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orzetto (545509) writes "After months of plummeting polls due to the legal problems and private conduct of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who controls in one way or another Italian TV, the Italian government is now considering a draconian censorship law to prohibit publication in newspapers and blogs of wiretap transcripts, in which Berlusconi has been caught talking to criminals and bragging about his sexual feats with prostitutes.
Included in the package, a norm that could be devastating to blogs and independent news sources (Italian original): it includes the obligation for any Web site operator to "correct" any offending content within 48 hours after a complaint has been filed, with a fine of 12,000 euros in case of disobedience. Quite interestingly, there is no requirement on the complaint to be well founded or even truthful, and there is neither any possibility to appeal the complaint.
orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports (English translation) that Italian Prosecutor Henry J Woodcock's team managed to bust a far-reaching corruption ring led by manager Luigi Bisignani.
Bisignani, knowing his phone was wiretapped, changed his cellphone's SIM often and used Skype to avoid being caught. However, Woodcock's team managed to phish him with a fake Facebook notification and installed a trojan developed by
the Italian police, named "Querela". Querela took control of the microphone of Bisignani's PC and allowed wiretapping Skype calls and using the computer itself as a bug.
Bisignani's activities included trying to remove a journalist disliked by the government from his post in public broadcaster RAI by manipulating its top management, and maintaining a power structure with links to several government members, including a minister and Silvio Berlusconi's powerful and media-shy secretary Gianni Letta.
Bisignani is now held in custody in Naples." top
orzetto (545509) writes "Four countrywide referenda were held in Italy last weekend, one of which on the Italian government's plan to reintroduce nuclear power. Voters rejected the idea with a percentage of 95%. Due to intricacies of the Italian referendum law, the referendum would have been invalid (and equalling a victory for the nay side) if less than 50% of voters showed up, so most Nay supporters simply did not vote.
As the turnout was 54%, Italy will stay clear of nuclear power at least for the next five years. Among the supportes of the rejection, Carlo Rubbia, Nobel prize for Physics 1984.
The Italian government had tried to invalidate this referendum by repealing its own nuclear plan, stating it would be reintroduced after the referenda, but the strategy was invalidated by the courts.
The other referenda stroke down privatisation of water resources and a law that gave prime minister Berlusconi the right not to be put on trial (currently, for various corruption charges and statutory rape)." Link to Original Source top
orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that YouTube and similar websites based on user-generated content will be considered TV stations (Google translation) in Italian law, and will be subject to the same obligations. Among these, a small tax (500 €), the obligation to publish corrections within 48 hours upon request of people who consider themselves slandered by published content, and the obligation not to broadcast content inappropriate for children in certain time slots. The main change, though, is that YouTube and similar sites will be legally responsible of all published content as long as they have any form (even if automated) of editorial control.
The main reason is likely that, being a TV, YouTube has now to assume editorial responsibility for all published content, which facilitates the ongoing € 500M lawsuit of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi against YouTube because of content copyrighted by Berlusconi's TV networks that some users uploaded on YouTube. Berlusconi's Spanish TV, TeleCinco, was previously defeated in court exactly on the grounds that YouTube is not a content provider." top
The four Google execs were also accused of defamation, but acquitted. Their lawyers announced they will go to an appeal. Note that Italy has 3 degrees of trial, appeals are always granted, and this is only a 1st-degree trial; all sentences below 2 years are not enforced unless there is also another, unrelated sentence in which the defendant was found guilty." top
Berlusconi, whose company recently lost a $1.1-billion lawsuit to a competitor for bribing a judge in its favour, and who has this week been accused to be the Mafia's front man in politics by a key Mafia turncoat, had managed to steer clear of the witness-corruption issue by issuing a law making him immune from criminal prosecution—that is, until Italy's Constitutional Court stroke it down as unconstitutional in early October; meanwhile, the corrupted party, English lawyer David Mills, has already been found guilty and lost his first appeal (of two). Berlusconi has been scheduling international meetings with any foreign leader willing to meet him (most recently with Belarusian dictator Lukashenko) in order to provide "legitimate reasons" not to appear in court.
