Thunderf00t: LAST CHANCE in this lifetime to see one of these!

Successful splashdown for SpaceX Dragon space capsule

Well, this sounds promising!

‘It took half a tonne of food and supplies up to the ISS astronauts, and brought down about two-thirds of a tonne of completed experiments and redundant equipment.

A successful recovery of the capsule and its contents will trigger a $1.6bn (£1bn; 1.3bn-euro) contract with the US space agency (Nasa) for 12 further re-supply trips.’

SpaceX is demonstrating that a private company can do what a national government can, except better and cheaper.

So, why do we stll trust the government to deliver really important programmes, like, say, education and healthcare?

One Law For All: ‘Sharia law: neither equal not free’

From an email from Miriam Namazie:

Update on Baroness Cox’s Equality Bill
One Law for All has been spending a lot of time recently working with Caroline Cox and her team in promoting the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equalities) Bill. The aim of the Bill, which was introduced to the House of Lords last year, is to make arbitration services in the UK subject to equality laws and to bar any arbitration where parties are of unequal standing; for example, it would disallow arbitration providers placing greater weight on the testimony of one party over another, as is the case with sharia law where a wife’s word is worth only half of her husband’s. The Bill will also create a criminal offence and make it illegal for arbitration bodies to pretend they have greater jurisdiction than they do – in other words, preventing them from misinforming people that they must obey their rulings. It will also place a duty on public bodies in the UK to inform women of their rights under British la w.
The Bill is due for a second reading in the House of Lords this October. Many Peers have already pledged support but we need your help in persuading them further. If you have time, please write to any members of the House of Lords and ask them to consider the seriousness of this Bill and its need in maintaining a society where all people are equal before a single secular and democratic law. In your letter, you could point out to Peers that the Islamic Sharia Council and the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal both openly acknowledge that the testimony of women is given less value than that of men, that custody of children is awarded to fathers regardless of the circumstances, and that sharia family law permits, and therefore encourages, domestic violence and the abuse of women and children.  You can find out how to write to Peers here: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-a-lord/lord/. You can read the bill here:  http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/arbitrationandmediationservicesequality.html.
‘Equal and Free?’, a book of evidence compiled in support of the Bill, can be found here: http://equalandfree.org/download-file/downloads/EqualandFree.pdf. It includes testimony from women who have been through the sharia family law system here in Britain, as well as charities and groups which work closely with these women. It also looks at other religious tribunals, such as the Beth Din, and the effect the Bill may have on arbitration more broadly.
Debates and Conferences
One of the issues of concern to those deciding whether to support the Bill is that it may represent an infringement on religious liberty. One Law for All maintains that the right to freedom of religion ends at the point where other people’s rights begin. Sharia family and criminal law represent a serious infringement upon the rights of women to receive a fair hearing and to live without violence or the threat of violence. We will be holding a debate on this issue in the coming months and will invite members of both Houses of Parliament to attend – further details will follow. For more information on other speaking engagements and events, visit: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/category/events/.
Child Protection
As has been mentioned, sharia family law awards custody of children to fathers from a pre-set age regardless of the circumstances, and regardless of whether the father is abusive or violent. Again, the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal and the Islamic Sharia Council do not deny this fact.  It is also known that matters of child custody and contact are being increasingly heard by sharia bodies, increasing the isolation of Muslims in Britain and endangering the children of Muslim parents who may be excluded from the protections provided by British law – which places the wellbeing of the child as the paramount consideration in all questions of this kind. We have been pushing this message very strongly at the House of Lords; all Peers have now received a copy of ‘Equal and Free?’ which contains details of how sharia family law is flouting legal norms in matters of child protection, and the danger this represents &ndas h; it is creating a parallel legal system, based on religion, in the UK.
Support us!
December will mark four years since the establishment of the One Law for All campaign. A lot has changed in the public debate on Sharia law and equality as a result of our campaign. If you want to and can, please help us to continue our essential work. To donate to the work of One Law for All, you can either send a cheque made payable to One Law for All to BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX, UK or pay via Paypal.  We also need regular support and for supporters to commit to giving at least £5-10 a month via direct debit. You can find out more about how to donate or join the 100 Club here: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/donate/.
Also, if you shop online, please do so via the Easy Fundraising’s website: http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/register-supporter/?char=40474. It won’t cost you anything extra but can help raise much needed funds for One Law for All.
Finally, if you haven’t already signed up to the One Law for All campaign, please join the nearly 29,000 people and groups that have: http://onelawforallpetition.com/onelaw/onela300.php?nr=40155035.
Thanks again
Warmest wishes
Anne Marie Waters
One Law for All Spokesperson
NOTES
1. The One Law for All Campaign was launched on 10 December 2008, International Human Rights Day, to call on the UK Government to recognise that Sharia and religious courts are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular and that citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable.
2. For further information contact:
Maryam Namazie
Anne Marie Waters
Spokespersons
One Law for All
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK

