Links 19/2/2011: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.9, ODF Plugfest UK Imminent

Posted in News Roundup at 12:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Not All is Fair in Linux

    There are a couple experiences I had yesterday computer-wise that I’d like to share.

  • Desktop

    • Web Development, Better Done On GNU/Linux

      I often tell people that setup, configuration, writing, scripting, and other general development of any website is better done on the same web server, or at least the same operating system, that is installed on the web server that the site is going to be hosted and ran on, rather than developed elsewhere and simply dropped in place later. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using Apache or Windows Server, GNU/Linux or Windows.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KWin Embraces New Platforms with OpenGL ES 2.0 Support

        Over the last few months the KWin development team worked on bringing the Window Manager for KDE’s Plasma workspaces to mobile devices. This has required porting the compositing code to OpenGL ES 2.0, the open graphics API for programmable embedded graphics hardware. With the migration of KWin’s codebase to git, the code was imported into the master development tree to be part of the next release of the KDE Platform.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.9 marks the end of 4.x

        After 6 plus years of service, Red Hat is moving its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL 4) into a bug and security fix maintenance phase. The move follows the release of RHEL 4.9 which is the last update of RHEL 4.x that will include new features and hardware support.

        According to Red Hat, RHEL 4.9 included 200 updates including an update version of SystemTap.

      • Close to the 50 Day – Red Hat

        New York, February 18th (TradersHuddle.com) – Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) closed the trading day at $45.58 close to its 50 day moving average currently set at $45.32. Red Hat’s price action is just above this important support level translating into a trading opportunity.

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) develops and provides open source software and services, including the Red Hat Linux operating system.

      • Axial preaches open source with capital

        Axial Exchange, an early-stage company launched by a former Red Hat executive, has closed on an initial fundraiser that will allow it to expand deployment of its open source-based, health care communication product.

        The Raleigh company raised $1.5 million in recent weeks from two investors and will close on an additional $350,000 in the coming weeks, says founder Joanne Rohde. The funding will be used for development, sales and marketing expansions this year. The company has seven employees and may hire a couple more this year.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 14 screen capture

          Fedora 14 was released last Nov 2, 2010, awfully long time ago in the Linux world. Anyway, I am just documenting here how it looks like installing Fedora 14 in VirtualBox. I have done this for the top 5 distributions and I am gonna do this for Fedora again.

        • Romanian Fedora community at crossroads

          By the official numbers there are 9 Fedora Ambassadors for Romania, this sounds like a healthy number but: some of them I know nothing about, from some didn’t hear in more than a year, some are busy with life, some working exclusively on derivative distros, some left the country and some left the country with a paid job on a competing distro… Also, I am not an Ambassador, so not included in the list above. Yet.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • 5 Amazing Wallpapers From The Ubuntu 11.04 Submissions

          As you may be aware, many of the wallpapers that ship with Ubuntu are user submitted. Till Ubuntu 10.10, only photographs are accepted. However in Ubuntu 11.04, the Canonical design team will also include three artworks submitted by users. There are plenty of very good submissions – and this is our selection of five of them which we like.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Quick Look: PureOS 3.0

            Every once in a while I run into a distro that has me scratching my head and wondering what the developers were thinking. PureOS is just such a distribution. Version 3.0 was just released and announced on DistroWatch, so I thought I’d give it a download and see what it was like.

            I had initially planned to do a full review of it on Desktop Linux Reviews, but I ran into a snag with the install (which I’ll talk more about in that section of this quick look) so I decided to do a quick look instead. This quick look is based on the live desktop environment.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Open source Snowball board taps dual-core Cortex-A9 SoC

      Both the Snowball and PandaBoard are supported with low-level Linux code supporting Ubuntu, MeeGo, and Android from the ARM-backed, not-for-profit, Linaro development firm. In November, Linaro demonstrated its Linaro 10.11 tools running on a variety of Cortex-A8 platforms, such as the BeagleBoard, plus Cortex-A9 systems, such as the PandaBoard.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Google tips future unity between Gingerbread and Honeycomb forks

          An upcoming “I” Android release will provide Honeycomb-like tablet features for phones, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said during a Mobile World Congress (MWC) keynote. He added that Google would still welcome Nokia in the Android camp, demonstrated a video editor for Honeycomb named Movie Studio, and waxed eloquent on mobile technology’s positive effect on society.

        • Google music app to ship on Motorola Xoom tablet

          Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha said a Google music application will be available with the Motorola Xoom tablet later this year. Also this week, Motorola confirmed the $799 (unsubsidized) pricing for the Android 3.0 tablet and announced the retailers that will participate in the tablet’s second-quarter release in the U.K.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Editor’s Note: Hackers Defend Liberty

    It amazes me that this is a concept that we actually have to defend. If it weren’t for hackers jailbreaking PS3s and Apple devices, breaking laughably weak copy protection schemes, and exposing the many weaknesses of proprietary products we would have no way out. It is amazing and amusing, in the most bitterly cynical way, that instead of improving their shoddy products the goons I mean fine upstanding titans of industry instead resort to jackbootery, to pushing through terrible legislation like the DMCA, terrible international treaties like ACTA, wholesale abuse of the civil courts, and unrestrained invasions into our personal business. It’s a sickness.

  • ForgeRock Shines on Sun’s Legacy Identity

    Are one company’s castoffs another company’s treasure?

    Open source startup ForgeRock this week is celebrating its first year in business, thanks in part to technology giant Oracle.

    The core of ForgeRock identity offerings were born at Sun Microsystems, which has since been acquired by Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL). ForgeRock has managed to take a number of open source technologies started at Sun, including the OpenSSO single sign on and identity platform, and position them as the foundation of a growing business. According to ForgeRock, the technologies that it is now building and evolving might not have had a future with Oracle, which has created an opportunity for the startup.

  • Long-Term Open Source Solutions on Cities’ Radar

    In cities across the country, government officials are searching for ways to make meaningful data available and use the intelligence to solve social problems. Agencies are leveraging contests like NYC BigApps 2.0, which is scheduled to announce its winners in March. Though contests are an effective tool, experts warn that governments should focus on long-term solutions.

    One of the leading apps contest creators, ChallengePost, has proved that apps contests can be a good investment. Brandon Kessler, founder and CEO of ChallengePost points to New York as a shining example.

  • Why I lose interest in some projects.

    Some projects have historically sucked; they’ve been incomplete, they’ve been hard to use, they’ve had poor documentation, or they’ve had regular security issues.

    Over time projects that started off a little poorly can, and often do, improve. But their reputation is usually a long time in improving.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google gives Chrome 10 beta a turbo boost

        Google has released a new beta version of Chrome 10, giving it a notable speed boost.

        The firm announced “a dramatic improvement in JavaScript speed, new password sync features, and entirely revamped browser settings,” via the Chrome blog.

        Google said the JavaScript speed in this beta release is 66 per cent faster on the V8 benchmark suite over the current stable release.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Fate of Java

      On the one hand, Java is looking like a security sieve/trojan these days and on the other Google has asked USPTO to shoot down several patents on Java which are held by Oracle.

      Until software patents in general are discarded IT will be burdened by illegitimate patents that take many years to sort out in the courts. Patents are silly when applied to software. They are tantamount to patenting ideas and the last thing IT needs is restraint on ingenuity.

  • CMS

    • XOOPS, There It Is! A CMS for the Masses

      The great thing about open source software is the ability for developers to fork their own project, if they want to see it take a different direction.

      In 2001, a Content Management System called MyPHPNuke forked from another project, PHP-Nuke, for this very reason. Shortly thereafter, when core developers decided that add-on modules were integrated too tightly with the core, another fork was spawned named XOOPS (eXtensible Object Oriented Portal System).

    • Bitrix Releases List of Top Ten Open Source CMS Pitfalls

      Bitrix, Inc., a technology trendsetter in business communications solutions, has compiled a list of the ten major pitfalls of free open source (FOSS) content management systems (CMS) from a customer’s and web developer’s perspective (download whitepaper). The weaknesses listed are natural, if unfortunate, outcomes caused directly or indirectly by this licensing model that diminish its viability in meeting real-life business requirements.

  • Business

    • Open for Business – SMEs take place at Public Sector table

      Today at the Treasury, Mark Taylor attended Franice Maude’s SME strategic supplier summit. If even half of the promised reforms materialise it will transform the Public Sector landscape, clearing the way for young and dynamic businesses to bring innovative solutions and play their part in cutting the gaping deficit.

      The event began with a surprise visit from David Cameron, who gave the opening talk. The day was lead from the front by Francis Maude throughout. Their enthusiasm for the new measures plainly evident.

    • Semi-Open Source

      • Openness is Virtue. Ask Sony.

        Sony has tried and failed to failed to lock down PlayStation. Their latest move was to threaten to ban those who modified their PlayStations… They were going to do that by recognizing a unique ID.

  • Programming

    • Software is too important to leave it to programmers

      After reading Software piracy is also the Government’s fault a website developer wrote to me (synthesizing):

      1. trying to write programs or websites “for everybody” is something that requires a lot of development time; therefore, unless the customer paid to have something viewable with any browser/operating system, you do it. Otherwise, you DON’T. You try to make happy the makority of users and who gives a f**k if not all versions of Linux support Vmw (a video format) out of the box. Sure, that’s ugly to say, but that’s the way it goes
      2. I don’t even care much for people who use Open Source Software that they didn’t pay and then demand to be treated as those who paid something
      3. Here’s a (deliberately) stupid example: if I build my own car myself with my friends, in our spare time, I certainly don’t expect the same performances as an Audi

  • Standards/Consortia

    • About Global Public Inclusive Infrastructures (GPIIs) | gpii.org

      The ODF, as the chief open standard for documents, is leading the front here, and OOo, as the leading open source office suite, is profoundly important to the point.

    • ODF Plugfest UK a week away

      The ODF 5th Plugfest is shaping up well with leading speakers and presentations including Bill McCluggage, Deputy CIO, UK Cabinet Office; Rob Weir, ODF Architect, IBM, Co-chair, OASIS ODF TC; Rufus Pollock, Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, Director, Open Knowledge Foundation; Chris Puttick, Consultant CIO, Oxford Archaeology, Council Member, IMIS; Mark Taylor, CEO Sirius, a leading integrator of Open Source Applications, as well as world experts in the development and implementation of Open Document Formats.


  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky verdict ordered from above, claims judge’s assistant

    The guilty verdict against the oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky was ordered from above and written by a judge who did not try the case, a Russian court official who worked on the recent trial has said.

    Natalya Vasilyeva, in an interview she claimed was certain to spell the end of her career, said: “I can say that all of legal society understands perfectly well that this is a made-to-order case, a made-to-order trial.”

  • Erase and rewind

    In the 1960s and ’70s, it was common practice at the BBC to reuse video tapes. Old recordings were taped over with new shows. Some Doctor Who episodes have been lost forever. Jimi Hendrix’s unruly performance on Happening for Lulu would have also been lost if a music-loving engineer hadn’t sequestered the tapes away, preventing them from being over-written.

