Save the Internet from the US

Our online privacy is under threat from a new bill giving the US government powers to spy on our Internet and email usage. Public opposition has stopped US threats to Internet freedom before – let’s build a giant outcry urging US Congress to drop the bill and save the Internet.

Join me in this campaign here:


Scientific American y el Eyjafjallajökull

Les recomiendo ampliamente esta publicación en línea gratuita de la revista Scientific American. Es muy profesional, tiene información muy actualizada sobre investigaciones o descubrimientos recientes en el mundo de las ciencias y las matemáticas, muy interesantes. También publica podcasts, para lo que les guste escuchar las noticias y practicar su inglés 🙂 ¡Tienen más de 100 años publicando continuamente! Además, esta última edición trae una buena nota sobre el, todavía en erupción, volcán Eyjafjallajokull en Islandia. FFM.

From: Scientific American Newsletters <newsletters>

Date: 2010/4/20
Subject: Weekly Review: How Long Will Iceland’s Volcano Keep Planes Grounded?

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navigationWeekly Review
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iceland-volcano-airspace_1.jpgASK THE EXPERTS
How Long Will Iceland’s Volcano Keep Planes Grounded?

As the volcano in Iceland continues to erupt, travelers in Europe are left to wonder how long local airspace will remain closed. A volcanologist from the Smithsonian explains why this eruption could cause long-term disruption

> Related: How do volcanoes affect world climate? is 1 of 5 nominees for this year’s Webby Awards in the Science category. A heartfelt thanks to all our readers for being continually supportive of the magazine and web site. If you could spare a moment, we would greatly appreciate a vote in our favor:

Established in 1996, the Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet.

60SEarth_75x75.gif60-SECOND EARTH PODCAST
What’s the Most Recycled Product in the U.S.?

It’s not paper, plastic or even aluminum. David Biello reports

(Newsletter continues below)
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Mat of microbes the size of Greece discovered on seafloor

Microbes constitute 50 to 90 percent of the oceans’ total biomass

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DMT is in your head…

…but it may be too weird for the psychedelic renaissance

Engineered Virus Harnesses Light to Split Water
Scientific American‘s 2006 researcher of the year, M.I.T.’s Angela Belcher, has engineered a virus so that it captures light energy and uses it to catalyze the splitting of water, a first step in a possible new way to generate hydrogen for fuel cells. Cynthia Graber reports

blog-extinct_75.jpgEXTINCTION COUNTDOWN
Don’t eat that

Endangered quolls may benefit from aversion therapy

What Is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain?

Paul Reber, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, replies

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Making a Decision? Take Your Time

A recent study shows that when faced with a decision, it’s best to take some time–relax and cool off–so logical thinking can guide us to the best choice. Christie Nicholson reports

Quantum Effects Exploited to Generate Random Numbers

Measuring the internal states of entangled ions yields binary digits that demonstrably stem from the indeterminacy of quantum mechanics, but the process is laborious

Spectacular South African Skeletons Reveal New Species from Murky Period of Human Evolution

The discoverers argue that the nearly two-million-year-old fossils could be ancestral to us–but other scientists are not so sure

Health insurers make big bucks from Big Macs

Health and life insurance companies are out to make a buck, and one way they augment their income is by investing in other industries, including the top five publicly traded fast food chains

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Civic CRM

Para tod@s aquell@s que participen en organizaciones de la sociedad civil (OSCs) y que necesiten una herramienta computacional para mejorar su organización, este nuevo software LIBRE, llamado Civic CRM parece muy bueno y prometedor, y libera a las organizaciones no-lucrativas de tener que usar software privativo que limita su libertad de acción y de entendimiento de sus propias bases de datos. Este nuevo software ya fue adoptado por instituciones (ONGs) tan importantes como la Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons y Wikimedia Foundation. Si conocen una asociación civil, espero se lo puedan recomendar para que lo use, ya sea sustituyendo al que usen o por primera vez ayudando a su mejor organización con este software para OSCs. Sobre todo, hay que hacer incapié en la importancia que tiene por el hecho de ser precisamente Software LIBRE, pues cualquier usuari@ (o la misma ONG) es libre de copiarlo, bajarlo, distribuirlo, estudiar cómo funciona, modificarlo, contribuir a su desarrollo, etc. sin tener que pedir permiso de l@s autor@s.


