09.11.11

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Cablegate: “Google Adopted Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu Software as its In-house Operating System.”

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Ubuntu at 10:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: Goobuntu received a mention in diplomatic cables

IN A CABLE from Cablegate we found the claim that “Google adopted Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu software as its in-house operating system.” The cable is generally about the South African economy and wildlife, but that last bit from 2009 is relevant to us.

It is worth noting that Google claims to have almost dumped Windows entirely, even from all desktops. Here is the cable in its entirety.



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DE RUEHSA #1009/01 1391453
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191453Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8520
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 6863
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 0975
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 9212
Hide header
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 PRETORIA 001009 
 
DEPT FOR OES/PCI, OES/ENV, AND AF/S 
DEPT PASS EPA/OIA, 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: SENV [Environmental Affairs], SOCI [Social Conditions], ETRD [Foreign
Trade], SF [South Africa], 
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICAN ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY MONTHLY 
BRIEFINGS, MAY 2009 
 
PRETORIA 00001009  001.2 OF 004 
 
 
¶1. (U) Summary:  This is the South African Environment, Science and 
Technology Monthly Briefings Newsletter, May 2009, Volume 4, Number 
5, prepared by the U.S. Embassy Pretoria, South Africa. 
 
Topics of the newsletter: 
 
-- Scientists Develop New Carbon Emission Reduction Process 
 
-- South Africa and Uganda Sign S&T Bilateral Agreement 
 
-- South Africa Frogs Facing Extinction 
 
-- Lion Park Forced Out by Development 
 
-- Rare Orchid May Become Extinct 
 
-- Environmental Group Calls for Investigation of Gauteng 
   MEC for Conservation 
 
 
-- Municipal Health Service Sees Deterioration in Water Quality 
 
-- Poor Water Quality Limits Business Growth 
 
-- SANParks Opposes Mining Project at Mapungubwe 
 
-- Monthly Factoid 
 
----------------------------- 
Scientists Develop New Carbon 
Emission Reduction Process 
----------------------------- 
 
¶2. (U) Wits University Centre of Material and Process Synthesis 
professors David Glasser, Diane Hildebrandt, Brendon Hausberger and 
Bilal Patel, and Rutgers professor Benjamin Glasser have made a 
breakthrough discovery that reduces carbon dioxide emissions from 
the source and that can be applied to a range of processes.  David 
Glasser said that their research developed new techniques for 
analyzing what causes emissions, and how to design processes to 
reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  He added that once these processes 
are understood, it is "relatively simple to eliminate unnecessary 
emissions and minimize the contributions from other sources." 
 
 
¶3. (U) Glasser cited as an example a plant making liquid fuel from 
coal.  He said with their process the plant can reduce its overall 
CO2 emissions by using CO2 and hydrogen as intermediaries.  He noted 
that the plant achieves higher emission reductions using CO2 and 
hydrogen, even though this appears to be an inferior method. 
Glasser added that there is a pilot plant running in China and a 
demonstration plant in Australia, which incorporate these ideas. 
Glasser said the technique can be applied to a number of different 
processes, giving it a substantial impact on combustion processes. 
The center at Wits has 40 post graduate students and about 20 full 
time employees who are funded by industry. 
 
---------------------------- 
South Africa and Uganda Sign 
S & T Bilateral Agreement 
---------------------------- 
 
¶4. (U) South Africa and Uganda signed a bilateral Science and 
Technology Agreement on April; 16, 2009.  The two countries will 
jointly identify scientific and technological priorities and 
consolidate resources.  South Africa and Uganda have been 
negotiating the agreement since 2006.  Areas of cooperation include 
bioscience, indigenous knowledge systems, environment and climate 
change, energy research, innovation management capacity, information 
technology, and human capital development.  Uganda and South Africa 
will continue their current joint efforts under the Group on Earth 
Observation project.  Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi 
Mangena said that, over the past decade, South Africa's science has 
been greatly enriched by collaborations with African counterparts. 
 
