Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

You know how patents are supposed to spur innovation? To protect inventors? To secure their interests? Well, that's not the case anymore. Not for the last few decades.
I don't have the legal background to discuss all the legal games that big companies play with patents, so we will leave that aside and go on the consumers side. Because after all, the idea of a patent is its holder to get paid by the people willing to use its invention. Without consumers interested in that product, it is just a piece of paper (or of electronic register) that means nothing at all.
So if the patents are good for the society, they will expand the market, attract buyers and make the inventors rich and famous. Well, it turns out that none of the above is true!
What happens is that the best-selling products are produced by huge corporations that actually have inventors on salary. The real inventors get approximately as much as any other person on non-bottom position in big company. I suppose there are some bonuses when you make something really cool, but you don't get filthy rich. You don't get famous. Actually, nobody will ever know your name. Because the product is already branded. You're just a piece in the giant money-making machine.
With which I'm not actually against engineers on salary - not at all. I'm against the myth that patents are an effective way to motivate inventors to invent. They are not. They are effective way to keep a multi-billion industry going flawlessly. When it comes to the individual inventors, they could profit, if they make a small company, manage to find money, manage not to get robbed by the big ones, manage not to get scared away or bought or whatever and ultimately, if their product gets the proper attention by the public. And all that if their patent is not already property of someone else by the mystical laws of US patent system.
So it's not exactly a piece of cake to be an inventor, even if you're brilliant. Just think of how many cool gadget you own, that are not produced by a corporation. Me - not much.
Obviously, this system does not help the small guy, not at all. It, however, helps the big guy a great deal. As you will read below, patents are the bread of corporations in many industries and without them, they suddenly get very unfortunate. To the point that they will require extension of a patent of a drug, just because they didn't create anything better in the mean time. Or this translates into - we all should pay more, because their investment didn't turn out well. Eh, what?
Even more, you will read of monstrosities of Sony, a company that I deeply respect, on the ground of patents and copyright infringements and all the other shit that no normal person could ever understand. You think that when you buy something, you own it? No, not according to Sony. If you ask them, you buy the thing, so that you could use it in the way the devised. From there on, you don't have the right to look inside, modify its hardware or software in any way or even you don't have the right to tell other people how to do so. Otherwise, you get sued. Even if you never used what you did for profit.
You might ask why are they doing that? Because they can. I personally cannot find any meaningful explanation of the zeal with which they chase inventors. I simply cannot understand their motivation. If someone finds a cooler use of a product I sell, this is good for my product, because it will be sold even more. Then why would I oppose that creativity? I have no idea. But this is what patents laws do to us. They simply give the right arms in the hands of vengeful corporation to fight those inventors.  They stop innovation. Then, why do we need them? Why don't we change them in a way that will accommodate everyone? Or at least to make them a little bit more fair? Is that that hard? I don't think so. Yet, nobody acts. Why? Nobody talks! Why?

Scientists warn against stifling effect of widespread patenting in stem cell field

February 11, 2011 By Michael Pena
( -- In an opinion piece published on Feb. 10 in the journal Science, a team of scholars led by a Johns Hopkins bioethicist urges the scientific community to act collectively to stem the negative effects of patenting and privatizing of stem cell lines, data and pioneering technologies. This means grappling with the ambiguity of several fundamental distinctions typically made in ethics, law, and common practice, the experts insist.
The team, led by Debra Mathews, Ph.D., M.A., of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of , says failures to properly manage the widespread patenting by both private and public organizations threatens to obscure what is and what isn’t in the public domain. In addition, this disarray may well hinder progress toward breakthroughs that could lead to new treatments the public desperately wants.
“Following trends seen elsewhere in the sciences,” the authors write, “stem cell researchers—and the companies and universities for which they work—are increasingly taking private ownership of early-stage technologies, cell lines, genes and associated data.”The tracking and trading of intellectual properties is much harder than the tracking and trading of other kinds of assets, such as real estate, according to Graff. He used the analogy of the popular real estate website, the Multiple Listing Service, saying there is no equivalent public “MLS” that serves as a property records registry for stem cell researchers.
“The lack of transparency about who owns what rights can hamper stem cell research and development,” Graff says, “and so can the resulting ambiguity of the distinction between what is private property and what is in the public domain.”
Further bogging down the field, the authors assert, is the increasing blurriness of two additional and fundamental distinctions. For one, the boundary that separates what is “information” and what is “material” gets more obscure by the day. Secondly, stem cells are not simply research material: All cell lines are derived from the tissues of human beings—people who may have an interest in the future of their genetic material and, by law, have certain personal rights that must be respected.
“We need a conceptual synthesis that reflects how entangle persons and things, information and materials, property and the public domain.
“A real solution to the problem,” Winickoff continues, “will have to manage all three of these complexities together, and we think we have a pathway for doing that.”
The authors echoed a recent consensus statement issued by the Hinxton Group, an international consortium of experts in stem cell science, ethics and law, which decries the increasingly secretive climate created by excessive patenting and proprietary claims within the stem cell community.
Both the statement and today’s article in Science call for collaborative information and materials hubs that would broaden access and help clarify what types of information are rightly proprietary and what types are not. One such hub, the authors suggest, might take the form of a centralized portal for access to existing databases, such as the UK Stem Cell Bank and the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry . source

Drug Firms Face Billions in Losses in ’11 as Patents End -
At the end of November, Pfizer stands to lose a $10-billion-a-year revenue stream when the patent on its blockbuster cholesterol drug Lipitor expires and cheaper generics begin to cut into the company’s huge sales.

