Friday, August 13, 2010

Ezio Auditore da Firenze

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My name is Ezio Auditore da Firenze, and like my father and grandfathers before me, I am an Assassin
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―Ezio Auditore
Ezio Auditore da Firenze (born 1459) was a Florentine noble during the Italian Renaissance and, unbeknownst to most historians and philosophers, an influential member of the Assassin's Order. A descendant of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad and the ancestor to both Desmond Miles and Subject 16, Ezio was unaware of his Assassin heritage until he was 17 years old, when, following the murder of his father and two brothers, Federico and Petruccio, Ezio fled from the Italian province of Florence - his hometown - and took refuge in the town of Monteriggioni in the Tuscan region at the Auditore Family Villa.

After being mentored and trained by his uncle Mario Auditore, Ezio proceeded on his quest for revenge against the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Rodrigo Borgia, who had ordered the executions of his father and two brothers. During his quest for revenge, Ezio managed to not only unite pages of Altaïr's Codex for the first time since Domenico Auditore, but also to save the cities of Florence and Venice from the Templars' wrath, ensure the future travels of Christoffa Corombo to the "New World," and bring the Renaissance ideals and Assassin Order to the city of Rome.

Oppose Efforts to Impose New Tax Burdens on the Internet

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Oppose Efforts to Impose New Tax Burdens on the Internet

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On July 1st, a bill was introduced in the United States House of Representatives which would impose complex sales tax collecting requirements on internet retailers and entrepreneurs, including our eBay sellers. If passed, HR 5660, the so-called, “Main Street Fairness Act,” would require small online retailers to comply with varying and regularly changing sales tax rules and rates for thousands of tax jurisdictions and to collect and remit sales taxes from each customer.
This new sales tax scheme would be extremely burdensome and costly to small online retailers like you who have set up shop on the internet. A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate as well. eBay is working very hard to stop this bill from becoming law, but we need your help!
Please join our effort to stop the passage of this anti-small business bill. In three minutes or less, you can sign this petition urging your lawmakers to protect small, online retailers by opposing new tax burdens.
Dear Member of Congress:
As your constituent and one of the 82 million registered eBay users in the US, I'm asking you not to impose any new sales tax laws on the Internet.
The Supreme Court decided that most small businesses, like the majority of those operating on eBay, don't need to collect sales taxes from out-of-state customers. This decision was made because it would be an unfair and costly burden for small businesses to collect sales taxes for 15,000 tax jurisdictions in 45 states.
eBay sellers, like many other small business retailers, would be directly impacted by any new Internet sales tax system. It would increase the cost of doing business and shopping on-line, which would hurt sellers and buyers alike.
Please oppose any efforts to impose new tax burdens on the Internet.
Thank you for your support.
Encourage your friends to join you in opposing new Internet sales taxes.

Non-members of eBay Main Street may go directly to the petition.

Firefox Sync 1.4 Released

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Firefox Sync 1.4 Released

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Mozilla is proud to announce the latest release of Firefox Sync is now available for download.  This release includes the following main features:
  • It enables you to give friendly names to identify your computers (John’s Work Laptop, Mary’s Home Desktop etc) which is especially useful when you use Firefox Home, our upcoming iPhone app.
  • It includes some major UI changes in preparation for bringing Firefox Sync to Firefox 4.
  • In addition, we also have numerous performance and stability improvements.

UI Changes in Firefox Sync 1.4

In order to improve the user experience when using Tab Sync, we have added the ability to set a friendly name for your computer, so you can easily tell which tabs are from which devices.  This is designed to improve the user experience for tab sync across all devices, especially for Firefox on mobile devices and the upcoming Firefox Home release.
Firefox 4 is heading in the direction of a simpler and cleaner UI. In preparation for bringing Sync to Firefox 4, we’ve reduced the presence of Firefox Sync in the primary UI for Firefox. To meet the needs of a simpler UI, you can now only access Firefox Sync through the Tools menu versus the previous UI where Sync was available in both the status bar and in the Tools menu.  As we continue to evolve Firefox Sync and scale our server backend, we will sync more frequently for a more seamless user experience, which means this UI would have been a frequent distraction for users.  We’re very interested in constructive feedback about how we can continue to evolve the user experience on our mailing list.