 
------------------------------------ 
South Africa Frogs Facing Extinction 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶5. (U) North-West University African Amphibian Conservation Research 
Group Director Dr Louis du Preez warned that the South African frog 
populations are rapidly decreasing.  Du Preez, who is also the Head 
Qpopulations are rapidly decreasing.  Du Preez, who is also the Head 
of the Green Trust Threatened South Africa Frog Project, is chairing 
an effort to produce the first-ever conservation action plan for 
South Africa's twenty-one threatened frog species.  Du Perez noted 
 
PRETORIA 00001009  002.2 OF 004 
 
 
that the rapid decline in frogs is cause for alarm because frogs are 
the thermometers of environmental health.  He noted that frogs are 
exposed to the complete range of air, water and land pollutants 
since they live in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. 
Several South Africa frogs are restricted to small geographical 
areas and the loss of their habitat has a devastating effect on 
population numbers.  The habitat of the Ghost Frog in the Elandsberg 
Mountains, for example, has become a pine plantation.  Pine needles 
acidify the water in the stream areas where the frog lives.  Du 
Perez and two doctoral students recently discovered the first Ghost 
Frog seen in years in the Elandsberg Mountain. 
 
¶6. (U) Du Perez says the Elandsberg forestry companies are 
collaborating with the Green Trust to conserve this frog, hiring a 
fulltime ecologist and bringing in expensive equipment to 'pluck' 
trees from the stream area where the frog lives."  Another 
endangered frog is Rose's ghost frog, a rare species found only on 
Table Mountain, where it lives in streams and moist, forested 
gorges.  It is under threat from invasive plants, increasing numbers 
of visitors and the high number of fires.  The construction of more 
water holding areas has taken away water from the streams where the 
frogs' eggs and tadpoles develop.  The Western Cape NGO 'Friends of 
the Western Leopard Toad' is helping to conserve this threatened 
species, which lives and breeds in the urban environment of the 
Tokai/Muizenberg/Fishhoek.  Western Leopards are frequently killed 
by cars speeding on the roads.  The Friends have erected toad 
crossings that say:  "Caution! Western Leopard Toads." 
 
----------------------------------- 
Lion Park Forced Out by Development 
----------------------------------- 
 
 
¶7. (U) Lions have ranged freely throughout Johannesburg's Lion Park 
for forty-one years, but a high-density development is forcing the 
Park to relocate.  The new development will include 1528 residence 
on various sized plots.  Current residents question whether the 
rural area's infrastructure will be able to handle this increased 
capacity.  Local resident Nicci Wright, an engineer, said that the 
area is a wetland fed by natural springs, and that the proposed 
sewage system locates its pump at the lowest point in the area.  She 
said when she questioned the effectiveness of this location she was 
told that Randburg Water would handle all maintenance.  Wright said 
she knows of three pumps handled by Randburg that are currently out 
of order and pumping raw sewage into the Klein Jukskei and 
Hartebeespoort Dam.  Developer Golder Associates Africa's 
representative said that an extensive EIA was completed and all 
environmental issues were addressed with sufficient mitigation 
efforts.  Lion Park Acting Manager advised that the staff and 
animals would move after the FIFA World Cup in 2010 when their 
contract officially expires.  He noted that the Lion Park is no 
longer in the rural areas as it used to be, and that "we are in the 
middle of the suburbs now.  It's not very nice." 
 
------------------------------ 
Rare Orchid May Become Extinct 
------------------------------ 
 
¶8. (U) The only known population of a rare wild orchid is threatened 
by development plans near the Cradle of Humankind in Maropeng. 
Conservationists say the orchid could become extinct.  Black Eagle 
Project spokesman Arthur Alberston added that endangered or 
QProject spokesman Arthur Alberston added that endangered or 
threatened animals such as caracal, jackals and leopards move 
through the area and the development would interrupt their transit 
paths.  The application for this high-density residential and 
business unit project is pending with the Gauteng Department of 
Agriculture, Conservation and Environment (GDACE).  Albertson says 
the project violates several national and provincial regulations and 
policies.  If GDACE does grant the permit, the NGOs say they will 
take legal action to stop the construction.  GDACE, Mogale City and 
the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens officials claim they 
have been investigating the feasibility of establishing a 
2,000-hectare reserve in the that areas which would safeguard the 
orchid's habitat and allow restocking of wildlife. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
Environmental Group Calls for Investigation 
of Gauteng MEC for Conservation 
------------------------------------------- 
 
