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EU Software Patent Directive Adopted

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  • aarrghhh! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by catalax (826962) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:01AM (#11864349)
    THESE FUCKERS!
  • by ites (600337) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:03AM (#11864366) Journal
    So if the reason for letting the directive pass now was simply "administrative" and not related to its actual content and meaning, this leaves space for it to be rejected later.

    Being personally deeply affected by this directive - I own a software company that does a huge amount of R&D - I really hope the MEPs will do the right thing.

    • So if the reason for letting the directive pass now was simply "administrative" and not related to its actual content and meaning, this leaves space for it to be rejected later.
      Yes, the directive should not be rejected like this, according to proper procedure. It'll still have to pass the EC Parliament, which will hopefully send the directive back to the hell from which it came.
    • by elgaard (81259) <elgaard@NoSPam.agol.dk> on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:10AM (#11864418) Homepage
      You better start explaining to your MEP why this is so important.

      The second reading will be much more difficult than the first reading because this time they need a majority of all MEP's (not just MEP's present) to change the directive.
    • Can the MEP's actually do anything? I thought it was the unelected part of the EU (the european council and their friends) that are doing all of the damage and not allowing the amendments to be made. I really hope that this all gets thrown out, if it doesn't developing software in Europe is going to get a whole lot messier.
    • by Jacco de Leeuw (4646) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:14AM (#11864440) Homepage
      The second reading will require a 2/3 majority. I.e. all hands on deck for a topic that is not likely to attract votes from ordinary EU citizens. The Dutch minister for instance seemed to be quite confident that this will not happen. The Christian Democrats' votes will be crucial.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Some notes from Sainsbury's responses to questions from various people here [blibbleblobble.co.uk] (about the UK view, not european).
    • by kidtux (700283)
      I was reading an interesting article in a recent issue of eWeek that pointed out the fact that if Open Source development is slowed in Europe, it's entirely plausible that developing nations could surpass the technological innovation in Europe simply because with open standards its possible to move a lot faster. We shouldn't have to push the FUD angle, but it's an interesting point the eWeek article makes.
    • by NoMercy (105420) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:56AM (#11864734)
      Don't just hope, write a lot of letters, your MP, your party, several parties, EU Council representitives and state the clear business issues.

      Personally I think that around 70% of EU patents which would come into force are owned by companies from outside of the EU is a good enough reason not to allow it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:04AM (#11864375)
    Before the doom sayers start with the end of the world predictions, note the last bit of the artical:

    "The directive will now be passed to European Parliament, which can reject or amend the proposal, for a second reading."
  • It is sad that it happened in the face of huge opposition... but my SIG says it all, no matter WHAT country they are from....
    • Re:no suprise there. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Handpaper (566373) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:41AM (#11864624)
      It is sad that it happened in the face of huge opposition

      So (nearly) did a blanket 100PS power limit on every motorcycle manufactured in or imported into the EC. This was former Commissioner Martin Bangemann's pet project, and it took intensive lobbying from among others, the Motorcycle Action Group [mag-uk.org] and Triumph Motorcycles [triumph.co.uk] to slow it down, but it only died when Bangemann himself ceased to be a Commissioner.
      This was a virtally unresearched, transparently anti-competitive (Bangemann was trying to protect BMW [bmw.com], who, up until about five years ago, had a similar self-imposed limit) piece of legislation, supported by almost no-one else and more than once rejected by the European Parliament, yet it still took the downfall of its sponsor to kill it.

      Moral?
      EU Commissioners have far too much power, far too little responsibility, and are too difficult to get rid of.

      Incidentally, I'm uncertain whether BMW themselves actually had anything to do with this mess, but shortly afterward, they lifted their self-imposed limit and now make some very nice [bmwmotorcycles.com] bikes.

  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:05AM (#11864379) Homepage Journal
    What the hell on a stick with a bag of chips and a large soda consisting of coke, mountain dew, and a splash of root beer?

