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Int'l News: Software Patents, Immigrant Warriors, Arms in Africa

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September 12, 2003

Int'l News: Software Patents, Immigrant Warriors, Arms in Africa

Fight over Software Patents Rekindled in Europe

Programmers protest software patents in Brussels. Photo: Indymedia Belgium
Around 400 programmers took to the streets in Brussels last week to protest proposed software patent legislation in the European Union. During the week, over 2,700 web sites replaced their front pages with a message protesting software patents.

Companies like IBM and Microsoft, which support software patent legislation, argue that patents are necessary to encourage innovation. In the US, large corporations make extensive use of software patents to protect their interests.
Critics, however, argue that software patents hinder innovation by making certain ideas off limits to small software developers. British Telecom, for example, holds a patent on the use of links in conjunction with a dialup network connection. If the patent were enforced, the company would have the right to demand a licensing fee from any company that wrote software to access the world wide web, or provided access to the web via a dialup connection.

There are currently over 30,000 software patents filed in Europe; many small software companies and independent programmers are claiming that they will be obligated to look through the entire list of patents before engaging in any new projects, effectively stifling innovation.

But according to well-known programmer and Free Software advocate Richard Stallman, large corporations have the resources and clout to avoid paying licensing fees. Companies like IBM, he argues, have a large number of patents, and can use these as leverage to avoid having to pay licensing fees for access to other patents. (Indymedia UK, Indymedia Belgium) --Dru Oja Jay

» Richard Stallman: Software patents – Obstacles to software development

» Indymedia UK: Netwide Protests against EU Software Patents Bring Temporary Victory

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Thousands of Non-citizens Serving in US Armed Forces

Many of the soldiers serving in the US armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq are not US citizens. According to the Pentagon, 37,401 non-citizens are currently serving as active duty soldiers. A US Department of Defence spokesperson said that "the military services have processes and programs in place to help service members expedite their citizenship". Since September 11th, 2001, it has become increasingly difficult for many immigrants to apply for US citizenship.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, British MP George Galloway accused the US of continuing a "long tradition of using its underclass as cannon fodder." During Vietnam "the proportion of blacks in the army was 40%, while in the US population the number of blacks was a quarter of that... nothing has changed," he said. (Al Jazeera) --Dru Oja Jay

» Al Jazeera: US attacked over green card soldiers

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Reporters Sans Frontières Releases Press Freedom Index

Jourralist advocacy group Reporters sans Frontières (Reporters without Borders) recently released the first systematic index of press freedoms. Canada ranked a close fifth behind Finland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands.
Based on a questionnaire distributed to foreign and local journalists worldwide, the index granted each country a score based on several criteria, including violence against journalists, state interventions and censorship practices. The index does not take professional standards or ethical practices into account. (Reporters Sans Frontières) --Dru Oja Jay

» Reporters Sans Frontières: Reporters Without Borders publishes the first worldwide press freedom index

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Venezuela to Stage "Fight" at WTO

Victor Alvarez, Venezuela's Chief trade negotiator, says that Venezuela will propose that "no new commitments be adopted" at World Trade Organization negotiations next week in Cancún. "It makes no sense for countries like ours to add new points to the WTO agenda when there's such a long list of issues that haven't been satisfied," said Alvarez.

Along with many other developing countries, Venezuela is insisting that Europe and the United States remove the estimated $300 billion in subsidies that their governments give farmers annually before other negotiations can be considered. Poor countries say that these subsidies make it impossible for them to compete in international markets. (Reuters) --Dru Oja Jay

» Reuters: Say no at WTO, Venezuela tells developing nations

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British Arms Exports to Africa Double

According to a report released by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, a British activist group, arms exports from British countries to Africa have doubled over the last three years. (Observer) --Dru Oja Jay

» Observer: British arms sales to Africa soar

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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