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Censorship

Cuba Jails US Worker Handing Out Laptops, Cellphones 400

eldavojohn writes "An American citizen working as a contractor for the United States Agency for International Development has been arrested for giving away laptops and cellphones in Cuba. The intent was to enable activists to connect with each other and spread information of what's happening inside Cuba. From the article: 'Cellphones and laptops are legal in Cuba, though they are new and coveted commodities in a country where the average worker's wage is $15 a month. The Cuban government granted ordinary citizens the right to buy cellphones just last year; they are used mostly for texting, because a 15-minute phone conversation would eat up a day's wages.' A Representative on the House Foreign Affairs Committee said the arrest was 'no surprise' while a human rights watch group cited a report outlining the Cuban Criminal Code offense of 'dangerousness,' which is most likely the one for which this individual was detained. There is at present no way to contact the individual nor official word on why he was detained." The article quotes an actvist with Human Rights Watch who said that "any solution to the contractor's case would probably be political" and that "the Cuban government often provokes a negative reaction in the United States just as [the two] countries begin to move toward more dialogue."

Comment Re:The comment may also be complex.. (Score 1) 660

It's been my experience that people who leave competent comments are both the people who write competent code and who can touch-type.

I would imagine that when you have to peck out 400 lines of code using four fingers, there's very little incentive for you to go back in and start trying to explain things.

Government

The Economics of Federal Cloud Computing Analyzed 85

jg21 writes "With the federal government about to spend $20B on IT infrastructure, this highly analytical article by two Booz Allen Hamilton associates makes it clear that cloud computing has now received full executive backing and offers clear opportunities for agencies to significantly reduce their growing expenditures for data centers and IT hardware. From the article: 'A few agencies are already moving quickly to explore cloud computing solutions and are even redirecting existing funds to begin implementations... Agencies should identify the aspects of their current IT workload that can be transitioned to the cloud in the near term to yield "early wins" to help build momentum and support for the migration to cloud computing.'"
Education

Student Loan Interest Rankles College Grads 1259

theodp writes "Like many recent college grads, Steven Lee finds himself unemployed in one of the roughest job markets in decades and saddled with a big pile of debt — he owes about $84,000 in student loans for undergrad and grad school. But what's really got Lee angry are the high interest rates on his government-backed student loans. 'The rate for a 30-year mortgage is around 5%,' Lee said. 'Why should anyone have to pay 8.5%? The government has bailed out homeowners. It's bailed out big businesses. Why can't it also help students?' Not only that, federal student loans are the only loans in the nation that are largely non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, have no statutes of limitations, and can't be refinanced after consolidation, so Lee can forget about pulling a move out of the GM playbook. And unlike mortgages on million-dollar vacation homes, student loans have very limited tax deductability. A spokeswoman for the Department of Education blamed Congress for the rates which she conceded 'may seem high today,' but suggested that students are a credit-unworthy lot who should thank their lucky stars that rates aren't 12% or higher. Makes one long for the good-old-days of 3% student loans, doesn't it?"

Comment Re:Don't forget (1918): (Score 2, Interesting) 258

There was something odd about the Spanish Flu, which was a more deadly version of H1N1. It attacked and killed the healthy and young far more than the sick and the weak, the very young and the elderly.

Now, the report, below says that the two H1N1's are "distant cousins" and "totally not related", but...

The newer "swine flu" H1N1 strain also seems to be following that pattern -- killing teens and "the very healthy" more than the old or young people, in spite of their relative health.

The Spanish Flu made the body attack itself -- the healthier you were, the worse the reaction Click Here:

  • Spanish flu
    Main article: 1918 flu pandemic

    The Spanish flu, also known as La Gripe Española, or La Pesadilla, was an unusually severe and deadly strain of avian influenza, a viral infectious disease, that killed some 50 million to 100 million people worldwide over about a year in 1918 and 1919. It is thought to be one of the most deadly pandemics in human history. It was caused by the H1N1 type of influenza virus.[4]

    The 1918 flu caused an unusual number of deaths, possibly due to it causing a cytokine storm in the body.[5][6] (The current H5N1 bird flu, also an Influenza A virus, has a similar effect.)[7] The Spanish flu virus infected lung cells, leading to overstimulation of the immune system via release of cytokines into the lung tissue. This leads to extensive leukocyte migration towards the lungs, causing destruction of lung tissue and secretion of liquid into the organ. This makes it difficult for the patient to breathe. In contrast to other pandemics, which mostly kill the old and the very young, the 1918 pandemic killed unusual numbers of young adults, which may have been due to their healthy immune systems mounting a too-strong and damaging response to the infection.[2]

    The term "Spanish" flu was coined because Spain was at the time the only European country where the press were printing reports of the outbreak, which had killed thousands in the armies fighting World War I. Other countries suppressed the news in order to protect morale.[8]

Perhaps there is something to this study. Now, I don't believe studies as a rule and I have criticized the same, but logic and history seem to add evidence to the *strong* correlation.

As to this study, I think it's a lot closer to being airtight than most (very large sample size, fractional percent margin of error, good science, peer reviews, findings being scrutinized and met with skepticism):

  • "There are a large number of authors, all of them excellent and credible researchers," he said. "And the sample size is very large - 12 or 13 million people taken from the central reporting systems in three provinces. The research is solid."

