jenningsthecat writes "In a public letter, Iraq war veteran Tomas Young lambastes former US Vice President Dick Cheney and former US president George W. Bush for sending "hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage". Mr. Young further accuses Bush and Cheney of "egregious war crimes" and of "cowardice and selfishness".
Mr. Young, who joined the Army two days after 9/11, was critically wounded in 2004, five days into his first tour of duty in Iraq. He then suffered Anoxic Brain Injury in 2008 as a complication of his earlier injuries. After almost ten years of what sounds like a living hell, Mr. Young is now receiving hospice care in his home while he starves himself to death.
You can read an interview with Tomas Young here"
jenningsthecat writes "Public payphones seem headed the way of the dinosaur, as noted here on Slashdot 10 years ago, and again by the CBC earlier this year. Reasons typically cited for their demise are falling usage, (thanks to the ubiquitous cell phone), and rising maintenance costs.
But during the recent disaster in NYC caused by Hurricane Sandy public payphones proved their worth, allowing people to stay in contact in spite of the widespread loss of both cellular service and the electricity required to charge mobile devices. In light of this news, at least one Canadian news outlet is questioning the wisdom of scrapping payphones.
Should we in North America make sure that public pay phones will always be widely available? (After all, it's not as though they don't have additional value-added uses). And, should their continued existence be dependent on corporations whose primary duty is to their shareholders, rather than to the average citizen?"
jenningsthecat writes "The latest step in implementing the Canada — US Perimeter Security Initiative will have FBI and DEA agents pursuing suspects onto Canadian soil .
The RCMP recognizes that "this approach would raise concerns about sovereignty, of privacy, and civil liberties of Canadians", so they'll "take baby steps, let's start with two agencies to test the concept, let's demonstrate to Canadians and Americans that such an approach might work".
In related news, a discovery that if a frog is put into a pot of water and the temperature is raised slowly enough, the frog won't hop out — he'll just boil to death."
jenningsthecat writes "From NPR comes the story of how Monsanto thought Roundup was "a herbicide with low risk for weed resistance." The explanation seems to pretty much boil down to "we had a hell of a time creating Roundup-resistant crops, so we figured Mother Nature had little or no chance".
In the face of Monsanto's hubris, Mother Nature went ahead and made 20 strains of weeds, (so far), tolerant to glyphosate. Good for her!"
jenningsthecat writes "From a story on Techdirt comes this link to aa propaganda video on YouTube, starring ICE Director John Morton
Of course, the video makes no mention of the 84,000 subdomains wrongfully seized by ICE last year as part of Operation In our Sites. Equally predictably, it self-servingly equates counterfeiting with copyright violation.
Don't you just love it when the government spends your money to trample on your rights, and then wastes more of it to tell you what a great job it's doing violating them?"Link to Original Source
jenningsthecat writes "In an effort to help chronically truant students, the Anaheim Union High School District is using GPS as part of a program to make sure that students are where they're supposed to be, and on time. (A similar scenario in Texas was discussed on Slashdot in 2008 — http://slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=truancy). In addition to tracking students' whereabouts, this latest initiative also assigns them an adult coach who calls them three times each week to help keep them on track.
Indications are that such programs actually work, and that at least some students are grateful for the help. But I can't help thinking that there is something really wrong, with the educational system and/or with society itself, when we have to go to such great lengths to keep students motivated and committed to their own education."Link to Original Source
jenningsthecat writes "In a move that echoes the recent sanitization of Mark Twain's works, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has ruled that the Dire Straits song 'Money for Nothing' "contravenes the human rights clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code". Twenty-five years after the song's release, it seems that a listener in St. John's, Newfoundland objected to the use of the word 'faggot' in the song's lyrics."Link to Original Source
jenningsthecat writes "An Australian scientist at the University of Sidney has been experimenting with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to temporarily induce savant-like capabilities and autistic attributes in test subjects. The research has implications for intelligence enhancement, and may hold improtant clues for understanding autism."Link to Original Source
jenningsthecat writes "Bell Canada has just received a fine of 1.3 million dollars from the CRTC. The fine was levied after the CRTC determined that Bell violated the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules. Bell's third-party telemarketers placed calls to people listed on Canada's Do Not Call List. Apparently, Bell also directly violated the legislation by placing automated telemarketing calls to prepaid cellular users.
As a victim of many unwanted Bell marketing calls, I applaud the CRTC's hard line stance. Now if we can only talk them into revoking Bell's recently granted right to apply Usage Based Billing to third-party ISP's..."Link to Original Source
jenningsthecat writes "From 'the Atlantic' comes the story of John Ioannidis and his team of meta-researchers, who have studied the overall state of medical research and found it dangerously and widely lacking in trustworthiness.. Even after filtering out the journalistic frippery and hyperbole, the story is pretty disturbing. Some points made in the article:
- Even the most respected, widely accepted, peer-reviewed medical studies are all-too-often deeply flawed or outright wrong
- When an error IS brought to light and the conclusions publicly refuted, the erroneous conclusions often persist and are cited as valid for years, or even decades
- Your doctor is probably prescribing drugs, treatment, and lifestyle changes that may range from ineffectual to outright harmful
- Scientists and researchers themselves regard peer review as providing "only a minimal assurance of quality"
- These shortcomings apply to medical research across the board, not just to blatantly self-serving pharmaceutical industry studies
The article concludes by saying "Science is a noble endeavor, but it's also a low-yield endeavor...I'm not sure that more than a very small percentage of medical research is ever likely to lead to major improvements in clinical outcomes and quality of life."
