July 9, 2012 archive

Digital Developments

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

European parliament rejects anti-piracy treaty

Eric Pfanner, Business Standard

Jul 06, 2012

Foes of the treaty said the vote, by an overwhelming margin in the European Parliament at Strasbourg, would probably end the prospects of European involvement in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, which has been signed by the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea and a number of individual EU members.

The vote was not even close, with 478 members of Parliament opposing the treaty, only 39 supporting it and 146 abstaining, yet it leaves considerable uncertainty. Under EU law, the treaty cannot go into effect without the Parliament’s endorsement.

“It’s a crushing victory,” said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, a group in Paris that was active in the treaty protests. “It’s a political symbol on an enormous scale, in which citizens of the world, connected by the internet, have managed to defeat these powerful, entrenched industries.”

The legality of second hand software sales in the EU

by Jas Purewal, Gamer Law

Posted on 3.7.12

The second hand sale of physical and digital software has effectively been declared legal, according to a judgment published by the Court of Justice of the European Union today.  This has the potential to have a real impact on the way that software is sold and consumed – but at the same time the case raises more questions than it answers, so we’re really not in a clear cut situation at all.

Essentially, the court held that, under EU law, the right of software developers to control distribution of a piece of software – whether stored physically or digitally –  is “exhausted” (i.e. lost) once the developer has been paid for it (known as a “first sale“).  This means that developers lose the ability to prohibit any second hand sale.

However, if a second hand sale goes ahead then the first purchaser must stop using her copy of the software and render it unusable, because the developer’s right to control reproduction of software is not exhausted on a second hand sale.  In order to make sure that the first purchaser stops using the software she has sold on, it is permissible for the software developer to use “technical protective measures such as product keys“.

(h/t Ian Welsh)

Verizon Playing Dangerous Game in Net Neutrality Battle

By Tony Bradley, PCWorld

Jul 3, 2012 5:13 pm

This time around, Verizon is playing the First Amendment card. The challenge, essentially, is that by limiting Verizon’s ability to choose which content to block or promote, the FCC is infringing on Verizon’s right to free speech.

There are a couple major flaws in the argument. First, an individual’s right to free speech shouldn’t apply equally to a corporation.

Second, the FCC net neutrality rules don’t actually inhibit an ISP’s ability to express itself freely. Under the FCC rules, Verizon is free to publish whatever content it chooses–it simply can’t block or discriminate against other content as a matter of business practice.

The fact of the matter is the vast majority of the data traversing the ISP’s network (like Verizon) doesn’t belong to the ISP in the first place. An argument could be made that by throttling or blocking traffic Verizon is actually the party guilty of stepping on the First Amendment rights of others.

Part of the underlying problem is the fact that the major ISPs are also content providers. Verizon has a vested interest in preventing Netflix traffic because it has its own streaming entertainment services. Comcast is owned by NBC, so it could gain a strategic advantage for its own content by throttling the bandwidth for rival networks. The simple solution is for Congress to impose regulations banning ISPs from delivering their own content, or being owned by companies that publish or deliver content.

If the net neutrality rules suggested by the FCC to keep the Internet fair and open to all seem too draconian for Verizon, perhaps the problem is that Verizon the ISP needs to be separated from Verizon the cable TV provider, or Verizon the wireless broadband provider, or Verizon the VoIP (voice over IP) phone provider.

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On This Day In History July 9

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

July 9 is the 190th day of the year (191st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 175 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1995, the Grateful Dead gave their last concert at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL.

For mishima


During dark weeks The Daily Show and The Colbert Report produce mashups.  These were posted 7/2.

5 x Five – Colbert Report on America – Patriotism (3:14)

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Garden 1

Late Night Karaoke

Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 8

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.

Stage 8 – Belfort – Porrentruy 157.5 km

Stage 8 went into the mountains of the Jura, starting in the French village of Belfort over seven mountains, the last, the Col de la Croix, a category 1 with an 800 meter 17% climb at the top. From the summit. it was a downhill race to the finish in Porrentruy, the Jurassic Park of Switzerland.


• Stage town on 29 previous occasions

• 51,500 inhabitants

• Head of the Territoire de Belfort

The renowned Lion of Belfort, sculpted by Bartholdi, has seen many champions pass by in the long history of the city, which was the next stage after Metz on the Tour’s route in 1907. A very regular stage of the Tour in the years before the war, the city has often served more often as a stage start than a finish, although Marc Demeyer, the official trailblazer of Freddy Maertens, seized the opportunity in turn to excel there, in 1978. The next day, Bernard Hinault, won the time-trial which allowed him to oust Zoetemelk from the top of the general classification and to wear the Yellow Jersey on the Tour de France for the first time.

