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Submission + - A push to ratify the Comprenhensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty? (thebulletin.org) 1

Lasrick writes: Hugh Gusterson thinks a symposium sponsored by the US Energy Department was the first sign that the Administration is readying a push to finally ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). 'Conceding that the earlier drive to ratify the treaty in 1999 ended in a humiliating defeat for the Clinton Administration, [Secretary of State John Kerry] said that “the factors that led some senators to oppose the treaty have changed, so [senators’] choices should change too.' The article goes into the technology that has developed over the last 15 years that make testing unnecessary. Great read.

Submission + - France Wants To Get Rid Of Diesel Fuel

mrspoonsi writes: France wants to gradually phase out the use of diesel fuel for private passenger transport and will put in place a system to identify the most polluting vehicles, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday. Next year, the government will launch a car identification system that will rank vehicles by the amount of pollution they emit, Valls said in a speech. This will make it possible for local authorities to limit city access for the dirtiest cars. "In France, we have long favoured the diesel engine. This was a mistake, and we will progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically," Valls said. About 80 percent of French motorists drive diesel-powered cars. Valls said taxation would have to orient citizens towards more ecological choices, notably the 2015 state budget measures to reduce the tax advantage of diesel fuel versus gas.

Submission + - Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering on 2012 Election 1

HughPickens.com writes: Gerrymandering is the practice of establishing a political advantage for a political party by manipulating district boundaries to concentrate all your opponents votes in a few districts while keeping your party's supporters as a majority in the remaining districts. For example, in North Carolina in 2012 Republicans ended up winning nine out of 13 congressional seats even though more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans statewide. Now Jessica Jones reports that researchers at Duke are studying the mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. Mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn created a series of district maps using the same vote totals from 2012, but with different borders. Their work was governed by two principles of redistricting: a federal rule requires each district have roughly the same population and a state rule requires congressional districts to be compact. Using those principles as a guide, they created a mathematical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of the state’s 13 congressional districts. "We just used the actual vote counts from 2012 and just retabulated them under the different districtings," says Vaughn. "”If someone voted for a particular candidate in the 2012 election and one of our redrawn maps assigned where they live to a new congressional district, we assumed that they would still vote for the same political party."

The results were startling. After re-running the election 100 times with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election — four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. "If we really want our elections to reflect the will of the people, then I think we have to put in safeguards to protect our democracy so redistrictings don't end up so biased that they essentially fix the elections before they get started," says Mattingly. But North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho is unimpressed. "I'm saying these maps aren't gerrymandered," says Rucho. "It was a matter of what the candidates actually was able to tell the voters and if the voters agreed with them. Why would you call that uncompetitive?"

Submission + - Microsoft is reportedly buying 'Minecraft' developer Mojang for $2 billion

mrspoonsi writes: Microsoft is in talks to buy Minecraft's developer, Mojang, according to a few different sources. The Wall Street Journal says that the ever loose-lipped "person familiar with the matter" has noted the deal is valued at over $2 billion, while reps for both Redmond and the Swedish developer remain mum on the subject. The New York Times reports that Microsoft approached Mojang as early as three months ago and the purchase should be finished by the end of this month. Perhaps most interesting though is that should the deal go through, Notch might not stay past six months after the ink has dried. Why? He likely wants to make sure his employees are being well taken care of.

Submission + - Google Chrome 64-bit Stable Arrives For Windows

An anonymous reader writes: Along with the launch of 32-bit Chrome 37, Google today also released the 64-bit version of Chrome for Windows 7 and Windows 8 in the stable channel. Nevertheless, going 64-bit is still an opt-in process: to take advantage you have to hit the new "Windows 64-bit" download link over at google.com/chrome. Google first launched Chrome 64-bit back in June, but only in the browser’s Dev and Canary channels. The beta channel received the same treatment in July, and now it’s finally available in the stable channel.