¶9. (U) The Environmental and Conservation Association (ECA) has 
filed a lawsuit seeing to overrule Gauteng MEC for Agriculture, 
Conservation and Environment Khabsisi Mosunkuntu's decision to 
permit permitting a new road through one of Gauteng's wetlands. 
Various media reports have also raised questions about Mosunkuntu's 
decision to overrule GDACE ruling that the road should not be built, 
 
PRETORIA 00001009  003.2 OF 004 
 
 
citing Musunkuntu's involvement with the developments seeking the 
roadway.  Gauteng Democratic Alliance Leader Jack Bloom submitted a 
dossier detailing Mosunkuntu actions involving irregularities in 
eight separate developments across the province to Gauteng premier 
Mbhazima Shilowa last year.  Bloom called for a commission to 
investigate Mosumkuntu.  ECA Chairman Nicole Barlow said the 
wetland's road is yet another example of Mosumkuntu "sidestepping" 
the law and making decisions contrary to GDACE's expert opinion. 
 
------------------------------ 
Municipal Health Service Sees 
Deterioration in Water Quality 
------------------------------ 
 
¶10. (U) Tshwane municipal health service division tabled a report 
before the Metro Council on May 1, 2009 describing the rapid 
deterioration of the quality of water and food in the area.  The 
report contains findings by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) 
for the period July 1, 2005 to June 2008.  Food and water samples 
were taken and tested for compliance with the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics 
and Disinfections Act.  ARC samples included tap water, reservoirs, 
bottled water, and water in tankers, boreholes, rivers and streams. 
Food samples were taken from pasteurized milk, raw milk, dairy 
products, juice and ice cream.  ARC's findings indicated that 57% of 
all water samples complied with legal requirements; 60% of bottled 
water complied; 53% of food complied with legal requirements 
regarding microbiological analysis (a six percent decline from 
previous period; and that 63% of food complied with legal 
requirements regarding chemical analysis (a 35% decline).  The 
report stated that there are serious personnel shortages in 
municipal health services due to the council's alternative service 
delivery (ASD) process. 
 
----------------------------------------- 
Poor Water Quality Limits Business Growth 
----------------------------------------- 
 
¶11. (U) Independent water expert Anthony Turton said South African 
businesses growth could be constrained by the lack of clean water 
resources.  He added that business should stop the "blame game" and 
act swiftly in partnership with the government to deal with the 
threat.  Turton said, "Business cannot sit idle any longer.  We need 
new partnerships between the government, organized business and the 
national science councils to develop and resource a fresh strategic 
vision."  He advised business to see water as a business rick and to 
form partnerships similar to those formed in response to crime. 
Turton stated, "Companies must understand business risks in terms of 
input, process and output and then develop mitigation strategies for 
each of these sets of issues." 
 
¶12. (U) Turton said the water problem SA faced was that of quality 
and quantity, as well as demand and supply.  He said, "By 2035 SA 
will need 65-billion cubic kilometers of water and our current 
national stock stands at 33-billion.  Our problem is that we are 
managing our water resources so badly, and are putting pressure on 
available fresh water."   Turton also suggested that the country's 
water allocation reform process should ensure that industry - which 
contributed about 80% of gross domestic product (GDP) but received 
only about 20% of water allocation - should get more water at the 
expense of agriculture, which received about 60% of water allocated 
but only contributed about 2% to GDP .  Turton resigned from the 
Qbut only contributed about 2% to GDP .  Turton resigned from the 
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research last year after he 
made controversial remarks about the implications of SA's water 
situation on socioeconomic development. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
SANParks Opposes Mining Project at Mapungubwe 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
¶13. (U) South African National Parks (SANParks) is challenging an 
application for a R3 trillion mining operation to be established at 
the entrance to the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site.  SANParks 
spokesperson Wanda Mkhutshulwa said on April 20, 2009 that SANParks 
was opposed to the project because it threatened the environment 
around Mapungubwe, particularly the quality of its water. 
Mkhutshulwa noted that SANparks mandate is to ensure the environment 
surrounding the national parks is protected.  She stated, "From our 
view, the mining project will have a negative impact on the water in 
the park."  Department of Minerals and Energy spokesperson Bheki 
Khumalo stressed that the mining project was not a done deal. 
Khumalo said, "After all objections have been registered and all 
concerns considered the department will make a determination.  We 
are still months away from that." 
 
