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Stanford Getting Rid of $18 Billion Endowment of Coal Stock 208

mdsolar sends this report from the NY Times: "Stanford University announced Tuesday that it would divest its $18.7 billion endowment of stock in coal-mining companies, becoming the first major university to lend support to a nationwide campaign to purge endowments and pension funds of fossil fuel investments. The university said it acted in accordance with internal guidelines that allow its trustees to consider whether 'corporate policies or practices create substantial social injury' when choosing investments. Coal's status as a major source of carbon pollution linked to climate change persuaded the trustees to remove companies 'whose principal business is coal' from their investment portfolio, the university said."
United Kingdom

David Cameron Says Fictional Crime Proves Why Snooper's Charter Is Necessary 179

An anonymous reader sends this story from TechDirt: "You may recall the stories from the past couple years about the so-called 'snooper's charter' in the UK — a system to further legalize the government's ability to spy on pretty much all communications. It was setting up basically a total surveillance system, even beyond what we've since learned is already being done today. Thankfully, that plan was killed off by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. However, Prime Minister David Cameron is back to pushing for the snooper's charter — and his reasoning is as stupid as it is unbelievable. Apparently, he thinks it's necessary because the fictional crime dramas he watches on TV show why it's necessary. Cameron said, 'I love watching, as I probably should stop telling people, crime dramas on the television. There's hardly a crime drama where a crime is solved without using the data of a mobile communications device. What we have to explain to people is that... if we don't modernise the practice and the law, over time we will have the communications data to solve these horrible crimes on a shrinking proportion of the total use of devices and that is a real problem for keeping people safe.'"
United States

New Study Shows One-Third of Americans Don't Believe In Evolution 1010

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that thirty-three percent of Americans reject the idea of evolution and believe that 'humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time' rather than evolving gradually through a process of natural selection, as described by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago. Although this percentage remained steady since 2009, the last time Pew asked the question, there was a growing partisan gap on whether humans evolved. The poll showed 43 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats say humans have evolved over time, compared with 54 percent and 64 percent respectively four years ago. 'The gap is coming from the Republicans, where fewer are now saying that humans have evolved over time,' says Cary Funk. Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants topped the list of those rejecting evolution, with 64 percent of those polled saying they believe humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."

Obama Reveals Climate Change Plan 577

Today President Obama gave a speech outlining the administration's plan to take on climate change. (Video of the speech available on YouTube, and the White House published an infographic as well.) Most significantly, Obama's plan would have the EPA set limits on carbon pollution from all U.S. power plants, a goal already meeting resistance from Republicans. The plan also sets the goal of funding enough solar- and wind-based energy projects on public lands to power over 6 million homes by 2020. By 2030, it aims to use efficiency standards to reduce carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons. Obama called for new efforts to deal with extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy. He also pointed out the difficulty in getting emerging industrial economies to be environmentally conscious. To that end, the plan calls for the end of U.S. support for financing coal power plants in foreign countries, unless those plants use carbon capture and sequestration technologies. The speech addressed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry up to 800,000 gallons of oil per day from Canada into the U.S. Obama indicated that approval for the pipeline would be tied to emissions goals.

Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago 637

eldavojohn writes "Professor Gerald "Jerry" Crabtree of Stanford's Crabtree Laboratory published a paper (PDF) that has appeared in two parts in Trends in Genetics. The paper opens with a very controversial suggestion: 'I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions.' From there, Crabtree speculates we're on the decline of human intelligence and we have been for at least a couple millennia. His argument suggests agriculture and, following from that, cities, have allowed us to break free of some environmental forces on competitive genetic mutations — a la Mike Judge's theory. However, the conclusion of the paper urges humans to keep calm and carry on, as any attempt to fix this genetic trend would almost certainly be futile and disturbing."
The Courts

Italian Supreme Court Accepts Mobile Phone-Tumor Link 190

An anonymous reader writes with a link to this Reuters story, from which he excerpts: "Italy's supreme court has upheld a ruling that said there was a link between a business executive's brain tumor and his heavy mobile phone usage, potentially opening the door to further legal claims. The court's decision flies in the face of much scientific opinion, which generally says there is not enough evidence to declare a link between mobile phone use and diseases such as cancer and some experts said the Italian ruling should not be used to draw wider conclusions about the subject. 'Great caution is needed before we jump to conclusions about mobile phones and brain tumors,' said Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics and clinical engineering at Britain's Royal Berkshire Hospital. The Italian case concerned company director Innocenzo Marcolini who developed a tumor in the left side of his head after using his mobile phone for 5-6 hours a day for 12 years. He normally held the phone in his left hand, while taking notes with his right hand. Marcolini developed a so-called neurinoma affecting a cranial nerve, which was apparently not cancerous but nevertheless required surgery that badly affected his quality of life."

