Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 10/2/2011: WebOS and Android Rise Up

GNOME bluefish



  • Bolster Your Exec Tools
    Change at dizzying speed makes leadership tricky, whether you're a head of state or CEO. "The world is shifting and it's happening in a pronounced way," said James Quigley, co-author with Mehrdad Baghai of "As One: Individual Action, Collective Power."

    Quigley says it's passe to engage in only a couple of leadership styles, such as commander and collaborator. Combining several characteristics to adapt fast is more effective.

  • Desktop

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Environmentalists Who Spoofed Koch Industries Did Not Break Law, Should Not Be Identified, Public Citizen Tells Court
      A group of anonymous environmentalists who participated in an elaborate prank to highlight Koch Industries’ controversial role in bankrolling climate change denial did not infringe on Koch’s trademark and should not be identified, Public Citizen lawyers argued in papers filed late Wednesday in federal district court in Salt Lake City.

      Koch’s lawsuit against the anonymous activists does not justify unmasking their identities, Public Citizen said, and doing so would have a chilling effect on free speech.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • git 'er done
        Also of note is that the KTextEditor interface, while still in kdelibs, is primarily developed in (and sync'd with) the code in the Kate git repository.

        This is setting the stage for a nice opportunity for us to work on the further modularization of the KDE Platform for app devel while also giving the workspaces a clearer and more separate footing on their own.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • GNU/Linux From Turkey, Pardus 2011 Released
        Pardus team has announced the release of Pardus 2011. This is the 5th major installation release that has shipped since the project had begun in 2003 by TÃœBÄ°TAK BÄ°LGEM (Center of Research For Advanced Technologies Of Informatics And Information Security) and offers many new features among a more stable experience.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia Alpha May Arrive February 15
        We were waiting for Mageia's first iso in January, 2011. But as happens with FOSS projects, stability of the product matters more than the date. ISO was delayed and now new dates are in. According to Mageia blog, the first alpha of the Mandriva fork should be available by February 15, 2011.

        Long time Mandriva users are looking forward to this first alpha to get their hands on Mageia and see if its time to stay with it or to move on.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Qatar Exchange Turns to Red Hat for a Reliable, Scalable and High-Performance Trading Platform
        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that the Qatar Exchange, the principal stock market of Qatar and one of the leading stock markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council region (GCC region), has migrated from IBM AIX and Microsoft Windows to Red Hat Enterprise Linux to provide a high-performance trading platform for investors in the Qatari market.

      • Red Hat Close to Resistance
        Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) are trading very close to calculated resistance at $44.89 with the current price action closing at just $44.39 placing the stock near levels that make it difficult to buy.

      • Shares Of Ariba Potentially Overvalued In Terms Of Earnings Yield (ARBA, ROVI, VMW, RHT, FTNT)
        Below are the five companies in the Systems Software industry with the lowest Earnings Yields. Earnings yield is useful to compare the relative benefit of owning a stock vs. owning other yield assets such as bonds. If the earnings yield is higher, stocks may be considered undervalued.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • SODIMM-sized module offers 1GHz SoC, 1080p video playback
      Strategic Test announced a SODIMM-sized computer-on-module (COM) based on Freescale's ARM Cortex A8-based i.MX535 system-on-chip. Clocked at 1GHz, the 2.66 x 1.2-inch TX53 offers extensive I/O, including Ethernet and dual USB 2.0 ports, plus an available "Strategic Development Kit 5" baseboard, and a Linux BSP, says the company.

    • DreamPlug: A Linux PC That Looks Like a Phone Charger
      Take a look at your power outlet. If you saw a DreamPlug PC there, you could mistake it for nothing more than your mobile phone charger. Yet Globalscale Technologies' newest Linux PC offers enough zing to make the "plug computing" concept a serious one.

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Qt Goes To School - Free Training Course Material For Teachers
          Nokia's Qt team has unveiled a new initiative - namely to build awareness about Qt - the library that is the building block of KDE - among students and academia.

          Choosing an appropriate library for your software is a significant first step to developing your product.

      • Android

        • China-based white-box vendors to offer below US$100 Android smartphones for emerging markets
          China-based vendors are poised to offer Android smartphones priced at below US$100 for sale in China and other emerging markets including India, Indonesia and Brazil in 2011, according to Taiwan-based handset and component makers.

        • FLOSS Beats Closed/Proprietary In a Competitive Environment
          Rumour has it that Nokia will switch either to Phoney 7 or Android. Are they crazy enough to jump from a burning platform to a sinking ship? I think they will go with Android so they can instantly offer what the competition offers and add their own expertise with phones. That will offer more than the competition and they will win share on brand recognition and features. The question remains what they will do about price. With Android they can provide a range of products all for similar cost of production but they can also sell some added value for higher prices.

        • Pre-Sale Of Android Powered ATRIX 4G Phone Starts Feb 13
          With the loss of iPhone exclusivity, AT&T has started leaning on Android. The company will be launching dozens of Linux-based Android phones in the coming weeks. Motorola, a company which came back from ashes thanks to Linux, is brining its ATRIX 4G phone with AT&T. The phone will be available for pre-sales on Feb 13.

        • Motorola Xoom Price Leaked, Cheaper Than The High-end iPad
          Some blog sites got hold of a Best Buy flier which reveals the pricing and availability of Motorola Xoom. The leaked price of Motorola Xoom is $799 for Wifi + 3G model. If we compare, the most powerful iPad is priced at $829 and has half of the hardware power that Motorola Xoom has. The same model of the iPad (Wifi+3G & 32GB) is only $70 cheaper. Motorola Xoom has much more powerful hardware -- Nvidia Tegra 2: 1 GHz dual-core processor, 5 mega pixel main camera and 2 mega pixel camera for video chat. So, going by hardware, Motorola Xoom beats the iPad manifold.

