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Comment Re:Just do what you did... (Score 2) 201

Aside from the obvious racial issues, because Obama drew so much support and interest among young people.

Growing up with Clinton and the Bushs being elected, I never saw the kind of interest among young people that Obama garnered - at least not at my schools. I have a number of under-18 family members in high school who not only followed Obama's progress through the election season but have continued to read about and comment about his speeches and proposals after the election.

Perhaps you feel that they have just been caught up in a cult of personality - but regardless, in my mind the point of showing this type of thing in school is to capitalize on a teachable moment. The pre-existing interest that kids have in Obama represents a perfect opportunity for educators to get them interested and involved in government and politics. It's the perfect thing to spark discussion, which can later grow into a discussion about some of the challenges that the Obama administration is facing, and what students think about the proposed solutions. Of course, one could have done this for any inauguration - but as I said, it's much more valuable if the kids are already interested and engaged.
United States

Submission + - Garry Kasparov Talks About Russia (

reporter writes: "The "Wall Street Journal" (WSJ) has just published an op-ed by Garry Kasparov. He writes about his recent imprisonment at the hands of KGB thugs. In prison, he refused any food and any drink offered by the staff and, instead, obtained his sustenance via food packages from home.

For your convenience, I offer his entire op-ed below — in the unfortunate event that the WSJ disables access to the op-ed.

Our Struggle Against Tyranny in Russia

For years the governments of the U.S. and Europe have tried to accept Vladimir Putin's Russia as an equal. Western diplomats now acknowledge that there are differences between Russia and the West, but say these differences are minor, and — in the words of one European Union official — within an "acceptable range."

For me and for a dozen of my associates this week, that "acceptable range" was 120 square feet. That's the size of the jail cell I occupied for five days as punishment for "disobeying the orders of a police officer" at an opposition rally in Moscow last Saturday. That's the charge a Moscow district court added after the fact, a charge not mentioned in the handwritten testimony of the arresting officers.

This was the least conspicuous of the many curious aspects of my arrest and trial. After our rally of several thousand people, we attempted to meet up with another group led by well-known human rights leader Lev Ponomarev. From there we intended to deliver a petition of protest to the office of the Central Election Committee.

The police had blocked the underground pedestrian passageways, so we had to cross the broad street instead and were soon blocked by more police. When they moved in close, I spoke with commanding officer Maj. Gen. Vyacheslav Kozlov, whom I had met previously. He warned us to turn back, saying we would not be allowed to approach the CEC offices. I offered to send a small delegation of 20 people to present the petition. He again told us to turn back, which we did.

Of course it is inaccurate to say that the police commander was the one in command. KGB officers in plain clothes were clearly in charge even at the police station, and the arrest itself was as choreographed as the trial to come. When the special security forces known as OMON pushed in past everyone else to arrest me, we could all hear "make sure you get Kasparov" on their walkie-talkies.

From the moment of our detention, we were not allowed to see our lawyers, even when charged at the police station. Three hours into the trial, the judge said it would be adjourned to the following day. But the judge then left the bench and returned to say that we had misheard her, and that my trial would go forward. No doubt another example of what we call "telephone justice."

As in the street and at the police station, the KGB and the OMON forces were in control. The defense was not allowed to call any witnesses or to present any materials, such as the videos and photos journalists had taken of the march and the arrests.

After the show trial was over, I was taken to the police jail at Petrovka 38 in Moscow, and here the procedural violations continued. Not with regard to my treatment, which was respectful and as hospitable as a small box with metal furnishings and a hole in the floor for a toilet can be. I wasn't allowed a phone call and all visitors were refused access. Even my lawyer Olga Mikhailova and Duma member Vladimir Ryzhkov were forbidden to visit me, despite having the legal right to do so. My world chess champion predecessor, Anatoly Karpov, for years my great rival, generously attempted to pay me a visit but was also turned away.

My other concern was food, since it was out of the question to consume anything provided by the staff. (Nor do I fly Aeroflot. "Paranoia" long ago became an obsolete concept among those in opposition to the Putin regime.) On Sunday, thanks to growing external pressure, they allowed me to receive food packages from home.