    These people will cry the day they get a cease and desist from Microsoft because their child programmed a bubble sort in LOGO class, in first grade.
  • by castlec (546341) <castlec@yahooIII.com minus threevowels> on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:05AM (#11864381)
    we'll have to write good, patent infringing software. software that is so good it causes the downfall of a company and benefits the world while doing it. all of this, while trying to remain anonymous. i take this time to wish everyone good luck.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:05AM (#11864382)
    Note that this means it goes back to parliament for a second reading (where an _absolute_ majority of 376 votes in the Parliament or something like that is needed to do *anything* about it (i.e. abstentions, absences, etc. count as votes _for_ the directive) - seems to be corruption is build into system, but there you go).

    Time for a straightforward declaration of our own, I think:

    "We, the undersigned, will not honour or respect european patent law any more. There are millions of us. You'll have to kill us all before you ever get your patent monopolies, you corrupt corporatist fuckers. Good day."
  • Time for a lobby (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SeanJones (858119) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:06AM (#11864388)
    This is now in the hands of our beloved European Parliament. I understand that most of the MEPs have long since been lobbied to the brink of resignation on this issue, but let's make them work for their croissants and travel expenses. The linkk below is to a list of UK MEP's email addresses: http://vox.org.uk/MEPMail.htm Sean
  • It's Not Oer Yet... (Score:5, Informative)

    by PipianJ (574459) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:06AM (#11864392)
    RTFA. The European Parliament still has to vote on it, and have rejected it before [slashdot.org].
    • by cortana (588495) <sam@robo[ ]org.uk ['ts.' in gap]> on Monday March 07, 2005 @01:40PM (#11867012) Homepage
      To reject/alter on a second reading the Parliament requires an absolute majority of 70%. Not going to happen. Start patenting now.
      • by lordholm (649770)
        It isn't actually that bad.

        For absolute majority 367 votes of 732 is needed, this equates around 50.136612 %, not 70 as stated in the parent.

        Four things can happen now:

        1. The EP approves the Council's proposal. This ends the process and the proposal is made into law.

        2. The EP approves the proposal but with amendments. The new proposal is then sent to the Council for a second reading. This requires absolute majority or 367 votes of 732. Before the Council's second reading the Commission is allowed to mak
  • by Baron Eekman (713784) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:07AM (#11864402)
    Best information source for the EU patent-problem.

    Here's the press release [ffii.org]
  • Now's the time to flood the (soon-to-be) newly formed software division of the EU patent office with patent applications.

    Get them in now! If we can flood them with a few million patent applications per day, they'll be likely to just start approving everything. Imagine your new income after you have a patent on such non-obvious things as simple boolean logic [slashdot.org].
    • Now's the time to flood the (soon-to-be) newly formed software division of the EU patent office with patent applications.

      No don't. This is exactly what the bureaucrats want. More work for so-called civil 'servants' and administrators = more money for government departments = more power and influence for politicians = justification for higher taxes = socialism creeping in by the back door.

  • Whew!

    For a second there, I thought I was going to have to move to Europe if I wanted to live in the land of the free (from enormous American corporate interests). Now if you guys could just go start a war somewhere...

    Seriously though, as many times as this issue has been pronounced dead and subsequently been ressurrected (as shown by numerous /. articles) I can't imagine this is the end... right?

    • It's the dup that never dies, and legitimately belongs on slashdot. Seriously, I'm an american, and even I have a hard time believing it is making it through with the press it has gotten. I live the justification of it "to be consistent with other policies". WTF?
    • Once they get the law in, they win.
      All they have to do is win once. And it's pretty much over for a long long time.
      On the other hand, the anti-patent side has to win every time to keep it out.
      When the Pro-Patent side are paid for by almost bottomless pockets, and the anti-patent by ethics and common sense, in todays world, it's just a matter of time.
  • thats it! (Score:2, Funny)

    by hyfe (641811)
    I'm moving to Canada!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:10AM (#11864413)
    If you live in a country like France where you'll have to vote the constitution, make sure you vote NO to punish the council and the commission for their behaviour.

    I personally don't want to live in a dictatorship where the will of the parliament is disregarded by people who have been elected by no-one.