Freedom From Religion Foundation sues South Carolina School District

When I was in high school, we started every morning by the playing of ‘Oh Canada’, our national anthem.

Being a recent immigrant, I found this daily exercise of overt of tribalism to be weird in the extreme and did not, at first, understand why it would come about at all…

Over time, I began to understand the impulse that drove the playing of the national anthem 1st thing every morning:  it ‘clicked’ for me a bit after we got a new principal.

Our old principal would ask us to ‘stand for ‘Oh Canada’ and a few moments of silent prayer or meditation’.  When our new principal took over, the ritual was retained in exactly the same form, except that the ‘or meditation’ was dropped.

Now, I was being told to stand for the national anthem and prayer!!!

Of course, I complained:  not about the anthem, but about the dropping of ‘or meditation’.  I complained to several teachers; each one of them told me that it’s OK for me not to pray, because since it is a ‘silent prayer’, nobody will know that I am not praying.  I tried to be calm as I explained that that was hardly the point – and that behaving immoraly because I can get away with it is not a good lesson for them to be teaching me anyway.  The point was that by removing the ‘or meditation’ bit, they were denying the very existence of non-theists and that that was rather insulting and probably illegal.

It was then that it ‘clicked’ for me why it was that the morning was started with the national anthem:  the theists who ran the system could not imagine starting their day without a ritualistic appeal to authority.  Since they could not openly pray out loud in the secular school, they replaced the ritualistic appeal to a divine authority by an equally ritualistic appeal to the secular authority…

In other words, the playing of ‘Oh Canada’ was not really an expression of patriotism but rather a substitute for ritualistic prayer…

Which is a very round-about way to introduce the following story:

‘The Freedom From Religion Foundation and one of its South Carolina members filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court in Columbia, S.C., against School District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties over a district policy that sanctions graduation prayer. Plaintiff Matthew Nielson graduated with his Irmo High School classmates today.

Nielson, 18, and state-church watchdog FFRF allege the district’s written policy violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs, represented by South Carolina counsel Aaron Kozloski, ask the court to declare the district’s policy null and void.

Despite the decades, religionists are still imposing their fetishes onto kids!

In related news:

 

Has the evolutionary ‘missing link’ been found?

Yes, of course – every fossil found is a link of one sort or another.

But some are just ‘linkier’ than others – and this one, provocatively called Darwinius masillae, might just be one of the ‘linkiest’ by clearly demonstrating the connection between humans and the other apes.

For a picture, check out the article in NY Daily News.

Holocaust Ride and Rally to remember: 31st of May, 2012

From an email I received:

Holocaust Ride and Rally to remember

Holocaust Ride to remember- Tomorrow [31st of May, 2012] at 10.00 am-10.30 am around 500 motorbikes led by the Jewish motorcycle club will be arriving at Parliament Hill for a Rally. Representatives of the Israeli Embassy will be there as well as Peter Goldring MP. They will be speaking to the assembly. Riders are from the UK, USA, Israel, Canada and other countries. Members of the public are cordially invited to attended

Remember also that Thursday the 31st is also the 50th Anniversary of the moment Adolf Eichmann finally found justice for his crimes. He found his ‘moment of justice., in an Israeli jail at dawn on 31st May 1962

 

H/T:  JS

An account of the hearing in Warman v Fourniers, copyright infringment, 28th of May, 2012

UPDATE:  Court decision goes in the Fournier’s favour.

