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Censorship

+ - UK Court Orders Website Censorship->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A UK High Court judge has ruled that BT must block access to a website which provides links to pirated movies. Justice Arnold ruled that BT must use its blocking technology CleanFeed — which is currently used to prevent access to websites featuring child sexual abuse — to block Newzbin 2. The landmark case is the first time that an ISP has been ordered to block access to such a site. It paves the way for other sites to be blocked as part of a major crackdown on piracy.

Experts suggest that the plan is technically flawed, however. "Currently CleanFeed is dealing with a small, rural road in Scotland," ISPA council member James Blessing told BBC Radio 4's PM programme. "Trying to put Newzbin and other sites into the same blocking technology would be a bit like shutting down the M1. It is not designed to do that."

Digital rights organisation the Open Rights Group said the result could set a "dangerous" precedent. "Website blocking is pointless and dangerous. These judgements won't work to stop infringement or boost creative industries. And there are serious risks of legitimate content being blocked and service slowdown. If the goal is boosting creators' ability to make money from their work then we need to abandon these technologically naive measures, focus on genuine market reforms, and satisfy unmet consumer demand," said ORG campaigner Peter Bradwell."

Link to Original Source
Censorship

+ - BT ordered to block links to Newzbin 2 website->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A UK High Court judge has ruled that BT must block access to a website which provides links to pirated movies. Justice Arnold ruled that BT must use its blocking technology CleanFeed — which is currently used to prevent access to websites featuring child sexual abuse — to block Newzbin 2.

"Currently CleanFeed is dealing with a small, rural road in Scotland," ISPA council member James Blessing told BBC Radio 4's PM programme. "Trying to put Newzbin and other sites into the same blocking technology would be a bit like shutting down the M1. It is not designed to do that."

Digital rights organisation the Open Rights Group said the result could set a "dangerous" precedent. "Website blocking is pointless and dangerous. These judgements won't work to stop infringement or boost creative industries. And there are serious risks of legitimate content being blocked and service slowdown. If the goal is boosting creators' ability to make money from their work then we need to abandon these technologically naive measures, focus on genuine market reforms, and satisfy unmet consumer demand," said ORG campaigner Peter Bradwell."

Link to Original Source
Television

South Park To Be Available Online Free and Legal 277

Posted by Zonk
from the i-like-the-crazy-future dept.
garnetlion writes "South Park is coming online, free and legal. My brief research has not indicated if it will use DRM, require some silly Windows-only software or be otherwise substandard. According to a Wired blog article, 'Parker and Stone said they were inspired to start the site when they got 'really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time. So we gave ourselves a legal alternative.'" In this regard South Park joins fellow Comedy Central notable The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, whose archive was made freely available online late last year.
Microsoft

+ - Microsoft Wins Deal for Stake in Facebook-> 1

Submitted by
MrCrassic
MrCrassic writes "It seems that Facebook will start to grow some Microsoft roots, as the company has just won a tight bid for a minority stake in Facebook. Part of the agreement indicates that Microsoft will have some control over advertisements posted on the social network. From the article:



The Microsoft agreement comes after intense lobbying by Microsoft and Google Inc. for Facebook's hand. In recent weeks executives including Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer have courted the three-year-old Palo Alto, Calif. company, which this year expects a profit of $30 million on revenue of $150 million, according to people familiar with the company.


What could this possibly mean for the future of Facebook? How closely will Microsoft hold what seems to be one of the fastest-growing social networks on the Internet, and what more could they contribute to it?"