In a fitting conclusion, even my release was handled illegally. Instead of letting me out at the jail into the crowd of media and supporters, many of whom had themselves been arrested and harassed while picketing, I was secretly taken to the police station where I was first charged. From there I was taken in a colonel's automobile all the way to my home. This may sound like good service, but it was obvious the authorities wanted to avoid the festive scene that would have occurred outside the jail.

When I was arrested last April and fined $40, some poked fun at the trivial amount. And five days in a Moscow jail is not the worst fate that can be imagined. Some commentators even suspected I wanted to provoke my own arrest for publicity, a chess player's far-sighted strategy.

First off, the penalty is not the point; the principle is. Are we to have the rule of law in Russia or not? Second, I have no intention of becoming a martyr, or in leading an opposition movement from prison. I had no illusions and now I can confirm it is not a pleasant place to be. And this is not chess, with its cold-blooded calculations. This is about honor and morality. I cannot ask people to protest in the streets if I am not there with them. At the rally on Saturday, I said our slogan must be "We must overcome our fear," and I am obliged to stand by these words.

It is also essential to point out that these arrests are only the tip of the iceberg. Such things are taking place all over Russia on a daily basis. Opposition activists — or just those who happen to be in the way of the administration — are harassed and arrested on false charges of drug possession, extremism, or the latest trend, for owning illegal software.

There is little doubt tomorrow's parliamentary elections will be as fixed as my trial. The presidential elections on March 2 will be a different sort of performance, more improvised, since even now Mr. Putin and his gang are not sure how to resolve their dilemma. The loss of power could mean the loss of fortune and freedom. Outright dictatorship would endanger their lucrative ties with the West.

The campaign rhetoric of Mr. Putin and his supporters is genuinely frightening. Here we have an allegedly popular president who dominates the media, the parliament and the judiciary. He and his closest allies are in total control of the nation's wealth. And yet his recent speeches are hysterical rants about "enemies within" and "foreign antagonists" trying to weaken Russia — language characteristic of totalitarian states.

So far this campaign has been largely ineffective, at least in my case. During my five days in jail I had the chance to speak to many of the ordinary consumers of Kremlin propaganda. They were generally sympathetic, and showed no signs of believing the many lies the Kremlin and the youth groups it sponsors have spread about the opposition. For them I was still the Soviet chess champion and the idea that I was an "American agent" sounded as ludicrous as it is.

So why is Mr. Putin so scared if things are going so well? He is a rational and pragmatic person, not prone to melodrama. He knows the numbers, so why the heavy and heavy-handed campaigning if he knows he and United Russia are going to win? The answer is that he is very aware of how brittle his power structure has become. Instead of sounding like a Tsar, high above the crowd, he's beginning to sound like just another nervous autocrat. As George Bernard Shaw wrote, "The most anxious man in a prison is the governor."

So demagoguery it is and demagoguery it will be. A violent pro-Putin youth group, Nashi, has already released a poster celebrating Mr. Putin's "crushing victory" on December 2. It also warns against the "enemies of the people of Russia," myself included, attempting to disqualify the results. These terms jibe nicely with Mr. Putin's own rhetoric of threats and fear. The ground is being prepared for greater oppression.

The Other Russia will continue our activities because, simply, some things are worth fighting for and will not come without being fought for. All of the "minor differences" between Mr. Putin's Russia and the nations of the free world add up to one very large difference: that between democracy and tyranny.


Submission + - Change of Government in Australia 2

MorningBright writes: "The conservative Liberal Party has been knocked out of power for the first time in ten years. Kevin Rudd will replace John Howard as prime minister in what has been the second largest swing against a party since the end of world war 2. He has made promises to sign the Kyoto protocol, scrap controversial workplace laws, withdraw troops from Iraq, fund 'fiber to the node' internet infrastructure and increase education funding. In addition, the Greens party has gained enough seats to play a balance of power role in the government and is expected to push it's environmental agenda."
The Internet

Submission + - Internet Voting For America's Troops (

Online Voting writes: "A pilot program from the Operation BRAVO Foundation is bringing Internet voting to a select group of Florida voters stationed abroad. The program intends to set up touch screen kiosks at three Air Force bases in the UK, Germany, and Japan. The project is expected to cost $700,000 and have up to 900 possible voters. Sponsors of the program have said it is a necessary step to ensure overseas voters have a chance to have their votes successfully counted and cite a recent U.S. Election Assistance Commission study which found half of all military and abroad attempting to vote did not have their ballot counted.

