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Monday, January 16, 2012

Wikipedia blackout to protest SOPA progress in Congress


Company Town

The business behind the show


WalesMost people probably haven't paid much attention to the huge corporations waging war in Washington, D.C., over legislation designed to crack down on theft of movies, music and other content from the Internet. But the conflict will hit consumers in the face Wednesday, when Wikipedia and a growing number of other websites intend to go dark to protest the proposed changes.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced Monday that the hugely popular online encyclopedia would shut down to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and related legislation, which opponents say could kill websites without due process.

Wikipedia joins Reddit, Boing Boing and dozens of lesser-known sites in what some have dubbed the SOPA Strike, an attempt to widen their complaints about proposals supported by the movie industry and other media companies.

"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed, MLK on Wednesday, Wikipedia demands," Wales said via Twitter Monday, the Martin Luther King holiday. He had earlier signaled the coming blackout by tweeting: "Student warning! Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!#sopa."

The Motion Picture Assn. of America, a chief driver behind the legislation, accused the Internet companies of resorting to "gimmicks and distortion" and said that they were not interested in finding a real solution to the problem of piracy.

"Our perspective on this, from a larger perspective, is that it's part and parcel of a campaign to distract from the real issue here and to draw people away from trying to resolve what is a real problem, which is that foreigners continue to steal the hard work of Americans," said Michael O'Leary, the executive leading the MPAA's campaign for the bills.

The pending action by the protesting websites — which reportedly also included Mozilla, Wordpress and Twitpic — came after the Obama administration signaled over the weekend it would not support parts of the anti-piracy legislation.

"While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,'' said a statement from three officials: Victoria Espinel, intellectual property enforcement coordinator; Aneesh Chopra, U.S. chief technology officer; and Howard Schmidt, cybersecurity coordinator for the national security staff.
Internet operators — from giants like Google and EBay to small operators — have opposed the legislation because they said it allows companies to move to block websites and even take away their user addresses if they are deemed to have misappropriated any content.

The Internet companies said the proposed legislation — SOPA in the House and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) in the Senate — allows operators no real due process before government actions can be taken against them. They said the result would be censorship and a strangling of the free flow of information that represents the soul of Web freedom.

Lobbyists for the Internet firms said they felt their concerns had not been heeded in early rounds of the legislation. The blackouts and an outpouring of protests from everyday Internet users could turn the tide.
"A lot of people feel that nobody has been listening and this is a way to get people to listen," said Maura Corbett, spokeswoman for Net Coalition, which represents Internet titans like Google, EBay and others. "This is more than a stunt. This is saying please listen to us."

O'Leary of the motion picture trade group rejected the idea that the concerns of Internet purveyors had not been heard. He noted that SOPA's sponsor in the House had just agreed that one of the most contentious provisions — which would have allowed wholesale blocking of an offending website's domain name — would be removed from the bill.

"That was their biggest objection and it has been removed," said O'Leary. "So now they've pivoted and started complaining about something else. We are interested in working with people who want to find a real solution, not just maintain the status quo, because with that, the criminals have the advantage and that is just not acceptable."

Senate leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on "Meet the Press" Sunday that he plans to bring the online piracy legislation to a vote next week.

Related:
White House airs objections to SOPA, PIPA bills
Piracy legislation pits Hollywood against Silicon Valley
MPAA's Dodd says Hollywood is pro-Internet but anti-piracy
— James Rainey

FROM: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/

Photo: Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, seen in 2007. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

Martin Luther King Day



A Martin Luther King Video Gallery, useful for speech research or simply respecting why 26 years ago Martin Luther King Day was made a National Holiday.:

http://www.mlkonline.net/video.html

Short Film Festival

CSN Internships, Aplication Deadline February 1

Hi Prof. Lynch,

Happy New Year! Thank you for forwarding our internship information to students and your colleagues last year. To give you the quick update, in the fall 160 students went through our training program. Interns across the country have organized events on their campuses from canned food drives to support local food banks to collecting hundreds of petitions to get National Geographic to clean up its paper mill to preparing to registering students to vote in 2012.