De paso, también piensen seriamente en cambiarse a GNU/Linux, l@s que no lo hayan hecho:

Saludos. FFM

From: Peter Brown <info>
Date: 2010/4/14
Subject: [FSF] Time for nonprofits to leave proprietary fundraising software systems behind

To: info-press, info-fsf

Time for nonprofits to leave proprietary fundraising software systems behind

(News item at:

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA — Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 — The Free
Software Foundation (FSF) today announced that CiviCRM has earned its
recommendation as a fully featured donor and contact management system
for nonprofits. The FSF had highlighted the need for a free software
solution in this area as part of its High Priority Projects campaign
( With this
announcement, the FSF will also be adopting CiviCRM for its own use, and
actively encouraging other nonprofit organizations to do the same.


Nonprofits have historically relied heavily on proprietary or web-hosted
"software as a service" fundraising software such as Blackbaud’s
Raiser’s Edge or eTapestry. The nonprofit organizations using them are
locked in, have little control over the functionality of the software,
and are dependent on the whims of a single company. Nonprofits also face
costly migration if they wish to switch to a different proprietary
system, never achieving independence. These factors mean that tools
intended to enhance organizations’ effectiveness have actually ended up
restricting their ability to accomplish their social missions.

CiviCRM, however, shares its software code so all organizations can see
how it works, have the option of commissioning anyone to make
customizations to it, and can host it on their own trusted servers.
Since the code and the data format are freely available, using the
system does not mean being locked into it. Because it runs on the free
GNU/Linux operating system, it eliminates the need for another frequent
nonprofit proprietary software dependency — Microsoft Windows.

"The features now offered by CiviCRM will satisfy nonprofits seeking to
organize their relationships with donors, supporters, and the media. In
addition to storing contact information, it handles online fundraising,
event registration, membership management, and personalized paper and
electronic mailings. Best of all, it’s free software distributed under
the GNU Affero General Public License, which means nonprofits can host
it themselves and retain the freedom they need to advance their missions
unfettered," said John Sullivan, FSF’s operations manager.

Free software ideals encouraging sharing and modification have been
central to CiviCRM’s growth. Developer Dave Greenberg explained, "The
CiviCRM project was started by a group of developers and project
managers who had been working together on a proprietary donation
processing application. As folks who were passionate about increasing
the impact and effectiveness of the nonprofits, we came to realize that
there was a need for a CRM application designed from the ground up to
meet the needs of civic sector organizations. From the beginning it was
clear that this should be free software — community driven and
community owned. On a personal level I find the engagement with our
community of users to be intellectually stimulating and rewarding.
Seeing folks with expertise in a particular area step up and contribute
their time and ideas to help improve the product is quite exciting."

In making the switch, the FSF joins other organizations like Amnesty
International, Creative Commons, and the Wikimedia Foundation, who have
also been using CiviCRM.

Executive director Peter Brown described the FSF’s use of the software
and intent to publicize it: "I look forward to encouraging other
nonprofit organizations to escape their current proprietary or ‘software
as a service’ systems and give CiviCRM a try. As a nonprofit, the FSF
manages over 40,000 contacts and 15,000 donation transactions per year,
a book publishing operation, online store, and several advocacy campaign
websites with associated mailing lists — all with free software. A
general purpose donor and contact management system will be the final
piece of the puzzle for charitable organizations looking to operate
using only free software. We plan to publish a guide offering our
experiences as a resource for other nonprofits concerned with the social
implications of their technology."

Nathan Yergler, chief technology officer at Creative Commons, offered
further praise for the software: "CiviCRM is a critical part of Creative
Commons’ infrastructure. We’ve seen the application mature and steadily
improve with new features and performance improvements coming in every
release. CiviCRM’s developer community is accessible and responsive,
going beyond the normal call of duty to help when needed. I would
happily recommend CiviCRM to organizations like Creative Commons looking
for a CRM solution."

CiviCRM core team member Piotr Szotkowski noted that despite the
project’s maturity, there is still rewarding work to be done: "We could
definitely use more helping hands. Being able to work on CiviCRM gives a
lot of non-direct benefits, like the very warm and fuzzy feelings of
great satisfaction and fulfillment: knowing that one’s code was used to
help the Katrina hurricane victims, that it helps organizations like
Amnesty International or Front Line fight for human rights defenders, or
that it helps organizations like the Wikimedia Foundation better
organize their great work on Wikipedia and all their other projects."

