Crime

Google Fund To Pay For 1 Million Copies of Charlie Hebdo 311

Posted by timothy
from the anti-intimidation dept.
BarbaraHudson writes The Register is reporting that money set aside from a deal with France's publishers is going to pay for the printing of 1 million copies of next weeks' Charlie Hebdo, "Eight of the 12 people killed were journalists attending an editorial meeting, however, a senior editor and the magazine's chief executive were in London at the time of the attack. They have vowed to do a massive 1 million copy print run next week – Charlie Hebdo's circulation is normally around 60k. The cash will come from €60m fund (€20m per year over three years) that supports digital publishing innovation. The fund was set up in 2013 following negotiations between Google and the French government as a remedy to demands from European publishers that Google pay for displaying news snippets in its search results.
China

US Seeks China's Help Against North Korean Cyberattacks 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the thanks-but-no-thanks dept.
An anonymous reader writes The United States has declined an offer by North Korea for a joint investigation into the hacking of Sony Pictures and asked China to help block cyber attacks. "We have discussed this issue with the Chinese to share information, express our concerns about this attack, and to ask for their cooperation," a senior administration official said. "In our cybersecurity discussions, both China and the United States have expressed the view that conducting destructive attacks in cyberspace is outside the norms of appropriate cyber behavior." China has so far seemed less than sympathetic: "Any civilized world will oppose hacker attacks or terror threats. But a movie like The Interview, which makes fun of the leader of an enemy of the U.S., is nothing to be proud of for Hollywood and U.S. society," said an editorial in The Global Times, a tabloid sister paper to China's official The People's Daily. "No matter how the U.S. society looks at North Korea and Kim Jong Un, Kim is still the leader of the country. The vicious mocking of Kim is only a result of senseless cultural arrogance."
Earth

Linking Drought and Climate Change: Difficult To Do 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the connecting-the-dots dept.
Geoffrey.landis writes An article about the current California drought on 538 points out that even though global climate warming may exacerbate droughts, it's nearly impossible to attribute any particular drought to climate warming: "The complex, dynamic nature of our atmosphere and oceans makes it extremely difficult to link any particular weather event to climate change. That's because of the intermingling of natural variations with human-caused ones." They also cite a Nature editorial pointing out the same thing about extreme weather.
Medicine

Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements? 1051

Posted by Soulskill
from the science-doesn't-care-about-your-opinions dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Michigan has a problem. Over the past decade, the number of unvaccinated kindergartners has spiked. "Nearly half of the state's population lives in counties with kindergarten vaccination rates below the level needed for "herd immunity," the public health concept that when at least 93 percent of people are vaccinated, their immunity protects the vulnerable and prevents the most contagious diseases from spreading." Surprise, surprise, the state is now in the midst of a whooping cough outbreak. How do these kids get into public schools without being vaccinated? Well, Michigan is among the 19 U.S. states that allow "philosophical" objections to the vaccine requirements for schoolchildren. (And one of the 46 states allowing religious exemption.) A new editorial is now calling for an end to the "philosophical" exemption.

The article says, "Those who choose not to be vaccinated and who choose not to vaccinate their children allow a breeding ground for diseases to grow and spread to others. They put healthy, vaccinated adults at risk because no vaccine is 100 percent effective. They especially put the most vulnerable at risk — infants too young to be vaccinated, the elderly, people with medical conditions that prevent vaccination, and those undergoing cancer treatments or whose immune systems have been weakened." They also encourage tightening the restrictions on religious and medical waivers so that people don't just check a different box on the exemption form to get the same result. "They are free to continue believing vaccines are harmful, even as the entire medical and scientific communities try in vain to tell them otherwise. But they should not be free to endanger the lives of everyone else with their views."
Math

