Exactly one month after the conservative radio host sparked outrage by calling Georgetown law-school student Sandra Fluke “a slut” and “a prostitute” in a three-day diatribe, stations are standing by him, advertisers are trickling back to his program and the news media have moved on.
Mike Daisey claimed to have come across 12-year-old workers, armed guards, crippled factory operators. We saw none of that. And we did try to find them. Nothing would have been more compelling for us and our story than to have a chat with a preteen factory operator about how she enjoyed (or not) working 12-hour shifts making iPads. We didn’t get such an anecdote.
A few weeks back, there were reports floating around claiming that a high regional court in Germany had ruled against Rapidshare, which some thought went against earlier rulings that had found the company’s model legal in both Europe and the US. Considering that Rapidshare is quite frequently compared to Megaupload (despite some significant differences), these cases are pretty important. When I saw that announcement a couple weeks ago, I also heard from some people in Germany who said to wait until the full ruling was out before assuming that the news making the rounds — which was being pushed by the entertainment industry — was accurate. Indeed, now that the details have come out, the ruling is much more mixed, and is mostly a victory for Rapidshare. It effectively says that Rapidshare’s business is legal — and this comes from a German court that has a history of suggesting that service providers need to be copyright cops.
In this case, that is the one questionable part of the ruling. While the court does not say that Rapidshare needs to police uploads, it does say that the company needs to police external links to the site and then disable the files if they are obviously infringing. This doesn’t make much sense if you think about it. It seems odd that Rapidshare should be forced to monitor what third party users on fourth party sites are doing, and then take action based on that. But, it appears the company may appeal that part. And, for the time being, a ruling that acting as a hosting provider/cyberlocker is legal is an important and useful ruling, in a court not known for handling copyright cases very well.
After being arrested on October 1, 2007 for using his cell phone to film officers making an arrest, Boston lawyer Simon Glik sued the city for violating his civil rights. Late last year the court denied a motion to have the case dismissed, and just yesterday it was announced that the City of Boston had come to a settlement with Glik, agreeing to pay him $170,000 for damages and legal fees. The decision last year and the settlement yesterday both reaffirm that the First Amendment protects the right to photograph and film police officers carrying out their duties in a public place.
A federal judge has ruled that Asus’ Transformer Prime tablet does not infringe on Hasbro’s Transformers trademark, in spite of the suit actually making sense. Just “Transformer”, or just “Prime”, might have flown right by Hasbro’s lawyers without a second look — those are words, after all — but putting the two together seemed like tempting fate. As expected, Hasbro took Asus to task in December.
But the judge has initially sided with Asus, saying that people were unlikely to confuse the tablet with Hasbro properties, noting they had also waited too long to file the suit.
As a little kicker on the story, court filings have revealed that the device has produced pre-order numbers that are, shall we say, less than legendary.
So when court filings reveal that pre-orders for this poster child for Android 4 tablets (and it does look great) total a whopping 2,000 units as of a month ago, it’s kind of a letdown.
That looks quite a lot, compared to the iPad 3 sales…
In an amusing twist in the ongoing Elsevier saga, Elsevier are attempting to shut down the twitter account @FakeElsevier for trademark violation.
This photo is what you get when you point a massive 4.1 meter telescope (VISTA in Chile) at an unremarkable patch of night sky and capture six thousand separate exposures that provide an effective “shutter speed” of 55 hours. It’s an image that contains more than 200,000 individual galaxies, each containing countless stars and planets (to put the image into perspective, the famous Hubble Ultra-Deep Field contains “only” around 10,000 galaxies). And get this: this view only shows a tiny 0.004% of the entire sky!
“I appeal to you to reinvigorate your faith … that you may strive to build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity,” he said Monday at a Mass in the nearby city of Santiago.
Benny, Benny…did you just hear what you said?
People often ask me if my editor ever rejects particular Dilbert comics for one reason or another. It’s rare, but it happens. In fact, it happened yesterday. You won’t see this comic in newspapers. I guess I went, um, a little too far. You be the judge.
Aviation officials have questioned the need for such a strong permanent police presence at airports, suggesting they were there simply “to make the government look tough on terror”.
One senior executive said in his experience, the officers were expensive window-dressing.
“When you add the body scanners, the ritual humiliation of old ladies with knitting needles and the farcical air marshals, it all adds up to billions of dollars to prevent what? A politician being called soft on terror, that’s what,” he said.
A pair of rare Enigma machines used in the Spanish Civil War has been given to the head of GCHQ, Britain’s communications intelligence agency. The machines – only recently discovered in Spain – fill in a missing chapter in the history of British code-breaking, paving the way for crucial successes in World War II.
A non-commissioned officer found the machines almost by chance, only a few years ago, in a secret room at the Spanish Ministry of Defence in Madrid.
“Nobody entered there because it was very secret,” says Felix Sanz, the director of Spain’s intelligence service.
“And one day somebody said ‘Well if it is so secret, perhaps there is something secret inside.’ They entered and saw a small office where all the encryption was produced during not only the civil war but in the years right afterwards.”
Khalifah al-Akili, 34, was arrested in a police raid on his home on March 15. He was later charged with illegally possessing a gun after having previous felony convictions for drug dealing. However, at his court appearance an FBI agent testified that al-Akili had made radical Islamic statements and that police had uncovered unspecified jihadist literature at his home.
But, in a strange twist, al-Akili’s arrest came just days after he had sent out an email to friends and local Muslim civil rights groups complaining that he believed he was the target of an FBI “entrapment” sting. That refers to a controversial FBI tactic of using confidential informants – who often have criminal records or are paid large sums of money – to facilitate “fake” terrorist plots for suspects to invent or carry out.
In the email – which was also sent to the Guardian before al-Akili was arrested – he detailed meeting two men he believed were FBI informants because of the way they talked about radical Islam and appeared to want to get him to make jihadist statements. According to his account, one of them, who called himself Saeed Torres, asked him to buy a gun. Al-Aikili said he refused. The other, who was called Mohammed, offered to help him go to Pakistan for possible Islamic radical training. Al-Akili also refused.
In the email al-Akili recounted that he obtained a phone number from Mohammed and put it into Google. The search returned a reference to the case of the Newburgh Four, where an FBI confidential informant called Shahed Hussain helped secure the convictions of four men for attempting to blow up Jewish targets in the Bronx.
Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.
What’s great about this for the rich is that those tax breaks only strengthen their political position. Tax breaks—say, preferred rates on dividends—mean either higher taxes on everyone else or larger deficits, both of which are unpopular. Since no one can see what the government is doing, it becomes less popular. Higher taxes make people think they’re not getting their money’s worth; larger deficits make them think the government is incompetent. Either way, they get mad at the parts of government they can see, not the tax breaks that the rich benefit from. Increasing anti-government sentiment leads to what you saw in 2010 and today: the Tea Party, demonization of the federal government, and a mad race among Republicans to see who can cut rich people’s taxes by the most.
Whether this is a conscious goal of the anti-tax movement or simply a nice side benefit , it really works. In chapter 2 of The Submerged State, Mettler describes a study showing that people who benefit from visible government programs (those that are transparently delivered by government agencies, such as food stamps) are more likely to have positive views of government and its impact on their lives than people who benefit from invisible programs, even after controlling for the usual things. So you can have a program like the mortgage interest deduction that mainly helps the well-off but also helps the middle class a little—and it helps turn its middle-class beneficiaries against the federal government. If you’re Grover Norquist, what could be better than that?
The maker of “pink slime” suspended operations Monday at all but one plant where the beef ingredient is made, acknowledging recent public uproar over the product has cost the company business.
