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Serf world

Prison labor!

Not a liberal

Andrew Cuomo, a political whore who is determined never to lose an election like his father did.

$250,000 is nothing to the family of a brain-damaged baby, and he’s a tool for even suggesting it.

Indiana

Backbone is contagious:

Love gets in the way

Dayna Kurtz:

Michigan

Backbone is contagious:

In a scene similar to protests in Madison, Wisc., hundreds of firefighters and union members from around the state have jammed the rotunda of the Michigan Capitol building protesting what they call anti-union legislation percolating in the Legislature.

Loudly chanting, “Shame on you” and “We are union,” the protesters can be heard loudly in the Senate chamber, where bills to strengthen the powers of emergency financial managers for distressed cities and school districts were expected to be acted upon today.

It is the first time a union-led protest — several in recent weeks — has spilled into the Capitol and caused a ruckus. The Senate continued its agenda, but the shouts from the lobby were a distraction.

“They’ve awakened a sleeping giant,” said Bill Black, a lobbyist for the Teamsters union who stood in the crowd closest to the Senate chamber.

Copyright troll

Just wanted to inform y’all that I will be scrubbing the site of any news images that could result in a copyright lawsuit, as has happened to several other bloggers.

So at some point I may be limited to 1) official PR photos or 2) photos I take myself. Of course, I can still use YouTube videos.

By law, you’re supposed to get a takedown notice, and as long as you comply, it ends there. This company, owned by a Nevada lawyer, finds the images, buys the copyrights and then sues the websites in federal court without any kind of notice.

So far, they’ve made almost $400K in settlements.

Anyway, I’m not sure if they’re starting with the big blogs and working their way down, but I’m going to start removing them now, at least until this case is settled. In case you were wondering why:

New evidence surfaced Friday in the Righthaven LLC lawsuits that attorneys say could undermine Righthaven’s entire copyright infringement lawsuit campaign over Las Vegas Review-Journal stories.

Attorneys for the online freedom of speech group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed heavily-redacted court papers in Las Vegas on Friday asking the federal court for permission to use the evidence against Righthaven and Stephens Media LLC.

Stephens Media owns the Review-Journal and a Stephens Media affiliate co-owns Righthaven.

Righthaven in the past year has filed 239 copyright infringement lawsuits against website operators and message-board posters, charging material from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post has been re-posted online without authorization.

The information filed Friday involves a Righthaven lawsuit against the Democratic Underground, which was sued after a message-board user posted on the Democratic Underground site four paragraphs from a 34-paragraph Review-Journal story.

The Democratic Underground fired back with a counterclaim against Righthaven and Stephens Media. Both the lawsuit and the counterclaim appear headed toward resolution with competing motions for dismissal by Stephens Media and Righthaven and for summary judgment by the Democratic Underground.

A key issue in the litigation is the relationship between Righthaven and Stephens Media and their arrangement in which Righthaven was able to file its lawsuits after obtaining copyright assignments from Stephens Media.

Key to understanding the relationship is that Righthaven obtains rights to the copyrights weeks or months after they are allegedly infringed on by defendants posting stories, photos and graphics on their websites. Then, weeks or months after that, defendants are sued.

That’s why critics call Righthaven a copyright troll. It finds alleged infringements and then obtains the copyrights — and after that files its suits.

F*ck the banks

You know, fellas, we do remember how to use cash. It’s bad enough that we let you guys charge us for the automatic cash machines that first allowed you to lay off thousands of bank tellers when you first came up with the idea. But now you want to just keep upping the charges for using the debit cards you gave us — again, yet another device that let you cut labor costs? You bankers really have no shame:

WASHINGTON — It seemed a good idea last year, when the financial crisis had turned banks into Public Enemy No. 1 and lawmakers were looking for ways to reward consumers still bitter about billion-dollar bailouts and executive bonuses.

Without much warning or debate, the Senate passed an amendment directing the Federal Reserve to reduce the hidden “swipe fees” that banks collect from retailers each time a customer makes a purchase with a debit card.

Merchants, who had complained that the $20.5 billion in annual fees were biting into their profits, were elated. Banks were stunned. Their lobbyists tried to reverse the move, but when the overhaul of the nation’s financial regulation was passed by Congress last July, the debit card cut survived.

Now, as the Fed faces a deadline in April to write the rules for the lower fees, banks and debit card companies are engaged in an all-out assault on Capitol Hill, enlisting a growing cadre of lawmakers and lobbyists to push for changes, delay or outright repeal. Banks contend the proposed cut in fees — to 12 cents per transaction from an average of 44 cents — will leave many of them unable to afford to issue debit cards to customers or will force them to raise other consumer banking charges to cover the costs. They also claim retailers will reap unfair profits.

A coalition of banks and card companies have plastered subway cars and Internet sites with ads warning, “Bureaucrats want to take away your debit card!”

“I am appalled that our members will shoulder tremendous financial burden and still be on the hook for fraud loss while large retailers receive a giant windfall at the hands of the government,” John P. Buckley Jr., the president of Gerber Federal Credit Union of Fremont, Mich., told a House of Representatives subcommittee last week.

Uppity women

I hope this turns out well.

Pensions

For a lot of reasons, it would make so much more sense to turn Social Security into a national pension plan that covers everyone.

Catfood commission’s nine lives

I hardly know where to begin. First of all, it’s clear that the Democrats plan to implement the recommendations of the Catfood Commission, the same recommendations that couldn’t muster enough of the votes it allegedly had to get before it would be presented to the House for a vote. So that’s one really big lie to the American public; we were never meant to have any say, it’s already decided.

Second, this reporter talks about what Mark Warner’s presentation “shows.” It does not “show” anything — it contends, and it is widely disputed by many reputable economists, two of them Noble Prize winners. It is in the same factesque vein of a prosecutor’s opening statement to the jury.

But facts don’t seem to matter anymore, do they?

RICHMOND, Va.—A bipartisan group of senators is close to proposing legislation they hope will force Congress to tackle the federal government’s ballooning debt, and they have begun a road show to win public support.

The proposal would cut the federal budget deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years, roughly four times the savings the White House proposed in February, Sens. Mark Warner (D., Va.) and Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) told about 200 business leaders at a meeting in Richmond.

If enacted into law, the plan would likely force Congress to boost revenue through new tax rules, cut spending and bring down the growth rate of Medicare and Social Security over time.

Some executives at the meeting appeared skeptical that a bipartisan deal could eventually win support from Congress and the White House, but many encouraged the lawmakers to try.

“They know they have to do it now and if they don’t do it now, we are going to have other countries in charge of our future,” said Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans trade group, who attended the meeting.

Messrs. Warner and Chambliss are crafting the proposal with Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), Tom Coburn (R., Okla.), and Mike Crapo (R., Idaho).

Mr. Warner’s presentation showed that if current trends continued, interest payments on federal debt would skyrocket from more than $20 trillion in 2060 to $80 trillion in 2080. It also showed that U.S. government debt as a percentage of total economic output could soon equal that of Greece, whose fiscal problems have threatened to destabilize Europe.

“If we put this off, we are approaching financial Armageddon,” Mr. Warner said.

The senators said their plan would seek to largely implement the recommendations made in December by the White House’s bipartisan deficit-reduction commission. That group called for cutting spending in myriad government programs, and trimming costs on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The proposal was made by commission co-chairmen Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson.

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