Big Talk About Small Samples 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: My last article garnered some objections from readers saying that the sample sizes were too small to draw meaningful conclusions. (36 out of 47 survey-takers, or 77%, said that a picture of a black woman breast-feeding was inappropriate; while in a different group, 38 out of 54 survey-takers, or 70%, said that a picture of a white woman breast-feeding was inappropriate in the same context.) My conclusion was that, even on the basis of a relatively small sample, the evidence was strongly against a "huge" gap in the rates at which the surveyed population would consider the two pictures to be inappropriate. I stand by that, but it's worth presenting the math to support that conclusion, because I think the surveys are valuable tools when you understand what you can and cannot demonstrate with a small sample. (Basically, a small sample can present only weak evidence as to what the population average is, but you can confidently demonstrate what it is not.) Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.
Stats

Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism 350

Posted by timothy
from the believe-the-worst dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: A editorial with 24,000 Facebook shares highlights the differences in public reaction to two nearly identical breastfeeding photos, one showing a black woman and one showing a white woman, each breastfeeding an infant. The editorial decries the outrage provoked by the black woman's photo compared to the mild reaction elicited by the white woman's photo, and attributes the difference to racism. I tried an experiment using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to test that theory. Read on to see the kind of results Bennett found.
United States

The Military's Latest Enemy: Climate Change 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
Lasrick writes A surprising report from the Pentagon last month places climate change squarely among the seemingly endless concerns of the US military. Although a Wall Street Journal editorial misrepresented the report in an editorial (subtitled 'Hagel wants to retool the military to stop glaciers from melting'), the report itself is straightforward and addresses practical military issues such as land management of bases and training facilities. "So, this plan is not really about mobilizing against melting glaciers; it's more like making sure our ships have viable facilities from which to launch bombs against ISIS. And the report doesn't just focus on home, though. It casts a wider eye towards how a changing climate will affect defense missions in the future."
Social Networks

Computer Scientists Say Meme Research Doesn't Threaten Free Speech 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-sure-if-good-thing-or-bad-thing dept.
dcblogs (1096431) writes "In a letter to lawmakers Tuesday (PDF), five of the nation's top computing research organizations defended a research grant to study how information goes viral. The groups were responding to claims that the government-funded effort could help create a 1984-type surveillance state. The controversy arises over a nearly $1 million research grant to researchers at Indiana University to investigate "why some ideas cause viral explosions while others are quickly forgotten," particularly on Twitter. "We do not believe this work represents a threat to free speech or a suppression of any type of speech over the internet," the letter said. "The tools developed in the course of this research are capable of making no political judgments, no prognostications, and no editorial comments, nor do they provide any capability for exerting any control over the Twitter stream they analyze," they wrote. The controversy over Truthy may be just another sign of the ongoing deterioration between the science community and lawmakers over basic research funding as well as the science itself.
Facebook

We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello 269

Posted by timothy
from the pick-your-battles dept.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: Facebook threatened to banish drag queen pseudonyms, and (some) users revolted by flocking to Ello, a social network which promised not to enforce real names and also to remain ad-free. Critics said that the idealistic model would buckle under pressure from venture capitalists. But both gave scant mention to the fact that a distributed social networking protocol, backed by a player large enough to get people using it, would achieve all of the goals that Ello aspired to achieve, and more. Read on for the rest.
Editorial

Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas? 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the picked-from-the-new-idea-tree dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Arthur Obermayer, a friend of the Isaac Asimov, writes that he recently rediscovered an unpublished essay by Asimov written in 1959 while cleaning out some old files. Obermayer says it is "as broadly relevant today as when he wrote it. It describes not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity." Here's an excerpt from Asimov's essay, which is well worth reading in its entirety:

"A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others. Probably more inhibiting than anything else is a feeling of responsibility. The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren't paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues."
Censorship

BBC Takes a Stand For the Public's Right To Remember Redacted Links 113

Posted by timothy
from the keep-the-microfiche-version-around-for-comparison dept.
Martin Spamer writes with word that the BBC is to publish a continually updated list of its articles removed from Google under the controversial 'right to be forgotten' notices." The BBC will begin - in the "next few weeks" - publishing the list of removed URLs it has been notified about by Google. [Editorial policy head David] Jordan said the BBC had so far been notified of 46 links to articles that had been removed. They included a link to a blog post by Economics Editor Robert Peston. The request was believed to have been made by a person who had left a comment underneath the article. An EU spokesman later said the removal was "not a good judgement" by Google.
Programming

