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No OLPCs for Cuba, Ever 620

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-export-that dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a move going largely unnoticed by developers, the OLPC project now requires all submissions to be hosted in the RedHat Fedora project. While this may not seem like a big deal, the implications are interesting. First, contributors have to sign the Fedora Project Individual Contributor License Agreement. By being forced to submit contributions to the Fedora repository they automatically fall under the provisions of US export law. So, no OLPC for Cuba, Syria and the like. Ever."
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No OLPCs for Cuba, Ever

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  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:26AM (#19676423) Homepage Journal
    because US laws and export restrictions never change. ever.
    • by eln (21727) * on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:31AM (#19676485) Homepage
      They probably won't change during the useful life of the OLPC. The US still is under the impression that sanctions and trade embargoes will actually cause regime change in these countries. Even though they haven't worked at all (and in fact have only served to further entrench the regimes in question) over the more than 40 years they've been in place, we're still convinced that if we keep them around just a little bit longer, democracy will flourish.

      Like John Stewart said, we've given up trying to kill Castro with food poison, now we're trying to kill him with "old age poison." If we wait long enough, the regimes will eventually fall, and we can then claim it was all because of the embargo.
      • by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:42AM (#19676671)
        If Cuba wants the embargo lifted they need to provide cheap labor like China does. After all, China commits terrible atrocities and yet we continue to trade with them for our cheap electronics. Cuba on the other hand, not so bad in recent times, but they only give us cigars so we keep the embargo.
        • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:52AM (#19676833) Homepage Journal
          No - if Cuba wants the embargo lifted - they need to persuade the politically strong Cuban-American groups that work so hard to keep the embargo in place. This issue, like so many others - has deeper roots and issues than your humorous comment allows.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by elrous0 (869638) *
            Yeah, because the Cubans in Florida are such a reasonable and level-headed people to deal with. I think we all saw that during the Elian Gonzalez debacle.
        • by billstewart (78916) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:28PM (#19677349) Journal
          The Cuba embargo is mostly around because fanatics in Florida take it very personally, and there are enough votes in Florida that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are willing to mess with it. Eventually Castro's going to die, and that might change things.


          But Cuba's main agricultural product, besides tobacco, is sugar, and the US has had high tariffs on sugar for a long time. Not only does that prop up US sugar producers (mainly Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida_) by keeping the US sugar price far higher than the world average, but the High-Fructose Corn Syrup lobby likes high sugar prices because they can put their dreck into our soda, while the rest of the world gets to have Coke with real sugar in it. So the Archer Daniels Midland gang also don't want free trade with Cuba.


          I'd recommend that next time you're in Canada, you get some Cuban cigars, except for the problem that they put carcinogenic flammable tobacco products in the things....

          • by randomjohndoe (618905) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:07PM (#19678763)
            This is true

            The Cuba embargo is mostly around because fanatics in Florida take it very personally, and there are enough votes in Florida that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are willing to mess with it.

            Florida has 25 elecotoral votes, 4th behind California (54), New York (33) and Texas (32).

            The US Electoral College is a winner takes all system, so the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in any state, no matter how small the margin, gets all the electoral votes for that state. In 2000 Bush beat Gore in FL by a tiny fraction of a percent, winning all 25 of FL's electoral votes, and thus the election. Anti-Castro Cubans are not a big group, but they are concentrated in FL and they are single issue voters (whereas anti-embargo voters are neither), so they can swing a close presidential election. So their influence on Cuba policy is disproportionate.

            Something that is overlooked is that even if Castro lives to be 120, the US policy will change eventually because the Anti-Castro Cubans are getting older too, and their children are more moderate. And a lot of them would like to visit their homeland some day.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mi (197448)

          No, they just need to return the confiscated real estate to their rightful owners and/or their kin.

          As for China being a worse offender — yes, indeed. Although I doubt, China's "terrible attrocities" match Castro/Guevarra's per-capita, it was a black day, when Clinton gave China a preferred trade status — temporary at first, then permanent in 2000...

          US media was applauding him, and the illiberal heavy-weights like New York Times even criticized the few lawmakers, who tried to prevent the bill

        • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday June 28, 2007 @04:25PM (#19680783)
          Not only that, but they need to abandon hippie shit like free health care too. We can't have them hanging around right off our coast showing Americans that universal health care can be done (it's hard enough clouding Americans' vision of Canada's healthcare system by making up a bunch of negative lies about it).

          How are our insurance companies supposed to turn a profit with shit like that going on?

