Tag Archives: SCO

The deadly asbestos trade


Asbestos is a mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals. The word asbestos (῾ἀσβεστος) is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. The Greeks termed asbestos the miracle mineral because of its soft and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat.

Asbestos is known to have toxicity. The inhalation of toxic asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis (also called pneumoconiosis). Since the mid 1980s, many uses of asbestos have been banned in many countries.

—–

Canada’s deadly trade in asbestos

by Mark Bourrie

Canada is starting work this summer on a billion dollar project to renovate its parliamentary buildings and cleanse them of asbestos, which has been found to cause cancer.

The project will take six years to complete but, in the meantime, Canadian government agents are still pushing exports of the fibre. Canada even has gone so far as to argue a challenge at the World Trade Organization that a proposed French ban on asbestos imports would be an illegal trade practice.

Despite recent warnings that asbestos was the cause of 500,000 cancer victims in western Europe alone, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell their fibre worldwide – especially to developing nations.

Asbestos is used as a binder in cement, as insulation, and in anti-fire walls. It is also a potent carcinogen with a long, well-documented legacy of death.

The danger comes when small asbestos fibres are released and inhaled by labourers. The fibres cause cancerous growths in the lungs, lung lining and abdomen but can take 20 years or more to manifest.

In 1997, Canada exported 430,000 tonnes of asbestos – more than 96% of production – most of it to the developing world. Canada is the world’s second-largest exporter of asbestos after Russia.

Union activists, who have visited India and other developing countries say, however, that the public relations efforts of the government and the asbestos industry are simply window-dressing to hide the fact that most people who work with the natural mineral fibre risk cancer.

Critics of Canada’s asbestos exports say the country is exporting death to protect the profits of a handful of companies and the jobs of 1,600 miners.

“What’s the difference between land mines and asbestos?” asks Dr. Barry Castleman, author of a respected book on the danger of asbestos. “A key difference, of course, is that Canada doesn’t export land mines.”

At the heart of the issue is Canada’s own precarious political situation. All of the asbestos mines in Canada are in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province with a separatist government.

Federal and provincial politicians are pushing asbestos exports to prove that they are successful at developing overseas markets, and are protective of Quebec workers. Critics of asbestos exports say the industry would probably be allowed to die if it was centred in any other part of the country.

“Personally, I believe this is all about Quebec politics,” says Canadian Auto Workers Health and Safety director Cathy Walker. “The Canadian and Quebec governments are competing with one another to show just how prepared they all are to protect Quebec jobs.”

The real costs will be borne by the developing world, she says.

Walker just returned from India, where she saw unprotected workers slashing open bags of asbestos fibres. In places where the asbestos was being mixed into cement, clouds of the carcinogenic fibres swirled around workers.

In Britain, the Cancer Research Campaign said in January that its study into the European asbestos-linked cancer epidemic should sound alarm bells everywhere, “particularly in the developing world where uncontrolled asbestos is still very common,” said CRC director Gordon McVie.

Seven of Canada’s top 10 markets are Third World countries. Still, the Canadian government, the asbestos industry and lobby groups are trying to put a good face on the asbestos industry.

Recently, diplomats stationed here were flown to asbestos- producing regions on an all-expense-paid first-class junket.

Read more

Is Acacia link with Microsoft just smoke? BayStar Capital and the dead SCO!


In terms of proving a link between Microsoft and Acacia this is smoke, just as the move of two Microsoft executives to Acacia unit IP Innovation is smoke. Acacia Technologies, the patent firm which has publicly denied any link with Microsoft, took capital in 2003 from BayStar Capital, which for a time acted as a capital conduit from Microsoft to SCO Research, according to Groklaw.

This could all be just coincidence, or smoke, as the saying goes. The venture capital world is a fairly small one. So is the world of patent trolls. And when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer predicted Linux would soon be inundated with patent claims, that might also have been coincidence, just smoke.

read more | digg story

Patent suit against Linux has a Kevin Bacon-esque connection to Microsoft


It appears as though the first patent suit against Linux — targeting Red Hat and Novell — is now official. According to Groklaw’s Pamela Jones:

IP Innovation LLC has just filed a patent infringement claim against Red Hat and Novell. It was filed October 9, case no. 2:2007cv00447, IP Innovation, LLC et al v. Red Hat Inc. et al, in Texas. Where else? The patent troll magnet state…… [this is] The first ever patent infringement litigation involving Linux. Here’s the patent, for those who can look at it without risk. If in doubt, don’t. Here’s the complaint [PDF]….The plaintiff is asking for an injunction, along with damages.

Jones goes on to cite some relevant points of the complaint but then, like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, unearths a potential connection to Microsoft. According to a story posted by Patent Troll Tracker well before this lawsuit turned up, IP Innovation LLC is a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation which the site classifies as a patent troll. This past July Acacia hired Jonathan Taub away from his job as Director, Strategic Alliances for the Mobile and Embedded Devices (MED) division at Microsoft and then, just last week, it hired Brad Brunell away from his job at Microsoft where, among other jobs, he served as General Manager, Intellectual Property Licensing.

The blogosphere is likely to have a field day with this connection and I suspect that dumpsters will be dived in hopes of finding a less tenuous connection to Microsoft. The timing of the suit seems rather serendipitous given both the timing of Brunell’s move as well as the threats that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer issued last week — ones that specifically mentioned patents (vs. the other form of intellectual property; copyrights). Even so,

Is there a connection? Well, there’s no smoking gun at this point. And if there was such a connection, you can’t help but wonder why Novell would be named in the suit since Microsoft and Novell are now working together to better integrate Windows with Novell’s Suse Linux and the arrangement includes patent protection for Novell. So, you’ll have to judge for yourself what’s going on here.

read more | digg story

What would happen if Microsoft actually bought out Novell?


I started to think today that the implications to the Linux / UNIX world would be substantial, with Microsoft working so close with Novell. With the recent ruling that SCO no longer owns the rights to UNIX makes me wonder. Since Novell is now the owner of UNIX, what game is Microsoft really playing? Will they possibly buyout, merge or work even closer with Novell, creating a Microsoft Linux hybrid? What would happen if Microsoft ended up owning UNIX? Now that would be funny, and not at the same time. But then again, I am probably thinking pie in the sky. With Vista out of the blocks at a snail’s pace, will they opt to focus on Linux, lessening the impact on their OS business. This is probably more complicated now, since the release of GPLv3; however it will be extremely interesting to see what they decide to do over the next few years. My guess is that they simply do not want to put all their eggs in one basket, since they are being attacked from all sides. If Microsoft even purchased Novell, they probably would not be interested in SUSE anyway. More than likely they are now interested in the prospects of owning the rights to UNIX. It is probably more complicated then this, but who knows. I will leave that to lawyers and insiders to figure out. The fact is Microsoft is interested in making money and the investment in Novell is not sometime to take lightly. Microsoft must do something soon, and diversify; finding new streams of revenue. They will need new vision, thinking outside of the box. In the end, they may have actually play their cards right. Otherwise, they will simply be another point in history.

 

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario