Sześć lat temu Polacy wyszli na ulice by uratować Europę przed ACTA – międzynarodową umową handlową, negocjowaną z inicjatywy Stanów Zjednoczonych, która groziła wprowadzeniem szeroko zakrojonej cenzury i nadzoru w Internecie w imię rzekomej ochrony praw autorskich.
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In 2011, Europeans rose up over ACTA, the misleadingly named "Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement," which created broad surveillance and censorship regimes for the internet. They were successful in large part thanks to the Polish activists who thronged the streets to reject the plan, which had been hatched and exported by the US Trade Representative.
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This morning, the EU's legislative affairs committee (JURI) narrowly voted to include two controversial proposals in upcoming, must-pass copyright reforms: both Article 11 (no linking to news stories without permission and a paid license) and Article 13 (all material posted by Europeans must first be evaluated by a copyright filter and blocked if they appear to match a copyrighted work) passed by a single vote.
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In just six days, an EU committee will vote on the most drastic, foolish, harmful internet regulations in the history of the EU: a mass censorship and surveillance system that will fail to defend copyright (its stated purpose), while snuffing out EU-based online services and giving a permanent advantage to their US-based Big Tech rivals.
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Remember the fantastic attention experiment in which you have to count the times the basketball is passed? (If you don't know it, watch the video before reading the rest of this post.)
In a recent paper in the scientific journal Acta Astronautica, University of Cadiz psychologists suggest that like the gorilla experiment, "selective attention" based on our preconceptions about possible extraterrestrials and how they may communicate may cause us to overlook evidence of their existence. Over at the SETI Institute blog, BB pal and astronomer Seth Shostak likens their argument to the gorilla experiment and counters that right now, the best thing to do is what we know how to do. And that's scanning the skies with antennae listening for signals:
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It would be heavy-duty hubris to claim that we have considered every possibility in our efforts to find aliens. We’ve certainly been myopic in the past. During the nineteenth century, European physicists suggested we could establish contact with Martians by turning gas lanterns in the direction of the Red Planet. The plan was hopeless, but not because the scientists were ignoring other possibilities. They simply didn’t know about radio or much about Mars, and proposed a reasonable experiment given the science understanding of the time.
Sure, our preconceived notions of what would be good evidence of aliens — including radio signals, flashing lasers, or megastructures — might be blinding us to clues that, like nitrogen in the air, are all around us and yet overlooked. But to quote Dirty Harry, “a man’s got to know his limitations.” The men and women searching for extraterrestrials can do no better than to go with what they know.
When the government of Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu announced that they would gut the country's anticorruption statutes, removing criminal sanctions for official corruption, the country erupted into mass protests. Read the rest
CETA -- the "Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement" is a secretly negotiated deal between Canada and the EU, mirroring many of the most controversial provisions in notorious deals like ACTA, TPP, and TTIP -- including the "corporate sovereignty" clauses that permit multinational corporations to sue governments in closed courts, and force them to repeal environmental, labour and safety rules (albeit dressed up in new clothes that make the provisions appear different, without making any real difference). Read the rest
TTIP is the farcically secretive, insanely corrupt trade agreement that the US and EU negotiated behind closed doors in parallel with the faltering Trans-Pacific Partnership. Read the rest
"Hollywood" Howard Berman, former-Congressman-turned-MPAA-lobbyist is one of the 15-member panel selected by the Democratic Party establishment to draft the party's platform for this summer's convention. Read the rest
Jamie Love is one of the founders of Knowledge Ecology International (formerly the Consumer Project on Technology), a super-effective activist NGO that helped to establish low-cost, global access to HIV/AIDS drugs. Read the rest
The City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit's breathless press-release about their raid on a "gang suspected of uploading and distributing tens of thousands of karaoke tracks online" obscures the truth: they busted three middle-aged dudes who loved singing, so they hunted down otherwise unavailable tracks and shared them with other karaoke fans, not making a penny in the process. Read the rest
Canada's rock-ribbed bastion of pro-trade, pro-Tory ideology has come out against the Trans Pacific Partnership's Intellectual Property chapter in a leading editorial signed by the paper's editorial board. Read the rest
For most of a decade, government negotiators from around the Pacific Rim have met in utmost secrecy to negotiate a "trade deal" that was kept secret from legislatures, though executives from the world's biggest corporations were allowed in the room and even got to draft parts of the treaty. Read the rest
Most contemporary "kids music" sucks. However, my favorite reissue label Light In The Attic is releasing a killer children's vinyl compilation titled "This Record Belongs To______" that includes the likes of Shel Silverstein, Nina Simone, Donovan, Van Dyke Parks, Vashti Bunyan, Woody Guthrie, and many other musical greats, along with a storybook illustrated by the talented Jess Rotter. Read the rest
As the vinyl record resurgence continues, the problem is that there simply aren't enough record pressing plants to meet the demand. Indie labels get pushed to the back of the line when the majors place a big order. Read the rest