Connie and Mark Fournier were in Federal court yesterday, defending themselves from a triple charge of copyright infringement.

Even though I am woefully out of depth in attempting to comment on laws and legal matters (having no training in that field whatsoever), I will nonetheless do my best to report on what transpired in court, because copyright issues are very serious.  In my never-humble-opinion, copyright laws are one of the greatest threats to civil liberties in our lifetimes.

Well, at least here, in ‘The West’.

One of.

Qualifiers aside, the Fourniers have already made impact on Canadian jurisprudence in the field of internet privacy.  Thanks to them, potential defamation litigants have to meet a ‘prima facie’ test that material posted on the internet actually is defamatory before seeking to publicly reveal the identity of the person who posted it.

The current matter at hand has little to do with internet privacy or defamation – it is a copyright issue.  I have reported on the hearing on a motion to this (one held to decide what the Fourniers may use to defend themselves to this lawsuit) here, I posted the ruling on the motion here (it permitted the Fourniers to use the materials they wanted in their defense).

So, yesterday was the big day of the hearing itself.

The Fourniers are representing themselves – with all the lawsuits that ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ is throwing at the Fourniers, it is amazing just how well they are standing up against what, in my never-humble-opinion, constitutes the type of ‘maximum disruption’ tactics of legal warfare that Mr. Warman has, in my never-humble-opinion, boasted of implementing against either neo-nazis or people whom he finds ‘annoying’.

Sorry about all the ‘in my never-humble-opinion’ repetitions:  I just want it to be clear that it is not fact, but simply my opinion that Mr. Warman has boasted about his ‘maximum disruption’ tactics; it is my opinion that this constitutes lawfare; and it is my opinion that his multiple lawsuits against the Fourniers constitute both lawfare and the ‘maximum disruption tactics’ I believe he has boasted of.  All I report on below is not ‘facts’, but simply  my observation and highly limited understanding thereof.

And, it is my opinion that Mr. Warman finds Connie and Mark Fournier to be ‘annoying’.

As a matter of fact, everything I write here is my opinion and should not be taken to be anything else.  I just want to make sure.  My opinion – and not an expert one, at that!  Because, after all, one can never be careful enough when naming ‘You-Know-Who’…  there is (an undoubtedly unfounded) superstition among many Canadian bloggers that if you mention ‘You-Know-Whos’s’ name in a blog post, you just might find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit!

Re-focusing:  the courtroom!

Mr. Warman wore a black suit to court yesterday- a suit which rather hung on his tall frame, as if he had suddenly lost quite a bit of weight but had not yet adjusted his wardrobe to reflect this.  He also seemed distracted at most times and did not boss his lawyer around even once – which is unusual.  While walking in or out, he seemed to take pains not to meet anyone’s eyes.  While I do deplore Mr. Warman’s actions, I do not wish him any personal harm and sincerely hope that this is not an indication of some illness.

Mr. Warman was represented by the ever charming Mr. James Katz, who is (once again) sporting the most elegant beard.  It is my never-humble-opinion that without Mr. Katz’s genius, Mr. Warman’s lawsuits not have gotten very far…and that the recognition of this (on some, perhaps subconscious, level) is at least partly behind of the way Mr. Warman usually talks down to Mr. Katz.

Connie Fournier looked her best in a fashinably-cut black-and-white graphic floral  print dress with pink accents and a matching pink cardigan.  During her presentation to the courts, she spoke eloquently, confidently and persuasively.  She supported her statements with legal precedents as if she were an expert in law and not a computer scientist.  Ms. Fournier possesses a gentle, intelligent beauty – and her mind is as sharp as, well, think of the sharpest thing you can.  Like that.

The deeply charismatic Mark Fournier, in earthtone shirtsleeves and tie, looked steadfast, respectworthy and confident.

The case was presided over by judge Donald Renney, who was most excellent at remaining ‘unreadable’ throughout the proceedings, which frustrated your not-so-humble reporter so very much…

Now, the stage is set for action!

Mr. Katz presented his case first.  The judge interrupted very seldom, but did ask a few questions along the way. His presentation of the case ended at 10:30.  After a short recess, Ms. Fournier presented the case for the defense.  At noon, there was another very short recess (on the request of Mr. Katz), following which he had a chance to rebut Ms. Fournier’s points.

