US and EU prepare to strike Russian banks, energy firms

van EU Observer - wo, 04/09/2014 - 09:29
The US and EU are preparing to strike at Russian banks, energy and minerals firms if Russia invades mainland Ukraine.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

Spanish parliament rejects Catalan independence bid

van EU Observer - wo, 04/09/2014 - 09:27
Spain’s parliament overwhelmingly rejected Catalonia’s bid to call for a referendum on independence.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Analysis] What does the death of the EU data directive mean?

van EU Observer - wo, 04/09/2014 - 09:25
The EU's controversial data retention bill may be dead, but its principles will remain in force across Europe despite yesterday's Court ruling.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] France vows spending cuts, but 'no austerity'

van EU Observer - wo, 04/09/2014 - 09:22
France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls vowed to cut taxes and spending in a bid to make the French economy more competitive, but insisted that this would not translate into austerity policies. France remains committed to reducing its budget deficit in line with EU demands, Valls told the French parliament.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] Italy wants to ease EU's fiscal rules

van EU Observer - wo, 04/09/2014 - 09:21
Italy's new government on Tuesday indicated it plans to push for an easing of EU fiscal rules when it takes over the rotating EU presidency in July. Its statements suggest France will have an ally as it pushes for more time to lower its own budget deficit, Reuters reports.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] EU commission to create Ukraine support group

van EU Observer - wo, 04/09/2014 - 09:21
The European Commission is set to create a support group for Ukraine to help stabilise the country's economy and to assist with political reform, a source told AFP. The group is likely to be unveiled Wednesday, formed of "several dozen" people led by enlargement and neighbourhood policy commissioner Stefan Fuele.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

[Ticker] No more Russia sanctions for now, says Schulz

van EU Observer - wo, 04/09/2014 - 09:21
European Parliament chief Martin Schulz Tuesday urged caution over the crisis in Ukraine, saying that "it is not necessary for the moment to take new sanctions" against Russia. The German politician, who is the Socialist top candidate for the EU commission, pointed out the "common interests" of Russia and Europe.

Categorieën: Europees nieuws

FOIA Exemption B(5) Means Never Having To Let A Redaction Opportunity Slip By

van TechDirt - wo, 04/09/2014 - 09:13

We've seen our share of redacted pages here at Techdirt, covering everything from NSA rules violations to GPS tracking to transcripts of court proceedings. Redaction is a way of life for the government, making a mockery of both the Freedom of Information Act AND this administration's claim that the White House is the most transparent place on earth.

This last claim in particular is ridiculous. The Redacted blog (run by members of George Washington University's research library) has published the following chart, which shows exactly how much sunlight isn't making its way to requested government documents thanks to its favorite FOIA exemption, b(5).

This exemption theoretically covers only the following: inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency In reality, it covers all of the following, according to Redacted's research. The Department of Justice’s use of b(5) to censor dozens of pages of a candid history of Nazi-hunting (and Nazi-protecting) by the U.S. government to such a self-defeating extent that former officials leaked the entire document to the New York Times, instead of fulfilling a Freedom of Information request.

The CIA, supported by the Department of Justice, is currently using the b(5) exemption to keep secret its history of the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, arguing that it’s release “could confuse the public.”

Muckrock’s Shawn Muscrave has reported that The Federal Elections Commission attempted to argue that it’s own guidance on when to apply b(5) is itself exempt from release under b(5) –even though it had already been posted on the FEC’s website. Also included? Henry Kissinger's notes on telephone conversations, which were withheld for seven years under this exemption. DOJ legal counsel opinions, which by law must be released if the stated suggestions have been officially adopted. The State Dept. even argued that this exemption applied to Presidential Policy Directive addressing the Department's need to be more transparent about its aid plans.

This is the next FOIA battleground, according to Redacted. The expansive reading of this exemption has lead to the government adopting this as the go-to redaction, applied haphazardly to withhold information from the public. The b is for "broad," or as Redacted puts it, "withhold it because you want to."

The blog points to one of the most ridiculous redactions in a sea of misuse -- the withholding of a State Department employee's hand-scrawled "commentary" on a proposed bill to designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Sure enough, b(5) was cited when redacting the opinion ("What a bunch of crap!"), meaning that this penned commentary somehow was an inter/intra-agency "memorandum or letter" not meant for the public's eye. The fact that it was neither and was written on a copy of a publicly available piece of legislation didn't stop the agency from redacting it. Two years later, it was finally forced by the court to uncover the rogue commentary.

"Because you feel like it" sums it up completely. Someone hoped to head off a microscopic bit of embarrassment by abusing the FOIA exemptions and somehow we're expected to believe other b(5) redactions are done with a sense of purpose and restraint.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

A New Animated Web Series About Copying And Copyright

van TechDirt - wo, 04/09/2014 - 05:08
A group of filmmakers has decided to put together an interesting new animated web series called "Copy-Me" all about copying and copyright -- and more specifically about culture and sharing, and why that's important (while also debunking some of the usual myths about copyright). Among the things they've claimed the series will cover are:
  • The importance of the public domain.
  • Artists making money without restricting access to their work.
  • A bit of copyright history.
  • The paradox of originality.
  • The state of the Internet today
  • The impact of copyright on every single part of society today.
While they're just getting started, it looks like it will be quite interesting. They've also put together an IndieGogo campaign for folks interested in supporting this project. Here's the intro video the filmmakers have made about the campaign, explaining a bit more of why they're doing this and what they hope to accomplish: While there have been various other cool projects trying to discuss these issues, from Kirby Ferguson's Everything is a Remix to Nina Paley's Copying is Not Theft, the more the merrier in getting past the myths of copyright that a certain industry has been pushing for decades.

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Categorieën: Technieuws

DailyDirt: Judging The Quality of Science

van TechDirt - wo, 04/09/2014 - 02:00
The Scientific Method is often taught as a linear process that proceeds from hypothesis to theory. In practice, science -- like any other human endeavor -- can be much more haphazard. Science isn't perfect, but it has some built in processes for error correction to help weed out mistakes and outright fraud. There are some well-known issues with the traditional peer review mechanism, but science is adapting and coming up with new ways to improve its results and conclusions. Here are just a few links on judging the quality of science. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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Categorieën: Technieuws