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By Admin (from 24/08/2010 @ 08:08:35, in en - Global Observatory, read 2172 times)

STOCKHOLM – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has dismissed sexual abuse allegations, telling a Swedish newspaper he's never had sex that wasn't consensual.

Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant for Assange on rape suspicions this weekend but quickly withdrew it. The Australian remains under suspicion of a lesser crime of molestation.

Aftonbladet quoted Assange as saying he hasn't had sex with anyone in a way that wasn't consensual.

He said the allegations had damaged the whistleblower site because WikiLeaks' enemies will keep trumpeting things even after they have been denied."

Assange said he doesn't know what's behind the accusations "but we have been warned that for example the Pentagon plans to use dirty tricks to spoil things for us."

Source: & Associated Press


Intel Corp. agreed to buy security-software specialist McAfee Inc. Thursday for $7.68 billion, a surprise transaction that underscores the company's determination to expand beyond its stronghold in chips that power most of the world's computers.

Last year, Intel purchased software-maker Wind River Systems Inc. for $884 million to help move the Atom chip into embedded devices such as electronic billboards or automatic teller machines. By providing software, Intel makes it easier for customers to adopt its chips instead of those made by rivals.


The deal, the largest in Intel's 42-year history, was described by the companies as evidence that security is becoming one of the fundamental pillars of computing. With Internet connections rapidly being added to consumer electronics devices, appliances, industrial equipment and other hardware, the approaches that have served to protect today's personal computers and servers aren't adequate, Intel and McAfee officials said.

Armed with expertise from McAfee, Intel suggested security could be built more broadly into computer chips and other hardware, creating products that are more resistant to attack. "We believe security will be most effective when enabled in hardware," said Paul Otellini, Intel's chief executive officer, in a conference call.

The deal values McAfee at $48 a share, a premium of 60% over the company's closing price Wednesday. McAfee shares jumped 58% after the deal was announced, and were trading at $47.02, up $17.09 on the New York Stock Exchange. Intel's shares slipped 3.5% to $18.90, off 69 cents on the Nasdaq Stock Market in Thursday afternoon trading.

The pact is another sign of consolidation that is winnowing the ranks of mid-sized technology companies. Tech giants dominant in particular areas of the industry are using acquisitions to grab footholds in faster-growing markets. Hewlett-Packard Co.'s recent purchase of Palm Inc. was aimed at moving the world's largest PC maker into the smartphone sector. Meanwhile, Oracle Corp. purchased Sun Microsystems last year to expand from selling software into providing a complete hardware and software package for corporate IT departments.

McAfee, founded in 1987 and best known for its widely popular antivirus software, has marshalled more resources to go after the quickly developing mobile market. It recently announced the purchase of mobile-device security company tenCube, a move that follows its purchase of Trust Digital, another mobile-security-software firm.
McAfee has long battled rival Symantec Corp. in the computer-security market. The company, based along with Intel in Santa Clara, Calif., was widely thought to be seeking a buyer.
Shares of Symantec rose 7.3% Thursday morning, and were trading at $13.50, up 91 cents, in a sign some investors are betting the company could also become an acquisition target.
Intel, for its part, has been looking at software firms to bring it into new markets. Mr. Otellini had indicated a major focus on software, an effort spearheaded by Renee James, Intel's senior vice president and general manager, of its software and services group. And in April, Intel Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith said that the company would be looking at software acquisitions to help it make more customized server and mobile products.
The company is targeting the smartphone space with its Atom chip, which is widely popular in netbooks, but has yet to make waves in a cellphone market dominated by less power-hungry chips built by Qualcomm Inc. and others off of a design from ARM Holdings PLC.

Last year, Intel purchased software-maker Wind River Systems Inc. for $884 million to help move the Atom chip into embedded devices such as electronic billboards or automatic teller machines. By providing software, Intel makes it easier for customers to adopt its chips instead of those made by rivals.
Like Wind River, McAfee will be operated as a separate subsidiary under its own brand. Mr. Otellini said it has received commitments from McAfee management to stay on in their current jobs for "multiple years."
The deal is Intel's second this week. Monday, Intel said it would buy Texas Instruments Inc.'s cable-modem product line for an undisclosed amount.
The acquisitions come as Intel last month reported its best-ever quarterly results in an ongoing rebound in the semiconductor market. Intel expects the deal to slightly cut into earnings the first year after closing because of merger-related charges, and have little impact on the bottom line in the second year. A slight increase after those charges are seen in the first year.
For its part, McAfee's second-quarter earnings rose 38%, allaying concerns about its business after a weak first quarter. The company said sales grew sharply in North America, one of its key markets.
"I'm very excited and fully committed to joining the Intel team," said McAfee's President and Chief Executive Dave DeWalt.
Both boards of directors have unanimously approved the deal. The agreement still requires McAfee shareholder approval and regulatory clearances.
Intel was advised on the deal by Goldman Sachs and Morrison & Foerster LLP. McAfee was advised by Morgan Stanley and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.