    Today's commission is like russia's communist party. Make sure they go back to home with a lesson they will never forget.
    • by Khalid (31037) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:36AM (#11864577) Homepage
      NO !! the new constitution will grant more power to the parliamant. The European parliamant for now can only vote Yes or No for the commission composition not the directives per se, for which it has only a consultancy role, this is the reason why the commission ignord it's amendements and went ahead with the patent directive !
    • by Rumagent (86695) on Monday March 07, 2005 @10:08AM (#11864831)
      So your solution to non democratic commission is to say no to a treaty, that not only has absolutely nothing to do with software patents, but also would make the elected parliament more powerful?

      That seems slightly less than brilliant.
      • It would not make the Parliament more powerful than they are in the case of this directive. It moves more procedures into codecision, which is how the software patents is being handled today. And also gives the Council more power, with the justification that they are kept in check by national parliaments.

        Over the past year, we have seen how "powerful" the EP is in codecision, with both the Council and Commission ignoring everything they say (first reading) or ask (restart). And today, we have seen how much
  • ffii article (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FoeNyx (676253)
    I love this part of the ffii article [ffii.org] :
    " Luxembourg negated the Council's own Rules of Procedure, which state that a B-item (which is at the same time a request to remove an A item) can only be rejected by the a majority of the Council, and not just by the Presidency. (art 3.8) "
  • FFII Press Release (Score:5, Informative)

    by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebeNO@SPAMelis.ugent.be> on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:12AM (#11864430) Homepage
    Available here. [ffii.org]

    And as someone else already said: the Council has adopted its "common position" (although it was far from common in this case). It still has to get into the European Parliament, through its second reading (where it can be amended or even rejected, after which the whole game is immediately over).

    Anyway, as far as I am concerned, the big news is not what they adopted (a directive text which codifies the European Patent Office's US practice), but how they adopted it. Three countries with the support of several others asked to reopen discussions, and the Luxembourg presidency simply denied that even though they have to let the Council as a whole decide about that according to their own rules of procedure [eu.int] (point 3.8).

  • Knuts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@@@ovi...com> on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:12AM (#11864436) Homepage
    Kno Kmore Knoppix. Mplayer is done, Europe is finnished for inovation.

    I guess we have to look to the Chinese now for inovatave software, along with everything else.

    I know it isnt over, but it's like the long walk to the gas chamber. you can guess the outcome.

    Sad Day
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:14AM (#11864444)
    The only institution that can stop this madness now is the EU parliament and it has shown several times now, that it is willing to do just that.

    They even asked the EU-Commission to restart the whole process, but the Commission flat out denied this request. I can't imagine that members of parliament like to be treated like that.

    So please, write your local member of the EU parliament and tell him that you ask him to do everything within his power to stop this madness.
  • Apparantly God hates Europe! :)

    Okay I'm kidding... I don't believe in god. I hate to say it, but this is just what happens in a world where money is the primary motivator for things. It's important -- I work for money too -- but I also love my job and wouldn't leave it unless there was a profoundly good reason to do so...(such as an offer of much more money!) Nothing I say here will likely change anything, but when your motivator is money, think about what you're doing to the world and take interest in
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:17AM (#11864456) Journal

    This has been the one thing that MS before going after IBM, HP, SGI, etc. over Linux. In fact, the only company with a get out of jail free card is Sun (and probably SCO).

    Next couple of months are going to prove to be interesting.

    • by gregm (61553)
      MS isn't going to go after IBM etc. They're all useing each other's patents and they all know it... this is designed to keep the new little people down. Some developer writes a new kernel patch and the big guys will get together and decide who's turn it is to sue the little kernel hacker directly. If I patent some little code snippet/idea and MS decides to use it, do you think I'm going to be able to have my day in court with MS?

      Flipped around, if I impliment some obvious idea that happens to be patented,
  • by Bud (1705) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:17AM (#11864458)

    In other words, the EU Council has just stated that form is more important than meaning, and that it is more important that the bureaucrats are able to create legislation quickly and effortlessly than the legislation being fair and correct.

    This is the crappiest thing I've heard in a long while! What's next, stopping citizens from seeing official documents because it creates unnecessary expenses and only whiners ask to see them anyway? Or removing the right to vote for all citizens of the EU, because recurring elections could hamper the ability of EU politicians to make long-term plans?

