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Palestine: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Tue, 30/12/2014 - 02:20
Palestine: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
by Stephen Lendman
Imagine a people struggling on their own to survive. Under longstanding brutalizing occupation. Ruthless by any standard.
Denied representation by their democratically elected government. Besieged in Gaza. Attacked at Israel's discretion. By land, sea and air.
Ruled by longstanding Israeli collaborators. Enforcers for special benefits they derive.
Having their land systematically stolen. Increasingly isolated in ghettoized conclaves. 
Terrorized for not being Jews. Denied virtually all rights everyone deserves. Guaranteed under international law. 
Including self-determination. Declared in November 1988. Short of universal recognition. 
Within June 1967 borders. With East Jerusalem its exclusive capital. Its diaspora population able to return. 
Control over its resources, borders, air space and offshore waters. Full UN membership. 
With rights and privileges afforded all other member states. Why not like the 193 recognized ones? Why left out? Why are its nearly 12 million people worldwide excluded. Treated like nonpersons.
PA and Jordanian officials drafted a tepid statehood resolution. For submission to Security Council members. An embarrassment and then some. 
Ignoring international law. Denying millions of long-suffering Palestinians their legitimate rights. All of them. Sacrificing none.
Ones everyone deserves. Pressing for a SC vote before yearend. If guaranteed nine of 15 Council votes. 
Despite Washington's certain veto. Or blocking a resolution vote. John Kerry threatened sanctions. Economic and political. 
One-sidedly supporting Israel. Wanting fundamental Palestinian rights denied. They don't matter. Israeli ones alone are supported.
An unnamed Western diplomat said "Kerry (was) very very clear that for the United States it was not an option to discuss whatever text (is prepared) before the end of" Israel's March election.
Longstanding delay and deny US strategy. Last week, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Palestinians would not push off the vote. Despite Kerry's demand.
"We are completely at odds with Kerry on this matter," he said. 
"Kerry believes the Security Council vote will negatively impact the Israeli elections and the identity of (its) winner…We said, however, that the bid now will have a positive effect."
Last Monday, chief Palestinian negotiator/longtime Israeli collaborator Saeb Erekat denied Kerry mentioning Israel's election as a reason for postponing a SC vote.
Saying he "heard from Secretary Kerry that they need time to work a formula. They are against the UN Security Council."
"They (are) preparing for a plan to have the two-state solution. We need to prep them. We need to counsel them. But I didn't hear anything from Secretary Kerry."
Jordan's UN ambassador/Security Council representative said his government seeks consensus SC agreement. By all Council members.
Impossible with US opposition. Its high-pressure tactics against other SC members. 
As things now stand, odds against Palestine getting nine Council yes votes are extremely high. America's certain veto looms. If the resolution even comes to a vote.
Palestinian sources say ICC and other international agencies' memberships will be sought if its bid fails.
Why they weren't gotten long ago wasn't explained. Irrespective of its statehood bid.
Abbas is like Obama. Saying one thing. Doing another. On Saturday, he addressed Fatah party members. 
Saying efforts toward advancing a statehood resolution remain ongoing. Without mentioning a deadline.
Some PA members prefer waiting until January. When new Council members replace old ones. Including Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela.
Replacing Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, Rwanda and South Korea. Whether changed membership helps remains to be seen. 
US pressure is formidable. Washington backs virtually everything Israel wants. Congress is Israeli occupied territory.
Whether Abbas follows through on submitting a resolution is far from certain. Alienating America entails grave risks.
At the same time, Palestinian anger is visceral. Fed up with occupation harshness. Decades of Israeli repression. 
Relentless land-grabbing. Dead-on-arrival peace talks. Apartheid worse than South Africa's. Wars at Israel's discretion.
Dissolution with Washington as an honest broker. Controlled by Zionist lobby power. One-sidedly supporting Israel. 
Mindless of Palestinian rights. Official UN recognition of Palestinian statehood has pluses and minuses. 
Occupation harshness won't end. At least not soon. Land Israel stole won't be returned. 
Nor will it stop plundering Palestinian resources. Or agree to borders conflicting with its own. 
Or relinquish its self-declared right to Jerusalem. What it calls its eternal capital. Or end control over Palestinian air space and coastal waters.
John Kerry explained what alienating America means. For starters, US aid entirely ended. Followed by economic and political sanctions.
Punishing Palestinians for exercising their inalienable rights. Israel might respond aggressively. Annexing Palestinian land it controls.
Including over 60% of the West Bank. East Jerusalem in its entirety.  Dispossessing its Arab population. Much faster than already.
Scrapping any pretense of Israeli/Palestinian cooperation. Reacting more aggressively than ever to Palestinians asserting their rights.
Perhaps false flag instigated war on Palestine. The West Bank and Gaza combined. Inflicting horrific casualties. Mass destruction.
Making Protective Edge look mild by comparison. Fascists running Israel and America stop at nothing. Whatever the cost in human life.
Or horrific misery caused. Rogue states operate this way. None match US/Israeli ruthlessness. 
None their obsession for unchallenged raw power. None more barbaric in seeking it. 
Palestinians have only their will to live free. A mismatch and then some against America and Israel. All take. No give. 
Ruthlessly exploitive. Determined to keep Palestinians permanently subjugated. A hugely tough obstacle to overcome.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

