Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monsanto's Haunting: Who You Gonna Call? Trust Busters!

From the Washington Post:


Monsanto's dominance draws antitrust inquiry

Patented seeds are go-to for farmers, who decry their fast-growing price

For plants designed in a lab a little more than a decade ago, they've come a long way: Today, the vast majority of the nation's two primary crops grow from seeds genetically altered according toMonsanto company patents.

Ninety-three percent of soybeans. Eighty percent of corn.

...

But for farmers such as Lowe, prices of the Monsanto-patented seeds have steadily increased, roughly doubling during the past decade, to about $50 for a 50-pound bag of soybean seed, according to seed dealers.

... Monsanto's dominant role in the nation's agriculture, has not unfolded without complaint. Farmers have decried the price increases, and competitors say the company has ruthlessly stifled competition

The complete article is here

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lynne Stewart Sent To Prison

Her indictment was an outrage. So too was her conviction. The fact that this seventy year old veteran civil rights attorney has been sent to prison is a crime itself. She is serving a 28 month sentence although the Court of Appeals has remanded her case back to the original trial court with the hope that her sentence will be lengthened. The Bush Justice Department had sought a 30 year sentence. www.lynnestewart.org/ (NB: The Obama administration, the current administration, is continuing to seek jail time)

"Lynne Stewart should be set free," stated Brian Becker, national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition. "Her conviction is part of an-going war against civil rights and particularly against the Arab-American and Muslim community. With her jailing the government is sending a definite and chilling message to all the attorneys in this country - 'do not represent Arab people and or Muslims.'


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Justice Department Demands (and retracts) Private Info from News Site

The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

But the Justice Department never replied. "This is the first time we've seen them try to get the IP address of everyone who visited a particular site," Bankston said. "That it was a news organization was an additional troubling fact that implicates First Amendment rights."

This is not, however, the first time that the Feds have focused on Indymedia -- a Web site whose authors sometimes blur the line between journalism, advocacy, and on-the-streets activism. In 2004, the Justice Department sent a grand jury subpoena asking for information about who posted lists of Republican delegates while urging they be given an unwelcome reception at the party's convention in New York City that year. A Indymedia hosting service in Texas once received a subpoena asking for server logs in relation to an investigation of an attempted murder in Italy.
....
Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn. Around the same time, according to the EFF, the group had a series of discussions with assistant U.S. attorneys in Morrison's office who threatened Clair with possible prosecution for obstruction of justice if she disclosed the existence of the already-withdrawn subpoena -- claiming it "may endanger someone's health" and would have a "human cost."
.....
Bankston has written a longer description of the exchange of letters with the Justice Department, which he hopes will raise awareness of how others should respond to similar legal demands for Web logs, customer records, and compulsory silence. "Our fear is that this kind of bogus gag order is much more common than one would hope, considering they're legally baseless," Bankston says. "We're telling this story in hopes that more providers will press back and go public when the government demands their silence."


The Original Article is Here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fed’s Search of Twittering Activist's Home Upheld

From Wired: "When protesters in Iran similarly used Twitter to organize anti-government rallies, the U.S. State Department hailed the micro-blogging service as a boon to democracy."

U.S. district court judge Dora L. Irizzary found no reason to throw out the government’s search of the home of a 41-year old social worker who used the micro-publishing service Twitter to help anti-globalization protestors at the recent G-20 convention, clearing the way for the feds to look through the evidence they collected. Madison and his attorney sought to have his possessions returned unexamined, on the grounds the search violated his constitutional rights to free speech.

Full Article is HERE

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Secret copyright treaty leaks. It's bad. Very bad.

From Boing Boing: The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama's administration refused to disclose due to "national security" concerns, has leaked. It's bad. It says:

  • * That ISPs have to proactively police copyright on user-contributed material. This means that it will be impossible to run a service like Flickr or YouTube or Blogger, since hiring enough lawyers to ensure that the mountain of material uploaded every second isn't infringing will exceed any hope of profitability.

  • * That ISPs have to cut off the Internet access of accused copyright infringers or face liability. This means that your entire family could be denied to the internet -- and hence to civic participation, health information, education, communications, and their means of earning a living -- if one member is accused of copyright infringement, without access to a trial or counsel.

  • * That the whole world must adopt US-style "notice-and-takedown" rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is accused -- again, without evidence or trial -- of infringing copyright. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy means of censoring material, just by accusing it of infringing copyright.

  • * Mandatory prohibitions on breaking DRM, even if doing so for a lawful purpose (e.g., to make a work available to disabled people; for archival preservation; because you own the copyrighted work that is locked up with DRM)
Article is here: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/11/03/secret-copyright-tre.html

Pennsylvania Drops All Charges Against Madison & Wallschlager for Twittering

"In the face of a PR nightmare, Pennsylvania authorities have withdrawn all charges against two members of Tortuga accused of using Twitter to aidprotesters at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.  At a hearing today, insteadof oral arguments regarding a defense motion to unseal the secret 18-page affidavit authorizing the arrests of Elliott Madison and MichaelWallschlager at a motel just outside of Pittsburgh, the prosecution immediately moved to withdraw all charges against the two before the defense had a chance to argue its case.  Although clear from the beginningthat these charges were absurd based on the State’s very own laws, our housemates were incarcerated for 36 hours, had their van towed and belongings confiscated, and one house member was given $30,000 in straight bail." 
Full post here:http://friendsoftortuga.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/tortuga-house-update-pennsylvania-drops-all-charges-against-madison-wallschlager-for-twittering/

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lack of legal access for immigration detainees in New York

"A startling petition arrived at the New York City Bar Association in October 2008, signed by 100 men, all locked up without criminal charges in the middle of Manhattan.

In vivid if flawed English, it described cramped, filthy quarters where dire medical needs were ignored and hungry prisoners were put to work for $1 a day.

The petitioners were among 250 detainees imprisoned in an immigration jail that few New Yorkers know exists. Above a post office, on the fourth floor of a federal office building in Greenwich Village, the Varick Street Detention Facility takes in 11,000 men a year, most of them longtime New Yorkers facing deportation without a lawyer."

"[M]ost detainees with a legal claim to stay in the United States are routinely transferred to more remote jails before they can be helped. The lawyers say their effort has laid bare the fundamental unfairness of a system where immigrant detainees, unlike criminal defendants, can be held without legal representation and moved from state to state without notice."

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/nyregion/02detain.html?hp