Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, August 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

August 2008 in the United States presidential election saw the emergence of two politicians selected to serve as their party’s vice presidential nominees. The month was full of speculation as pundits argued on the merits of who they felt were the possible “choices” for the candidates. The Democratic National Convention was held and campaign activities increased until a looming storm caused Republicans to delay and reshuffle their convention.

Republicans
  • The McCain campaign took advantage of a fresh new series of ads that cast Barack Obama as a “celebrity.” The candidate increased his position in the polls coming close to matching Barack Obama’s lead.
  • McCain participated in the first joint-forum of the campaign with Barack Obama. At the Saddleback forum moderated by pastor Rick Warren. McCain discussed his past as a POW in Vietnam and recounted his failed first marriage. He listed General David Petraeus, former e-Bay CEO Meg Whitman, and Congressman John Lewis, as the three wisest people he would consult as president. This statement raised speculation that one of the three could be chosen as McCain’s running mate.
  • Comments made by McCain that he didn’t know how many houses he had and a joke at the Saddleback Forum that an annual income of $5 million is the line drawn to be considered rich, led to a line of attacks against McCain by Obama and Democrats. They attempted to cast McCain as elitist and out of touch and continued this rhetoric until the end of their convention.
  • McCain had announced that he would unveil his running mate on Aug. 29, the day following the Democratic convention. Following this announcement, most speculation about the pick surrounded former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. and former Pennsylvania governor and the first Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. Word leaked early on the morning of Aug. 29 that Romney and Pawlenty would not be the choice. After hearing that a plane had landed in Ohio (where McCain would make his announcement) from Alaska, it was speculated that McCain would make a surprise choice and selected Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Before the announcement at noon, it was leaked and confirmed that Palin was indeed McCain’s choice as a running mate.
  • The Palin selection was hailed by conservatives who pointed to the candidate’s pro-life record, executive experience and record of “fighting corruption.” But the pick also set off a firestorm of attacks from the Obama campaign who remarked that she was merely the mayor of a city with 9,000 people. However his campaign stopped short of attacking Palin when it was revealed that her 17-year-old daughter was 5 months pregnant.
  • As Hurricane Gustav approached the Gulf coast, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney decided not to attend the GOP convention in St. Paul. On the eve of the convention’s start McCain announced that most events for the next day would be suspended.
Democrats
  • Obama participated in the Saddleback Forum with McCain and talked about his faith and vision for America. Taking a more philosophical approach to the questions, Obama remarked that the question of when life began was “above [his] paygrade. He reflected on the toughest decision he made in his life: his choice to oppose the war in Iraq in 2002, and discussed his past drug use as a mistake in his youth.
  • A book criticizing Obama and his life entitled The Obama Nation became a New York Times best seller. Written by WorldNetDaily editor Jerome Corsi, the book looks into Obama’s past associations with Reverend Wright and William Ayers, and examines his youth in Indonesia. Corsi was attacked by the media for his publication, they reminded the public that Corsi had co-authored Unfit for Command during the 2004 election. However he supports Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin for the presidency.
  • As Russia invaded Georgia, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware made a trip to the nation to assess the situation and talk to the nation’s president. After being viewed as Obama’s most likely pick as a running mate, the trip only raised speculation that Biden would be selected.
  • Obama stated that when he was ready to announce his running mate pick he would send a text message to supporters and individuals who signed up on his campaign website. On Aug. 22 the public waited and the media speculated all night about the announcement. Joe Biden was mentioned as the frontrunner, and also discussed were Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Virginia governor Tim Kaine, Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius and longshot Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. As the day went on reports confirmed that Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas was another member of Obama’s shortlist. Late in the night it was confirmed that Kaine and Bayh had been eliminated and Biden looked to be the nominee. At about 1 a.m. CDT, the Obama campaign sent out the message confirming that Joe Biden had been selected.
  • The Democratic National Convention was held in Denver amidst protests. Hillary and Bill Clinton each lent their full-hearted support to Obama in addresses to the delegates. Senators Obama and Biden each accepted the nominations for president and vice president, respectively. Obama’s acceptance speech on the last night of the convention at INVESCO Field in front of 84,000 was the highlight of the convention and both applauded and criticized.
Third Parties
  • Independent candidate Ralph Nader won the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party during its convention in August. With 46 delegate votes, Nader defeated Party for Socialism and Liberation nominee Gloria La Riva, Socialist Party nominee Brian Moore, and Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney.
  • The Minutemen held an anti-illegal immigration rally at Congress Park in Denver during the Democratic National Convention. The event was meant as a “third party convention for the conservatives—the real conservatives.” Attending the protests were Constitution Party nominee Chuck Baldwin, Libertarian Party nominee Bob Barr, Independent candidate Alan Keyes. and former Republican Party presidential candidate Congressman Tom Tancredo.
  • Montana governor Brian Schweitzer increased speculation about the devastating impact of the Bob Barr candidacy to the John McCain campaign. The moderate Democratic governor stated that his constituents may not vote for McCain because of his position on gun rights and that their votes might instead go to Bob Barr. Pointing to polling, Schweitzer argued that Obama could possibly win the state with 48% because of Barr’s impact. The governor’s assessment may give insight about Barr’s effect on McCain in swing and moderately red states like Montana, which has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1996.
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Your Family And Friends Will Be Blown Away By Your Professional Patio Design}