  • How big business subverts democracy

    Just a couple of years ago, most people had no idea what the Chamber of Commerce did. Aren’t they mom and pop’s small-business lobby in Washington? Now, thanks in large part to the work of Chamber opponents, we’ve come to learn that the biggest business lobby in the world is also one of the biggest impediments to real democracy in the US, and that they’re a huge force in opposing healthcare reform, employee free choice and other labour legislation, veterans’ rights, banking regulations and, of course, transparency.

  • The Secret Weapon of the Rich: Money

    I’ve written before about Larry Bartels’ research showing that politicians basically don’t care about the views of low and medium-income individuals. The non-rich simply have no impact on their voting behavior at all. But I know you want more evidence. So here it is.

    The charts below come from a 2005 paper by Martin Gilens (a revised 2007 version is here). His study is based on a dataset of polling questions about public policy issues between 1981 and 2002 (raising the minimum wage, sending U.S. troops to Haiti, requiring employers to provide health insurance, allowing gays to serve in the military, etc.) in which the responses differed significantly between the rich and the poor. On the left, you can see the impact that support from low-income voters had: when 10% of them supported a position, there was about a 32% probability of that change becoming law. When 90% supported a position, there was a….33% probability. The chart on the right shows the same for median income voters. They did slightly better, but not much.

  • I eat out of bins too. So what?

    Sasha Hall must have thought she was in luck when she found a bin outside Tesco overflowing with food. She helped herself to packets of potato waffles, pies and ham – a small fraction of the goods that had been abandoned after the store’s freezers broke down. But when police arrived at the 21-year-old’s home in Essex to arrest her for “theft by finding”, those waffles must have looked less lucky.

    Hall now faces court. But if she committed a crime, it’s one that I, like thousands of other freegans across the UK, commit daily. I have lived healthily for several years on discarded food. I take my pick from sacks full of heavily packaged sushi, bread, ready meals and fruit, all perfectly edible but dumped as they go out of date.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Unconstitutionality of Obamacare

      Why does an outback writer in Boonville, Mondocino county, California, have to write on a left-wing website about how a right-wing judge did the left — and the American public — a favor?

      Why do I have to explain to local liberals that Obamacare, especially its “mandatory health insurance” provision, is unsupportable — even if the wonderful Barack Obama proposed it?

    • An Illuminating Expedition to the World of the Uninsured

      A few years after “Wild Kingdom” went off the air, Brock founded Remote Area Medical to deliver basic health care to people living in some of the planet’s most remote locales. A pilot, Brock himself began flying doctors and medical supplies to villages in South America, Africa and Asia.

      It never occurred to Brock when he started RAM in 1985 that most of his expeditions would eventually take him to communities in the States. But it soon became apparent to him that millions of Americans don’t have much better access to affordable care than residents of the third world. Today, more than 60 percent of RAM’s expeditions are in the United States, and not just to rural areas. In fact, the biggest annual RAM expedition is now held in Los Angeles, where thousands of people line up for care that is provided free over the course of eight days.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • 1,500 detainees transferred to Evin prison

      Following the large uprising against the regime in various cities in Iran on Monday, the regime’s officials at the notorious Evin prison released the names of 1,500 people arrested and transferred to the prison on Monday night.

      According to Harana news agency on Tuesday, students and protestors have also been arrested by the regime’s suppressive forces in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

    • U.S. pushing Palestinians to drop UN resolution on settlement construction

      The United States is putting heavy pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Arab states to withdraw a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements. The resolution is due to come up for a vote at the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

      Washington has made it clear that it will veto the resolution should it come to a vote, and has implored the Palestinian Authority and other Arab nations to withdraw the proposal, but to no avail.

    • Haaretz probe: IDF base to be built in East Jerusalem

      The Jerusalem municipality plans to construct an Israel Defense Forces army base that will house military colleges on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, reportedly beyond the pre-1967 war green line.

      Both the municipality as well as the Ministry of Defense dispute this claim, stating that the base will be built within the green line, however, Haaretz has revealed otherwise and according to the plans created by the architectural firm hired by the municipality, the base will encroach upon disputed territory.

    • From An Israeli Prison to Tahrir Square
    • Bahrain protests: Four killed as riot police storm Pearl Square

      At least four people have been killed in an early-morning raid by security forces on Pearl Square, the focal point of anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain, sparking street battles with riot police.

      Armoured trucks have been seen in central Manama and key roads are blocked by security forces. The crackdown follows a dramatic and violent turn in three days of protests calling for widespread reform within Bahrain’s ruling minority. Dozens of wounded protesters were being taken to hospitals across the city on Thursday morning.

    • Workers toppled a dictator in Egypt, but might be silenced in Wisconsin

      In Egypt, workers are having a revolutionary February. In the United States, by contrast, February is shaping up as the cruelest month workers have known in decades.

      The coup de grace that toppled Hosni Mubarak came after tens of thousands of Egyptian workers went on strike beginning last Tuesday. By Friday, when Egypt’s military leaders apparently decided that unrest had reached the point where Mubarak had to go, the Egyptians who operate the Suez Canal and their fellow workers in steel, textile and bottling factories; in hospitals, museums and schools; and those who drive buses and trains had left their jobs to protest their conditions of employment and governance. As Jim Hoagland noted in The Post, Egypt was barreling down the path that Poland, East Germany and the Philippines had taken, the path where workers join student protesters in the streets and jointly sweep away an authoritarian regime.

    • The Koch Connection in Scott Walker’s War on Working People

      Wisconsin’s embattled Governor Scott Walker took large donations from Koch Industries in the run-up to the 2010 election that swept him into office. OpenSecrets.org reports that Koch Industries donated a total of $43,000 in two separate contributions — $15,000 on July 8, 2010 and another $28,000 on September 27, 2010 — to the Friends of Scott Walker Political Action Committee (PAC), to help get Walker elected governor.

    • Firefighter Support
    • A CMD Special Report: Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money

      The RGA in turn spent $5 million in the race, mostly on TV ads attacking Walker’s political opponent, Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett. As this photo shows, the RGA described itself as a “key investor” in Walker’s victory. In its congratulations, the RGA notes that it “ran a comprehensive campaign including TV and internet ads and direct mail. The series of ads were devastating to Tom Barrett . . . . All told, RGA ran 8 TV ads and sent 8 pieces of mail for absentee, early voting, and GOTV, totaling 2.9 million pieces.”

      The Center for Media and Democracy reported on some of the RGA’s spin-filled ads last November, including the ads against Barrett, and filed a snapshot report this week. As the RGA takes credit, its multi-million dollar negative ad campaign probably did help make the difference between the 1.1 million votes cast for Walker against Barrett’s 1 million votes. According to Open Secrets, Koch Industries was one of the top ten donors to the RGA in 2010, giving $1,050,450 to help with governors’ races, like Walker’s.

    • Wisconsin Governor Walks on Workers

      Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is trying to end collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin, and thousands have converged on the state capitol in protest of what many consider a radical and blatantly political move. Walker’s plan threatens the rights of all Wisconsin workers, and if it prevails in this state, could threaten the rights of working people across the nation. It would also reverse the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those who have fought for economic justice through the power of organizing.

    • Military moves quickly to bring elections to Egypt

      Egypt geared up Tuesday for a breakneck rush to democracy as its military rulers vowed to hand authority to an elected civilian government in six months and ordered legal experts to draft a revised constitution in 10 days.

    • Anti-government protests, clashes spread to Libya

      Egypt-inspired unrest spread against Libya’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi on Wednesday, with riot police clashing with protesters in the second-largest city of Benghazi and marchers setting fire to security headquarters and police stations in two other cities, witnesses said.

    • Palestinian Revolution by Default

      The Egyptian revolution, and the threat to autocratic Arab regimes all over the region, have forced rapid changes on the Palestinian political scene – with major players Hamas and Fatah scrambling to catch up.

    • Curveball could face jail for warmongering, says German MP

      A German politician has warned that the CIA informant Curveball could go to jail after telling the Guardian that he lied about Saddam Hussein’s bioweapons capability in order to “liberate” Iraq.

    • Curveball: How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam

      In a small flat in the German town of Erlangen in February 2003, an out-of-work Iraqi sat down with his wife to watch one of the world’s most powerful men deliver the speech of his career on live TV.

    • Will Any Landlord Rent to This Abortion Provider?

      Mila Means, the Wichita doctor who wants to fill the void left by the 2009 murder of abortion doctor George Tiller, has been forced to search for a new place to work. Last month, Means’ landlord requested and received a restraining order forbidding the doctor from providing abortion services in the building where her office is currently located. On Friday, Means told the state judge handling the case that she is hoping to secure a new location for her practice, and reached an agreement with her landlord not to provide the service at the current location.

    • In Iraq, Torture and Secret Prisons Continue

      As the world’s eyes were fixed on the drama in Egypt last week, Human Rights Watch investigators in Iraq filed a depressingly familiar chapter in the country’s recent history, making new allegations of torture and of a secret prison that they say is run by special counterterrorism forces who answer directly to the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

      The watchdog group reported that, in November, more than 280 prisoners were transferred from their prison in the Green Zone to the secret prison, known as Camp Justice, just days before a team of rights observers were planning to visit and monitor conditions. Two separate security forces, the 56th Brigade and the Counter-Terrorism Service, both of which take orders from Maliki, are tasked with running the secret prison — and have proven adept at keeping its detainees beyond the reach of international aid groups, relatives, or the state’s own Ministry of Human Rights.

    • Bahrain: 2011-2-18
    • Protests death toll rises in Libya

      Security forces in Libya have killed scores of pro-democracy protesters in demonstrations demanding the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s long time ruler.

      A doctor in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city, told Al Jazeera that he had seen 70 bodies at the main hospital on Friday in one of the harshest crackdowns against peaceful protesters thus far.

    • Libya protests: 84 killed in growing unrest, says HRW

      The number of people killed in three days of protests in Libya has risen to 84, according to the New York-based group Human Rights Watch.

    • Libyan Disconnect

      Renesys confirms that the 13 globally routed Libyan network prefixes were withdrawn at 23:18 GMT (Friday night, 1:18am Saturday local time), and Libya is off the Internet. One Libyan route originated by Telecom Italia directly is still BGP-reachable, but inbound traceroutes appear to die in Palermo. A minority of our peers report some surviving paths through the peering connection between Level3 and Telecom Italia, but traceroutes into those prefixes fail, suggesting that the Libyan cutoff is complete.

    • The Day Egypt Disappeared

      Wael Ghonim, a young Google product manager who was secretly arrested and held for 12 days during uprising, claims that “this revolution started on Facebook.”

