There was a time not long ago when a trip across the border from the United States to Canada was accomplished with a wink and a wave of a driver’s license. Those days are over.
Take the case of 55-year-old Lake Tahoe resident Greg Felsch. Stopped at the border in Vancouver this month at the start of a planned five-day ski trip, he was sent back to the United States because of a DUI conviction seven years ago. Not that he had any idea what was going on when he was told at customs: “Your next stop is immigration.”
Felsch was ushered into a room. “There must have been 75 people in line,” he says. “We were there for three hours. One woman was in tears. A guy was sent back for having a medical marijuana card. I felt like a felon with an ankle bracelet.”
Or ask the well-to-do East Bay couple who flew to British Columbia this month for an eight-day ski vacation at the famed Whistler Chateau, where rooms run to $500 a night. They’d made the trip many times, but were surprised at the border to be told that the husband would have to report to “secondary” immigration.
There, in a room he estimates was filled with 60 other concerned travelers, he was told he was “a person who was inadmissible to Canada.” The problem? A conviction for marijuana possession.
I guarantee you that all over the world people are laughing their asses off about this. And, frankly, I can see their point.
Debbie Foster was sued by RIAA member company Capitol Records for allegedly sharing copyrighted material on a P2P file sharing network. However, the alleged infringement was apparently committed by someone else with access to her ISP account. Foster had the case dismissed last summer, and as reported by Listening Post earlier this month, was awarded attorney’s fees in excess of $50,000.
For the RIAA, which functions as the legal and lobbying arm of the labels it represents, this was very bad news indeed. If the ruling stands, the RIAA will have to be much more careful about who it sues going forward, adjusting its scatter-shot approach to filing such lawsuits in order to avoid suing the wrong people. But if the RIAA’s appeal is granted, open Wi-Fi hotspots could become standing invitations for the organization to sue.
Predictably, the RIAA has filed a “motion for reconsideration” of Judge West’s decision to force the RIAA to pay for Foster’s legal fees. In the motion, the plaintiffs emphasize a key point: They want the judge to rule that the owner of an ISP account is responsible for all activity on that account, which could have a chilling effect on public wireless access and open hotspots. (The appeal also made the point that Foster should be held liable if she was aware of the infringement occuring via her account; in the case of someone with an open Wi-Fi network, that could constitute something as simple as experiencing traffic slowdowns.)
If the judge rules that we’re each legally responsible for all of the traffic that comes through our ISP account, open, unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots would become a serious legal liability, the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people who depend on their neighbors for Wi-Fi will be out of luck, while altruistic (or ignorant) folks who leave their wireless networks open could find themselves embroiled in an RIAA lawsuits even if they’ve never shared a single song in their lives.
It’s actually much worse than that – I haven’t been a customer of a RIAA member for quite a number of years now, and yet they want to have a say in what technology I am allowed to use in an area of equipment that has nothing at all to do with music. What’s next? Forbidding me to visit my friends, because “visiting friends” is often used to share music?
Detailed maps of the UK created by the KGB between 1950 and 1990 have gone on sale in digital format for the first time.
The maps show 16,000 square kilometres and 103 UK town and cities in more detail than Ordnance Survey maps. The Russians used satellite images and spies on the ground to create the maps, which include army camps and warehouses that don’t appear on other maps.
The maps include other information likely to be useful for an invading army, such as the height of bridges and depths and contours of river beds. Strategically important buildings like telephone exchanges, government buildings, and power stations were all colour-coded and identified with a numbered key.
It wasn’t just the UK that was treated to such detailed attention – most of the rest of the world was put under similar scrutiny, albeit not to such an indepth scale. For many countries in Africa and Asia the maps remain the most reliable and accessible source of geographic information.
Little is known of the how the USSR acheived such a mammoth task. The military cartography department was created in 1919 and the first map of the UK dates from 1938. The project accelerated from the mid-50s as the Cold War intensified. All place names on the maps are transcribed into Cyrillic script phonetically.
The nature of God will no longer be part of an atheist teacher’s American literature class at Lake Stevens High School.
Gary McDonald, 60, said he had no intention of swaying students’ religious beliefs during a lesson last month.
“I regret in the strongest terms the trouble that I have caused,” McDonald said on Tuesday. The goal, he said, was to get students to think.
The school’s principal gave McDonald a verbal reprimand after one student’s parents complained he was denigrating their Christianity.
