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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 16 declined, 1 accepted (17 total, 5.88% accepted)

+ - ACLU accuses La. school of religious harassment->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a school board and staff in Louisiana, alleging in a complaint officials at one of its schools harassed a sixth-grader because of his Buddhist faith and that the district routinely pushes Christian beliefs.

The lawsuit was filed against the Sabine Parish School Board Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Shreveport on behalf of Scott and Sharon Lane and their three children. According to the complaint from the ACLU and its Louisiana chapter, the Lanes enrolled their son — a lifelong Buddhist of Thai descent — in Negreet High School and he quickly became the target of harassment by the school's staff.

In addition to the school board, the lawsuit names as defendant Superintendent Sara Ebarb, Negreet High Principal Gene Wright and science teacher Rita Roark.

The lawsuit said Roark has "repeatedly taught students that the earth was created by God 6,000 years ago, that evolution is impossible and that the Bible is 100 percent true.

She also regularly features religious questions on her tests such as Isn't it amazing what the ______ has made!!!!

When the Lanes' son did not write in Roark's expected answer (LORD), she belittled him in front of the rest of the class.

While studying other religions, she also has told students that Buddhism is stupid, the lawsuit said.

Beyond that, according to the complaint, the school regularly incorporates official Christian prayer into class and school events and scrolls Bible verses on an electronic marquee in front of the school that greets students as they enter the building.

When the Lanes objected, Ebarb told them that this is the Bible belt and suggested they change their son's faith.

Louisiana is one of several US states that have laws permitting use of alternative approaches, in particular the Louisiana Science Education Act[sic] Act"

Link to Original Source

+ - US Income Distribution Worst Ever->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "In 2012 the highest earning 1% of the US population garnered 19.3% of the US total. This breaks the previous record set in 1928 at 18.7%. In the last three years, 95% of all income gains have gone to the richest 1%. Real income growth between for the top 1% was 86% between 1993 and 2000. For the remainder of the population earnings rose 6.6%. The study also noted that the top 10% of US families had 50% of the total US income.

Income distribution usually worsens as a country first develops due to a shift from agriculture to urban living, then improves as the economy matures. This is known as the Kuznets curve. The current regression of income equity in the US suggests serious social policy failings."

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+ - Measles outbreak tied to Texas megachurch->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "An outbreak of measles tied to a Texas megachurch where ministers have questioned vaccination has sickened at least 21 people, including a 4-month-old infant — and it’s expected to spread further, state and federal health officials said.

There’s likely a lot more susceptible people,” said Dr. Jane Seward, the deputy director for the viral diseases division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seward stated that in this community, these cases so far are all in people who refused some or all vaccination for themselves and their children.

All of the cases are linked to the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, where a visitor who’d traveled to Indonesia became infected with measles – and then returned to the U.S., spreading it to the largely unvaccinated church community, said Russell Jones, the Texas state epidemiologist.

The disease that once killed 500 people a year in the U.S. and hospitalized 48,000 had been considered virtually eradicated after a vaccine introduced in 1963. Cases now show up typically when an unvaccinated person contracts the disease abroad and spreads it upon return to the U.S.

Terri Pearsons, a senior pastor of Eagle Mountain International said she has had concerns about possible ties between early childhood vaccines and autism. In the wake of the measles outbreak, however, Pearsons has urged followers to get vaccinated and the church has held several vaccination clinics."

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+ - Supreme Court Unanimously Rules Human Genes Unpatentable 1

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "In a landmark decision the Supreme Court ruled that that mere act of extracting genetic material from the human body does not result in patentable material. However they did rule that synthetic derivatives of DNA can be patented. Known as complementary DNA or cDNA these derivative are essentially stripped down forms of the original DNA.

The result for Myriad is that they still have protection for their test, however the decision also allows researchers to work with the DNA sequences that are predecessors to the cDNA used in the test."

+ - Cell Phone Tracking Data Called 'Junk Science'

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "In the ABA Journal critics of the use of cell phone tracking data argue that such data should not be admissible in court. Because of a lack of knowledge of the issues with such data many defense teams do not challenge its introduction in trials. However U.S. District Judge Joan H. Lefkow of Chicago is saying not so fast and wrote: “multiple factors can affect the signal strength of a tower” and an FBI special agent’s “chosen methodology has received no scrutiny outside the law enforcement community.”

Michael Cherry, the CEO of Cherry Biometrics, a Falls Church, Va.-based consulting firm that has led the legal assault on cell tower tracking, calls it “junk science” that should never be admitted in any court for any reason. In fact, he can’t believe that such an easily disproved technique, which has been around for a decade or more, is still routinely being used in court.

Hopefully we will see increased scrutiny of this type of evidence in the future."

+ - Europe's energy policy leads to increased coal consumption->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "Europe's energy policies have lead to a large increase in coal consumption, as much as 50% in some countries, this article in the Economist points out. In the US shale gas prices have reduced the demand for coal to the point where coal prices have decreased world-wide. Decreased Chinese demand for imported coal has also put pressure on coal prices. However in Europe decisions in Germany to shutter nuclear reactors combined with lack of development of shale gas resources have made coal by far the most economically attractive energy source. This has led to increased coal mining in Europe where most deposits are low quality, dirty lignite as well as increased imports.

Anne-Sophie Corbeau of the International Energy Agency refers to it as a "golden age of coal in Europe". The Economist states that it is making a mockery of European environmental aspirations.

German energy policies also give priority to solar and wind on their electrical grid, meaning peak rates are available to these sources. This plus the cost of gas in Europe forces utilities to burn coal to remain economically viable. Some large utilities would be likely to default on their bonds if they could not burn coal.