      For years now, democracy activists across the Arab world have been meeting and collaborating on-line. Six months ago, Ghonim started the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page honoring the Egyptian blogger who was beaten to death by police after he released material exposing police corruption. What started as a campaign against police brutality and government propaganda grew into an enormous chat room for a generation disgusted with the Mubarak regime.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Barack Obama 2012 budget provides $8bn for clean energy

      President Barack Obama proposed on Monday to boost funds for clean energy research and deployment in his 2012 budget by slashing subsidies for fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

      The budget provides the Department of Energy with $29.5bn (£18.4bn) for the fiscal year 2012, up 4.2% from the proposed 2011 budget, and up 12% from the enacted 2010 budget. Some $8bn would support research in clean energy like wind, solar and advanced batteries.

    • Warming Arctic brings invasion of southern species
    • Study finds massive flux of gas, in addition to liquid oil, at BP well blowout in Gulf

      A new University of Georgia study that is the first to examine comprehensively the magnitude of hydrocarbon gases released during the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil discharge has found that up to 500,000 tons of gaseous hydrocarbons were emitted into the deep ocean. The authors conclude that such a large gas discharge—which generated concentrations 75,000 times the norm—could result in small-scale zones of “extensive and persistent depletion of oxygen” as microbial processes degrade the gaseous hydrocarbons.

    • Chevron Runs from Judgment
      in Ecuador

      Chevron petroleum Corporation is attempting to slither out of an $8 billion judgment rendered yesterday by a trial court in Ecuador for cancer deaths, illnesses and destruction caused by its Texaco unit.

    • Climate change doubled likelihood of devastating UK floods of 2000

      Global warming made the floods that devastated England and Wales in the autumn of 2000, costing £3.5bn, between two and three times more likely to happen, new research has found. This is the first time scientists have quantified the role of human-induced climate change in increasing the risk of a serious flood and represents a major development in climate science.

      “It shows climate change is acting here and now to load the dice towards more extreme weather,” said Myles Allen of Oxford University, who led the work, which he started after his own home was nearly flooded in 2000. It will also have wider consequences, say experts, by making lawsuits for compensation against energy companies more likely to succeed.

    • Chevron’s dirty fight in Ecuador

      No regrets, no apologies and not a penny in damages. The US energy giant Chevron came out fighting last night after a court in Ecuador ordered it to pay $8.6bn (£5.3bn) in fines and clean-up costs, plus $900m reparations, to the victims of oil pollution that fouled a swathe of Amazon rainforest along the country’s remote north-eastern border.

      The sum was the largest ever levied in an environmental lawsuit anywhere in the world.

      Supporters of the indigenous villagers who brought the case said they were celebrating a landmark victory in the wider battle to hold multinational corporations to account for their conduct overseas.

    • Juror in activists’ trial hits out at absence of police tapes

      A juror in a controversial trial of environmental activists has castigated police for withholding covert recordings that he said could have led to them being declared not guilty.

      Jezz Davis, 39, a construction worker, took the rare step of speaking out after hearing revelations that Nottinghamshire police allegedly suppressed surveillance tapes of activists convicted of conspiring to shut down one of Britain’s biggest power stations for a week.

  • Finance

    • Nine Pictures Of The Extreme Income/Wealth Gap

      Many people don’t understand our country’s problem of concentration of income and wealth because they don’t see it. People just don’t understand how much wealth there is at the top now. The wealth at the top is so extreme that it is beyond most people’s ability to comprehend.

    • Consumer 10.0: Phila. homeowner wins judgment against Wells Fargo over mortgage fees

      Frustrated by a dispute with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and by his inability to get answers to questions, the West Philadelphia homeowner took the mortgage company to court last fall.

      When Wells Fargo still didn’t respond, Rodgers got a $1,000 default judgment against it for failing to answer his formal questions, as required by a federal law called the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

    • Where is the Budget Crisis?

      Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker alleges that dismantling public sector collective bargaining rights is made necessary by a $3.6 billion deficit in the next budget, and a $137 million shortfall this year. Setting aside the fact that the ability to negotiate shifts, seniority, benefits and conditions of employment would have a negligible impact on the deficit, and looking beyond Walker’s deceptive claim that the alternative to union-busting is to kick 200,000 children off Medicaid (called “false” by Politifact), how deep is the state’s economic crisis?

    • An Injury to One is an Injury to All

      Cue mayhem across the state, with teachers, nurses, steelworkers and even cops and firefighters — who would be exempt from the curtailing of their collective bargaining rights under Walker’s bill — descending upon Madison to storm the Capitol.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The GOP Plot to Destroy Legal Aid

      Last month, when the House conservative caucus proposed scrapping a program that has provided the poor with free legal assistance for nearly four decades, it felt like déjà-vu. Indeed, this provision of the GOP’s Spending Reduction Act of 2011 was simply the latest salvo against an entity that’s been under siege by conservatives since the day it was conceived.

      Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is a federally funded nonprofit that doles out money ($420 million this year) to 136 independent groups providing legal services in hundreds of communities around the nation. Debt collectors knocking down your door? Foreclosure mill trying to take your house? If you can’t afford a lawyer and your family is hovering near the federal poverty line, then the LSC is your ticket to legal representation.

    • Bloomberg Behind the Coalition for Competition in Media

      An article in the February 28 issue of The Nation has revealed that Bloomberg was behind the Coalition for Competition in Media (CCM), an apparent public interest group aiming to stop the then-pending $30 billion megamerger of Comcast and NBC Universal. While CCM advanced a legitimate argument that the merger would negatively impact independent media outlets and internet freedom, and while other pro-media democracy groups joined the coalition, Bloomberg LP’s true motivation behind forming and funding the group may have been to advance the narrow interests of Bloomberg Television.

    • Astroturf for Hire

      NPR’s Planet Money recently reported on astroturf activities in the financial sector. “Forgery: The Latest Tactic To Sway Finance Rules” focuses on the behind the scenes fight over the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. The Dodd-Frank bill is now in the agency rulemaking stage and financial sector lobbyists have descended en masse on the pertinent federal agencies, lobbying in person and via comment letters to the Federal Register.

  • Civil Rights

    • EU Accused of Backing Child Labour

      The EU is facing accusations of tacitly supporting child labour after its main decision-making body approved a trade agreement with Uzbekistan on textiles – an industry known to involve at least one million child labourers a year.

      It has emerged that just days after Uzbek president Islam Karimov’s controversial visit to Brussels last month, the European Council approved a protocol granting various tariff and customs privileges and free access to European markets for Uzbek textiles.

    • Soviet Shadow Over Russia

      With less than a year remaining for parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia, human rights activists and opposition forces have become targets of political intimidation and frequent harassment by law enforcement agencies. They see an effort to exclude them from the country’s democratic process.

      “Many opposition groups suffer from widespread official suppression,” Yelena Ryabinina, chairperson of the Moscow-based Memorial and the Civic Assistance Committee and a member of the Presidential Committee on Human Rights told IPS.

    • TSA Behavioral Screening: Yet Another Untested Program that Compromises Civil Liberties

      The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) use of privacy-violating full-body imaging scanners in U.S. airports has provoked a public outcry and garnered extensive media attention, but dozens of other questionable TSA initiatives have gone largely unnoticed, including the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program launched in 2006.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • U.S. House Votes to Allow Cable Providers to Throttle Internet

      It has seen the end of the net neutrality legislation, it will soon see the end of the Rebellion…

      House Republicans have managed to pull off a high profile rejection of a key tech-related component of the Obama administration’s initiatives. In control of the House for the first time in four years, Republicans have voted to overturn so-called “net neutrality” rules proposed earlier this year by the Obama administration.

Clip of the Day

City Lights From Space

Credit: TinyOgg

Eye on Apple: Privacy Problems, Anticompetitive Behaviour, and Retaliation Against Modders

Posted in Apple at 8:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux; Apple is for obedience and anti-Microsoft sentiment

Summary: Apple-related links of interest which are capable of showing reasons to avoid Apple

HERE in a nutshell are some new reports about Apple, hopefully showing why Apple would be a poor substitute to Microsoft.

Apple iTunes gifts users with a privacy hole

Pressure mounts over Apple’s 30% subscription charge

IPad Service Draws Scrutiny

On Monday, Apple introduced a subscription mechanism for apps that required companies to offer customers the possibility of buying content like magazines or music through its payment system, with Apple taking a 30 percent cut. The rules also bar companies from offering a better deal to customers if they pay for a subscription elsewhere, say on a company’s own Web site. Apps that do not comply may not be used on Apple devices.

FTC, DoJ in ‘preliminary’ investigation of Apple subscriptions

The US Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have begun looking into Apple’s new iOS subscription plan, according to sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal. The investigation is said to be in the early stages and may not go anywhere. European regulators are also saying they are keeping an eye on the situation.

Neither the DoJ nor the FTC would officially confirm the investigation, but people familiar with the matter said that Apple’s subscription rules had at least landed on the radar of the two regulatory agencies. The European Commission didn’t dance around the topic though—a spokesperson acknowledged that the Commission is “carefully monitoring the situation.”

Apple reportedly breaks iBooks for jailbreakers

Apple has allegedly built a jailbreak checker into iOS version 4 and above to see if someone’s iPhone has been jailbroken with a hack known as greenpois0n, according to the Web site Social Apples. If the hack is found, then Apple reportedly blocks access to content in the latest version of the iBooks e-reader app.

As the EFF put it, “[c]ode is law: iPhone jailbreakers locked out of their own libraries.”

Simon Phipps: “Mentioning Mono in my article was an interesting experience. It was like mentioning Scientology…”

Posted in Microsoft, Mono at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Simon Phipps in Stockholm (2007)
Photo by RightOnBrother

Summary: The unique behaviour of Mono boosters is explained by Simon Phipps, whom Microsoft agents have also just attempted to hire

IN IDENTI.CA AND TWITTER, Free/open source software luminary Simon Phipps (OSI, ODF, and former Sun person) has had some interesting things to say since he wrote about Mono licences being banned by Microsoft. He was pressured to modify his post using old and familiar spin from the Mono bullies or Mono lobby. Basically, in order to water down unflattering articles they used the same trick they had used to deny Banshee’s inclusion of forbidden (uncovered by the MCP) parts of Mono, even though in practical terms, as demonstrated by Jason from The Source, this trick is only theoretical. At a later point Phipps wrote: “Mentioning Mono in my article was an interesting experience. It was like mentioning Scientology…”

“Suffice to say, Phipps declined and turned away the agents.”Phipps might already know that anybody who ever criticised Mono can attest to the same experience. By far the most vocal detractors of Techrights are the Mono boosters, to whom Techrights represents a threat because it informs people. Phipps — like this Web site — is an occasional critic of Microsoft’s abhorrent behaviour and from other new messages from yesterday it turns out that Microsoft agents were trying to hire him this week. Eric Raymond received a similar treatment some years ago and it is no secret that Microsoft is sometimes hiring its critics to shut them up (Andy Updegrove may be a recent example of this). This strategy is not unique to Microsoft and oil companies in Nigeria, for example, adopted the same tactics wherein they hire prominent activists who previously worked against them. It’s a bribe which weakens one’s opposition. Suffice to say, Phipps declined and turned away the agents.