    --Bud

    • This is the crappiest thing I've heard in a long while! What's next, stopping citizens from seeing official documents because it creates unnecessary expenses and only whiners ask to see them anyway? Or removing the right to vote for all citizens of the EU, because recurring elections could hamper the ability of EU politicians to make long-term plans?

      I can just see some EU and US politicians reading this and thinking "huh? is this parody, i don't get the joke"
  • by Pan T. Hose (707794)
    Have you signed the letter [thankpoland.info]? I have. It took me five seconds. But there were only 30000 signatures when it was delivered [ffii.org]. Slashdot alone has hundreds of thousands of members, for crying out loud! All of us waste time posting idiotic flames in every signle story about software patents, but how many of us have devoted five miserable seconds of our pathetic lifes to actually do something about it? 1%? 0.5%? 0.1%?

    What have you done for the democracy, liberty and human rights? Yes, I mean you! If all you do is w
  • by Underholdning (758194) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:22AM (#11864488) Homepage Journal
    From TFA: Last week it was reported that Denmark would attempt to have the directive listed as a B-item, rather than an A-item, allowing the text to be renegotiated.
    And so they did. Try, that is. But was told that it was impossible for an A-item to become a B-item. They believed it, and didn't object further. This is bogus, because there's nothing that prevents A-items to be ruled as B-items. I smell a rat!
  • by born_to_live_forever (228372) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:22AM (#11864495) Homepage

    I've been fundamentally opposed to the EEC/EU for as long as I've been an adult voter. I first voted "No" to a proposal to expand EEC powers in 1986, and I've consistently followed this path, ever since.

    In recent years, however, I had been considering a number of arguments in favour of the EU, and I was actually leaning towards voting in favour of the new constitutional treaty, at the upcoming referendum (in my native Denmark).

    Not any longer.

    If I had any doubts about voting "No" at the upcoming referendum, this situation has removed them. The process has revealed a complete disinterest in democracy at the highest levels of the EU - and a servility towards "business interests" (for which read: certain major corporations and their vested interests in maintaining their monopolistic powers) that borders on the shameful.

    The autumn, I will go to the polls and vote "No". I urge any Europeans with similar concerns to adopt the same position.

    • The directive will now be passed to European Parliament, which can reject or amend the proposal, for a second reading.

      It seems to me, judging from the above quote from TFA, that Democracy still has a chance to deal with this matter. Furthermore it seems to me that rejecting the European constitution out of hand simply because of software patents is a bit short sighted. The way the matter of Software patents has been handled in the EU may leave something to be desired but it is still no worse than the hors
    • by Cardinal Biggles (6685) on Monday March 07, 2005 @10:36AM (#11865119)
      The autumn, I will go to the polls and vote "No". I urge any Europeans with similar concerns to adopt the same position.

      Stopping the new Constitution will not get rid of the EU, or make it more democratic. Voting "no" will keep it the way it is now.

      So you would be doing the "people who have a complete disinterest in democracy" a big favour by voting "No".

      The new European Constitution greatly enhances the powers of the European Parliament, and so tricks like what the Council did today would become a lot harder.

      There are 2 ways out of this undemocratic EU. One is to get rid of it. This is clearly not an option -- almost all economic growth in Europe in the last 20 years is due to the single market. Removing it would be an economic disaster.

      Option 2 is to overhaul the EU to make it a lot more democratic. While I agree that it doesn't go far enough, the new Constitution is a huge step in the right direction.

      So, please vote "Yes" on the new Constitution. It's our only way out!

      • by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:35AM (#11865766)
        It's a tough call, this. On the one hand we want to make the EU more democratic, on the other hand, the constitution as it stands is only a step in the right direction. BUT, it's a constitution, so it is likely to be around for a long, long time. So, if you vote yes for the constitution in the expectation that it will make the EU more democratic, it possibly will, but it is all you're EVER going to get. If you vote no, it will stay undemocratic for a while longer, but with the possibility to make stepwise progress.

        In other words, only vote yes for the consitution if you think this is the way the EU needs to be governed for the next couple of centuries. If you need more to feel happy with the EU, vote no. I guess.

