May 27, 2015

How copyright law threatens your right to repair your car

The right to repair your own car — a right Americans have enjoyed for more than a century — may be in jeopardy.
The issue goes back to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, a law Congress passed to help music labels and movie studios fight piracy of their products. Since 1998, though, companies have been invoking the DMCA in ways Congress couldn't have anticipated, like preventing customers from taking their cellphones to competing providers and preventing online gamers from using software "bots" to automate repetitive tasks. And now, carmakers are threatening to invoke it to prevent people from modifying the software in their cars.
Today's cars are full of special-purpose computers that control everything from fuel injection to airbag deployment. If you want to tinker with a modern car, you sometimes have to tweak the car's software.
And under the DMCA, that might be illegal. Car companies say they own the software inside their cars, and that changing it violates their copyrights. But that's ridiculous. Car companies shouldn't have the power to decide what their customers do with their cars. And while tinkering with car software could raise legitimate safety concerns, copyright law isn't a good way to deal with them.

How copyright law could let carmakers control the car repair market

The DMCA prohibits anyone from "circumventing" electronic locks that prevent copying of copyrighted content, including software. The law was designed for the kind of copy-prevention schemes used by DVDs and online music stores like iTunes.
But the software baked into your car is also copyrighted. In theory, that means carmakers could invoke the DMCA to shut down third-party diagnostic tools, shut out independent mechanics, and prevent customers from repairing their own vehicles. Earlier this year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a petition with the Librarian of Congress, which has the authority to grant DMCA exemptions, to allow customers and independent mechanics to repair their vehicles without the permission of automakers.
Most automakers oppose the petition. General Motors, for example, argues that the ban on tinkering with car software is an important safety feature. "The proposed exemption presents a host of potential safety, security and regulatory concerns that proponents have not fully considered," the carmaker says. 
They point out, for example, that someone could use software to disable a car's airbag and then sell the vehicle to another customer, who would have no way of knowing the airbag wouldn't deploy in an accident.
This isn't a crazy argument. The software on your smartphone or PC can't get anyone killed. The software in your car can. So it's worth being concerned about the safety risks of unauthorized software tampering.
But people have had the ability to modify their cars in potentially dangerous ways since long before the invention of software. For example, it was possible to disable airbags long before they had software in them, and people routinely do work on their cars' engines, brakes, and other safety-critical components. Safety risks have never been viewed as a reason to ban people from modifying their vehicles.
The broader issue here is that copyright law is a terrible vehicle — no pun intended — for regulating car safety. If there's a problem with people modifying cars' onboard software in unsafe way, we should address that with regulations specifically designed for safety.
Such regulations could distinguish between innocuous modifications (to a car's stereo, say) and dangerous ones (to airbags), and it could ensure that the manufacturers of third-party repair equipment are able to get their equipment certified. It could protect safety without giving carmakers control over the market for third-party repair equipment. And it would presumably be administered by the same regulators that oversee other aspects of car safety — rather than putting the Librarian of Congress in charge of the rules that govern car repairs.

The DMCA's problems go beyond cars

In practice, the burdens of the law won't fall directly on consumers but rather on independent auto mechanics. Carmakers do offer authorized equipment and software to allow mechanics to make certain types of changes to vehicle software. However, some mechanics prefer third-party systems that are not authorized by carmakers and may offer additional features. If modifying car software is treated as a violation of copyright, it will give carmakers a stranglehold over the market for third-party car repair equipment, which might be good for carmaker profits but is unlikely to be good for consumers.
Detroit is far from the only industry that's abused the DMCA in an attempt to control how its products are used. A printer manufacturer once used the DMCA to try to ban third-party toner cartridges. A garage door opener manufacturer tried to use the DMCA to prevent the creation of third-party remote controls. (Both attempts were ultimately unsuccessful, but only after years of litigation.) The video game maker Blizzard used the DMCA to prevent third parties from creating third-party software to help players play the game. 
And last year Congress itself passed an exemption to allow people to take their cellphones to a new carrier after the Librarian of Congress denied an exemption for this purpose.
As more and more products have software in them, this issue is going to come up over and over again. Copyright law is becoming a hook that allows all kinds of product manufacturers to control how their products are used after they're sold. That's not what Congress had in mind when it passed the DMCA, and there's no reason for manufacturers to have this kind of power.
The Librarian of Congress can offer case-by-case exemptions to the law, but these exemptions are time-consuming to get, limited in scope, and only last for three years. It would be better for Congress to reform the DMCA to make clear that it only applies to piracy tools, not third-party software designed for legitimate purposes.

