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The Internet

A Quarter of the EU Has Never Used the Web 392

smitty777 writes "Reuters reports that a quarter of the EU has yet to use the internet. Further, half of those in some of the southern and western states do not even have internet access at home. From the article: 'As well as highlighting geographic disparities across one of the world's most-developed regions, the figures underline the lack of opportunity people in poorer communities have to take part in advances such as the Internet that have delivered lower cost goods and service to millions of people.' The full report created by Eurostat can be found here."

Comment The enemy of open society (Score 1) 402

From the press release you'd think that Plato was a champion of freedom and human rights. It would be more accurate to describe him as a proto-fascist pederast. Popper has argued as much in The open society and its enemies Vol 1: The spell of Plato, but apparently this guy didn't get the memo..

A Plato quote from that book:
`The greatest principle of all is that nobody, whether male or female, should be without a leader. Nor should the mind of anybody be habituated to letting him do anything at all on his own initiative, neither out of zeal, nor even playfully. [..]
And even in the smallest matter he should stand under leadership. For example, he should get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals [..] only if he has been told to do so. In a word, he should teach his soul, by long habit, never to dream of acting independently, and to become utterly incapable of it.'

Also see wikipedia:
"According to this model, the principles of Athenian democracy (as it existed in his day) are rejected as only a few are fit to rule."

"He argues that it is better to be ruled by a bad tyrant, than be a bad democracy"

Power

Europe To Import Sahara Solar Power Within 5 Years 450

An anonymous reader writes "If just 1% of the Sahara Desert were covered in concentrating solar panels it would create enough energy to power the entire world. That's a powerful number, and the European Union has decided to jump on its proximity to the Sahara in order to reap some benefits from the untapped solar energy beaming down on Northern Africa. Yesterday, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger announced that Europe will start importing solar energy from the Sahara within the next five years. It is estimated that the initiative will cost €400 billion ($495 billion). It's part of an EU goal to derive 20% of its power from renewable sources by 2020. From the article: 'The EU is backing the construction of new electricity cables, known as inter-connectors, under the Mediterranean Sea to carry this renewable energy from North Africa to Europe. Some environmental groups have warned these cables could be used instead to import non-renewable electricity from coal- and gas-fired power stations in north Africa.' To this the energy minister replied, essentially, 'Good question, we'll get back to you on that.'"
Networking

Cisco's New Router — Trouble For Hollywood 335

Shakrai writes "Time Magazine has published an article about the impact of Cisco's new CRS-3 router on the business practices of the MAFIAA. This new router was previously mentioned here on Slashdot and is expected to alleviate internet bottlenecks that currently impede steaming video-on-demand services. Some of the highlights from the article: 'The ability to download albums and films in a matter of seconds is a harbinger of deep trouble for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which would prefer to turn the clock back, way back. ... The hard fact is that the latest developments at Cisco, Google and elsewhere may do more than kill the DVD and CD and further upset entertainment-business models that have changed little since the Mesozoic Era. With superfast streaming and downloading, indie filmmakers will soon be able to effectively distribute feature films online and promote them using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. ... Meanwhile, both the MPAA and the RIAA continue to fight emerging technologies like peer-to-peer file sharing with costly court battles rather than figuring out how to appeal to the next generation of movie enthusiasts and still make a buck."

Comment Re:Some background (Score 1) 229

No, actually it's legal,

Are you absolutely sure cannabis is not mentioned in the narcotics law anymore? AFAIK the 5 grams thing was more a rule of thumb that the police made up for themselves. They also don't bother with shoplifters that steal less than 10 euros worth of stuff, but that's doesn't make shoplifting legal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_the_Netherlands#Non-enforcement

"Cannabis remains a controlled substance in the Netherlands and both possession and production for personal use are still misdemeanors, punishable by fine."

That seems pretty clear, not sure how up to date wikipedia is in this regard though.

just as prostitution has not been considered a "victimless crime" but has actually been legal since the sixties. The reason it took so long to get an actual law on prostitution, is because a christian party has been part of most governments, and tolerating it but not actually legalizing it was a dutch "polder" compromise.

I think we have a misunderstanding about the semantics of `legal' here. I meant `legal' as in `having a law about it'. Prostitution was tolerated, but technically illegal, in the sixties.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_the_Netherlands

"Prostitution was defined as a legal profession in January 1988."

"When the Dutch government legalized prostitution in 2000 it was to protect the women by giving them work permits but some fear that this business cannot be normalized."

I can think of no other European country other than the Netherlands where your weed would not be confiscated if found by the coppers.