Microsoft Cancels Windows CardSpace 2.0 (Windows InfoCard) Plans

Posted in Microsoft, Windows at 7:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vintage card

Summary: Another project falls off the agenda as Microsoft cuts back and shrinks a little further

The number of dead products from Microsoft keeps increasing and we may complete the list/close the gap pretty soon because we missed a couple of casualties as we no longer watch Microsoft closely enough. In the mean time, Glyn Moody points out that, according to this, Microsoft “will not be shipping Windows CardSpace 2.0.”

Today, Microsoft announced that it will not be shipping Windows CardSpace 2.0. Having made a significant personal investment in working to make CardSpace a success and the Information Card vision a reality, I wanted to take the opportunity to share a few personal reflections on the CardSpace journey and the lessons we might want to take away from it.

The Microsoft boosters divert attention to something called U-Prove.

For a while, had been wondering when Microsoft would ship CardSpace 2.0, the last, un-delivered piece of its Geneva set of security wares. The answer, it turns out, is never.

CardSpace, which got its start as “Windows InfoCard,” attempted to represent an individual’s digital identity that the user could use to communicate with a third party entity.

Can Microsoft find some real projects to replace all those which it gradually axes? Apple is worth about $100,000,000,000 more than Microsoft now and Google is worth almost as much as Microsoft. Everything changes so fast.

Links 19/2/2011: Ubuntu 10.04.2 LTS is Out, Android/Linux is Beating Apple

Posted in News Roundup at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • IBM’s Watson Should Rejuvenate Open Source AI

    Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past week, you had to have caught the remarkable performance of IBM’s Watson intelligent computer, which has beaten the two best players in the history of the show Jeapordy, and caused people to herald “our new computer overlords.”

  • Fans

    What bothers me most is not that such attacks are personal so much as the lack of tolerance behind them. To my way of thinking, the refusal to tolerate criticism is crippling in any discussion. The right to question is basic, not just to civilized discourse, but to any improvement — as well, as Robin Miller impressed on me, to journalism, which can be an essential part of that process of improvement if it tries to describe fairly and raises inconvenient truths.

    In fact, you could say that questioning is central to FOSS. After all, what is the patch system of software development, except a series of criticisms and counter-criticisms? Sometimes, the criticism are wrong, or create more problems than they solve, but FOSS could not evolve without a constant critique of what is. In other words, I would argue that, by finding enemies in anyone who doesn’t show unwavering support, FOSS fans are acting against the basic tenets of the cause they claim to support.

  • Terracotta adds search to cached databases

    The latest company to merge analytics and transactions into a single operation, Terracotta has added search functionality into the latest version of its Ehcache Java cache software.

    The search feature, available in the newly released version 2.4 of the software, will allow organizations to perform analysis directly against their online data stores, which could simplify their architecture and cut the time it takes for analyzing data, when compared to performing analysis against disk-based databases or data warehouses, the company claims.

  • Web Browsers

    • Qualys Releases Report on Faulty Browser Plugins

      Qualys’s BrowserCheck tool, released last summer, reports on any security problems with your browser. A new report, released Wednesday, shows the most vulnerable plugins.

      BrowserCheck focuses on plugins that are out of date and hence vulnerable to attack. You can click a button for more details about each found problem; in most cases clicking another button will launch the needed update. The tool works with Safari, Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox, and Chrome running under Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.

    • Chrome

      • Faster than a speeding rabbit: speed, sync, and settings

        In the spirit of the lunar new year, we’re excited to kick off the Year of the Rabbit with a slew of enhancements in the Chrome beta channel. Today’s new beta includes a dramatic improvement in JavaScript speed, new password sync features, and entirely revamped browser settings.

      • Find out who has the most Klout on Twitter with this Chrome extension

        Klout (beta) is a Chrome Extension that was born in a recent Hackathon between bit.ly and Klout. It’s a Twitter rating system that once installed tells you what Klout scores Twitters users have in your Twitter stream. The higher their Klout score the greater their power influence in the Twitterverse.

      • Tech Support Folks Rejoice: All Chrome Settings Now Have a URL

        Google released the latest beta version of its browser, Google Chrome, today and at least one of the changes is likely to make a lot of phone tech support folks very happy.

        In addition to the standard fare updates of making things generally faster and better, the browser now opens all of its settings in a new browser tab, making them entirely searchable and reachable by URL.

      • Native Client: Getting Ready for Takeoff

        Over the last few months we have been hard at work getting Native Client ready to support the new Pepper plug-in interface. Native Client is an open source technology that allows you to build web applications that seamlessly and safely execute native compiled code inside the browser. Today, we’ve reached an important milestone in our efforts to make Native Client modules as portable and secure as JavaScript, by making available a first release of the revamped Native Client SDK.

    • Mozilla

      • Moving forward with F1

        We’re releasing a new update to F1 with support for more services, more service specific features, and a brand new UI. Here’s a run down of what’s new.

      • Firefox 4 RC coming next Friday

        One year on since the first Alpha of Firefox 4 was made available for testing the worlds second most popular browser may finally have the finish line in sight.

      • Sandboxed add-ons to be disabled next week

        The new Developer Tools and review process were implemented on AMO and announced a little over a month ago. I also expanded the explanation about the new review process, so you should have a look if you haven’t already.

      • Announcing Search in Thunderbird
  • SaaS

    • Yahoo to open-source cloud-serving engine

      Yahoo is developing an internal cloud-serving engine to boost its own productivity, and intends to release the code as an open source this year.

      “We’re committed to open-sourcing all of our cloud infrastructure, for the simple reason that we don’t believe the cloud infrastructure is a competitive differentiator for us,” says Todd Papaioannou, Yahoo’s vice president of cloud architecture. “I have this question pop up from time to time, ‘Is Yahoo ever going to move into the cloud?’ And the answer is, ‘No. We are the cloud.’”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Community starts 50,000 Euro challenge for setting-up its foundation
    • LibreOffice Raises 10000 Euros for Foundation in One Day

      The Document Foundation announced their intention of becoming a legal non-profit foundation to allow it to accept donations and financial assistance as well as pay employees and rent without having to suffer the tax liabilities levied upon businesses. Since startup capital is required, they began asking for donations to reach their goal. And so far, so good.

      The plan to form a legal foundation was mentioned a while back but not widely announced until February 16. By that time a donation mechanism was instituted and outlined on The Document Foundation Blog. Florian Effenberger, founding member of The Document Foundation, said they’ve decide to apply in Germany where €50,000 in startup funds are considered necessary. That’s where the community comes in. They need help raising that sum.

  • Funding

    • Slashdot owner reports loss again

      Geeknet, the owner of the American technology news accumulation site, Slashdot, has reported a net loss of $US4.4 million for the year 2010.

      In 2009, the company recorded a net loss of $US14 million.

  • Project Releases

    • Python for Qt version 1.0.0 release candidate 1 “The name doesn’t matter” released

      The PySide team is proud to announce the first release candidate of PySide: Python for Qt version 1.0.0. We consider PySide quality already high enough for the 1.0 release, and to ensure a high-quality 1.0 release, we are providing a release candidate to catch any last-minute regressions. Please pound this release hard to help us verify there are no serious outstanding issues!

    • Muon Suite 1.1.1 Released

      This is a few days late in coming (I have been busy with school), but I am glad to announce the release of the first bugfix update for Muon Suite 1.1. This release fixes several bugs that the public has found with the newer tools in the suite such as the Muon Software Center, Muon Update Manager, and Muon Update Notifier. All known bugs are now fixed with this release, and the Muon/QApt buglist is sitting right at zero, and it is recommended that anybody using Muon Suite 1.1.0 upgrade to Muon 1.1.1. Thanks to all the testers who filed bug reports, and thanks to Colin Watson for providing several bugfix patches. In addition, one month’s worth of translation updates from the rocking KDE l10n team are included.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Creative Commons 2010 Figures

      Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization and we happily provide all of our tools for free. As a result, we rely on our international community of users and advocates to give back to this vital public resource and support our work. With so many worthy causes in the world vying for peoples’, foundations’, and companies’ support, we are grateful so many have given whatever they are able to help keep CC afloat and going strong for the past 8 years. In the spirit of transparency and openness, below are some numbers to give you an idea of where our money comes from (You can also see real-time figures as they come in). We’d like to see these numbers continue to grow, just as CC license adoption and use of our tools has grown so steadily since 2002. Please donate today and join our international ranks of supporters to make 2011 our best year yet.

    • Open Data

      • The open-data battle continues with OC Transpo

        When OC Transpo started giving out live GPS data on its buses to app-developers who wanted to let people know when their next buses were likely to make it to particular stops, it was a breath of fresh air — very un-OC Transpo-like, to just give out info like that.

        So much so that when the transit company yanked the data, saying it was necessarily current or accurate enough to be used for REAL real-time predictions of bus arrivals, it seemed plausible. These people really wanted to get the thing right, it seemed. They did mention putting out an official OC Transpo-branded app with the data later, but that’s as far as they went.

      • City mulls making money off bus-tracking data

        The City of Ottawa’s decision to pull access to global positioning system data for OC Transpo buses appears to have been in part to capitalize on potential advertising revenue.

        OC Transpo had made the GPS data available as part of a pilot project, but suspended the project in January shortly after a developer had created a mobile application which gave real-time updates for people waiting at bus stops.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Open Standards What A Corrupted Term

      When Steve Jobs stands up and says h264 is an Open Standard are we bucking up against sociological, political and generational corruption of what he truly means? Is he saying that and Open Standard refers to the availability of the standard itself and has nothing to do with the implementation, restrictions or privileges defined by the standard and licenses applied to the standard? Is there a purposeful play on words here to describe a technology like h264 as an Open Standard thus playing to the popular “buzzword” term of the day ascribing Open Standard to be akin to Peren’s definition when in truth it is merely the publication of the h264 standard itself and nothing more?

    • W3C Confirms May 2011 for HTML5 Last Call, Targets 2014 for HTML5 Standard

      Today there are more than 50 organizations participating in the HTML Working Group, all committed to Royalty-Free licensing under the W3C Patent Policy. There are more than 400 individuals from all over the world in the group, including designers, content authors, accessibility experts, and representatives from browser vendors, authoring tool vendors, telecoms, equipment manufacturers, and other IT companies.

    • 15-day Public Review for OpenDocument Version 1.2


  • GM to offer Pandora Internet radio on Chevy cars

    General Motors Co will launch a new system to stream online radio from Pandora in upcoming Chevrolets starting with the Volt and Equinox.

  • Jon Stewart gawks at Silvio Berlusconi’s nerve

    Silvio Berlusconi will face a judge for allegedly paying for sex with a teenager. For a leader who has long avoided legal consequences of his sometimes salacious activities, this could go very poorly.

  • Review: Recompute Cardboard PC

    Shawn shows us the Recompute PC from Sustainable Computers. It’s a full blown workstation that you could use to start a camp fire. We don’t recommend the camp fire part though.

  • 2011: Year of the SSD?

    Disk manufacturers are putting a new spin on an old product: Solid State Drives. New technology, increased power costs, space limitation, and new business requirements are driving advances in storage. Solid State Drives (SSDs) are part of that new technological push toward more efficiency, increased agility, and higher demand.