        • Web-Based Android Market Is Not A Secuirty Risk, Yet
          Google has simplified the installation of apps via web Android Market. It has become extremely easy for users to surf the online web market and click on the 'intall' button if they want to install the desired app. The app will automatically install on your device. All you need is to log into the online web store with the same email ID you registered/activated your Android phone with.

        • Play Angry Birds Valentine’s Day Special On Android
          Extremely popular game Angry Birds is back with a new season special after Christmas. This time it is celebrating Valentine's Day.

    • HP

      • Hewlett-Packard unveils Palm-powered tablets
        Hewlett-Packard (HP), the world's biggest technology company, is making a major play for the multi-billion dollar mobile market with a slew of products based on its own operating system.

        At an event in San Francisco, the company announced two new phones and a long-awaited tablet computer.

      • HP TouchPad Crushes iPad's Enterprise Dreams
        HP has marked its entry into the tablet segment. The company has finally released a WebOS powered tablet called HP TouchPad. HP's tablet will crush Apple's dreams of taking the 'entertaining' iPad to no-nonsense enterprise customers.

        HP has a better understanding, ties with businesses than Apple, as I understand. Additionally, the lifespan of Apple product is very short which increases the cost of ownership. The current iPad is extremely crippled when compared with the latest family of Android powered tablets.

      • HP TouchPad sports dual-core Snapdragon
        HP announced its first tablet PC running WebOS, using a new dual-core 1.2GHz version of Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor. The HP TouchPad offers a 9.7-inch, XGA multitouch display, up to 32GB of memory, a 1.3-megapixel, front-facing camera, optional 3G and GPS, plus a TouchStone-based technology for exchanging web URLs with select WebOS-based smartphones with a simple tap.

      • HP thinks small with WebOS-based Pre 3 and Veer phones
        HP announced two WebOS-based heirs to its Palm Pre phones, both with slide-out keyboards, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and five-megapixel cameras. The 3.6-inch, HP Pre 3 runs on a 1.4GHz processor and adds a front-facing webcam, and the 2.6-inch HP Veer offers an 800MHz processor, says the company.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • PLUG East Side Meeting
      The main purpose of the presentation is to demonstrate how a blind person can independently use a computer equipped with open source software and further demonstrate how the assistive technology works. Also, Steve wishes to conclude with a confirmation that blind people can not only use these configurations, but also be productive and that they have a right to use such.

    • POSSCON 2011 – I’m speaking
      I’m slated to speak this year at POSSCON 2011, the Palmetto Open Source Software Conference in Columbia, South Carolina, from March 23 to March 25.

    • Richard M. Stallman en Ciudad Real

  • SaaS

    • Lucas Carlson, Founder of Cloud-focused PHP Fog, Reveals What's in His Stack
      Lucas Carlson has been a mover and shaker on the open source scene ever since he co-authored Ruby Cookbook, a comprehensive problem-solving guide for Ruby developers, and he also served as lead engineer for music-on-demand service MOG. Now, his startup company PHP Fog is red hot, and--as we've noted--Madrona Venture Group, Founder's Co-op and First Round Capital have committed $1.8 million of Series A funding for the firm, a Portland-based cloud computing outfit focused on scalable Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technology.

    • Open Source Cloud: Bitrock launches Bitnami Cloud Hosting
      Bitnami Cloud hosting - a new service aimed at simplifying the deployment of open source stacks in the hosting open source applications in the cloud (faq) - after few months of private beta-testing just went live today.

    • The Backstory of Yahoo and Hadoop
      Somewhat to my surprise, I was recently asked why Yahoo has put so much into Apache Hadoop. We currently have nearly 100 people working on Apache Hadoop and related projects, such as Pig, ZooKeeper, Hive, Howl, HBase and Oozie. Over the last 5 years, we've invested nearly 300 person-years into these projects. The Hadoop team at Yahoo is so passionate about our open source mission, and we've been doing this for so long, that we tend to assume that everyone understands our position. The recent evidence to the contrary motivates this post.

      Back in January 2006, when we decided to invest in scaling Hadoop from an interesting prototype to the robust scalable framework it is today, it was obvious that our direct competitors had or were building private implementations of map-reduce and clustered storage. We didn't believe that this type of infrastructure would bring sustainable advantage to any one competitor: the needs of Web Search at the time were driving everyone in in a similar direction. Thus, instead of building yet another private implementation, we believed that investing in an Open Source solution would bring Yahoo! numerous benefits.

    • Why Yahoo Is Discontinuing Its Hadoop Distribution
      The big data marketplace has contracted a bit, as Yahoo is ceasing development of its Yahoo Distribution of Hadoop and will be folding it back into the Apache Hadoop project. The company announced the decision in a blog post yesterday, citing a goal “to make Apache Hadoop THE open source platform for big data” as a driving force behind its new strategy. It’s probably a wise idea, because having three free competing distributions — Yahoo, Apache and Cloudera — unnecessarily compartmentalized features and development efforts, and possibly left new Hadoop users with a tough decision in terms of which distribution to download and get to working on.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Gettings things done in Java – a chat with Eclipse Foundation director, Mike Milinkovich

    • Google Open Sources Java for Contract Under GNU LGPL
      Google has open source yet another tool -- Contracts for Java. Google last week open sourced/freed App Engine for Mac OSX.

      Contracts for Java was inspired by Eiffel, a language invented by Bertrand Meyer, which has built in support for contracts.

    • Google's Android Forked, Will It Affect Oracle's Lawsuit?
      A group of developers announced at Fosdem that they have forked the Open Source Android project to create IcedRobot. The project contain two sub-projects – GNUDroid, GNUBishop.

