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'Eastern Ukrainians aren’t seeking separation, they’re expressing their will'

RT -

RT: The region of Lugansk says it will now ask for UN recognition. Do you see any chance of that?

Kanwal Sibal: I don’t think that will happen, but I heard that people who held the referendum are saying that they still remain part of Ukraine. While it is self-determination at the moment, evidently they are not thinking of a separate state. Therefore, there is no occasion for them to go to the United Nations – if this is the basis of the referendum, that will be premature. And certainly in the UN there is no chance of getting approval of this because the US, the Europeans and many others will not approve this and there is no question of approval by the Security Council. But the people in eastern Ukraine have made a very strong point that they don’t recognize the legitimacy of the Kiev government and an equal right to express their democratic feelings, as those who were agitating in Kiev a few weeks earlier, and that their wishes must be taken into account and that May 25 elections won’t be legitimate as it will not incorporate the eastern part of Ukraine in the election process.

I think they have been wise at the moment, not declaring that the referendum means that they are going to separate from Ukraine. Unless of course diplomacy works and they are able to find a solution by changing the constitution and [carrying out] reforms of the system which recognize the legitimate and autonomous rights of the eastern Ukrainians, they can always use this referendum as a handle to prove that the vast majority of the eastern Ukraine are not in favor.

RT: The Donetsk and Lugansk regions have voted for the right to self-determination. Is this likely to change anything for them?

KS: I think they have clearly sent a powerful message not only within Ukraine but also to Europe and the world in general that there is a huge internal problem in Ukraine and the rights of the eastern Ukrainians are not being adequately protected and recognized by the central government in Kiev on which there seems to be very little pressure of the US and the EU to find a solution through dialogue.

The Geneva process has created the basis for some kind of a dialogue but there is a temptation by the Kiev government to use force against the eastern Ukrainians. That is not going to resolve anything and it will be a huge pity for the Ukrainians, for the region, for the world, if the situation in Ukraine descends into some kind of a civil war. It will be extremely painful for Russia.

RT: Kiev and its Western backers say this referendum is illegal. Is this a statement based on law or politics, do you think?

KS: I think they have no reason to say whether it is legal or illegal because people in the eastern Ukraine are not seeking their approval. They are expressing their political wishes in eastern Ukraine and they have a right to do so. This is an internal process, they are not asking for international recognition, so I can’t see why the Europeans or the Americans should make a pronouncement on what is happening internally. In fact, their reference should be directed toward promoting the internal dialogue in Ukraine. As I said earlier, the rights of the eastern Ukrainians are not adequately recognized and protected, and there is some kind of autonomy given to them. That is the only way to find a solution short of a civil war. I’m afraid the Western countries, the US and the EU, are still trying to play geopolitical games and the aim is somehow to keep the whole of Ukraine outside of the Russian sphere of interest and bring it into the Western sphere of influence, which is a recipe for continuing tensions and conflict. They should have avoided it. After all, Europe prides itself on being a continent of peace, and there we see the revival of a Cold War atmosphere and Cold War tactics and geopolitical play, which is extremely painful to the rest of the world.

Turn literary works into patent applications with patent-generator

Boing Boing -

Patent-generator is a Github-hosted python script that turns literary texts into patent applications, with descriptions of the accompanying diagrams (here's Kapital, AKA "A method and device for comprehending, theoretically, the historical movement"; and here's Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology, AKA "A device and system for belonging to bringing-forth"). Read the rest

An Open Source World

Bitcoin Magazine -

“If you can, you should.”

Never has this phrase been more applicable than in the realm of open source technology. For those not in the know, “open source” refers to any code or blueprint that has been deliberately made available for reproduction–basically, one not subject to copyright restrictions. Bitcoin, of course, is a prime example.

It sounds simple, but the effects of open source technology are quite profound. Advocates love to talk about freedom and creativity, but the greatest aspect of the open source community is how efficient it is. Everyone can see exactly how an open source product was made; those working on similar projects can save resources by borrowing bits and pieces, while making improvements in the process. Sharing costs nothing.

Since every open source product is effectively free, people can now allocate their resources elsewhere. While that might mean more spending money for some, for others it might mean the success of their small business, or a means to pay the bills. Open source technology is essentially creative infrastructure, an asset held by and benefiting society as a whole. Coders and engineers can put their minds to use elsewhere, building off each other as more free information becomes available.

But how will great minds make a living? Not all services can be open sourced. Many require ongoing support or complex installation–labor, in other words. While holding onto a patent requires no real work, technical support certainly does, and such employees would not go unpaid. The expansion of the open source community will lead to a wider array of products and services available, so there will always be real jobs for the taking.