Your Family And Friends Will Be Blown Away By Your Professional Patio Design

by

Claire Winters

When you are planning out your patio design scheme, playing it safe is not always the best way to go. Employing an expert and going a little over-the-top will enable you to pull out all the stops, if you want to develop a space that you can enjoy on a daily basis, but is adaptable and exciting enough for entertaining. Transforming your patio into the atmosphere and space you have envisioned means having a clear picture of what you would like since there are many innovations and features readily available and working with a designer you can turn your vision into a reality. Your patio and lawn may become a haven for all year fun, relaxation and entertaining with everything from a master BBQ grill to an outdoor entertainment center.

Entertaining

New outdoor technologies have been designed which enable the home theater to now be converted to outdoor theaters and TVs. These entertainment systems allow you to never miss a game, or the perfect weather outside. You can enjoy nature and your favorite programs or movies concurrently; it is the best of both worlds. The perfect TV or theater of your choosing, from projector screens to mounted flat screens, can be customized to match the needs of your patio space.

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BBQ Pit Prowess

Do you consider yourself a grilling master? For people who love the grill, or simply just love eating delicious BBQ, a totally loaded BBQ space can be designed and built to satisfy your custom space. Each patio design is built to meet your custom needs, from a BBQ pit with all the necessities for grilling to a custom bar center complete with a sink, fridge and prep space. When you have a grill center fit for an expert, you can turn your backyard into a patio fully prepared for a party or family gathering in a cinch. Making holiday plans just got easier-everyone adores a good barbeque, and enjoying one anothers company. Build a BBQ space you have always wanted that is fit to feed a crowd and give yourself a reason to stay home this year.

Year-Long Lawn

For those climates where keeping grass green and lush all year long is out of the question, artificial turf is a well-liked choice. Green grass is a must for the avid golfer, sports fan or yard lover. Without the upkeep, fertilizing and watering of an actual lawn, you still get the appearance of grass with artificial turf. For the ultimate decked out patio, installing a turf mini-golf course or putting green for a golf fanatic can make the most of your yard space all year long.

Artificial grass allows you to avoid problems like crab grass, dead spots and dealing with the machinery and labor that goes into yard care every day which are common in hot dessert climates where growing grass and maintaining grass can be more of a handful. Year-round lawns can be made to fit any space and fill any size patio or yard area.

Customized Ambiance

Creating the ideal environment you want for spending time with you friends and loved ones is easy. Your options now available are limitless as the design elements have evolved through the years. You can create an entertainment area that is just your style and has all your quirky and sophisticated personality designed into it. You will end up with the outdoor patio design you have always wished for when you go a bit over the top; this will bring the wow factor.

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GM and Chrysler receive Canadian loans amid US restructuring ultimata

Friday, April 3, 2009

General Motors (GM) and Chrysler will receive bridge loans from the government of Canada and the provincial government of Ontario, however no more will be forthcoming from either Canadian or US governments unless the companies can reinvent themselves.

“This is a regrettable but necessary step to protect the Canadian economy. We are doing this on the assumption that we obviously cannot afford either in the United States or Canada a catastrophic short-term collapse.” said Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

“We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America’s success,” said Barack Obama, President of the United States. “These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.”File:Sinsheim quer.jpg

Chrysler will receive CA$1 billion and may in fact be eligible for as much as CA$4 billion. If Chrysler succeeds in the next 30 days with a restructuring plan it would be eligible for a US$6 billion loan. A part of Chrysler’s restructuring plan must include a partnership with Fiat within 30 days to appease the US administration. Fiat is a supplier of smaller fuel-efficient vehicles, and the merger will help Chrysler to be viable in the North American market. A Chrysler court bankruptcy would inevitably lead to it being sold off.

