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Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Some shocking remarks from a top Silicon Valley VC about the government shutdown; more details on Pierre Omidyar's new online journalism endeavor with Glenn Greenwald; Code for America is thinking about how to help cities go "beyond transparency"; and much, much more.
Good news! Today, the House of Representatives voted 325-91 in favor of the Innovation Act, the best troll-killing bill we've seen yet. And earlier this week the White House put out a strong statement in support of the legislation. All that's left is the Senate, which has promised to take up the issue before the end of this year.
The Innovation Act isn't perfect. It doesn't go nearly far enough to reform the demand letter problem. Its provisions protecting consumers and end-users, while present, aren't as robust as we would hope. And it dropped expanded covered business method review, a provision that would have helped ensure that the Patent Office issues fewer patents for "inventions" that aren't particularly inventive.
But the Innovation Act is nonetheless a huge step in the right direction. It gives defendants tools to fight back, makes ligitation cheaper and includes an important fee-shifting provision, so companies that stand up to the trolls have a chance to recover their fees and costs at the end of litigation. It requires trolls to make their case up front by providing basic information about their patents and the supposed infringement. And it prohibits trolls from hiding behind shell companies.
Today's vote makes clear that policymakers understand that patent trolls impose an unacceptable tax on innovation and that their conduct, which often amounts to little more than run-of-the mill extortion, must be stopped. We got here in no small part because of those of you who helped by making calls, emailing your members of Congress, and using social networks to get the word out. Thank you! And stay tuned: now we head to the Senate.
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Earlier this year, an undergraduate emailed me a great question: If I knew then what I know now, would I still join Teach For America? And, last summer, after Chicago educator Katie Osgood asked new TFA corps members to quit, a corps member asked me the same question.Indeed, Fordham Professor Mark Naison may have started a trend when he penned this piece about why TFA can't recruit in his classes. Now we've come to another TFA recruitment season, and several provocative stances regarding TFA have recently been made. In the Harvard Crimson, student Sandra Korn urged her classmates not to join—the Crimson’s editorial board responded with this defense of TFA—and Catherine Michna, a fellow TFA alumnus and academic, also recently wrote about why she will not write recommendation letters for students applying to the organization.As someone who knows that nuance matters, I hesitate to tell students not to join TFA, though I agree with most of Michna's and Korn’s critiques of TFA and recognize that Naison and Osgood continuously raise valid concerns. Though I find it highly problematic, I also agree with the Harvard Crimson editorial board in this statement: "Teach For America is valuable because it provides at least a temporary solution to America's educational problems." However, those Harvard students couldn't be more factually right and morally wrong.I am a foundations of education professor and urban education scholar. I guide graduate students through interrogating what lies beneath what we see in schools. I also live in Philadelphia. Korn wrote, "We should all have questions about how much we can actually help to fix structural problems with just a month of training and a few years of work." If ever there was a school district with "structural problems," Philadelphia's is one. Our public school system has been decimated in the last 12 years and devastated in 2013. Last June, more than 20 of Philadelphia's public schools were closed and almost 4,000 school district educators and support staff were laid off.
In 1989 Michael Galinsky set out driving across the country from Long Island, to North Dakota, and Washington State beyond. His mission? Documenting the malls of America as he went. His series is a time capsule from a transitioning country, where downtown districts continued to lose popularity and the “big box” malls became social and […]
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Michael from the US Department of Labor writes, "To commemorate its 100th anniversary, the U.S. Department of Labor has launched Books that Shaped Work in America, an online project that explores work, workers and workplaces through literature, and aims to educates the public about the history, mission and resources of their Labor Department.
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“Remember who the real enemy is,” implores Katniss Everdeen's mentor and friend, Haymitch Abernathy, in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It is his succinct reminder that the Capitol, and not her fellow Hunger Games competitors, is the real bad guy. It is a message almost entirely lost in the media coverage and marketing campaign surrounding Catching Fire. The Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy organization, is trying to remedy that with a campaign called Odds In Our Favor that highlights the similarities between the inequities of fictional Panem and present-day America. So far, thousands have participated by uploading selfies in which they hold up the three finger salute that symbolizes solidarity and resistance against 'the few who control the many.'
New York City is partnering with Code for America and Stack Exchange to invite civic technologists and other hackers to "reinvent 311" with a focus on new and existing mobile tools. "From parking and recycling rules to birth certificates, all of 311's content is available through an API (application programming interface) - but it's not yet widely available in the mobile space," according to the page of the Reinvent 311: Mobile Content Challenge.