Submission + - Microsoft Launches Office For iPad: Includes Word, Excel, And PowerPoint

An anonymous reader writes: At an event in San Francisco today, Microsoft Office General Manager Julia White unveiled Office for iPad, featuring Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The new suite, which supports viewing but not editing for free, will go live in Apple's App Store at 11:00AM PDT (2:00PM EST). Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for iPad feature a ribbon interface just like the one featured in Office for Windows and OS X. The trio of apps are much more powerful on the tablet than the smartphone, but naturally aren't comparable to the desktop versions.

Submission + - The hacker-activist community leaves no safe place for women. Can it grow up? (medium.com)

eggboard writes: Rosie J. Spinks writes about the experience of women in the hacking and hacking/activism communities, where harassment, intimidation, sexualization, and patronization try to relegate them to the sidelines. Some just up and leave.

She writes: "Nowhere is evidence of this anti-female ethos easier to find than in the Internet’s most high-profile and highly organized subverters: the hacktivist group Anonymous. Anonymous’s roots lie in the profane message board known as 4chan, where jokes about rape, porn, and homosexuality are for nothing other than the “Lulz,” or gratuitous laughs. When 4chan factions morphed into Anonymous, the entity gradually gained a political activist-minded consciousness.

"Anonymous has always been a shifting entity, defined by whoever decides to participate on any given day, making proper accountability nearly impossible. Using devious tactics and a middle-school sense of humor (such as sending hundreds of unpaid-for pizzas to a target’s address), the amorphous group carries out a diverse range of well-publicized actions (or “AnonOps”), such as targeting the Church of Scientology’s Dianetics hotline or impinging on the operations of PayPal after it suspended payments to Internet messiah Julian Assange’s Wikileaks."

Submission + - Microsoft is Working on a Cloud Operating System for the U.S. Government

SmartAboutThings writes: It seems that Microsoft is relying even more on the opportunities provided by the cloud technology. The Redmond behemoth is preparing to come up with a cloud operating system that is specially meant for government purposes. Government agencies already use two of Microsoft’s basic cloud products: Windows Azure and Windows Server. But now it seems that Microsoft is working on a modified version of its somewhat new Cloud OS that could bear the name "Fairfax", Compared to Windows Azure, "Fairfax" cloud operating system would provide enhanced security, relying on physical servers on site at government locations. Given the fact that CEO Steve Ballmer is striving to make Microsoft much more than a powerful software giant, such a project makes sense, especially because it would help in their lobby activities.

Submission + - Camels May Transmit New Middle Eastern Virus (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Ever since people in the Middle East started dying of a mysterious new infection last year, scientists have been trying to pinpoint the source of the outbreak. Now they may finally have found a clue in an unlikely population: retired racing camels.Countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates produce and consume large amounts of camel meat. The authors of the paper point out that huge numbers of camels are imported to the Middle East from African countries as well as from Australia, where the animals were introduced in the 19th century and which now has an estimated 1 million feral camels. (Australia started exporting camels to Saudi Arabia for meat production in 2002.) That raises the possibility that African or Australian bats harbor the virus and camels carried it to the Middle East.

Submission + - Red ants on faults stay above ground for earthquakes

MickLinux writes: To add to the debate, "can earthquakes be predicted", I might note that Gabriele Berberich has evidence for the mix. She recorded up to three years of data, showing that a particular type of ant that likes to live on faults, changes its behavior before earthquakes of magnitude 2 or greater. The ants normally forage during the day, and sleep at night. Before an earthquake, though, they mill around outside the nest until a day after the quake.

Story here at Livescience.

Submission + - Prenda hammered: Judge sends porn-trolling lawyers to criminal investigators (arstechnica.com)

SternisheFan writes: ArsTechnica Aurich Lawson reports:

Lawyers who lied and obfuscated for years face disbarment and a $82,000 fine.