      • by Ucklak (755284)
        Cuba will be a nice place to visit when Castro dies - after private citizens can own property, build businesses and such.
        The embargo also shows how lackadaisical the majority of the Cuban people (that stayed) are. Nice people but will just kinda go with the flow with whatever.
        For the most part, the US embargo really did nothing as Cuba was fine until the fall of communism in the Soviet Union.
        • by i (8254) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:14PM (#19677159)
          No. Not necessarely at least.
          When Castro dies, his brother Ramon will take over. And he is a stalinist-type communist.

          Fidel himself was not a (pure) communist from the beginning, but as Cuba was isolated by USA after the revolution he had to go to Soviet for help (economical and other).
          And by that the regime went to communism.

          • When Castro dies, his brother Ramon will take over.

            I thought his brother was Raul?

            By the way, did you ever wonder what happened to the other Castro Brothers?

            • Chico - Working at a small garage in Havana keeping all the '58 Chevy's runny. And, installing the little nodding dogs in the back window
            • Ramone - Last seen doing a drag impersonation of his older brother Fidel in a Miami club
            • Harpo - Makes the best Mohitos in Ft. Lauderdale, doesn't talk much
            • Julio (now Conchita) - Works a corner in New York City
            • Juan - Was standing against a wall, when an entire line of soldiers, cleaning their weapons, accidentally shot him. This had nothing to do with an argument he had with his younger brother Fidel, the night before, about who played the best Darren on "Bewitched"
            • Raymondo - Fled Cuba after painting the slogan "Dick York Lives" on the side of Fidel's prized Bel Air sedan
        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:17PM (#19677217) Journal
          As a Canadian, I like the trade embargo.

          It means there's a nice warm international vacation destination with no Americans.

          Now, that's something that money just can't buy.
          • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:41PM (#19677531) Homepage
            It means there's a nice warm international vacation destination with no Americans.

            We're not so bad... [reuters.com]
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Roger W Moore (538166)
              We're not so bad...

              ...as long as you are a European hotelier which are the people who completed the survey the article reports on. Since US tipping practice calls for huge tips on the European scale (which I am sure the hoteliers love) and only US tourists with sufficient education to want to visit Europe as well as the money to afford to do so will go so this is not unbiased data.

              That being said the reason I think US tourists get such a bad rap with other tourists is because they like to travel aroun
      • by MontyApollo (849862) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:15PM (#19677189)
        I believe there are items exempted from this embargo, and particular items can be exempted on a case by case basis. Congress would not have to revoke the law, just add another exception to it.
      • by TheMeuge (645043) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:39PM (#19677501)

        The US still is under the impression that sanctions and trade embargoes will actually cause regime change in these countries.

        And this impression is absolutely right. As the sanctions damage the economies of the countries in question and perpetuate the strife, the regimes do and will continue to change: from anti-US, aggressive, and violent... to MORE anti-US, MORE aggressive and MORE violent.
      • by orasio (188021)
        Anyhow, the embargo works.
        Right now, there are some good and bad things in Cuba.
        You get decent health care and a good education, but no car, bad food, bad paid jobs and stuff (a lot of bad stuff, in fact).
        Let's not talk about lack of freedom of speech, executions without trial, or with fake trials, because that is not inherent to Cuba and its regime.
        If Cuba was allowed to trade freely, there would be a possibility that life in Cuba would be better (or not, of course), and that could be perceived as their sy
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ice Wewe (936718)

      because US laws and export restrictions never change. ever.

      They won't change unless there is someone in the Whitehouse who isn't too busy doing the "LA LA LA, I can't hear the Commies off the Florida coast..." to change the stupid law.

      We trade with China, what's the big deal? Other than dirt cheap [often low quality] products, I fail to see the difference.

      • by nelsonal (549144)
        Miami, the party that reverses the embargo can count on losing the Cuban vote in Florida for at least a couple of elections, and with races as tight as they've been for as long as they've been Florida is pretty crucial to the presidency. There aren't a couple hundred thousand (million?) Chinese anti-communists living in an important swing state.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rifter (147452)

      because US laws and export restrictions never change. ever.

