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Letters: Climate, iPhones, patents

Marketplace Staff Dec 15, 2009

Letters: Climate, iPhones, patents

Marketplace Staff Dec 15, 2009


Kai Ryssdal: Our letters segment today starts with former Vice President Al Gore. He and I sat down last week to talk climate change, a conversation about which a lot of you had opinions.

Daryl Reece from Atlanta, Ga., thinks much of the overall discussion about the economics of global warming kind of misses a bigger point.

DARYL REECE: If we put more resources into climate change there will be less for cancer treatment, combating hunger, recreation, etc.

I chatted with our European bureau chief Stephen Beard the very next day to get an idea of what life at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen is really like. He described the protests and the protesters, closed-door meetings and policy conferences. And then right at the end, he said this:

STEPHEN BEARD: And that has convinced many that in spite of all the circus and the carnival, something meaningful and something serious will emerge from Copenhagen.

That is where Luke Habberstad from Oakland, Calif., took offense.

LUKE HABBERSTAD: It is precisely because there so many committed activists that the issue is being taken so seriously around the world. The protesters are no doubt theatrical and boisterous, but they aren’t just acting “odd.” They are speaking out to convince our leaders and, indeed, the world of the need for change.

Speaking of protests, that same day we reported that AT&T wants iPhone users to help solve its network problems by cutting back on how much data those users use.

Tim Thomas from Austin, Texas — and many others from elsewhere — said they don’t see how it’s the customer’s responsibility to not use the technology they were sold. They also said that AT&T better watch its back.

TIM THOMAS: It’s their responsibility to spend the money to upgrade their network, or they’ll lose customers to any company that is willing to do so.

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned how the U.S. patent office is going to put patent applications for green technologies at the front of the line. Starting at the end of that line, it can take three years for patents to be granted. That’s a state of affairs Tony Smith from Hollywood, Calif., finds absurd.

TONY SMITH: Three years? It can take up to three years to get a patent approved? Now there is a jobs program for you. The patent office should hire more examiners so patents are approved in six months or less.

Finally this week an update on an investigation we did with ProPublica about high pressure recruiting tactics at the University of Phoenix, the largest for-profit university in the country. We said its admissions counselors were paid, in part, based on how many students they sign up.

Today the Justice Department announced the University of Phoenix has settled a whistleblower’s lawsuit challenging those recruiting practices. Phoenix did not admit any wrongdoing. But it is paying $67.5 million.

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