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01.24.12

Links – Lots of Censorship and Astroturf. SOPA/MegaUpload Backlashes Bring Informed Opinion into the Political Process.

Posted in Site News at 8:45 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reader’s Picks

  • Microsoft Office’s EULA restricts use, just like iBooks Author.

    the Microsoft Office Home & Student license says that the software “may not be used for commercial, non- profit, or revenue-generating activities.” … The Microsoft restriction appears to be even more restrictive, and would include files. In other words, if I write a book using Microsoft Office Home & Student and sell it for money, haven’t I used the software for commercial or revenue-generating activities?

    Again the attitude is “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dish size and color influence portion size leading to obesity.

      You want a plate that is 10 inches or smaller and has a high contrast with your food. If you don’t want lots of colored plates, a pattern might help. You also want a table that contrasts with your plate. People who need to eat more should reverse these suggestions. The paper is worth downloading and reading.

  • Security

    • US killer spy drone controls switch to Linux

      The credential-stealing malware, first reported by Wired, made its way from a portable hard drive onto ground systems, which control the drones’ weapons and surveillance functions. Portable disks are used to load map updates and transfer mission videos from one computer to another, Defense News added. … Behind the scenes other changes appear to have been made: screenshots of drone control computers uploaded by security researcher Mikko Hypponen suggest that at least some of the consoles have been migrated from Microsoft Windows to open source Linux.

    • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Finance

      • America Beyond Capitalism

        Exploratory efforts are currently underway to replicate aspects of the Cleveland model in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and several other communities. The “demonstration effect” of the highly unorthodox model has also begun to challenge community organizers to find ways to incorporate worker-owned development into grassroots activist strategies. … The idea of creating wealth, not simply jobs, also has a powerful resonance. The Evergreen model takes us well past token job creation at minimum wages in states like Rick Perry’s Texas, to a very different conception of what people deserve and ought to be able to have.

    • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

      • Supremely Unseemly Conduct by Supreme Court Justices Spurs Call for Mandatory Ethics Rules

        Justice Antonin Scalia (75, an appointee of Ronald Reagan) and Justice Clarence Thomas (63, an appointee of George H.W. Bush) have attended exclusive events at private resorts orchestrated by the billionaire oil barons Charles and David Koch, which the brothers use to advance their partisan political agenda. (A copy of the Koch Industries invitation and briefing material is uploaded below.) Justice Thomas has also accepted gifts of travel on the private jets of billionaire Harlan Crow, and he has not been fully forthcoming about the income and political activities of his wife, Ginny Thomas, who launched a group, Liberty Central, to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in the case that struck down election rules, “Citizens United,”

      • Justice Scalia On Unlimited Political Ads: Turn Off The TV

        Scalia spent more than 10 minutes lamenting the way confirmation hearings for new justices are now held in the U.S. Senate. He said lawmakers are now more concerned with making sure a prospective member of the court will interpret the Constitution they want, instead of the way the founding fathers wrote it.

        If we are supposed to ignore the way our leaders are chosen, he should do the same for his peers.

      • ALEC Politician Claims ALEC Meetings Are “Open to the Public.” Really?

        That would be breaking news to both traditional press and the online media that have been blocked from ALEC meetings and are increasingly being threatened with arrest. … Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan was a dues paying member of ALEC last summer, but was ejected anyway from the New Orleans cigar party for ALEC members and lobbyists sponsored by Reynolds. Pocan did go on to write a widely circulated piece for The Progressive magazine about his experience, “Inside the ALEC Dating Service.”

      • The Alcohol Industry’s Stealth “Joe Camel” Strategy

        the U.S. Surgeon General in 2007 declared underage drinking a public health crisis, the practices of the alcohol industry have largely escaped notice and have simply not been a priority for public health agencies. Diageo and other brands of alcohol have extended their reach into the youth market by routinely advertising on social network sites, interactive websites, internet games, and by using viral marketing tactics and YouTube videos, all of which are largely unregulated and have a high likelihood of reaching underage audiences. … By 2009, a study on adolescent drug use showed 64 percent of 8th graders reported regularly using alcopops.

