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Google

Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers? 239

Posted by timothy
from the but-if-by-elect-you-mean-choose dept.
theodp (442580) writes "'The government is not the only American power whose motivations need to be rigourously examined,' writes The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton. 'Some 2,400 miles away from Washington, in Silicon Valley, Google is aggressively gaining power with little to keep it in check. It has cosied up to governments around the world so effectively that its chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a White House advisor. In Britain, its executives meet with ministers more than almost any other corporation. Google can't be blamed for this: one of its jobs is to lobby for laws that benefit its shareholders, but it is up to governments to push back. As things stand, Google — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — are in danger of becoming the architects of the law.' Schmidt, by the way, is apparently interested in influencing at least two current hot-button White House issues. Joined by execs from Apple, Oracle, and Facebook, the Google Chairman asserted in a March letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S.; the Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the pipeline, perhaps until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. And as a 'Major Contributor' to Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC, Schmidt is also helping to shape public opinion on the White House's call for immigration reform; FWD.us just launched new attack ads (videos) and a petition aimed at immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King. In Dave Eggers' The Circle, politicians who impede the company execs' agenda are immediately brought down. But that's fiction, right?"
The Almighty Buck

The Billionaires Privatizing American Science 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the easy-funding-in-four-words:-lab-rat-reality-show dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Government-funded science is struggling in the United States. With the unstable economy over the past decade and the growing hostility to science in popular rhetoric, basic research money is getting hard to find. Part of the gap is being filled by billionaire philanthropists. Steven Edwards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science says, 'For better or worse, the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.' Vast amounts of research are now driven by names like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, David Koch, and Eric Schmidt. While this helps in some ways, it can hurt in others. 'Many of the patrons, they say, are ignoring basic research — the kind that investigates the riddles of nature and has produced centuries of breakthroughs, even whole industries — for a jumble of popular, feel-good fields like environmental studies and space exploration. ... Fundamentally at stake, the critics say, is the social contract that cultivates science for the common good.'"
Bitcoin

WV Senator Calls For Ban On All Unregulated Cryptocurrencies 240

Posted by timothy
from the and-you-can't-trade-with-your-neighbors-either dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, has called for for heavily regulation of Bitcoin. Reached for comment, his staff confirmed Manchin is seeking a 'ban' that would apply to any cryptocurrency that's both anonymous and unregulated."
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."
Government

Congressmen Say Clapper Lied To Congress, Ask Obama To Remove Him 383

Posted by timothy
from the put-your-hands-together dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "A group of six Congressmen have asked President Barack Obama to remove James Clapper as director of national intelligence as a result of his misstatements to Congress about the NSA's dragnet data-collection programs. The group, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said that Clapper's role as DNI 'is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs.' Clapper is the former head of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and has been DNI since 2010. In their letter to Obama, the group of Congressmen calling for his ouster said that he lied to Congress and should no longer be in office. 'The continued role of James Clapper as Director of National Intelligence is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs and ensuring the highest level of transparency. Director Clapper continues to hold his position despite lying to Congress, under oath, about the existence of bulk data collection programs in March 2013. Asking Director Clapper, and other federal intelligence officials who misrepresented programs to Congress and the courts, to report to you on needed reforms and the future role of government surveillance is not a credible solution,' the letter from Issa, Ted Poe, Paul Broun, Doug Collins, Walter Jones and Alan Grayson says." "Misstatement," of course, being the favorite euphemism for "lie."
Canada

Canadian Music Industry Calls For Internet Regulation, Website Blocking 198

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the copyright-trumps-human-rights dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian law professor Michael Geist reports that the Canadian arm of the RIAA is calling for new Internet regulation, including website blocking and search result manipulation. While the Canadian music industry experienced increased digital sales last year (sales declined in the U.S.) and the Ontario government is handing out tens of millions of tax dollars to the industry, the industry now wants the government to step in with website blocking and ordering search companies to change their results to focus on iTunes and other sales sites."
Earth