  • Berlusconi has made Italy a laughingstock

    L’Espresso start publishing the secret Wikileaks cables

  • Twenty questions I ask myself every day
  • ‘Some EU governments’ consent helps rise of Islamophobia’

    Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg has said that as some EU governments take a tolerant stance regarding the arguments of the extremist right in Europe, xenophobia and Islamophobia gain strength, resulting in more border controls and restrictions on immigration.

  • 10 Historical ‘Facts’ Only a Right-Winger Could Believe

    10. The Robber Barons weren’t robbers — they were capitalist heroes.

  • Ask Ars: How should my organization approach the IPv6 transition?

    Whenever Ars runs an article about the increasing global scarcity of IPv4 addresses or an IPv6-related topic, we inevitably hear from some readers that they would like to see Ars available over IPv6. We thought we’d explain why we haven’t made that move yet.

  • Science

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Doctors Embrace Facebook, Twitter

      Hospitals and healthcare facilities all over the U.S. are integrating Facebook, Twitter and even mobile apps into their work, in an effort to improve patient-doctor communication.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Friday
    • Pirates are not hackers and software piracy is also the Government’s fault

      In January 2011 Italian newspaper Repubblica published an article that is a nice example of how much confusion there still is, in mainstream press, about the nature of software and copyright, their relevance for all citizens and the responsibilities of Public Administrations in these fields. That article may have been written everywhere, there’s nothing specifically Italian in it, so I translated my objections to it because they too may be useful outside Italy (to stimulate discussion if nothing else).

    • Government and Security

      There’s a story running on CBC that several Canadian Government departments were penetrated from China over the network. It seems the intruders got control of some executive PCs and sent memos to underlings to reveal passwords etc… I guess it helped that the PCs were running that other OS but once the keys to the kingdom are turned over it matters little what OS was running where.

    • Why the Cabinet Office’s £27bn cyber crime cost estimate is meaningless

      Today the UK Cabinet Office released a report written by Detica. The report concluded that the annual cost of cyber crime in UK is £27bn. That’s less than $1 trillion, as AT&T’s Ed Amoroso testified before the US Congress in 2009. But it’s still a very large number, approximately 2% of UK GDP. If the total is accurate, then cyber crime is a very serious problem of utmost national importance.

      Unfortunately, much of the total cost is based on questionable calculations that are impossible for outsiders to verify. 60% of the total cost is ascribed to intellectual property theft (i.e., business secrets not copied music and films) and espionage. The report does describe a methodology for how it arrived at the figures. However, several key details are lacking. To calculate the IP and espionage losses, the authors first calculated measures of each sector’s value to the economy. Then they qualitatively assessed how lucrative and feasible these attacks would be in each sector.

    • NSA reveals its secret: No backdoor in encryption standard

      The National Security Agency made changes in the proposed design of the Data Encryption Standard before its adoption in 1976, but it did not add any backdoors or other surprises that have been speculated about for 35 years, the technical director of NSA’s information assurance directorate said Wednesday.

      “We’re actually pretty good guys,” said Dickie George. “We wanted to make sure we were as squeaky clean as possible.”

    • Black ops: how HBGary wrote backdoors for the government

      The attached document, which is in English, begins: “LESSON SIXTEEN: ASSASSINATIONS USING POISONS AND COLD STEEL (UK/BM-154 TRANSLATION).”

      It purports to be an Al-Qaeda document on dispatching one’s enemies with knives (try “the area directly above the genitals”), with ropes (“Choking… there is no other area besides the neck”), with blunt objects (“Top of the stomach, with the end of the stick.”), and with hands (“Poking the fingers into one or both eyes and gouging them.”).

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Feb18 Bahrain Army Attack on peaceful protests
    • The Tweet and Revolution

      President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton rushed to contrast the repressive brutality of the Iranian authorities with what they now seek to present as the bloodless, US-managed triumph of pro-democracy forces in Egypt.

      By any measure this was brazen impudence, starting with the fact that across the past few weeks the 300 dead, slaughtered by security forces and government-hired thugs fell in Tahrir Square and the streets of Cairo, not in Teheran, with more dead piling up in Bahrein, home of the US Fifth Fleet.

      Good or bad, everything has to be made in America. The 9/11 conspiracists decry the notion that “men in caves” –could plan the destruction of the Twin Towers. They say it had to be non-cavemen Bush and Cheney, plus the commanders of NORAD and several thousand red-blooded American accomplices.

      Today, there’s a flourishing little internet industry claiming that the overthrow of Mubarak came courtesy of US Twitter-Facebook Command, overseen by Head of the Joint Chiefs of Twitter, in the unappetizing, self-promoting form of Jared Cohen, with flanking support by the National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House.

    • Bahrain’s army deliberately kills peaceful protesters with live rounds ( automatic weapon )
    • Bahrain: anti-government protests continue despite brutal crackdown (big photo gallery)
    • Bahrain royal family orders army to turn on the people

      As protesters attempted to converge on Pearl Roundabout, a landmark in the capital Manama that has become the principal rallying point of the uprising, soldiers stationed in a nearby skyscraper opened fire.

      Since they took to the streets, Bahrain’s protesters have come to expect violence and even death at the hands of the kingdom’s security forces. At least five people were killed before yesterday’s protests.

    • Libyan protesters assert control

      Libyan officials said that the security forces had been withdrawn from al-Bayda city centre to avoid further loss of life, but were now laying siege to the town as an uprising turned into outright conflict.

      Demonstrators in contact through social media with Libyan exiles claimed they also controlled parts of Libya’s second city, Benghazi, and, in one unconfirmed report, had managed to prevent government planes bringing reinforcements landing at the airport.

      Other social media from the country, which is largely closed to western journalists, showed bodies lying in hospitals as security forces fought back.

    • WikiLeaks: US wanted ‘derogatory’ information on Bahrain king’s sons

      The office of Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, wanted to know if Prince Nasir bin Hamad al Khalifa or Prince Khalid bin Hamad al Khalifa took drugs, drank alcohol or “caused problems” within the monarchy.

      Embassy staff in the Bahraini capital of Manama were also asked whether the princes had any friends among the country’s Shia Muslim majority, which is behind this week’s protests against the minority rule of the Sunni regime.

      Prince Nasir, 23, who is serving in the Bahrain Defence Force, and Prince Khalid, 21, are King Hamad’s sons by his second wife and there have been fears in the region that hardliners from neighbouring countries might try to influence them.


      1.(SBU) King Hamad on March 23 appointed Khalifa bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa as the new Head of the Bahrain National Security Agency, replacing Khalifa bin Ali Al-Khalifa. Khalifa bin Abdullah is currently Bahrain’s ambassador in London, and has been there only about a year. Prior to that, he served in a variety of positions at the Ministry of Information: Acting Director of Press and Foreign Media Relations (1997-1998), Director of Press and Foreign Media Relations (1998-2002), Assistant Undersecretary (2002-2007), and Acting CEO of Bahrain Television (BTV) and Radio Corporation (2006-2007).

      2.(C) During his time at the Ministry of Information, Khalifa bin Abdullah was a valued contact of the Embassy’s Public Affairs section. He worked closely with the PAS on a judicial forum in 2004 and the Forum for the Future in 2005. During his stint as acting CEO of BTV, he presided over a successful collaboration with the State Department’s Office of Broadcast Services in producing a documentary program about the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.


      1. (C) THIS IS AN ACTION REQUEST. SEE PARAGRAPH 4. The US Navy has for some time been planning an open commercial purchase of 23 KH-31 (or MA-31) Russian sea-skimming missiles from a Czech arms dealer. It has come to our attention that the missiles are coming from Belarus, via a series of complicated transactions. This arrangement is reportedly necessary because the Russians themselves refused to sell the missiles to the Czech arms dealer.


      1. (C) Finnish President Tarja Halonen’s most recent meeting with Vladimir Putin left the Finns with the clear impression that the Russian president is feeling frustrated and anxious. He complained at length to Halonen that Russia has been misunderstood and mistreated by the West, with an implicit accusation that the U.S. is fostering regime change in the near abroad with political cover from the EU. Former PM Paavo Lipponen, after discussing the meeting with Halonen, described to the Ambassador his own sense that the Russians feel under pressure on their perimeter, at least in the Baltic and Caucasus; Lipponen advises that the U.S. and EU stand firm on principle, as always, but “bear in mind that Putin feels very uncomfortable right now.”

    • Bahrain’s death toll grows and its Internet slows

      Bahrain’s dictatorship looked at what has happened in Tunis and Egypt and decided that bullets would serve its cause better than relenting to its people’s call for ballots and reform. This morning, mercenaries of Bahrain, a small Persian Gulf country, overran a camp of sleeping protesters killing at least four of them. At the same time, it appears that Bahrain has started strangling the country’s Internet connection to keep news from coming in or out of the country.

      Sources at Arbor Networks, a network security company, told me that “Bahrain has significantly increased its filtering of Internet traffic in response to growing political unrest.” While the Bahrain Internet has remained up, unlike Egypt’s Internet, it’s averaging a pronounced 10-20% reduction in traffic volumes.

    • Algeria Tries To Placate Unrest By Ending 19 Years Of Emergency Law

      Algeria is making a dangerous gambit in attempts to placate thousands of protesters.

      The petro-state will lift emergency laws that have been in place since 1992, according to Al Jazeera.

    • Algerian minister: Protests just a minority stunt
    • Adding insult to Lara Logan’s injury

      …used the attack to reinforce their anti-Muslim, anti-revolution arguments.

    • Egypt’s military rejects swift transfer of power and suspends constitution

      The Egyptian military has rejected the demands of pro-democracy protesters for a swift transfer of power to a civilian administration, saying it intends to rule by martial law until elections are held.

      The army’s announcement, which included the suspending of the constitution, was a further rebuff to some pro-democracy activists after troops were sent to clear demonstrators from Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the centre of the protests that brought down Hosni Mubarak. “We do not want any protesters to sit in the square after today,” said the head of the military police, Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa Ali. Many agreed to leave but a hardcore refused, saying they would remain until the army took a series of steps toward democratic reform including installing a civilian-led government and abolishing the repressive state of emergency.

    • Albanians hold new anti-government protest

      Tens of thousands of Albanian opposition supporters marched peacefully through the capital Friday to demand that the government resigns over corruption allegations, almost a month after four people died when a similar demonstration turned violent.

      Hundreds of police guarded the main government building in Tirana, where dozens of protesters and police were injured in the Jan 21 riot. But the protest ended peacefully.

      The opposition Socialists are demanding that conservative Prime Minister Sali Berisha hold early elections over allegations of corruption and vote rigging in the 2009 general election.

    • Egypt: prison guards killed scores in run-up to fall of Hosni Mubarak

      The full extent of the carnage at Al-Qata Prison outside Cairo as guards fought back is only now becoming clear.