Due to increased interest and the success from in the fall we've decided to hire more interns for our spring engagement internships. Students go through a 5-week training program to learn how to organize a campaign on campus and engage their peers on issues that matter to them. The deadline to apply for the first spring session is Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Can you make a quick announcement to your students again about our program? Feel free to forward the info below.

Thanks again,

Marites Velasquez
Field Organizer
The Student PIRGs


Student PIRG Activism Internships

If you want to make a difference and learn valuable skills, join our team of interns and volunteers. We've got plans to take on the problems our country faces - and with your help, we can win.

Spring 2012 Campaigns:
Energy Service Corps
Sustainable U
Make Textbooks Affordable
New Voters Project
Hunger Clean Up
Find out more and apply for a Student PIRG internship at http://www.studentpirgs.org/internships

Deadline for spring session 1 internship applications: Feb. 1

Test Your Internet Speed...Free.

From DSL Service Providers . ORG

Every now and then it’s a good idea to check the performance of your PC or mobile device. Bandwidth speed testing is one such check, which samples how fast your device downloads and uploads files. The results can then be compared to your ISP’s advertised speed and in some cases, other users in your area. Since the amount and the value of the results data can vary widely from one site to the next, we decided to rate the top ten bandwidth speed tests by their usefulness in testing and troubleshooting a computer:
  1. ISPGeeks.comBy far, the most informative website about all things techie, including testing data. As its name would suggest, this site is designed to provide as much info as the average user is likely to ever need, and then some.
  2. Speedtest.netSlick graphic display and a choice of servers for testing. It will show your IP address, ISP, and ping time as well as bandwidth speeds. You can then opt to share the results for regional comparisons, and to supplement the site’s test results database.
  3. DSLReports.comHere you’ll find a directory of online speed tests. We especially liked the Flash test, which gives the option of choosing from 8 different cities, with the server that is being used. Ping, line quality and FAQ tabs gave comprehensive help in sorting out the data.
  4. InternetFrog.comVery detailed test results, including average results for your ISP, and an explanation of what your down / up speeds mean in relation to file sizes. Round trip times, and quality of service are also measured.
  5. InternetServiceProviders.orgAnother site that provides very detailed analysis including round-trip time, packet info, consistency of service, etc. via 5 graphic displays. Test server site is shown, but not selectable.
  6. Xfinity Speed Test  - Shows IP address, server location (which can be selected) and distance; peak speeds as well as overall. Speedo goes only to 20Mbps, which we thought was odd for a cable ISP. Not much info to work with beyond raw test data, though the FAQ link is somewhat helpful.
  7. TestMy.net – Will test your bandwidth speed with a choice of multiple file sizes, or by using the SmarTest mode, it will automatically select file sizes up to 200 MB, according to your connection type. Fairly comprehensive test data provided, but speeds were consistently slower from the Dallas test server. The one other location, Washington D.C., did measure more comparably with the other test sites.
  8. Linksys.Speedtest.netNine test cities to choose from, including London.  Useful aid in testing your device; but be advised, there’s a daily limit on the number of tests you can make.
  9. SpeedTests.net Accurate measurements of down / up speeds, ping / latency, and provides ISP and IP address of client. Servers located in Chicago only.
  10. McAfee.comIncludes a decent explanation of the testing process and results. Lacks any selection for server sites, though; and the speedometer only goes to 2Mbps, so accuracy is impossible beyond that speed.
We would love to share with you an article that we just posted on our own blog! “10 Most Useful Bandwidth Speed Tests” (http://www.dslserviceproviders.org/blog/10-most-useful-bandwidth-speed-tests/) would be an interesting story for your readers to check out and discuss on your blog, so we hope you will consider sharing it!

Thanks so much for your time!
Laura Backes  

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
From: http://www.dslserviceproviders.org/blog/10-most-useful-bandwidth-speed-tests/

Importing Baseball

American kids are losing part of the dream.

Not home ownership or two and a half kids when they grow up.

The dream of growing up to be professional athletes.

