MGM shuts down volunteer "Rocky" charity run

The Philadelphia run, which recreates a scene from Rocky II, raises money to buy sneakers for a charity; MGM has seen its success and has partnered with a for-profit company to launch a non-charitable version and now has clobbered the volunteers to clear away competition.

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Utility companies go to war against solar


Utility companies across America are fighting solar, imposing high fees on homeowners who install their own solar panels to feed back into the grid. This one was predictable from a long, long way out -- energy companies being that special horror-burrito made from a core of hot, chewy greed wrapped in a fluffy blanket of regulatory protection, fixed in their belief that they have the right to profit from all power used, whether or not their supply it.

Bruce Sterling once proposed that Americans should be encouraged to drive much larger trucks, big enough to house monster fuel-cells that are kept supplied with hydrogen by decentralized windmill and solar installations -- when they are receiving more power than is immediately needed, they use the surplus to electrolyze water and store the hydrogen in any handy nearby monster-trucks' cells. When the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining, you just plug your house into your enormous American-Dream-mobile -- no need for a two-way grid.

This solution wasn't just great because it aligned the core American value of driving really large cars with environmental protection, but also because it was less vulnerable to sabotage from hydrocarbon-addicted energy companies.

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Belgian copyright society wants royalties for library volunteers who read to small groups of children

Robin Wauters writes in The Next Web about the bizarre, cartoon-villain move from Belgian copyright collecting society SABAM, who are demanding that public libraries pay royalties when volunteers read to groups of ten or so small children. SABAM is demanding €250 per year from each cash-strapped library. The technical term for this is "eating your seed corn" (a less technical term might be "acting like a titanic asshole"). If kids are read to, they grow up to be readers, and they buy books. If kids don't get the reading habit, they won't grow up to buy books and writers will starve.

Twice a month, the library in Dilbeek welcomes about 10 children to introduce them to the magical world of books. A representative of the library in question is quoted in the De Morgen report as saying there’s no budget to compensate people who read to the kids, relying instead on volunteers (bless them)...

The De Morgen reporter then contacted SABAM (probably to check if this wasn’t an elaborate hoax or some grave error in judgment) and received a formal statement from the organization asserting that, indeed, public libraries need to pay up for the right to – once again – READ BOOKS TO KIDS.

Belgian rightsholders group wants to charge libraries for READING BOOKS TO KIDS