      One prisoner, speaking from inside his cell, told The Daily Telegraph that inmates had drawn up a list of 153 men killed during a siege lasting a full two weeks. He described how as the men celebrated the fall of Mr Mubarak, a man standing next to him was hit by gunfire, an explosive bullet ripping into his head through the cell window.

      “We started to cheer and shout,” said the prisoner, whose name The Telegraph is witholding for his protection. “This man was standing here and was just shot through the eye. He died immediately.

    • U.S. veto thwarts UN resolution condemning settlements

      The other 14 Security Council members voted in favor of the draft resolution. But the U.S., as one of five permanent council members with the power to block any action by the Security Council, struck it down.

    • In dramatic turnaround, US to censure Israel in Security Council

      In a dramatic departure from longstanding policy, the United States intends to support a United Nations Security Council resolutions censuring Israel for building settlements in Palestinian territory.

      The Obama administration told Arab governments Tuesday it will back a draft resolution saying the Security Council “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” according to Foreign Policy magazine.

    • Is the Apocalypse upon us? In dramatic turnaround, US to censure Israel in Security Council

      In a dramatic departure from longstanding policy, the United States intends to support a United Nations Security Council resolutions censuring Israel for building settlements in Palestinian territory.

      The Obama administration told Arab governments Tuesday it will back a draft resolution saying[1] the Security Council “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” according to Foreign Policy[2] magazine.

    • Adventure playground

      What happier roost could there be for Mark and his mother? Margaret Thatcher found that permitting British companies to break the sanctions against the apartheid regime turned South Africa’s problems into our opportunities. When Mark was asked what he thought of his mother’s position, he replied: “My sympathy is with the struggling white community.”

    • Cop apologizes for ‘sluts’ remark at law school

      A police officer who suggested women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like “sluts” has apologized, saying he is “embarrassed” by the remark and that assaulted women are “not victims by choice.”

      “I made a comment which was poorly thought out and did not reflect the commitment of the Toronto Police Service to the victims of sexual assaults,” Const. Michael Sanguinetti wrote on Thursday to Osgoode Hall Law School where he made the comment.

    • Don’t dress like a slut: Toronto cop

      Students and staff at Osgoode Hall Law School are demanding an apology and explanation from the Toronto Police Service after one of their officers suggested women can avoid sexual assault by not dressing like a “slut.”

      On Jan. 24, a campus safety information session was held at Osgoode Hall, where members from York security and two male officers from Toronto police 31 Division handed out safety tips to community

    • Wisconsin Dem Senator Posts ‘brb’ Message On Facebook

      The Democratic walkout was designed to deny Republicans the necessary number of lawmakers needed for a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s controversial proposals that would strip most state government workers of their collective bargaining rights.

    • Wisconsin Democrats could stay away for weeks

      Democrats on the run in Wisconsin avoided state troopers Friday and threatened to stay in hiding for weeks, potentially paralyzing the state government in a standoff with majority Republicans over union rights for public employees.

      The dramatic flight from the state stalled a proposal that seeks to ease Wisconsin’s budget woes by cutting the pay, benefits and collective bargaining rights of many government workers. Democrats who stayed in Madison scored their own victory, forcing the state Assembly to adjourn until at least Tuesday without taking a vote.

    • Texas man wrongly put away for 18 years denied compensation after legal glitch

      A courtroom technicality has cost a wrongly convicted Texas man the compensation that would otherwise be due him for the 18 years he’d served in Texas prison–14 of which he spent on Death Row.

      Anthony Graves would have received $1.4 million in compensation if only the words “actual innocence” had been included in the judge’s order that secured Graves’s release from prison. The Comptroller’s office decided the omission means Graves gets zero dollars, writes Harvey Rice at the Houston Chronicle, even though the prosecutor, judge, and defense all agreed at trial he is innocent.

    • Fear of Teratocracy

      I’ve been thinking about the nature of democracy over the past few weeks, for both obvious (Egypt) and less-obvious (potential for social change under conditions of disruption) reasons. The definition of democracy that most people are familiar is something along the lines of “rule by the people through voting, where the recipient of a majority of the vote wins.” That’s a decent description of the mechanism of democracy, I suppose, but I don’t think it captures the important part.

      Democracy is defined by how you lose, not (just) how you win.

      The real test of whether a society that uses a plebiscite to determine leadership is really a democracy is whether the losing party accepts the loss and the legitimacy of their opponent’s victory. This is especially true for when the losing party previously held power. Do they give up power willingly, confident that they’ll have a chance to regain power again in the next election? Or do they take up arms against the winners, refuse to relinquish power, and/or do everything they can to undermine the legitimacy of the opposition’s rule?

    • Flamboyant Gaddafi feels ripples of change

      For most that time he also held a prominent position in the West’s international rogues’ gallery.

      He has maintained tight control by clamping down on dissidents but his oil-producing nation is now beginning to feel the wind of change that is blowing across the Arab world.

      Anti-Gaddafi protesters clashed with police and government supporters in the eastern city of Benghazi, and Human Rights Watch reported that at least 24 people had died in two days of unrest this week.

    • Gaddafi’s forces accused of using gunships against citizens

      Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime turned its helicopter gunships and snipers on protesters as rare anti-government protests were reported to have reached Tripoli, the capital.

      The dictator was the focus of a ”day of rage” in at least five cities, an unprecedented challenge to his ”Green Revolution”.

      Human Rights Solidarity, a campaign group, said snipers on the rooftops in al-Baida had killed 13 protesters and wounded dozens of others after police stations were set on fire and posters of Colonel Gaddafi burnt.

    • US targets Afghan laundering network

      The US government on Friday slapped sanctions on a high-profile Afghan money exchange house and its executives, accusing them of laundering cash for drug traffickers.

      The Kabul-based New Ansari Money Exchange as well as 15 related people and firms were accused of hiding “illicit narcotics proceeds” in billions of dollars they transferred in and out of Afghanistan between 2007 and 2010.

      The New Ansari Exchange was thought to be the biggest of Afghanistan’s “hawala” money-transfer firms, which play an even larger role in the war-torn nation’s economy than commercial banks.

    • The Arab Revolution Saudi Update

      Remember, in a former post, when I said that Saudis were captivated and shocked by what happened in Tunis and Egypt but hadn’t collectively made up their mind about it? Well it appears that they have. Everywhere I go and everything I read points to a revolution in our own country in the foreseeable future. However we are still on the ledge and haven’t jumped yet.

      I know that some analysts are worried particularly of Saudi Arabia being taken over by Al Qaeda or a Sunni version of the Iranian Islamic Revolution. Calm down. Besides my gut feeling (which is rarely wrong), the overwhelming majority of people speaking out and calling out for a revolution are people who want democracy and civil rights and not more of our current Arab tradition based adaptation of Sharia. My theory of why that is, is that Al Qaeda has already exhausted its human resources here. The available muttawas, are career muttawas (fatwa sheikhs) and minor muttawas (PVPV) of convenience both paid by the government and do not want the current win-win deal between them and the government to sour. So it’s unlikely that they would actively seek change. Actually quite the opposite, they will resist and delay as much as they can. Fortunately the winds of change can’t be deterred by a PVPV cruiser.

    • protest in #Djibouti

      Dijibouti had protested earlier, on January 28, leading Ismaël Guedi Hared, President of Djibouti’s UAD opposition alliance, to call for a massive protest today. “According to UDDESC activists, this evening even international calls have been blocked in Djibouti in an attempt to restrict reporting from the events.”

    • Wisconsin Is a Battleground Against the Billionaire Kochs’ Plan to Break Labor’s Back

      As some 30,000 protesters overwhelmed the state capitol building in Wisconsin today, Democratic state senators hit the road, reportedly with State Police officers in pursuit. The Dems left the state in order to deprive Republicans the necessary quorum for taking a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s bill to strip benefits and collective bargaining rights from state workers. Newsradio 620 WTMJ reported that the Democratic senators were holed up in a Rockford, Illinois, hotel, out of reach of Wisconsin state troopers. Now, it seems, Republican lawmakers are beginning to waver on their support for the union-busting bill.

    • Revealed: Air Force ordered software to manage army of fake virtual people

      These days, with Facebook and Twitter and social media galore, it can be increasingly hard to tell who your “friends” are.

      But after this, Internet users would be well advised to ask another question entirely: Are my “friends” even real people?

      In the continuing saga of data security firm HBGary, a new caveat has come to light: not only did they plot to help destroy secrets outlet WikiLeaks and discredit progressive bloggers, they also crafted detailed proposals for software that manages online “personas,” allowing a single human to assume the identities of as many fake people as they’d like.

  • Cablegate

    • What caught the attention of US diplomats?
    • ‘So This is America’: Veteran Ray McGovern Bloodied and Arrested At Clinton Speech

      As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her speech at George Washington University yesterday condemning governments that arrest protestors and do not allow free expression, 71-year-old Ray McGovern was grabbed from the audience in plain view of her by police and an unidentified official in plain clothes, brutalized and left bleeding in jail. She never paused speaking. When Secretary Clinton began her speech, Mr. McGovern remained standing silently in the audience and turned his back. Mr. McGovern, a veteran Army officer who also worked as a C.I.A. analyst for 27 years, was wearing a Veterans for Peace t-shirt.

    • [Old] Interview with 27-Year CIA Veteran Ray McGovern
    • WikiLeaks Precedes Ugandan Election to Reveal Meteroic Rise of Homophobia

      Wiki Leaks reveals U.S. embassy cable reports on ’s meteoric rise of homophobia in Uganda, reflecting on a UN-backed human rights meeting attended by now murdered Ugandan Gay activist David Kato, and author of the “Kill the Gays” Bill, David Bahati. The International community could not have better real time reports and so action and outcry must occur in as rampant a fashion.

    • Gay hate exposed in Uganda poll countdown

      The murdered gay rights activist David Kato had been mocked at a United Nations-backed debate on proposed Ugandan legislation on homosexuality, a US diplomat in Kampala said.

      The diplomat said in a leaked embassy cable that in the debate Mr Kato, who was bludgeoned to death near his home in the capital last month, had delivered a well-written speech against a bill that would impose the death penalty for the offence of ”aggravated homosexuality” and life imprisonment for consenting adults who have gay sex.

    • Five Reasons Why Georgia Lost The August War

      But a recently-released cables via Wikileaks has brought the issue back into focus again. The cables in question cite sources that cast serious doubt on the ability of the sprawling, but famously creaky, Russian conventional military as being of little threat to NATO.

    • WikiLeaks brings to light suspected baby trafficking from Egypt to Canada

      The RCMP and Canadian consular officials in Cairo have been investigating up to a dozen cases where couples are suspected of having trafficked babies from Egypt into Canada, according to leaked diplomatic cables.

    • US extradition claims revealed by Wikileaks site

      THE extradition of a former university academic accused of plotting to smuggle military equipment to Iran was delayed for political reasons, a leaked secret cable claims.

      A US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks suggests the UK Government put the extradition of Nosratollah Tajik on hold to protect sensitive nuclear talks with Iran.