      • PR Firm Caught Editing Wikipedia

        Anheuser-Busch’s United Kingdom division, InBev, employed a lobbying firm to edit the Wikipedia entry about its Stella Artois brand of lager to delete a negative reference to the brand. Portland Communications, a lobbying firm run by a former adviser to Tony Blair, deleted the term “wife-beater” from the Wikipedia article about Stella Artois, reportedly to “challenge any connections between the brand and domestic violence.”

    • Censorship

      • Dan Bull Raps About How Megaupload Takedown Screws Indie Artists Like Him

        If anyone in the US government actually bothered to understand how music is distributed, marketed and monetized today, they would have realized that Megaupload isn’t the problem — it’s one way to make things better for artists. But, as we know, the folks in the US government only get their information from the RIAA. So they end up making life much more difficult for indie artists by shutting down useful services for those artists. And, in the end, that is exactly what the RIAA wants.

        The DOJ justifies such losses by pointing to standard weasel wording in the MegaUpload contracts against liablity for loss or termination of contract. Bedsides ignoring lost revenue and reputation, the DOJ’s logic covers every computing device, especially non free software. The DOJ is not responsible for your losses if they smash your Windows laptop, for example, because Microsoft said you should keep a backup and could terminate your use of the computer at any time.

      • The Pirate Party of Catalunya is organizing lawsuits against the FBI for the damage it has done to users of Megaupload.
      • Big publishers make more outrageous demands for control and censorship.

        I wish no one was listening to them.

      • Powers of Ten Perspective on SOPA

        Congress is a flea pit. We can crack the fleas one at a time as they bite us, or we can clean house. … We win when we end this stream of Internet-breaking bills, and that will only happen when Congressional election campaigns are no longer paid for by monied interests. … Lessig has called it a “generational” problem: pernicious money will take 30 years to eradicate, so we may end up cleaning up the country for our children.

        It should not take that long to fix.

      • FBI Reminds Us Government Already Has MegaPower to Take Down Websites

        Even Cato understands some of the problems with SOPA and other insane US Copyright laws.

      • The Amazing Atheist on SOPA

        This is a government that passes laws to justify things they are already doing not really to give themselves permission to do them.

        He compares the NDAA to the indefinite detention of Bradly Manning and wonders if anyone would come to his rescue if he were jailed. It’s good to be angry about these things but that anger needs to be focused into something useful to bring about change.

      • It’s Time To Go On The Offensive For Freedom Of Speech

        The copyright industry is tenacious and effective in using the “Daddy, I want a pony” tactics in legislation. They go at it again, and again, and again, and again. The result is a continuous erosion of our civil rights and an entrenchment of their entitlement to taxpayer funds. … as long as we’re just defending, we will always be on the retreat, and we will always lose.

      • Cyberlocker Ecosystem Shocked As Big Players Take Drastic Action

        In the wake of last week’s Megaupload shutdown, some of the biggest names in the market are taking drastic action. During the last 48 hours many sites have completely withdrawn their systems for paying uploaders when their files are shared with others, but one of the most dramatic moves came first from Filesonic and today Fileserve. Both services now forbid people from downloading any files they didn’t upload themselves.

      • The House of Saud and the Big Banks Move in on Twitter

        Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal joins JPMorgan Chase as a major stakeholder in Twitter, the social media network that catapulted both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movement onto the global stage.

        This and other nasty things happened to OWS while most people were busy shopping. Censorship was reported almost immediately.

    • Privacy

      • Behavioral Pricing: A consumer’s worst nightmare, a merchant’s dream

        It’s a consumer’s worst nightmare as it uses the traces of your online identity to maximize prices on the products and services you want most. It’s also an ecommerce merchant’s dream.

        Think you have nothing to hide? That belief, and sites like Facebook and Twitter, will cost you. Don’t you just love customer loyalty programs?

