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General Mills Retracts "No Right to Sue" EULA Clause
Department: such-ungrateful-customers  Date: 2014-04-21T06:59:00Z  Comments: 1
Just a few days after General Mills changed its policies to declare that people who so much as "liked" their page on Facebook thereby waived their right to sue the company in favor of arbitration, the company has reversed itself: "The announcement resulted in huge backlash on social media, as well as from consumer groups. Legal experts expressed doubts it could ever be enforced. Hamline Law Professor David Schultz appeared on WCCO Sunday Morning.“When I first saw this earlier this week I said this is questionable at best from a legal point of view,” he said.“From a marketing point of view, it’s a dumb idea, too, but legally it didn’t rest on very sound grounds so it’s not a surprise that they are reversing it. The lawyers at General Mills should have known better.”

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Drones On Demand
Department: but-you-can't-demand-none  Date: 2014-04-21T03:50:00Z  Comments: 5
mikejuk (1801200) writes "Gofor is a new company that is promoting the idea of drones on demand. All you have to do is use the app to request a drone and it shows you were they are and how long before one reaches your location. You want to take the ultimate selfie? Scout ahead to see if the road is clear or just find a parking space? No problem just task a drone to do the job. For the photo you simply flash your phone camera at it and it pinpoints your location for an aerial selfie. If it is scouting ahead then it shows you what awaits you via a video link. See the promo video to see how it might work. Flight of fancy? Possibly but the company claims to be operational in five US cities." I wish my car had a drone for instant scouting of traffic-jam alternates.

Read more of this storyat Slashdot.










$42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand
Department: chop-off-your-hand-to-check  Date: 2014-04-21T00:18:00Z  Comments: 
An anonymous reader writes "A man named Jose Delgado was so used to using a $42,000 myoelectric prosthetic hand for the last year that he didn't realize that there were other options out there. Although Delgado, born without a left hand, was able to obtain the hand via his insurance, he found that a 3D printed 'Cyborg Beast,' open source hand ,which costs just $50 to print, actually was more comfortable and performed better than the device which costs 840 times as much money."

Read more of this storyat Slashdot.










Biofuels From Corn Can Create More Greenhouse Gases Than Gasoline
Department: as-long-as-it-looks-good  Date: 2014-04-20T23:08:00Z  Comments: 
New submitter Chipmunk100 (3619141) writes "Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln team of researchers cast doubt on whether corn residue can be used to meet federal mandates to ramp up ethanol production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Read more of this storyat Slashdot.










L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects
Department: science-is-sometimes-dangerous  Date: 2014-04-20T22:11:00Z  Comments: 4
An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High Schoolin Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter— which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun— which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."

Read more of this storyat Slashdot.











Latest from Techdirt.com
Empire State Building Supposedly Sues Photographer Over Photograph Of Topless Woman Wed, 15 Jan 2014 11:38:00 GMT
The story is almost too good to be true for the press. Apparently, the company that owns the famous Empire State Building in NY issuing photographer Allen Henson for $1.1 millionbecause he took a photo of a model named Shelby Carter, posing topless up on one of the ESB's observation decks. I've read nearly a dozen articles about the lawsuit, and I've noticed one thing: every one of them contains one or more of the photos of Carter topless (some pixelate or otherwise cover her breasts, some do not), and every one of them includes direct and different quotes from Henson who seemed quite willing to talk to anyone and everyone about the story and who freely admitted that it was good publicity for his ongoing efforts tophotograph topless womenaround NYC, after a police announcement last year that it's not illegal for women to be topless in NY. However,noneof them seem to include the actual lawsuit. We won't post the photos here. You can see them at basically every other link in this post. The closest to having the actual lawsuit (and this surprises me) is the NY Daily News, which at least notes thatthe lawsuit was filedin Manhattan Supreme Court, and at least suggests the cause of action:
In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, ESRT Empire State Building says photographer Allen Henson caused "damage to its business and reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction" by taking pictures of a woman without her shirt on there this past August 9.
I'd really like to see the actual lawsuit to see on what basis the company is making this claim. Yes, the Empire State Building is private property, so its owners can easily kick Henson off the property and even bar him from returning. But I can't see how they have any legal argument at all for demanding $1.1 million. From some of the other comments, there appears to besome allegationsthat the actions are "commercial" and that it cost the Empire State Building extra money to beef up security while decreasing the Empire State Building's "reputation as a safe and secure family friendly tourist attraction." I'm still not clear how that amounts to something you can sue someone over, let alone for $1 million. But, until someone actually provides the lawsuit (and Henson himself seems to suggest he hasn't even seen it either), it's difficult to understand the details. I have some emails out, and hopefully someone in the press will stop focusing on getting up photos of this woman's breasts for long enough to see if they can get a copy of the actual lawsuit to post as well.

