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French ISP Free to filter web ads in its DSL box

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 21:39 by Desiato in category: News


Une nouvelle mise à jour de la Freebox a introduit, jeudi 3 janvier, un dispositif permettant de bloquer les publicités en ligne. Actuellement en version "bêta", ce système est activé par défaut, après la nouvelle mise à jour de la boîte Internet. Aucune demande n’est faite à l’utilisateur, qui ne peut pas non plus établir une "liste blanche" des sites à ne pas viser par le dispositif.

Rough translation:

The new version of the Freebox [FREE’s DSL modem/router] will introduce a few feature making it possible to block online ads. Currently in beta, the feature is turned on by default, after the next update. The end user is not asked anything, and cannot establish a whitelist to keep some sites from being filtered.

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  1. Je veux cette chose, là.

Nicolas Sarkozy DID take $50 million of Muammar Gaddafi’s cash, French judge is told

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 19:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


Documentary proof exists that France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy took more than €50m from the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, a French judge has been told.

The claim, leaked today, was made just before Christmas by a Lebanese-born businessman, Ziad Takieddine, who has been a fixer for legal – and allegedly illegal – dealings between France and the Middle East for 20 years.

Expanding on claims already made by one of Mr Gaddafi’s sons and a French investigative website, Mr Takieddine told an investigative judge that he could show him written proof that Mr Sarkozy’s first presidential campaign in 2006-7 was “abundantly” financed by Tripoli. The payments, he said, continued after Mr Sarkozy became President.

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Judge Rules Memo on Targeted Killing Can Remain Secret

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 19:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


A federal judge in Manhattan refused on Wednesday to require the Justice Department to disclose a memorandum providing the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

The ruling, by Judge Colleen McMahon, was marked by skepticism about the antiterrorist program that targeted him, and frustration with her own role in keeping the legal rationale for it secret.

“I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret,” she wrote.

“The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me,” Judge McMahon wrote, adding that she was operating in a legal environment that amounted to “a veritable Catch-22.”

So the Constitution of the United States of America explicitly forbids the executive branch from executing American citizens without a trial, even on high charges such as treason, they do so anyway, and that’s OK?

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  1. It’s not liked they killed a model citizen…. They guy was a terrorist. You could see this as self defense, like a policaman can shoot somebody without a trial to defend himself.

  2. @Yoho: A policeman can do that, but there should then be a thorough and open investigation to make sure that the officer was justified in such action.

    I’m not saying there are no witches to be burnt; but allowing a state to be judge, jury and executioner is not justice.

Oregon officials propose per-mile tax for gas sippers

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 17:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


Oregon state officials are proposing an alternative tax for drivers who have bought efficient or electric vehicles that seldom or never stop at the gasoline pump, where government has traditionally collected money to build and fix roads.

But the auto-making industry calls the idea of mileage taxes another roadblock for its efficient vehicles, the Salem Statesman Journal reports.

In its upcoming session, the Oregon Legislature is expected to consider a bill to require drivers with a vehicle getting at least 55 miles per gallon of gasoline or its equivalent to pay a per-mile tax after 2015.

In other news, ex-smokers will be hit with an addiction remission tax because the government is missing out on taxes they used to pay on cigarettes.

Why not increase gasoline taxes, instead of punishing fuel efficiency? Taxing efficiency has got to be about the worst way to go about tackling this…

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  1. In some (many?) states (OK, in WA anyway), gas taxes are earmarked to pay for road maintenance and construction. It’s not a carbon tax or a vice tax, it’s more like a use fee or a toll. They even tax trucks passing through states without buying gas for their use of local highways. ([1]). It makes rational sense to have drivers of fuel efficient cars pay their fair use fee as they’re still using the roads.

    Yes, it also makes sense to encourage low-carbon transportation. I’m guessing the State of Oregon is more immediately concerned about their highway maintenance budget and also maybe not so interested in a regressive move like raising fuel taxes on people who can’t afford a spiffy new hybrid.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_tax#United_States

  2. As long as the “per mile” tax is applied to all vehicles, perhaps proportionately to their weight, it would be fair. Sure the gas guzzlers pay twice, but they could buy a more efficient vehicle.

  3. We have to punish efficiency? That’s progressive.

Write Gambling Software, Go to Prison

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 17:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


New York authorities say that about $2.3 million that Robert Stuart and his company, Extension Software, received in cash and money orders for licensing his software constitutes direct proceeds of illegal, U.S.-based bookmaking operations.

“These defendants abetted large-scale illegal gambling in the U.S. and abroad,” said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. in a press release in October when Stuart was charged. “In doing so, they gave bettors an easy way to place illegal wagers, and created an appetite for further unlawful activity.”

But Stuart, who has been charged along with his wife and brother-in-law with one felony count for promoting gambling in New York through their software firm, says that his company sells the software only to entities outside the U.S. and that he’s not aware of anyone using it in the U.S. or using it to take illegal bets in the U.S. He also says the software doesn’t place bets, it simply provides online gambling sites with the infrastructure to select and display which sporting events they want to offer for betting and also stores the bets.