    • New: OOo-DEV 3.x Developer Snapshot (build DEV300m99) available

      Developer Snapshot OOo-Dev DEV300m99 is available for download.

      DEV300 is the development codeline for upcoming OOo 3.x releases.

    • LibreOffice VS Openoffice

      When a group of German coders at OpenOffice (belonging to database major, Oracle) finally forked away on Sept28th 2010 there was much for everybody to talk about while Oracle OpenOffice maintained dignified silence. The tussle between a David and Goliath has always been fascinating to watch and the breaking away and regeneration of the minnow LibreOffice against the giant OpenOffice has all the makings of a great epic!

    • Hudson’s Bright Future
      We believe that Hudson users can look forward to a long, bright future.

      Working with the community, Oracle and Sonatype are each putting a number of full-time engineering resources on Hudson. The Hudson lead, Winston Prakash from Oracle, is highly skilled, very thoughtful, and he cares about the community. He is also the first person to create detailed, comprehensive architectural documentation.

    • Oracle patches decade-old 'Mark-of-the-Beast' bug in Java
      Oracle has squashed a decade-old bug in its Java programming framework that allows attackers to bring down sensitive servers by feeding them numerical values with large numbers of decimal places.

      The vulnerability in the latest version of Java was disclosed last month and reported by The Reg on Monday. The bug, which stems from the difficulty of representing some floating-point numbers in the binary format, made it possible to carry out denial-of-service attacks when Java applications process the value 2.2250738585072012e-308.

  • CMS

    • Open Source Takes Over Brussels Airport
      Just before the major open source conference -- FOSDEM -- kick-starts in Brussels, Pentaho, an open source company announced that Brussels Airport has shut windows on proprietary Oracle and IBM and opened doors to Pentaho's open source solutions.

      But what was the driving force behind this migration, was it cost effectiveness of Open Source or the closed nature of proprietary technologies?

  • Business

  • Funding

    • Basho raises $7.5M to expand NoSQL database sales

    • EnterpriseDB pushes latest round to $13.6M
      Westford-based EnterpriseDB Corp. has bumped its most recent fundraising round from the initial amount of $7.5 million to $13.6 million. When the software company announced the initial round in July, it anticipated the round to cap at $12 million.

      Investors in the round when it was at $7 million included new investors Translink Capital and KT (Korean Telecom), along with previous backers Valhalla Partners, Charles River Ventures and Volition Partners (formerly Fidelity Ventures). The filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission did not disclose if any new investors had come on board in this latest increase.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Newly Published Edition of United States Standards Strategy Supports U.S. Competitiveness and International Trade
      The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system, is pleased to announce the release of the updated United States Standards Strategy (USSS) – Third Edition. The Strategy articulates the principles and tactics that guide how the United States develops standards and participates in the international standards-setting process.

    • Re-Examining Public and Private Roles under the NTTAA
      For more than 100 years, the United States has been the exemplar of the "bottom up" model of standards development. Under this methodology, society relies on the private sector to identify standards-related needs and opportunities in most sectors, and then develops responsive specifications. Government, for its part, retains ultimate control over domains such as health, safety, and environmental protection, but preferentially uses private sector standards in procurement, and also references private sector standards into law when appropriate (e.g., as building codes).

      Until recently, government agencies in the United States commonly developed their own standards for procurement purposes. This era of separate but equal standards creation officially came to an end with the passage of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995. With this legislation, Congress directed government agencies to use "voluntary consensus standards" (VCSs) and other private sector specifications wherever practical rather than "government unique standards," and to participate in the development of these standards as well. In 1998, Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119 was amended to provide additional guidance to the Federal agencies on complying with the NTTAA.

    • PDK standards not in sight
      With disagreements over approaches to PDK standards, a solution that will enable and speed up new analogue and mixed-signal designs in a foundry is not expected anytime soon.


  • Berlusconi faces call to trial over claims of underage sex with prostitute
    Silvio Berlusconi is tomorrow facing the biggest threat yet of his tumultuous career, as prosecutors ask for him to stand trial for sex-related offences that carry a combined sentence of up to 15 years. It was also announced today that his trial for allegedly bribing British lawyer David Mills is to resume on 11 March.

  • Breaking the Web with hash-bangs
    Tim Bray has written a much shorter, clearer and less technical explanation of the broken use of hash-bangs URLs. I thoroughly recommend reading and referencing it.

    Lifehacker, along with every other Gawker property, experienced a lengthy site-outage on Monday over a misbehaving piece of JavaScript. Gawker sites were reduced to being an empty homepage layout with zero content, functionality, ads, or even legal disclaimer wording. Every visitor coming through via Google bounced right back out, because all the content was missing.

  • The Church of Scientology's friends in Washington
    Along with some incredible new details, there are the previously reported stories of rampant physical abuse of underlings by church head David Miscavige, the church's "Sea Org" full of underage workers signed to "billion-year contracts" performing manual labor for little to no money, and the tales of the church separating families and milking its members for thousands of dollars. The church is even under investigation by the FBI for what could amount to human trafficking.

  • Facebook and Google size up takeover of Twitter: report
    Google Inc and Facebook Inc, plus others, have held low level takeover talks with Twitter that give the Internet sensation a value as high as $10 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.

  • Don’t deal away our sovereignty
    After months of secret negotiations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last week his desire to seek a new security deal with the United States. The content of the proposal and the manner in which it came about raise serious questions about the government’s commitment to defending our sovereignty, our privacy and our rights as Canadian citizens.

  • Science

    • Smartest Machine on Earth

      Can a computer beat the best human minds on Jeopardy!? Live during our broadcast on February 9 at 10pm, follow bloggers below from the IBM Watson team, including David Ferrucci, head of the team; David Gondek, strategy team leader; and Eric Brown, DeepQA architecture specialist. Please note we will not be accepting comments from the general public.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Failure to act on crop shortages fuelling political instability, experts warn
      World leaders are ignoring potentially disastrous shortages of key crops, and their failures are fuelling political instability in key regions, food experts have warned.