Bernie Sanders Would Tax The Income Of The Wealthiest Americans At 90 Percent

In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is running for the Democratic presidential candidacy, said he could back a 90 percent top marginal tax rate.
Harwood brought up that some have likened efforts to combat income inequality to Nazi Germany. Sanders noted sarcastically, “When radical, socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, I think the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent.”
Harwood followed up by asking, “When you think about something like 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?” to which Sanders replied, “No.”
He continued, “What I think is obscene…when you have the top one-tenth of one percent owning almost as much as the bottom 90.”
Sanders is right that the top marginal tax rate, that paid by the wealthiest Americans, was around 90 percent under Eisenhower — it was actually 92 percent in the 1950s. Today, the top marginal tax rate is 39.6 percent, although the richest 1 percent end up payingless than that on average and the average rate actually fell for many years.
Republicans have consistently claimed that higher tax rates on the wealthy will hold back economic growth, while lowering rates further will spur it forward.
But that’s not likely the case. Last year, economists found that the point at which the top tax rate is high enough to maximize government revenues but not so high that it discourages the rich from trying to earn more is quite high: about 95 percent for the 1 percent. History bears that out. Economists have pointed out that post-war American growth has been higher during periods with much higher top marginal tax rates and lower when tax rates were substantially lower. When the top rate was more than 90 percent in the 50s, economic growth averaged more than 4 percent a year. But recently when the top rate has been closer to 35 percent, growth has been less than 2 percent a year on average.
The point of higher tax rates isn’t just to penalize the rich, of course. They would need to serve a policy function. For Sanders, that’s combatting income inequality. “If you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top tenth of one percent, you’ve got to transfer that back,” he told Harwood.
A 90 percent top tax rate could achieve that goal. The same economists who found that the rich can swallow a 95 percent rate also found that a 90 percent tax rate for the 1 percent could significantly reduce the Gini index, a measure of income inequality. It would also help lower wealth inequality. Meanwhile, everyone’s wellbeing would improve, rich and poor alike.

So far, many Republican presidential candidates have proposed a radically different approach: a flat tax. Sen. Ted Cruz (TX)Sen. Rand Paul (KY), and Ben Carson have all backed this idea. The details of each proposal differs, but the basic premise is an attempt to simplify the tax code by only having one rate that everyone pays, rather than the current system in which rates increase as income increases. An analysis of one flat tax plan put forward by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) found that it would raise taxes for those at the bottom of the income scale by between $102 and $462, while the tax bill for those making more than $1 million a year would decrease by about a half million dollars.

Cleveland police to stop hitting people on heads with guns as part of Justice Department agreement

 Cleveland police will stop hitting people on the head with their guns and document any time they unholster them, according to a consent decree between the U.S. Justice Department and Cleveland police released today.
The Justice Department found in a 21-month investigation that began in 2013 that Cleveland police routinely bash people on the head with their guns, sometimes accidentally firing them, according to a 58-page report released in December.

The consent decree released Tuesday between the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Cleveland is the result of five months of negotiations, as well as dozens of meetings with community groups, church leaders and advocates. Once approved by a federal judge, the city is legally bound to enact the reforms included in the 105-page document, meant to protect citizens' constitutional rights.

"[Cleveland Division of Police's] policy will expressly provide that using a firearm as an impact weapon is never an authorized tactic," the consent decree says. "Officers will be trained that use of a firearm as an impact weapon could result in death to suspects, bystanders and themselves."
The agreement prohibits officers from displaying their firearms unless they believe lethal force is necessary. It also requires Cleveland police train officers to de-escalate situations, including by using verbal persuasion and warnings, instead of approaching suspects with guns drawn.
The mandates are standard police tactics, said Sam Walker, a retired criminology professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Cleveland Heights native.

"Many of the things are the long-standing policies in these good department. Like hitting people with their guns, like a baton," Walker said. "The good departments banned that decades ago."
The December report revealed officers often provoke situations by drawing their weapons at inappropriate times. The approach increases the possibility of violence and leaves officers with only one free hand.

"It is also unclear why CDP appears to be categorizing hitting someone with a gun as a conventional response when force is needed," the December report said. "This is uniformly understood to be a dangerous practice that should never be permitted except in very unusual and exigent circumstances in which the use of deadly force is authorized; yet, it was a practice we saw CDP officers engaging in too frequently."
The Justice Department made an example of a 2012 encounter when an off-duty officer drew his gun after a suspect asked him to show identification. Wrestling ensued, and the off-duty officer struck the man in the head, causing the gun to fire.

Scottish Government: creationism banned from science class

CAMPAIGNERS who called for an official ban on teaching creationism in schools have welcomed a "clear statement" from a Scottish Government minister it should not be taught in science classes.
The Scottish Secular Society (SSS) lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament calling for guidance to be issued to bar the presentation of creationism as a viable alternative to evolution in schools.
Earlier this month, MSPs on the Education and Culture Committee ruled out introducing new guidance, saying that schools should rely on teachers exercising their professional judgment, rather than introducing legislation.
However the SSS have pointed to a letter sent to the committee by Alasdair Allan, minister for learning and science, which stated there are already a number of safeguards in place designed to ensure young people receive a balanced education.
The letter added: "Guidance provided by Education Scotland, set out in the "Principles and Practice" papers and the "Experiences and Outcomes" documentation for each of the eight curriculum areas does not identify Creationism as a scientific principle. It should therefore not be taught as part of science lessons."
Chemistry Professor Paul Braterman, scientific advisor for the SSS, said the Scottish Government's official position had previously stopped short of giving any guidance about the teaching of creationism in science lessons.
He said: "Now we have, at last, a clear statement from the responsible minister that creationism should not be taught as science."
However he said he still had concerns about how creationism is presented in religious and moral studies classes in schools in Scotland.

14 Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

There’s not much in this world more refreshing than a tall, ice-cold glass of water. I don’t think there’s anyone alive that can deny that sometimes, a simple glass of water can be more satisfying than a cup of coffee or a can of soda. Despite this, too many of us don’t drink enough water on a daily basis. By depriving ourselves of the world’s most natural resource, we are continuously damaging our bodies. If you experience any of the following, you can improve your situation by starting with a glass of H2O.

1. Your Mouth is Dry

This seems pretty obvious, but the ramifications might not be so. Of course, any time you feel that sticky, nasty feeling in your mouth, you’d obviously reach for some sort of liquid. But sugary drinks are only a temporary solution to a larger problem. Drinking water lubricates the mucus membranes in your mouth and throat, which will continue to keep your mouth moist with saliva long after that first sip.

2. Your Skin is Dry

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so of course it needs to stay hydrated. In fact, dry skin is one of the earliest signs of full-on dehydration, which can lead to much larger problems. A lack of water means a lack of sweat, which leads to a body’s inability to wash away excess dirt and oil accumulated throughout the day. If you want to stave off breakouts, your first recourse should be to drink more water.

3. You’re Overly Thirsty

We went over dry mouth already, but thirst goes beyond a desert-like tongue. Anyone who’s ever had a hangover can tell you that, upon waking up, your body just can’t get enough water. Alcohol dehydrates the entire body, and drinking water sends “YES PLEASE!” signals to the brain until your fluid levels get back to baseline.  Listen to what your body is telling you; it knows what it’s talking about!

4. Your Eyes Are Dry

By now it should be clear that drinking water affects more than just your mouth and throat. A lack of water intake leads to dry, bloodshot eyes (again, think of that last pounding hangover). Without water in the body, your tear ducts dry up. If you’re thinking “So what if I can’t cry?”, realize that this could cause much more harm to your eyes, especially if you wear contacts on a daily basis.

