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Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions 410

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. 'For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government.' The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science."

German Court Rules That Clients Responsible For Phishing Losses 245

benfrog writes "A German court has ruled that clients, not banks, are responsible for losses in phishing scams. The German Federal Court of Justice (the country's highest civil court) ruled in the case of a German retiree who lost €5,000 ($6,608) in a bank transfer fraudulently sent to Greece. According to The Local, a German news site, the man entered 10 transaction codes into a site designed to look like his bank's web site and his bank is not liable as it specifically warned against such phishing attacks."

Don't Worry About Global Warming, Say 16 Scientists in the WSJ 1367

An anonymous reader writes "According to an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, there's 'no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy'. From the article: 'The lack of warming for more than a decade—indeed, the smaller-than-predicted warming over the 22 years since the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) began issuing projections—suggests that computer models have greatly exaggerated how much warming additional CO2 can cause. Faced with this embarrassment, those promoting alarm have shifted their drumbeat from warming to weather extremes, to enable anything unusual that happens in our chaotic climate to be ascribed to CO2. The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle.'"

Weather Satellites Lose Funding 275

ianare writes "Federal budget cuts are threatening to leave the US without some critical satellites, and that could mean less accurate warnings about events like tornadoes and blizzards. In particular, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are concerned about satellites that orbit over the earth's poles rather than remaining over a fixed spot along the equator. These satellites are 'the backbone' of any forecast beyond a couple of days, says Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, and NOAA's deputy administrator. It was data from polar satellites that alerted forecasters to the risk of tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi back in April, Sullivan says. 'With the polar satellites currently in place we were able to give those communities five days' heads up,' she says."

US Senate Votes For Repeal of Ethanol Subsidies 395

T Murphy writes "Although the measure is not expected to become law, a Senate vote 73-27 in favor of repealing ethanol subsidies and tariffs means a lot for future legislation. The White House stands opposed to changes in the subsidies or tariffs, so they will likely go untouched before they expire at the end of the year. Even so, this is a strong indication that such government support for ethanol will be reduced if not eliminated. The response to the Senate vote has been mixed, from corn prices falling, to the World Bank encouraging lower food prices, to concerns over reduced funding for alternative energy, to supporters of such budget cuts."

Los Angeles To Turn Off Traffic-Light Cameras 367

Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that the Los Angeles Police Commission has voted to kill the city's controversial red-light camera program, rejecting claims that the system makes streets safer while costing the city nothing. The police department says the cameras help reduce accidents, largely by deterring drivers looking to run red lights or make illegal turns while critics of the technology question officials' accident data, saying the cameras instead cause rear-end collisions as drivers slam on their brakes and liken the cameras to Big Brother tactics designed to generate revenues. More than 180,000 motorists have received camera-issued tickets since the program started in 2004 but the commission estimates that the program costs between $4 million and $5 million each year while bringing in only about $3.5 million annually. Members of the public who attended the meeting urged the commission to do away with the cameras, which trigger seemingly boundless frustration and anger among drivers in traffic-obsessed LA. 'It's something that angers me every time I get in my car,' says Hollywood resident Christina Heller. 'These cameras remove our fundamental right in this country to confront our accuser. And they do not do anything to improve safety.'"

Expensify CEO On 'Why We Won't Hire .NET Developers' 758

TheGrapeApe writes "The CEO of San Francisco-based, VC-backed startup Expensify wrote a post on the company's blog about why he considers .NET experience on a resume a general liability, saying that it will 'definitely raise questions' when screening for developers in his shop. Quoting: '.NET is a dandy language. It's modern, it's fancy, it's got all the bells and whistles. And if you're doing Windows Mobile 7 apps (which the stats suggest you aren't), it's your only choice. But choosing .NET is a choice, and whenever anybody does it, I can't help but ask "why?"' Does he have a point? Or is it counterproductive to screen devs out based on what platforms or languages they have used in the past?"

Motorcyclist Wins Taping Case Against State Police 485

stevegee58 writes "Slashdot readers may recall the case of a Maryland motorcyclist (Anthony Graber) arrested and charged with wiretapping violations (a felony) when he recorded his interaction with a Maryland State Trooper. Today, Judge Emory A. Pitt threw out the wiretapping charges against Graber, leaving only his traffic violations to be decided on his October 12 trial date. 'The judge ruled that Maryland's wire tap law allows recording of both voice and sound in areas where privacy cannot be expected. He ruled that a police officer on a traffic stop has no expectation of privacy.' A happy day for freedom-loving Marylanders and Americans in general."

Prescription Handguns For the Elderly and Disabled Screenshot-sm 1093

Repton writes "Thanks to the Second Amendment, even the elderly have the right to keep and bear arms. The problem is that many of the guns out there are a bit unwieldy for an older person to handle. However, the inventors of the Palm Pistol are planning to change all that with a weapon that is ideal for both the elderly and the physically disabled. In a statement submitted to Medgadget, the manufacturer, Constitution Arms, has revealed the following: 'We thought you might be interested to learn that the FDA has completed its "Device/Not a Device" determination and concluded the handgun will be listed as a Class I Medical Device.' Physicians will be able to prescribe the Palm Pistol for qualified patients who may seek reimbursement through Medicare or private health insurance companies."

I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.