February 12, 2008

A List of Shame (updated) [4:09 pm]

Here’s why the Democratic Congress is so reviled — and why it’s really not possible for me to even consider giving money to the party. From today’s shameful series of Senate votes giving the telcom companies amnesty, as reported by Glenn Greenwald: Amnesty Day for Bush and lawbreaking telecoms

The Dodd/Feingold amendment to remove telecom immunity from the bill just failed by a whopping vote of 31-67 — 20 votes shy of the 50 needed for a passage. A total of 18 Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for immunity: Bayh, Inouye, Johnson, Landrieu, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Stabenow, Feinstein, Kohl, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Carper, Mikulski, Conrad, Webb, and Lincoln. Obama voted against immunity, and Hillary Clinton was the only Senator not voting.

Time to start brushing up on the use of GPG

Later, as the US Senate formally ushers in the end of the rule of law in the US: Senate Moves to Shield Phone Companies on Eavesdropping; Senate OK’s immunity on wiretaps (pdf); Senate Votes for Expansion of Spy Powers; Senate Authorizes Broad Expansion Of Surveillance Act (pdf)

So, the Washington Post includes the following bit —

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the president “will not sign another extension” of the temporary law, a decision that could force congressional leaders to reconcile their differences this week.

Here’s my question — given that this President argues that he can break the law with impunity when he feels like it, how is this a threat for any kind of action at all on the part of the conference? What difference does it make anyway whether they reconcile the two bills at all? It seems to me that the logical avenue for opponents is simply to fight in conference up until the recess and let the current law expire.

Also - a clever editorial cartoon from today’s Globe

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Open Access and Harvard University [3:05 pm]

Harvard Proposal to Publish Scholarly Research Free on the Internetpdf (also At Harvard, a Proposal to Publish Free on Web)

Publish or perish has long been the burden of every aspiring university professor. But the question the Harvard faculty will decide on Tuesday is whether to publish — on the Web, at least — free.

Faculty members are scheduled to vote on a measure that would permit Harvard to distribute their scholarship online, instead of signing exclusive agreements with scholarly journals that often have tiny readerships and high subscription costs.

Although the outcome of Tuesday’s vote would apply only to Harvard’s arts and sciences faculty, the impact, given the university’s prestige, could be significant for the open-access movement, which seeks to make scientific and scholarly research available to as many people as possible at no cost.

Later: Harvard faculty votes to post research online — pdf

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Some Things Never Change [6:55 am]

Tolkien Heirs Sue New Line Over Millions From ‘Rings’pdf

Charging “unabashed and insatiable greed,” the plaintiffs said in the complaint that New Line, which produced and distributed the “Lord of the Rings” movies, had failed to pay anything despite a nearly 40-year-old contract that entitles the trusts and the publishers to 7.5 percent of the films’ gross revenues, less certain costs.

According to the complaint, the three movies generated about $6 billion in box office receipts and ancillary revenues from DVD sales, cable television licensing fees and other sales, although Steven Maier, the British-based lawyer for the trustees, said they had not been allowed to audit the receipts from the second and third films.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs argue that New Line has “clearly engaged in the infamous practice of creative ‘Hollywood accounting,’ ” by excluding certain revenue from calculations and racking up costs that have so far prevented the studio from paying out a single dime.

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