Tags >> technology
Feb 02
2010

ACTA and Fair Use

Posted by Bruce Robinson in technology , rights , policy , nonprofit orgs , news , media , legislation , international , government , finances , economy , Congress , business , arts , activism

Bruce Robinson

An international trade agreement on counterfeiting, currently being negotiated in secret, may actually impose strict new enforcements of expanded copyright protections.

While it’s not unusual for international trade treaties to be negotiated behind closed doors, most of the rationales for doing so don’t apply in the case of ACTA. There are 37 nations involved in the talks, and they freely share materials among themselves; it has been the public—in all of those countries—that has been excluded from the process. The high degree of secrecy surrounding the ACTA negotiations are additionally suspicious, says the Electronic Frontier Foundation's International Policy director, Gwen Hinze (left) , when contrasted with the way other similar pacts were developed in recent years.

Extending the stringent protections of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to written work that is published online has already been tried in several of the countries that are party to the ACTA negotiations, says Gwen Hinze. But everywhere that has been tried, it has prompted enormous public outcry.

Requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to enforce a “three strikes” policy against anyone accused of three violations of the new, tougher copyright protections, is being advocated by the film and music industries—who are being consulted in the ACTA negotiations—and opposed by the ISPs, who are on the outside. The Electronic Frontier Foundation agrees with the ISPs, because, as Hinze observes, there are too many ways such an enforcement policy can go wrong.

There's additional background information on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement here. EFF is also mounting a letter-writing campaign to urge that  Congress demand the ACTA process be opened to public scrutiny.

 

Jan 27
2010

Cytotoxins

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , waste , toxic , technology , speaker , research , public safety , medicine , healthcare , government , environment , drugs , chemicals , activism

Bruce Robinson

 Inside the human body, powerful anti-cancer drugs can be life-saving medicine. But when they pass through into the environment, these potent chemicals may pose a health hazard that is only starting to be recognized.

Jim Mullowney has taken his concerns about cytotoxic chemicals and their disposal to top scientists in key federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, which issued an unprecedented collaborative response to the issue last year.

Because cyto-toxic chemotherapy drugs pass through the human body and are excreted, they typically wind up in wastewater flows, which Mullowney cautions can be very hazardous for septic systems, and potentially for the fresh water supplies in the adjacent area.

The long-term consequences of discharging these chemicals into the air and water are only beginning to be studied, but based on his own understanding of them, Mullowney speculates they could eventually be tied to some other public health mysteries.

Jim Mullowney will also discuss cytotoxins and the risk they pose to fresh water supplied on a forthcoming edition of the local cable access television program, The Holistic Half, to be broadcast on Comcast Channel 30 in Sonoma County in the first week of March.

 

 

Jan 22
2010

"The Empathic Civilization"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in technology , speaker , Sonoma , sacred , resources , research , religion , peace , Ideas , history , government , environment , energy , community , climate change , author

Bruce Robinson

Empathy, not self-interest, is the core impulse of human nature, according to social analyst Jeremy Rifkin. And that realization may hold the key to successfully responding to the environmental and economic challenges that now confront humanity.

One key to recent scientific research relating to empathy is the discovery of  “mirror neurons,” a finding that originated, Rifkin relates, in a chance encounter during some unreleated experiments with monkeys in an Italian laboratory.

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Jan 15
2010

Earthquake Tweets

Posted by Bruce Robinson in technology , public safety , media , international , Ideas , gadgets , environment

Bruce Robinson

Earthquake researchers are turning to a new tool to help them quickly gauge the location and severity of newly occurring temblors—Twitter.

The USGS has developed a prototype application to search and capture Twitter feeds that make reference to earthquakes, according to Paul Earle, at the agency’s Earthquake Information Center in Colorado. But it’s still in the beta testing mode.

Longer term plans for making use of the quake-related tweets may include publishing maps showing where they originated, but Earle says that’s still well off into the future.

Still, as the graphic below shows, there is strong evidence already available to suggest that there will be plenty of content for the USGS program to work with as soon as it is fully operational.