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Thursday, January 19, 2012

  • SOPA: Anti-Piracy or Censorship? Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales vs. Copyright Alliance’s Sandra Aistars

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    Congressional support for a pair of anti-piracy bills is weakening after Wednesday’s historic online protest in which thousands of websites went dark for 24 hours. Hollywood film studios, music publishers and major broadcasters support the anti-piracy legislation, saying it aims to stop the piracy of copyrighted material over the internet on websites based outside the United States. "We’re talking about sites that are operated and dedicated to piracy and that are really preventing individual creators across the country from having an economic livelihood from their creative pursuits," says Sandra Aistars, executive director of the Copyright Alliance, whose members include the Motion Picture Association of America, NBCUniversal, Time Warner, Viacom, ASCAP and BMI. But critics say the bills could profoundly change the internet by stifling innovation and investment, hallmarks of the free, open internet. "Wikipedia could be defined as a search engine under these [bills]," says Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. "That would mean that it would be illegal for Wikipedia to link to a site, even if we’re writing an encyclopedia article explaining to the public what is The Pirate Bay, what is going on here, and we want to send you there so you can go and take a look for yourself. That would become illegal. This is outrageous, and it’s just not acceptable under the First Amendment." [includes rush transcript]

  • Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline under GOP Deadline, But Opponents Prepare for Long-Term Fight

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    The Obama administration has rejected the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline that would stretch from the Alberta tar sands to the Gulf Coast. On Wednesday, President Obama said he was turning down TransCanada’s application for the pipeline because there was not enough time to review an alternate route that would avoid the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska. Obama had tried to delay a decision until next year, but Republicans responded by passing legislation forcing a decision by the end of February. Environmental groups have hailed the permit’s rejection, but it does not mark the end of the pipeline fight. TransCanada has already announced it will reapply for a permit based on a different route, and Obama said he was only making his decision based on time constraints, not on the pipeline’s "merits." We get reaction from Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, an expert on climate change who has led massive protests in Washington, D.C. against the pipeline over the past six months. "This was a real victory for people standing up," McKibben says. "If we hadn’t gone and done what we did out in the streets, if we hadn’t made record numbers of public comments on this, then the oil industry, as usual, would have gotten away with a really bad idea." [includes rush transcript]

  • Historic Effort to Recall Wisconsin Gov. Walker Reveals "People Power" After 1 Million Sign Petition

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    Opponents of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker have submitted more than a million signatures seeking his recall in a statewide vote. The million-plus signatures amount to nearly double the required number of 540,000 and may mark the largest recall effort in U.S. history. Walker is being challenged for pushing through a controversial law ending collective bargaining rights for most public workers. The million signatures "represent almost half of the electorate in the last election, in 2010, and what you might reasonably presume to be the electorate that would participate in a recall election," says John Nichols of The Nation magazine. "[Walker] will be forced to face a new election, because he adopted the austerity agenda of the Republican and conservative leadership in Washington and tried to balance budgets on the backs of public employees, tried to destroy their unions, tried to cut school funding, and succeeded in cutting funding. And we’re going to have a referendum on the most fundamental of economic issues." [includes rush transcript]

  • Recount Leaves Santorum Ahead of Romney in Iowa GOP Caucus

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    Rick Santorum has been declared the winner of the Iowa caucus after a recount gave him a 34-vote lead over Mitt Romney. The outcome could slow the momentum of the front-runner Romney, who is hoping to wrap up the Republican nomination with a win on Saturday in South Carolina. "It’s a big deal," says John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine. "[Santorum] spent a tiny amount of money per vote as compared to Romney." [includes rush transcript]

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