        • In other words, only vote yes for the consitution if you think this is the way the EU needs to be governed for the next couple of centuries.

          Also constitutions are not set in stone, they can be changed. For example, the German constitution was last changed in summer 2002 (animal protection was added as a 'state goal' to the constitution). Unlike 'normal' laws, however, it takes more to be able to change it - in Germany, a 2/3 majority in both chambers is required. I don't know what is necessary to change t
    • by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:11AM (#11865465) Homepage
      The EU as is is totally undemcratic, therefore you oppose a proposal to change it? I know this is the logic a lot of people use, but I don't understand it.

      What I want to know is whether or not the constitution gives more power to the parliament. The parliament is apparently the body we (grassroots, minor busninesses, economicians) can influence. The closed and undemocratic bodies of the Commision and Council are in the hands of ip lawyers and multinationals.

      If the parliament is strengthed, I'll vore for the constitution. If it is weakened, I'll vote against.
      • Both the Parliament and the Council are strengthened. And the strengthening of the EP only makes them as strong as they in this particular directive process (codecision) in several other cases. Which means: still easily ignored by both the Commission and Council, with as only weapon to kill a directive process (but still very disadvantaged when it comes to changing the text of a directive).
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:24AM (#11864511) Homepage
    Instead of coming up with asinine excuses, they tell us the truth, we're doing it DESPITE the protest against it!

    Or as they put it, "We are adopting the position for institutional reasons so as not to create a precedent which might have a consequence of creating future delays in other processes."

    In other words, they want to do what they want to do, and they don't want protests or disagreements getting in their way, now or ever.

    I guess Europe just fell to corporate interests.

    I think it's shocking that we're giving all tech freedom to China. It'll be the only country on they planet where it'll be legal to double click and include a help icon with your software.
  • How traditional... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 07, 2005 @09:34AM (#11864572)
    Repeatedly ask the same question till you get the "correct" answer

    and if you get bored doing that demonstrate that you didn't give a damn anyway. :(

    I don't fathom how I can possibly write any software that doesn't infringe "something", all the more amusing if I sat in a room for some time and worked out an "obvious" way to solve some problem.

    I think it's fair to say that China is going to kick us all inside out with technological advancement now. Well, serves us right in some way I guess :(
  • where is info (Score:2, Informative)

    by rastos1 (601318)
    rant mode on

    Anybody can point out some document saying what was the vote of each particular country - for all 25 of them? Everybody just mentions Denmark, Poland sometimes Portugal or Spain.

    I listened to audio links on ffii.org ... I appreciate the effort, but the information quality is low. 1st 5 minutes is just "test ... another test ... one more test ..." and the rest gives again no insight on what actually happened.

    The audio files from meeting in May 2004 were much more helpfull, thought I could n

    • Re:where is info (Score:3, Informative)

      by lowieken (522530)
      There was no vote. On 2004/05/18, the countries then constituting the coucil had to pass their voting intentions, but an A-item means these voting intentions get counted as votes. Even if the composition of the council (10 new member states), the voting weights required for a majority, and the positions of the countries involved have changed so there is no more majority. This was why the EU parliament, backed by ES, NL, PL, DK, DE parliaments formally asked a restart of the process.

      In today's council meeti
  • What can be done now?
    If this is going to be forced upon us, can we do anything to take some of the bite out of it?
    For example, we know that it is prohibitively expensive for the man in the street to register patents for the kind of trivia that Megacorp Inc. are inclined to do. So does anyone know if there is any kind of facility for proactively declaring prior art?
    In other words, if I produce something and release it as GPL - is there somewhere where I could also declare that anything patentable within it
  • OSC Press Release (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alkarismi (48631) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:21AM (#11865583) Homepage
    EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY BRANDED A SHAM

    Mark Taylor, Executive Director of the Open Source Consortium has branded the concept of European democracy a sham. This follows the adoption of the controversial proposals on software patents (the computer-implemented inventions directive) by the European Council.

    He said,"..the fact that an unelected body can ride rough shod over the near unanimous wishes of an elected parliament demonstrates that any pretensions the EU has to being democratic are just that - pretensions. To many this smacks of institutionalised deference to vested interest and intrigue, some of which originate outside the EU.