As a part of Chrysler’s restructuring plans, Tom LaSorda, the president of Chrysler announced that Canadian operations would fold if it does not receive both the US commitment of $2.3 billion of aid and a new Canadian Auto Workers CAW contract to reduce all-in costs by CA$19 per hour. As a result of this announcement Chrysler’s auto sales volume in Canada dropped 23% compared to March of 2008.

GM has until the end of May to restructure its company to receive up to CA$7.5 billion. As part of the companies restructuring, General Motor’s chief executive Rick Wagoner was replaced Sunday with Fritz Henderson, the current chief operating officer. Henderson spoke out on Tuesday that GM has submitted a restructuring plan which would close five plants, and this may be increased to meet the requirements for financial aid. He is in full compliance with Obama’s auto task force to seek bankruptcy if GM cannot negotiate with their unions, bondholders and others.

GM recently brought forward the “GM Total Confidence” program providing consumer purchase protection for customers who lose their job for economic reasons within the first two years from purchase. As a result of Chrysler’s restructuring announcement in Canada, GM’s Canadian vehicle sales volume fell only 17.3% compared to 2008, an increase from the previous month.

GM must reduce some of its legacy costs which include its pensions and union health care costs. A part of GM’s ailments arose from investing in supplying truck and SUVs during an economy of high gas prices when consumers were demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

Tony Clement, Canada’s Minister of Industry, is hoping that the CAW will support the restructuring process and re-negotiate their agreement. Whereas a United Auto Workers negotiator has said, “I don’t see how the UAW will do anything until they see what the bondholders will give up.”

The Obama administration is looking toward bankruptcy proceedings for the automakers, “as a mechanism to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger. [It will] quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down. What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognise that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts.” said Obama.

The auto parts suppliers and IT software exporters in India have already been affected by the declining auto sales. GM and Chrysler software contracts provide US$300 to 350 million a year to vendors in India. As well these two major automakers usually award US$1 billion contracts to auto parts suppliers. “We are worried and closely watching the developments in the US to gauge the impact. The decline in auto sales in the US has already hit the order books of Indian suppliers,” said a Delhi auto parts supplier.

“Going forward, the industry will undoubtedly be smaller, but if our efforts are successful it will be viable and it will support good jobs for Canadians,” said Clements.

Betty Sutton, Ohio’s Congresswoman put forward the CARS act which provides a US$3,000 to 5,000 incentive for those who trade in their vehicle for a fuel-efficient car. “It clearly stimulates the economy, and it gets the consumer into the showroom and gets them buying again. But importantly — and this is what I particularly like about it — it really helps the environment quite a bit in two respects.” said William Clay Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company has not come forward with requests for assistance.

Since December GM and Chrysler have received US$17.4 billion government loans.

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World Wrestling Entertainment heir Shane McMahon resigns from the company

Friday, October 16, 2009

Predicted heir to World Wrestling Entertainment Shane McMahon has announced he will leave the company on January 1, 2010. McMahon is the son of current owner Vincent K. McMahon and the current Executive Vice President of Global Media for the company. With the departure of Shane, it will be the first time that a male heir will not take over the company when Vince retires.

Shane announced his resignation on WWE.com earlier today saying, “It is with great sadness that I announce my resignation from the WWE, effective January 1, 2010.” He mentioned how he “never even considered a future outside the walls of the WWE.” He continued to thank his father and superstars of today and the past. According to Shane, he resigned because it was his “to pursue outside ventures.”

World Wrestling Entertainment released an official statement responding to Shane’s announcement. Current owner and Shane’s father Vince McMahon said, “Even though I am personally saddened by Shane’s decision to leave the company, I am proud of the enormous contributions he has made. He will unquestionably bring passion, commitment and extensive business experience to any endeavour he pursues.”

Shane was the fourth generation to World Wrestling Entertainment. He is the son of Vincent K. McMahon, the grandson of Vincent J. McMahon and the great-grandson of Jess McMahon. He has two sons who are considered the fifth generation.