Another group attempting solve problems faced by overseas and military voters, the Overseas Vote Foundation, has launched its new Web 2.0 system to assist with voter registration. And not to be left out of the loop the U.S. government is planning to launch a complete online voter registration system in December."


Submission + - Farmers Ask Federal Court To Dissociate Hemp & (

MrMunkey writes: These farmers are trying to get the DEA to dissasociate hemp from marijuana. They aren't expecting any subsidies and are not trying to legalize marijuana (note I speak from my personal exprience with the individuals, not necessarily from the article). It's a shame that we have to import the hemp products that are used in different products since the government won't allow it to be grown here.

Hemp, a strait-laced cousin of marijuana, is an ingredient in products from fabric and food to carpet backing and car door panels. Farmers in 30 countries grow it. But it is illegal to cultivate the plant in the United States without federal approval, to the frustration of Hauge and many boosters of North Dakota agriculture.

"Some people call me up with the idea that my clients and myself are some sort of marijuana legalization effort," Purdon said. "My clients are farmers. They are looking for a crop they can make money on in the tough business of being a family farmer."

United States

Submission + - EPA likely to block tougher pollution standards

HairyNevus writes: "Starting with California, 11 other states have adopted tougher CO2 emission standards than the federal government regulates. The new state laws require automakers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 22% in 2012 and 30% in 2016. 2 days ago a Vermont court allowed this law to go into effect. However, the EPA requires that all states who set tougher standards than the government receive a waiver. This generally isn't a problem, the EPA has issued 40 waivers in the last 30 years, but state officials in Washington are now saying the EPA is likely to refuse a waiver. EPA Administrator Steve Johnson will make the final decision on the waiver by the end of this year, for California. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he intends to sue if denied a waiver.

Isn't there an issue of state's rights somewhere here?"
United States

Submission + - Why the Federal Reserve Should NOT Cut Interest Ra (

blue234 writes: "With the real estate bubble having burst and the financial system in a tizzy over the attending fallout in the mortgage markets, bankers, investors, homeowners, and CEOs are calling on the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to cut the federal funds rate in an effort to avert a financial meltdown. However, the Federal Reserve should see through these self-serving calls and hold rates steady for the time being."

Submission + - House Approves Comprehensive Patent Overhaul (

George Demmy writes: "The House yesterday passed the most comprehensive patent reform in half a century, delivering a victory for computer technology and financial services companies and leaving drug companies, small inventors, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office bracing for a bigger fight before the bill hits the Senate floor. The bill, which passed 225 to 175 with strong bipartisan support, is meant to reduce the mounting number of patent infringement cases by changing the ways patents are awarded and challenged."
The Courts

Submission + - House Passes Sweeping Patent Reform Bill (

An anonymous reader writes: From the article: "The House approved the most sweeping changes to U.S. patent law in more than 50 years in a victory for computer and finance companies such as Microsoft and Goldman Sachs Group. The legislation, approved in a 220-175 vote, would make patents harder to obtain and easier to challenge. It also would seek to curtail litigation by limiting where patent owners can file suit and how much they can collect in damages if they win." Will this bill fix the patent system? Or just make it worse? -ac
United States

Submission + - Computer glitch holds up 20,000 at LA Airport

FrankNFurter writes: "The LA Times writes:

More than 20,000 international passengers were stranded for hours at Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday, waiting on airplanes and in packed customs halls while a malfunctioning computer system prevented U.S. officials from processing the travelers' entry into the country.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection system went down around 2 p.m., forcing some planes to sit on the tarmac for so long that workers had to refuel them to keep their power units and air conditioning running. Maintenance workers ran trucks around the airport hooking up tubes to service lavatories.
A consequence of overly paranoid laws regarding entrance into the US, or a necessary evil to keep terrorists out? You decide."

