Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 19/6/2010: Zorin 3, Droid 2

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Security/Aggression

    • Plastic bags to be put over Birmingham 'terror cameras'
      A surveillance operation in parts of Birmingham with large Muslim populations has been halted after it was revealed the move was linked to counter terrorism.

    • CCTV agreement will boost council funds
      THE head of CCTV in Sevenoaks is set to take charge of cameras in Tunbridge Wells in order to boost council coffers.

      But council chiefs insist the move, which will earn them €£20,000 a year, will not impact on security in the town.

    • Town administrator allegedly planted camera in women's bathroom
      Town Administrator Kyle J. Keady allegedly planted a video camera in the ceiling of the women's restroom in Town Hall, secretly recorded visitors to his office, and illicitly bugged his assistant and the town accountant, authorities said today.

    • Police in north Birmingham get electric Taser stun guns
      FRONTLINE bobbies in parts of Birmingham have been equipped with 50,000-volt electric stun guns, it has emerged.

      Selected officers across the north of the city have joined colleagues in other parts of the West Midlands to be allowed to carry the Taser on city streets.

  • Environment

    • Spinning the Barrel
      BP and the media express quantities of oil gushing from BP's leak in the Gulf in different ways. The amount of oil coming out of the leak is most frequently expressed in barrels, but how much is that? Can people really relate to a barrel as a quantity? After all, we buy staples like gasoline, milk, and water by the gallon. To make it even more complicated for the public to understand the quantities being discussed, the amount of liquid in a barrel varies with what is being measured. Barrels of chemicals or food, for example, contain 55 gallons. A whiskey barrel is 40 gallons; a barrel of beer contains 36 gallons; a barrel of ale contains 34 gallons. (And the latter two are imperial gallons, which are two-tenths less than an American gallon.) All these variations in the barrel as a quantity of measure only further confuse the concept of what a barrel of oil looks like. Moreover, since oil companies started shipping oil in tankers they rarely actually ship oil in barrels anymore, so the barrel as a measurement has less practical use.

    • The Other Oil Giants? Just as Unready as BP

    • Cuba braces to contend with BP oil spill
      Havana calls in Venezuelan experts to combat potential environmental disaster as tarballs spotted off island's coast

    • Read This Before You Volunteer to Clean Up the BP Oil Disaster
      Merle Savage has a wheezy, guttural smoker's cough. But the 71-year-old former Alaska resident and author of Silence in the Sound never smoked a day in her life. She did, however, spend four months as a general foreman during the Exxon Valdez oil spill recovery project in 1989. And she has a message for anyone working at the BP oil disaster sites: "You've got to use your common sense. Breathing crude oil is toxic."

    • Cutting greenhouse gases will be no quick fix for our weather, scientists say
      UK study predicts increased floods and droughts will continue for decades after global temperatures are stabilised

    • Coalition to announce support for new nuclear power

    • UN considers review of alleged carbon offset abuses
      The UN has confirmed that it is considering a formal review of its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) after a new report leveled fresh criticism at the high profile carbon offsetting scheme.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Changes in cigarette pack colors called not so mild
      In anticipation of a ban against using words such as "light" or "mild" on cigarette labels and ads, tobacco companies have lightened package colors to convey the same message, a move the American Lung Association and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., have attacked as disingenuous.

    • The Copyright Lobby's Astroturf Campaign in Support of C-32
      The copyright lobby, almost certainly led by the Canadian Recording Industry Association, has launched a major astroturf campaign in which it hopes to enlist company employees to register their support for Bill C-32 and to criticize articles or comments that take issue with elements of the proposed legislation. The effort, which even includes paid placement of headlines on, is still shrouded in some secrecy. A member list, which featured many record company executives, has now disappeared from public view. Requests to identify who is behind the site have been stonewalled thus far, with both ACTRA and AFM Canada explicitly stating they are not part of the site (this is no surprise since most creator groups have been critical of C-32).