      The claim appears at odds with ministerial statements given to the House of Commons four months after the cable was sent, saying the extradition was a judicial process and that the sole issue to be considered was whether it would breach Mr Tajik’s human rights.

    • A Wikileaks Primer on the Cozy US-Bahrain Relationship

      In December 2009, the then-US Ambassador to Bahrain, Adam Ereli, cabled to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton his great regard for the rulers of that country. The US-Bahrain relationship as seen through Wikileaks cables is quite cozy, and focused quite a bit on areas of mutual security.

      King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Ereli wrote, “is personable and engaging” and “rules as something of a ‘corporate king,’ giving direction and letting his top people manage the government.”

      King Hamad was given high marks for ushering in governmental reforms. Ereli sad King Hamad had “overseen the development of strong institutions with the restoration of parliament, the formation of a legal political opposition, and a dynamic press.” King Hamad, Ereli said, “is committed to fighting corruption and prefers doing business with American firms because they are transparent.” Ereli noted that King Hamad had awarded U.S. companies major contracts, including Gulf Air buying 24 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

    • WikiLeaks panellists censure ‘virus’ of government secrecy

      GOVERNMENTS have become too secretive and politicians should be disqualified from Parliament if they lie, says Julian Burnside, QC.

      Advertisement: Story continues below

      Mr Burnside, who spoke in a panel discussion about WikiLeaks at the Capitol Theatre last night, said the number of classified documents in the US had grown by almost 10 times between 1996 and 2010. Secrecy hid incompetence and corruption and was only warranted when lives were at risk, he said. ”Of course governments have got to have secrets. But they have too many at the moment.”

    • Senate Bill Would Make Leaks a Felony

      Legislation introduced in the Senate this week would broadly criminalize leaks of classified information. The bill (S. 355) sponsored by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) would make it a felony for a government employee or contractor who has authorized access to classified information to disclose such information to an unauthorized person in violation of his or her nondisclosure agreement.

      Under existing law, criminal penalties apply only to the unauthorized disclosure of a handful of specified categories of classified information (in non-espionage cases). These categories include codes, cryptography, communications intelligence, identities of covert agents, and nuclear weapons design information. The new bill would amend the espionage statutes to extend such penalties to the unauthorized disclosure of any classified information.

    • What WikiLeaks has told us

      Since 2006, the whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks has published a mass of information we would otherwise not have known. The leaks have exposed dubious procedures at Guantanamo Bay and detailed meticulously the Iraq War’s unprecedented civilian death-toll. They have highlighted the dumping of toxic waste in Africa as well as revealed America’s clandestine military actions in Yemen and Pakistan.

      The sheer scope and significance of the revelations is shocking. Among them are great abuses of power, corruption, lies and war crimes. Yet there are still some who insist WikiLeaks has “told us nothing new”. This collection, sourced from a range of publications across the web, illustrates nothing could be further from the truth. Here, if there is still a grain of doubt in your mind, is just some of what WikiLeaks has told us:

    • Wikileaks Scandal Hits paraguayan president Fernando Lugo

      Paraguay president Fernando Lugo, a center-left politician who was elected to office in April 2008, was seen as a potential ally to the U.S. by the U.S. embassy in Asuncion, so long as he had “more than just a little help from ’upstairs’ to govern as president” which Lugo was apparently willing to accept.

    • A Librarian reacts to “A Librarian Reacts to WikiLeaks”

      Thanks to Bill Sleeman for his Jan. 24 article on WikiLeaks. His parsing is thought-provoking, but incomplete.

      I’d like to add some context to Sleeman’s op-ed because I think he conflates and ignores several issues surrounding Wikileaks the organization and the leaked US State Department cables themselves.

      Sleeman ignores the information and focuses instead on WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the actions of members of the American Library Association — Al Kagan’s American Libraries Magazine article as well as Larry Roman’s comment/response offer a good review of the ALA Midwinter conference WikiLeaks dustup. Sleeman repeatedly suggests that we have only one choice: “embrace” WikiLeaks or reject it. This is a false choice and misdirection. In doing this, Sleeman has adopted the strategy being used by those who wish to suppress the information by distracting us from it and focusing instead on the messenger.

    • Swedish justice questioned as Julian Assange awaits extradition ruling

      The Australian ambassador to Sweden has written to the country’s justice minister seeking assurances that Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, would be treated justly under Swedish and international law, should he be extradited there.

      Assange, an Australian citizen, is currently fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden over allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual molestation made by two women in August last year, which he denies. He will learn within days whether his attempt to resist the European arrest warrant has been successful.


      Poverty and desperation are the largest factors contributing to trafficking in persons in Armenia, according to prostitutes, police and NGOs in Vanadzor, Armenia’s third-largest city. We met them during a July 14 trip to the city, where prostitutes gather after dusk in the traffic circle outside a central church to begin the day’s work. To each we posed the question, “What can be done to eradicate trafficking in persons in Armenia?” No one had an answer, but all agreed that lack of jobs drove women to sell themselves both in Armenia and overseas, where the money was better, but where they often didn’t actually get paid. They told us that girls as young as 11 and 12 have started walking the streets. A police officer told us that parents send their daughters to Turkey fully understanding the cost at which remittances will be sent home. We visited a decrepit shanty town, where prostitutes work for bread and rice, to see first-hand the conditions in which many of them live. We left Vanadzor convinced that, while stricter laws and harsher sentencing are needed in Armenia, prostitutes work in large part because they have to put food on the table, and they go to Turkey and the UAE because they believe the money is better there.


      The Moscow-based tabloid Moskovskiy Korrespondent suspended its operations on April 18 at the request of its owner after being the first Russian newspaper to report the rumor on April 11 that Putin had divorced in February and planned to marry 24-year old rhythmic gymnast and Duma member Alina Kabayeva. Korrespondent owner, Aleksandr Lebedev, told the Ambassador that no one had called him and he had not been forced to suspend the publication, as reported in the media. Korrespondent had ceased publication because kiosk owners had refused to carry it in the wake of the scandal. Putin denied there was any truth to the rumors during an April 18 joint press conference in Sardinia with Silvio Berlusconi, and the reporting which followed in the mainstream Russian press focused exclusively on his denial, pointedly failing to address the veracity of the rumors. Media sources we have spoken with indicate that it is not worth the risk of attracting Kremlin scorn to print any stories having a First Family angle.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Melting Arctic soil spewing carbon: study
    • GOP Lawmaker Mike Beard Claims God Will Provide Unlimited Natural Resources

      Mike Beard, a Republican state representative from Minnesota, recently argued that coal mining should resume in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, in part because he believes God has created an earth that will provide unlimited natural resources.

      “God is not capricious. He’s given us a creation that is dynamically stable,” Beard told MinnPost. “We are not going to run out of anything.”

    • Why Chevron’s lawyers must be among the busiest in the world

      Oil is the dirtiest industry in the world and Chevron, one the world’s largest companies, must be the oiliest. That’s saying something when you consider it has rivals including BP, Shell, Exxon and Oxy. Never mind the gross violations of the Ecuadoran environment for which it was punished this week with a $8bn (£5bn) fine. When it comes to aggressive legal tactics, vindictiveness, threats, pollution, intimidation, tax evasion and links with venal and repressive regimes, it is in a league of its own as its corporate lawyers bludgeon, bully and try to beat with the law any opposition it meets around the world.

  • Finance

    • Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission – Closed Session – Ben Bernanke
    • How Goldman Killed A.I.G.

      The conventional wisdom has it that the final report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was a low-budget flop, hopelessly riven by internal political disputes and dissension among the commission’s 10 members. As usual, the conventional wisdom is completely wrong. Actually, the report — and the online archive of testimony, interviews and documents that are now available — is a treasure trove of invaluable information about the causes and consequences of the Great Recession.

    • Did Goldman Sachs Kill AIG ?

      The “dispute” between GS and AIG was over the timing and amount of the collateral call. I must emphasize that this was part of the contract between two very sophisticated financial firms — AIG was the world’s biggest insurer, and GS was one of the world’s biggest bankers.

      As Cohan states “On July 27, 2007, Goldman sent a $1.81 billion collateral call to A.I.G. Financial Products.” But Cohan’s mention that: “Goldman — pretty much alone at that point — thought represented the decline in the value of the securities.”

      But so what? That AIG gave GS the ability to demand increased collateral based on their own valuations is pretty astonishing — and dumb as hell. AIG ultimately negotiated down the $1.8B collateral call to “only” $450m; eventually, they ponied up an additional $1.55 billion in collateral. AIG also had to pay collateral to Merrill and Soc Gen.

    • A Few Words From Bernie

      No senator in Washington talks straighter about the truth than Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). He is a staunch defender of ordinary Americans, and strongly opposes the Republican effort to balance the budget on the backs of these people while giving huge tax breaks to the rich. The following statements from Senator Sanders are from an interview with Judy Woodruff, where he discusses the budget plans of President Obama and the Republican Party. As usual, he’s right on target.


      1. Summary: The banking system in Belarus is characterized by its underdevelopment, lack of foreign competition, and constant government interference. The Belarusian economy still relies primarily on cash as a settlement instrument. Cash outside the banking sector is the preferred method of payment because, what the GOB doesn’t see, it can’t confiscate or control. GOB intervention in the operational activities of both private enterprises and government- controlled banks is the cause of most of the problems in the banking sector. However, despite these systemic problems, public trust in the banking sector is growing.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Sign the petition: Bev Oda must resign

      Falsifying documents? Misleading Parliament? Enough is enough.

    • Koch Industries Slashed WI Jobs, Helped Elect Scott Walker, Now Orchestrating Pro-Walker Protest

      Wisconsin’s newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker is facing a growing backlash over his attempt to cut pay and eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in his state. Although Walker is claiming his power grab is an attempt to close a budget gap, the budget “crisis” was engineered by Walker as soon as he got into office. As Brian Beutler reported, half of the budget shortfall comes from Walker’s own tax cuts for businesses and other business giveaways enacted in January.

    • Sarah Palin Answers Questions From Business Group In Front Of Mainstream Media
    • Targets of Chamber of Commerce fight back

      Three attorneys at Hunton & Williams, the international law firm that is implicated in a scheme to attack WikiLeaks and critics of the Chamber of Commerce, will be hit with bar complaints next week by anti-Chamber activists who were targeted in the scheme.

      “It’s a powerhouse law firm and if they’re allowed to deal in this kind of illegal activity, what do ethics in the law mean?” asks Kevin Zeese, attorney for the group StopTheChamber.com. “These guys are openly talking about potentially criminal activities — invading privacy, moving toward libel and slander and defamation of character — by creating forged documents, tricking us to putting them out, and accusing us of putting out disinformation.”

    • Why Ballmer wasn’t at the Obama tech dinner
  • Censorship

  • Civil Rights

    • TSA screeners stole over $200K from fliers’ baggage

      Two TSA screeners from New York’s Kennedy airport were busted for stealing over $200,000 in cash from fliers. They targetted people they thought were drug dealers, since they didn’t think their victims would complain.