¶14. (U) The proposed mining site is near the Limpopo River, which 
forms the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe.  The closest 
 
PRETORIA 00001009  004.2 OF 004 
 
 
town is Musina.  The mine's western boundary is seven kilometers 
east of the Mapungubwe National Park, and the coal processing plant 
infrastructure would be twenty-seven kilometers from the Mapungubwe 
World Heritage Site.  The proposed colliery would have the potential 
to produce five-million tons a year of coking coal, starting with 
one-million tons a year and ramping up to full capacity by 2011. 
The life-of-mine stretches beyond 2040.  Independent Power Producer 
(IPP) Mulilo Energy is considering constructing a power station in 
the area, although CoAL said it was not reliant on the sale of coal 
to the power station to make the project feasible.  The power 
station would ultimately produce about 900 MW, and initial designs 
show that it would be located directly below the CoAL tenement area. 
 
 
¶15. (U) The Mapungubwe National Park is a game reserve and home to 
the archaeological treasure of Mapungubwe, a kingdom predating that 
of Great Zimbabwe.  Mapungubwe was the base of a trading empire that 
traded with the people of China, India, Egypt and Persia, exchanging 
ivory, gold around the year 1200.  The Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape 
became South Africa's fifth World Heritage site in July 2003, and in 
May 2004, it was officially announced as the Mapungubwe National 
Park.  The site was discovered in 1933, and is said to be where an 
Iron Age metropolis was ruled by an African king almost one thousand 
years ago.  Mapungubwe National Park Manager Tshimangadzo Nehemani 
said the Park had 26 000 visitors in 2007.  A new interpretation 
centre will open by the end of this year, allowing the public to 
view the gold work uncovered at the site, including the world-famous 
tiny golden rhino, a gold scepter and gold bowl. 
 
¶16. (U) Coal of Africa (CoAL) Chief Operations Officer Riaan van der 
Merwe stated in a community meeting that the project would create 
14,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities during the 
construction phase and 30,000 direct and indirect jobs during the 
operational phase.  Local business owners have complained that the 
CoAL still has not addressed concerns raised at previous meetings, 
including the need for an environmental impact assessment study on 
how local roads would be affected by coal-hauling trucks and dust 
from the coal.  Mopane Bush Lodge Manager Paul Hatty said, "We have 
such a beautiful environment here.  The atmosphere is clean and all 
of that will be wiped out by the coal business."   Hatty added that 
the lodge, which is seven kilometers from the proposed mine site, 
drew over one hundred international visitors last year, all of whom 
visited the heritage site.  He said, "We will lose our clients as no 
sane person will pay money to be swallowed by coal dust." 
 
¶17. (U) Vhembe District Municipal Councilor Mapulanka Baloi welcomed 
the proposal, saying it would benefit many people.  He added that 
the mine would create new levels of economic development and 
employment and bring the province to a new level of prosperity.  Van 
der Merwe emphasized that CoAL would manage the mine in accordance 
with mining environmental regulations.  Hatty responded that "Even 
with the best environmental controls, the environmental degradation 
caused by coal mining, similar to that around Witbank, will kill any 
hopes of growing tourism, both international and local, to this 
prime pristine area of Africa."   Local businesses and residents 
also fear that if this project is approved, more coal mines would be 
Qalso fear that if this project is approved, more coal mines would be 
established in the area.  Hatty said, "Anglo Coal has already 
purchased four farms even closer to the National Park and Heritage 
Site, and three other farms next to Mapungubwe Park entrance show 
promising signs of exploitable coal." 
 
--------------- 
Monthly Factoid 
--------------- 
 
¶18. (U) In 2002 South African internet entrepreneur Mark 
Shuttleworth, then age 28, became Africa's first astronaut.  Three 
years later Google adopted Shuttleworth's Ubuntu software as its 
in-house operating system. 
www.southafrica.info/about/414421.htm#innovat ions 
 
LA LIME

They are probably referring to Goobuntu.

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