With the two short breaks, the whole thing was over at 12:18.

Since both sides had to make written presentations of their case to the court (and each other), both sides and the judge were familiar with the arguments and things therefore ‘jumped around’ quite a bit.  For clarity’s sake, I will list/define the proceedings by the issues.

Issue #1:  ‘the Warman work’ (Ww)

Richard Warman had, at some point, given a speech to an unsavoury group, the ARC (Anti-racism something-or-other) which has the reputation (deservedly or not) of being a violent anarchist organization.  During this speech, Mr. Warman had outlined his tactic of ‘maximum disruption’ to be applied to neo-nazis and/or people he finds annoying.

The Fourniers are accused of having infringed Mr. Warman’s copyright by republishing the text of this speech.

Mr. Katz said that since they had published the text of the speech, if Mr. Warman chose to try to publish it for money in the future, he would be disadvantaged because it has already been made public.  Thus, their action diminished the value of Mr. Warman’s copyright.

The Fournier’s defense – as best as I understand it – is that the Fourniers did not even know who Mr. Warman was, until he started to sue them for defamation.  Therefore, they began to research him, in order to build their legal defense against his lawsuit(s).  Free Dominion was the forum where this research for the purposes of their legal defense was going on – so that others might contribute to it in a collaborative, synergistic sort of way.

While copyright laws are powerful, there are some ‘fair dealing’ provisions which trump the copyright bit:  one of them is doing research, including specifically for the purposes of legal defense.  The Fourniers are therefore claiming that since this was a bonafied use of the Ww for the purposes of researching their legal defense in the defamation suits, the exception of ‘fair use/dealing’ applies.

It is my opinion that the Fourniers believe that the reason Mr. Warman wishes to pursue this matter is not because of any potential monetary damage but because Mr. Warman was too ‘unguarded’ in this speech and revealed too much about his desires to subvert the legal system from a tool of justice to a tool of persecution, silencing his political opponents by financially exhausting them by prolonged and costly vexatious court proceedings.  I suspect the Fourniers believe that Mr. Warman acknowledges the illegality of his method in this speech, when he asserts that his friends who are police officers would be horrified at his actions.  And, I suspect they believe that his reasons for suppressing the publication of this speech is precisely to hide his public statement that he intends to use illegal methods (subverting the legal system) to achieve his ends…

Again, I could be wrong – but that is what I took away from listening to the court proceedings.

But, to recap:  Mr. Warman says there was copyright infringement.  The Fourniers claim ‘fair use’ for research and news-worthiness plus no monetary damages (no harm, no foul) were experienced by Mr. Warman, his motive for suing being not any real or potential damages from copyright infringement but the desire to hide the evidence of his stated ‘intention of law-breaking’ from public record.

Issue # 2:  ‘the Kay work’ (Kw)

(Note:  all the parties were referring to materials they had in front of them.  I was writing things down as quickly as I could as they were being said, but the timeline is critical here, so I want to once again caution the reader that this is what I ‘caught’ while listening in court and it might not be as accurate a report as I would like it to be…  In other words, I am doing my best – but my best is far from perfect and I know and acknowledge this!  If you have information to ‘firm up’ or correct my reconstruction of the timeline, please, do so – I would love to have a better record than I do!)

Jonathan Kay wrote an article for the National Post about Mr. Warman.  It was linked to, acknowledged and re-published on the Free Dominion forum on March 4th, 2008.

Mr. Warman thought the article defamed him and sued the National Post and Free Dominion (FD) for defamation.  Not being in the business of defending civil liberties, National Post settled out of court, giving Mr. Warman some level of copyright over the article (Kw).

Once Mr. Warman had that copyright control, he demanded that FD take down the article – which they complied with, right away.  However, since Mr. Warman was suing them for defamation because they republished the article, they retained a copy on their server –not linked to the outside in any manner – for the purposes of their legal defense in the defamation suit.