The loss poses a daunting challenge for Pfizer, one shared by nearly every major pharmaceutical company. This year alone, because of patent expirations, the drug industry will lose control over more than 10 megamedicines whose combined annual sales have neared $50 billion.
This is a sobering reversal for an industry that just a few years ago was the world’s most profitable business sector but is now under pressure to reinvent itself and shed its dependence on blockbuster drugs. And it casts a spotlight on the problems drug companies now face: a drought of big drug breakthroughs and research discoveries; pressure from insurers and the government to hold down prices; regulatory vigilance and government investigations; and thousands of layoffs in research and development.
While industrywide research and development spending has nearly doubled to $45 billion a year over the last decade, the Food and Drug Administration has approved fewer and fewer new drugs. Pfizer and Eli Lilly had major setbacks last year in once-promising Alzheimer’s drug experiments. Merck discontinued one of two major clinical trials testing its top acquisition from its merger with Schering Plough, a blood thinner that caused dangerous amounts of bleeding in some patients. 

Once in the Public’s Hands, Now Back in Picasso’s - Another absurd, when it comes to works with long expired copyrights.

More of world's crops are genetically engineered - The figures are in this year's International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications report, out Tuesday. Of the four most commonly planted biotech crops, a rising percentage of the total of all plantings are biotech. In 2010, 81% of all soybeans, 64% of cotton, 29% of corn and 23% of canola globally were from biotech seeds, the ISAAA says.

Sony Targets PS3 Hackers With Anti-Piracy Legal Team 

Sony continues to arm itself as they are pulling out all the stops in order to combat what they view as piracy across the PlayStation 3 platform.
Saving the “who’s right” discussion for another day, it’s clear that, critics and questions about the definition of ownership be damned, Sony is out for blood when it comes to cracking down on those trying to hack or jailbreak a PS3.  Besides going after existing hackers, armed with a judicial system that appears to favor Sony’s claims; firmware updates to block currently-successful hacks; PlayStation Network bans; and the apparent development of an “unhackable” PS3; they’re also working on another weapon to use in their little war:
An anti-piracy legal team.
Meanwhile, XBox developers encourage owners to hack the Kinect, but I digress. found some job listings over at SCEA that mentioned the creation of such a legal team.
“This position will be responsible for assessing annual SCEA corporate anti-piracy needs and addressing the needs through developing and implementing an anti-piracy program in consultation with the Deputy General Counsel and the General Counsel and collaborating with other anti-piracy organizations…”
Not only is Sony being incredibly headstrong about what they consider a hack attempt, which, to Sony, is tantamount to pirating PS3 games — their true concern here — they are also receiving outspoken support from game developers who don’t appear to understand the concepts of ownership either; or, worse yet, they’re willing to disregard them in order to ensure financial gain.
David Braben is one such developer: "Buying a PlayStation 3 does not give me unrestricted ownership of it. If I ‘dig’ into it, I can’t just sell or even give away all the information I find."  Braben goes on to say that people who broadcast PlayStation 3 hacking methods should be condemned. source
And for even more on the Sony's history of preventing innovation, read here: Sony’s War on Makers, Hackers, and Innovators - it is unbelievable how far would a company go to secure its profit. I was most shocked to read what happened to the Aibo robot and how the repressed the guy who actually made their own product more interesting for the buyers. Does that make any sense?! No, not at all.  

A very short post. In Europe we constantly hear how some radioactive clouds move above certain country. Because I'm kind of sick to explain to hysterical how they really should stop panic and use Google, I made a little list of some sites with live-feed reading of the values of the gamma-ray background.
I guess there are better sites, but those are the ones I found. - map of the gamma-background of the European Commission. Note, not all the information is "live".
JRC Institute for transuranium elements, the EC site where you can find links to all the national monitoring stations. - info from Bulgaria - info from Spain (there is working English version). - info from Netherlands - info from Finland - info from Dubna, Russia
And last, is a German site which I think is the most credible, since Germans hate nuclear energy big time. The only problem is that for now, the monitoring stations are very few for Europe - mostly Central Europe.
So Europeans, before freaking out, please, check those sites (or find others) and see for yourself how serious is the situation.
The normal value of radiation background is questionable, but values of up to 0.200/hour microsieverts or 200 nanosieverts/hour are normal. If it is above that note that "a chest X-ray carries a dose of approximately 0.02 to 0.2 mSv" wikipedia which is equal to 20-200 microsieverts - much bigger than that and also "At sea-level, the average radiation level is approximately 0.03 microsieverts per hour." source  which doesn't happen anywhere in the world if the values are correct - even in Tansania, it's 0.059MS/hour - twice that "norm". In Japan, somewhere, it was measured 200 micro siverts. So don't get panicked easily.

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