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From: TimF2/22/2012 2:20:02 AM
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Earth, solar wind and fire: Northern lights and molten lava come together in landscape that could be out of this world

By Rachel Rickard Straus
Last updated at 12:12 PM on 20th February 2012

With their vivid colours and alien landscapes, these pictures look like they could be of another world.

They capture two of nature’s most spectacular sights - the northern lights and an erupting volcano in Iceland - in a single shot.

Photographer James Appleton from Cambridge braved the mighty flames of the Fimmvvrpuhals volcano and the frozen bite of the harsh Icelandic winter – and was rewarded with these incredibly rare shots.

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From: Peter Dierks2/23/2012 7:53:39 PM
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Web Firms to Adopt 'No Track' Button
FEBRUARY 23, 2012.

A coalition of Internet giants including Google Inc. has agreed to support a do-not-track button to be embedded in most Web browsers—a move that the industry had been resisting for more than a year.

The reversal is being announced as part of the White House's call for Congress to pass a "privacy bill of rights," that will give people greater control over the personal data collected about them.

The industry has been caught in a number of high-profile privacy slip-ups. Facebook Inc. recently agreed to settle charges by the U.S. government that some of its privacy practices had been unfair and deceptive to users. And last week, Google acknowledged it had been circumventing the privacy settings of people using Apple Inc.'s Web-browsing software on their iPhones, iPads and computers. It stopped the practice after being contacted by The Wall Street Journal.

The new do-not-track button isn't going to stop all Web tracking. The companies have agreed to stop using the data about people's Web browsing habits to customize ads, and have agreed not to use the data for employment, credit, health-care or insurance purposes. But the data can still be used for some purposes such as "market research" and "product development" and can still be obtained by law enforcement officers.

The do-not-track button also wouldn't block companies such as Facebook Inc. from tracking their members through "Like" buttons and other functions.

"It's a good start," said Christopher Calabrese, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. "But we want you to be able to not be tracked at all if you so choose."

The do-not-track button has been hotly debated ever since the Federal Trade Commission called for its adoption about two years ago. Mozilla Corp.'s Firefox Web browser was the first to add the do-not-track option early last year. Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer Web browser added it soon after, and Apple included it in the latest version of its operating system, Mountain Lion, which was released to developers this year.

But even people who clicked on the button were still being tracked because advertisers and tracking companies hadn't agreed to honor the system.

Thursday's announcement means they will work to begin adopting and honoring the system within nine months, according to the coalition, the Digital Advertising Alliance, which represents over 400 companies.

Speaking for the industry, Stuart Ingis, general counsel for the Digital Advertising Alliance, said the decision to adopt do-not-track is an "evolution" of the industry's approach. Previously, the industry had been pushing for consumers to "opt out" of Web tracking by clicking on icons in individual advertisements that offered consumers a choice of blocking the customized ads. Mr. Ingis said that the industry will continue that approach while it's in the process of adopting the do-not-track system.

Google is expected to enable do-not-track in its Chrome Web browser by the end of this year.

Susan Wojcicki, senior vice president of advertising at Google, said the company is pleased to join "a broad industry agreement to respect the 'Do Not Track' header in a consistent and meaningful way that offers users choice and clearly explained browser controls."

White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Daniel Weitzner said the do-not-track option should clear up confusion among consumers who "think they are expressing a preference and it ends up, for a set of technical reasons, that they are not."

Some critics said the industry's move could throw a wrench in a separate year-long effort by the World Wide Web consortium to set an international standard for do-not-track. But Mr. Ingis said he hopes the consortium could "build off of" the industry's approach.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz applauded the industry's move as a "very important step forward." He added the FTC would enforce compliance with the self-regulatory moves.

The Obama administration just concluded a two-year study of how to regulate the commercial collection of consumer data online. The administration's report, expected to be released Thursday, calls for Congress to pass a "privacy bill of rights" that will give people greater control over the personal data collected about them.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson added the administration won't wait for legislation before taking action on privacy. He said his agency will start convening industry groups and asking them to voluntarily agree to the privacy bill of rights guidelines.

"This approach gives us more speed and flexibility than the traditional regulatory process," he said.

Separately, a group of dozens of state attorneys general have raised concerns with Google over the Internet giant's updated privacy policy, marking the latest public flare-up over the planned changes. In a letter addressed to Google Chief Executive Larry Page on Wednesday and signed by more than 30 attorneys general, the National Association of Attorneys General wrote that Google's new policy of consolidating privacy practices across products "is troubling for a number of reasons."

In a statement a Google spokesman said that, "Our updated Privacy Policy will make our privacy practices easier to understand, and it reflects our desire to create a seamless experience for our signed-in users."

Write to Julia Angwin at

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From: TimF2/23/2012 7:57:01 PM
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From: Peter Dierks2/23/2012 8:15:24 PM
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New Tool in Trademark Fights
Start-Ups 'Shame' Bigger Companies; 'Coming Down Hard on the Little Guy' .
FEBRUARY 23, 2012.

Phil Michaelson embraced a new tactic in trademark battles—online shame—after he created a web cookbook last year for people to collect and share recipes.

The cookbook let consumers save the instructions for making a certain dish by clicking on a "K" for "Keep." But AdKeeper Inc., a New York-based service that allows users to save, or "keep," online ads, sent Mr. Michaelson a letter claiming his use of the "K" and "Keep" as well as his website's name,, constituted "blatant trademark infringement."