Sadly, I'm not as dubious of this Canadian study as others and will weigh my options for my family.... :-(

Education

Solution For College's Bad Network Policy? 699

DAMN MY LIFE writes "I'm going to Central Michigan University in the fall. Upon examination of their poorly organized network usage policies, I'm worried that using their internet service will expose my web browsing habits, emails, and most importantly, passwords. Another concern I have is the 'Client Security Agent' that students are required to install and leave on their systems to use the network. Through this application, the IT department scans everyone's computer for what they claim are network security purposes. Of course, scanning a person's hard drive can turn up all kinds of things that are personal. Do all colleges have such extreme measures in place? Is there any way that I can avoid this? There are no wireless broadband providers available in the area, I already checked."
Security

Hacker Jeff Moss Sworn Into Homeland Security Advisory Council 139

Wolfgang Kandek writes "Hacker Jeff Moss, founder of computer security conferences DEFCON and Black Hat, has been sworn in as one of the new members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) of the DHS. Moss, who goes by the handle 'the Dark Tangent' says he was surprised to be asked to join the council and that he was nominated to bring an 'outside perspective' to its meetings. He said, 'I know there is a new-found emphasis on cybersecurity, and they're looking to diversify the members and to have alternative viewpoints. I think they needed a skeptical outsider's view because that has been missing.'"
Security

Hackers Claim $10K Prize For StrongWebmail Breakin 193

alphadogg writes "Telesign, a provider of voice-based authentication software, challenged hackers to break into its StrongWebmail.com Web site late last week. The prize: $10,000. On Thursday, a group of security researchers claimed to have won the contest, which challenged hackers to break into the Web mail account of StrongWebmail CEO Darren Berkovitz and report back details from his June 26 calendar entry. The hackers, led by Secure Science Chief Scientist Lance James and security researchers Aviv Raff and Mike Bailey, provided details from Berkovitz's calendar to IDG News Service. In an interview, Berkovitz confirmed those details were from his account. However, Berkovitz could not confirm that the hackers had actually won the prize. He said he would need to check to confirm that the hackers had abided by the contest rules, adding, 'if someone did it, we'll kind of put our heads down.'"
Security

Secret US List of Civil Nuclear Sites Released 167

eldavojohn writes "Someone accidentally released a 266-page report on hundreds of sites in the US for stockpiling and storing hazardous nuclear materials for civilian use. While some ex-officials and experts don't find it to be a serious breach, the Federation of American Scientists are calling it a 'a one-stop shop for information on US nuclear programs.' The document contains information about Los Alamos, Livermore and Sandia, and opinions seem to be split on whether it's a harmless list or terrorist risk. One thing is for sure: it was taken down after the New York Times inquired to the Government Accountability Office about it."
Government

Open Government Brainstorm Defies Wisdom of Crowds 709

theodp writes "In May, the White House launched what it called an 'unprecedented online process for public engagement in policymaking.' Brainstorming was conducted in an effort to identify ways to 'strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness by making government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative.' So, what were some of the top vote-getters? Currently near the top of the list are Legalize Marijuana And Solve Many Tax Issues / Prison Issues (#2) and Remove Marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (#3). For those who remember Obama's earlier Online Town Hall, it's deja vu all over again."
Government

KGB Material Released By Cold War Project, Available Online 94

pha7boy writes "The Cold War International History Project just released the 'Vassiliev Notebooks.' The notebooks are an important new source of information on Soviet intelligence operations in the United States from 1930 to 1950. Though the KGB's archive remains closed, former KGB officer turned journalist Alexander Vassiliev was given the unique opportunity to spend two years poring over materials from the KGB archive taking detailed notes — including extended verbatim quotes — on some of the KGB's most sensitive files. Though Vassiliev's access was not unfettered, the 1,115 pages of densely handwritten notes that he was able to take shed new and important light on such critical individuals and topics as Alger Hiss, the Rosenberg case, and 'Enormous,' the massive Soviet effort to gather intelligence on the Anglo-American atomic bomb project. Alexander Vassiliev has donated his original copies of the handwritten notebooks to the Library of Congress with no restriction on access. They are available to researchers in the Manuscript Division."
Medicine

Gates Foundation Funds "Altruistic Vaccine" 259

QuantumG writes "The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to the University of Queensland, Australia to develop a vaccine against dengue fever, a disease spread by mosquitoes. Unlike other vaccines, the 'altruistic vaccine' doesn't specifically protect the individual being bitten, but instead protects the community by stopping the transmission of the pathogen from one susceptible individual to another. The hope is to do this by effectively making their blood poisonous to mosquitoes, either killing them or at least preventing them from feeding on other individuals. Professor Paul Young explained how his work fell outside current scientific traditions and might lead to significant advances in global health — he said he could envision the vaccine being used around the world within 10 years, and it would be designed to be cheap and easy to implement."
Cellphones

Apple May Loosen Restrictions With iPhone 3.0 178

mr100percent writes "Apple rejected the iPhone aggregator app Newspapers because of a topless photo in one of the app's subscribed-to papers. In the rejection message, Apple noted that Parental Controls have been announced for iPhone OS 3.0, adding that it 'would be appropriate to resubmit your application for review once this feature is available.' Rumor sites are speculating that Apple will relax their content restrictions once the 3.0 update puts parental controls in place. This may mean that apps like NIN will be allowed in the future."

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