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Why Exactly Do We Need To 'Protect' US And EU Foreign Investments Through TAFTA/TTIP Anyway? Wed, 15 Jan 2014 08:19:51 GMT

Techdirt has already examined the issue of corporate sovereignty many times over the past year, as it has emerged as one of the most problematic areas of both TPP and TAFTA/TTIP. A fine article by Simon Lester of the Cato Institute examinesa hidden assumption in these negotiations: that an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism is needed at all.

Most of his post is devoted to the background of corporate sovereignty, and it provides a useful primer if you're still wondering what exactly ISDS is supposed to do, and why. Having established the framework, Lester concludes by making two key points:

First, if a U.S. (or EU) company chooses to make an investment abroad, why should the U.S. (or EU) government go to bat for it at all? In the past, we used "gunboat diplomacy" to protect our companies. Now we use international lawyers. But why should we do anything? These companies have chosen another jurisdiction for their investment, which is fine. Companies should invest in whatever location makes the most economic sense. But in that situation, it is not clear why the investment is "ours" to worry about anymore. When multinationals invest all over the world, are they really "ours," or are they now just global entities?
Business is inherently about taking risks -- if there were no risk, there would be no need for entrepreneurs. So why should a nation be expected to offer a kind of free insurance policy against those risks when they are incurred abroad -- not least because commercial policies doing that arereadilyavailable? Since fans of the free market think that the government should just get out of the way, surely they should extend this to foreign investment too?

Lester's other point is one that many people have made -- that ISDS is in any case unnecessary in an agreement between the US and EU:

when the place of the investment is the EU or US, which have plenty of their own protections in domestic law, international law seems largely duplicative. International investment rules are an opportunity for lawyers to bring additional claims, but are not necessary for "protection" of foreign investment. Without some evidence that more is necessary, perhaps US-EU investment rules should be limited to a basic promise to treat each other's investors equally, let governments settle disputes between themselves, and leave the international constitutional protections out of it.
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Aaron Swartz Explains Why The NSA Needs To Be Stopped Wed, 15 Jan 2014 04:14:51 GMT
Last week, when we wrote about the big "day of action" against the NSA in memory of Aaron Swartz, to be held February 11th, a few folks questioned whether this was an appropriate issue, since they were unaware of Aaron being all that concerned about the NSA. Obviously, Aaron died months before the Snowden leaks, but as many folks who knew Aaron knew, the NSA was absolutely an issue he was quite concerned about even prior to the Snowden leaks. Brian Knappenberger, who has been working to put the finishing touches on his new documentary about Aaron,The Internet's Own Boy, in order to debut it at Sundance, hasreleased an astounding trailerof the film (which looks amazing). Included in it, are multiple clips of Aaron actually speaking out about the NSA and surveillance, mainly focused on the NSAsaying itcan'tpossiblycalculate how many Americans it's spying on, because to do so, would be either (a) impossible or (b) would violate their privacy (yes, at one point, they actually said figuring out how many people are being spied on would violate their privacy).
So, yes, Aaron was quite concerned about the NSA, and it makes you wonder just how much we all lost in his death, because you have to expect that, as with SOPA, Aaron would have been an instrumental force in fighting back against the NSA as its overreach and abuses have been exposed. If you haven't yet, please go check outTheDayWeFightBack.orgto learn more about the day of action.

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DailyDirt: Categorizing Everything Wed, 15 Jan 2014 01:00:00 GMT
People just keep creating stuff -- books, movies, music, you name it... so it's (more than) a full-time job to keep up with all the cool new stuff. How do we classify music into hip-hop, heavy metal or Krautrock? What can we learn from mapping all these seemingly separate media genres? People and machines are working together to cobble together categorization systems that try to keep up with the flood of new content. Here are just a few examples.If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!)Techdirt postvia StumbleUpon.

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