      • Police Use of G.P.S. Is Ruled Unconstitutional

        Though the ruling was limited to physical intrusions, the opinions in the case collectively suggested that a majority of the justices are prepared to apply broad Fourth Amendment privacy principles unrelated to such intrusions to an array of modern technologies,

        I’ll believe that when I see it.

    • Civil Rights

      • Emanuel’s Protest-Squashing “Sit Down and Shut Up” Ordinance Passes in Chicago

        Critics say the “sit down and shut up” ordinance, as it has been called, seeks to chill protest and civil liberties in Chicago through measures including mandatory $1 million liability insurance for protests, a heightened police presence and more difficulty getting a permit.

        The measures are similar to those in Wisconsin and will effectively bar protest by poor people, those with the most grievances. Voter ID laws keep the same people from being able to vote.

      • When Should Open Source Be Written Into Law?

        Last August Karen Sandler … asked the manufacturer [of a defribulator that would be implanted in her] for the source code, and was denied. … she found that the FDA does not review or have access to the source code. She also found that she had no legal recourse against the manufacturer to force them to release their code. … the manufacturer ignored her Freedom Of Information Act request. Twice. … I would suggest three areas of software which should be available upon request, without question.

        The Open Source people are coming to grips with the notion that devices they don’t control are actually in control of them. They phrase it as a safety issue rather than a rights issue, but we should not let device makers have this kind of power over us. We must demand all of the software freedoms not just the ability to look at code and trust that’s what is running. In cases where certification is required and the code should not be changed, an verifiable escrow should be kept by the certifiying body. In cases like an automobile, software freedom is the only way to protect us from malice.

      • Park City Tragedy Underscores Tragedy of the U.S. Health Care System — for Both Canadians and Americans

        At just 29 years old, Burke was considered a top-flight “acrobat-on-skis,” and a medal contender at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. Instead, her family will be laying her to rest in her native Canada — and pleading for money to help cover the estimated $550,000 they owe for the medical care she received at University of Utah Hospital over nine days. The irony is that had the accident occurred in Canada, her family would not be facing having to come up with more than half a million dollars to pay for her care. Her care would have been covered because, unlike the U.S., Canada has a system of universal coverage.

      • The Teenager Who Changed My Life

        Anyone who believes that American doctors call the shots when it comes to providing medical care for their insured patients is sadly mistaken. Many folks, like Nataline’s parents, are stunned to discover — when they are helpless to do anything about it — that insurance companies essentially have the power to make what amount to life and death decisions. … A CIGNA medical director 2,500 miles away said he did not agree with Nataline’s doctors and felt the transplant would not be appropriate … pressure worked. CIGNA agreed to cover the transplant at an estimated cost of $250,000 on December 20, 2007 … She passed away just hours after CIGNA told the Sarkisyans they would pay for it.

      • Nationalist Jogging Event Mistaken for Gay Pride Rally and shut down.
      • Foxconn Boss Likens Workers to Animals

        This is not nearly as offensive as treating employees like animals.

    • Copyrights

      • Elsevier — my part in its downfall

        Once I did hear about Elsevier’s behaviour, I made a conscious decision not to publish in Elsevier journals and I started to feel bad about cooperating with them in any way. … I have decided that my previous quiet approach was not enough.

        A well informed opinion. Here’s a moral argument for the author: scolarship should not be limited by proximity to a library. We are all poorer when the next Einstein can’t learn physics.

      • Supreme Court Chooses SOPA/PIPA Protest Day To Give A Giant Middle Finger To The Public DomainSupreme Court Chooses SOPA/PIPA Protest Day To Give A Giant Middle Finger To The Public Domain

        The key point in the case was questioning whether or not the US could take works out of the public domain and put them under copyright. The US had argued it needed to do this under a trade agreement to make other countries respect our copyrights. … The ruling is ridiculously depressing. The Justices basically just keep repeating the mantra they first set forth in Eldred, that as long as Congress says it’s okay — and that the “fair use” and the “idea/expression” dichotomy remain — all is just dandy.

        Corporations frequently turn to anti-democratic treaties that circumvent the entire legislative process.

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