Submission + - Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Is Dead

The Breeze writes: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was 84 years old, and I think that it's fitting to submit a Slashdot story about him under Politics because, ultmately, although some called him a "literary" writer and some called him a "sci-fi" writer, he is best known for writing Slaughterhouse Five. That book has a description of the Dresden bombing that is a graphic illustration of what happens when politics fails. In his latter years he used his writing skills to attack George Bush with gleeful abandon. You can read more here or here," with the latter being a more philosophical look at the man.

Submission + - TSA Unveils Planned Overhaul of Airport Screening. (

Sniper223 writes: "The federal government proposed Thursday to overhaul how airline passengers are screened against terrorist watch lists by taking over the process from airlines, and closing a long-known security hole that allows a person to evade extra screening using a fake boarding pass.

The new program, known as Secure Flight, would require airlines to forward itineraries to the government starting 72 hours before a flight. The Transportation Security Administration would then compare the names, dates of birth and gender against hundreds of thousands of names on the No-Fly and Selectee watch lists, and send the results back to the airlines.

Those who match or have details similar to a name on the Selectee list will get a boarding pass with a special code singling them out for extra screening. Individuals who don't match will be free to print a boarding pass at home, if the airline offers that option.

Airlines have to deny boarding to persons who match the No-Fly list. Travelers who falsely match No-Fly entries will have to show identification to airline personnel, who will tell TSA employees over the phone what the person looks like to help the government decide whether the traveler and the watch list name are the same.

The proposal is the latest version of the long-planned, and congressionally mandated, replacement of the current watch list process, in which the government provides the lists to each airline, which then do their own matching.

Unlike controversial earlier proposals — known both as CAPPS II and Secure Flight — the newest version will not use data from commercial data brokers, such as ChoicePoint. Proposals to assign threat-level scores to travelers not on a watch list and to use airports as a way to find persons with outstanding warrants were also discarded this time around.

Privacy groups were still poring over the 137-page proposal (.pdf) Thursday, but the Center for Democracy and Technology's policy director Jim Dempsey gave a tentative stamp of approval.

"On initial glance, it is by far the most rational and focused description of a passenger screening system we have seen," Dempsey said.

But Dempsey cautions that the government now needs to fix the watch lists.

"One huge unresolved issue is the reliability of the watch lists, which we know grew dramatically over the past six years and which undeniably contain unreliable information," said Dempsey. "Congress and the executive branch need to now give a lot of attention to ongoing efforts to make those lists reliable."

TSA is also proposing that each boarding pass will have a unique, scannable mark, which could be authenticated by a TSA employee with a wireless device at the head of the screening line. While the TSA hasn't chosen what technologies to use for this system, the move starts to eliminate a long-standing hole in the current system. That hole allows a watch listed person to avoid being banned from flying or encountering extra screening by modifying a print-at-home boarding pass.

Privacy groups had criticized the program's earlier versions for planning to store Americans' travel records for decades. The new proposal would delete records on travelers who don't match against the lists after seven days. For people matched against the Selectee list, the data will be stored for seven years, while those who match against the No-Fly list will have their travel data stored for 99 years.

The government hopes that centralizing the process will reduce the mismatches that have plagued the watch list system since its expansion after the 9/11 attacks. The Department of Homeland Security says it will work off lists that have more identifying data than the unclassified lists it currently sends to airlines.

Passengers will be required to give their full names when making reservations, and airlines and travel agencies will also have to ask for, but not require, dates of birth and gender of prospective travelers.

The program won't be cheap, since it requires airlines and travel agencies to make significant changes to their computer systems and buy extra bandwidth to connect to the government.

Additionally, Secure Flight aims to take over the watch list screening of international flights, which is currently done by Customs and Border Patrol.

The government estimates airlines will need to spend $125 million in the first year, while the cost to the government over the next 10 years is expected to be $1.3 billion to $2 billion.

Despite the cost estimates, James May, the president of the Air Transport Association, applauded the announcement.

"If properly crafted, the programs will improve aviation security without adding to passenger privacy concerns," May said in a written statement. "In particular, we look forward to a unitary data-collection process that accommodates all government demands for passenger information and leads to the creation of a coordinated worldwide system."

After the proposal is officially published and the comment period closes, the TSA hopes to test the program with one airline in the fall and then roll the program out, airline by airline, in 2008. Congress told DHS, however, it cannot start the watch list checking, until government auditors certify that it works and protects Americans' privacy."

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.