Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Drones - The Legal and Moral War

A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares...Image via Wikipedia

A common theme that keeps coming up of late is the use of drones by the US military. While in previous posts we have seen how the US Air Force is wrestling with integrating the new drone pilots into its structure we now see other more important issues are starting to be tackled. Here is a very interesting podcast that takes a look at some of these issues.

This issue has become so contentious following the remarks by Harold Koh, the full text of which is available here. This was soon followed by Justice Stevens remarks that questioned the validity of the position taken by Harold Koh, for a thorough overview of this debate I recommend Anthony Clark Arend's post available here. This radio interview below further fleshes out this debate and all this marks the start of a conversation that needs to be had, especially before these new weapon systems start getting used against the USA, but not necessarily by other states which is still glossed over here.

But at least we are talking.

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For several years now, the U.S. has conducted a clandestine war in Pakistan against al-Qaida and the Taliban, and after President Obama took office, the CIA sharply increased its use of unmanned aircraft, or drones, to attack commanders, fighters and well, so often members of their families. Inevitably mistakes kill people totally unconnected to either group.

After questions about the legality of what some call extrajudicial killings, targeted killings or assassinations, the Obama administration issued a legal justification last week. The State Department's top lawyer, Harold Koh, stated in part that U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war. You can read that statement on our Web site.

So is this campaign legal? Is it effective? Is it wise?
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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Time for the Ibex to Graze: Ubuntu 8.10 End of Life

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex Wallpapers - 1beleph...Image by louisvolant via Flickr

October 2008 saw the release of Ubuntu 8.10, codename Intrepid Ibex, but from 30th of April 2010 its support period ends. Users are recommended to upgrade their machines still running this version of Ubuntu before this time. This comes as we will see the release of the next LTS version just days before, Ubuntu 10.04LTS Lucid Lynx, which will be supported for some 3 years at introduce a whole range of new features with a focus of making Ubuntu more social from the start, having tight integration with social (facebook), chat (instant messengers) and broadcast accounts (twitter).

I have been using the development version for about a month now and so far it is looking like some of the best work from Ubuntu to date. For now though all the details regarding the end of Intrepid Ibex can be found in the press release below.


Ubuntu announced its 8.10 release almost 18 months ago, on October
30, 2008. As with the earlier releases, Ubuntu committed to ongoing
security and critical fixes for a period of 18 months. The support
period is now nearing its end and Ubuntu 8.10 will reach end of life
on Friday, April 30, 2010. At that time, Ubuntu Security Notices will
no longer include information or updated packages for Ubuntu 8.10.

The supported upgrade path from Ubuntu 8.10 is via Ubuntu 9.04.
Instructions and caveats for the upgrade may be found at

. Note that upgrades
to version 9.10 and beyond are only supported in multiple steps, via
an upgrade first to 9.04, then to 9.10. Both Ubuntu 9.04 and Ubuntu 9.10
continue to be actively supported with security updates and select
high-impact bug fixes. All announcements of official security updates for
Ubuntu releases are sent to the ubuntu-security-announce mailing list,
information about which may be found at


Since its launch in October 2004 Ubuntu has become one of the most
highly regarded Linux distributions with millions of users in homes,
schools, businesses and governments around the world. Ubuntu is Open
software, costs nothing to download, and users are free to
customise or alter their software in order to meet their needs.

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Monday, 29 March 2010

Motorcycle Industry Letter to the Commission

EuropeImage via Wikipedia

With all the talk of late of new EU regulations concerning the future of motorcycles in Europe, such as restrictions of 100bhp, I have been surprised the motorcycle industry has remained so quiet, now we have what seems to be the first major response from the ACEM (the Motorcycle Industry in Europe).

Below they discuss the damage done to the motorcycle industry by the recession and that these regulations will only damage the recovery of the industry, which is bad for all of us. They also mention how there has been limited to know assistance to the motorcycle industry within the EU, such as scrappage schemes.

I have been waiting for something like this as I am surprised (and have said so on several forums) that they were standing back and accepting the industry killing measures being discussed across the EU which would spell the end of motorcycle manufacturing in Europe. As a community we should get behind this and for once come together to stop these draconian measures. Read the press release below for all the information.

Peace and keep the rubber side down

Future European regulatory framework for the type-approval of Powered Two-Wheelers to take into account lingering effects of the economic crisis on the sector


Brussels 29.3.2010 – Gathering for their annual General Assembly hosted by FEBIAC in Brussels, ACEM, the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers, urged the European Commission to consider market acceptance and flexible objectives in finalising the future technical regulation of Powered Two- and Three-Wheelers due in the second half of 2010.

As the European Commission prepares to unveil new rules for a technical regulation of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds ACEM reiterate their request for a long-term vision with regulatory stability and simplification in mind and urge policy-makers to take stock of the latest market developments.