      When it comes to Cuba, that's pretty much a given. Cuba has vowed to keep their current system in perpetuity and the US has vowed never to lift the embargoes as long as that is the case. That impasse is enforced by the Cuban expatriates and disgruntled corporations on the US side and the Castros and people with deep distrust of the US on the Cuban side. Not only is neither side budging, they aren't even discussing, or daring to suggest that they

  • not forever (Score:4, Insightful)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768NO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:28AM (#19676449) Journal
    Just the foreseeable future. Regimes change (thank god) and governments change. Little over 30 years ago we where Irans friend and traded major arms to her (including F-14 fighters and their powerful at the time Phoenix missiles) in less than 3 years they became our sworn enemy.

    things change fast in the world

  • A bit misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Breeze (140484) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:29AM (#19676457) Homepage
    I wouldn't say "ever"...both Cuba and Syria have made steps towards getting removed from the US ban list, and with Fidel teetering on death's edge, who knows what the future will bring.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      - Castro dies
      - Mutual Defense Pact is unveiled between Venezuela and Cuba, and Castro's successor asks Venezuela for "help."
      - Venezuela military moves in under the guise of "protecting" Cuba from invasion from other countries.
      - Cuba becomes a satellite province of Venezuela.

      Unless the US and other countries have the balls to throw up a naval force and cordon off Cuba so the people of Cuba can handle it for themselves.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The big problem seems to be that one of the major US swing states is full of asshats who won't die. Evicted from Cuba for being corrupt they are annoyed that the US hasn't managed (through incompetence, rather than lack of malice) to get their country back for them.

      The sooner they pop their clogs the better. Cuba (especially the people of Cuba) don't deserve the treatment they get from the US and the rest of the world is rather mystified why it has taken the US so long to stop being an ass about the issue.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by giorgiofr (887762)
        I guess the rest of the world hasn't had Cuban missile bases a few km off their coast and those missiles pointed at them. It tends to lead to grudges being held, you see.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RollingThunder (88952)
          You're right, the rest of the world has just had to put up with the US and Russia pointing enough missiles at each other for the residual damage to wipe out humanity multiple times over, for decades. We couldn't possibly understand how scary it was for you to have a few missiles in place in Cuba for a few months.
        • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:15PM (#19677179) Homepage

          I guess the rest of the world hasn't had Cuban missile bases a few km off their coast and those missiles pointed at them. It tends to lead to grudges being held, you see.


          Most of the world has real borders with their enemies, with tanks and missiles and bombers able to cross at any time, and has learned to deal with it. We live in a little bubble protected by two vast oceans and think that anyone saying "boo" from a thousand miles away is a mortal threat.

          Our embargo against Cuba is just a pointless grudge that serves one domestic political group and does a disservice to the people of both nations overall.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cdrguru (88047)
            Why do you think the US has anything Cuba wants anymore? In 1960 we had factories that made things that were needed in Cuba. In 1980 Cuba had 30-year-old cars they couldn't get parts for because they were made in the US.

            Today everything is made in China and nothing is made in the US. Canada and Mexico make a lot of cars for the US, so I wouldn't think getting parts would be a problem for Cuba.

            Really, what does the US have that Cuba could possibly want? Wal-Mart? Banks? High risk home mortgage companie
    • by mqduck (232646)

      Cuba... [has] made steps towards getting removed from the US ban list

      You mean unlike before, when when they were trying to stay on it? Or like the way they've finally stopped trying to interfere in US affairs and hurt US industry (through an embargo!) like they did for 50 years? You're sadly mistaken if you think being on the list has anything to do with what Cuba does, other than not whatever we want them to.

      Actually, the reason the embargo is being challenged is because US companies have realized they can

  • This is News How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:29AM (#19676469) Journal

    While this may not seem like a big deal, the implications are interesting.
    It's not a big deal. Everything made in America falls under these laws. Whether it be the corn we grow or the software written (in any part) or served within the United States. Even Windows (bullet 7) [microsoft.com] falls under these restrictions.

    Yet, not too surprisingly, Windows has found its way into Cuba [foxnews.com] and I'm certain the OLPC will also be found there in mass quantities if it is indeed useful/popular. Physical devices may be harder to find there than software but you'll find them there.

    This isn't news. The U.S. trade embargos have been in place on Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and Syria for a while now. Furthermore, if the laptops are made and assembled outside the U.S.

    So let's get creative here, you make and manufacture the hardware outside the United States. Then you ship them to restricted countries (I think the parts are going to come from China [arstechnica.com] anyway). You leave it up to people inside Cuba or where ever to install the OLPC image. Who has violated the TOS? The citizens of the country who really don't give a damn what U.S. export laws they're breaking.