      Food prices have hit record levels in recent weeks, according to the United Nations, and soaring prices for staples such as grains over the past few months are thought to have been one of the factors contributing to an explosive mix of popular unrest in Egypt and Tunisia.

    • Amish Smugglers' Shady Milk Run
      Wearing a black-brimmed country hat, suspenders and an Amish beard, "Samuel" unloaded his contraband from an unmarked white truck on a busy block in Manhattan. He was at the tail end of a long smuggling run that had begun before dawn at his Pennsylvania farm.

      As he wearily stacked brown cardboard boxes on the sidewalk, a few upscale clients in the Chelsea neighborhood lurked nearby, eyeing the new shipment hungrily.

      Clearly, they couldn’t wait to get a taste.

      But he wasn’t selling them anything they planned to smoke, snort or inject. Rather, he was giving them their once-a-month fix of raw milk — an unpasteurized product banned outright in 12 states and denounced by the FDA as a public health hazard, but beloved by a small but growing number of devotees who tout both its health benefits and its flavor.

    • How the war on fake drugs risks harming the poor
      There is a lot of talk about the dangers of counterfeit medicines these days and, indeed, counterfeit drugs are dangerous things. But, says Oxfam in a new report today, the war on fake drugs in the developing world is being waged in a way that may suit the big pharmaceutical companies but poses very grave dangers to the health of the poor.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Egypt: 2011-2-9
      Protest in Egypt is approaching the kindling point. Previously youth and intelligentsia seemed to be involved in a major way. Now labour has stepped up. Protests have spread and now involve several large employers like the Suez Canal and the Ministry of Health. Yesterday the vice president of the country declared that the protests could not be allowed to continue much longer. The converse is also true. The dictatorship cannot be allowed to continue much longer.

    • A Villa in the Jungle?
      WE ARE in the middle of a geological event. An earthquake of epoch-making dimensions is changing the landscape of our region. Mountains turn into valleys, islands emerge from the sea, volcanoes cover the land with lava.

      People are afraid of change. When it happens, they tend to deny, ignore, pretend that nothing really important is happening.

    • Kuwaitis mourn the missing in Iraq
      After Iraqi troops occupied Kuwait in August 1990, hundreds of Kuwaitis and nationals of other countries went missing.

      The Iraqis were forced out by an international coalition in February the following year, but as the BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Kuwait City, many people have still not been found.

    • Offices of outspoken Sri Lanka website burned down
      A group of men broke into the offices of a website critical of Sri Lanka's government and set fire to it Monday, a journalist from the publication said, adding that he suspected a government role in the attack.

      Bennett Rupasinghe, news editor of, said the fire destroyed everything in the offices. He said the attackers could have been sent by the government as punishment for the website's critical articles.

    • Two detained reporters saw methods of Egyptian secret police
      We had been detained by Egyptian authorities, handed over to the country’s dreaded Mukhabarat, the secret police, and interrogated. They left us all night in a cold room, on hard orange plastic stools, under fluorescent lights.

      But our discomfort paled in comparison to the dull whacks and the screams of pain by Egyptian people that broke the stillness of the night. In one instance, between the cries of suffering, an officer said in Arabic, “You are talking to journalists? You are talking badly about your country?”

    • The truth behind India's nuclear renaissance
      The global "nuclear renaissance" touted a decade ago has not materialised. The US's nuclear industry remains starved of new reactor orders since 1973, and western Europe's first reactor after Chernobyl (1986) is in serious trouble in Finland – 42 months behind schedule, 90% over budget, and in bitter litigation. But India is forging ahead to create an artificial nuclear renaissance by quadrupling its nuclear capacity by 2020 and then tripling it by 2030 by pumping billions into reactor imports from France, Russia and America, and further subsidising the domestic Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).

    • G4S security firm was warned of lethal risk to refused asylum seekers

      The multinational security company hired by the government to deport refused asylum seekers was warned repeatedly by its own staff that potentially lethal force was being used against deportees, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.

      Details of how some G4S guards developed a dangerous technique for restraining deportees by bending them in aircraft seats is disclosed in official testimony drawn up by four whistle-blowers from the company.

    • France's prime minister spent family Christmas break as guest of Mubarak
      The French prime minister, François Fillon, has admitted that he and his family spent their Christmas holiday as a guest of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

      The admission came as Egypt's president was grappling with widespread protests and calls for him to stand down, and as French ministers' personal links with unpopular regimes in the region came under unprecedented scrutiny.

    • Mubarak's Billions
      Should Mubarak skip the country, as Corey Pein points out in War Is Business, he might well do it in a business jet provided free of charge by the US taxpayers. “Pentagon contracts show that the US government has spent at least $111,160,328 to purchase and maintain Mubarak’s fleet of nine Gulfstream business jets. (For those keeping score, Gulfstream is a subsidiary of General Dynamics.)” War Is Busines provides copies of the actual contracts.

    • Suleiman: The CIA's man in Cairo
      On January 29, Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s top spy chief, was anointed vice president by tottering dictator, Hosni Mubarak. By appointing Suleiman, part of a shake-up of the cabinet in an attempt to appease the masses of protesters and retain his own grip on the presidency, Mubarak has once again shown his knack for devilish shrewdness. Suleiman has long been favoured by the US government for his ardent anti-Islamism, his willingness to talk and act tough on Iran - and he has long been the CIA’s main man in Cairo.