McDonald used the textbook’s worksheet. On it, students were to give examples of how the Iroquois tale reflects four functions of myth – to instill awe, explain the world, support customs and guide people.
But he adapted the form, and had the class do the same for the biblical account of creation in Genesis. He provided a paraphrase of the story.
After they completed that assignment, he gave them another handout, titled “The Problem With Evil.”
That handout, which was not part of the textbook’s materials, asked questions such as how evil could exist if God is good and all-powerful.
Junior Lanae Olsen, 17, said it all went too far.
How dare he make them grapple with logic!
News features, political commentaries and institutional reports incessantly berate the sexual excesses of modern teenagers. “Reports of young studs ‘playing rape’ … during recess, of 9-year-old sexual harassers and fifth-grade rapists and sodomists have become too common to pass off as simply anomalous,” wrote conservative Manhattan Institute researcher Kay Hymowitz. The progressive Media Education Foundation, which distributes educational videos, warned in “Deadly Persuasion” of “widespread and increasing violence against women” by young men incited by brutal, misogynist popular culture and corporate advertising.
Evidence supporting the claims of rising teenage sexual violence is seldom offered. Commentators instead ask, given today’s salacious ads, slutty preteen styles, women-hating rap lyrics, MySpace.com, designer porn and binge-drinking orgies, how could young people not be “hooking up” more randomly, more violently and younger?
Yet crime reports, victimization surveys and public health measures consistently reveal something else: large declines in the percentages of young women reporting violence against them, especially sexual attacks, and of young men committing rape and other violent offenses.
The U.S. Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey (considered our best measure of crime because its anonymous surveys capture offenses not reported to police) reports that rape has been falling dramatically for decades. The first survey, in 1973, estimated that 105,000 females, ages 12 to 24, were raped that year. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the survey was expanded to include sexual assault and attempted or threatened offenses. Even so, the latest survey (in a young female population 1 million larger than in 1973) reported that 30,000 females, ages 12 to 24, were raped and 60,000 were victims of attempted rape or real or attempted sexual offenses (including verbal threats) in 2005.
The crime surveys further indicate that the decline in sexual violence is greater among younger females than older women. In the last dozen years, they found that sexual victimization rates among girls ages 12 to 19 fell by 78% and among women ages 20 to 24 by 70%, nearly double the drop among women older than 25.
The three-decade decline in teenage and young-adult rape accompanies huge drops in all crimes — murder, assault, drug abuse and property — committed by youth. And get-tough policies designed to imprison more teenagers don’t seem to be a factor either. Just-released California Division of Juvenile Justice figures show that fewer youths are locked up today than in 1959, when numbers were first reported.
The most likely explanation involves impressive generational developments. In 1970, women made up one-third of all college students (versus 57% today), earned about one-fourth of all young-adult income (versus nearly half today) and made up small fractions of doctors and lawyers (versus majorities of new entrants into these fields now). Women’s rapidly rising status and economic independence in the larger society fostered new attitudes and laws that rejected violence against women.
That younger people growing up in this environment of greater gender equality should show the biggest decreases in rape, while older generations lag behind, is consistent with this explanation. The youngest teenagers (presumably those raised with the most modern attitudes) show the biggest declines of all. Over the last 30 years, rape arrest rates have fallen by 80% among Californians under age 15, much larger than the 25% drop among residents age 40 and older.
The cartel of record companies in Capitol v. Foster have filed a motion for reconsideration of US District Court Judge Lee R. West’s decision to award the defendant Debbie Foster attorneys’ fees. In it, the plaintiffs lay out their disagreement with the judge’s reasoning while taking time to point out that the fees awarded far exceed any damages they could have recovered should their suit have been successful.
Although the RIAA is careful to take issue with all of Judge West’s conclusions, its primary concern is his ruling on secondary infringement.
Throughout its legal attacks on file sharers, the RIAA has argued that the owners of ISP accounts used to share copyrighted material should be held liable, even if they had no knowledge of the alleged infringement. Judge West called the RIAA’s secondary infringement claims “untested and marginal” in his order, a characterization the labels take issue with.
This is an important issue for the RIAA and the stakes are high. Even if the RIAA changes its legal tactics and decides not to press secondary infringement claims in future lawsuits, there are still numerous lawsuits wending their way through the courts where the record labels have used the exact same tactics seen in Capitol v. Foster. The labels recognize this, noting that “defense counsel in other cases like this across the country are already citing the Court’s statement, albeit out of context, in an effort to suggest that this Court has found that contributory and vicarious infringement claims in cases like this one are not viable.” Should other courts find Judge West’s reasoning applicable to their cases, the RIAA is at risk of writing a lot of large checks, drastically tilting the risk-reward equation in the wrong direction for them.