Further information about downloading, using, and contributing to
CiviCRM can be found at An ongoing discussion of
comparisons between free software database options is on the FSF’s
LibrePlanet wiki at

For a description of the dangers in relying on "software as a service,"
see "Who does that server really serve?".

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting
computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute
computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as
in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its
GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF
also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of
freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at
and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux.
Donations to support the FSF’s work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About Free Software and Open Source

The free software movement’s goal is freedom for computer users. Some,
especially corporations, advocate a different viewpoint, known as "open
source," which cites only practical goals such as making software
powerful and reliable, focuses on development models, and avoids
discussion of ethics and freedom. These two viewpoints are different at
the deepest level. For more explanation, see

Media Contacts

John Sullivan
Operations Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942


info-fsf mailing list

Free Software Award Winners Announced: John Gilmore and the Internet Archive

The most important free software awards, and here they are 🙂 FFM

From: Peter Brown <info>

Date: 2010/3/25
Subject: [FSF] Free Software Award Winners Announced: John Gilmore and the Internet Archive

You can see photographs of the award winners at:

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA — March 23, 2010 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced the winners of the annual free software awards at a ceremony on Saturday March 20, held during the LibrePlanet conference at Harvard Science Center in Cambridge, MA.

The award for the Advancement of Free Software was won by John Gilmore. The award for Project of Social Benefit was won by the Internet Archive. The awards were presented by FSF president and founder Richard M. Stallman.

Brewster Kahle co-founder and chairman of the Internet Archive was at the ceremony to collect the award and spoke about the work of his organization, "We are trying to follow in the footsteps of the free software movement and apply these ideas to the cultural materials layer, building organizations that are founded on these principals."

John Gilmore who had earlier given a presentation at the conference on the future goals of the free software movement, said on receiving the award, "Free software has been very good to me, and I’m glad that I have been good to it." The awards committee recognized Gilmore’s many contributions and long term commitment to the free software movement.

The award citation for John Gilmore read:

As one of the founders of Cygnus Solutions, Gilmore gave free software a place in the business world long before GNU/Linux became popular. He is a well-known free software and freedom activist. He is a co-founder of the EFF, the alt newsgroup, and a major promoter of cryptography. He has written or contributed to free software including the projects pdtar (which became GNU Tar), GNU UUCP, GNU GDB and Kerberos. John has also promoted free software through his philanthropy, funding many free software projects including, GNU Radio and GNU Gnash and he remains active in advancing the cause of computer user freedom.

John Gilmore joins a distinguished list of previous winners:

* 2008 Wietse Venema
* 2007 Harald Welte
* 2006 Ted Ts’o
* 2005 Andrew Tridgell
* 2004 Theo de Raadt
* 2003 Alan Cox
* 2002 Lawrence Lessig
* 2001 Guido van Rossum
* 2000 Brian Paul
* 1999 Miguel de Icaza
* 1998 Larry Wall

The Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented annually to a team or organization that applies free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, in a way that significantly benefits society. The award citation for the Internet Archive read:

The Internet Archive is a non-profit founded to build a free and open Internet library. They provide 1.8 million free public domain and out of print books in collaboration with libraries all over the world. They have collected more than 500,000 audio items, including over 70,000 live concert recordings made freely available in lossless formats by thousands of volunteers with the permission of the artists. More than 200,000 video items are freely downloadable in a variety of formats, including the free software video format Ogg Theora. They have been archiving the Web at large since 1996, making over 150 billion copies of web pages available to the public through the Wayback Machine. The Internet Archive has written free software of their own, including Heretrix, their web crawler (, and a free software version of the Wayback Machine software, in addition to contributing patches to many other free software projects <>.

