Hugh Pickens writes "Brian Fung writes in the Atlantic that one of Romney's electoral problems is that he occupies a kind of uncanny valley for politicians, inexplicably turning voters off despite looking like the textbook image of an American president. Just as people who interact with lifelike robots often develop a strange feeling due to something they can't quite name, something about Romney leaves voters unsettled. As with the robotic version of the uncanny valley, the closer Romney gets to becoming real to a voter, the more his likeability declines. 'The effect is almost involuntary, considering the substantial advantages Romney enjoys from appearance alone,' writes Fung. 'But in person, his polished persona gives way to what appears a surprisingly forced and inauthentic character.' Political commentator Dana Milbanks adds that although Romney is confident and competent, in casual moments his weirdness comes through — equal parts 'Leave It to Beaver' corniness and social awkwardness. 'Romney's task now is to work his way out of the uncanny valley toward a more compelling style of humanity,' concludes Fung. 'But every day he lingers in it, the hill grows steeper.'"
Irishman writes "A leading climate change skeptic, Richard Muller, will release results today showing that global warming is indeed happening. He has shown that two items skeptics look to, urban heat islands and unreliable weather stations, do not skew the data. The amazing part is that this research is funded by the Koch brothers, two investors who fund climate change skeptics whenever possible."
rubycodez writes "Researchers at the Swiss Federal Technology Institute in Zurich have identified a 'Capitalist Network' [PDF] of well-connected companies that control most of the global economy. They further identified the 147 'super-connected' companies that control forty percent or more of the global financial network. If one believes the mega-corporations have most governments of the west in their pockets, does this mean we have a global oligarchy?"
lee1 writes "Wikileaks has had to cease publishing classified files due to what the organization calls a 'blockade by US-based finance companies' that, according to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has 'destroyed 95% of our revenue.' Assange also opined that 'A handful of US finance companies cannot be allowed to decide how the whole world votes with its pocket.' According to Assange the group was taking 'pre-litigation action' against the financial blockade in Iceland, Denmark, the UK, Brussels, the United States, and Australia. They have also filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission."
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has inked a deal with Compal Electronics, which pumps out gadgets that run Android and Chrome OS, for an undisclosed sum." Microsoft has an explanatory weblog post; with this deal over half of all Android devices are licensing patents from Microsoft. Notably refusing to cooperate and instead opting for the court battle route are Motorola and Barnes and Noble.
An anonymous reader writes "According to a report in Reuters, scientists are celebrating the end of a clinical trial which found a malaria vaccine reduces infection risk by half in children. From the article: 'While scientists say it is no "silver bullet" and will not end the mosquito-borne infection on its own, it is being hailed as a crucial weapon in the fight against malaria and one that could speed the path to eventual worldwide eradication. Malaria is caused by a parasite carried in the saliva of mosquitoes. It kills more than 780,000 people per year, most of them babies or very young children in Africa. Cohen's vaccine goes to work at the point when the parasite enters the human bloodstream after a mosquito bite. By stimulating an immune response, it can prevent the parasite from maturing and multiplying in the liver. ... Cohen said that if all goes to plan, RTS,S could be licensed and rolled out by 2015.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "After a 45-year production run, Mazda Motor Corp announced that the latest edition of the Mazda RX-8 will end production in June 2012. The Japanese automaker ... introduced its first rotary engine car in 1967 and is the only automaker in the world that makes rotary engine vehicles, once the darling of the automotive industry. Such engines have fewer moving parts and are quieter than comparable piston engines but are more expensive to manufacture and consume more fuel. Cumulative sales of Mazda vehicles with rotary engines total about 1.995 million but Mazda sold only 2,896 RX-8 cars last year, with 1,245 of them in North America and 963 in Japan. 'Although R-X production is ending, the rotary engine will always represent the spirits of Mazda, and Mazda remains committed to its ongoing development,' says Mazda Chief Executive and President Takashi Yamanouchi recalling the victory of Mazda's rotary engine at Le Mans 20 years ago... Mazda does not have flashy green technologies in its lineup that its bigger Japanese rivals do — such as the hybrids at Toyota Motor Corp. or electric vehicles at Nissan Motor Co. The fading away of its prized rotary engine — although largely symbolic — is yet another blow."
