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Starbucks to sign Ethiopia agreement May 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Drinks News.
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Starbucks expects to complete a licensing, distribution and marketing deal with Ethiopia this month that would settle a dispute over trademarks for three coffees produced in the African nation.

In a joint statement Thursday, neither the Seattle-based coffee retailer nor the Ethiopian government released details about an agreement in principle that both said they signed after two days of talks in Seattle.

Ethiopia wants to secure rights to three coffee names, Harar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. So far it has trademarked the name Yirgacheffe, but a final decision has yet to be made on the others.

“Ethiopia is recognized as the historic birthplace of coffee and the source of some of the finest coffee in the world,” Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said in the statement. “We’re extremely excited to continue to deepen our relationship with the Government of Ethiopia.”

Getachew Mengistie, director general of the Ethiopia Intellectual Property Office, said his country is “committed to work in partnership with all international specialty coffee companies and distributors.” “We realize our approach to trademarking and licensing these coffee brands that originate in and represent the best of Ethiopia’s coffee heritage is a new approach that not only meets the needs of small Ethiopian fine coffee farmers and traders, but also the coffee roasting and distributing companies and their customers,” Getachew said.

Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest specialty coffee retailer, has opposed Ethiopia’s trademarking efforts, saying instead that it wants to help officials establish a geographic certification for the coffee bean names, as is done with Washington state apples or Kona coffee.

Although U.S. consumers often pay top dollar for coffee from Africa and elsewhere, farmers who grow the beans often struggle to make a living. Starbucks says it pays above-average prices for its beans and has programs in place to help farmers.

In February, Starbucks said it would double purchases of coffee from East African countries by 2009 and invest in several aid measures for farmers. About 6 percent of the 294 million pounds of coffee Starbucks purchased in the last fiscal year came from East Africa, according to the company.

Oxfam International has criticized Starbucks in the trademark dispute, saying the company is keeping Ethiopia from reaping nearly $100 million more per year. On Tuesday, the aid group said it was pleased at news of progress toward an agreement.

“This is an important step for Ethiopia as it engages with coffee companies on its innovative trademarking initiative designed to help alleviate poverty,” Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, said in a statement. “This initiative will help create real change for the 15 million Ethiopians dependent on the country’s coffee sector.”

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Digg geeks overwhelm ‘censorship’ website May 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Blogging, Internet.
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One of the world’s most popular news websites was forced to pull the plug yesterday after a massive revolt from its readers over the censorship of a story about hacking into high-definition DVDs.

Digg.com, which accounts for 1 per cent of all internet traffic in America, built its success on allowing its own users, primarily technology enthusiasts, to post their own stories and rank them according to a voting system. That same “news democracy” brought the website to its knees when users began resubmitting the censored story by the thousands, along with the computer code necessary to hack into the discs.

Before the website collapsed, the third-most-popular story on Digg.com’s home page was headlined “Every single story on the front page is the key”, which was a reference to the censored HD-DVD code being inserted into every story. Another story on the front page had the headline: “HD-DVD key fiasco is an example of 21st Century digital revolt”.

More than 6,000 users had voted on each item to ensure that the rigged stories remained at the top of the news agenda. Under normal circumstances, stories rarely get more than a few hundred votes, or “diggs”. Those same users accused Digg.com of censoring the HD-DVD story because of a sponsorship deal with the HD-DVD Promotion Group, an organisation backed by 230 DVD companies.

Digg.com’s chief executive, Jay Adelson, responded to the rebellion by saying that the website would comply with requests from an unnamed HD-DVD manufacturer to remove the hacking stories. “We’ve been notified by the owners of this intellectual property that they believe the posting of the encryption key infringes their intellectual property rights,” he wrote. Eight hours later, the website had a change of heart.

Kevin Rose, the 30-year-old Californian founder of Digg. com, whose career has included jobs as a security advisor at a Department of Energy test site in Nevada and as a co-host on a TV show called The Screen Savers, wrote to users saying that he had been wrong to censor the story. “After seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear,” he wrote in his blog. “You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you and, effective immediately, we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code [to hack into the HD-DVDs] and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.”

It was too late, however, to the stop the criticism from rival websites.

“Digg’s oligarchy wants to wash its hands of this matter and try and pass it off as though it never happened,” wrote one anonymous poster. Another user put it more bluntly: “Kevin Rose is a sell-out. F*** Digg.”

Museums lure bikers May 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Museums.
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Two museums in Downtown Tucson are getting into the Harley spirit this weekend with special exhibits.

The Tucson Museum of Art is featuring a special preview of Tucson photographer Ann Simmons-Myers’ portraits of bikers. And the Arizona Historical Society Museum Downtown will display a collection of photographs of American motorcycles from the early 1900s, and a quilt made from 60 Harley-Davidson T-shirts.

‘Bikers: Photographs by Ann Simmons-Myers’
What: Black-and-white portraits of local bikers taken in the 1980s. A special free preview of 26 images along with several vintage American motorcycles will be on display this weekend. The full collection of 50 images will be exhibited May 19-Aug. 5.
Where: Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.
Preview: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. today; 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday.
Exhibit’s run: May 19-Aug. 5.
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and noon-4 p.m. Sundays.
Admission: $8; discounts available.
More information: www.tucsonarts.com or 624-2333.

‘Classic Bikes on the Border’
What: A quilt made from 60 Harley-Davidson T-shirts and a collection of photographs of American motorcycles from the early 1900s.
Where: Arizona Historical Society Museum Downtown, 140 N. Stone Ave.
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: Free.
More information: 770-1473.