    "Without this law Europe has a chance to lead the World but now risks sinking into mediocrity behind areas of the world free of this kind of castration.

    "This law, if it is passed, will crush the economic prospects of entrepreneurial software organization seeking to challenge multinational
    proprietary interests. As such the government of Europe has shown that it is incapable of standing up to global commercial interests and incapable of handling its own consultative process.

    "I would call on all stakeholders in Open Source and other affected software industries to demand and require their MEPs to re-instate democracy."

    Ends
  • GPL modification (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Richard_J_N (631241) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:25AM (#11865653)
    I wonder whether a suitable monkey-wrench could be obtained by a change to the GPL. Something (in legalese) like:

    If you sue anyone for patent infringement, you lose your right to use patented techniques under the GPL. i.e. anyone else who wrote GPL software can then sue you.

    This could be made to work, since when someone releases GPL software, they are essentially granting a free license to everyone to use any patented methods within the software. If that right were revoked for those starting lawsuits, it could be a useful start.

    It could, in principle, fix the problem of large real companies (eg Microsoft) trying to crush smaller ones. What is left unresolved is how to deal with the really bad guys: "pure IP organisations" such as Eolas.
  • by Windcatcher (566458) on Monday March 07, 2005 @11:29AM (#11865700)
    Before 1913, our Senators were elected by our state legistatures. This produced Senators that were nigh untouchable, and their job was just another rung on the politican's ladder. All their parties had to do was demagogue national-level concerns to keep the state voters in line and they could keep their man in power. Finally we had to amend our own Constitution to do something about it, oh, only about 120 years after it was created in the first place (Amendment XVII). Something like this can last a long time.

    I'm not writing to gloat, merely to inform. From my standpoint, unelected legislators are never a good idea. If you must have two legislative houses in the EU, better to have an upper and a lower house where both are popularly elected. If I lived over there I would vote against any Constitution that featured an unelected body.
  • Sad day indeed... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lucason (795664) on Monday March 07, 2005 @12:10PM (#11865837) Homepage
    Crap...

    Let me just say that those of you that think that the fact this only means that the directive is now sent to parliament is any consolation... Think again!

    They are NOT going to back down just because a couple of thousand geeks want them to.

    The problem is, even if the open source development takes a dive into the underground, and software gets developed without a license and hosted on obscure ftp servers or encrypted BitTorrents, what will it really matter.

    If developers can't create and sell their software or services without having to spend thousands of euros every month to check whether there are any prior patents, any independent development is dead in the water.

    And sadly just when it started to get interesting (not a coincidence)...

    Personally I gave up developing independently, commercially a few years ago. I'm now developing in house applications for a large industrial cooperation. I wonder how the in house development is going to be governed. We hardly buy any software; everything is developed by a team of developers. I don't see it happening that we will pay for the right to create our own 'clickable command buttons' and other bizarre patents.

    Hell, we'd probably need to start by patenting all the stuff we made already, not to sell or license it, but just to protect ourselves from other guys who probably thought of the same stuff.

    When will people learn that there is no reason why 10 or 100 or 1000 people couldn't come up with the exact same idea at the same time?

    It's just so ridiculous.
  • Condolences: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Java Ape (528857) <mike.briggs@360 . n et> on Monday March 07, 2005 @06:21PM (#11870545) Homepage
    As a Yankee, I fully understand the frustration and disenchantement that accompany the realization that idealism and promise of democracy has been murdered in its cradle by greed and corporate carpetbagging. As you know, we once had a promising democracy ourselves, bought and paid for with the 'blood of patriots' and all that.

    Currently, the 'blood of patriots' is worth something less than a hundred dollars on the open markent, and with your spare change you can purchase the integrity and immortal souls of every member of congress. The war is over, and we, the 'have-nots', have been roundly defeated.

    However, all is not lost. In order to prevent any sort of cohesive resistance, the powers that be have elected to maintain a plentiful supply of beer at reasonable prices, and insure that you can get 200 channels of daytime television for a reasonable monthly fee. Sit back, watch another MASH re-run, and have a cold one mate. Cheers!

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