"Fair Use Is Working!": 2014 in Review

eff.org - Tue, 30/12/2014 - 01:26

Back in January, Congress held a hearing on the state of fair use, as part of a year-long review of all things copyright that, in 2015, may lead to real legislative proposals. Among the witnesses was Professor Peter Jaszi, who had good news for the Committee: “[F]air use is working!” Meaning that, on balance, the fair use doctrine is doing its job: helping to ensure that copyright promotes, rather than impedes, creativity and innovation.

Several legal decisions this year suggest he is right. In June, for example, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that fair use sheltered book digitization, in Authors’ Guild v. Hathitrust. HathiTrust was set up by several universities to operate a digital library containing electronic scans of the universities’ books (Google provided the scans as part of its Google Books project). Most notably, the court found that the purpose of a full-text searchable database is so different from that of the underlying works that the use was “a quintessentially transformative use,” a conclusion that was key to its fair use finding.

In September, a federal court relied on that decision to reject Fox’s effort to use copyright to shut down a video “clipping” service, TVEyes. TVeyes creates a searchable database of TV and radio station broadcasts. The database enables research, commentary, and criticism that would otherwise be impossible for many of its users. Fox insisted that customers might abuse TVeyes to view Fox News without authorization, in ten minute increments.

The court largely dismissed Fox’s theories and held that TVEyes’ copying and making available of all of Fox News’ broadcast content was integral to its purpose of creating a complete and useful database.

On the other hand, many were perplexed by the outcome of another leading fair use case, Cambridge v. Patton.  That case involved the creation of electronic reserves at Georgia State University (GSU), specifically the practice of sharing digitized book and article excerpts on a secure course website. A federal district court had found that most of the uses were fair, based on a somewhat mechanical analysis. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals stressed the importance of educational uses and reaffirmed the fundamental role of fair use in our copyright scheme in protecting such uses, noting that "[t]he fair use doctrine  . . .  critically limits the scope of the monopoly granted to authors under the Copyright Act in order to promote the public benefit copyright is intended to achieve." But it went on to hold nonetheless that the e-reserve uses were not “transformative” and therefore, the district court should have given the potential effect of GSU’s practice on the publishers’ market more weight.

For 2015, all eyes are on another mass digitization case, Authors Guild v. Google. The case is a companion to Hathitrust (and indeed predates it by several years) but, for complicated procedural reasons, has stayed on its own track. One of the judges in the case, Pierre Leval, has been hugely influential in shaping the fair use doctrine. We hope the judges will issue a decision in favor of fair use and help support fair use’s continuing role as a safety valve for innovation and creativity.

This article is part of our Year In Review series; read other articles about the fight for digital rights in 2014. Like what you're reading? EFF is a member-supported nonprofit, powered by donations from individuals around the world. Join us today and defend free speech, privacy, and innovation.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInnovation
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Categories: Aggregated News

In the Spirit of the Holidays: It’s Not Too Late for Uber to Avoid Stupid Patent of the Month

eff.org - Tue, 30/12/2014 - 00:16

“Good Spirit,” he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: “Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

As our devoted readers are aware, each month we highlight a Stupid Patent. This month, in the holiday spirit, we’ve decided to highlight a Stupid Patent Application. Our motivation for doing so is that we hope that our post, like Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, encourages a prospective patentee to change its stupid-patent-application-filing-ways. You see, we recently learned that Uber has filed for a patent on something so basic, so fundamental to our economic system, that it should be called out now before it becomes too late for both Uber and the public.

Here is some background: imagine you own a transportation company. You have a limited number of seats and you know that customers are willing to pay different amounts based on their sensitivity to cost. But you don't want seats to go empty, since every empty seat is a missed profit opportunity. So you implement a system where the more demand is up or supply is down, the more you charge. Or conversely, the more demand is down and supply is up, the less you charge. And then you file a patent application for your "invention." 

Because Uber did just that, Uber is being forewarned of its risk of receiving the Stupid Patent of the Month award. Specifically, Uber has applied for a patent on a form of dynamic pricing, a practice that (even if it didn’t exist before the study of economics) has been heavily in use by various industries, including most famously by airlines, for over 20 years.  