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Digital Camera Buying Guide For The Rookies

Submitted by: Jason Bacot

Digital camera’s are all the rage these days. Never before has it been so easy to take high quality photos with such little effort. There are a huge range of digital cameras on the market, with many different types to chose from. If you need to know some the key things that you should consider when buying a digital camera, then continue reading this article.

One of the first things you need to think about is how much memory you need on the camera. If you are someone who prefers to store you images on your camera rather than your computer, then you will need a large memory card.

Also, if you are using a professional camera, then adding extra memory is very important. Professional cameras take up a lot more memory than standard digital cameras.

Another thing to consider is the size of the camera. If you will be carrying your camera around often, then there are many compact cameras you should take a look at. Remember, just because a camera is small does not it lacks picture quality. Many small cameras have the same mega pixel count as more expensive cameras; they are ideal for point and shoot picture taking.

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Something to make sure of when when buying a camera is that you buy one that comes with back up batteries. If you’re camera runs out of power at the wrong time, you can miss out on many priceless photo opportunities. You may also want to invest in rechargeable batteries, so that you can reuse them again and again.

When choosing which model to buy, find out which brands are the most popular and well renowned. The two leading manufacturers of digital cameras are Canon and Nikon, who both sell low end, mid-range, and professional cameras.

Low end cameras are very affordable and usually cost $200 or less. These cameras are designed for amateurs, who only use their cameras occasionally. Popular models include the Canon Powershot 1500IS, EOS 3500, and the Nikon D60.

Mid-range cameras are fore more experience shooters who want more control over their output. They are not professional cameras, but they do possess many manual controls. Some even have metal bodies. Some of the best models are the Canon D35, EOS 45, and the Nikon D5000.

Professional Cameras are used by people who earn a living through photography. These cameras are large and heavy, making them uncomfortable to carry. They require many accessories and add-ons. Their shutter speed is extremely fast, and they possess auto focusing technology. Models in this category such as the Nikon D3000, or the Canon 1N/1V/1D’s are very expensive.

When buying a digital camera, you need to think about what type of photos you will be taking. Will you be taking photos in the sunshine? At night? Indoors/outdoors? Different cameras are better in certain levels of light than others, so be sure to read reviews to find out what light your camera is best suited for.

If you take all the points outlined in this article in to consideration, then you will the idea digital camera for you.

About the Author: Jason Bacot – Before you go out and buy any old camera, make sure you check out our

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and stay up-to-date on all the

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European Court of Justice says Facebook must remove ‘illegal’ posts globally

Sunday, October 6, 2019

On Thursday, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) — the supreme court on matters of European Union (EU) law — ruled in regard to the case “Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek vs. Facebook Ireland Limited”. The Luxembourg-based court issued a judgement favorable to the plaintiff, Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, a politician in Austria, allowing an Austrian court to require social media site Facebook to remove a post from its site made by a user in Ireland. The ruling made proclamations which analysts say could have far-reaching implications for regulation of content on the Internet beyond the borders of the EU. The court’s decision cannot be appealed.

In 2016, a Facebook user registered from Ireland shared publicly a news article from the Austrian news site oe24.at along with some comments of their own. The post, which was about Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, the then chair and spokesperson for The Greens, could potentially be seen by anyone with access to Facebook. The comments called her political party facsist and termed her a “corrupt oaf” and a “lousy traitor”.

Glawischnig-Piesczek sued in Austria for defamation and won. Facebook was ordered to remove the post which it did by making it unavailable to view in Austria only. This apparently did not appease Glawischnig-Piesczek. As a result, the Supreme Court of Justice (Oberster Gerichtshof?) of Austria brought the case before the ECJ, asking for clarifications of EU law.

The EU law Electronic Commerce Directive 2000 provides liability protections for hosting sites. In its finding, the ECJ set rules for compliance with rulings from a court from any EU member nation for any website which hosts user content:

By today’s judgment, the Court of Justice answers the Oberster Gerichtshof that the Directive on electronic commerce, which seeks to strike a balance between the different interests at stake, does not preclude a court of a Member State from ordering a host provider:

  • to remove information which it stores, the content of which is identical to the content of information which was previously declared to be unlawful, or to block access to that information, irrespective of who requested the storage of that information;
  • to remove information which it stores, the content of which is equivalent to the content of information which was previously declared to be unlawful, or to block access to that information, provided that the monitoring of and search for the information concerned by such an injunction are limited to information conveying a message the content of which remains essentially unchanged compared with the content which gave rise to the finding of illegality and containing the elements specified in the injunction, and provided that the differences in the wording of that equivalent content, compared with the wording characterising the information which was previously declared to be illegal, are not such as to require the host provider to carry out an independent assessment of that content (thus, the host provider may have recourse to automated search tools and technologies);
  • to remove information covered by the injunction or to block access to that information worldwide within the framework of the relevant international law, and it is up to Member States to take that law into account.

