans are calling on Washington to begin winding down mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the first step in a longer-term plan to get the federal government out of the housing business.

    • By one measure, federal taxes lowest since 1950

      Actually, as a share of the nation’s economy, Uncle Sam’s take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way.

      And for the third straight year, American families and businesses will pay less in federal taxes than they did under former President George W. Bush, thanks to a weak economy and a growing number of tax breaks for the wealthy and poor alike.

    • FDIC seeks delay in bonuses for top bank execs

      Federal regulators are proposing that top executives at large financial firms wait at least three years to be paid half of their annual bonuses, a move designed to cut down on risky financial transactions.

    • “To Blame Wall Street For the Financial Meltdown Is Absurd”

      The absurdity here is that we have created Too Big To Fail banks (and insurance companies) and that we are allowing them to become Too Big To Save – while our political elite blithely looks the other way.

    • Wall Street needs stricter regulations

      Wall Street is known for big bonuses — the kind of bonuses that let investment bankers make more in a day than many people make in a year. But the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is looking to combat that a little. Regulators have proposed a rule that, if approved, will force financial firms like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs to defer at least half of bonuses for top executives for three years. The FDIC hopes that, by making these institutions defer payment over longer periods of time, it will force them to more closely analyze their executives’ long-term performances, thereby deterring them from making impulsive, high-risk trades or investments. While the FDIC’s intentions are noble, there are some flaws in this plan that need to be patched up if they want it to work successfully.

    • Finance: Shadow boxes

      Reaching for a metaphor to depict where the next crisis in the global financial system might emanate from, Larry Summers invokes the futile fortifications built by France along its eastern border between the world wars to deter invasion.

    • Fraudclosure: Will State AGs Step Up to Their Moment in History?

      Rumor has it that the 50-state attorneys general investigation into the Fraudclosure scandal is wrapping up. It’s time for a backbone check. Will the state attorneys general just ask the big banks and service providers to turn over a chunk of change from seemingly bottomless pockets? (This strategy was pursued by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) with little impact). Or will Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller take the lead in wrestling a real settlement out of the banks, so that families hammered by unemployment and underemployment can stay in their homes?

    • Organized Labor in the Crosshairs

      First you had a French company, Roquette Freres, announcing to its Keokuk, Iowa, employees that management had decided to unilaterally cut benefits and slash wages by $4 per hours, despite the fact that its Keokuk corn milling plant was profitable and its workers loyal and efficient.

      When the BCTGM (Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers) Local 48G’s 240 members balked at what they saw as plain, old-fashioned extortion, the immediately company locked them out. No talking, no compromising, no willingness to move. They locked the doors on them.

    • To us, it’s an obscure shift of tax law. To the City, it’s the heist of the century

      ‘I would love to see tax reductions,” David Cameron told the Sunday Telegraph at the weekend, “but when you’re borrowing 11% of your GDP, it’s not possible to make significant net tax cuts. It just isn’t.” Oh no? Then how come he’s planning the biggest and crudest corporate tax cut in living memory?

      If you’ve heard nothing of it, you’re in good company. The obscure adjustments the government is planning to the tax acts of 1988 and 2009 have been missed by almost everyone – and are, anyway, almost impossible to understand without expert help. But as soon as you grasp the implications, you realise that a kind of corporate coup d’etat is taking place.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • AriannaOL

      The only thing that makes me nervous is hearing Arianna talk with Kara Swisher about the center. No, Arianna, don’t heed the siren call of the view from nowhere! But I can’t believe that’s possible for her. Arianna’s not going to be buying Glenn Beck. Arianna must be Arianna.

      One wonders why big, old media companies didn’t buy Huffington Post. The better question is why they never started their own HuffPos. Only one did: The Guardian.

  • Censorship

    • Online Media Fight Internet Clampdown

      A government plan to control online media has sparked widespread protest from journalists and lawmakers who say the move is a sign of the ruling party’s desperation as it prepares for a “do or die” general election.