Sorry to contradict you, but when backpacking through Europe (early '90s) I found that weed is everywhere, often much more visible than in the Netherlands. When I got of the train in Lisbon, the first thing I saw was a welcoming committee of dealers on the platform openly wielding huge chunks of hashish. One followed me through the station hall into a bank, he was trying to sell me his chunk while I was changing money. We passed quite a few policemen who did not seem to care at all.

And the first impression I got of Barcelona was a group of spanish guys parading around a square smoking weed, again in front of the police. I later heard from a local that there's another square in Barcelona where basically anything goes, the police is always present there but only intervenes when things get out of hand.

And then there's Camden Lock in London, there are always a few (very pushy) hash dealers hanging around there. I'm 100% sure the police knows about this, but they don't intervene. I've been to Canada, and got the strong impression that it's the same over there.

My point was not that it's legal anywhere else in Europe, but that in practice there is little to no enforcement. France may be a notable exception. Caveat: I'm not advocating possession and/or use of illegal substances in European countries (or anywhere else for that matter). Don't blame me if you get thrown in jail!

The national laws regarding drugs are somewhat hazy (the same with squatting).

Actually both are crystal clear, thanks to the practice of jurisprudence. It's legal for adults to carry weed up to 5 grams and to use it in their homes (though even if used on the street, I have never heard of a conviction or even an arrest for this specific misdemeanor)

.

I have, but admittedly it's rare. There's a zero-tolerance policy in place for UItrecht Central station and adjacent shopping mall. And occasionally a major may decide to have a temporary zero-tolerance policy for a specific event (dance festivals etc).

So that's what I meant by `hazy'.

You're also allowed to have a couple of plants (I thought about 5).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_the_Netherlands#Non-enforcement

A maximum of five Cannabis sativa plants may be grown without prosecution, although they have to be handed over upon discovery."

Hazy!

As for squatting: it's perfectly legal to squat a house that has not been in use for at least 1 year.

Things are a bit more complicated than that. It's my understanding that this is actually a national guideline, and municipalities are allowed to deviate from it. Ultimately the decision is up to the local DA, and he may decide to throw you out, even if the squat has been empty for a year. It's his call, it may be possible to go to court if you disagree, I'm not sure. If you're caught trying to get into the building, it's definitely game over.

And there are other factors; if the space you're occupying shares its main entrance with other spaces, or if it's used for storage (even illegally), you're not allowed to squat. In practice they may let you stay - this also depends on the reputation of the owner. It also depends on whether the police has time and budget to throw you out. Then there's the owner, who can sue you for damages (if he finds out your name!). Etc etc. So again, it's somewhat hazy, and the rules change constantly.

There is near limitless room for mayors (whom are btw not elected, but appointed by the government) to bypass laws or even the constitution using special ordinances. [..] Additionally, several laws (for instance the law on prostitution) have specific clauses in them for local exceptions. Once again a polder-construction to appease christian parties.

That's right, it's hazy. Hazy hazy hazy.

However, things have changed in the last decade. Modern designer plants literally drip with THC, the content of some weed is actually so high that it is considered hallucinogenic and thus a hard drug.

Total and complete hogwash: 1. Like all other plants, cannabis has been bred for maximum yield / quality. No "designing" took place.

Perhaps you took `designing' a bit too literally, I wasn't implying genetic manipulation (though I wouldn't be surprised). But yes, they've been bred (designed) for high yield. It was my understanding that White Widow for example was illegal bacause of its high THC content. I've also heard that some dealers spray their weed with hash oil, which is *definitely* an illegal substance.

2. Hashish has not gained in strength, is and was stronger in THC content than all weed. Yet hashish has always been considered a soft drug.

Hashish gets sprayed too. And AFAIK the notion `soft drug' is not a legal one.

3. Some weed is only mildly hallucinogenic.

I agree. But again, I don't think that's a notion that's been legally carved in stone.

4. Hallucinogenic drugs are generally soft drugs. (Remember the mushrooms, until our christian secretary of health decided to bypass all scientfic advice based on inaccurate newspaper headlines

Most hallucinogenic drugs are considered hard drugs because of the risk of induced psychosis. LSD has been illegal for a long time. As you say, mushrooms have recently been made illegal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_the_Netherlands#Bill_banning_.22Magic_mushrooms.22

5. Stronger weed means you use less of it. Just like any other substance: If sugar is twice as strong, you use half as many lumps in your tea.

In theory, yes. But it seems it doesn't work that way in practice:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_policy_of_the_Netherlands#Recent_developments

Dutch research has however shown that an increase of THC content also increase the occurrence of impaired psychomotor skills, particularly among younger or inexperienced cannabis smokers, who do not adapt their smoking-style to the higher THC content.