According to the ruling, a host, such as Facebook, must remove the original post as well as re-posts and posts which state essentially the same thing if it is deemed against the law. Steve Peers of the University of Essex, speaking to BBC, said, “If there’s a court order to say that someone’s been defamed, then Facebook has to also search for different variations of it”, also observing, “[t]here’s no harmonised defamation law internationally”.

Jennifer Daskal of American University and contributor to Slate wrote, “a single EU country (in this case Austria) could demand an online provider (in this case Facebook) to take down an objectionable post, monitor its site for equivalent content, and take down those postings as well. And it says a country could do so on a global scale, regardless of where the poster or the viewer is located. In so ruling, the court demonstrated a shocking ignorance of the technology involved and set the stage for the most censor-prone country to set global speech rules.”

Facebook released a statement which read, in part, “This judgment raises critical questions around freedom of expression and the role that internet companies should play in monitoring, interpreting and removing speech that might be illegal in any particular country”. Facebook further claimed, “It undermines the long-standing principle that one country does not have the right to impose its laws on speech on another country”.

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Wikinews discusses DRM and DMCA with Richard Stallman after GitHub re-enables public access to youtube-dl

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

On November 16, code-sharing and hosting service GitHub re-enabled the public access to youtube-dl repository, a software which can download videos from the internet via the command-line. This move comes after Mitchell Stoltz, a Senior Staff Attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), sent a letter to GitHub on the behalf of youtube-dl’s maintainers. The repository was previously blocked on October 23, after GitHub received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take-down notice from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Started in July 2008, youtube-dl is a free/libré open source software written in Python which can download videos from various websites. Citing alleged violation of 17 U.S. Code § 1201 Circumvention of copyright protection systems, RIAA’s takedown notice had alleged youtube-dl was intended to circumvent the technological protection measures of streaming services and to redistribute music videos without authorisation. youtube-dl’s source code had a number of unit tests to check if the software works in different circumstances or not. Some of the test cases included URLs of some copyrighted songs.

In the letter to GitHub, EFF’s attorney Stoltz said “This file contains series of automated tests that verify the functionality of youtube-dl for streaming various types of video. The youtube-dl source code does not, of course, contain copies of these songs or any others […] the unit tests do not cause a permanent download or distribution of the songs they reference; they merely stream a few seconds of each song to verify the operation of youtube-dl. Streaming a small portion of a song in a non-permanent fashion to test the operation of an independently created software program is a fair use.” The letter stressed “youtube-dl does not decrypt video streams that are encrypted with commercial DRM technologies”.

The URLs to copyrighted songs were removed from the source code on November 16, and replaced with a test video that uploaded on YouTube by Philipp Hagemeister, former maintainer of youtube-dl. Philipp Hagemeister had previously spoken about the takedown with Wikinews.

youtube-dl comes with a small JavaScript interpreter where it acts as a web-browser would behave while receiving video data from the server. The script has “extractors” for various websites to handle videos from different sources. “Any software capable of running JavaScript code can derive the URL of the video stream and access the stream, regardless of whether the software has been approved by YouTube”, the letter read. It borrowed an analogy of Doors of Durin from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for explanation: travelers come upon a door that has writing in a foreign language. When translated, the writing says “say ‘friend’ and enter.” The travelers say “friend” and the door opens. As with the writing on that door, YouTube presents instructions on accessing video streams to everyone who comes asking for it.

Hours after the public access was restored, Sergey M, one of the maintainers of youtube-dl wrote on GitHub, “We would like to thank @github for standing up for youtube-dl and making it possible to continue development without dropping any features. We appreciate [GitHub] for taking potential legal risks in this regard. We would also like to thank [EFF] and personally [Mitch Stoltz] for invaluable legal help. We would also like to heartily thank our main website hoster Uberspace who is currently being sued in Germany for hosting our essentially business card website and who have already spent thousands of Euros in their legal defense.”