US District Judge Otis Wright has no love for the lawyers who set up the copyright-trolling operation that came to be known as Prenda Law. But Wright at least acknowledges their smarts in his long-awaited order, released today. Wright's order is a scathing 11-page document, suggesting Prenda masterminds John Steele and Paul Hansmeier should be handed over for criminal investigation. In the first page though, there's almost some admiration expressed for the sheer dark intelligence of their scheme. The copyright-trolling scheme that has reached its apex with Prenda is so complete, so mathematical.

"Plaintiffs have outmaneuvered the legal system," Wright begins. He goes on:

"They've discovered the nexus of antiquated copyright laws, paralyzing paralyzing social stigma, and unaffordable defense costs. And they exploit this anomaly by accusing individuals of illegally downloading a single pornographic video. Then they offer to settle—for a sum calculated to be just below the cost of a bare-bones defense. For these individuals, resistance is futile; most reluctantly pay rather than have their names associated with illegally downloading porn. So now, copyright laws originally designed to compensate starving artists allow, starving attorneys in this electronic-media era to plunder the citizenry."

And yes, if reading "resistance is futile" rattles something in your brain—Wright's order is thoroughly peppered with Star Trek references.

The plaintiffs have a right to assert their intellectual property rights, "so long as they do it right," Wright acknowledges. That's not what happened here, though. Prenda lawyers used "the same boilerplate complaints against dozens of defendants," without telling the judge. Instead, defense lawyers like Morgan Pietz flagged the dozens of related cases. "It was when the Court realized Plaintiffs engaged their cloak of shell companies and fraud that the court went to battlestations," stated Wright.

Submission + - SPAM: Mavericks' Owner Considering Drafting First Female Player in NBA History

alexsportsfan writes: The NBA is always willing to take the entire sports industry by surprise. As it has been covered in recent news, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said last Tuesday night that he’s willing to give Baylor women's star Brittney Griner the chance to test her skills and prove she has what it takes to make it to the NBA.
Link to Original Source
Games

Submission + - Former Sony engineer demands $9.80 for every Nintendo 3DS sold (geek.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Nintendo could be facing a damages claim worth hundreds of millions of dollars if a court case doesn’t go its way. The lawsuit involves former Sony engineer and inventor Seijiro Tomita, who claims Nintendo is infringing a patent he holds for the 3D display technology that is currently used in the 3DS handheld.

The lawsuit has made it to the US District Court in Manhattan, though, and Tomita believes he is entitled to $9.80 for every 3DS Nintendo has sold and will sell going forward. Nintendo has sold in the region of 30 million 3DS devices to date, suggesting Tomita could receive a check for $294,000,000 if he wins the case.

Businesses

Submission + - For Businesses College Degree Is the New High School Diploma

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "The NY Times reports that a college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement for getting even the lowest-level job with many jobs that didn’t used to require a diploma — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — increasingly requiring a college degree. From the point of view of business, with so many people going to college now, those who do not graduate are often assumed to be unambitious or less capable. “When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,” says Suzanne Manzagol. A study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that more than 2.2 million jobs that require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree have been created (PDF) since the 2007 start of the recession. At the same time, jobs that require only a high school diploma have decreased by 5.8 million in that same time. “It is a tough job market for college graduates but far worse for those without a college education,” says Anthony P. Carnevale, co-author of the report. “At a time when more and more people are debating the value of post-secondary education, this data shows that your chances of being unemployed increase dramatically without a college degree.” Even if they are not exactly applying the knowledge they gained in their political science, finance and fashion marketing classes, young graduates say they are grateful for even the rotest of rote office work they have been given. “It sure beats washing cars,” says Georgia State University graduate Landon Crider, 24, an in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and his company's office."
Ubuntu

Submission + - Steam For Linux Officially Released, Available In Ubuntu Software Center (muktware.com)

sfcrazy writes: Valve has officially released Steam for Linux client. Valve is not shying away from using the word Linux on it's home page. With the launch of the official client the company is also offering heavy discounts on games for Linux — over 50 Linux titles are now 50-75% off until Thursday, February 21st at 10 AM PST.

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