Political Science Prof Asks: Is Algebra Necessary? 1010

Capt.Albatross writes "Andrew Hacker, a professor of Political Science at the City University of New York and author of Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It, attempts to answer this question in the negative in today's New York Times Sunday Review. His primary claim is that mathematics requirements are prematurely and unreasonably limiting the level of education available to otherwise capable students ."

NASA Considers Apollo-Era F1 Engine For Space Launch System 197

MarkWhittington writes "A company named Dynetics, in partnership with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, will perform a study contract for NASA to explore whether a modern version of the Saturn V F1 booster (PDF) could be used on the Space Launch System. These would be the basis for a liquid fueled rocket that would enhance the SLS to make it capable of launching 130 metric tons to low Earth orbit, thus making it capable of supporting deep space exploration missions in the 2020s."

German Parliament Backs Nuclear Exit By 2022 364

fysdt sends this quote from an AFP report: "The German parliament sealed plans Friday to phase out nuclear energy by 2022, making the country the first major industrial power to take the step in the wake of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant. The nuclear exit scheme cleared its final hurdle in the Bundesrat upper house, which represents the 16 regional states, after the legislation passed the Bundestag lower house with an overwhelming majority last week. Germany's seven oldest reactors were already switched off after Japan's massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing reactors to overheat and radiation to leak. A further reactor has been shut for years because of technical problems."

SCOTUS: Clean Air Act Trumps Emissions Lawsuits 303

schwit1 writes "The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a global warming lawsuit against five big power companies, its most important environmental ruling since 2007 and a victory for the utilities and the Obama administration. The justices unanimously overturned a ruling by a US appeals court that the lawsuit now involving six states can proceed in an effort to force the coal-burning plants to cut emissions of gases that contribute to climate change. In a defeat for environmentalists, the Supreme Court agreed with the companies that regulating greenhouse gases should be left to the Environmental Protection Agency under the clean air laws. The ruling stemmed from a 2004 lawsuit claiming the five electric utilities have created a public nuisance by contributing to climate change. The lawsuit wanted a federal judge to order them to cut their carbon dioxide emissions."

Iceland Taps Facebook To Rewrite Its Constitution Screenshot-sm 264

An anonymous reader writes "Iceland is finally overhauling its constitution, and it has turned to the Internet to get input from citizens. More specifically, the 25-member council drafting the new constitution is reaching out to its citizens through Facebook. Two thirds of Iceland's population (approximately 320,000) is on Facebook, so the constitutional council's weekly meetings are broadcast live not only on the council's website, but on the social network as well. 'It is possible to register through other means, but most of the discussion takes place via Facebook,' said Berghildur Bernhardsdottir, spokeswoman for the constitutional review project."

EU Ministers Seek To Ban Creation of Hacking Tools 248

alphadogg writes "Justice Ministers across Europe want to make the creation of 'hacking tools' a criminal offense, but critics have hit back at the plans, saying that they are unworkable. Ministers from all 27 countries of the European Union met on June 9 to discuss European Commission proposals for a directive on attacks against information systems. But in addition to approving the Commission's text, the ministers extended the draft to include 'the production and making available of tools for committing offenses.' This is problematic, as much legal and legitimate software could be put to criminal use by hackers. The draft mentions 'malicious software designed to create botnets or unrightfully obtained computer passwords,' but goes no further in attempting to clarify what 'tools' might be subject to criminal sanctions."

Swiss To End Use of Nuclear Power 470

mdsolar writes "Energy minister Doris Leuthard is set to propose Switzerland gradually exits nuclear power, two Swiss newspapers reported on Sunday, citing sources close to the government. The multi-party Swiss government was expected to make an announcement on nuclear policy on Wednesday and may recommend an exit. Switzerland's five nuclear reactors generate about 40 percent of the country's electricity."

Tweeter To Be Prosecuted, Twitter Now Censoring? 195

Andy Smith writes "Slashdot has already covered the super-injunctions furore in the UK, with one famous footballer going after an anonymous Twitter user who broke a court order and revealed his extra-marital affair. Now another footballer has asked the attorney general to prosecute a well-known journalist and TV personality, who went against another super-injunction and wrote about this footballer, again on Twitter. Meanwhile, going back to the first footballer, it looks like he's got Twitter running scared, as the site is apparently blocking his name from appearing on the trend list, despite him being one of the most tweeted-about people."

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