Sign the petition to stop new Internet sales tax

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Sign the petition to stop new Internet sales tax
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Since last week, more than 28,000 eBay buyers and sellers have signed the petition to fight new Internet sales taxes. Now we need you to add your voice to the issue.

What's at stake: HR 5660, a bill before Congress known as the “Main Street Fairness Act," would require online businesses and entrepreneurs to collect and remit sales taxes from each customer. This law would affect 45 states and as many as 15,000 local jurisdictions.
If passed, the law would place a heavy burden on small online retailers who have set up shop on the Internet to offer increased selection and value. eBay is working hard to oppose this bill, but we need the help of our eBay Main Street members to keep HR 5660 from becoming law.

This is not the time to introduce a new tax. Sign the petition and say "no" to new Internet tax burdens.

Defending The Indefensible: The Defense Of Marriage Act

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Defending The Indefensible: The Defense Of Marriage Act

Guest Blogger
Alan B. Morrison

Much has been written about two recent decisions, one striking down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal benefits to same sex couples, who are legally married under the laws of their state, that are available to opposite sex married couples (Gill v. OPM), and the other invalidating California Prop 8’s elimination of the right of same sex couples to marry, which the California Supreme Court had upheld just months before (Perry v. Schwarzenegger). In both cases the federal court found that the distinction between same sex couples and opposite sex couples in the context of marriage to be wholly irrational. Although in some respects the cases raise similar legal issues, the actual operation of DOMA not only does not advance any legitimate interest in its discrimination against same sex married couples, but it actually undermines two important federal policies.

Many people who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the thousands of federal laws that DOMA governs, including many who supported its enactment, believe that this inequality was a way to save the Government money, by not offering the same benefits to married same-sex couples that are extended to married opposite sex couples. But they were wrong. A 2004 report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, found that, because of the many different ways that various federal laws treat married couples, in many cases a couple is better off not being married, even if they were just as legally wed as any other couple in their state. The most surprising finding of this study, which District Judge Joseph L. Tauro mentioned only in passing, is that, after taking into account the benefits and detriments to same sex couples, the result is that DOMA costs the United States Treasury nearly $1 billion a year – a very heavy price in any economic time for blatant discrimination.

But there is more, and it all operates to undermine other important objectives in federal laws. Over the years, Congress has established conflict of interest rules that forbid federal employees from participating in certain matters where they may have financial conflicts of interest. Thus, a person nominated to be Secretary of Energy could not own stock in ExxonMobil, and a high official in the antitrust division could not participate in a case involving a corporate merger if she were a shareholder in an objecting competitor. But telling the high official to divest or not participate is meaningless if the prohibition did not also apply to assets of the spouse, which it does. In addition, the laws that require disclosure, but not divestiture, of potential conflicts of interest, cover the spouse as well as the employee.

And that’s where DOMA comes in and makes the system quite irrational. If, as DOMA mandates, a couple is not married unless they are of the opposite sex, then none of these conflict of interest laws applies to same sex couples, thereby undercutting a significant protection for the Government and the taxpayers. Similarly, federal judges are disqualified in cases in which their spouses are parties or have a financial stake in the outcome, but DOMA bizarrely says “never mind” if the spouse is of the same sex. Yet in all other ways – including joint bank accounts - the couple is every bit as married as opposite sex couples. And with the increasing numbers of same sex married couples now in Government, the problem will only increase.

Of course, many officials whose spouse is of the same sex would insist on making disclosures about their spouse, or refuse to participate in a matter where the spouse had a financial interest that would be disqualifying if the official owned it himself. But that only means that the truly ethical person would never do what is prohibited, even if the law did not specifically say so, leaving the laws inapplicable to the very persons who most need to be subject to them.

The reason for this irrationality is obvious: any law made applicable on an across the board basis to all federal programs is almost certain to have unforeseen consequences. And when the law is an effort to strike out at less favored citizens, that likelihood is even greater. The refusal of the Defense of Marriage Act to treat legally married same sex couples identically to couples with opposite sex partners is not only unjustly discriminatory, but it produces such irrational consequences that the only way to describe it is “indefensible.” There is no place for such a law in this country, and the appellate courts should uphold Judge Tauro’s decision striking down DOMA’s discrimination as a violation of Equal Protection.

Alan B. Morrison is the Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest & Public Service at George Washington University Law School. You can reach him by e-mail at abmorrison at


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crazy! becareful~!

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