Belfort  is a city in north-east France in the Franche-Comté région, situated between Lyon and Strasbourg. The residents of the city are called ”Belfortains”. It is located on the Savoureuse, on the strategically important natural route between the Rhine and the Rhône – the Belfort Gap (Trouée de Belfort) or Burgundian Gate (Porte de Bourgogne).

Belfort is the home of the Lion of Belfort, a sculpture by Frédéric Bartholdi expressing people’s resistance against the siege in the Franco-Prussian War (1870) – who shortly afterwards built the Statue of Liberty in New York.


Belfort’s strategic location, in a natural gap between the Vosges and the Jura, on a route linking the Rhine and the Rhône, has attracted human settlement and made it a target for armies.

The site of Belfort was inhabited in Gallo-Roman times and was subsequently recorded in the 13th century as a possession of the counts of Montbéliard, who granted it a charter in 1307.

Previously an Austrian possession, Belfort was transferred to France by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), that ended the Thirty Years’ War. The town’s fortifications were extended and developed by the military architect Vauban for Louis XIV.

Until 1871, Belfort was part of the département of Haut-Rhin, in Alsace. The Siege of Belfort, between 3 November 1870 and 18 February 1871, was successfully resisted until the garrison was ordered to surrender 21 days after the armistice between France and Prussia. Because this part of Alsace was French speaking, while the rest of Alsace was German speaking, the area around Belfort was not annexed by the Prussians. It formed, as it still does, the Territoire de Belfort. The siege is commemorated by a huge statue, the Lion of Belfort, by Frédéric Bartholdi.

The town was bombarded by the German army during World War I and occupied by it during World War II. In November 1944 the retreating German army held the French First Army before the town until French Commandos made a successful night attack on the Salbert Fort. Belfort was liberated on 22 November 1944.


• Stage town for the first time

• 6,700 inhabitants

• Cantonal commune of Jura (Switzerland)

The Franco-Swiss stages sometimes carry a lot of weight in the race’s scenario when the Tour goes there. This was the case for example, in 2009 in Verbier, when Alberto Contador dealt a decisive blow to his rivals; or going back a bit further to Crans-Montana, the resort where Laurent Fignon maintained his advantage over Bernard Hinault in 1984. As it so happened, several weeks earlier, the title holder had won a stage in Porrentruy, where the Tour de Romandie goes regularly. More recently a prologue won by Italy’s Marco Pinotti was organised there in 2010, whereas the finish of the last straight stage in 2006 favoured America’s Chris Horner.

Porrentruy is a Swiss municipality and seat of the district of the same name located in the canton of Jura.


The first trace of human presence in Porrentruy is a mesolithic tool that was found in the back yard of the Hôtel-Dieu. Scattered, individual objects have also been found from the neolithic, the late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The first known settlement in what became Porrentruy goes back to the Roman era. In 1983, the ruins of a Gallo-Roman temple were discovered in the cemetery on the north of town, and Roman coins were found there. Near the town, a kilometer long (0.6 mile) section of the Augst-Epomanduodurum (now Mandeure) Roman road was discovered.

In the back yard of the Hôtel-Dieu the charred remains of a building from the 10th or 11th century were discovered. However, the first historical mention of the name occurs in 1136 as Purrentru. The name presumably comes from the Latin pons Ragentrudis (Ragentrud bridge). Ragentrud was the wife of the Frankish King Dagobert I. The German form of the name, Pruntrut may have a separate etymology from Bruntrutum, which means an abundant spring.

The first settlement was established in 1140 in the vicinity of Church of Saint-Germain, which was built in the Early Middle Ages. The Counts of Pfirt, who owned the region around Porrentruy, built a castle on a defensible hill and made it the capital of the Ajoie territory. A settlement (now known as the Faubourg de France) was founded at the foot of the castle, with another south on the opposite hill. The city wall was probably built before 1283 and surrounded the two settlements, but not the parish church of Saint-Germain.

In 1236 the Counts of Pfirt pledged the town to the Counts of Montbeliard, however, they retained their rights to the Ajoie until 1281 when they sold the territory to the Bishop of Basel. The Counts of Montbéliard refused to hand over Porrentruy, which led Bishop Henry of Isny to request support from King Rudolph I of Habsburg. After six weeks under siege, the Count relented and handed it over to the Bishop. On 20 April 1283, the The king asked the Bishop of Basel to grant Porrentruy a town charter and make it a free Imperial city. While the Counts of Montbéliard retained some power in the town, their influence waned during the 13th century. [..]

The first parish church of Saint-Germain was replaced in the 13th century by a new building, which underwent several renovations. The Church of Saint-Pierre was completed in 1349 and became the parish church in 1475. The cathedral chapter was established in 1377. Several religious orders were active in the city, including the Jesuits who built their college in 1591. In addition to the Jesuits other orders included the Ursulines (1619), the Sisters of the Annonciade (permanently established in 1646) and the Capuchins (1663).

The first uprising against the Bishop’s power was under the Comité de la Commune de Porrentruy on 20 August 1790, but they were unable to expel the Bishop. However, on 27 April 1792, French Revolutionary troops invaded the city and drove the Bishop out. Porrentruy became the capital of a dependent republic, which was then incorporated into France in 1793 as the Département du Mont Terrible. In 1800, this department was incorporated into the Département du Haut-Rhin as a sub-département. During the War of the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon, Allied troops entered Porrentruy on 24 December 1813. Following their liberation, the future of this former episcopal seat was uncertain. The government divided into two parties, the Episcopal party that sought the return of the prince bishop as the head of a Swiss canton, while the French party wanted to retain the current secular government. However, soon after the fall of Napoleon, the municipality was given to the Canton of Bern (in 1815) to compensate for the loss of the Canton of Vaud, which had become a separate canton in 1803.

Both factions, the religious and the secular, retained power in the town in the following years. The political life in 19th century was characterized by the severe conflict between Liberal-Radicals and the Catholic Conservatives. The secular side gained power in 1860, when the mayor, Joseph Trouillat, was forced out of office. The Radicals retained the mayor’s office and a majority of the town council from 1860 until 1972.

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Anti-Capitalist Meet Up: Part I, Unemployment and Workfare in the UK by NY brit expat

“The industrial reserve army, during the periods of stagnation and average prosperity, weighs down the active army of workers during the periods of over-production and feverish activity, it puts a curb on their pretensions. The relative surplus population is therefore the background against which the law of the demand and supply of labour does its work. It confines the field of action of this law to the limits absolutely convenient to capital’s drive to exploit and dominate the workers (Marx, 1867, Capital, volume I, Penguin edition, p. 792).”


This post is part I of a series discussing the labour market under capitalism. In this part, I am addressing the issue of persistent unemployment in capitalism and the introduction of workfare in the UK specifically. I am addressing both economic and political inconsistencies of the introduction of workfare under Capitalism and Bourgeois Democracy. I conclude this post by addressing the crisis of bourgeois democracy that is exemplified by the contradictions between the introduction of forced labour and human rights, one of the strongest weapons belonging to the ideology of bourgeois democracy.

Workfare, a welfare to work scheme, which forces welfare recipients to work to earn their benefit, has existed for some time in the US (see: 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P… and for a comparison between state workfare programmes in the US see: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~gwall… Originally introduced in the UK by Labour in 1998 and insultingly called the “The New Deal” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N… ), it enabled penalties for those that refused “reasonable work” and established courses and volunteer work to get those on benefits into work and provided tax credits for working families to keep them working.

However, the attempt by the current government in the UK to extend it has led to both legal action and resistance on the part of those being forced to labour. The 2010 “Work for your Benefits Pilot Scheme” ( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/… ) and the extension of the “Mandatory Work Activity scheme” (2011: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/…  http://www.parliament.uk/docum… which is supposedly for those that are not on board with the shift from welfare to work strategy of the government) in numbers of “customers” forced to labour without pay and  in light of severe criticism in terms of the introduction of forced labour as well as the known ineffectiveness of these schemes is more than questionable. However, it is certainly consistent with the policies and beliefs of the current government.

The second part of this series will concentrate on workfare in the UK and the actions that are part of the fight-back against the extension of workfare and this will go up tomorrow at 12 noon eastern.

One of the most important contradictions in the capitalist economic system lies in the nature of the labour market itself. On the one hand, capitalism requires free labour; that is, free in the sense that it is no longer tied by law to specific aristocrats that provided subsistence in exchange for labour on their land as serfs or tied to specific masters as slaves. In fact, the existence of slavery and indentured servitude in the US arose initially due to the insufficient number of labourers; it continued due to racism and the usefulness of divide and rule amongst working people. While not denying the importance of morality and human decency, when it started to be an impediment with the development of the domestic market, capital moved to eliminate it. Free labour means that instead labour is free to sell its labour to obtain subsistence. On the other hand, the dependence upon wages earned through labour means that they are subject to the vagaries of the labour market itself and the needs of profitability and capital accumulation within the system itself.  However, from its earliest, capitalism and unemployment go hand in hand. The numbers of workers needed by the system depends essentially on profitability criterion; full employment is a fantasy, even in periods of rapid economic growth.

Pique the Geek (Elements) 20120708: Boron – Widely Used and Uncommon

If you follow this series closely, you will remember that the last element that we covered was lithium, and so the next one should be beryllium.  However, I wrote about beryllium recently and so you can just follow the link.

Last week I wrote about fireworks safety, and my piece was prescient and unfortunately evidently not read by some unfortunate youths in Arkansas.  My friend, who often comments here using the handle justasabeverage, sent me the newspaper article by email the other day that covers the topic after the fold.