Midnight_Falcon writes "Sixteen years after Jon Postel's famed attempt to bring the DNS system under IANA control, the U.S has agreed to cede control of the root DNS servers of the internet to ICANN. With NSA spying (some of which utilizing the U.S's privileged access to the internet system) a hot button issue, this may indicate a step in the right direction for internationalizing the internet."Link to Original Source
schwit1 writes "U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move likely to please international critics but alarm some business leaders and others who rely on smooth functioning of the Web.
Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance last year."Link to Original Source
Snirt writes " A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse — often lasting centuries — have been quite common.""
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Department of Education has released a proposal for new regulations that would hold colleges that receive federal student aid accountable for the employment success of their graduates. The overhaul is prompted by the fact that students from for-profit colleges account for nearly 50% of all loan defaults yet only account for about 13% of the total higher education population. '[O]f the for-profit gainful employment programs the Department could analyze and which could be affected by [the proposed regulations], the majority--72%--produced graduates who on average earned less than high school dropouts.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joseph Stromberg writes in Smithsonian Magazine that although the practice of solitary confinement has been largely discontinued in most countries, it's become increasingly routine over the past few decades within the American prison system and now it's estimated that between 80,000 and 81,000 prisoners are in some form of solitary confinement nationwide. Once employed largely as a short-term punishment, it's now regularly used as way of disciplining prisoners indefinitely, isolating them during ongoing investigations, coercing them into cooperating with interrogations and even separating them from perceived threats within the prison population at their request. "We really are the only country that resorts regularly, and on a long-term basis, to this form of punitive confinement," says Craig Haney. "Ironically, we spend very little time analyzing the effects of it." Most prisoners in solitary confinement spend at least 23 hours per day restricted to cells of 80 square feet, not much larger than a king-size bed, devoid of stimuli (some are allowed in a yard or indoor area for an hour or less daily), and are denied physical contact on visits from friends and family, so they may go years or decades without touching another human, apart from when they're placed in physical restraints by guards. A majority of those surveyed experienced symptoms such as dizziness, heart palpitations, chronic depression, while 41 percent reported hallucinations, and 27 percent had suicidal thoughts and one study found that isolated inmates are seven times more likely to hurt or kill themselves than inmates at large. But the real problem is that solitary confinement is ineffective as a rehabilitation technique and indelibly harmful to the mental health of those detained achieving the opposite of the supposed goal of rehabilitating them for re-entry into society. "We are all social beings, and people who are in environments that deny the opportunity to interact in meaningful ways with others begin to lose a sense of self, of their own identity," says Haney. "They begin to withdraw from the little amount of social contact that they are allowed to have, because social stimulation, over time, becomes anxiety-arousing." Rick Raemisch, the new director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, voluntarily spent twenty hours in solitary confinement in one of his prisons and wrote an op-ed about his experience in The New York Times. "If we can’t eliminate solitary confinement, at least we can strive to greatly reduce its use," wrote Raemisch. "Knowing that 97 percent of inmates are ultimately returned to their communities, doing anything less would be both counterproductive and inhumane.""
retroworks writes "NHS and the Daily Telegraph report on two studies (original and repeat duplicating results) in Estonia and Finland which predict whether an apparently healthy human will likely die within 5 years. The four biomarkers that appeared to determine risk of mortality in the next five years were:
alpha-1-acid glycoprotein – a protein that is raised during infection and inflammation
albumin – a protein that carries vital nutrients, hormones and proteins in the bloodstream
very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particle size – usually known for being “very bad” cholesterol
citrate – a compound that is an essential part of the body’s metabolism
Researchers found that people in the top 20% of the summary score range were 19 times more at risk of dying in the next five years than people in the lowest 20%."Link to Original Source
sciencehabit writes "Gladiators had it rough. In addition to living a life of combat and bloodshed, archaeologists are finding that they were imprisoned in training schools, too. A study published online yesterday in Antiquity describes the discovery of a fortress near Vienna, with a practice arena, small cells to sleep in, and an infirmary. The facility was mapped with noninvasive earth-sensing technologies and had only one exit. There’s also a video overview of the facility."Link to Original Source
dutchwhizzman writes "Facebook is convincing partner mobile operators in third world countries to unlock not the entire internet, but just facebook for it's subscribers with a special "facebook only" subscription. By doing so, they are promoting a model where an ISP or operator can charge a fee per web site, instead of flat access rates to the entire network. With the recent agreement between Netflix and Comcast where netflix has to pay Comcast to provide proper service to it's already paying subscribers, we're seeing a worrisome future for flat fee data plans emerge."
ch0ad writes "Mt. Gox, once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, has gone offline, apparently after losing hundreds of millions of dollars due to a years-long hacking effort that went unnoticed by the company.
The hacking attack is detailed in a leaked “crisis strategy draft” plan, apparently created by Gox and published Monday by Ryan Selkis, a bitcoin entrepreneur and blogger (see below). According to the document, the exchange is insolvent after losing 744,408 bitcoins — worth about $350 million at Monday’s trading prices."Link to Original Source
Zothecula writes "Many organizations around the world are looking at ways to harness the power of waves as a renewable energy source, but none are covering quite the same ground as a team of engineers from the University of California (UC), Berkeley. The seafloor carpet, a system inspired by the wave absorbing abilities of a muddy seabed, has taken exploring the potential of wave power to some intriguing new depths."Link to Original Source
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Chris Parnin has an interesting read about an international team of scientists lead by Dr. Janet Siegmund using brain imaging with fMRI to understand the programmer's mind and to compare and contrast different cognitive tasks used in programming by analyzing differences in brain locations that are activated by different tasks. One recent debate illuminated by their studies is recent legislation that considers offering foreign-language credits for students learning programming languages. There have been many strong reactions across the software-developer community. Some developers consider the effort laudable but misguided and proclaim programming is not at all like human language and is much closer to mathematics. Siegmund observed 17 participants inside an fMRI scanner while they were comprehending short source-code snippets and found a clear, distinct activation pattern of five brain regions, which are related to language processing, working memory, and attention. The programmers in the study recruited parts of the brain typically associated with language processing and verbal oriented processing (ventral lateral prefrontal cortex). At least for the simple code snippets presented, programmers could use existing language regions of the brain to understand code without requiring more complex mental models to be constructed and manipulated. "Interestingly, even though there was code that involve mathematical operations, conditionals, and loop iteration, for these particular tasks, programming had less in common with mathematics and more in common with language (PDF)," writes Parnin. "Mathematical calculations typically take place in the intraparietal sulcus, mathematical reasoning in the right frontal pole, and logical reasoning in the left frontal pole. These areas were not strongly activated in comprehending source code." The new research results are a much needed, but only a first step in revealing the neuroscience of programming. Other questions remain including: Can we finally provide a neurological basis for a programmer's flow? How relevant is the mastery of language skills for programming? Are there certain programming activities that should never be mixed, due to higher chance of cognitive failure (and resulting bugs)? Do code visualizations or live programming environments really reduce mental load? "Programming involves a rich set of cognitive processes," concludes Parnin. "Although the study found a particular pathway that was strongly associated with language processing, there may be other pathways associated with other common activities related to programming (debugging, editing, refactoring, etc).""
Andy Updegrove writes "Three weeks ago, we heard that Francis Maude, a senior UK government minister, was predicting the conversion to open source office suites by UK government agencies. Lost in the translation in many stories was the fact that this was based not on an adopted policy, but on a proposal still open for public comment — and subject to change. It should be no surprise that Microsoft is trying to get the UK to add OOXML, its own format standard, to the UK policy. Why? According to a messaging sent to its UK partners, because it believes that a failure to include OOXML "will cause problems for citizens and businesses who use office suites which don’t support ODF, including many people who do not use a recent version of Microsoft Office or, for example, Pages on iOS and even Google Docs." Of course, that's because Microsoft pushed OOXML as an alternative to ODF a decade ago. If you don't want the same objection to be valid a decade from now, consider making your views known at the Cabinet Office Standards Hub. The deadline is February 26."Link to Original Source
An anonymous reader writes "One year ago, on Feb. 15, 2013, the world was witness to the dangers presented by near-Earth Objects (NEOs) when a relatively small asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere, exploding over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and releasing more energy than a large atomic bomb. ... NASA is now pursuing new partnerships and collaborations in an Asteroid Grand Challenge to accelerate NASA’s existing planetary defense work, which will help find all asteroid threats to human population and know what to do about them. In parallel, NASA is developing an Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) — a first-ever mission to identify, capture and redirect an asteroid to a safe orbit of Earth's moon for future exploration by astronauts in the 2020s. ... NASA is assessing two concepts to robotically capture and redirect an asteroid mass into a stable orbit around the moon. In the first proposed concept, NASA would capture and redirect an entire very small asteroid. In the alternative concept, NASA would retrieve a large, boulder-like mass from a larger asteroid and return it to this same lunar orbit. In both cases, astronauts aboard an Orion spacecraft would then study the redirected asteroid mass in the vicinity of the moon and bring back samples."Link to Original Source
ScottyLad writes "Workers at a South-Tenessee Volkswagen plant have voted against union representation in favour of a European style Workers Council
With membership of the United Autoworkers Union having plummeted by 75% since the 1970's, workers "felt like we were already being treated very well by Volkswagen in terms of pay and benefits and bonuses," according to Sean Moss, who voted against the UAW. "We also looked at the track record of the UAW," he added, stating that many workers believed union representation had hurt industrial relations at other plants.
For the uninitiated, Workers Councils are a form of worker representation which is common in Europe, and mandated by law in Germany, where Volkswagen is headquartered. Unlike a Union, the Workers Council is solely responsible for the representation of workers interests in a particular workplace or company, and in this instance the Tenessee workers appear to have viewed how the system works for their international colleagues as preferable to external Union representation.
After Volkswagen did not resist the organizing drive, which made it unusually easy for the UAW to win workers' support for a vote, UAW Presiden Bob King said "whilst we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union."
89% of eligible workers voted in the ballot"
cold fjord writes "Euronews reports, "MEPs have rejected a demand from the European Green Party that urged EU governments to grant asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden. The move came during the adoption of a European Parliament committee inquiry into the NSA spying scandal. As Claude Moraes, a centre-left British parliamentarian, explains, member states have the final say over who they allow to remain inside their borders. “The European Union does not have the power to grant asylum as the European Union, so this is something for individual member states,” he told euronews. “And the issue of asylum within this report therefore does not become a relevant issue for the European Union.”""Link to Original Source