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Software

+ - Devs admit: WordPress 2.3 Secretly Spying on Users 1

Submitted by Marilyn Miller
Marilyn Miller (666) writes "Popular open-source blogging engine WordPress has been upgraded to 2.3 — with some unexpected nasties in the mix. As of version 2.3, WordPress now periodically (every 12 hours) sends personally-identifying information (blog name & URI) to the mothership, along with an alarming amount of information including $_SERVER dumps, a list of installed plugins, and your current PHP/MySQL settings. Most unfortunately, it does not provide _any_ way of disabling this functionality, and WordPress does not have any privacy policy protecting this information. In a 100-message thread about the issue, lead developer Matt Mullenweg defends his actions and staunchly refuses to add an opt-in interface, telling users to "fork WordPress" if they aren't willing to put up with this behavior."
Google

+ - Google sued for $5b for crimes against humanity-> 2

Submitted by
mytrip
mytrip writes "A Pennsylvania crusader has slapped Google with a $5bn lawsuit, claiming that the world's largest search engine is endangering his personal safety.

With a suit filed in federal court, Dylan Stephen Jayne insists that the company is guilty of "crimes against humanity" because its name turns up when his social security number is scrambled and turned upside down.

By calling itself Google, Jayne argues, Google has exposed him to attack by an army of culturally diverse, net-savvy terrorists. "A person regardless of race or religion that wishes to cause acts of terrorism would look for social security numbers that are made readily available on the public use databases," his suit reads.

And he's adamant that if Google claims ignorance, many people could end up dead or buck naked. "The 'I don't know' defense obviously is a waste of money, time, and puts the lives of Americans and illegal aliens at risk of death or serious undress.""

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United States

+ - Kentucky getting loony museum of non-evolution

Submitted by AliasMarlowe
AliasMarlowe (1042386) writes "The BBC reports that a creationist organization (Answers in Genesis) is building an alleged museum in Petersberg Kentucky, not far from Cincinnati Ohio. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own _correspondent/6549595.stm

The museum will be replete with animatronic dinosaurs and suchlike, with tyrannosaurs shown peacefully cohabiting with human children in a sort of Garden-of-Eden paradise. Geology, paleontology, and other branches of accepted science are not considered relevant to the "bible-based" twisted storyline. Of course, it's all presented as fact supported by the usual wierd hypotheses of creationists.

The BBC report has overtones of incredulity that such an inane insane fantasy world could really be promoted as fact. Even one of the museum park guides tactfully said he preferred to stick to accepted science. The BBC reporter was accompanied by Eugenie Scott, director of the National Center for Science Education, who castigated the creationist's misuse of facts intertwined with mythology.

Now that Kansas has started cleaning up its school board, is Kentucky stepping forward as the next base for the loony fringe?"
Privacy

Journal: amerika uber alles

Journal by ssintercept
The Bush administration asked Congress on Friday to allow monitoring of more foreigners in the United States during intelligence investigations. The plan is among several proposed changes, which have been in the works for more than a year, that go to the heart of a major U.S. surveillance law.
The administration says the changes are intended to help the government deal with national security threats better by updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to bring it into line with rap
Space

+ - Was Einstein right? Scientists provide first peek

Submitted by mknewman
mknewman (557587) writes "http://einstein.stanford.edu/

WAS EINSTEIN RIGHT? SCIENTISTS PROVIDE FIRST PUBLIC PEEK AT GRAVITY PROBE B RESULTS.
14 April 2007
For the past three years a satellite has circled the Earth, collecting data to determine whether two predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity are correct. Today, at the American Physical Society (APS) meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., Professor Francis Everitt, a Stanford University physicist and principal investigator of the Gravity Probe B (GP-B) Relativity Mission, a collaboration of Stanford, NASA and Lockheed Martin, will provide the first public peek at data that will reveal whether Einstein's theory has been confirmed by the most sophisticated orbiting laboratory ever created.

Podcasts and audio downloads will be available online as soon as we can arrange them.