The economic crisis triggered a drop in registrations of Powered Two-Wheelers (PTWs) since the last quarter of 2008. In 2009 the EU PTW sales fell by -25%. The first two months of 2010 recorded a -6.5%* compared to the same period of 2009, indicating a lingering crisis.

“If recovery in the PTW sector is to be achieved”, said Stefan Pierer, ACEM President and KTM CEO, “then the upcoming European regulatory framework for PTWs must acknowledge the effects of the crisis on the sector while ensuring regulatory stability and providing the industry with a sensible timeframe and sufficient flexibility to develop new products meeting customers’ demand.”

While most of the Motorcycle Industry weathered the storm, the outlook for 2010 still remains highly uncertain, with the phasing out of the very limited scrapping schemes adopted by Italy and Spain.

In this context, as Europe is looking for an exit from the crisis, cooperation between policy-makers and industry becomes even more crucial to supporting businesses in Europe and enabling them to confidently look ahead. Despite positive cooperation with DG Enterprise, some fundamental elements still need to be tackled for this regulation to be workable for the sector.

Next to regulatory stability in the EU, European motorcycle manufacturers seek a level playing-field on the global market and ask for greater attention from policy-makers to ensure equal conditions for all manufacturers, including those from emerging economies, both in Europe and on extra-European markets.

During the General Assembly Mr Hendrik von Kuenheim, CEO of BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna as well as President of IMMA, the International Motorcycle Manufacturers Association, was unanimously elected as Vice President of ACEM, while Mr Leo Francesco Mercanti, Piaggio Director of Engineering and Product Development & Racing, was appointed for a another term as Vice President. ACEM furthermore welcomed a new Member: MOTED, the Turkish Motorcycle Industry Association.

Stefan Pierer, ACEM President and CEO of Austrian manufacturer KTM Sport Motorcycles: “In order to bounce back from the crisis through new opportunities, Europe will have to address these fundamental issues through enhanced cooperation between policy makers and industry. “Making it happen” is indeed the main message of President Barroso’s new flagship strategy “EU2020”. It was also the main headline of last ACEM Conference and we are willing to do our part”.

* ACEM collects and analyses market registrations of 18 European countries. The indicated figure refers to Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, UK, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

Note to editors:
ACEM, the Motorcycle Industry in Europe, is the professional body representing the interests and combined skills of 12 powered two wheelers (PTWs) manufacturers producing a total of 26 motorcycle and moped brands, and 15 national associations out of 13 European countries, guaranteeing jobs to over 150.000 people. The aggregated turnover of the PTW sector (manufacturing, plus upstream and downstream activities) amounted to Euro 34 billion in 2006. Manufacturers alone account for Euro 7 billion. The members of ACEM are responsible for 90% of the production and up to 80% of the European powered two-wheeler (PTW) market.

More information, statistics and policy statements at:

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Fancy a Ride this Sunday? AAI Info/Reg Ride-Out

With the Irish Motorcycle Show only taking place every two years now the organisers of the Annual Across Ireland have taken to organising information/registration ride out when they can not have a stall at the Motorcycle Show. This years event will be held on Sunday 28th March with everyone meeting between 10am - 12pm at Xtreme 45, and pulling out at 12.15pm.

014 - Registration
2008 Reg/Info Ride-Out

Below is the press release from the AAI:
The 11th Annual Across Ireland Motorcycle Run takes place on 28th & 29th August 2010. Annual Across Ireland is Irelands Largest & Longest Motorcycle event in Ireland, with excess of 1000+ Motorcyclists taking park in the main event later this year. The A.A.I is a voluntary group of people with one simple aim, to help sick & terminally ill children with direct purchase of medical equipment which in turn can make an immediate change to their lives, where we would very much love you to join us going forward in 2010 to achieve our Goals. This year, our chosen charity is Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland

017 - Registration
2008 Reg/Info Ride-Out

Special guests confirmed at the event are Brendan O’Carroll, Paul Carberry, PJ Gallagher, Michael Dunlop with promises of more to be confirmed. So this is set to be a fun afternoon. I can not say where they are heading this year, but in the previous ride out we headed to Trim, County Meath and got to watch some motorcycle racing with plenty of refreshments. Good fun all round.

View Larger Map Location of Xtreme 45, Turvey Business Park, Donabate, Co. Dublin (North), Dublin (T: 01 8957070)

Usually there is a good turnout and will be a nice way to open up the summer season of motorcycle ride-outs and events. Also to try and get another fantastic turn-out for the Annual Across Ireland in August, which is really something every Irish biker should try to do at least once. For now I hope to see some of you there this Sunday, and remember it is for a good cause!

001 - Registration
Memories: my then steed, third bike in from the left in blue...