Doomsday Clock Remains at Five Minutes to Midnight 222

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hands-that-threaten-doom dept.
Lasrick writes "The Doomsday Clock remains at 5 minutes to midnight. In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and members of the UN Security Council, the Bulletin announced its decision and how it was made. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin's Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains." Reasons for the clock remaining at five minutes include the U.S. and Russian not doing much for disarmament increasing nuclear weapon stockpiles in India and China, stalled efforts to reduce carbon emissions globally, and "killer robots."
Linux Business

Fedora 21 Linux Will Be Nameless 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the john-doe dept.
darthcamaro writes "What follows in the footsteps of Heisenbug, Spherical Cow and Beefy Miracle? Apparently the answer is 'null' as is nothing. Fedora Linux 21 could well have no funky new name as its past predecessors have all had, thanks to a recent vote by the Fedora board to move away from the existing naming practices. Fedora 21 itself will not be out in the first half of 2014 either, instead the plan is now for a release sometime around August. A delayed release however doesn't mean something is wrong as Red Hat's community Linux distro aims to re-invent itself."

Comment: Scope of Responsiblity (Score 1) 1043

by orospakr (#45935763) Attached to: Doctors Say Food Stamp Cuts Could Cause Higher Healthcare Costs

Of course, if government is declared as responsible for nutrition, then then naturally it must also be responsible for the effects thereof.

This is a significant reason why state control must always beget more state control: regulators must make an at least ostensible attempt to correct unintended effects that are the result of a given intervention. The domain of responsibility becomes effectively unbounded.

While devising a complex system by means of patches in ad infinitum can work (see, Linux kernel), but only if that system's usage is constrained by voluntary choice.

Sadly, this means that folks with a given expertise (say, medical), will say things like they do in TFA: the sort-sighted view that governments should generally increase or at least maintain spending in order to avoid the expected bad effects of backing out on a responsibility.

There can be no substitute for individual responsibility.

The Media

Isaac Asimov's 50-Year-Old Prediction For 2014 Is Viral and Wrong 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-just-like-everything-else-on-the-internet dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The media is currently praising Isaac Asimov's vision for 2014, which he articulated in a New York Times opinion piece in 1964. The sci-fi writer imagined visiting the 2014 World Fair, and the global culture and economy the exhibits might reflect. NPR called his many predictions, which range from cordless smart telephones, to robots running our leisure society, to machine-cooked 'automeals,' 'right on.' Business Insider called the forecast 'spot on.' The Huffington Post called the projections 'eerily accurate.' The only thing is, they're not. Taken as a whole, Asimov's vision for 2014 is wildly off. It's more that 'Genius predicted the future 50 years ago' makes for a great article hook. Asimov does hit a couple pretty close to home: He got pretty close to guessing the world population (6.5 billion); he anticipated automated cars ('vehicles with 'robot brains'"); and he seems to have described the current smartphone/tablet craze ('sight-sound' telephones that 'can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.') But he also thought we'd have a colony on the moon, be living under a global population control regime, eating at multi-flavored algae bars, and letting machines prepare us personalized meals. Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise."
GNU is Not Unix

Emacs Needs To Move To GitHub, Says ESR 252

Posted by timothy
from the this-way-to-the-bazaar dept.
hypnosec writes "Eric S. Raymond, co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, has recommended that Emacs should move to another version control system like GitHub, as bzr is dying. In an email, Raymond highlighted the key reasons why he believes that Emacs should move. Raymond said that bzr is moribund; its dev list has flatlined; and most of Canonical's in-house projects have already abandoned bzr and moved to GitHub. ESR believes that bzr's codebase is sufficiently mature to be used as a production tool, but he does mention that continuing to use the revision control system will have 'social and signaling effects damaging to Emacs's prospects.'" Update: 01/06 20:50 GMT by U L : ESR did not suggest Github the proprietary hosting platform for git, but rather git the version control system. Which is actually already available on Savannah (the bazaar repository is automatically synced with the git repository).
Businesses