"Gravity Probe B has been a great scientific adventure for all of us, and we are grateful to NASA for its long history of support," said Everitt. "My colleagues and I will be presenting the first results today and tomorrow. It's fascinating to be able to watch the Einstein warping of spacetime directly in the tilting of these GP-B gyroscopes — more than a million times better than the best inertial navigation gyroscopes."The GP-B satellite was launched in April 2004. It collected over a year's worth of data that the Stanford GP-B science team has been poring over for the past 18 months. The satellite was designed as a pristine, space-borne laboratory, whose sole task was to use four ultra-precise gyroscopes to measure directly two effects predicted by general relativity. One is the geodetic effect-the amount by which the mass of the Earth warps the local space-time in which it resides. The other effect, called frame-dragging, is the amount by which the rotating Earth drags local space-time around with it. According to Einstein's theory, over the course of a year, the geodetic warping of Earth's local space-time causes the spin axes of each gyroscope to shift from its initial alignment by a minuscule angle of 6.606 arc-seconds (0.0018 degrees) in the plane of the spacecraft's orbit. Likewise, the twisting of Earth's local space-time causes the spin axis to shift by an even smaller angle of 0.039 arc-seconds (0.000011 degrees) — about the width of a human hair viewed from a quarter mile away — in the plane of the Earth's equator. GP-B Scientists expect to announce the final results of the experiment in December 2007, following eight months of further data analysis and refinement. Today, Everitt and his team are poised to share what they have found so far-namely that the data from the GP-B gyroscopes clearly confirm Einstein's predicted geodetic effect to a precision of better than 1 percent. However, the frame-dragging effect is 170 times smaller than the geodetic effect, and Stanford scientists are still extracting its signature from the spacecraft data. The GP-B instrument has ample resolution to measure the frame-dragging effect precisely, but the team has discovered small torque and sensor effects that must be accurately modeled and removed from the result.

"We anticipate that it will take about 8 more months of detailed data analysis to realize the full accuracy of the instrument and to reduce the measurement uncertainty from the 0.1 to 0.05 arc-seconds per year that we've achieved to date down to the expected final accuracy of better than 0.005 arc-seconds per year," says William Bencze, GP-B Program Manager. "Understanding the details of this science data is a bit like an archeological dig: a scientist starts with a bulldozer, follows with a shovel, and then he finally uses dental picks and toothbrushes to clear the dust away from the treasure. We are passing out the toothbrushes now."

The two discoveries

Two important discoveries were made while analyzing the gyroscope data from the spacecraft: 1) the "polhode" motion of the gyroscopes damps out over time, and 2) the spin axes of the gyroscopes were affected by small classical torques. Both of these discoveries are symptoms of a single underlying cause: electrostatic patches on the surface of the rotor and housing. Patch effects in metal surfaces are well known in physics, and were carefully studied by the GP-B team during the design of the experiment to limit their effects. Though previously understood to be microscopic surface phenomena that would average to zero, the GP-B rotors show patches of sufficient size to measurably affect the gyroscopes' spins.

The gyroscope's polhode motion is akin to the common "wobble" seen on a poorly thrown (American) football, though it shows up in a much different form for the ultra-spherical GP-B gyroscopes. While it was expected that this wobble would exhibit a constant pattern over the mission, it was found to slowly change due to minute energy dissipation from interactions of the rotor and housing electrostatic patches. The polhode wobble complicates the measurement of the relativity effects by putting a time-varying wobble signal into the data.

The electrostatic patches also cause small torques on the gyroscopes, particularly when the space vehicle axis of symmetry is not aligned with the gyroscope spin axes. Torques cause the spin axis of the gyroscopes to change orientation, and in certain circumstances, this effect can look like the relativity signal GP-B measures. Fortunately, the drifts due to these torques has a precise geometrical relationship to the misalignment of the gyro spin/vehicle symmetry axis and can be removed from the data without directly affecting the relativity measurement.

Both of these discoveries first had to be investigated, be precisely modeled and then be carefully checked against the experimental data before they are removed as sources of error. These additional investigations have added more than a year to the data analysis, and this work is still in process. To date, the team has made very good progress in this regard, according to its independent Science Advisory Committee, chaired by relativistic physicist Clifford Will of Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., that has been monitoring every aspect of GP-B for the past decade.