A seemingly simple case regarding whether Microsoft had the right to replicate speech recognition software it had licensed — or rather, thought it had licensed — from AT&T, and then sell that software abroad as a component of Windows Vista, has exploded into what is now extremely likely to become a landmark case in US patent and copyright law.
The US Supreme Court today took up oral arguments in Microsoft’s appeal of a judgment against it in AT&T v. Microsoft, which has now become Microsoft v. AT&T in view of the appeal.
AT&T’s position is that its speech recognition software is protected by US patent, on the grounds that it constitutes a “component of a patented invention.” Microsoft was apparently granted license to utilize that software in the US, but AT&T contends that the duplication of that software outside of US boundaries, with the intent to sell the duplicates overseas, is a violation of that license. That view was upheld by the Federal Court of Appeals, and Microsoft is appealing that decision.
During oral arguments this morning, Microsoft attorney Theodore Olson, responding to a barrage of questions from Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia, attacked AT&T’s position with a novel argument that you might not expect to hear from Microsoft: In short, you can’t patent source code or object code.
Airplane security seems to forever be looking backward. Pre-9/11, it was bombs, guns and knives. Then it was small blades and box cutters. Richard Reid tried to blow up a plane, and suddenly we all have to take off our shoes. And after last summer’s liquid plot, we’re stuck with a series of nonsensical bans on liquids and gels.
Once you think about this in terms of CYA, it starts to make sense. The Transportation Security Administration wants to be sure that if there’s another airplane terrorist attack, it’s not held responsible for letting it slip through. One year ago, no one could blame the TSA for not detecting liquids. But since everything seems obvious in hindsight, it’s basic job preservation to defend against what the terrorists tried last time.
We saw this kind of CYA security when Boston and New York randomly checked bags on the subways after the London bombing, and when buildings started sprouting concrete barriers after the Oklahoma City bombing. We also see it in ineffective attempts to detect nuclear bombs; authorities employ CYA security against the media-driven threat so they can say “we tried.”
At the same time, we’re ignoring threat possibilities that don’t make the news as much — against chemical plants, for example. But if there were ever an attack, that would change quickly.
CYA also explains the TSA’s inability to take anyone off the no-fly list, no matter how innocent. No one is willing to risk his career on removing someone from the no-fly list who might — no matter how remote the possibility — turn out to be the next terrorist mastermind.
Sadly, though, there might not be a solution. All the money is in fearmongering, re-election strategies and pork-barrel politics. And, like so many things, security follows the money.
Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday angrily defended his relationship with Merck & Co. and his executive order requiring that schoolgirls receive the drugmaker’s vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Perry’s chief of staff had met with key aides about the vaccine on Oct. 16, the same day Merck’s political action committee donated $5,000 to the governor’s campaign.
Perry, touring cancer centers around the state, said the contributions were just a small share of the $24 million he raised and had no effect on his decision.
“When a company comes to me and says we have a cure for cancer, for me not to say, ‘Please come into my office and let’s hear your story for the people of the state of Texas, for young ladies who are dying of cancer,’ would be the height of irresponsibility,” the Republican governor said. “Whether or not they contributed to my campaign, I would suggest to you, are some of those weeds that we are trying to cut our way through.”
The vaccine is a very, very good thing. Legislation to require everybody to get it is good as well. The vaccine has received opposition from religious wingnuts, who feel that the vaccine is a ticket to more sex for girls, since the cancer it prevents is caused by a virus that is usually spread through very intimate contact. It may very well be that the complaints against the governor are “sponsored” by some religious groups.
The governor is being very stupid with his protests, it makes him look guilty as hell. If he really wants the vaccine to succeed, and if he really wants the stigma that the industry bought him removed, he’d say something like “you know, those $5k y’all worried about, I just donated it to charity X who will use it to buy the vaccine for the poor”. After all, out of $24m, it’s very little.
But right now, all I can say is “methinks thou doest protest too much”
You don’t hear a lot about the internals of Vista, everybody appears to drool over the new interface. Here is an article that talks about a lot of the work done under the hood. There’s still no reason to upgrade to it, but it makes for interesting reading for your inner nerd…