__roo writes "The New York Times reports that the Occupy Wall Street movement has inspired hundreds of Facebook pages, Twitter posts, and Meetup events, and that 'blog posts and photographs from all over the country are popping up on the WeArethe99Percent blog on Tumblr from people who see themselves as victims of not just a sagging economy but also economic injustice.' What do Slashdotters think? Do you relate to the 99% stories? Do they make you angry — either at the system, or at the protesters? If it's at the protesters, is it rational or a just-world effect?"
DougDot writes "According to a recent SFGate article, 'Social networking giant Facebook is expanding its political footprint, confirming that it has filed the necessary paperwork to open a political action committee in advance of the 2012 elections. The move is the latest in a series of maneuvers boosting the Palo Alto company's political profile in recent years, joining a steady rise in lobbying spending, several high-profile fundraisers and the failed statewide candidacy of one of its key officers for attorney general last year.' With 800 million users in its social network, and with very deep pockets, we could have a new, powerful Congress-influencing entity steering American politics."
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft recently killed the Start Menu, and their explanation for it seems fairly straightforward: no one used it. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Microsoft explains that use of the Start menu dipped by 11 percent between Windows Vista and Windows 7, with many specialized Start functions — such as exploring pictures — declining as much as 61 percent."
garymortimer writes "A 26-year-old Massachusetts man with a physics degree was arrested and charged Wednesday with plotting an attack on the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol with remote-controlled model aircraft, authorities said. Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen from Ashland, Massachusetts, planned to use model aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives. As a result of an undercover FBI investigation, Ferdaus, who has a physics degree from Northeastern University in Boston, was charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda for attacks on U.S. soldiers overseas. His federal public defender couldn't be reached immediately for comment."
10 years ago today, coordinated terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. killed nearly 3,000 people. It wasn't the first terrorist attack directed against the U.S., or even on U.S. soil, but it was the deadliest, and came at a time of relative peace. Probably most people reading this remember where and how they heard the news. We've often discussed the consequences of the attack: security cordons, ID checks and metal detectors where none existed before, a reexamination of how U.S. policy affects international perception and attitudes, and the encroachment of surveillance policies and technology, to name a few. Today, we don’t want to inundate you with links to tributes and retrospectives, so we’ll offer the only thing we can: a look back at how the day unfolded here. Our thoughts are with everyone who lost friends and family members.
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government instructed a committee to investigate required changes to cybercrime legislation. Having received the report, the government decide to ignore it and give the federal police almost everything it wants on a plate. From the article: 'The Australian Greens have questioned the decision of the Government and Opposition to pass the Cybercrime Bill unchanged through the House of Representatives despite recommendations by their own members of parliament to fix serious flaws. Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said the Cyber Safety Committee had tabled a highly critical unanimous report on the bill, proposing a series of amendments and requests for clarification which were not addressed in the House.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "As schools return to session in South Dakota, more than one-fourth of students in the state will only be in class from Monday through Thursday as budget constraints lead school districts to hack off a day from the school week. Larry Johnke, superintendant of the Irene-Wakonda school district, says the change will save his schools more than $50,000 per year. In order to make up for the missing day, schools will add 30 minutes to each of the other four days and shorten the daily lunch break. 'In this financial crisis, we wanted to maintain our core content and vocational program, so we were forced to do this,' says Johnke. Experts say research is scant on the effect of a four-day school week on student performance, but many of the 120 districts that have the shortened schedule nationwide say they've seen students who are less tired and more focused, which has helped raise test scores and attendance. Others say that not only did they fail to save a substantial amount of money by being off an extra day, they also saw students struggle because they weren't in class enough and didn't have enough contact with teachers."