The protest has been organised from below, on the Internet, with minor opposition political parties providing only logistical support. The main opposition party, the Democratic party, has in fact not supported the protest and plans its own toned-down event next week, after having, last week, hinted it would accept Berlusconi's strategy of avoiding judgement. Among the supporters of the protest known to the Slashdot crowd, is none less than Richard Stallman." Link to Original Source top
orzetto (545509) writes "I work at a research institute, and programming models of physical models is what I do most of the time. One significant problem when modelling physical processes is finding thermodynamic data. There are some commercial solutions, but can be quite expensive, and to the best of my knowledge there are no open-source efforts in that direction. In my previous job, my company used NIST's Supertrapp, which is not really that expensive, but is written in Fortran (and an old-fashioned dialect at that). As a result, it is a bit difficult to integrate in other projects (praised be f2c), and the programming interface is simply horrible; worse, there are some Fortran-induced limitations (maximum 20 species in a mixture, for instance).
I was wondering whether it would be legal to buy a copy of such a database (they usually sell with source code, no one can read Fortran anyway), take the data (possibly reformatting it as XML), implement a new programming interface from scratch and publish the package as free software. Thermodynamic data, assuming it is correct, is not an intellectual creation but a mere measurement, which was most likely not done by the programmers but taken from the open literature, published by scientists funded by our tax money.
orzetto (545509) writes "Italy's leading newspaper La Repubblica published today (Google translation) the original documents of the prosecution against Galileo Galilei, which are part of a large collection of documents related to Galilei's trial due to be released next month by the Vatican's Secret Archive. According to these, it was Galilei's prosecutor himself, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, who stated that Galilei was no heretic, even though his theories were. Galilei subsequently escaped the burning at the stake, and got away with a relatively mild sentence. Giordano Bruno, for similarly revolutionary astronomical theories—in his case, the existence of multiple planets—was sent to be burned at the stake by the same Cardinal Bellarmine: Bruno, however, did not recant." top
orzetto (545509) writes "As reported by agencies, Danish geophysicists Mads Faurschou Knudsen and Peter Riisager have published a study in which they claim that variations in the Earth's magnetic field are responsible for (a part of) climate change. Most sources in English repeat the same announcement, but the longer original Danish article (Google translation) reports some additional details. According to the (still controversial) theory, originally formulated by Svensmark in 1997, cosmic rays have a significant impact on climate. A weaker magnetic field would lead to more cosmic rays, leading to more clouds and thereby both more rain and, in parallel, more albedo, reducing global temperature.
Knudsen and Riisager recorded climatic data for the last 5000 years by studying two stalagmites, one in a cave in China and one in Oman, and claimed a correlation between rain and magnetic-field intensity.
Meteorology professor Egil Kaas, a known opponent of Svensmark, told videnskab.dk that the data correlates only for the Chinese cave, not for the Omani. Also, he claims that more clouds and more albedo actually lead to less rain (it has to do with particular monsoon dynamics), since evaporation from the oceans is reduced." top
Whereas the article claims that also others, such as Sabina Guzzanti and Marco Travaglio, were hidden in the same way, this does not seem to be the case to me (I am browsing from Italy right now). Grillo's name has been censored only from the Italian version of Google, google.it, notgoogle.com where he is present and is actually ranking close to the top. This leads to some oddities: despite the fact that "Grillo" (which is a common Genoese surname) means "cricket", there is no Google-Suggest hit for it, whereas e.g. "formica" (ant) and other insects have plenty. Even Pinocchio's talking cricket ("grillo parlante") seems to have been censored as collateral damage. Note, however, that entering "Beppe Grillo" by yourself will report his blog among the search results.