      Mubarak knew that Suleiman would command an instant lobby of supporters at Langley and among 'Iran nexters' in Washington - not to mention among other authoritarian mukhabarat-dependent regimes in the region. Suleiman is a favourite of Israel too; he held the Israel dossier and directed Egypt’s efforts to crush Hamas by demolishing the tunnels that have functioned as a smuggling conduit for both weapons and foodstuffs into Gaza.

    • Wrongful Execution Reopens Death Penalty Debate
      Revelations that an Air Force private had apparently been wrongfully executed 15 years ago for the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl have reopened the debate over Taiwan’s retention of the death penalty.

      Taipei District and Taichung District prosecutors announced Jan. 28 that after a new investigation into the case, another former Air Force enlisted man had confessed to the crime.

      The announcement prompted President Ma Ying-jeou to apologise to the mother of then 21-year-old Air Force private Chiang Kuo-ching, who was convicted for the crime and executed by gunshot in 1997. Ma also promised "to use the swiftest legal procedure" to clear Chiang's name and make reparations.

    • Open letter to the UN: Is the Goldstone report dead?
      As Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, we welcome your first visit to the region and take this occasion to ask: is the Goldstone report dead? Over two years have passed since the end of the Israeli offensive “Operation Cast Lead” on the Gaza Strip, and justice for victims has yet to be addressed.

    • Acpo chief calls for judicial oversight of undercover police operations
      Undercover policing operations should be authorised in advance by a judge, the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said today.

      Sir Hugh Orde, the Acpo president, said the change was needed to restore public confidence in the system after concerns about the role played by the ex-Metropolitan police constable Mark Kennedy, who spent seven years posing as an environmental activist.

    • Egyptian opposition says no deal until Hosni Mubarak steps down

      Leading opposition groups in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood, are standing by a demand that President Hosni Mubarak resign before there can be a political agreement to end two weeks of mass protests against his regime.

      Pro-democracy campaigners called another mass demonstration for Tuesday to keep up the pressure on Mubarak to quit in the face of the government's attempts to marginalise the street protests as no longer relevant because political talks are under way.

    • Abusive Afghan Husbands Want This Woman Dead
      A 22-YEAR-OLD WOMAN lies naked on a tile platform. Ninety percent of her body is burned—her skin mottled brown and in places torn open, exposing the white tissue of seared muscle. Nurses bathe her with saline solution. An IV tube drips fluid into her right foot, one of the few unburned places on her body. The odor of her flesh mixes with lingering traces of the cooking fuel she doused herself with.

    • If You Thought the GOP's "Rape Redefinition" Bill Was Bad...
      Last week, the GOP backed down from its attempt to limit the definition of rape under federal abortion law. But hold your applause: While the Republican leadership was removing the controversial "forcible rape" provision from the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) was busy slipping a provision into a related bill, the "Protect Life Act," that could prove just as controversial.

    • Boxer Introduces Legislation on Redeployment of U.S. Combat Forces from Afghanistan
      U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) this week introduced the Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act of 2011, which would express the Senate’s support for President Obama’s plan to begin the withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan in July 2011. It would also require the President to submit to Congress a plan for the phased redeployment of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan, including an end date for the completion of that redeployment.

    • Human Rights Group Notes that Haiti’s Electoral Council Did Not Approve Run-off Elections (IJDH)

    • Evidence of 2002 Taliban Offer Damages Myth of al Qaeda Ties
      The central justification of the U.S.-NATO war against the Afghan Taliban - that the Taliban would allow al Qaeda to return to Afghanistan - has been challenged by new historical evidence of offers by the Taliban leadership to reconcile with the Hamid Karzai government after the fall of the Taliban government in late 2001.

    • Polar bear swam non-stop for nine days
      IN ONE of the most dramatic signs documented of how shrinking Arctic sea ice impacts polar bears, researchers at the US Geological Survey in Alaska have tracked a female bear that swam nine days across the deep, frigid Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe 685 kilometres offshore.

      The marathon swim came at a cost: with little food available when she arrived, the bear lost 22 per cent of her body weight and her year-old female cub, who set off on the journey with her, did not survive, the researchers said.

    • Swiss Miss Bush
      Justice for George W’s torture violations jumped much closer this weekend. Ex-President George W Bush was supposed to fly to Switzerland to speak in Geneva February 15. But his speech was cancelled over the weekend because of concerns about protests and efforts by human rights organizations asking Swiss prosecutors to charge Bush with torture and serve him with an arrest warrant.

      Two things made this possible. Switzerland allows the prosecution of human rights violators from other countries if the violator is on Swiss soil and George W admitted he authorized water boarding detainees in his recent memoir. Torture is internationally banned by the Convention Against Torture.

    • Time to follow Fields' example and quit Afghanistan

      Arnold Fields, the special inspector general for Afghanistan, announced his resignation late on Monday evening – news that has virtually disappeared among all the other headlines from the Arizona shootings to Joe Biden's surprise trip to Kabul. Yet the departure of the top US official who set up Sigar, the office charged with making sure that the $56bn that has been spent in Afghanistan was not wasted has the potential to be a milestone in the war in that country.

      Fields, a former major general in the US Marines, has been under public attack for over 18 months. Critics from Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, to Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, have been calling for his resignation for months, as have watchdog groups like the Project on Government Oversight.

    • Immigration officer fired after putting wife on list of terrorists to stop her flying home
      An immigration officer tried to rid himself of his wife by adding her name to a list of terrorist suspects.

      He used his access to security databases to include his wife on a watch list of people banned from boarding flights into Britain because their presence in the country is 'not conducive to the public good'.

      As a result the woman was unable for three years to return from Pakistan after travelling to the county to visit family.
    • Egypt Arrests 4 Facebook Activists [Updated]
      Egypt’s crackdown against anti-government protesters has ensnared at least four members of the April 6 Youth, a dissident movement organized largely through Facebook and other social media tools. Danger Room has learned that Amal Sharaf, one of the core members of the April 6 Youth, is among those arrested.

  • Cablegate

    • Leaked Security Firm Documents Show Plans to Discredit WikiLeaks, Glenn Greenwald
      Among those documents, an outline of plans to systematically discredit WikiLeaks, along with Salon journalist (and WikiLeaks supporter) Glenn Greenwald.

      A proposal entitled "The WikiLeaks Threat" was developed by Palantir Technologies, HBGary, Berico Technologies upon request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm whose clients include Bank of America, the bank widely rumored to be the target of WikiLeaks' next leak.

    • Assange abused my cat: WikiLeaks insider

    • Secret plan to kill Wikileaks with FUD leaked
      Fear, uncertainty and doubt behind divide-and-conquer sabotage.

      Three information security consultancies with links to US spy agencies cooked up a dirty tricks campaign late last year to destroy Wikileaks by exploiting its perceived weaknesses, reads a presentation released by the whistleblowers’ organisation that it claimed to be from the conspirators.

      Around December 3, it was believed consultants at US defence contractors Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and HBGary proposed an alliance to lawyers for a desperate Bank of America to discredit the whistleblowers’ website using a divide and conquer approach.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Projections for 2010 Global Primary Energy Use
      While the BP Statistical Review of World Energy (2011) will not be published until this summer, I keep a notebook of global energy consumption throughout the year and below is my current estimate for 2010 data, by energy source. Once again it’s coal, of course, that is leading the way as coal is currently the only major global energy source that is significantly growing in both production, and consumption.

    • Punk US Oil Demand and Export Confusion
      The US is using spare refining capacity to export millions of barrels of oil products, while US domestic demand remains weak. One of the more common misunderstandings I see in energy circles right now is the idea that US oil demand has rebounded strongly since 2008.

    • Spain's salad growers are modern-day slaves, say charities

      The exploitation of tens of thousands of migrants used to grow salad vegetables for British supermarkets has been uncovered by a Guardian investigation into the €2bn-a-year (€£1.6bn) hothouse industry in southern Spain.

      Charities working with illegal workers during this year's harvest claim the abuses meet the UN's official definition of modern-day slavery, with some workers having their pay withheld for complaining. Conditions appear to have deteriorated further as the collapse of the Spanish property boom has driven thousands of migrants from construction to horticulture to look for work.

    • Whaling in Japan is on the verge of collapse

      In 2008, a colleague and I intercepted a box of whale meat intended as "souvenirs" for the Japanese whaling fleet's crew. Greenpeace investigations of corruption inside the whaling programme funded by Japanese taxes, prompted by whistleblowers inside the industry, revealed that the embezzlement, gifting and eventual sale of prized whale meat cuts on the black market was a common practice.

    • Record Low Sea Ice
      Despite record cold in the US and Europe this winter, the Arctic has experienced unusual warmth. Sea ice has been slow to grow.

      The red line in the image above shows the average January sea ice extent from 1979 through 2000. The white marks the average Arctic sea ice concentration for January 2011—the lowest measured extent since satellite record keeping began.

    • Indians call on Brazil’s President to halt Belo Monte dam
      Hundreds of people, including over 80 Amazonian Indians, gathered yesterday outside the Brazilian Congress and Presidential Palace to protest at the proposed Belo Monte dam in the Amazon rainforest.

      A delegation of Indians entered the Presidential Palace to deliver a petition signed by around half a million people, calling on Brazil’s new President Dilma Rousseff to put a stop to the ‘disastrous’ dam.

    • Crabzilla! At 5 Feet Tall, Biggest Known Crab Heads to UK
      Hail Crabzilla! The Japanese Spider Crab is the biggest arthropod on Earth--their legs are believed to grow up to 12 feet long. But since they live at such great depths (typically 1,000 feet down or so) a full grown spider crab has yet to be caught. So for now, we'll have to make due with the 5 foot long Crabzilla (that's what it's called--I didn't make it up!), one of the largest known crabs in the planet.

  • Finance

    • Rich Take From Poor as U.S. Subsidy Law Funds Luxury Hotels
      The landmark Blackstone Hotel in downtown Chicago, which has hosted 12 U.S. presidents, opened in 2008 after a two-year, $116 million renovation. Inside the Beaux Arts structure, built in 1910, buffed marble staircases greet guests spending up to $699 a night for rooms with views of Lake Michigan.

      What’s surprising isn’t the opulent makeover: It’s how the project was financed. The work was subsidized by a federal development program intended to help poor communities.

    • Wonkbook: White House throws states a lifeline. But will the GOP let them catch it?
      Next week's budget will include a complicated, two-pronged proposal to forgive the states some debt and give them access to more tax revenues after 2014. It's evidence that the White House s pretty worried about both the long and short-term fiscal position of the states. Worried enough to propose a policy that'll be called a "job-destroying" tax hike on a Hill (actually, it's already been called that, as you'll see in a moment). But this won't necessarily be easy on the Republicans, either. Post-election, the GOP controls a lot of governor's mansions and statehouses. And they're looking at budget projection that frankly terrify them. A bit of help from the Feds may be ideologically unwelcome, but it also might be a lifesaver.

    • Banks in Britain Reach Deal on Pay and Lending
      The British government on Wednesday announced an agreement with the leading banks in the country to increase their lending to businesses to help the economic recovery, while reducing bonuses and increasing transparency in pay practices.

    • Cuts to SEC would imperil the market, says finance sector
      A rift is emerging between congressional Republicans and the financial-services industry over the funding of Wall Street’s watchdog: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

      Republicans, riding campaign promises to cut spending, have had tough talk for the agency and its failings since before the financial crisis. But the financial industry worries that scarce funds are hampering the SEC’s work and could actually increase the burdens created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law as stretched-thin regulators have to do more with less.

