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Education

ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children 981

Posted by Soulskill
from the control-through-indoctrination dept.
mpicpp sends this news from CNN: In swaths of Syria now controlled by ISIS, children can no longer study math or social studies. Sports are out of the question. And students will be banned from learning about elections and democracy. Instead, they'll be subjected to the teachings of the radical Islamist group. And any teacher who dares to break the rules "will be punished." ISIS revealed its new educational demands in fliers posted on billboards and on street poles. The Sunni militant group has captured a slew of Syrian and Iraqi cities in recent months as it tries to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, spanning Sunni parts of both countries. Books cannot include any reference to evolution. And teachers must say that the laws of physics and chemistry "are due to Allah's rules and laws." Update: 09/18 16:26 GMT by S : CNN has pulled the story over "concerns about the interpretation of the information provided." They promise to update it when they get the facts straight.
Biotech

Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague 369

Posted by timothy
from the theocrat's-cookbook dept.
Foreign Policy has an in-depth look at the contents of a laptop reportedly seized this year in Syria from a stronghold of the organization now known as the Islamic State, and described as belonging to a Tunisian national ("Muhammed S."). The "hidden documents" folder of the machine, says the report, contained a vast number of documents, including ones describing and justifying biological weapons: The laptop's contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations -- and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State's deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another. ... The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia's northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education: The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals. ... "The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge," the document states.
Math

About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-cards dept.
Taco Cowboy writes with this story about new research that finds a strong genetic component to a child's ability in math and reading. "You may think you're better at reading than you are at math (or vice versa), but new research suggests you're probably equally good (or bad) at both. The reason: The genes that determine a person's ability to tackle one subject influence their aptitude at the other, accounting for about half of a person's overall ability. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, used nearly 1,500 pairs of 12-year-old twins to tease apart the effects of genetic inheritance and environmental variables on math and reading ability. The researchers administered a set of math and verbal tests to the children and then compared the performance of different sets of twins. They found that the twins' scores — no matter if they were high or low — were twice as similar among pairs of identical twins as among pairs of fraternal twins. The results indicated that approximately half of the children's math and reading ability stemmed from their genetic makeup.

A complementary analysis of unrelated kids corroborated this conclusion — strangers with equivalent academic abilities shared genetic similarities. What's more, the genes responsible for math and reading ability appear to be numerous and interconnected, not specifically targeted toward one set of skills. These so-called 'generalist genes' act in concert to determine a child's aptitude across multiple disciplines. The finding that one's propensities for math and reading go hand in hand may come as a surprise to many, but it shouldn't. People often feel that they possess skills in only one area simply because they perform slightly worse in the other."
Wikipedia

An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the isaac-newton-invented-the-apple dept.
Andreas Kolbe writes: The Daily Dot's EJ Dickson reports how she accidentally discovered that a hoax factoid she added over five years ago as a stoned sophomore to the Wikipedia article on "Amelia Bedelia, the protagonist of the eponymous children's book series about a 'literal-minded housekeeper' who misunderstands her employer's orders," had not just remained on Wikipedia all this time, but come to be cited by a Taiwanese English professor, in "innumerable blog posts and book reports", as well as a book on Jews and Jesus. It's a cautionary tale about the fundamental unreliability of Wikipedia. And as Wikipedia ages, more and more such stories are coming to light.
Youtube

Google Using YouTube Threat As Leverage For Cheaper Streaming Rights 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-playing-fair dept.
Sockatume writes: "According to a press release issued by WIN, a group representing independent musicians, Google is threatening to de-list musicians' videos from YouTube if they do not agree to the terms for its unannounced streaming music service. The template contracts issued to musicians are described as 'undervalued' relative to other streaming services, and are not open for negotiation. The press release was issued by WIN but rescinded when Google agreed to further discussions; The Associated Free Press and The Guardian have published stories based on that original release."
The Courts

Blizzard Sues Starcraft II Cheat Creators 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the zerging-with-lawyers dept.
qubezz writes: "TorrentFreak reports that on Monday, Blizzard filed a lawsuit in US District court in California against the programmers behind the popular Starcraft II cheat 'ValiantChaos MapHack.' The complaint seeks relief from 'direct copyright infringement,' 'contributory copyright infringement,' 'vicarious copyright infringement,' 'trafficking in circumvention devices,' etc. The suit seeks the identity of the cheat's programmers, as it fishes for names of John Does 1-10, in addition to an injunction against the software (which remains on sale) and punitive damages. Blizzard claims losses from diminished user experiences, and also that 'when users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they directly infringe Blizzard's copyright in StarCraft II, including by creating unauthorized derivative works"."
Security

Applying Pavlovian Psychology to Password Management 288

Posted by timothy
from the risk-versus-reward-baby dept.
Ars Technica reports on an interesting and sensible-sounding approach to password policy that I'd like to see adopted just about everywhere I have a password (which, these days, is quite a few). An excerpt: "For instance, a user who picks "test123@#" might be required to change the password in three days under the system proposed by Lance James, the head of the cyber intelligence group at Deloitte & Touche. The three-day limit is based on calculations showing it would take about 4.5 days to find the password using offline cracking techniques. Had the same user chosen "t3st123@##$x" (all passwords in this post don't include the beginning and ending quotation marks), the system wouldn't require a change for three months."
Science

Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them 351

Posted by Soulskill
from the keep-your-culture-to-yourself dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "It's a story we all know — Christopher Columbus discovers America, his European buddies follow him, they meet the indigenous people living there, they indigenous people die from smallpox and guns and other unknown diseases, and the Europeans get gold, land, and so on. It's still happening today in Brazil, where 238 indigenous tribes have been contacted in the last several decades, and where between 23 and 70 uncontacted tribes are still living. A just-published report that takes a look at what happens after the modern world comes into contact with indigenous peoples isn't pretty: Of those contacted, three quarters went extinct. Those that survived saw mortality rates up over 80 percent. This is grim stuff."
Games

Unreal Engine 4 Launching With Full Source Code 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-the-man-behind-the-curtain dept.
jones_supa writes "Today Epic launched Unreal Engine 4 for game developers. Supported platforms are Windows, OS X, iOS and Android, with desktop Linux coming later. The monetization scheme is unique: anyone can get access to literally everything for a $19/month fee. Epic wants to build a business model that succeeds when UE4 developers succeed. Therefore, part of the deal is that anyone can ship a commercial product with UE4 by paying 5% of their gross revenue resulting from sales to users. This gets them the Unreal Editor in ready-to-run form, and the engine's complete C++ source code hosted on GitHub for collaborative development."
Graphics

Flash Is Dead; Long Live OpenFL! 166

Posted by timothy
from the pride-wenteh-already dept.
First time accepted submitter lars_doucet writes "I am a 15-year Flash veteran and nobody hates to say this more than me: Flash is dying, and the killer is Adobe. Where to now? HTML5 doesn't help me with native targets, and Unity is proprietary just like Flash was — 'don't worry, we'll be around forever! And so sorry about that neglected bug report — we're busy.' I'm putting my bets on OpenFL, a Haxe-based, fully open-source implementation of the Flash API that might just please both Flash refugees and longtime Flash haters alike. My article discusses my experiences with it and gives a brief overview for newcomers. In short: I can keep making Flash games if I want, but with the same codebase I can also natively target Win/Mac/Linux desktops, mobile, and more, without having to mess with Adobe AIR or other virtual machines."
Microsoft

Microsoft Releases Free Edition of OneNote 208

Posted by timothy
from the gratis-not-libre-of-course dept.
yakatz writes "Microsoft announced that OneNote, including the full desktop program, will be free for anyone who wants to use the program. A version of the program for Mac also appeared in the app store yesterday. This means that a native edition of OneNote is available for most platforms (including iPad, iPhone and Android, but not Linux or Blackberry). Microsoft will continue to offer a paid version of OneNote with 'business-oriented' features (including SharePoint support, version history and Outlook integration). The partial rebranding of OneNote also includes some new tools like a program specifically designed to make it easier to take a picture of a whiteboard.
Is this a signal that Microsoft decided that they need to compete with Apple by making their productivity applications free?"
(Over at WineHQ, they're looking for a maintainer for their page on OneNote. Anyone running it on a Free operating system? What are your favorite alternatives that are "libre" free, rather than only gratis?)
Science

Graphene Conducts Electricity Ten Times Better Than Expected 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-you-current-on-graphene dept.
ananyo writes "Physicists have produced nanoribbons of graphene — the single-atom-thick carbon — that conduct electrons better than theory predicted even for the most idealized form of the material (abstract). The finding could help graphene realize its promise in high-end electronics, where researchers have long hoped it could outperform traditional materials such as silicon. In graphene, electrons can move faster than in any other material at room temperature. But techniques that cut sheets of graphene into the narrow ribbons needed to form wires of a nano-scale circuit leave ragged edges, which disrupt the electron flow. Now a team led by physicist Walt de Heer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta has made ribbons that conduct electric charges for more than 10 micrometres without meeting resistance — 1,000 times farther than in typical graphene nanoribbons. The ribbons made by de Heer's team in fact conduct electrons ten times better than standard theories of electron transport they should, say the authors."

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

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