Internet gambling operators hope success of poker sites in Chris Christie's New Jersey will lead nearby states to follow suitAmerica is poised to take a significant step towards permitting online gambling this week when New Jersey tests the waters by liberalising strict laws governing internet poker, blackjack and slot machines.A new wave of officially sanctioned online gambling sites will be opened up to the public on Tuesday, ending years of controversy over rogue offshore websites flouting warnings from federal authorities that their US activities were illegal.While New Jersey is not the first state to legalise and license online gambling – Nevada and Delaware already have licensed operators – it is seen as the first with a population of a scale likely to attract the critical mass of players needed by large, profitable sites.More than 9 million people live in the east coast state, and governor Chris Christie, seen as a possible Republican White House contender for 2016, hopes to make it a hub for gambling regulation across America. Christie, who is forecasting game-changing tax dollars to flood in from the liberalised industry, is already pushing federal authorities for further liberalising measures, specifically around illegal sports betting.In Europe, France, Italy and Spain have all introduced similar licensing and taxation regimes for online gambling. Britain, the biggest European market, is also considering reforms in this area.Online gambling operators hope the success of poker sites in New Jersey will galvanise nearby populous states to follow suit. On the west coast, meanwhile, Californian politicians are also considering moves to open a market for licensed poker online. "That's the real brass ring we're all looking to capture," said one official at a leading poker website.Another official at a second major poker site said: "The US tried prohibition. It lasted for seven years and it didn't work. Even today, the black market is worth about $3bn. It's like the repeal of the Volstead Act all over again," he added, referring to alcohol prohibition legislation of 1920.
At 11:29:51 am on Thursday, November 7, 2013, while the 6th Latin American Congress of Photobiology and Photomedicine in the Peruvian city of Arequipa was taking place, locals stopped their activities to contemplate the day without shadow [es]. This event happens twice a year in cities located between the Tropic...
The dark-haired girl, maybe six-years old, darted from behind the plate-glass window and exclaimed to her mother, “Snow flakes are falling.” In a soft voice, the mother replied using a different language. The child turned and switched quickly from English to her mother’s language without missing a beat. As I waited in front of the small business, I commented to the mother that her daughter was fortunate to grow up bilingual. The mother smiled and shared that her two children preferred to speak... show all text
There’s nothing better for cooking than a good ol’ fashioned cast iron skillet, except for these amazing creations by Wisconsin artist Alisa Toninato. The 30 year old metal designer began crafting cast iron pans in the shape of her home state, Wisconsin. When this was well-received, she decided to complete the whole Mid-West region, and […]
Code for America's projects may not end world hunger, overhaul a broken criminal justice system, or solve municipal budget crises in of themselves — but both citizens and government officials see promise in using the organization’s philosophy and techniques to work more closely together to incrementally solve these kinds of problems.
That’s becoming increasingly evident as the San Francisco non-profit enters its fourth year and convenes its annual summit this week downtown. Officials from 85 cities both in the United States and abroad are getting together to discuss everything from the merits and limits of acquiring talent and technology through the social coding site Github to implementing municipal entrepreneurship-in-residence programs. Last year, officials from 30 cities attended.
This is another in a series of posts by the PhD students in the Public Intellectuals seminar I am teaching through the Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism. Non-conforming Americans: Genre, Race, and Creativity in Popular Music by Rebecca Johnson Papa bear and mama bear. One was Black, and one was white, and from [...]
"President Clinton once said, 'There is nothing wrong with America that can’t be cured by what’s right with America.' The same is true of the teaching profession, " writes CTQ blogger Justin Minkel. He argues that not involving teachers more in the national conversation around education reform is like Captain America "using his famed shield to keep platters of pasta primavera warm."
Photo Credit: marvelousRoland via Flickr
The George Zimmerman verdict shook the black population, striking a massive blow to our hope. It also sparked activism in our communities in protest of the ruling. Ciara Allen and Anique Hameed are the masterminds behind "The Mountaintop," a project that seeks to empower young black men and women to speak out.
We’re on the cusp of October and thus fully entrenched in fall and the NFL season. Although it cannot be called America’s pastime, that designation belongs to baseball, football is America’s game. It’s the country’s most popular sport, and in many ways is analogous to and signals the contradiction of the society from which it [...]
Let me start by apologizing to Tom Friedman. You see, for years I've thought that the Mustache of Understanding was the silliest, most wankeriffic pontificator within in the NY Times's Op-Ed Page hierarchy of mandarins. But it's clear to me now I was completely wrong. The proof? Frank Bruni's latest column, in which he jumps into the pool of education policy unencumbered by the water wings of knowledge [all emphases mine]:
AT a middle school near Boston not long ago, teachers and administrato... show all text
Eliyah Davis and Devin Pandy from the 1Hood Media Academy (Photo by Amil Cook) Shortly after the George Zimmerman verdict 1Hood Media spoke to 3 of its students about being a young Black man in America. Their answers may surprise you.