The Fourniers claim they retained this copy on their server for the purposes of their legal defense and that since it was not publicly accessible, it does not constitute re-publishing.  Moreover, they claim that by attempting to deprive them of this copy, Mr. Warman is attempting to use the copyright laws to deprive them of the materials they need to defend against his defamation lawsuit against them in a different court.  If this were so, it would, I suspect, be some sort of legal misconduct…

Mr. Katz said they withdrew their demand that the Fourniers get rid of this copy – provided only their lawyer retained it, for the purposes of their defense…and the Fourniers had pointed out that Mr. Warman had forced them to go to court just to be able to retain materials essential to their defense in another court case…  Mr Katz asserted (and I am paraphrasing to incorporate the words, the tone and the body language) that the Fourniers are just dumb bumpkins who aren’t smart enough to understand the law, which is why they think that Mr. Warman is trying to deprive them of evidence to use in the defamation suit:  silly bunnies, those Fourniers!!!

The second part of this bit revolves around some crucial timing.  The article was posted of FD in March 2008.  Mr. Warman filed the copyright infringement suit in May 2011:  which is more than the 3 year statute of limitations from when the article was published or when the complainant ‘ought to have known’ it was published.

Since Mr. Warman filed a defamation suit against the Fourniers when they re-published the article, there is little question about when Mr. Warman knew about the publication:  March 2008.  However, he did not get the copyright to the article until later.  Yes, he got the control over it within the 3 year ‘filing window’, but the time he actually filed was outside of this:  from the date of publication, that is.  However, he did file within 3 years from the date when he got control over the article…

So, the judge will have to decide if the clock starts running from the date of publication (or when the complainant ‘ought to have known’) or from the date one gets control over the copyright. (This mess would have been avoided had Mr. Warman filed within the  year window from the date of publication, because he did get copyright control during that bit.)

If the judge decides the latter, he will then have to decide whether the Fourniers complied with the take-down order quickly and properly enough…

Now, here is a fascinating legal wrinkle!

Mr. Warman had entered the full Kw article as an exhibit in his defamation lawsuit.

There is something called ‘The Open Court Principle’:  in order for justice to be done and just as importantly, to be seen to be done, our court proceedings are (with some exceptions) open and transparent.  All exhibits in any lawsuit, once submitted, can be reproduced for the purpose of news reporting and are fully accessible to the public.

Once the Kw became an exhibit in the defamation lawsuit, it became a publicly available document.

Therefore, once the Fourniers took down the original Kw, they replaced it with scanned pictures of the court exhibit ‘R3’ in Mr. Warman’s defamation suit against them – the Kw, but with each page stamped with the ‘R3’ stamp indicating it is a properly registered court document/exhibit.

Mr. Warman claims that this constitutes re-publishing of the original article and is therefore a breech of his copyright.

The Fourniers claim that it was a publication – for the purposes of reporting news – of a publicly available court document and that it therefore does not fall under copyright protection, based on the ‘open court principle’.

Mr. Warman asserts that they could have paraphrased and used excerpts:  the Fourniers countered by saying they wanted to demonstrate the authenticity of the court document, so they had to reproduce it in its entirety, court stamp and all.  Plus, with several outstanding defamation suits against them by Mr. Warman, paraphrasing the article seemed like a very foolish thing to do…

To sum up:  Mr. Warman charges that the Fourniers have violated his copyright on the Kw three times:  by original publication, by reproducing the court document and by storing a copy on their server.

He demands $7,500 per each violation in damages plus another $5K in punitive damages.  Plus court costs…

The Fourniers are defending themselves by saying that they complied with the original takedown order right away – and that anyway, Mr. Warman had filed the lawsuit on that grounds after the permitted period, so it is not a valid claim on either of these two grounds.  They kept a copy, not publicly accessibe (thus ‘not published’) on their server for the legitimate purposes of legal defense and that by trying to deny this to the (and forcing them to defend it in court), it demonstrates an attempt by Mr. Warman to abuse the legal system.

The third count is regarding the publication of the same Kw article – but as a copy of a legal exhibit (and thus open to the public) under the ‘open courts doctrine’.  Mr. Warman (through his lawyer) claims that the court documents are available for personal use or publication by news sources, but are not permitted to be re-published by just anyone.