Caesaria Alice Adrienne
Caesaria | Alice | Adrienne

The Iliad data centre where is hosted, in Vitry-sur-Seine, near Paris.

 The Iliad data centre where is hosted, in Vitry-sur-Seine, near Paris.

What the European Union is giving to Internet users and online privacy activists with one hand, it's taking away with the other, argues an American newspaper, reporting on a groundswell of opposition to increased surveillance of personal data.

The EU has tighter restrictions than the United States does on the collection, use, and sale of data by online companies, but also requires Internet service providers to store personal data in case the government ever wants to investigate an individual user. The European Parliament is currently considering passing a law called "Smile29" that would require the Google search engine – which processes billions of searches a month on the Continent – to retain data on users as well.

The EU effort is just the latest of government's around the globe seeking to glean more about their citizens from their online behavior. To critics, the EU laws amount to a surveillance land-grab that has prompted a groundswell of opposition across Europe. Now a group in Ireland is challenging the new regime – seeking permission from the Irish courts to sue the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to strike down new Irish laws designed to bring the country into line with broader European standards. If Digital Rights Ireland, which argues that the laws violate the European Convention on Human Rights, wins, it would set the stage for successful challenges to the rules across Europe. "The main thing we want to see is our data retention laws repealed," says T.J. McIntyre, a law lecturer at University College Dublin and head of the organisation. Mr. McIntyre says the laws criminalize ordinary citizens.

Online privacy has become a key civil liberty battleground. Facebook and Google are amassing colossal amounts of data about users' thoughts, desires, and impulses, which businesses covet and pay handsomely for. And across Europe, a backlash against the storage of private data is growing. Civil society groups like the European Federation of Journalists have criticized the practice, and in Germany almost 35,000 people, including Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, sued their own government over the issue. "There is a real problem in Europe today. It is a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says that everyone has the right to a private life. That fundamental right has to extend into digital life," says Christian Engström, a member of the European Parliament for Sweden's controversial Pirate Party, elected on a platform of digital rights.

In Ireland at present, telephone data must be retained for three years, but there are currently no provisions requiring Internet service providers to retain data, something both the EU and the Irish government want to change. McIntyre says the government already has the upper hand. "In 2002 the Irish government secretly introduced data retention. They did it by ministerial order, and to this day the department of justice has not confirmed it." McIntyre expects the case to be decided by the ECJ.

The EU itself seems to be of two minds when it comes to Internet privacy. While monitoring and surveillance powers have been greatly expanded, the EU body overseeing the effort to expand data retention to search engines under Smile29 complained in a report that EU members are already collecting more information on citizens than they should and "have scarcely provided statistics on the use of data retained under the Directive, which limits the possibilities to verify the usefulness of data retention."

The group advocates major changes to the law, including a reduction of the maximum retention period, reconsideration of the overall security of traffic data by the European Commission, clarification of the concept of "serious crime" at member state level, and "disclosure to all the relevant stakeholders of the list of the entities authorized to access the data." According to Mr. Engström of the Pirate Party, the problem with the EU is a democracy deficit: "Most of the power is with commissioners and [other] unelected officials."

Engström also points to the EU's various bureaucracies, often at loggerheads with one another, as a problem. "It's important to recognize that this is not 'evil'; there is no dark lord pulling the strings, but the EU has become very close to various interests and this in conjunction with an unelected executive is very worrying." Engström contends that law enforcement agencies are seeking access to data simply because it exists: "These things don't have anything to do with real police work. The measures might catch really stupid criminals bumbling about, but real criminals will know how to get around them." He also points to the danger of false accusations, complaining that data mining amounts to little more than pattern recognition: "The human brain is fantastic at seeing patterns – even when they don't exist."

Back in Ireland, McIntyre says his fight will go on for just this reason: "You can't have automated crime detection. For some reason that idea is beloved of law enforcement. The related idea is one of stopping people in advance. Data mining creates too many false positives. From a commercial perspective it doesn't matter – who cares if you get an irrelevant ad on your Facebook page? But with, say, terrorism, a vanishingly small number of people are engaged so you simply don't have the evidence base from which to profile people."




The Commission proposal to introduce a European tax is an attractive one, especially for countries which are net contributors to the EU. However, De Volkskrant argues that it will have little chance of overcoming opposition from national governments, who are reluctant to surrender control in an area as delicate as taxation.

Ten years after the introduction of the single currency, are Europeans ready to pay a tax directly to Brussels? The European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget, Janusz Lewandowski, who has launched a trial balloon to this effect in the German edition of the Financial Times, believes that now is the right time to take this step towards the establishment of a European federal state. But his proposal has no chance of being implemented.

The bait that Lewandowski is using to encourage EU member states to take a position on the issue will be relatively hard to ignore: in exchange for a tax on financial transactions or passenger flights, they will be able to reduce the cost of their contributions to the administration in Brussels. Countries like Germany and the Netherlands will certainly pleased with the concept. For years they have had to contend with the political tensions that surround their status as net contributors to the EU, and now they also have to cope with the budgetary austerity required by the stability pact. So any measure that reduces the amount they have to pay to the EU would be more than welcome.

However, the disadvantages still outweigh the advantages. Member states’ fiscal authorities will be effectively sidelined by any tax that is paid directly to Brussels: and individual countries will also be concerned about exceeding limits for tax pressure on their citizens, even if these are not well defined. At the same time, a mandate to raise taxes remains the prerogative of national governments and they would like to keep it that way. In the UK, where fear of the European Superstate is inculcated from a very young age, the British are already insisting that "if you give Brussels an inch, it will take a mile." And in recent years, voters in other European countries appear to be adopting a similar position: especially in the Netherlands and France, where the rejection of the European Constitution in 2005 marked a radical departure in European politics. Commissioner Lewandowski’s proposals do nothing to address this growing phenomenon of Euroscepticism.

But it should be pointed that the measures he aims to implement are not the product of solipsistic thinking on the part of Brussels bureaucrats, as Eurosceptics would like to believe, but a survival strategy for the Commission which is anticipating that negotiations for the 2014-2021 EU budget will be particularly hard-fought. In view of the financial problems that prevail in many of Europe’s member states, an alternative source of revenue could offer a convenient solution, but in all likelihood it will be shelved in response to the fierce opposition to " more Europe," which exists in EU member states.

Towards a more transparent EU budget


The idea of yet another tax is unlikely to attract much popular support, notes theSüddeutsche Zeitung. However, the daily points out that the establishment of a European tax in Germany, where every member of the population indirectly contributed 260 euros to the annual budget of the EU in 2010, will not result in “an additional burden on the taxpayer.” One positive consequence of such a measure could be the reform of the current system for funding the EU, which is vulnerable to "behind the scenes deals between member states." At the same time it could also result in greater accountability: "If citizens paid directly for the cost of running Europe, they might pay more attention to how their money is being used. In particular they might question the logic of a 21st-century EU budget that is largely devoted to funding for agriculture – a sector that dominated the economy in the 18th century."



Blocked by national interests, European military cooperation is still at an embryonic stage. However, the economic crisis has encouraged member states to break new ground in their quest to take advantage of synergies and share common resources and defence infrastructure.

Defence budgets will be hard-hit by the wave of austerity sweeping across Europe. Germany is planning to put an end to obligatory military service and to cut military spending by one billion euros over the next four years. France aims to reduce its budget by 3.5 billion by 2013. In the United Kingdom, the government has announced that the cuts will be painful, and experts in the sector expect the budget will be diminished by close to 10%. The same trend prevails everywhere on the continent: defence is perceived as an easy target for cutbacks that are less socially explosive than they would be in other fields.

Now that they are forced to scale down spending, governments in the bigger EU member states are beginning to explore new avenues for cooperation that will optimise resources and preserve the operational capacity of their military forces. In July, the French Minister for Defence, Hervé Morin announced that France and Germany have recently established a working group to study "areas where resource sharing and pooling could be initiated" with a view to "budget reductions and economies of scale." And Paris and London have also set up another bilateral commission. After years of stalling, it now appears that real progress is on the horizon.

"Reservations about the EU’s role have not suddenly vanished, but I believe that the current situation will lead to definite progress over the next few years," explains former European Defence Agency director Nick Witney.

Room for manoeuvre away from the front.

The main motivation for governments is to avoid spending money on duplicate infrastructure and equipment. Of course, leaders want to retain full control over resources deployed at the front, but there is plenty of scope for rearguard cooperation.

"The consensus is that the closer you get to the front, the more difficult it becomes," points out Witney. “I’m personally sceptical about multi-state units, however, there are sectors where reinforced cooperation is politically acceptable, for example in research and development, and in defence infrastructure. There is no reason why each country should have its own structures to maintain and repair equipment. The same applies for weapons testing, munitions and explosives evaluation, wind tunnels used for aircraft design and warship testing basins."

Bi-lateral relations could result in even greater progress. "There is even greater scope for cooperation between the United Kingdom and France,” says Witney. “The right-wing of the ruling Conservative Party remains very sceptical about EU defence policy and prefers to channel everything to NATO. But even they are ready to boost cooperation with France, a country they perceive as willing to share costs and ready to fight."

Fewer financial resources.

Europe may never reach the point where different member states share warplanes, but there is no reason why there should not be pooling on the level of infrastructure — development, maintenance, and training centres – and on the level of transport. "Several studies have shown that cooperation could result in savings,” points out Elisabeth Sköns, Leader of the Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). “Progress has been slowed by the desire to protect the industrial and military technology base in individual countries, and divergent views on defence policy. These problems have yet to be resolved, but today harmonisation within the EU has meant that they are less of an obstacle."

The budgetary die has been cast, and Europe will have to decide if wants to optimise military resources which are now more limited. In 2009, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain – the five main European powers, whose collective GDP is almost as big as the GDP of the United States – devoted 165 billion euro to military spending: just a third of what was spent by the United States. In the same year, China increased its defence budget by 217%, and India augmented military funding by 67%. In contrast, the average increase in defence spending in the five major European military powers was much lower at only 10%.


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