    • Copyright Lobby Astroturf Site Adds Mandatory, Uneditable Letter to MPs
      The copyright lobby's astroturfing site has added a new mandatory requirement for all users that want to participate in the Take Action items. According to a site user, the site now requires users to send a form letter to their relevant Member of Parliament. There are two letter options - one letter for entertainment industry employees and one general letter.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Italian MEP Wants To Eliminate Anonymity On the Internet

    • DOJ's surveillance reporting failure
      In both 2004, and 2009, the US Department of Justice provided Congress with a "document dump", covering 5 years of Pen Register and Trap & Trace surveillance reports. Although the law clearly requires the Attorney General to submit annual reports to Congress, DOJ has not done so, nor has it provided any reason for its repeated failure to submit the reports to Congress in a timely manner, as the law requires.

    • The End of Libel?

    • Pakistani lawyer petitions for death of Mark Zuckerberg
      Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is being investigated by Pakistani police under a section of the penal code that makes blasphemy against Muhammad punishable by death.

      BBC Urdu reports — according to a Google Translation — that Pakistan's Deputy Attorney General has launched a criminal investigation against Zuckerberg and others in response to Facebook hosting a "Draw Muhammad" contest on its site late last month. On May 19, Pakistani authorities blocked access to Facebook over the contest, and this ban was lifted on May 31 after Facebook removed the page in Pakistan and other countries.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Let's subsidize open broadband, not journalists
      The FTC can't do much on its own about making sure broadband works the right way. That's partly the Federal Communication Commission's job. But it's really the job of Congress, which keeps failing so spectacularly at almost everything else it touches these days.

      But the FTC can offer policy recommendations, and sometimes Congress actually listens. So I hope the commission will push for the kind of progress the nation's founders had the wisdom to see. Let's create the conditions that help ensure a market of ideas and business models, based on one of the principle America stood on in its early days: widespread contributions and access to knowledge, as a foundation of the future.

    • Propaganda Masquerading As Academic Net Neutrality 'Jobs' Loss Assessment
      The writeup is done by Matthew Lasar, who's usually pretty good to cut through ridiculous claims, but doesn't seem to challenge this one at all. The report is officially from New York Law School's Advanced Communications Law & Policy Institute, but it was written by Bret Swanson. Remember him? He's a well known propagandist for the telco industry. He's not a "researcher." He's the guy who coined the concept of the "exaflood" and when that was totally debunked, renamed it the "exacloud." He's been AT&T's go to guy for pure anti-net neutrality propaganda, and he seems to relish in totally making stuff up.

    • Industry Groups Offer Legislative Deal On Net Neutrality
      Under pressure from the FCC, the communications industry is lobbying Congress to pass narrowly focused legislation to blunt two contentious, game-changing proposals championed by Chairman Julius Genachowski, CongressDaily reported.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Stop Trying to Reinvent the Wheel
      Right now, in meetings at corporations around the world, the wise are suffering. They are trapped in rooms where debate rages over how to solve a problem. The rub is that the problem has already been solved, just not by someone in the room—and solutions from outside are ignored. This is the disease known as "NIH," or "Not Invented Here" syndrome, and it's alive and well in 2010. Despite our many technological advancements in communication, none have eliminated this perennial waste of time. Why is this problem so hard to shake? Will we always be confronted with people who insist on reinventing wheels?

    • Children's Hospital 'Allowed' To Continue Research Using System It Developed After Patent Fight
      This is a point that we've raised before. So many reporters contribute to massive misconceptions about patents by writing sentences like the one above. It implies that patent lawsuits really are about one group "copying" an idea or technology from another, and that the patent holder "owns" the technology itself. This is blatantly untrue in most cases.

    • Palo Alto biotech company grants license to children's hospital, allowing stem cell research to resume

    • 48 HR Magazine: "CBS Is Being Unreasonable"
      It had been exactly a month since CBS served 48 HR with a Cease & Desist letter for allegedly infringing on the trademark of the network's long-running TV news magazine of the (almost) same name: "48 Hours."

    • Copyrights

      • Gov't Reminds Colleges They Need To Start Taking Money From Students And Sending It To The Entertainment Industry
        It was a clear case of the government creating subsidies for the entertainment industry, by taking money away from students and education. It's difficult to see how anyone can defend such a law. Universities that fail to do this face the possibility of losing financial aid for students. Seriously.

      • LimeWire faces new copyright suit

      • The NYT doesn’t care about posting primary documents
        I had a very interesting conversation yesterday with Richard Samson, the NYT’s top copyright lawyer; you might remember him from his nastygram to the WSJ earlier this month, or his nastygram to Apple with respect to the Pulse RSS reader, which resulted in the app getting temporarily pulled from the iTunes app store. (He says he’s now “in conversations with the developers”, but that “the fact that they’re charging for it certainly is a concern”.) If you’re a restaurateur, say, who reproduces a NYT review on your website, he’s the person you’re likely to hear from.

      • French Data Regulator Green-Lights Three-Strikes
        The French three-strike 'Hadopi' law, which was passed in September 2009, has passed a major hurdle for its actual implementation.

        Data protection regulator CNIL has authorized music rights holders' requests to automatically track IP addresses of illegal downloaders within the frame defined in the Hadopi law.

      • Documentary filmmakers hopeful for DMCA exemption
        Documentary filmmakers are hoping the U.S. Copyright Office will soon grant them a fair use exemption from a law that bans copying content from commercial DVDs.

        The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal for anyone to bypass the security measures on a commercial DVD to download or copy the content. That presents a problem for documentary filmmakers who want to make legal use of the content, according to entertainment attorney Michael Donaldson.

      • Is 'Unthinkable' the hottest new movie that you have never heard of?
        "I've been unbelievably torn over the whole thing," says Chubb, best known for having produced such films as "Eve's Bayou," "Dark Blue" and "To Sleep with Anger." "It's tremendous to go on IMDB and see that our user rating is 7.3, which is the highest rating of any movies in the current Top 10 there -- you have to go down to 'Iron Man 2' to find a higher rating. But on the other hand, while everyone is debating all these important moral questions, I want to ask them another important question -- hey, guys, what about the morality of watching this movie on the Internet for free?"

      • Senate Oversight Of IP Czar... Only Involves Entertainment Industry Execs
        So, it's unfortunate, but hardly a surprise that the Senate's hearing on "oversight" of Espinel's work involves only people on the entertainment industry's side. The panel who will discuss Espinel's performance includes the CEO of Warner Bros., the CEO of the "Global IP Center" of the Chamber of Commerce (whose views on IP are positively neanderthal, complete with some of the most ridiculous studies), the CEO of Carlin America (a music publisher) and the president of the AFL-CIO, who has already done some horse trading to be an official representative of the RIAA's position.

      • Michael Robertson's Crowdsourced List Of 1,400 Examples Of EMI Giving Away Free Music; EMI Denies All But 3
        But weren't we just told by the head of PPL in the UK (home of EMI) that "there is no such thing" as "promotion" when it comes to music, and "for free" should be erased from our vocabulary. Perhaps that explains EMI's actions. They no longer recognize the concept of free promotion as existing after listening to Fran Nevrkla's speech.

      • When Recording Everything We See Is Standard, What Happens To Copyright?
        However, if such things become more common, laws are going to have to adjust -- and copyright law is no exception. David Levine points us to a story about a guy who lost his eye in a hunting accident, and has replaced it with a prosthetic eye that doubles as a video camera, which can also broadcast what he's seeing. Levine, in mentioning this, queries what happens when he goes to the movies? Or, what if he goes to a sporting event with an exclusive broadcast right? We recently wondered how long it would be until some enterprising team of folks all attends a sporting event with smartphones and broadcasts an "alternative" stream of the game.

Clip of the Day

CLUG Talk 14 October 2008 - Unison (2008)

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