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Luckovich Toon: Law of the Land

Mass. student's $675,000 song-sharing fine upheld

BOSTON (AP) — A $675,000 verdict against a former Boston University student who illegally downloaded and shared songs on the Internet has been upheld.

A jury ordered Providence, R.I., resident Joel Tenenbaum to pay $22,500 for each of 30 songs after the Recording Industry Association of America sued him on behalf of four record labels.

Tenenbaum argued the $675,000 award violates his due process rights because it’s not tied to the injury he caused. He estimates that to be no more than $450, or the cost of 30 albums.

A federal appeals court Tuesday found Tenenbaum’s conduct was ‘‘egregious’’ because he illegally shared songs for years despite numerous warnings.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year declined to hear Tenenbaum’s appeal.


Obama talked about climate change like a man itching for a ferocious battle

By Steve LeVine

President Barack Obama today unleashed a robust plan to rein in carbon pollution, and a stinging broadside against those who would oppose him.

In 2009, Obama came into office promising a law that established a system of carbon reduction known as “cap and trade,” in which emitters essentially paid for the right to pollute. Passage seemed almost certain. Instead, under a strong lobbying attack by industry, the legislation died in the Senate in 2010.

Today, speaking at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC, Obama struck an evangelistic, defiant and single-minded tone as he said that, given Congress’s refusal to act, he will take executive action to usher in a sharp cut in carbon pollution from vehicles and electric turbines. He said that the US will no longer fund coal plants abroad unless they are equipped with equipment that captures emitted carbon. (The full text of the plan is at the bottom of this post.)

And, in the most ringing tone of all, he challenged his listeners to “invest, divest”—which, to a lot of folks on Twitter, sounded like a call to put money into zero-carbon technology companies, and pull it out of companies contributing to carbon pollution.

Obama said he had “no patience” for those who deny that climate change reflects a monumental challenge to the country—a reference to the Republican Party position that scorns the science of global warming. “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat-Earth Society,” he said.



About time, Mr. President.

Fox Lies About Temperature Record To Dispute Obama's Climate Speech

Fox News is questioning accurate temperature data in an attempt to refute evidence of climate change cited by President Barack Obama in a major speech Tuesday.

During coverage of Obama's address, Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked weather forecaster Joe Bastardi whether Obama's statement that "[t]he 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years" is correct. Bastardi responded "no":

But Politifact examined the temperature data and rated a similar statement by Obama true:

Data from NASA shows 13 of the hottest years on record have come in the last 15, and by a different data set produced by NOAA, 14 of the hottest years on record have come in the last 15. Obama was actually over-cautious in his statement, so we rate his statement True.

Furthermore, studies have shown that the "urban build-up" that Bastardi referenced has not compromised the reliability of this temperature data.

While Cavuto suggested that Bastardi was "part of the 3 percent" of climate scientists who deny manmade climate change, Bastardi is not a climate scientist and weather forecasting differs from climate science in important ways. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explained, the projections made by climate models are more predictable than short-term weather forecasts:

Long-term variations brought about by changes in the composition of the atmosphere are much more predictable than individual weather events. As an example, while we cannot predict the outcome of a single coin toss or roll of the dice, we can predict the statistical behaviour of a large number of such trials.


Fox Newz: We Distort AND Decide.

Arizona governor: Racial discrimination doesn’t ‘take place any longer’

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) on Tuesday said the Voting Rights Act had “hampered” the state and was pleased to see a key provision of the civil rights law struck down.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court is required to preclear laws affecting voters in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which determined which states must receive preclearance.

When asked why Arizona shouldn’t be required to have its voting laws precleared, Brewer said racial discrimination was no longer a problem in the state.

“I think we were being punished by the Voting Rights Act for indiscretions, bad things that took place decades ago, and those don’t take place any longer,” she told reporters. “We have grown and so it was the right thing to do so I’m pleased.”


Clueless fucking idiot

DC Metro threatens Phantom Planter with arrest if he tends his Dupont Circle station flowers

By Robert McCartney, Published: June 22 E-mail the writer
Quirky garden artist Henry Docter has been surreptitiously planting flowers in public places on four continents since 1979. His unauthorized beautification efforts have frequently aroused surprise and delight — but never a problem until this month, when he ran afoul of Washington’s Metro transit system.

Metro threatened Docter with “arrest, fines and imprisonment” if he dared to weed, water or otherwise tend to more than 1,000 morning glories and other flowers whose seeds he planted in 176 barren flower boxes alongside the top stretch of the north escalators at the Dupont Circle station.

