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Submission + - Microsoft helps Russia pursue opposition (

asaz989 writes: The New York Times reports that Russia selectively pursues software piracy complaints from Microsoft in order to suppress the opposition — confiscating computers for evidence, searching offices, and the like. Microsoft lawyers usually back the authorities in such cases, even when cases such as that of the environmentalist group Baikal Waves, which went out of its way to buy licenses to prevent police harassment and nevertheless had its offices raided, and its computers confiscated. Microsoft participated in this legal process. Published alongside this story, under the same byline, is a related piece on the collusion of Microsoft lawyers with corrupt Russian police in extorting money from the targets of software piracy investigations. In a responding press release, the company states, 'Microsoft antipiracy efforts are designed to honor both [antipiracy concerns and human rights], but we are open to feedback on what we can do to improve in that regard.'

Submission + - Microsoft aids persecution of Russian activists

jmcbain writes: The NY Times is reporting that Microsoft directly aided the arrest of Russian evenvironmental activists. The Baikal Environmental Wave was organizing protests against Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin's decision to reopen a paper factory that had polluted nearby Lake Baikal. Instead, the group fell victim to one of the authorities' newest tactics for quelling dissent: confiscating computers under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software. As the ploy grows common, the authorities are receiving key assistance from an unexpected partner: Microsoft itself. Baikal Wave, in fact, said it had purchased and installed legal Microsoft software specifically to deny the authorities an excuse to raid them. The group later asked Microsoft for help in fending off the police. "Microsoft did not want to help us, which would have been the right thing to do," said Marina Rikhvanova, a Baikal Environmental Wave co-chairwoman.

Comment Great job Slashdot (Score 1) 169

So apparently the whole of this story is that the village of Frauenkirchen has a trademark for its latest tourism campaign - "Mittelpunkt Europas" ("Centerpoint of Europe", more or less, or more idiomatically just "The Middle/Heart of Europe"). This is a trademark, laying a legal claim to the use of that particular phrase as a brand, not to the idea of being "in the middle of Europe" or anything remotely related to patents. Nice stretch, but no story.

Comment New York Times has odd sources (Score 5, Interesting) 410

According to this Bloomberg story, the New York Times is only accurate in that Google and Verizon negotiated net neutrality on everything but mobile networks, and hence Verizon will be allowed to do traffic discrimination on those lines.

But I find it a little odd to write up that story as "Google and Verizon negotiating an end to net neutrality" rather than as "Google and Verizon negotiating to preserve net neutrality on most internet connections."

Comment Re:not that much money (Score 1) 184

20B dollars per year spread over 28 million people just about doubles Afghan income (from $800 per year figure above). When you're talking about that kind of subsistence level of income, that doubling of income means a much larger multiplication of disposable income for investment, which is what Afghanistan really needs - roads, education, police stations, and all the other things that there just isn't enough cash for. The mineral wealth will not do any good if it's just treated as additional wealth to be used on consumption; it will transform the country if used as much-needed capital for economic growth.

Comment Re:Its because doing business in Europe costs more (Score 1) 247

Except that Israel is also on the no-direct-apple-sales list - not really the same situation economically as Europe. In fact, until about 2 years ago, they weren't even willing to put in the minimal effort to make iPods capable of displaying Hebrews (or Arabic, or Urdu, etc.) song titles. The fact is, they've decided that they're not even willing to put in the minimal amount of effort necessary to break into any new national market. Go figure.

Comment Re:Oh Noes!!!! (Score 1) 320

The problem with using only older, proven packages for an LTS is that then, by the end of the expected service life of the release (which is, by definition, long) the software will be even more ancient than it already was at release time. So there's a trade-off between "it's LTS and hence has to be stable" and "it's LTS and hence needs packages that will still be reasonably current in three years."

Comment Re:flicker-free? (Score 1) 63

Yes, exactly; when people say that these devices, and e-ink displays, are "easy on the eyes", flicker-free is what they're talking about. That's because these devices work by moving (by electrical means) little bits of matter in changed pixels for every refresh cycle - black or white beads for e-ink, little bits of colored oil for these displays. So when the picture stays the same, there's no off-and-on cycling, but instead the colored material just stays put. These devices sound perfect for your problem - flicker-free like e-ink, but with a fast enough refresh rate for use as a computer monitor.

Comment Re:Good publicity move (Score 1) 526

My guess would be increased accuracy (all kinds of fancy digital guidance systems). For example: if you're trying to destroy a power plant, and (for the sake of argument) let's say you need to get within half a kilometer to really paste it, and let's also assume that 70% of ICBMs will land within that distance of their target; if you're aiming for several hundred targets and want really high destruction rates, you're going to need to use more than one device per target. Upping that hit probability to 90% changes the numbers by a lot.

Comment Re:Good and Bad (Score 1) 526

You can't be in non-compliance with the NPT if you've never signed it. India, Pakistan, and Israel never signed it; North Korea signed it and then pulled out. The policy seems to be that the US is treating North Korea - and potentially Iran - as out of compliance with the treaty (departure from the NPT is of debatable legality), while treating India, Pakistan, and Israel as not bound by its terms.

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