Here is claim 1 from U.S. Patent Application 13/828,481:

1. A method for adjusting prices for services, the method being performed by one or more processors and comprising:

making a determination of an amount of requesters for a service at a given time;

making a determination of an amount of available service providers for providing the service at the given time;

adjusting a price, relative to a default price, for using the service provided by one or more service providers based, at least in part, on the determined amount of requesters and the determined amount of available service providers; and

transmitting pricing data corresponding to the adjusted price to one or more requesting devices or one or more provider devices so that the adjusted price can be displayed on at least one of the one or more requesting devices or the one or more provider devices and be indicative of an adjustment in price as compared to the default price.

Essentially, Uber claims to have invented the method of (a) checking how many people are requesting a service; (b) checking how many service providers are currently available; (c) adjusting the price based on these two factors; and (d) then showing the price to the person requesting it. Not only was such dynamic pricing almost surely known before 2012, this is a claim directed to an “abstract idea” of dynamic pricing based on supply and demand. The addition of the “transmitting” clause (i.e. “do it on a computer”) shouldn’t matter to patentability.

In filing its application, Uber acts as a good example of how our patent system has encouraged the filing of applications that should never be filed in the first place. The story here is not about a patent that has been granted, but rather that Uber thinks a patent can be granted. Applications like Uber’s clog up the Patent Office, and oftentimes issue, despite clear flaws. Once issued, they can become fodder for trolls. Or in this case, they could be used to chill investment of time and resources in competitors.

We hope Uber’s application never becomes eligible for the regular prize, because this is a stupid patent application that the Patent Office should quickly reject. We hope Uber realizes the harm patents such as this one cause to the innovation economy as a whole. It is not too late for Uber to change its ways and reject a system of Stupid Patents. We encourage Uber to join our fight against stupid patents before it suffers from “No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse.”

Related Issues: PatentsInnovation
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Categories: Aggregated News

West/Russia Rapprochement?