Beppe Grillo, who is politically very active, has been at odds with the Italian political establishment for years now, and his blog was likely the main target of a draconian law proposal previously discussed here; the proposal was later retracted." top
Berlusconi, who previously stated that he does not understand much of teh Intertubes (only in Italian; sorry, his English is like this), is a media tycoon who was not particularly successful at business until he entered politics, at which point he swiftly became Italy's wealthiest man (though he later dropped a few places); he has namely a long history of favouring his own business (sorry, antispam filter blocks Google translation) when passing laws: last week, he doubled the VAT (from 10% to 20%) on Sky TV, the only national channel he does not control (either through ownership, or appointment of directors as for the public TV channels, which makes Sky "left-leaning" in Italy).
It will be interesting to see what Obama will have to say about that (he will be inaugurated about the same time Berlusconi will get the G8 presidency), since he seems to be much more tech-savvy, and since last time he saw Berlusconi he did not seem to be very enthusiastic." top
orzetto (545509) writes "The Tageszeitung reports (and Google translates) that the German state of Bavaria has introduced a bill for online search and seizure, according to which the police can not only wiretap your connection, but can also secretly enter your house to install trojans on your computer. According to the red-green (tip to Americans: "red" is left-wing in Europe) opposition, the law is unconstitutional, specifically against article 13 of the Constitution of Germany, which states pretty clearly that the domicile is inviolable.
The Bavarian Justice minister, Joachim Herrmann, stated that this way "we show again who is the market leader in the field of homeland security in Germany", and he stated that the possibility of any honest citizen being subject to searches is absurd; instead, he continued, the state is serving its "constitutional duty of protection of its citizens"." top
orzetto (545509) writes "Spiegel Online reports that a final proof has been obtained about the fact that the physicist we know as Max Planck was actually named Marx (Google translation), which was meant as a short form for the original Latin Marcus (there is in fact a neighbourhood in Vienna called Sankt Marx). The proof came from multiple entries in a church record in Kiel, where he was baptised: the document is signed by the local pastor and is therefore still fully legally valid. And yes, his second name was Karl." top
Members of the Legal Affairs' committee [...] decided that criminal sanctions should only apply to those infringements deliberately carried out to obtain a commercial advantage. Piracy committed by private users for personal, non-profit purposes are therefore also excluded.
Italian consumers' association Altroconsumo was involved in drafting the text. The complete proposal was passed with 23 votes in favour, 3 against and 3 abstained, and is intended to be applied to copyright, trademark, design and other IP fields, but not patent right which is explicitly excluded. The proposal has still to pass the vote of the parliament before becoming law in all EU countries, some of which (like Italy) do have criminal laws in place for non-profit file sharing.
Caution: Most EU countries use civil law, not common law. Translation of legal terms may be misleading." top
orzetto (545509) writes "A documentary by Italian journalist Enrico Deaglio, "Kill Democracy!" (Google translation), will be published tomorrow, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica (Google translation). The last Italian elections were won by the opposition by a narrow 25,000-vote margin, much narrower than the broad victory predicted by gallups and exit polls. Deaglio's theory rests on the sudden reduction by over two-thirds in blank votes (from 1,5 millions to less than half), a corresponding increase in votes for then-PM Silvio Berlusconi's own party, Forza Italia , various ballot count discrepancies and anomalies, and a "Deep Throat", arguably from the ministry. According to Deaglio, the vote counts were changed electronically when being transferred from Prefectures to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (ballots themselves are still of paper all over Italy). The election was however lost by the government because, according to Deaglio and his crew, minister of Internal Affairs Beppe Pisanu called the operation off at the last moment, either to defend democracy (the operation would not have involved him directly), or because the opposition parties caught wind of the story, and Pisanu got cold feet (Pisanu is considered a moderate in Berlusconi's coalition). Since the election, ex-PM Berlusconi has never conceded defeat and complained of irregularities (even if then-minister Pisanu belongs to his own party and is one of his closest associates), while also calling for an Italian Große Koalition on the German model."