Craig Letch, director of food quality and assurance for Beef Products Inc., declined to discuss financial details. But he said business has taken a “substantial” hit since social media exploded with worry over the ammonia-treated filler and an online petition seeking its ouster from schools drew hundreds of thousands of supporters. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided school districts may stop using it, and some retail chains have pulled products containing it from their shelves.
“There’s compelling evidence that the Mormon Church leaders knowingly and wilfully misrepresent the historical truth of their origins and of the church for the purpose of deceiving their members into a state of mind that renders them exploitable,” he explained.
Park points to one of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s foundational documents, the Book of Abraham, which church founder Joseph Smith claimed to have translated from an Egyptian scroll.
After examining the translation, British Assyriologist Dr. Archibald Henry Sayce determined that it was “difficult to deal with Joseph Smith’s impudent fraud.”
“His facsimile from the Book of Abraham No. 2 is an ordinary hypocephalus, but the hieroglyphics upon it have been copied to ignorantly that hardly one of them is correct,” Sayce wrote.
No, no, surely God watches over translations of His Word to ensure that they’re accurate. That’s why the King James Bible can be taken literally at its word, right? And that’s how we know that chronicles of Jesus’ life written down hundreds of years after he died are totally accurate, right?
To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided.
The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others.
This is a book review and goes on to discuss Haidt’s analysis of U.S. politics and the reasons many people vote Republican (against their ostensible economic interests). Lots more in the article that’s interesting and thought provoking.
I was supposed to testify today about the TSA in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I was informally invited a couple of weeks ago, and formally invited last Tuesday:
The hearing will examine the successes and challenges associated with Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program, the Transportation Worker Credential Card (TWIC), and other security initiatives administered by the TSA.
On Friday, at the request of the TSA, I was removed from the witness list. The excuse was that I am involved in a lawsuit against the TSA, trying to get them to suspend their full-body scanner program.
‘We zijn in Nederland ooit te laat begonnen met het uitzenden van de serie, dan loop je al snel achter. En nu is het probleem dat er op Nederland 2 weinig plek is om de serie te programmeren. Door alle documentaires en andere programma’s die voor en na Nieuwsuur staan, is er pas plek vanaf begin volgend jaar.’
Een plek op Nederland 3 – waar makkelijker nieuwe series kunnen worden geprogrammeerd – is volgens hem niet mogelijk. ‘Daar past het niet. Op die zender staan series als Homeland en Dexter en heeft daarmee een ander profiel’.
Mad Men hoort op Nederland 2, bevestigt ook Gerard Timmer, hoofd van de Publieke Omroep in een korte reactie: ‘Als we het op Nederland 3 zouden programmeren zou dat de kijker van dat net verwarren. We programmeren op de profielen van de netten om kijkers ermee vertrouwd te maken. Zo weten zij welk type programma ze op welk net kunnen verwachten.’
Summary: Mad Men Season 5 can’t (“”) be broadcast in the Netherlands until next year because there’s no space on the channel it “belongs on” and putting it on one of the channels where there’s space would “confuse the audience” about the curated themes of the channels.
Here’s a simple rule: if your product isn’t a condom then don’t name it like one. What am I talking about? Let’s take a look…
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former director of the International Monetary Fund, has been charged with involvement in an organised vice ring that procured prostitutes for top-class clients, lawyers said.
Several Lille-based businessmen and police officers have been accused of taking part in the ring. Strauss-Kahn told police he did not suspect the women were prostitutes because he was introduced to them by senior police officers.
I’m shocked, shocked I say!
Rep. Paul Ryan made absolutely clear that he is not now and never was interested in deficit reduction. After a couple of years of being lauded by deficit hawks as the man prepared to make hard choices, he proposed a budget that would not end deficits until 2040, but would cut taxes by $4.6 trillion over a decade while also extending all of the Bush tax cuts, adding another $5.4 trillion to the deficit. Ryan would increase military expenditures, and then eviscerate the rest of the federal government.