    • AIG expects 4Q charge of $4.1B for loss reserves
      American International Group Inc. said Wednesday that it expects a fourth-quarter charge of $4.1 billion to build up loss reserves for its Chartis property and casualty insurance units.

    • Plans Near for Freddie and Fannie
      The Obama administration and House Republicans are settling into a game of chicken over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with each side daring the other to advance a plan for replacing the two housing finance companies.

    • I.R.S. Offers a Tougher Amnesty Deal for Offshore Accounts
      Under the initiative, Americans with hidden offshore accounts have until Aug. 31 to come forward voluntarily and report the accounts to the I.R.S. in exchange for penalties that, while below what they would ordinarily pay, are still higher than those offered in an earlier amnesty program.

      The additional carrot in the new program is a continued promise by the I.R.S. not to prosecute those who come forward for tax evasion.

    • Fed Casts A Wide Net In Defining Systemic Risk
      The Fed says at least 35 companies, all of them big banks, may pose systemic risks, but that number could grow to include nonbanks like large hedge funds, insurers, asset managers and consumer finance companies. Even payment companies like Visa and MasterCard could face greater oversight under the Fed’s proposed guidelines.

    • Bernanke to face sharp questions from Republicans
      Bernanke is a Republican who served as President George W. Bush's chief economist. Bush chose him to run the Fed in 2006.

      President Barack Obama ran into initial resistance in his effort to get Bernanke confirmed for a second term as chairman in late 2009. Republicans led the opposition, upset over the Fed's role in bailing out Wall Street firms during the financial crisis. In January 2010, the Senate confirmed Bernanke for a second term, though by the narrowest margin for any Fed chairman.

    • Insider Inquiry Steps Up Its Focus on Hedge Funds
      The government has taken its strongest action against hedge funds as part of a vast investigation into insider trading on Wall Street.

      Federal prosecutors on Tuesday announced charges against three hedge fund managers, depicting a “triangle of trust” in which the three shared tipsters and illegally pooled confidential information about publicly traded technology companies. The complaint also details a brazen cover-up that involved destroying computer hard drives with pliers and tossing them into random Manhattan garbage trucks in the dead of night.

    • The optimists of Davos past now face a world whose script has gone awry
      Three Davos summits on from the west's Great Crash, we begin to see where we are. This is not the total collapse of liberal democratic capitalism which some feared at the dramatic meeting here in early 2009, but nor is it the great reform of western capitalism, then the devout hope of Davos.

      Western capitalism survives, but limping, wounded, carrying a heavy load of debt, inequality, demography, neglected infrastructure, social discontent and unrealistic expectations. Meanwhile, other variants of capitalism – Chinese, Indian, Russian, Brazilian – are surging ahead, exploiting the advantages of backwardness, and their economic dynamism is rapidly being translated into political power. The result? Not a unipolar world, converging on a single model of liberal democratic capitalism, but a no-polar world, diverging towards many different national versions of often illiberal capitalism. Not a new world order, but a new world disorder. An unstable kaleidoscope world – fractured, overheated, germinating future conflicts.

    • Obama's Onslaught on Community Action
      Having left the Wall Street Journal to interview National Community Action Foundation’s Director David Bradley after President Obama’s State of the Union sneak attack on the country’s community action programs, the New York Times has gone a step further in its neglect of a serious social issue. On Sunday Feb. 6 the newspaper published an editorial by White House Budget Director Jacob Lew, which called for a 50 per cent cut in financing for the Community Services Block Grant. Here was an unprecedented slash to a successful liberal program—one which has received scant review either by the Times or the President himself The famously noisy editorial staff offered no comment.

      In his State of the Union President Obama said he has “proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs.” Since the President mentioned only this one program for proposed cuts, he could have at least forewarned Executive Director David Bradley who was seated in the gallery. He didn’t.

      When I interviewed Director Bradley he said, “I think this is a sea change, not a fiscal year change. What we are seeing is numerous agencies—good ones—all competing for the same federal dollars. What this proposed cut has done to our network has sent us a chilling message. It says that our leaders have seen the goodwill expressed towards our work in communities and the successful work of our agencies—especially in the downturn—but are telling us, ‘No thanks.’ That is a hard bitter message to swallow.”

    • IMF loan policies ‘hampering aid efforts’
      A study has tested whether aid to tackle disease and improve healthcare actually translates into a better health system for the countries that receive it.

      The Oxford-led study found that aid that went to some of the poorest countries was not used to supplement existing spending on public health projects, but instead aid often displaced state spending. Countries that relied on loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were found to channel the least aid towards its intended purpose.

    • Corporate America's Public Enemy No. 1: The EPA
      On Monday, House oversight committee chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released more than 100 letters he has received from corporations, trade groups, and associations outlining the regulations they'd like to see changed. The letters make clear that the Environmental Protection Agency is corporate America's top target.

  • Censorship

    • Thai webmaster on trial in free speech test case

      The head of a popular Thai political website went on trial today, charged with violating the country's tough internet laws in a case seen as a bellwether for freedom of expression in the politically troubled nation.

      Chiranuch Premchaiporn, manager of the Prachatai website, faces up to 20 years in jail on 10 separate charges of failing to promptly remove offending comments posted on the website by readers.

    • 11 Muslim students face charges in UCI protest
      Eleven students were charged Friday with conspiring to disrupt a speech last year by the Israeli ambassador to the United States at UC Irvine.

      The incident occurred Feb. 8, 2010, when Ambassador Michael Oren was the featured speaker on campus at a meeting co-sponsored by several organizations. Eleven Muslim students were arrested in the incident.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Constitutional Liberty We Lost
      David N. Mayer: We are facing a vast expansion of the 20th century regulatory and welfare state, and in debates over the welfare state it’s important that people understand that the regulatory state has been built on a number of important myths: myths about economics, myths about history, and myths about constitutional law.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • In telecom competition, it’s all about culture
      Political reluctance to open Canada’s $40-billion telecommunications industry to foreign competition boils down to one thing: culture.

    • The Usage Based Billing Consultations: What the CRTC and the Government Should Do Next
      The controversy over usage based billing has shifted from public frustration and demands for change to several public consultations. Yesterday, the CRTC posted its consultation notice, which gives Canadians until April 28, 2011, to provide their views. Since the CRTC asks whether oral hearings are needed, it seems likely the issue will not be resolved until the summer or early fall at the earliest. In addition to the CRTC consultation, the Standing Committee on Industry continues its investigation into the issue with hearings this week (independent ISPs appeared yesterday, Open Media, Bell, and Shaw are up Thursday) and Shaw Communications announced that it is freezing the implementation of usage based billing pending a customer consultation on the issue.

    • Paying so much for bandwidth, getting so little
      The great Canadian billing brouhaha has begun to attract attention in the United States. It’s not every day that one sees national leaders weigh in on something seemingly as obscure as “bandwidth caps.”

      It’s also odd, as the Internet gets faster, to hear Bell Canada complain about “congestion” as if it were 1999. I suppose there are strange things done under the midnight sun, and the instinct of Stephen Harper and his cabinet to pay some attention to the issue righteous. For hidden in the complexity of billing policy is part of a larger movement to change some of what we take for granted about the Internet. And it’s starting in Canada.

    • BCE profit up 25%
      BCE Inc.'s profit is up sharply, with the telecom and media company's net income in the fourth quarter rising by 25.4 per cent to $439 million. That's a rise from $350 million in the comparable period of 2009.

    • New digital divide? Internet caps far higher in Western Canada

      Internet customers in Western Canada are being spared from the stringent pricing regimes their counterparts on the other side of the country have become unwitting victims of, at least for now.

    • Software glitch triggers inflated data usage for some Bell customers
      The Bell Canada software that helps customers calculate how much bandwidth they've used each month has gone offline in the middle of a national debate over Internet pricing.

      As the furor grows over so-called usage-based billing -- a regulatory change by the CRTC that would allow larger providers to charge per-byte prices to small Internet providers that lease space on their networks -- the tool that allows Bell's own customers to calculate their usage has been taken down.

  • DRM at SCOny

    • Hearing on TRO in SCEA (Sony) v. Hotz Tomorrow at 10 AM - At Hotz's Request
      This is last-minute-y, but there's going to be oral argument tomorrow morning at 10 AM in Sony Computer Entertainment America v. Hotz regarding the temporary restraining order. It's at Hotz's request, by the way, because tomorrow is the day he's supposed to turn over his computers to Sony, and he'd like to have a chance to speak, to present to the judge his concerns. It seems there never was a hearing on the merits of the TRO, so tomorrow is his opportunity to explain why he feels it's too broad, at a minimum.

    • Fake Sony PS3 VP Tricked Into Tweeting PS3 Security Key
      As Sony continues its quixotically backwards attempt to delete the PS3 jailbreak code from the world, it appears that they might want to start by informing their own ad firm not to tweet the code. As a whole bunch of you sent in, apparently a guy named Travis La Marr tweeted the PS3 security key at the Twitter account of "Kevin Butler," who describes himself as a VP at PlayStation. Of course, if you've seen any PS3 commercials, you would know that "Kevin Butler" is actually a made up person -- a character played by actor Jerry Lambert.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Canadian Bar Association Speaks Out On Bill C-32
        The Canadian Bar Association, which represents 37,000 lawyers, law professors, and students from across the country, has released an important submission on Bill C-32. The submission, which was approved as a public statement by both the National Intellectual Property and the Privacy and Access Law Sections of the CBA, does a nice job setting out the debate over Bill C-32 (I was once a member of the CBA's Copyright Policy section but was not involved in the drafting of the Bill C-32 document).

      • Canadian Council of Archives on C-32: Digital Lock Rules Disastrous For Long-Term Access
        The Canadian Council of Archives, a national non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing and sustaining the nationwide efforts of over 800 archives across Canada, has submitted a brief to the C-32 legislative committee and requested an opportunity to appear.

      • Canada's wild digital frontier needs policing
        Bill C-32: the Copyright Modernization Act sounds so boring you're in danger of falling asleep halfway through its title. Yet U.S. President Barack Obama raised this apparently innocuous piece of legislation when he met Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week and urged Canada to take steps to strengthen its intellectual-property rights.

        The reason is that Hollywood is a powerful lobby in Washington and it is fed up having its expensive motion pictures and TV shows ripped off by Canadian peer-to-peer file -sharing pirates.

      • Makers of ‘The Expendables’ Sue 6,500 BitTorrent Users
        With worldwide box-office grosses totalling $274 million since its premiere in August of last year, The Expendables can be classified as a modest blockbuster. The film also did well on file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent, but thus far without any direct revenues. In an attempt to cash in on these unauthorized downloads, the makers of the film stood by an earlier warning and sued 6,500 BitTorrent users in the United States.

      • MPAA threatens to disconnect Google from the Internet
        Over the last few months, Google has received more than 100 copyright infringement warnings from MPAA-affiliated movies studios: most are directed at users of Google's public Wi-Fi service but others are meant for Google employees. The MPAA is thus warning the search giant that it might get disconnected from the Internet.

Clip of the Day

Fosdem 2011 Keynote Eben Moglen Part 1 of 3

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Fosdem 2011 Keynote Eben Moglen Part 2 of 3

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Credit: TinyOgg

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