Apple Fined In Taiwan For iPhone Price Fixing 74

Posted by timothy
from the maximizing-returns dept.
Frankie70 writes "Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission has hit Apple with a small fine and warned the company that it may face a more substantial penalty if it doesn't stop interfering with carriers' iPhone pricing and the prices of the plans carriers sell alongside the iPhone. 'Through the email correspondence between Apple and these three telecom companies we discovered the companies submit their pricing plans to Apple to be approved or confirmed before the products hit the market,' Taiwan's FTC said in a statement."
Businesses

FDA Tells Google-Backed 23andMe To Halt DNA Test Service 371

Posted by samzenpus
from the knock-it-off dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Bloomberg reports that 23andMe Inc., the Google-backed DNA analysis company, has been told by US regulators to halt sales of its main product, the Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service, or PGS that tells users whether they carry a disease, are at risk of a disease and would respond to a drug because the kit is being sold without FDA's marketing clearance or approval. 'FDA is concerned about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS device,' says the agency. 'The main purpose of compliance with FDA's regulatory requirements is to ensure that the tests work.' 23andMe was founded six years ago by Anne Wojcicki, who recently separated from her husband, Google co-founder Sergey Brin. The FDA decided in 2010 that services claiming to evaluate a customer's risk of disease must be cleared by regulators if the companies sell directly to consumers. Most FDA-cleared genetic tests are for a single disease while 23andMe's would be the first to test for multiple conditions. 23andMe submitted FDA applications in July and September of 2012 for the least stringent of two types of medical device reviews but the FDA said the company failed to address 'the issues described during previous interactions'."
Earth

Can the US Be Weaned Off Ethanol? 330

Posted by timothy
from the so-you-hate-farmers? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Matthew Wald reports in the NYT the the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed reducing the amount of ethanol that is required to be mixed with the gasoline supply, the first time it has taken steps to slow down the drive to replace fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy. The move drew bitter complaints from advocates of ethanol, including some environmentalists, who see the corn-based fuel blend as a weapon to fight climate change and was also unwelcome news to farmers, coming at a time when a record corn crop is expected, and the price of a bushel has fallen almost to the cost of production. "Boy, my goodness, are the oil companies going to benefit from this," says Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association. "We're all just sort of scratching our heads here wondering why this administration is telling us to produce less of a clean-burning American fuel." But the EPA says that a big part of the problem was that automobile fuel systems and service stations were not set up to absorb more than about 10 percent ethanol. Most cars on the road are limited to the current mixture, called E10, and there has been little demand by consumers for more. Reasons for the turnaround are many: The boom in domestic oil drilling has dimmed the urgency to find other alternatives to Mideast petroleum. Demand for gasoline has slumped. And criticism of the environmental impacts of corn ethanol has dimmed its luster nationally. The chill on ethanol will certainly affect the industry's powerhouse, corn ethanol. But the risk is far greater for smaller sectors of the industry still struggling to get out of the gate — those aimed at producing next-generation biofuels like "cellulosic" ethanol, made from ingredients like switchgrass and corn stalks. "I don't know if the EPA is aiming for uncertainty, but they may inadvertently create it," says Jan Koninckx, the global business director of biorefineries for DuPont. "The impact could be that another country will lead this rather than the U.S.""
Government

US Gov't Circulates Watch List of Buyers of Polygraph Training Materials 303

Posted by timothy
from the and-if-you-have-nothing-to-hide dept.
George Maschke writes "Investigative reporter Marisa Taylor of the McClatchy newspaper group reports that a list of 4,904 individuals who purchased a book, DVD, or personal training on how to pass a polygraph test has been circulated to nearly 30 federal agencies including the CIA, NSA, DIA, DOE, TSA, IRS, and FDA. Most of the individuals on the list purchased former police polygraphist Doug Williams' book, How to Sting the Polygraph, which explains how to pass or beat a polygraph test. Williams also sells a DVD on the subject and offers in-person training. In February 2013, federal law enforcement officials seized Williams' business records, from which the watch list was primarily compiled. Williams has not been charged with a crime."

The first version always gets thrown away.

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