“It’s overreaching where they’re going after a software developer who sells the software with a legal license, and yet we’re still being prosecuted on how it’s being used,” Stuart says. He notes that authorities have not told him yet who exactly he’s accused of aiding and abetting.

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The future of books and libraries

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 16:03 by Desiato in category: Commentary, Intellectual Property


Elkin-Koren predicted that as books turn into e-books, they will move from being commodities to being services, and publishing will merge with retailing. "There is no difference between a bookseller, a publisher, and a library," she said.

Thought-provoking claim, I thought. It seems somewhat obvious that the difference between publishing and retailing is shrinking: Amazon is becoming a publisher, and publishers sell e-books directly to readers (e.g. O-Reilly, Baen, etc).

The remaining claim is that when it comes to e-books, libraries as we know them have no future. This is supported in part earlier in the post by observing that publishers are resisting letting libraries lend e-books, essentially because they don’t think they can afford to.

This comes from a very interesting two-part post [1, 2]

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GroverNorquist: Up is the new down

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 15:46 by Desiato in category: awesome, ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, batshitinsane, bleeding obvious, Foyer of Ennui (just short of the Hall of Shame), Funny!, No shit, sherlock


The Bush tax cuts lapsed at midnight last night. Every R voting for Senate bill is cutting taxes and keeping his/her pledge.

Yes, I think all the tags I applied to this post are justified.

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Al Jazeera buys US channel Current TV

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 15:32 by John Sinteur in category: News


Al Jazeera Media Network has announced that it has acquired US cable channel Current TV.

The Qatar-based network said on Thursday that with the acquisition it plans to create Al Jazeera America, a US-based news channel. Al Jazeera’s coverage will soon be available in more than 40 million US households, up from 4.7 million prior to the deal.

Terms were undisclosed, but analysts told the Reuters news agency the deal could be worth an estimated $500m. The new channel will be headquartered in New York City.

In addition to the existing Al Jazeera news bureaus in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, Al Jazeera will open additional bureaus in key locations across the United States. It will also double its US-based staff to more than 300 employees.


Al-Jazeera has long struggled to get carriage in the U.S., and the deal suffered an immediate casualty as Time Warner Cable Inc., the nation’s second-largest cable TV operator, announced it is dropping Current TV due to the deal.

“Our agreement with Current has been terminated and we will no longer be carrying the service. We are removing the service as quickly as possible,” the company said in a statement.

I’m sure the fact that Time Warner owns CNN has nothing to do with that…

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  1. I’m sure too, because:

    Originally controlled by Time Warner (the film and television production company and cable channel operator), that company spun out the cable operations in March 2009 as part of a larger restructuring. Since then, Time Warner Cable has been an entirely independent company, merely continuing to use the Time Warner and Road Runner High Speed Online brands under license from its former parent. Time Warner Cable does own several local news and sports channels, but it no longer has any corporate affiliation with national cable channels such as CNN or HBO, which remain the property of the original Time Warner. (Wikipedia)

  2. It’s natural that capitalists never want to have incoming competition in a market. The idea that they could forestall competition by improving their product is, obviously, stupid. (It is only practiced by the most successful companies.)

  3. I think it would be a good thing to have a news channel in the United States. It has been a while since we had one. Thanks to FOX News’s ratings success, both CNN and MSNBC have had to morph into political entertainment channels, too.

    There is a big world out there about which Americans are largely ignorant. Al Jazeera English is a competent product, and about 60% of its web-viewers are in the US. If Al Jazeera manages to get any cable ratings success with their American offering on other carriers (please, Comcast), Time Warner will come around.

    In the corporate world, money is more important than ideology.

    (By the way, did you know Roger Aisles used to produce the Mike Douglas Show in Cleveland and later in Philadelphia?)

Peter King near tears, threatens to quit Republican Party for blocking Sandy relief

Posted on January 3rd, 2013 at 13:11 by John Sinteur in category: News


Republican New York Congressman Peter King was near tears on Wednesday as he threatened to leave the Republican Party, while excoriating the leadership and other members after they reversed course and refused to pass a relief package for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

In an emotional interview with CNN, King pointed a finger directly at House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for the failure to bring Sandy aid up for a vote after passing a bill to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.


“I would say that the Republican Party says that it’s the party of family values,” King continued. “Last night, it decided to turn its back on the most essential value of all. And that’s to provide food, shelter, clothing and relief for people who have been hit by a natural disaster. And I would say that the Republican Party has turned its back on those people. And it’s going to be very hard for me to ask any of those people to vote for the national Republican Party.”

Mister King must not have watched much Daily Show recently:

“This is the problem with entitlements. They’re really only entitlements when they’re something other people want. When it’s something you want, they’re a hallmark of a civilized society, the foundation of a great people.

– Jon Stewart

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  1. ..nothing compared to Chris Christie, Gov of NJ who yesterday ripped a new asshole in the house that is already full of holes.