Metro said it’s only concerned about safety. The boxes are set in steep, cobblestoned inclines, so Metro fears that Docter could hurt himself or others if he fell.

That doesn’t impress the man who calls himself the Phantom Planter. He said Metro is exaggerating the risk. He’s had little difficulty walking up and down two narrow service ramps to get to the boxes since he started planting there in October.

In addition, Docter has told Metro that he’s willing to use a harness as Metro workers do. He’d sign a liability waiver saying he wouldn’t sue Metro if he’s hurt.

“I’ve never gotten in trouble for planting flowers,” Docter, 52, said last week. “Never has anyone overreacted with such an absence of common sense.”


Mickey Mouse In Vietnam

Rediscovered short film of the day: “Mickey Mouse Goes to Vietnam” by Lee Savage and Milton Glaser
Created in 1968, this is not an official Disney short, but it was created by Savage and Glaser as an underground anti-war film. They creators were never sued by Disney, though there was talk of legal action. Instead, the film just kind of disappeared until it recently showed back up on YouTube.

Two genetic code tweaks 500 million years ago caused evolutionary jump


Modern day reproductive systems are the result of changes in two letters of genetic code that took place 500 million years ago, a team of geneticists has discovered.

"If those two mutations had not happened, our bodies today would have to use different mechanisms to regulate pregnancy, libido, the response to stress, kidney function, inflammation, and the development of male and female characteristics at puberty," Joe Thornton, a professor of human genetics, ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, said in a statement.

Tweaks in how proteins function have been key to how humans evolve, and this study demonstrates how the smallest of mutations can be responsible for vital permanent changes. It also gives some insight as to how genetic code works to change those functions, and Thornton believes discoveries such as these will have a key role to play in developing targeted drugs that combat genetic mutations -- the better we understand how genetic mutations occur, the better equipped we'll be to combat unhelpful ones.

The team made the discovery by retracing today's steroid hormone receptor proteins' historical steps, choosing this group of proteins for their wide-ranging roles in controlling hormones for reproduction and development.


Ireland’s disastrous bank bailout emerged from banker’s “arse”

By Simone Foxman

Want a government bailout? It’s all about getting taxpayer skin in the game, according to phone conversations between two senior managers at the now defunct Anglo Irish Bank, which were released over the weekend by the Independent.

In September 2008, the Irish government stepped in to serve as the lender of last resort for the nation’s banks, offering a €400 billion guarantee meant to bolster faith in Ireland’s troubled financial system. Later that year, it pledged another €10 billion to the worst-hit lender, Anglo Irish Bank. The bailouts were part of a scheme that ultimately put the entire country at risk of bankruptcy and forced Ireland to take its own bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

But the phone conversations between John Bowe, then head of capital markets for Anglo Irish, and Peter Fitzgerald, formerly head of retail banking, indicate that bankers deliberately deceived the government about the extent of Anglo Irish’s financial problems.

The bank had asked the state for €7 billion to help it make payments as funding in global markets dried up. But Bowe said of the figure: “ picked it out of my arse.”


China’s Communist Party says controversial PX chemical is not harmful, might even taste good

By Jake Maxwell Watts

The carcinogenic petrochemical paraxylene has been the subject of heated protests in China in recent months, but the state-run The People’s Daily wants citizens to know that it is basically harmless—and even possibly delicious.

In a full-page editorial, the newspaper quotes a spokesman for Sinopac, the country’s largest oil producer, as saying the chemical is “a transparent, colourless liquid with a fragrant smell, and even tastes slightly sweet.” People’s Daily also claimed that paraxylene, also known PX, was less harmful than coffee, and that there was “inadequate evidence to conclude that PX is carcinogenic.”

The tens of thousands of Chinese citizens who have protested plans to build PX factories in their cities would certainly disagree—as would the state-owned news agency Xinhua, which has called PX “a carcinogenic petrochemical used to create raw materials for the production of polyester film and fabrics.” The People’s Daily editorial coincides with the China-South Asia expo in Kunming, where protesters have tried to stop the construction of a PX facility.

Chinese social media users were incredulous. The South China Morning Post quoted one microblogger: “Can People’s Daily assure us that the production process of PX is completely non-toxic? As a party newspaper, coming to such a rash conclusion is obviously speaking for the [petrochemical] interest groups. This is irresponsible at a time when air pollution is so severe.”

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