Hours after GitHub restored the public access to the repository, Stoltz tweeted “I think of youtube-dl as a successor to the videocassette recorder. The VCR empowered people to take control of their personal use of free-to-air video, but it had to be saved from the copyright cartel. The same goes for youtube-dl. GitHub did the right thing here.”

youtube-dl is used by thousands of people around the world. Multiple Creative Commons-licensed and public domain videos on Wikimedia Commons are uploaded via a tool called video2commons, which relies on youtube-dl to download media. youtube-dl also lets users download videos from LiveLeak — a video-sharing platform for citizen journalism. Videos downloaded using youtube-dl are also used for the purpose of fair use, or for evidence.

When a copyright holder chooses to release their work, be it a photograph, a video, or audio, under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license, they allow everyone to freely own, share or modify the work as long as the reusers properly attribute the author of the work. YouTube also hosts many audio and video recordings in the public domain which can be used for any purpose without any restrictions.

In the blog post announcing “youtube-dl is back”, GitHub said, “Although we did initially take the project down, we understand that just because code can be used to access copyrighted works doesn’t mean it can’t also be used to access works in non-infringing ways. We also understood that this project’s code has many legitimate purposes, including changing playback speeds for accessibility, preserving evidence in the fight for human rights, aiding journalists in fact-checking, and downloading Creative Commons-licensed or public domain videos.”

GitHub also announced any new 1201 takedown notices will be “carefully scrutinised by legal experts” to reject “unwarranted claims”, and said it will side with software developers if the claims are ambiguous. The announcement also mentioned GitHub Trust and Safety team would treat developer’s tickets as a “top priority”. GitHub also pledged donation of USD 1 million for developer defense fund “to help protect open source developers on GitHub from unwarranted DMCA Section 1201 takedown claims”.

GitHub had blocked public access to many forks of youtube-dl upon receiving the DMCA notice in October. At that time, Wikinews noted public access was not yet restored for the forked repositories listed in RIAA’s copyright notice and was still displays “Repository unavailable due to DMCA takedown”.

During the period when GitHub had disabled public access for the repository, Sergey M had been developing youtube-dl and hosting it on GitLab, another code-sharing and hosting site. However, since GitHub has restored public access of youtube-dl, Sergey M has made the GitLab repository private.

After this, Wikinews reached out to Richard Stallman, the founder of Free Software Foundation, who has been highly critical of DRM (digital rights management, the subject of the DMCA) for many years now, to discuss the harms of DRM and DMCA 1201.

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Eurozone approves Greece bailout

Monday, May 3, 2010

The European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have agreed to provide the ailing Greek economy with 110 billion euros (US$146 billion) worth of loans over three years. Finance ministers from the sixteen countries that use the euro – known as the eurozone – approved the plan yesterday.

According to the plan, the EU is to provide 80 billion euros of the loans, and the IMF the other 30 billion; it is aimed at preventing Greece from defaulting on debt.

Before being fully implemented, however, the proposal must be individually approved by all fifteen other countries in the eurozone. According to Luxembourgish prime minister Jean-Claude Junker, up to 30 billion euros would be given to Greece in the first year.

German chancellor Angela Merkel commented on the proposal yesterday, saying: “The programmme is without alternative to safeguard the stability of the euro.”

The Greek government yesterday predicted that the country’s gross domestic product would drop by four percent this year; it also forecast the national debt, currently at 115% of GDP, will increase to 149% in 2013, before going down.

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Tax Lien Investing Basics: Six Things You Need To Know

Submitted by: Joanne Musa

If you believe the hype that you here about tax lien investing, you would think that you just go to a tax sale, buy some liens and make loads of money in a few months. But if that were true than everybody would be doing it! If you ve actually started to invest in tax liens then you know that there is some work involved in order to be successful. You know that you have to do your due diligence on tax sales properties. And you know that those double digit interest rates that everyone talks about can be bid down at the tax sale.

There are actually 6 things that you need to know about the state and/or county that you are investing in when you re starting out in tax lien investing.

1. The default interest rate

2. The bidding process

3. The redemption period

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4. The tax lien expiration period

5. How subsequent taxes are handled

6. Additional Penalties

These six things make a huge difference in your profit and make tax lien investing very different in different states. Let me give you three examples from states that are all bid down the interest states, but because of the other 5 factors that we mentioned investing in each of these states is quite different.