sjlendman.blogspot.com - Mon, 29/12/2014 - 22:05
West/Russia Rapprochement?
by Stephen Lendman
Not a chance. For sure no time soon. Despite EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Sunday saying:
"I often speak to (John) Kerry and there is complete unity in views on the Ukrainian crisis, and similar views exist in other countries, from Canada to Japan. And everyone wants to end the logic of confrontation, the wall to wall."
Western countries must "begin direct discussions with Moscow over our mutual relations and the role Russia can play in other crises."
“Russia has an important role not only in Ukraine, but also in Syria, Iran, the Middle East, (and) Libya."
In mid-December, Mogherini announced new Russian sanctions. Prohibiting EU companies from investing in Crimea. Including oil and gas exploration technologies trade.
Crimea is Russia territory. Not according to Mogherini. Saying EU nations "will never recognize (its) accession to the Russian Federation."
In July, they banned all Crimean imports. Consider US-installed fascist putschists Ukraine's legitimate government. 
A stepping stone toward EU and NATO membership. An affront to Moscow. A direct threat if Ukraine joins the Alliance.
In his September UN General Assembly address, Obama called Russian "aggression" in Southeastern Ukraine one of the world's greatest threats.
In mid-November, he said America "is leading the world in opposing Russia'a aggression against Ukraine, which is a threat to the world."
Despite Washington's full responsibility. Russia's commitment to world peace. Abhorring war. Going all-out to resolve conflicts diplomatically.
Controlling Ukraine is Washington's pretext. Russia the target. Regime change the objective. Longstanding US plans remain firm.
Carl Gershman heads the State Department-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED). One of America's lead anti-democracy initiatives.
In September 2013, he headlined a Washington Post op-ed "Former Soviet states stand up to Russia. Will the US?"
Calling Ukraine "the biggest prize." An interim step toward regime change in Russia.
"Ukraine's choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents," he said. Despite hard facts showing no revanchist Moscow aims.
"Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself," Gershman added.
Making it clear Washington's aim is destroying Russian independence. Ousting Putin. Installing pro-Western stooge governance. 
Co-opting all former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries are steps toward attaining its grand prize. 
Eliminating a main rival. Controlling its huge land mass. Balkanizing it. Stealing its resources. Exploiting its people. Isolating China.
Washington's longstanding plans remain unchanged. In mid-December, House and Senate members unanimously passed the Ukraine Freedom Support Act (UFSA) Act of 2014. Obama signed it into law.
Authorizing lethal and non-lethal aid. Besides what's already supplied. Approving more sanctions. 
Directing John Kerry to work with Ukrainian officials. Helping them reduce Russian gas imports.
Instructing Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) overseeing all US civilian and international media to submit an action plan to Congress. 
Expanding Russian language broadcasting. In former Soviet republics. Countering Russian Federation "propaganda."
Prioritizing broadcasting in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Through Voice of America. Radio Free Europe. Radio Liberty. 
Washington's global propaganda bullhorn. Suppressing hard truths. Featuring Big Lies. Turning reality on its head.
Kiev putschists threaten regional security. A dagger at Russia's heartland. Manipulated by Washington.
Russia considers US-dominated NATO a threat to its security. On Christmas day, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed fingers at Washington.
Saying "(w)e have seen and still see attempts to solve complex and not so complex problems in the world in a unilateral way…"
"(T)hrough coercion, interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states in violation of the UN Charter and the principles of the OSCE."
"I believe the most important accomplishment is that our approach in favor of equal, mutually respectful dialogue on any issue in global politics, economics and the humanitarian situation is shared by a growing number of states."
Washington's imperial agenda remains unchanged. Its policies ruthless. Its bullying relentless. Rapprochement with Russia a non-starter. 
Moscow's new military doctrine considers US-dominated NATO a strategic threat. Expanding east in violation of international law.
In November, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Moscow and Beijing should jointly stand against Western color revolutions. 
Targeting both countries. Constituting a major security threat. US-style "democracy" is America's most destabilizing export. Sergey Lavrov calls it vital to stop.
Nothing suggests change in Western/Russian relations. Mogherini's notion is co-opting Russia like its former republics.
Making it a vassal Western state. MSM in lockstep. Putin bashing remains intense. Even his responsible global outreach efforts are criticized. 
New York Times editors mocked them. Headlining "Mr. Putin's Global Courtships," saying:
Once he was welcomed in the West. No longer as tensions grow over Ukraine. He's "pursuing new friends…"
"(I)ncluding one of the world's most noxious leaders, Kim Jong-un of North Korea." Perhaps Times editors didn't notice.
Moscow maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea. At times uneasy during the 1990s. Firm under Putin since 2000.
He was Russia's first head of state to visit Pyongyang. No Soviet general secretary ever bothered.
Russian companies operate in North Korea. Transactions between both countries are in rubles, not dollars.
Times editors repeated the discredited notion about Pyongyang hacking Sony Pictures' computers. Stealing "millions of documents."
Putin invited Kim to Moscow next year. For 70th anniversary commemorations of Nazi Germany's defeat.
Times editors are relentless. Repeating one Big Lie after another. Claiming Putin invaded Crimea. Caused Ukrainian crisis conditions.
Now maintains a "Look East" policy. "(D)esigned to compensate for the loss of economic and political interaction with the West."
Times editors bashed his responsible "efforts to build closer relationships with China and India." Major countries important to all nations.
Putin seeks cooperative relations with all countries. Respecting their sovereignty. Including EU ones and America. Times editors call him an unreliable friend. (S)killful at causing problems." 
Despite going all-out to resolve some of the most intractable ones. Don't expect Times editors to explain.
Or Washington Post ones. Bashing Putin relentlessly. A mid-November editorial especially deplorable.
Claiming his "main pillars of support" include "graft, cronyism, paranoia, and resentment at Moscow's diminished post-Soviet stature…"
Saying "it's hard to overstate the importance he attaches to propaganda." Calling him a former "KGB apparatchik…"
Using "information (as) an important instrument of control, influence and intimidation. Western-style journalism and the free flow of news are anathema."
Saying his "war of aggression in Ukraine continues…(He) moved to silence the already muffled voices of domestic dissent and amplify the Kremlin's anti-Western views at home and abroad."
"(B)y us(ing) laws designed to intimidate, and through the implantation of fear, Mr. Putin can go some way toward recreating a Soviet-style grip on the information most Russian citizens consume."
It's hard imagining more convoluted rubbish. Comments legitimate editors wouldn't touch. Polar opposite hard truths.
Russia's political process is open, free and fair. Unlike duopoly power running America. Its media shame their Western counterparts. 
A propaganda bullhorn for wealth, power and privilege. Big Lies drowning out hard truths. 
Putin didn't invade Ukraine. Isn't waging aggression. Doesn't control Russia's media. 
Doesn't rig elections like America's sham process. Or stifle dissent. Or implant fear. Or govern undemocratically. WaPo editors are an instrument of US state propaganda.
So are Wall Street Journal ones. Featuring a mid-December article headlined "Putin's Year of Defiance and Miscalculation."
Repeating the long-discredited canard about taking over Crimea. Claiming "miscalculations restricted his options."
Citing Russia's economy. Affected by sanctions and low oil prices. Ukraine's conflict. Blaming him irresponsibly. 
Concluding by saying "(t)he Kremlin declined to comment for this article." Why should it bother? WSJ editors and commentators bash Putin irresponsibly. 
In lockstep with Washington's imperial agenda. Its worst crimes. Defiling rule of law principles. Targeting all independent nations for regime change.
Waging war on humanity. Threatening its survival. Don't expect media scoundrels to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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