Mr. Michaelson said he couldn't afford a legal battle, but also didn't want to give in to demands that he abandon his website's name and features. So he posted the cease-and-desist letter on, a website created by several U.S. universities to help protect lawful online activity from legal threats.

AdKeeper executives declined to comment.

Mr. Michaelson said a group of entrepreneurs who saw AdKeeper's cease-and-desist letter on the website passed it along to their lawyers, who have offered to represent him at no charge in the trademark dispute. No case has been filed in court.

As the economy recovers and competition heats up, trademark disputes are on the rise: Claims rose 5% to 3,692 in the year ended March 2011, according to U.S. district court records.

These costly scuffles can be difficult for start-ups with limited resources. But a growing number of business owners have begun fighting back using a tactic lawyers describe as "shaming," or exposing what they view as baseless trademark infringement threats on the Web or through social-networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The strategy can sometimes provide entrepreneurs with negotiating leverage or other benefits, lawyers say. "Trademarks are meant to protect your image, so it doesn't really help to look like you're coming down hard on the little guy," said Wendy Seltzer, a Yale Law School fellow who founded The site collects cease-and-desist letters in trademark disputes and posts the notices online.

Kenneth Port, director of the Intellectual Property Institute at the William Mitchell College of Law, said he isn't convinced that social media campaigns can really deter big corporations from protecting valuable trademarks, because intellectual property laws require them to be aggressive—even against minor infractions—or risk weakening the scope of their protections.

Also, many trademark infringement claims raise legitimate concerns and shaming tactics can backfire by highlighting infringing conduct, according to David Bernstein, a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. However, "social media gives defendants a new way to try to embarrass trademark owners who may be overreaching," he said.

Bo Muller-Moore, a T-shirt maker in Vermont, said shaming resulted in thousands of dollars in financial support. He received a cease-and-desist letter from Chick-fil-A Inc. over his use of the slogan "Eat More Kale" in September. Chick-fil-A's slogan is "Eat Mor Chikin."

Mr. Muller-Moore created a Facebook page and an online petition that has several thousand supporters—including the governor of Vermont. He also added a "donate" link to his website, and has raised more than $10,000 to defend himself, he said.

"If this had happened to me 10 years ago it would have been a very different story," Mr. Muller-Moore said, noting that he rarely used Facebook or Twitter before the dispute arose.

A Chick-fil-A spokesman said the company issued the letter only after Mr. Muller-Moore applied for a national trademark in August. "We have not sued the party, we just simply asked him to stop because he was applying for what we already have," the spokesman said.

Sometimes customers use social media to shame bigger companies on behalf of a local business they patronize.

In 2010, General Mills Inc., holder of the Pillsbury Dough Boy trademark, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Tami Cromar, a Salt Lake City, Utah, baker then using the name My Dough Girl. One of her customers was so upset, he created a protest page on Facebook that attracted more than 2,000 fans in eight weeks, she said.

Still, Ms. Cromar opted not to fight General Mills, and instead changed her business name to RubySnap. "A case like that could go on for 20 years," she said. "We just wanted to focus on what we do—making cookies."

A General Mills spokesman said the matter has been resolved.

Write to Angus Loten at

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From: TimF2/23/2012 8:23:29 PM
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Money Does Not Corrupt Politics, State Power Corrupts Politics

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To: Neeka who wrote (6043)2/23/2012 8:49:12 PM
From: TimF
   of 7536
American Economic Freedom: Moving in the Wrong Direction

Economic freedom in the United States continues to decline according to the latest Index of Economic Freedom (compiled by the Heritage Foundation) as reported today by Ed Feulner in the Wall Street Journal.

This chart plots the Index from 2006 to 2012. There has been a decline every year since 2007 with a record decline from 2009 to 2010 and another large decline from 2011 to 2012. While nearly every component of the index has declined since 2007, two of the larger declines were due to an increase in government spending as a share of GDP (forcing that component down from 60.3 to 46.7) and a reduction on monetary freedom (bringing that component down from 83.8 to 77.2). The decline in monetary freedom was not due to all the discretionary interventions by the Fed (which the index does not measure), but rather to more government interventions in the price system. Here are the details.

This is not the only quantitative measure to show a decline in economic freedom for the United States. The Economic Freedom Index (compiled by the Fraser Institute) also shows a decline as Gene Epstein points out in this recent Barron’s column, though the data only currently go through 2009

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From: TimF2/24/2012 8:42:24 PM
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“Suit by Law Student Claims Her School Negligently Admitted Her”
by Walter Olson on February 20, 2012

“A law student in Tennessee with $80,000 in education debt claims in a suit filed this week that her school should not have admitted her.” [ Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal]

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To: Peter Dierks who wrote (6055)2/25/2012 1:06:26 PM
From: TimF
   of 7536
Bar Stool Economics and How Taxes Work

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To: TimF who wrote (6059)2/25/2012 3:00:11 PM
From: Neeka
1 Recommendation   of 7536
You post a lot of sites on economics. Someone sent this to me in the mail this am, and I haven't really had the chance to look it over, but thought you might like to see it.

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To: Neeka who wrote (6060)2/25/2012 6:55:52 PM
From: TimF
   of 7536
One of the things on that site is a budget simulator, your supposed to try to reduce the federal debt to 60% of GDP by 2018 (and if it thinks you will do it by 2030, it tells you the year it will happen). I only got to 50% by 2021. If we actually did that it would be fine.

I could have gotten it quicker but some spending cut options are not given (for example you can reduce but not eliminate farm subsidies), and I think it overestimates the revenue "loss" from keeping the current tax rates (as opposed to allowing a tax increase to happen)

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