Mobile operators seek to block Skype in Sweden – The Local

March 31st, 2012

VoIP software, like Skype, is a challenge for traditional telephony operators, who now have income from providing digital bandwidth, but are losing higher-margin operations, such as voice calls. Good to see the European Commission stand up for network neutrality on this one:

According to the European Commission, maintaining “net neutrality” – whereby all internet traffic is treated equally – is important and companies shouldnt be able to control how customers use the network.
via Mobile operators seek to block Skype in Sweden – The Local.

From the archives – divorce referendum coverage

February 7th, 2012

I’ve been ‘rescuing’ various pieces from my (primarily cassette-based) archive of content from my days at Flirt FM. One little nugget is this compendium of interviews and audio from the count following the divorce referendum in 1995. As a recap (or tutorial for those not in the know), divorce was illegal in Ireland until 1996, and deemed unconstitutional under the language in the 1937 constitution that gives special status to marriage:

The State pledges itself to guard with special care the institution of Marriage, on which the Family is founded, and to protect it against attack. (Article 41.3.1 (as amended))

A previous attempt to amend the constitution in the 1980s, to allow for divorce, had failed, and the 1995 referendum was carried by a margin of only 9,114 votes, out of 1.6 million cast. The voters in Galway-West voted against the proposal by a margin of about 52:48.
Divorce referendum 1995 – Galway-West Count

New research survey on community radio in Ireland

February 6th, 2012

CRAOL, the Irish community radio organization, has sponsored a survey investigating how the public views the mass media, and exploring their knowledge of community radio. Among the key findings (with both positives and negative implications for the sector):

  • Nearly 80% of all adults in the Republic of Ireland agree that news and current affairs is sometimes biased towards the views of its owners
  • 3 in 4 adults worry that individual people or businesses have too much ownership of the media.
  • 84% feel that community radio would add to the diversity of content available to them as listeners
  • Only 39% of those surveyed were aware that communities can set up their own community radio station.

News – Current Story in Full.


February 5th, 2012

The people have been touting a Nicholas Kristof piece about successful petition drives on their site. His first example is of a petition by a fourth grade class, looking for changes in how a movie (of a Dr. Seuss book) is promoted – “Don’t lose the environmental message!” A great example of the importance of action – the class petition ‘gained legs’ and garnered over 57,000 signatures, leading to action by Universal, including some of the specific actions requested by the class. A good example, too, of a teacher who helps his class learn, by doing, about engaging with the world.
Environment Petition: Universal Pictures: Let the Lorax Speak for the Trees! |

The interplay of copyright and creativity – a Storify collection

February 4th, 2012

I’ve recently started playing around with Storify. In the piece embedded below, I’m gathering together various different snippets concerning the interplay of copyright and creativity.

Why Phil Knight’s eulogy of Paterno was so problematic

January 28th, 2012

In Knight, we also have someone who pays college coaches a fortune so “student-athletes” can wear and by extension advertise their products. We have someone who ploughs millions to the University of Oregon football program funding state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, while the school endures terrible cuts. We have someone who I would argue represents the corrupting of amateur sports and by extension the corrupting of Joe Paterno and Penn State. By defending Paterno, Knight is doing little more than defending himself and the kind of moral relativism he’s brought to campuses around the country.
via The Final Insult: Nike CEO Phil Knight Eulogizes Joe Paterno | The Nation.

Solidarity, unions, and the unemployed

January 28th, 2012

This to me is the key section from George Lakey’s piece in the Indypendent’s blog:

The Depression hit bottom in 1931. More people were jobless there than in any other Nordic country. Unlike in the U.S., the Norwegian union movement kept the people thrown out of work as members, even though they couldn’t pay dues. This decision paid off in mass mobilizations. When the employers’ federation locked employees out of the factories to try to force a reduction of wages, the workers fought back with massive demonstrations.

via How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’ | The Indypendent.
It requires – and fosters – a broader class consciousness than a union system built wholly around those who currently retain employment. There may be wrinkles, administratively, in a developing this concept within a craft union model – not least, figuring out what it means to retain these unemployed members as workers? What is asked of them, what do they get out of it, and where do they fit into a system that has been built around a contract model?
Of course, the trade unions, with members who often work by the job, and retain union benefits and seniority between spates of employment, may provide some guidance. What might, for instance, teacher unions learn from this approach?

Why no cafe bars?

January 28th, 2012

The Irish Times reports on a forthcoming government report on alcohol, and the numerous suggestions made in it, including more stringent rules around advertising (none on TV before 9pm, no outdoor advertising, no sports sponsorship), minimum price floors (and bans on discounts for bulk purchases) and more aggressive health monitoring.
I was disappointed though – if not surprised – not to see mention of cafe bars. The report claims that pubs “make a greater social and economic contribution, and exercise greater control on alcohol consumption” than do off-license premises, and also recommends increase in the number of Youth Cafes, and of their hours.
No mention, though, of the value in building out smaller pubs that might be required to make some part of their revenues from non-alcohol sales. That short-lived idea was successfully killed off by the the vintners some years ago, and their sign-off was sought for this report, so it’s not surprising, but it is a shame.

Doctors without Borders make claims of torture in Libya

January 28th, 2012

Disturbing news out of Libya, where Medicins Sans Frontiers/Doctors without Borders are claiming that prisoners are being tortured:
“Aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres has halted its work in detention centres in a Libyan city because it said its medical staff were being asked to patch up detainees mid-way through torture sessions so they could go back for more abuse.”
via MSF suspends Misrata work amid torture claims – RTÉ News.

Of carried interest and capital gains

January 28th, 2012

Wondering how Mitt Romney manages to pay under 14% of his income in tax? Confused by all this talk of ‘carried interest’? Eileen Appelbaum lays it all out very clearly in this piece, carried by US News, which also lays out the case for why this income should not qualify for the reduced rates charged on investment income:
Why Carried Interest Should Not Be Taxed at the Capital Gains Rate – Economic Intelligence (