While Germany is aggressively seeking to switch to wind and solar, the current situation is feeding construction of new coal burning plants as renewables are unlikely to be able to replace the nuclear capacity for decades, and thus coal will be a large part of Europe's energy generation going forward.

Nuclear must continue to be part of the overall energy picture; public policies that de-emphasize nuclear are mistaken. Research into safer nuclear generation needs to be a high priority part of a smart energy policy."

Link to Original Source

+ - TV Networks Suit Against Aero Appears In Trouble->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "U.S. Court of Appears for the Second Circuit today ruled that a copyright infringement suit against Aero was unlikely to win on its merits and denied a preliminary injunction. Most major networks, including NBC, ABC, and CBS sued claiming Aero's antenna which allows receiving off the air programming and enables users to watch and record to any internet connected equipment violates copyright law. Aero charges a $12/month fee for the service.

Aero is currently limited to use in the NYC area, however is working on expansion to other major population centers in the US. This verdict is likely to help Aero's expansion plans considerably.

Text of the decision can be found here."

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+ - Deep Carbon->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "Where is the missing carbon? The Earth is believed to be formed from space junk with an overall carbon content of 3%. Yet the surface composition is only about 0.1% carbon. Deep Carbon Observatory scientists say estimates of carbon bound in the metallic core alone range from 0.25 to 1 percent by weight. If 1 percent proves correct, the core by itself sequesters four times more carbon than all known carbon reservoirs in the rest of the planet—and 50,000,000 times as much as that held in the flora and fauna on Earth's relatively wafer-thin skin far above.

The discovery of vast reserves of buried carbon may suggest solutions to the climate change crisis on the surface. And the Earth's deepest recesses also suggest how life might behave on other planets. It is literally transforming our understanding of the planet and, through that, our understanding of other planets," said Barbara Sherwood Lollar, a University of Toronto scientist who's one of the directors of the Deep Carbon Observatory. Today a large collection of studies is being released in a volume "Carbon In Earth" by Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry which is available for free download to the public."

Link to Original Source

+ - Judge Rules Against Tewksbury Hotel Forfeiture->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "In one of the most contentious civil forfeiture fights in the nation, Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts concluded, based on a week-long bench trial in November 2012, that the motel was not subject to forfeiture under federal law and that its owners were wholly innocent of any wrongdoing."
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Politics

+ - US Has the Worst Healthcare

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "The United States has long been known to have the most expensive heath care system in the world, costing 19% of GDP, with one of the highest GDPs per capita. Even worse is the fact that this expenditure doesn't provide many Americans with comprehensive coverage. In addition existing Medicare and Medicaid programs are in deep financial trouble, increasing the chance that things will get worse before they get better.

Now a study conducted by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine shows that Americans of all ages are less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than the citizens of 17 other developed countries. In particular the U.S. fares worse than the average in at least nine health areas: adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; chronic lung disease; disability; drug-related deaths; HIV and AIDS; heart disease; infant mortality and low birth weight; injuries and homicides; and obesity and diabetes. Us women finish 16th and US men 17th in this ranking. The study shows the US disadvantage cuts across many demographics.

Recent reforms (i.e. Obamacare) seem unlikely to address the root of the problem, gross inefficiencies and allocation of funds to areas that are not cost effective.

Clearly there is a great misallocation of resources. The time is clearly come for a comprehensive reform instead of the bandaid approach of Obamacare."

+ - Trans Pacific Pact Threatens Fair Use->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "In a leak of agreement text published by Knowledge Ecology International fair use seems to be considered fair game for TPP negotiators. Since the US Constitution gives treaties priority over local law, and these treaties are being negotiated in secret the participants in these negotiations have extraordinary influence.

Furthermore it has been stated by US Trade Representative that "domestic stakeholders", that is corporations will have approval over the form of the treaty.

This is tantamount to placing corporations at the same level or higher than the US Congress, and in a process that is secret from the REAL domestic stakeholders, the citizens of the United States."

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Privacy

+ - CIA and NYPD Alliance-> 1

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "The AP reports that post 9-11, the NYPD has been conducting intelligence operations covertly and independently from city government at the behest and with funding from the CIA.

The NYPD is able to conduct operations that would be illegal under civil liberties restrictions for the Federal Government to conduct, in particular targeting various ethnic communities.

The CIA, under US law is forbidden from spying on Americans."

Link to Original Source

+ - GAO, DOJ Call for H1-B reform->

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "The GAO has released a major report outlining the characteristics of current participants in the US H1-B program. In particular it seems that H1-B employees are most often from India, are paid less than US workers doing similar work and the most frequent field of employment is the computer industry. Of particular concern some 30% of these employees are used by about 1% of the employers. Both the DOJ and GAO are recommending further steps be taken to require employers to demonstrate that they are unable to hire US workers before they hire H1-B candidates."
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Businesses

+ - Custom Built Computers

Submitted by the eric conspiracy
the eric conspiracy (20178) writes "For several years I've been buying custom barebones systems from Monarch Computer based on a recommendation I found on slashdot, and have been happy with the result. However in 2006 they really went downhill, and now appear to be out of business. So I am looking for suppliers whom I can go to for a computer where I can specify the motherboard, case, power supply, memory on a piece by piece basis, get feedback from the supplier as to whether these items would be a reliable combination, and have the supplier assemble the custom system and test it. The system may just be a motherboard and CPU, or it might be all the way to a complete package. Any suggestions?"

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