5. You Experience Joint Pain

Our cartilage and spinal discs are made up of about 80% water. This is an absolute necessity to keep our bones from grinding against each other with every step we take. By keeping your body hydrated, you ensure that your joints can absorb the shock of sudden movements, such as running, jumping, or falling awkwardly.

6. Your Muscle Mass Decreases

Your muscles, also, are comprised mostly of water. Obviously, less water in the body means less muscle mass. Drinking water before, during, and after a workout not only keeps you hydrated and comfortable, it also brings water to the right places in your body, and decreases the chance of developing inflammation and soreness related to exercise and weightlifting.

7. You Stay Sick Longer

Drinking water allows your body to continuously flush out toxins. Your organs work to filter our certain waste products like a machine, but if you don’t fuel the machine with water, it cannot work properly. What ends up happening in a dehydrated body is organs start to pull water from stored areas like your blood, which leads to a whole new set of problems.

8. You Feel Fatigued and Lethargic

As we just mentioned, when a body is dehydrated it “borrows” water from your blood. A lack of properly hydrated blood leads to a lack of oxygen being brought throughout the body. Of course, a lack of oxygen leads to sleepiness and outright fatigue. A lack of stamina means you”ll start to experience that 2PM crash earlier and earlier in your day (and remember, coffee won’t help in the long run).

9. You Experience Hunger Pangs

When you’re dehydrated, your body might start to think it needs some food. This happens throughout the day, and overnight when you wake up craving that midnight snack. However, eating food creates more work for your body, whereas drinking water purifies and your organs and supplies it with the fuel it needs to go through the other processes a body goes through.

10. You Experience Digestive Problems

We spoke before about the mucus in our mouth and throat, and how keeping hydrated allows the membrane to function correctly. This also applies to the entire digestive system. Without proper hydration, the amount and strength of mucus in the stomach lessens, allowing stomach acid to do some major damage to your insides. This leads to what we commonly refer to as heartburn and indigestion.

11. You Experience Constipation

Like we said, staying hydrated helps lubricate the digestive system. During the process of dehydration, the colon uses up the water that would have been used by the intestines in the next step of the digestive process. Without going into too much detail, I’ll let you figure out what a lack of lubricant in the intestines leads to.

12. You Experience Reduced Urination

Believe it or not, if you’re not taking a trip to the restroom 4-7 times a day, you’re probably not drinking enough water. And when you do go #1, it should be a light yellow or clear color. If it’s a darker yellow, your body is telling you it’s lacking proper hydration. In extreme cases, dehydration can lead to urinary tract infections, in which case you should consult a doctor right away.

13. You Experience Premature Aging

The amount of water our bodies retain naturally decreases as we age. Obviously, what this means is that, as we get older, we should consciously increase our water intake. While premature aging is more evident on the outside, the damage it does to our insides will ultimately be felt over time. To decrease the risk of running your body raw, it’s important to continue to drink water throughout your lifetime.

14. You’re Reading This And Have Gotten This Far

I drink water all the time. I almost always have a glass or bottle of water next to me, whether I’m working, working out, or vegging out in front of the TV. If you clicked on this article, chances are you thought to yourself “Hm, I don’t think I drink enough water.” So if you don’t think you do, pour a glass right now! Don’t overdo it, of course, but if you’re not getting the recommended amount (which is higher than you’d think), there’s no harm in drinking more. Now if you’ll excuse me, all this typing has made me thirsty. 

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Eating Sugar

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year.

Did you know that refined sugar is far more addictive than cocaine? Refined sugar is one of the most addictive and harmful substances currently known.  Over 94 % of rats who were allowed to choose between cocaine and sugar water, chose sugar. Even the  rats who were addicted to cocaine switched their preference to sugar.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation and titled, Increased sugar uptake promotes oncogenesis via EPAC/RAP1 and O-GlcNAc pathways, researchers addressed a common perception (or misperception) in the cancer research community regarding sugar’s relationship to cancer: namely, “increased glycolysis [sugar based metabolis] is frequently viewed as a consequence of oncogenic events that drive malignant cell growth and survival.”
A new study published in this month’s Physiology & Behavior reports that sugar withdrawal is also linked to impulsive behaviour. Initially, rats were trained to receive water by pushing a lever. After training, the animals returned to their home cages and had access to a sugar solution and water, or just water alone. After 30 days, when rats were again given the opportunity to press a lever for water, those who had become dependent on sugar pressed the lever significantly more times than control animals, suggesting impulsive behavior.