I've always been somewhat suspicious of research findings, but before this article I had no idea just how prevalent untrustworthy results were. From now on I'll take my doctor's advice with a grain of salt — or is that a questionable prescription too?"Link to Original Source
jenningsthecat writes "From Billboard comes news of a Google proposal for a music download and storage locker service.
Apparently the music store would "operate like a conventional digital retailer". But in addition, (and for $25 a year), it would provide users with both the ability to have their purchases transferred directly to their lockers, and the option to let Google scan their drives for tracks that it "recognizes as music that it has licensed" to be "listed by Google as being accessible to the user from their cloud-based account". The service would also provide some social networking features, including providing playlists to other subscribers.
In the proposal, the yearly fee would be split 50/50 between Google and rights holders. 10.5% would go to music publishers, but it's not yet clear whose half of the pie this slice would be taken from.
It seems pretty clear that the recording industry won't go for this proposal as it stands. But the writing's been on the wall for long enough now, that even some industry execs may know they've been fighting an unwinnable war. And Google has already shown remarkable talent as a well-paid middle man. What do you think, Slashdotters — could Google be the next big conduit between the recording industry and the music-buying public? Or is this proposal doomed to die on the vine?"
jenningsthecat writes "In an under-reported tech story from the beginning of 2010, David Cancel, creator of the Ghostery plugin for Firefox, announced that he has sold Ghostery to a company called Better Advertising. The company bills itself as "a new type of company that helps to build trust between consumers and brands that advertise online".
Whether this is simply a pre-emptive strike in the online advertising privacy regulation battle,, or a real attempt to deal with consumers' increasing privacy concerns, it seems that Better Advertising has made a smart move in acquiring Ghostery. Now all they have to do is convince us that they aren't Evil, and won't be Evil in the future. (Google, anyone?)"
jenningsthecat writes "A study published in December 2009 in the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that three varieties of Monsanto genetically-modified corn caused damage to the liver, kidneys, and other organs of rats:
One of the corn varieties was designed to tolerate broad-spectrum herbicides, (so-called "Roundup-ready" corn), while the other two contain bacteria-derived proteins that have insecticide properties. The study made use of Monsanto's own raw data.
Quoting from the study's 'Conclusions' section:
"Our analysis highlights that the kidneys and liver as particularly important on which to focus such research as there was a clear negative impact on the function of these organs in rats consuming GM maize varieties for just 90 days."
Given the very high prevalence of corn in processed foods, this could be a real ticking time-bomb. And with food manufacturers not being required by law to declare GMO content, I think I'll do my best to avoid corn altogether. Pass the puffed rice and pour me a glass of fizzy water!"
jenningsthecat writes "Earlier this evening I did a Google search, using Firefox (aka Iceweasel), on my Debian box. I then performed an identical Google search on my Win2K computer, also using Firefox. Google preferences were set the same on both computers, and Personalized Search was disabled on both. Yet on the Linux computer there were only 20 results, whereas on the Windows computer there were 71! I cleared the cache on both, restarted the browsers, and re-entered the search criteria. Same results. I called a friend, who did the same search on his Windows and Linux boxes. Both of his computers came up with 152 results. Then a second friend did the same test, and also received 152 results. So thats 20 hits on one computer, 71 on another computer, and 158 on each of three other computers, all using identical search criteria and preferences. WTF?
A little Google searching, (oh, the irony!), turned up the following links (among many others):
I wouldn't have been too surprised at seeing some minor variations, and the first link above explains why this is to be expected. But a factor-of-three difference between two computers on the same Internet feed, and a factor-of-seven difference on two computers separated by only 40 miles, seems a bit much. I wonder how much I'm missing in my daily Google searches?
(Additional info for the curious: the search that got me started on this was ' firefox linux "missing font" tahoma ', and my Linux computer supplies a user-agent string that makes it look like a W2K machine, to get around Yahoo mail's insistence that their 'new' mail system 'has not been tested on my operating system')"
jenningsthecat writes "In Canada, the war is visibly heating up between television networks, and the telcos and cablecos that provide TV signals to more than 90% of Canadian TV-watchers. Both sides of the debate are airing TV commercials reminiscent of a political campaign, and of course each side has its own website:
TV networks, hit hard by declining advertising revenues, are scrambling to make ends meet. They claim that cable and satellite carriers, (who currently don't pay TV stations for the use of their signals), are getting an undeserved free ride; so they're petitioning the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission for new legislation that would require carriers to pony up. On the other side, the carriers point out that the TV networks already receive government funding, and are spinning the networks' pitch as a "TV tax". The cable and satellite carriers have stated that they will pass any such fees on to subscribers.
Networks have been down this road with the CRTC twice before, and have met with no success; this time they're doing their best to get public opinion behind them."