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US Diplomat Caught Red-Tongued Dissing EU

US Diplomat Caught Red-Tongued Dissing EU

Today in international tech news: Thanks to a now-viral recording, a top U.S. diplomat is caught saying something rather undiplomatic about the EU. Also: North Korea copies OS X; Google's homepage takes a rainbow-colored dig at Russia; and South Korea adapts software for the Xbox to help patrol the DMZ.

The United States' top diplomat for Europe was caught saying, "F*ck the EU," in a now-viral recording.

The diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, made the comment in a thought-to-be private telephone call that later was leaked online. She has apologized to EU officials, but her remarks -- which were made in reference to molasses-paced European efforts to rectify problems in Ukraine -- figure to live in infamy online.

Adding to the mess, the video hit the Web Thursday -- as Nuland arrived in Europe.

In an interesting bit of international theater, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called out Russia for being the first to publicize and tweet the recording.

"I think it says something about Russia's role," Carney said.

In addition to YouTube, the recording also was widely viewed on a Russian-language website.

For background's sake: Last fall, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych pulled out of a trade partnership with the EU and announced that the country instead would cozy up with Russia, which offered a US$15 billion loan to take the offer. The ensuing tension has caused drama between the U.S., EU, Ukraine and Russia.

[Source: The Washington Post]

North Korea Clones OS X

Red Star OS, the latest version of North Korea's domestic operating system, looks a little -- OK, a lot -- like Apple's OS X.

Red Star OS is installed on computers found in public places such as libraries and schools. Before morphing into an Apple lookalike, it bore a striking resemblance to Microsoft's Windows.

Of course, there are differences between OS X and Red Star OS. For example, the latter is peppered with propaganda.

Also, while Apple's OS uses the calendar agreed upon by most of the world -- i.e., this year is 2014 -- Red Star OS' calendar is set to 103 -- the number of years since former leader Kim Il-sung was born.

[Source: NorthKoreaTech via BBC]

Google Doodle Takes Dig at Russia

As the Olympics got under way, Google's search page was draped in rainbow colors -- its way of protesting Russia's laws against pro-gay "propaganda."

If there were any doubt about the philosophy behind the design -- maybe the company just likes rainbows? -- Google quoted the Olympic charter on its homepage. The quoted excerpt includes a passage saying that everyone "must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit ... ."

Google has affixed the rainbow on its search page pages around the world -- including in Russia.

Discussion of Russia's treatment of homosexuals is not subsiding; Google isn't the only member of corporate America to oppose Russia's laws regarding gays. The furor prompted the International Olympic Committee leader to float the idea of including "sexual orientation" in the Olympic Charter.

[Source: The Verge]

South Korean Programmer Adapts Microsoft Software for DMZ

South Korea's military has taken up software that is based on Microsoft's movement-recognition Kinect software.

Originally designed to facilitate hands-free gaming on Xbox consoles, Kinect is the foundation for software being employed along the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, between North and South Korea.

The Kinect-based software is unique for its ability to differentiate between human and animal movement. Along the DMZ -- where the dearth of human activity has actually fostered a robust wildlife -- that distinction is paramount.

Previous sensors reportedly issued loads of false warnings because of their inability to tell animals from humans.

[Source: AFP via The Age]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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