      The plan, announced mid-January, is to apply strict publication laws to online news media for “national security” reasons.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Super Bowl’s Homeless Problem

      In December, the Dallas City Council outlawed panhandling in the city’s most prominent tourist areas, including several zones where big Super Bowl events are planned. For several weeks, the the city has been removing homeless people from the areas as it spruces them up for football fans. Anyone who sticks around to ask for handouts from all the high rollers and corporate junketers who’ll be passing through could be fined up to $500.

    • Rights group: PA banning freedom of expression

      Palestinian rights group on Thursday warned of deteriorating freedom of expression in the West Bank, as the PA banned “unlicensed assembly” in response to rallies in solidarity with Egyptians.

    • Resolution Calling to Amend the Constitution Banning Corporate Personhood Introduced in Vermont

      “Corporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires,” wrote Stevens.

    • Noam Chomsky (Part 2): “This Is The Most Remarkable Regional Uprising That I Can Remember”

      In recent weeks, popular uprisings in the Arab world have led to the ouster of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the imminent end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, a new Jordanian government, and a pledge by Yemen’s longtime dictator to leave office at the end of his term. We spoke to MIT Professor Noam Chomsky on Wednesday’s live program about the situation in Egypt, and then continued the interview for another 50 minutes after the show to further discuss what these popular uprisings mean for the future of the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy in the region, how U.S. fear of the Muslim Brotherhood is really fear of democracy in the Arab world, and what the Egyptian protests mean for people in the United States.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • U.S. Has Secret Tools to Force Internet on Dictators

      When Hosni Mubarak shut down Egypt’s internet and cellphone communications, it seemed that all U.S. officials could do was ask him politely to change his mind. But the American military does have a second set of options, if it ever wants to force connectivity on a country against its ruler’s wishes.

    • ‘CRTC’s faulty UBB foundation’

      The controversy over the CRTC’s usage based billing decisions took centre stage yesterday with an Industry Committee hearing and comments from politicians from all parties.

      After Industry Minister Tony Clement earlier advised that the government would send the CRTC back to the drawing board on UBB if the Commission did not do so itself, Chair Konrad von Finckenstein told the Industry Committee that the CRTC was delaying implementation of the decision by at least 60 days and that it would review it to “verify” that it protects consumers, ensures that heavy Internet users pay for their “excess use” and that small ISPs retain maximum flexibility. Yet immediately after the hearing, Clement told reporters that “regardless of the outcome of that review the ruling will not be implemented.”

    • Clearing up the confusion over the caps

      Caps on Internet service — referred to as usage-based billing (UBB) — took the political world by storm this week. More than 350,000 Canadians signed a petition calling for an end to the common practice, and the government indicated it would order the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to reconsider its decision to allow large Internet providers such as Bell to implement UBB when it sells wholesale access to smaller providers.

      On Thursday, CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein told a House of Commons committee that the commission will do just that.

    • Geist: The real reason we pay so much for Internet

      Last week, public concern with Internet bandwidth caps hit a fever pitch as hundreds of thousands of Canadians signed petitions against Internet provider practices of “metering” Internet use.

      The government responded with a commitment to order the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to revisit the issue. Hours later, the CRTC announced that it would delay implementation of the decision by 60 days and review it with fresh eyes and an open mind.

      While addressing the CRTC decision is a good start, Canadians will be disappointed — some even surprised — to learn that Internet “metering” is already almost uniformly in place. The “caps” are the existing and common provider limits on usage, above which you are billed extra. They are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, what ever the CRTC decides after its review.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto

      In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.


      The main reason, however, why Whole Foods is pleading for coexistence with Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF and the rest of the biotech bullies, is that they desperately want the controversy surrounding genetically engineered foods and crops to go away. Why? Because they know, just as we do, that 2/3 of WFM’s $9 billion annual sales is derived from so-called “natural” processed foods and animal products that are contaminated with GMOs. We and our allies have tested their so-called “natural” products (no doubt WFM’s lab has too) containing non-organic corn and soy, and guess what: they’re all contaminated with GMOs, in contrast to their certified organic products, which are basically free of GMOs, or else contain barely detectable trace amounts.

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