A loophole placed in immigration law under former Texas Rangers owner President George W Bush is making it possible to sport teams to do what they would not legally be allowed to do in the US, set up paid training camps for kids a young as 8 and 12 years old to work 6 or more hours a day at their sport then sign them to half million dollar or more signing bonus's at 18.

Not bad and fair business? This applies only to foreign imports who are now allowed to be recruited and imported whenever and as often as needed.

For example, America's sport is becoming central America's, the Carribean, India, Southeast Asia and even it would seem, Austrailia's past time. At least as the pros and their farm clubs are concerned. The following is from the Wall Street Journal. There are many other stories, including about how children in other countries are raised to be pro-athletes in America, and how Americans are losing their national past times.

What do you think?


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124966930911615069.html

First posted 8-15-09

The Court’s Blow to Democracy

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.

Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

As a result of Thursday’s ruling, corporations have been unleashed from the longstanding ban against their spending directly on political campaigns and will be free to spend as much money as they want to elect and defeat candidates. If a member of Congress tries to stand up to a wealthy special interest, its lobbyists can credibly threaten: We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.

The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission radically reverses well-established law and erodes a wall that has stood for a century between corporations and electoral politics. (The ruling also frees up labor unions to spend, though they have far less money at their disposal.)

The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The Constitution they wrote mentions many things and assigns them rights and protections — the people, militias, the press, religions. But it does not mention corporations.

In 1907, as corporations reached new heights of wealth and power, Congress made its views of the relationship between corporations and campaigning clear: It banned them from contributing to candidates. At midcentury, it enacted the broader ban on spending that was repeatedly reaffirmed over the decades until it was struck down on Thursday.

This issue should never have been before the court. The justices overreached and seized on a case involving a narrower, technical question involving the broadcast of a movie that attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 campaign. The court elevated that case to a forum for striking down the entire ban on corporate spending and then rushed the process of hearing the case at breakneck speed. It gave lawyers a month to prepare briefs on an issue of enormous complexity, and it scheduled arguments during its vacation.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., no doubt aware of how sharply these actions clash with his confirmation-time vow to be judicially modest and simply “call balls and strikes,” wrote a separate opinion trying to excuse the shameless judicial overreaching.

The majority is deeply wrong on the law. Most wrongheaded of all is its insistence that corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights. It is an odd claim since companies are creations of the state that exist to make money. They are given special privileges, including different tax rates, to do just that. It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate.

The majority also makes the nonsensical claim that, unlike campaign contributions, which are still prohibited, independent expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” If Wall Street bankers told members of Congress that they would spend millions of dollars to defeat anyone who opposed their bailout, and then did so, it would certainly look corrupt.
After the court heard the case, Senator John McCain told reporters that he was troubled by the “extreme naïveté” some of the justices showed about the role of special-interest money in Congressional lawmaking.

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens warned that the ruling not only threatens democracy but “will, I fear, do damage to this institution.” History is, indeed, likely to look harshly not only on the decision but the court that delivered it. The Citizens United ruling is likely to be viewed as a shameful bookend to Bush v. Gore. With one 5-to-4 decision, the court’s conservative majority stopped valid votes from being counted to ensure the election of a conservative president. Now a similar conservative majority has distorted the political system to ensure that Republican candidates will be at an enormous advantage in future elections.

Congress and members of the public who care about fair elections and clean government need to mobilize right away, a cause President Obama has said he would join. Congress should repair the presidential public finance system and create another one for Congressional elections to help ordinary Americans contribute to campaigns. It should also enact a law requiring publicly traded corporations to get the approval of their shareholders before spending on political campaigns.

These would be important steps, but they would not be enough. The real solution lies in getting the court’s ruling overturned. The four dissenters made an eloquent case for why the decision was wrong on the law and dangerous. With one more vote, they could rescue democracy.

The above is copywrite New York Times, and is a New York Times Editorial in its entirety.

first published 1-22-2010

For previous blog coverage of the Supreme Court Decision discussed above, along with links to NPR, Wall Street Journal and other souces, click here.