Of course, there will often still need to be some incentive for open source work, especially on projects that don’t directly benefit the developer (aside from credit and reputation). If you don’t mind (or have no choice but) to pay taxes, the central authority in charge of those funds come allocate them to development. Otherwise, crowdfunding solutions like CoinFunder, BitcoinStarter or Crowdtilt are rapidly becoming effective means of acquiring capital voluntarily.

So why haven’t we done this already? Most of the time, it’s because withholding a technology yields a competitive advantage. If none can develop your solution on their own, you are free to charge whatever you wish for their service. It leads to scenarios like we have in the traditional financial system, with absurd fees and and restrictions upon property (money) that is ostensibly ours. If Bitcoin can open source the financial system, then it definitely should.

The post An Open Source World appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

What is a Bitcoin Address and How Do You Sign It?

Bitcoin Magazine -

Short Answer: A Bitcoin address is a unique number that “holds” bitcoin currency. You use the address to receive and send bitcoins.

Medium Sized Answer: A Bitcoin address is the public key half of the public-private key pair that enables the validation of ownership of that address. WHOAH there, what in tarnation does that mean??
Bitcoin addresses are created as part of a key generation process that creates a pair of keys. They are a matched set, where one is public and the other is private. When you “sign” a bitcoin address you are running the public and private keys through an algorithm that checks to see that those keys belong together. Usually signing is talked about in the context of a message. Someone sends you a signed message and you can verify that the message came from the genuine person. You can verify the message because it was signed with their private key and you match it to their public key. When sending bitcoins the signed message is a portion of the bitcoin transaction and you do not explicitly see the message, it is just part of the transaction. This lets you validate the ownership of the address. The transaction (the transfer of value) was signed with the owner’s private key and you check that it’s valid using their public key.

A little diversion – public key cryptography is a really cool technology developed in the mid 1970′s. The amazing thing about public-private key pairs is that everyone can know the public key and the owner of the private key can prove that he is the owner of the message sent with the associated public key. For more information on PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) upon which much of bitcoin’s security is based see Mike Hearn’s (a core bitcoin developer) great description of many issues in “Why you think the PKI sucks…but can’t do any better“.

A Longer Story: Let look at the sequence of actions to create and then use the key pairs. First we need to generate the key pair, which will result in two keys the public and private keys. The Bitcoin address is actually a form of the public key (it’s a hash of the public key). From the Bitcoin protocol specification at: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Protocol_specification#Signatures

A bitcoin address is in fact the hash of a ECDSA public key

Since anyone can know the public key and really the Bitcoin address is the public key, it’s perfectly OK to give out the Bitcoin address. So now we have a Bitcoin address, what’s next?
Let’s say that I want to get paid for something, say writing this article! I can advertise a Bitcoin address, and since you are all so thrilled to read this, you have an overwhelming urge to send me some coins. You would open up your Bitcoin wallet, enter my address as the address to send bitcoins to; click send; and I would happily receive some bitcoins. Recall that I and only I have the private key matching the public key (address) which enables me to be the only person that could spend the bitcoins I just received.
If you wanted to double check that I was actually the owner of the address before you sent me coins you could ask that I send a signed message associated with address proving it’s mine. I could create a message and sign the address. You would then take the message I sent, and put it into your wallet along with my address to prove that I am the “owner” of the address. Bitcoin wallets usually contain this message signing and verification functionality.
An address is used to “hold” bitcoins, however the concept of an address holding bitcoins or that you are the “owner” of a Bitcoin address is a misnomer. Recall that the address is one half of a public-private key pair. The reason you “own” an address and have control over the coins associated with that address is simply that you also know the other half of the public-private key pair, the private key. If someone else learns the private key to an address then that person has just as much control and “ownership” over the address, as you. In other words that person can spend your bitcoins. The solution is quite simple, make sure you and only you control the public keys to your bitcoin addresses. From a practical point of view this means that you create a good, not easy to guess, Bitcoin wallet password, and/or keep it in a safe place. Some excellent security practices are outlined at the Bitcoin Foundation’s site at: https://bitcoin.org/en/secure-your-wallet.
Since Bitcoin addresses are one of the cornerstones to using Bitcoin, it is instructive to play around with addresses to get a better understanding of just what exactly a Bitcoin address is all about. A particularly good website to play around with is bitaddress.org. After generating a new Bitcoin address play around with the various options and observe the public and private keys it generates. Just don’t go putting real bitcoins into an address while also displaying the private key. Keep the private key private!

As always keep up with my Bitcoin musings here and at: BitcoinInPlainEnglish http://www.bitcoininplainenglish.com

The post What is a Bitcoin Address and How Do You Sign It? appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.


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