C++14 Is Set In Stone 193

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-a-soft-stone dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Apart from minor editorial tweaks, the ISO C++14 standard can be considered completed. Implementations are already shipping by major suppliers. C++14 is mostly an incremental update over C++11 with some new features like function return type deduction, variable templates, binary literals, generic lambdas, and so on. The official C++14 specification release will arrive later in the year, but for now Wikipedia serves as a good overview of the feature set."
Science

Psychology's Replication Battle 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the study-of-american-undergrads dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Slate: Psychologists are up in arms over, of all things, the editorial process that led to the recent publication of a special issue of the journal Social Psychology. This may seem like a classic case of ivory tower navel gazing, but its impact extends far beyond academia. ... Those who oppose funding for behavioral science make a fundamental mistake: They assume that valuable science is limited to the "hard sciences." Social science can be just as valuable, but it's difficult to demonstrate that an experiment is valuable when you can't even demonstrate that it's replicable. ...Given the stakes involved and its centrality to the scientific method, it may seem perplexing that replication is the exception rather than the rule. The reasons why are varied, but most come down to the perverse incentives driving research. Scientific journals typically view "positive" findings that announce a novel relationship or support a theoretical claim as more interesting than "negative" findings that say that things are unrelated or that a theory is not supported. The more surprising the positive finding, the better, even though surprising findings are statistically less likely to be accurate."
Government

FCC Website Hobbled By Comment Trolls Incited By Comedian John Oliver 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the sweep-the-leg-johnny dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a recent segment of his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver delivered a commentary (video) on the current net neutrality debate. He ended the segment by calling on all internet comment trolls to take advantage of the FCC's open comments section on the topic. 'We need you to get out there and for once in your lives focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction,' he said. 'Seize your moment, my lovely trolls, turn on caps lock, and fly my pretties! Fly! Fly! Fly!' While the true impact of John Oliver's editorial cannot be confirmed, the FCC nevertheless tweeted shortly after it aired that its website was experiencing technical difficulties due to heavy traffic. They accept comments via email as well at openinternet@fcc.gov."
Democrats

Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial – and Kerry Is Wrong 519

Posted by timothy
from the where-liddy-was-wrong dept.
Daniel Ellsberg, no slouch himself in bringing to public awareness documents that reveal uncomfortable facts about government operations, says that "Edward Snowden is the greatest patriot whistleblower of our time." Ellsberg says, in an editorial at The Guardian pointed out by reader ABEND (15913), that Snowden cannot receive a fair trial without reform of the Espionage Act. According to Ellsberg, "Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life. His legal adviser, Ben Wizner, told me that he estimates Snowden's chance of being allowed out on bail as zero. (I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment). More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. Legal scholars have strongly argued that the US supreme court – which has never yet addressed the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to leaks to the American public – should find the use of it overbroad and unconstitutional in the absence of a public interest defense. The Espionage Act, as applied to whistleblowers, violates the First Amendment, is what they're saying. As I know from my own case, even Snowden's own testimony on the stand would be gagged by government objections and the (arguably unconstitutional) nature of his charges. That was my own experience in court, as the first American to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act – or any other statute – for giving information to the American people." Ellsberg rejects the distinction made by John Kerry in praising Ellsberg's own whistleblowing as patriotic, but Snowden's as cowardly and traitorous.
Patents

Study: Royalty Charges Almost On Par With Component Costs For Smartphones 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the cost-of-things dept.
Bismillah (993337) writes "An interesting study by WilmerHale lawyers and Intel's assistant general counsel Ann Armstrong looked into how much royalty payments and demands actually amount to per device, and found the cost so high it threatens industry profitability and competitiveness. 'As the bank robber Willie Sutton is reported to have said, he robbed banks 'because that's where the money is' - so too of smartphones for patent holders,' the authors wrote."
Medicine