The interesting bit here (for all of us, bloggers, anyway) was that the judge had asked Mr. Katz if he thought that, say, ‘The Globe And Mail’ (a Canadian legacy news medium) would be operating within the ‘open courts’ principle if they were to re-publish the Kay article/court exhibit in its entirety.  Mr. Katz answered that yes, that would indeed be an acceptable ‘fair use’ publication of the article under the ‘open courts’ principle.

So, it seems to me, the judge here will have to decide whether legacy news media have rights superior to those of the modern news media, like citizen-blogs and fora.  There is significant amount of already existing jurisprudence in Canada that suggests that the two must indeed be treated equally…

But, we shall see what the judge decides!


(My apologies for the length of this post – the issues are both complex and important!  Thus, I beg your indulgence…)

Issue #3: ‘the photo’/hyperlinking

Somebody took a picture of Mr. Warman.  Mr. Warman displayed the image on his own website (i.e. stored on a server under complete and total control of Mr. Warman).

A person participating in an FD forum discussion imbedded a hyperlink to this image inside his comment.

This particular hyperlink actually showed a thumbnail of the image if a person moused over it.

(The nature of various types of hyperlinks and their differing/similar legal implications was discussed at great length.)

As people replied to this comment, the original comment (and thus the hyperlink inside it) was reproduced several times on the FD forum.

Mr. Warman claims that the hyperlink ‘authorizes communication’ and therefore this constitutes re-publishing of the image.  When asked by the judge for legal cases that support this assertion, Mr. Katz was unable to provide any.

The Fourniers cited legal precedents that clearly state that ‘authorizing communication’ does not equal ‘communicate’.  To the contrary, they cited a number of legal precedents that state that the communication only occurs from the server on which the image is stored.  Which was Mr. Warman’s server…

They pointed out that Mr. Warman only sought to acquire the copyright over the image after the hyperlink appeared on FD – for the sole purpose of suing them, not because he had suffered any damages.

Plus, they point out, Mr Warman had full control over the image:  if he did not wish the hyperlink to display the thumbnail, he could have

  • moved the image to a different URL
  • substituted a different (or no) image to this URL
  • set the filter on his website to not permit hyperlinks

These were all remedies available to him and under his full control – yet he chose not to exercise them and to use the courts instead in order to put the Fourniers through a costly and stressful legal action.  This demonstrates his bad faith and intentional abuse of the system…

Issues # 4 and 5:  Abuse of Process and bringing the Justice System into disrepute…

These bits were raised by the defense:  the Fourniers claimed that their exhibits demonstrate that Mr. Warman intended to use the legal system as a toll to bully and financially ruin his political opponents and that his actions (and, perhaps, some ‘games’ by his lawyer) bring the Justice system into disrepute.

Ms. Fournier cited over 60 lawsuits Mr. Warman had filed against people whose political views he disagreed with, in addition to all those ‘Section 13’ of the Human Rights Cases he filed, demonstrating his penchant for serial-lawfare and his use of the courts as an instrument of political censorship.

She cited his ‘maximum disruption’ doctrine…  This was one of the funny bits:  apparently Mr. Warman had said that he is not using the ‘maximum disruption’ doctrine against the Fourniers because he only uses this against neo-nazis, and he openly recognizes that the Fourniers are no neo-nazis!

Of course, that is a nice recognition by him, but…

Ms. Fournier pointed out that this line of defense by Mr. Warman is a no-starter:  it would be like punching a brunette in the head, then offering the defense that he could not have punched the brunette because he has a strict policy of punching only blondes in the head…

The judge said he had the written submissions on this and would make his mind up based on that.

Now, we await the judgment with bated breath!!!

Correction 1: Both ‘The Warman Work’ and ‘The Kay Work’ were submitted as court exhibits by Mr. Warman in other cases and had been reproduced as such, which I understand that the  Fourniers believe is protected under the ‘open courts’ principle.

Correction 2:  The ‘picture’ was linked to from the Free Dominion site not using a thumbnail, but using a regular html hotlink which poits to the picture on Mr. Warman’s server.

UPDATE:  Welcome Free Dominion readers!

Here is Mark Fournier’s comment on yesterday’s court proceedings.