In addition to providing a first peek at the experimental results at the APS meeting, the GP-B team has released an archive of the raw experimental data. The data will be available through the National Space Sciences Data Center at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center beginning in June 2007.

Conceived by Stanford Professors Leonard Schiff, William Fairbank and Robert Cannon in 1959 and funded by NASA in 1964, GP-B is the longest running, continuous physics research program at both Stanford and NASA. While the experiment is simple in concept — it utilizes a star, a telescope and a spinning sphere — it took more than four decades and $760 million to design and produce all the cutting-edge technologies necessary to bring the GP-B satellite to the launch pad, carry out this "simple" experiment and analyze the data. On April 20, 2004, GP-B made history with a perfect launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After a four-month initialization and on-orbit check-out period, during which the four gyroscopes were spun up to an average of 4,000 rpm and the spacecraft and gyro spin axes were aligned with the guide star, IM Pegasi, the experiment commenced. For 50 weeks, from August 2004 to August 2005, the spacecraft transmitted more than a terabyte of experimental data to the GP-B Mission Operations Center at Stanford. One of the most sophisticated satellites ever launched, the GP-B spacecraft performed magnificently throughout this period, as did the GP-B Mission Operations team, comprised of scientists and engineers from Stanford, NASA and Lockheed Martin, said Stanford Professor Emeritus Bradford Parkinson, a co-principal investigator with John Turneaure and Daniel DeBra, also emeritus professors at Stanford. The data collection ended on Sept. 29, 2005, when the helium in spacecraft's dewar was finally exhausted. At that time, the GP-B team transitioned from mission operations to data analysis.

Over its 47-year lifetime, GP-B has advanced the frontiers of knowledge, provided a training ground for 79 doctoral students at Stanford (and 13 at other universities), 15 masters degrees, hundreds of undergraduates and dozens of high school students who worked on the project. In addition, GP-B spawned over a dozen new technologies, including the record-setting gyroscopes and gyro suspension system, the SQUID (for Superconducting QUantum Interference Device) gyro readout system, the ultra-precise star-pointing telescope, the cryogenic dewar and porous plug, the micro-thrusters and drag-free technology and the Global Positioning System-based orbit determination system. All of these technologies were essential for carrying out the experiment, but none existed in 1959 when the experiment was conceived. Furthermore, some technologies which were designed at Stanford for use in GP-B, such as the porous plug that controlled the escape of helium gas from the dewar, enabled and were used in other NASA experiments such as COBE (the COsmic Background Explorer, which won this year's Nobel prize) WMAP (for Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

The experiment's final result is expected on completion of the data analysis in December of this year. Asked for his final comment, Francis Everitt said: "Always be suspicious of the news you want to hear."

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center manages the GP-B program and contributed significantly to its technical development. NASA's prime contractor for the mission, Stanford University, conceived the experiment and is responsible for the design and integration of the science instrument, as well as for mission operations and data analysis. Lockheed Martin, Stanford's major subcontractor, designed, integrated and tested the spacecraft and built some of its major payload components, including the dewar and probe that houses the science instrument. NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and Boeing Expendable Launch Systems, Huntington Beach, Calif., was responsible for the launch of the Delta II.

Bob Kahn, author of this press release, is the public affairs coordinator for Gravity Probe B at Stanford."
Space

+ - Plants on other planets might not be green

Submitted by
neoform
neoform writes "http://www.newsique.com/science/plants_on_other_pl anets_might_no/

If trees grow on other planets, their leaves might be red, orange or yellow, and not only in autumn, scientists say.

Two new studies detailed in the March issue of the journal Astrobiology find that the color of a planet's photosynthetic organisms depend on the type of star the world orbits and the makeup of its atmosphere.

"You have a particular spectrum which is affected by the star's surface temperature, but once that light comes down through the atmosphere, the atmosphere filters that radiation," said study team member Victoria Meadows of the Virtual Planet Laboratory at Caltech."

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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