Refined sugar consumption damages health much more than we realize. It suppresses immunity and causes weight gain.
Research has linked sugar consumption to numerous health conditions, including:
• Premature aging
• Various cancers — breast, ovary, prostate, rectum, etc.
• Diabetes
• Digestive problems, including chronic indigestion
• Fatigue and low energy
• Heart disease
• Hyperactivity and concentration problems
• Loss of muscle mass
• Nutritional deficiencies, including decreased ability to absorb calcium and magnesium
• Osteoporosis
• Tooth decay and gum disease
• Yeast infections

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Eating Sugar

Here are some of the symptoms of sugar hangover
  • Fuzzy thinking or foggy mind
  • Fatigue or sleepiness after meals
  • Gas, bloating or extended stomach after meals
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin problems
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Mood swings
Knowking the symptoms, and preparing to deal with sugar withdrawal, may help you  reduce your sugar intake permanently . But it is important to realize that a craving is NOT the same as hunger.
Craving is not your body’s calling for energy, it is the brain calling for something that releases a lot of dopamine.
You need to be determined and disciplined and here are a few things you can do to help you overcome these cravings:

  1. Eat sour foods.  Sour foods, like apple cider vinegar, will naturally curb your cravings for sugar.
  2. Eat fermented foods and probiotic beverages. They are  full of beneficial bacteria, which drive out disease-causing bugs that increase our desire for sugar.
  3. Keep a bottle of stevia close by. Though stevia is sweet, it is not sugar. It can play a trick on the tongue that will curb your sugar cravings.

The Benefits of Locally Grown Honey

Honey has long been used as a natural sweetener and was a popular remedy of treating wounds before modern medicine. Now the market is a buzz once more over the super food that is raw honey. Not only does buying locally grown honey help out the economy of your town, but it also has a ton of other incredible uses and benefits.
Raw honey is jam packed with carbohydrates. These have the power to give you that extra kick you need throughout the day without the debilitating crash you get from energy drinks. Honey is also good for you! It is believed that honey also has the power to strengthen your endurance and lessen the pain in sore muscles.
There are many people who will swear by the restorative and beneficial qualities of raw honey. As there is not enough solid research on every claim, take these claims for what you make of them. Even if they don’t have much scientific backing, they may be a placebo and the power of a placebo is often very powerful. Many claim that raw honey can provide a boost in fertility in both men and women, and is especially linked with providing a much higher sperm count in men. Others say that honey is an excellent remedy for the sore throat and relieving nausea better than traditional medicines! Honey has also been used to treat ulcers, lessen pain, help with arthritis, and relieve bladder infections. Check outnatural remedy ideas for even more natural solutions of common ailments!
There are many who recommend that one tablespoon of honey will help cure any pesky allergies. Honey has trace amounts of pollen, and if you buy locally that pollen is the most likely the stuff that is making you sneeze like crazy. Being exposed to these amounts every day just may help you build up a tolerance to the pollen in the air. Hey, it’s worth a shot if those expensive allergy medications are not working for you!
Did you know that honey is a natural antiseptic? That means that is has agents that can help kill bacteria. Applying a small amount of honey to cuts is said to help fight off and kill the spread of infections. It can also help the wound heal quicker, reduce inflammation as it also contains an anti-inflammatory, and lessen swelling. Honey is also said to have an agent in it that can help dull pain, making those scrapes and cuts a little easier to deal with.
Besides the fact that honey is delicious, it is also a great natural sweetener and preservative. Honey, if properly sealed, can stay good to eat for centuries. There have been pots of honey found that are hundreds of years old and are still perfectly edible. Using honey in substitute for sugar or other artificial sweeteners is a great way to get that sweet taste you love without being unhealthy. Have some fun and experiment with the many delectable dishes you can make with honey. Put it in teas, drizzle it over pancakes, or try something even more daring!