I'll stop ranting now, just a final remark: I agree with what you write about the christian parties. But there are other factors, mainly political pressure from abroad, especially from France and the US. France has in the past used Dutch drug policies against the Netherlands to gain political leverage within the EU.

Comment Some background (Score 5, Informative) 229

I live in the Netherlands, the background to this story:

Using cannabis is considered a victimless crime and thus low priority for law enforcement. This is true for most countries in Europe, but the Netherlands is known for this because it's in the open. So, yes, it's tolerated, but this is far from unique and has little to do with government income from taxes, as someone on this thread suggested.

The national laws regarding drugs are somewhat hazy (the same with squatting). This is intentional, it gives city councils room to adapt their policies to the local situation. Some cities on the borders get thousands of drug tourists a day, which creates all kinds of problems. Maastricht has banned its coffeeshops to a `drug boulevard' outside the city, other places work with a pass system so that only locals can visit coffeeshops. Most other places don't experience such problems, so do not need such measures.

However, things have changed in the last decade. Modern designer plants literally drip with THC, the content of some weed is actually so high that it is considered hallucinogenic and thus a hard drug. Also, the growers are not old ladies or hippies anymore. It's now big business run by criminal gangs that grow for export, not just local use.

These are reasons for the police to crack down on the growers. It's also part of a political trend, the current coalition includes two christian parties. They are the parties responsible for the Netherlands joining Bush's wars. The former minister for science belongs to one of them, she kept telling universities they should look into ID, so they're quite extreme. Both parties spout rethoric about moral reconstruction of the country, they're also pushing for stiff jail sentences for squatters. City councils are against this, they tolerate squatters to make life difficult for real-estate speculators.

Concerning the drone, the police says they'll only use it if they suspect the presence of a cannabis farm. Maybe they get tipped of by electricity companies (growers rig their meters). What worries me far more than this silly drone, which seems to be mainly a deterrent, is a proposed law concerning smart meters. The ID woman is now minister of economy, and she's trying to make smart meters obligatory. Refusing to have them installed would be an economic crime, which implies high fines and even jail.

These meters send data about your minute-to-minute electricity use over the interwebtubes to your energy company, they in turn provide records to government upon request. So it just comes down to government spying, and since the meters have been hacked already, it means criminals can spy on you as well. They can then burgle your house while you're on holiday, so as not to inconvenience you too much. So it's a win-win situation. The motivation for this bill is that it will help consumers to be more energy efficient.

Most. Transparent. Excuse. Ever.
Media

Finding Better Tech Broadcasts? 205

BearGrylls writes "As a young lad and aspiring technologist I have found shows like Revision3's 'The Broken' and 'Systm' to be entertaining, informative, and, most importantly, thorough. As time has gone on revision3 has kept some of the tech-related shows, but dumbed them down to appeal to a larger audience. This annoyed me, but I've continued to be a loyal viewer of their tech shows anyway. However, I suspect this trend to continue and my disappointment to grow. Where can I find tech shows that dive deep into projects and discussions instead of simply skimming the surface?"
Transportation

Feds Target "Mongols" Biker Club's Intellectual Property 393

couchslug writes in with a Reuters account of a Federal raid on a California-based motorcycle club, the Mongols, on charges "ranging from murder and robbery to extortion, money laundering, gun trafficking and drug dealing." The interesting twist is that the authorities are asking the courts to seize the IP of the biker club — specifically, their trademarked name "Mongols." "Federal agents and police in seven states arrested more than 60 members of the Mongols motorcycle gang on Tuesday in a sweep that also targeted for the first time an outlaw group's 'intellectual property,' prosecutors said. The arrests cap a three-year undercover investigation in which US agents posed as gang members and their girlfriends to infiltrate the group, even submitting to polygraph tests administered by the bikers ... [T]he name 'Mongols,' which appears on the gang's arm patch insignia, was trademarked by the group. The indictment seeks a court order outlawing further use of the name, which would allow any police officer 'who sees a Mongol wearing this patch ... to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back' ..."
Sci-Fi

Paul Krugman Awarded Nobel Prize For Economics 425

zogger writes in his journal, "The guy who put together the concept of geographical location combined with cheap transportation leading to 'like trades with like' and the rise of superindustrial trading blocs has won the Nobel economics science prize. He's a bigtime critic of a lot of this administration's policies, and is unabashedly an FDR-economy styled fella. Here is his blog at the NYTimes." Reader yoyoq adds that Krugman's career choice was inspired by reading Asimov's Foundation series at a young age.

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