    • Comment: Civil liberties campaigners dig their own grave

      The reason leftists always sense a rightward drift in British politics is simply because the pressure is there. The tabloid press seize on any instance of crime being dealt with leniently, or an MP who proposes liberalising drugs laws, or a theatre production in a prison. People are on their toes about getting done from the right, so they cater to its concerns. The most you get from the left is a concerned column in the Independent. There’s just not enough pressure.

      Which is why civil liberties activists’ current strategy – namely complacency – is so ruinous to the cause.

      It was evident when the coalition took power that civil liberties was a crucial middle ground for the two parties. The Tories were always dodgy on civil liberties but it fitted a freedom agenda which could be combined with their deregulation plans to imitate an ideologically coherent policy portfolio.

    • Defend Free Speech on the Internet

      Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation that would give phone and cable companies absolute power over the Internet.

    • FBI pushes for surveillance backdoors in Web 2.0 tools

      The FBI pushed Thursday for more built-in backdoors for online communication, but beat a hasty retreat from its earlier proposal to require providers of encrypted communications services to include a backdoor for law enforcement wiretaps.

      FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni told Congress that new ways of communicating online could cause problems for law enforcement officials, but categorically stated that the bureau is no longer pushing to force companies like RIM, which offers encrypted e-mail for business and government customers, to engineer holes in their systems so the FBI can see the plaintext of a communication upon court order.

    • Data retention should last one year: AG

      The talks, set for July this year, will lay the foundations to unify current data retention plans between the US, Europe and Australia.

      Governments have proposed that internet providers retain information on customers including websites visited, online searches and key data required to tie verified account identities to IP addresses. The ideas are being pushed as a means to assist law enforcement within and across national borders.

    • The Fourth Amendment is Going Dark

      In 1994 the FBI decided it needed a surveillance system built into the telephone network to enable it to listen to any conversation with the flip of a switch. Congress obliged by passing the Communication Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), forcing the telecoms to rebuild their networks to be “wiretap ready.” Seventeen years later, law enforcement is asking to expand CALEA to include the Internet, claiming that its investigative abilities are “going dark” because people are increasingly communicating online.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • EU to consider new plans to reduce roaming phone charges

      The European Commission will have to consider radical new measures to reduce the cost of mobile roaming charges after almost all respondents to its consultation said prices were unfair.

    • Rogers Responds To CRTC Net Neutrality Concerns: No Need for Disclosure Changes
    • Regulations committee drops advice to CRTC on false and misleading news

      Facing mounting public pressure, the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, a committee of the House and Senate, agreed Thursday to withdraw advice to the CRTC to water down a regulation prohibiting the broadcast of false and misleading news.

      Some observers now expect the CRTC, which is against the proposal, to withdraw or abandon the regulatory change it put forward in a consultation on Jan. 10.

    • Who owns the tangible Internet?

      What is the Internet? It is not analogous to a house. But you folks want tangibles, so lets talk tangibles.

      A house occupies a finite amount of space. A house anywhere in our world is most likely to fall under the specific jurisdiction and laws of the nation in which it stands. Under the laws of the land, it is usually straightforward to determine who holds title to the house. In most cases only the owner has the rights to alter or amend the structure of the house.

      The Internet, on the other hand, spans the globe. This means that there are bits of infrastructure residing in many nations and under many different legal systems. And if Fred in Topeka sends an email to Mary in London, the email it is broken down into multiple packets which are sent independently — part of Fred’s email might go in a relatively straight line from sender to destination but part of it may be rerouted via Sri Lanka and another through Iceland.

  • DRM

    • Copyright Lobby Group Makes the Case for Flexible Digital Lock Rules

      This report is what Canadian officials have in mind when they talk about it being driven entirely by U.S. industry. There are many aspects worth noting in this year’s report – the criticism of countries like Vietnam and the Philippines for encouraging the use of open source software (the Vietnamese program was established to help reduce software piracy), the criticism of Bill C-32′s digital lock provision that allows cabinet to establish new exceptions (the IIPA would like any new exceptions to be both limited and for a limited time), and the near universal demand that countries spend millions of public dollars on increased policing, IP courts, and public education campaigns.

      Of particular note, however, is the fact that the IIPA report provides a fairly convincing case that there is considerable flexibility in implementing the WIPO Internet treaty anti-circumvention rules.

      The IIPA hopes to make the opposite case by claiming that country-after-country should amend their digital lock rules to make them more like the U.S. DMCA. Yet the picture that emerges is that dozens of countries around the world have rejected that DMCA approach in their effort to comply with digital lock requirements found in the WIPO Internet treaties.

    • Stipulation: Hotz to Turn Over Computers to Neutral Third Party – Updated

      This will make a lot of you feel better. The parties have come up with a stipulation in Sony Computer Entertainment American v. Hotz regarding what Hotz must do about handing over his computers. The new Preliminary Injunction [PDF] now says that he is to turn his materials over to a “neutral” third party, not to SCEA’s lawyers, and after the neutral party combs through them, it all is returned to Hotz. All but whatever they “segregate” out of them. He won’t get that back until the end of the litigation, should he prevail, which this court at least currently thinks is less likely than that Sony will. There will be a hearing on Hotz’s motion to dismiss on April 8, 2011.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Did Watson Succeed On Jeopardy By Infringing Copyrights?

      This is a really good point and (once again) highlights the ridiculousness of copyright in certain circumstances. Of course, your viewpoint on this may depend heavily on whether or not you believe Google’s book scanning infringed on copyright (I don’t). But, for those who do, do you believe that IBM’s scanning of books does infringe? Technically, it’s the same basic process. In fact, you could argue that with Watson it’s much more involved, because Watson then actually made use of the actual data to a much greater extent than Google did with Google books.

    • Photographer Who Took Family Portrait Of Girl Shot In Tucson Suing Media For Using The Photo

      What you might not know is that the professional photographer, who took this photo, apparently seems to think this is an “opportunity.” After Christina’s unfortunate murder, photographer Jon Wolf of Tucson decided to register the photo at the Copyright Office and then threaten and/or sue a bunch of media properties for showing the photo without licensing it (thanks to Eric Goldman for sending this over). It’s hard not to be sickened by someone who would so brazenly try to capitalize on such a tragedy.

    • Trademarks

      • Google Pushes To Keep Reams Of Documents Secret In Major Trademark Case

        Rosetta Stone v. Google, one of the most important trademark cases of the digital age, is pending in a Virginia federal appeals court, and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is fighting a remarkable battle to keep thousands of pages of documents secret. The documents could contain information that’s potentially damaging to Google about how frequently customers are confused by trademarked searches, which is a central question in the case.

        The company is trying to block an effort by the non-profit Public Citizen to unseal heaps of documents in the case. The battle over these sealed documents won’t affect what Rosetta Stone has access to, so it shouldn’t really affect the outcome of the case. But Google is fighting to keep sealed at least 800 pages of documents that could damage it from a PR perspective.

    • Copyrights

      • Creating creativity

        To give creative endeavor more shelter I proposed making fair dealing illustrative. But if we must remain locked into enumerated categories of fair dealing Professor Graham Reynolds convincingly argues that a further category be added: a protection for those who engage in transformative work. In his chapter, “Towards a Right to Engage in the Fair Transformative Use of Copyright-Protected Expression,” in From “Radical Extremism” to “Balanced Copyright…” (free download available here) he indicates that Canada would not be the first country to take such a step, and, he stresses the importance of ensuring that the anti-circumvention provisions of Bill C-32 do not render such a right null and void.

      • Leaving Millions on the Table: Pandora and Canadian Music

        Pandora, the popular U.S. online music service filed for an initial public offering last week, provided new insight into hugely popular company that spends millions of dollars in copyright royalties. Pandora users listened to a billion hours of music in the last three months of 2010. Given U.S. laws, the Pandora prospectus notes that it paid for the privilege of having its users do so, with the company spending just over half of its revenue on copyright fees – $45 million in the first nine months of 2010.

      • RIAA Labels Spain and Canada As Piracy Havens

        Together with their partners at the International Intellectual Property Alliance, the RIAA has submitted their ‘piracy watchlist’ recommendations to the Office of the US Trade Representative. Canada and Spain are listed as two piracy havens that require urgent attention from the US Government, even though the latter just adopted a US inspired anti-piracy law.

      • The RIAA attacks Canada

        The IIPA (International Intellectual Property Alliance) is touting another of its spurious ‘reports’ and, says the RIAA, quoting from the document, “the Canadian Government has inexplicably consumed yet another year without modernizing its copyright regime, leaving a legal structure in place that is not adequate to respond to present challenges.”

        Posted Michael Geist, “This [IIPA] report is what Canadian officials have in mind when they talk about it being driven entirely by U.S. industry.

        “There are many aspects worth noting in this year’s report — the criticism of countries like Vietnam and the Philippines for encouraging the use of open source software (the Vietnamese program was established to help reduce software piracy), the criticism of Bill C-32’s digital lock provision that allows cabinet to establish new exceptions (the IIPA would like any new exceptions to be both limited and for a limited time), and the near universal demand that countries spend millions of public dollars on increased policing, IP courts, and public education campaigns.”

      • Nothing New Under The Copyright-Eclipsed Sun

        The copyright industry has tried the same tricks and rhetoric for well over 500 years, and they are also keen on trying to rewrite history. But the tale of the history books differs sharply from what the copyright industry is trying to paint.

        When the printing press arrived in 1453, scribe-craft was a profession in high demand. The Black Death had taken a large toll from the monasteries, who were not yet repopulated, so copying books was expensive.

      • President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil

        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

      • Optical illusion inventor goes on to invent copyright threats against 3D printing company

        Yesterday, I blogged about Artur Tchoukanov, who figured out how to make a 3D printed “impossible” Penrose triangle. Turned out I didn’t have the details quite right. The guy who came up with the 3D design in Thingiverse had made it after seeing someone else’s model for the same thing on Shapeways, and he’d made the triangle design to show that he’d figured out how the trick was done.

      • ACTA

        • Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement: European Commission welcomes release of negotiation documents

          The negotiation parties of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) today published the documents of the 8th round of negotiations held in Wellington on 12-16 April. The European Commission welcomes the decision to make the draft available to the public. This text shows that the overall objective of ACTA is to address large-scale infringements of intellectual property rights which have a significant economic impact. ACTA will by no means lead to a limitation of civil liberties or to “harassment” of consumers.

        • Comments to USTR Submitted for ACTA: Thirty Professors Say It Requires Congressional Approval

          We write to call on the Obama administration to comply with the Constitution by submitting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) to Congress for approval.

          The executive branch lacks constitutional authority to enter international agreements on intellectual property without congressional consent. The regulation of intellectual property and of foreign commerce, which are at the heart of ACTA’s terms, are Article I Section 8 powers of Congress; the President lacks constitutional authority to enter international agreements in this area as sole executive agreements lacking congressional authorization or approval.

Clip of the Day

Using HLML5 as a wrapper around Flash, Is it a Possibility?

Credit: TinyOgg

IRC Proceedings: February 18th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 12:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




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