In New Jersey the default interest rate is 18% and the interest rate is bid down at the sale. But it is quite a different process from other bid down states because in NJ the interest rate can be bid down to 0% and then premium is bid for liens. That means that you do not get any interest on the certificate amount and you do not get any interest on your premium. The redemption period is 2 years and the lien expires in 20 years. So why would investors pay premium for liens and not get any interest on the lien amount? Investors are willing to pay premium for tax liens in New Jersey because once you are a lien holder you have the right to pay the subsequent taxes on the property if the owner doesn t pay them. And you get the default interest rate (18%) on your subsequent tax payments. You also do get a penalty of anywhere from 2-6% on the lien amount when the tax lien is redeemed, depending on the amount of the lien. I ve simplified the process a little, but that s basically how it works in NJ.

Florida is similar to New Jersey in that the default rate and the redemption period are the same. But bidding in Florida is a little different than in NJ. In Florida you do not get to pay the subsequent taxes on your lien. If the owner doesn t pay the taxes, the property will wind up in next year s tax sale. The interest rate is bid down at the tax sale, and the lien expires in 7 years. Bidders will not bid the interest down to zero, but will frequently bid down to .25%. They do this because they will get the 5% minimum penalty when the lien redeems.

In Arizona, the default interest rate is 16%, and the interest is bid down like in Florida and New Jersey. But the interest is rarely bid down to 0%. The redemption period is three years and the lien expires in 10 years. You can pay the subsequent taxes but you only get the interest rate that you bid at the tax sale on your subsequent tax payments. Some counties in Arizona actually force you to pay the subsequent taxes in that if you don t pay them they will sell your lien with the current lien in the next tax sale. The interest rate in Arizona counties is rarely bid down to lower than 6% and most bids (at least in the online tax sales) are awarded at or close to double digits. Part of the reason that investors in Arizona are not willing to bid down to very low interest rates, like in Florida, or 0% as in New Jersey is that unlike Florida and New Jersey, there is no penalty in Arizona. And there are additional costs for purchasing liens and for paying subsequent taxes, which you do not get back when the lien redeems. It s the cost of doing business with the county tax office.

So you see that tax lien investing, even among, these states which have similar interest rates, bidding procedures, and redemption periods is very different do to how they treat subsequent tax payments, and whether they have penalties or not. There are also states that have very different bidding procedures, redemption periods, expiration periods and treatment of subsequent tax payments, which can change the game quite a bit.

In Maryland for instance, the default interest rate varies with the county. Premium is bid at the tax sale but it doesn t all have to be paid unless you actually get to foreclose on the property. The redemption period in some counties is only 6 months, and the lien expires in 2 years. You do not pay the subsequent taxes unless you foreclose on the property. There are no additional penalties that the investor will receive when the lien redeems except for payment of some legal costs if the foreclosure has been started.

So you can see that it is really important to know about these 6 factors in the state and county that you are investing in. Know the rules before you bid and you will be able to build a profitable tax lien portfolio!

About the Author: Find out more about the basics of tax lien investing, like what is the difference between a tax lien and a tax deed, where s the best place to invest and how to get the tax sale information in the Tax Lien Investing Basics course at

TaxLienInvestingBasics.com

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Source:

isnare.com

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FBI recruits for “War on Porn”

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Last month, the FBI’s Washington Field Office began an internal recruitment drive to staff a new anti-obscenity squad. The job of the new squad would be to gather evidence against the “manufacturers and purveyors” of pornography, and would require eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support help. The squad would not be concerned with child pornography, but instead focus on pornography that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults. The squad would target bestiality, urination, defecation, and sadomasochistic behavior, which have a high rate of conviction in jury trials.

The initiative is described as “one of the top priorities” of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as well as FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III. Gonzales has said that “adult pornography is a threat to families and children.” Christian groups, such as the Family Research Council who have criticized Gonzales for what they consider his weak stance on abortion, welcomed the initiative with “a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general.”

Historians have criticized past FBI policies for focusing resources on cases which are easy to solve, especially stolen car cases, with the intent of boosting the agency’s success rate. Congress began funding the obscenity initiative in fiscal 2005 and specified that the FBI must devote 10 agents to adult pornography.

The adult pornography initiative is seen as a “running joke” by many agents at larger offices which usually focus on national security, technology crimes, and public corruption.

Hard-core pornography is seen as far more mainstream today, partly due to its availability on DirecTV, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., and on in-room television offerings at the Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel chains. Such companies are referred to as “white-collar pornographers” by Christian groups.

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