Date: Sunday 28th March (Prizes on the day)
Time: 10.00am to 12.00Noon (Refreshments Served)
Pullout: 12.15pm (Sharp)
Location: Xtreme 45 M/Cycle Shop, Junction 4 M1 Swords/Donabate

Until then, keep the rubber side down.

AAI 2008 - 128
2008 Main AAI Run

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Monday, 15 March 2010

The Dropout Revolutionaries

Times are a changin', as the lyric goes, but this is not the sort of change to believe in or even one that many politicians would even desire. A type of antipolitics is emerging along the lines of John Robbs resilient communities. Around us we see the formation of new underground banking systems regulated only by those that run them, bringing a new dimension to commerce. States around the world have been slow to adapt to the challenges facing us and it is those that are embracing new green technologies and cutting traditional ties with these sinking ships are the ones that might be set to thrive.

New communities are emerging, darknets on one level, but around us new types of jobs will have to emerge to meet the challenges of a this brave new world before us. A new individualism in the form of "freeganism" and "cage-free families" can be seen, while more youth see a college education as little more as a status symbol, the next cultural revolution might just be around the corner.

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But what if the millions of so-called dropouts are onto something? As conventional high schools and colleges prepare the next generation for jobs that won't exist, we're on the cusp of a dropout revolution, one that will spark an era of experimentation in new ways to learn and new ways to live.

People who feel obsolete in today's information economy will be joined by millions more in the emerging post-information economy, in which routine professional work and even some high-end services will be more cheaply performed overseas or by machines.
Imagine a future in which millions of families live off the grid, powering their homes and vehicles with dirt-cheap portable fuel cells. As industrial agriculture sputters under the strain of the spiraling costs of water, gasoline and fertilizer, networks of farmers using sophisticated techniques that combine cutting-edge green technologies with ancient Mayan know-how build an alternative food-distribution system
building their own little utopias
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Saturday, 13 March 2010

When is a Pilot Not a Pilot? The Unmanned Air-Force Emerges

For the first time the US Air-force is producing pilots who have never flown a plane, this is the first class of pilots just trained to fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). There is obviously some friction emerging from the old guard who believe there can be only one kind of pilot. However, the air-force is already embracing this change, seeing the possibilities this new kind of weapon and warrior can bring to the 21st century battlefield.

This article by the WP looks at this new type of pilot and how they came to be, together with some examples of how they have proved themselves on the battlefield. Well worth reading but the great thing about UAVs is that virtually anyone can acquire and use them, see for an example of this other emerging trend.


"Why does the country need an independent Air Force?" the senior civilian assistant to Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, the service's chief of staff, had written. For the first time in the 62-year history of the Air Force, the answer isn't entirely clear.

"This is our year to look up and out . . . to ask big questions," Schwartz said in an interview. "Who are we? What are we doing for the nation's defense? . . . Where is this grand institution headed?"

"Most mission statements are long, complicated and italicized," he said. "Mine was three words: "Kill [Expletive] Heads."
he Air Force envisions unmanned planes not only providing surveillance and striking targets, but also hauling cargo around the world. Instead of flying just one plane, a single pilot would probably control as many as four or five planes simultaneously.
"Valor is doing what is right. Valor is about your motivations and the ends that you seek. It is doing what is right for the right reasons. That to me is valor."
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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Change We Can Believe In - Ubuntu Rebooted

Believe it or not, 6 years have passed since the Warty Warthog jumped onto out screens. Since then Ubuntu has grown and spread into the stable and secure operating system we find ourselves with today. But now it is time for change, when 'Human' gives way to the 'Light' of a new dawn for those of us who have embraced freedom while shining the way for others to free themselves from the propitiatory, legal and insecure OS's they have been shackled too.

"Believe me when I say we have a difficult time ahead of us. But if we are to be prepared for it, we must first shed our fear of it. I stand here, before you now, truthfully unafraid. Why? Because I believe something you do not? No, I stand here without fear because I remember. I remember that I am here not because of the path that lies before me but because of the path that lies behind me." ~Morpheus, The Matrix Reloaded

Follow the link at the bottom to go down the rabbit hole...
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We adopted a style based on the tagline “Linux for Human Beings”, and called it “Human”. Six years on we have made incredible progress. Ubuntu is a global phenomenon: we have carved out a pervasive culture of quality and design, thoughtful usability and great technology all fused together in a project that maintains the same commitment to community and collaborative development that we embraced back in 2004.

Brand Values


The new style in Ubuntu is inspired by the idea of “Light”.

Ubuntu represents a break with the bloatware of proprietary operating systems and an opportunity to delight to those who use computers for work and play. More and more of our communications are powered by light, and in future, our processing power will depend on our ability to work with light, too.

Visually, light is beautiful, light is ethereal, light brings clarity and comfort.

Go and see the full details of the brand refresh here, with more images.

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