Mutant Registration vs. Vaccine Registration 493

Posted by timothy
from the ok-you-need-not-register-your-zombies dept.
Responding to an editorial endorsing a national vaccine registry in Canada (though the same kind of registry could be and has been proposed in the U.S. with the same logic), an anonymous reader writes "Vaccine Registration makes me think of Mutant and Superhero registration. The reasons are similar. It's based on fear and misinformation. People fear that unvaccinated people will doom us all. Sound familiar? The difference is this is real. (Oh, and they probably won't use sentinels to track down the dangerous unvaccinated folks.) Thoughts?" From the linked editorial: "A national vaccination registry would identify which Canadians have been fully vaccinated, those who have received less than a full dose of shots, and those who have not been vaccinated at all. Having a vaccine registry in place in the event of an outbreak of measles, whooping cough, and diseases like these would enable public health officials to identify the children and adults who need vaccinations. Getting them the shots they need would reduce the risk of anyone on the list getting sick, and would also reduce the threat of an outbreak in the community in which they live or travel to [and] from." In the U.S., immunization records — at least, ones which have been put in electronic form at all — are maintained in a mix of databases, including at the state level, or maintained by cities, or by insurance companies and medical providers. Here, some people (like the reader who submitted this story) also see a potential for unwarranted privacy invasion in a national vaccination registry; however, their case isn't helped by often being tied to opposition to vaccination more generally.
Editorial

Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds 1198

Posted by Soulskill
from the coming-to-terms-with-reality dept.
PvtVoid writes: "Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu pens a heartfelt takedown of misogyny in nerd culture: 'I’ve heard and seen the stories that those of you who followed the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter have seen—women getting groped at cons, women getting vicious insults flung at them online, women getting stalked by creeps in college and told they should be "flattered." I’ve heard Elliot Rodger’s voice before. I was expecting his manifesto to be incomprehensible madness—hoping for it to be—but it wasn’t. It’s a standard frustrated angry geeky guy manifesto, except for the part about mass murder. I've heard it from acquaintances, I've heard it from friends. I've heard it come out of my own mouth, in moments of anger and weakness.

What the f*$# is wrong with us? How much longer are we going to be in denial that there's a thing called "rape culture" and we ought to do something about it? ... To paraphrase the great John Oliver, listen up, fellow self-pitying nerd boys — we are not the victims here. We are not the underdogs. We are not the ones who have our ownership over our bodies and our emotions stepped on constantly by other people's entitlement. We're not the ones where one out of six of us will have someone violently attempt to take control of our bodies in our lifetimes.'"
Businesses

The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
v3rgEz sends this piece from the Boston Globe: "Taxpayers in the United States spend $139 billion a year on scientific research, yet much of this research is inaccessible not only to the public, but also to other scientists. This is the consequence of an exploitative scientific journal system that rewards academic publishers while punishing taxpayers, scientists, and universities. Fortunately, cheap open-access alternatives are not only possible, but already beginning to take root, as this article explores in-depth: 'Why is it so expensive to publish in these open-access journals? According to the journals, these fees defray their publication and operating costs. However, this argument is undermined by the existence of open-access journals that charge authors nothing and have negligible operating costs. One prominent example is the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR), one of the top publications in the field of machine learning. JMLR has a similar editorial process to many other journals, with a volunteer editorial board and an automated system for managing the peer-review process. Unlike many closed-access publishers, it does not take any advertising. MIT provides the web server for hosting JMLR, which would otherwise cost around $15 per year. The biggest expense is paying for a tax accountant to deal with paperwork so JMLR can maintain its tax-exempt status. Altogether, the total cost of running JMLR since it was founded in 2000 is estimated to be less than $7,000, or $6.50 per article published. This proves that cheap open-access publishing is possible.'"