    And if these laws are broken, who's going to enforce them? Redhat/Fedora? The U.S. government is going to show up and stop laptops from going to children? The U.S. government is going to shutdown a free open source software hosting site? I highly doubt it.
    • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:38AM (#19676605) Homepage Journal

      There's no reason someone can't also distribute the software in another country (like Cuba, Syria, Canuckistan (Canada), Germany, France, wherever ...) The "license" you agree to is not an exclusive license.

      Contributor Grant of License. You hereby grant to Red Hat, Inc., on behalf of the Project, and to recipients of software distributed by the Project:

      * (a) a perpetual, non-exclusive, worldwide, fully paid-up, royalty free, irrevocable copyright license to reproduce, prepare derivative works of, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, and distribute your Contribution and such derivative works; and,

      * (b) a perpetual, non-exclusive, worldwide, fully paid-up, royalty free, irrevocable (subject to Section 3) patent license to make, have made, use, offer to sell, sell, import, and otherwise transfer your Contribution and derivative works thereof, where such license applies only to those patent claims licensable by you that are necessarily infringed by your Contribution alone or by combination of your Contribution with the work to which you submitted the Contribution. Except for the license granted in this section, you reserve all right, title and interest in and to your Contributions.

      The internet has been known to route around damage, you know ...

    • Re:This is News How? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rborek (563153) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:43AM (#19676685)

      Yet, not too surprisingly, Windows has found its way into Cuba
      Most likely from Canada, which prohibits complying with the US Cuba export restrictions laws. Complying with US law with regards to Cuba can land you in jail for up to 5 years.
      • by nelsonal (549144)
        So does that mean when I'm in Canada, I must try the Cuban cigars? Very strange law (not that our embargo is any less strange), are all exporters required to trade with Cuba? Seems difficult to enforce.
  • wouldn't the laptops themselves fall under United States export laws?
  • Ever? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:32AM (#19676493) Homepage Journal

    So, no OLPC for Cuba, Syria and the like. Ever.

    Yeah, like US Law has never ever changed. Remember trade embargoes during apartheid? Castro's ill, it's not clear who will be taking over. New high-level talks have opened with Syria recently also. Not saying that either of these things are likely to change next month, but "never" is pretty long.

  • Just put Centos on them...
  • by Brainix (748988) <brainix@gmail.com> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:36AM (#19676557) Homepage
    ...over goodwill.
  • by also-rr (980579) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:36AM (#19676561) Homepage
    One day the US will normalise relations with Cuba. The process might not happen until after the current generation of ex-Cubans in Forida is dead, but that's hardly _never_.

    In the mean time they could just funnel shipments through a neutral third party. Creative accountants can manage to hide billions from the IRS, why shouldn't they be able to do something socially useful like vanish a couple of shipping containers of laptops.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2007 @11:37AM (#19676579)
    That'd teach those kids for living in the wrong countries.
  • Why can't "we" export the software to [insert country here], and the reseller there can do whatever they want with it, including sending it to Cuba?
  • Any idea how many US products are over there in Cuba and Syria?

    I'll give you a hint, lots.

    Just because some provision says "no", doesn't make it so
  • We know that the export laws work perfectly, and no third party sources will ever resell. This is why we never see any American made weapons in these countries. And this is why we never see any cuban cigars, especially among the so called patriots, in America.

    What is true is that none of these machines will be sold directly to such a country, and therefore will not be as prevalent as other countries, assuming that these machines are going to prevalent anywhere. What it also means is that extraneous thi

  • by Joebert (946227)
    Looks like we better swap that O out with a zero.

    0 Laptops Per Cubin.
  • by njchick (611256) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:18PM (#19677221) Journal
    One person signs the agreement and submits the project to Fedora. Anther person submits the project from Fedora to OLPC. There is no requirement that it's the same person.
  • by Bob-taro (996889) on Thursday June 28, 2007 @12:33PM (#19677413)
    ... this will be the one that finally triggers democratic reforms in Cuba!
  • by Lulu of the Lotus-Ea (3441) <mertz@gnosis.cx> on Thursday June 28, 2007 @02:17PM (#19678863) Homepage
    The point of why this is a bad move for OLPC isn't just about what's bad with the Cuba export ban specifically. That ban *is* indeed stupid, but this also subverts the international intention of the OLPC project to the narrow whims the US administration.

    Perhaps some other country or countries will be declared official enemies next year. Especially if, say, MS and Intel can persuade a US administration that a mandate for Free Software in, say, Peru or Bolivia, is "contrary to US interests". Or even if such a ban is declared for completely unrelated reasons, the OLPC should not allow itself to be derailed by partisan or sensationalist whims of a USA administration.

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