Previos winners of the social benefit award:

* 2008 Creative Commons
* 2007 Groklaw
* 2006 Sahana Disaster Management System
* 2005 Wikipedia

This year’s award committee was chaired by Suresh Ramasubramanian and included Peter H. Salus, Wietse Venema, Lawrence Lessig, Raj Mathur, Hong Feng, Andrew Tridgell, Jonas Oberg, Verner Vinge, Richard Stallman, Fernanda G. Weiden and Harald Welte.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF’s work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media Contacts

Peter Brown
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942

info-fsf mailing list

ACTA leak as text: mixing patents up with international organised crime

For those of you who wish to be informed/involved in the development of the ACTA negotiations, which will certainly affect all free culture related issues (including free software, specifically software patents) in the countries involved, including of course the US and Mexico. FFM

From: Ciaran O’Riordan <esp>
Date: 2010/3/24

Subject: [Esp-action-alert] ACTA leak as text: mixing patents up with international organised crime

Dear ESP supporters,

The ACTA treaty is being secretly negotiated by certain countries (see end).
Luckily, a document has been leaked containing the January 18th 2010 draft
text for the treaty. …but the news is not good.

The treaty will not touch whether software is patentable or not, but it is
of concern to End Software Patents because it will give all patent holders a
range of new powers (even bypassing the courts), will expand liability, and
will increase the legal risks of developing products in patentable fields.

Detailed analyses will appear in the coming days -I hope to write one for myself- but for now I’m writing to point you to the leak
text. The leak itself is a PDF of scanned faxes, so I’ve been typing it up
as text for easier linking, searching, reading, and quoting:

The governments involved: United States, the European Union, Australia,
Canada, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore,
Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Ciaran O’Riordan
Executive Director, End Software Patents

Esp-action-alert mailing list

WENR, March 2010: Americas

It’s a real pity that the latest world news about mexican educational system has not been the exception in being impregnated by the whole wave of violence that lately hast struck Juárez City, Chihuahua, in that border and northern state of Mexico. Regretably, this is the truth. I hope we can be able soon as a society to put a stop to this and to focus our human capacities in the wonderful abilities we can deploy as human beings as in arts, sciences, techniques, which are at the core of education abroad. FFM.


Cross-Border Studies Shuttered Due to Violence

The University of Texas at El Paso has suspended activities in neighboring Juárez as drug-related violence in the Mexican border town escalates. The University of Texas planned the new campus for its M.B.A programs with cross-border traffic in mind, building it just a mile from Mexico. But over the past year, escalating drug-related violence in El Paso’s sister city, Ciudad Juárez, has forced the university to suspend sponsored activities across the Rio Grande, including business-school exchanges.

And while students at the new downtown center will continue to study international business, they will mingle with their Mexican counterparts mainly over the internet, or on their home turf in El Paso.

“The violence across the border has had a devastating impact on us,” says Diana S. Natalicio, who joined the faculty in 1971 and has served as El Paso’s president since 1988. The violence directly across the border stems from a battle between the rival Juárez and Sinaloa drug cartels that has transformed a former tourist town into one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Last year alone, 2,600 people were murdered in Juárez, a city of 1.4 million people, after more than 1,600 killings in 2008.

The business school isn’t the only part of the university being affected. Teacher-education programs can no longer send students to assist in Mexican schools, while students in health fields, such as nursing and health promotion, cannot practice their skills in clinics across the border. All have been deferred until further notice. The loss is felt deeply at a university where nearly 75 percent of the students are Hispanic, and up to a quarter of the students in some programs are Mexican citizens. To make up for all but banning sponsored travel anywhere in Mexico, El Paso has stepped up partnerships and programs in South America and Asia.

Other border universities, including the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of Texas-Pan American, in Edinburg, have similarly become more cautious about approving study in Mexico.

vía WENR, March 2010: Americas.

Obama quietly signs executive order affirming federal ban on abortion funding

Remarkable what Obama gets to do due to pressure by conservatives. I suppose he also has some boots to lick. There’s always a bigger fish. Such a pity. Change we can’t? FFM

From: Los Angeles Times <news>
Date: 2010/3/24
Subject: Breaking: Obama quietly signs executive order affirming federal ban on abortion funding

Los Angeles Times | March 24, 2010 | 12:11 p.m.

Obama quietly signs executive order affirming federal ban on abortion funding

President Obama today signed an executive order that was crucial to winning the support of antiabortion Democrats in the weekend’s battle to pass healthcare insurance overhaul.

The Oval Office signing was deliberately low-key with the media excluded, a testament to how abortion rights issues continue to divide nation.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended the decision to limit access to the signing.

"We will have a nice picture and demonstrate that type of transparency," Gibbs told reporters today about their exclusion.

More soon at: