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The Internet

How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion 1037

Posted by timothy
from the randi-does-miracles dept.
pitchpipe (708843) points out a study highlighted by MIT's Technology Review, which makes the bold claim that "Using the Internet can destroy your faith. That's the conclusion of a study showing that the dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the U.S. since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in Internet use," and writes "I attribute my becoming an atheist to the internet, so what the study is saying supports my anecdote. If I hadn't been exposed to all of the different arguments about religion, etc., via the internet I would probably just be another person who identifies as religious but doesn't attend services. What do you think? Have you become more religious, less religious, or about the same since being on the internet? What if you've always had it?"
The Courts

U.S. Court: Chinese Search Engine's Censorship Is 'Free Speech' 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the filtering-the-internet dept.
jfruh writes: "You will probably not be surprised to learn that Chinese search giant Baidu censors a wide range of content, particularly political material deemed to be pro-democracy — and does so for users everywhere, not just in China. A group of activists filed suit against Baidu in New York for violating free speech laws, but the judge in the case declared (PDF) that, as a private entity in the United States, Baidu has the right to provide whatever kind of search results it wants, even for political reasons."
Medicine

Survey Finds Nearly 50% In US Believe In Medical Conspiracy Theories 395

Posted by samzenpus
from the that's-what-they-want-you-to-think dept.
cold fjord writes in with some bad news for the people using water fluoridation to pacify the public and install a new world government. "About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results. (paywalled, first page viewable) Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others ... three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). J. Eric Oliver, the study's lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they're easier to understand than complex medical information. ... Some 49 percent of the survey participants agreed with at least one of the conspiracies. In fact, in addition to the 37 percent of respondents who fully agreed that U.S. regulators are suppressing access to natural cures, less than a third were willing to say they actively disagreed with the theory. — One of the conspiracy theories, that the U.S. created HIV, was created for an active disinformation campaign by the Soviet Union against the U.S. as a form of political warfare during the Cold War, and still gets repeated."
Earth

Scottish Independence Campaign Battles Over BBC Weather Forecast 286

Posted by timothy
from the y'canna-take-our-laaaaandform dept.
00_NOP writes "The political battle over Scotland's independence ballot — to take place in September this year — has now moved on to how the BBC project the UK on their national weather forecast. The BBC use a projection based on the view of Britain from geostationary weather satellites and so there is naturally some foreshortening at the northern end of Britain (Scotland, in other words). But nationalist campaigners say this means Scottish viewers are constantly being shown a distorted image of their country which makes it look smaller and hence (in their view) less able to support independence. In response others have suggested that the nationalists are truly 'flat earthers.'"
Security

Speedier Screening May Be Coming To an Airport Near You 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the scan-me dept.
First time accepted submitter Rickarmstrong writes "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is pushing for private contractors to create a screening machine with 'screen and walk' capability for use at the nation's 160 international airports and thousands of federal facilities. The agency recently requested information from high-tech companies and other private firms about any new technology that can help speed up the security checkpoints managed by the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Protective Services."
Businesses

Exxon Mobile CEO Sues To Stop Fracking Near His Texas Ranch 317

Posted by samzenpus
from the hoisting-with-his-own-petard dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Exxon Mobile's CEO Rex Tillerson's day job is to do all he can to protect and nurture the process of hydraulic fracturing—aka 'fracking'—so that his company can continue to rake in billions via the production and sale of natural gas. 'This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,' said Tillerson in 2012 of attempts to increase oversight of drilling operations. But now Rick Unger reports at Forbes that Tillerson has joined a lawsuit seeking to shut down a fracking project near his Texas ranch. Why? Because the 160 foot water tower being built next to Tillerson's house that will supply the water to the near-by fracking site, means the arrival of loud trucks, an ugly tower next door, and the general unpleasantness that will interfere with the quality of his life and the real estate value of his sizeable ranch. The water tower is being built by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., a nonprofit utility that has supplied water to the region for half a century. Cross Timbers says that it is required by state law to build enough capacity to serve growing demand. In 2011, Bartonville denied Cross Timbers a permit to build the water tower, saying the location was reserved for residences. The water company sued, arguing that it is exempt from municipal zoning because of its status as a public utility. In May 2012, a state district court judge agreed with Cross Timbers and compelled the town to issue a permit. The utility resumed construction as the town appealed the decision. Later that year, the Tillersons and their co-plaintiffs sued Cross Timbers, saying that the company had promised them it wouldn't build a tower near their properties. An Exxon spokesman said Tillerson declined to comment. The company 'has no involvement in the legal matter' and its directors weren't told of Mr. Tillerson's participation, the spokesman said."
Earth

Germany's Renewable Plan Faces Popular Resistance 176

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-they-should-try-low-resistance-wire dept.
diegocg writes "Germany has outlined the details of the new 800km (497mi) high voltage power link that will transport renewable power from the north to the industrial south. It is part of the Energiewende plan to replace nuclear power and most other non-renewable energy sources with renewable sources in the next decades. However, the power link is facing a problem: popular resistance from affected neighborhoods."
Cellphones

California Bill Proposes Mandatory Kill-Switch On Phones and Tablets 341

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-forgot-pagers dept.
alphadogg writes "Politicians and law enforcement officials in California will introduce a bill on Friday that requires all smartphones and tablet PCs sold in the state be equipped with a digital 'kill-switch' that would make the devices useless if stolen. The bill is a response to a rise in thefts of portable electronics devices, often at knife or gunpoint, being seen across the state. Already half of all robberies in San Francisco and 75 percent of those in Oakland involve a mobile device and the number is rising in Los Angeles, according to police figures. The trend is the same in major cities across the U.S. and the California bill, if it passes, could usher in kill-switch technology nationwide if phone makers choose not to produce custom devices for California. California Senate bill 962 says all smartphones and tablet PCs sold from Jan. 1, 2015, should have 'a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in possession of the rightful owner.'"
United Kingdom

UK Council To Send Obese People 'Motivational' Texts Telling Them To Use Stairs 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-it's-hard-to-ignore-the-occasional-text-message dept.
Qedward writes "Stoke-on-Trent City Council is sending texts to obese people in the area to help motivate them to lose weight. Examples of the texts sent include 'aim to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each day,' 'aim to eat regular meals and keep a check on snacks and drinks' and 'maybe walk to the shops or use the stairs more often.' Over 100,000 people in the region are overweight or obese, the council said, and the texts are for those who are aged at least 18, have a body mass index of 25 or over and who have proactively signed up to receive the motivational messages."
Transportation

Government To Require Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication 390

Posted by timothy
from the bumper-sticker-transponder dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For decades, the focus of auto safety has primarily been on surviving the traumatic impact of crashes through features like air bags and seat belts. But now the focus has shifted to avoiding crashes by developing technology to make future vehicles 'smart' enough to detect and respond to threats, such as an oncoming vehicle. The technology, known as 'vehicle-to-vehicle,' or "V2V," lets cars 'talk' to each other and exchange safety data, such as speed and position. If a nearby car abruptly changes lanes and moves into another car's blind spot, the car would be alerted. Federal transportation officials did not announce when the new regulations would go into effect but said they hope to propose the new V2V rules before President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017." Combine this with remote kill-switches or pulse guns, Amber-alert scrolling signs, proliferating cameras, automatic plate recognition and unstoppable text messages from on high for some not-so-distant driving dystopia.
Government

DOJ Announces New Methods For Reporting National Security Requests 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the stand-on-one-foot-and-beg-really-loud dept.
As the NSA metadata collection scandal has developed, a number of technology and communications companies have fought to increase the transparency of the data collection process by publishing reports on how much data government agencies are asking them for. These transparency reports have been limited, however, because most government requests are entwined with a gag order. In a speech two weeks back, President Obama said this would change, and now the Dept. of Justice has announced new, slightly relaxed rules about what information companies can share. According to an email from the U.S. Deputy Attorney General (PDF) to the General Counsel of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, the companies can publish: how many Criminal Process requests they received, how many National Security Letters they received, how many accounts were affected by NSLs, how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders were received (both for communications content and 'non-content'), and how many customers were targeted by FISA requests. The companies still aren't allowed to give specific numbers, but they can report them in bands of 1,000 — for example, 0-999, 1,000-1,999, etc. Information requests for old services cannot be disclosed for at least six months. The first information requests for a new service cannot be disclosed for two years. The companies also have the option of lumping all the NSL and FISA requests together — if they do that, they can report in bands of 250 instead of 1,000.
Republicans

RNC Calls For Halt To Unconstitutional Surveillance 523

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-words-all-in-a-row dept.
Bob9113 writes "According to an article on Ars Technica, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has passed a resolution that "encourages Republican lawmakers to immediately take action to halt current unconstitutional surveillance programs and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's data collection programs." The resolution, according to Time, was approved by an overwhelming majority voice vote at the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting General Session, going on this week in Washington, DC."

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