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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 5 declined, 8 accepted (13 total, 61.54% accepted)

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Submission + - CmdrTaco: Anti-Beta Movement a "Vocal Minority" ( 30

Antipater writes: The furor over Slashdot Beta is loud enough that even outside media has begun to notice. The Washington Post's tech blog The Switch has written a piece on the issue, and the anti-Beta protesters aren't going to be happy about it. The Post questioned Slashdot founder Rob Malda, who believes the protests are the work of only a vocal minority or readers: "It's easy to forget that the vocal population of a community driven site like Slashdot might be the most important group, but they are typically also the smallest class of users." The current caretakers of Slashdot need to balance the needs of all users with their limited engineering resources, Malda argues — noting wryly, "It ain't easy."

Submission + - Congressmen Call For Clapper's Head ( 1

Antipater writes: Six members of Congress, led by Darrell Issa, have released an open letter to the White House that urges the President to go further in his intended reforms of the NSA. The letter, found here, calls out issues like the NSA's weakening of encryption standards and national security letter abuse. It also calls for the immediate firing of James Clapper, stating that "[his] continued role as Director of National Intelligence is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs and ensuring the highest level of transparency."

Submission + - NSA Metadata Program Has Stopped Zero Attacks (

Antipater writes: According to a member of the White House panel that recently called for the NSA's metadata-collection program to be curtailed, that program has not stopped any terrorist actions at all. This runs counter to the stories we've heard for months, which claimed as many as fifty prevented attacks.

"Stone declined to comment on the accuracy of public statements by U.S. intelligence officials about the telephone collection program, but said that when they referred to successes they seemed to be mixing the results of domestic metadata collection with the intelligence derived from the separate, and less controversial, NSA program, known as 702, to intercept communications overseas."

Submission + - Former Microsoft Exec to Lead 2

Antipater writes: NBCNews reports that Kurt DelBene, former head of Microsoft's Office division, will take over operations of on Wednesday.

DelBene will replace Jeffrey Zients, who stepped in to lead the team fixing the health insurance website when it crashed and burned on its Oct. 1 launch. Zients is set to take over next month as senior White House economic adviser from Gene Sperling.

Submission + - Enclosed by Censorship, Myanmar Creates "Copy Track" Pop Culture (

Antipater writes: NBCNews is reporting on pop culture in recently-opened Myanmar, long dominated by a military junta with a strict quarantine of censorship. Hit songs from the outside world could not pass the censors, so Myanma artists would replace the vocals with censor-friendly lyrics in Burmese, creating what they call a "copy track". The country's only IP legislation dates back to British colonial times, and most Burmese don't even know that they're listening to a stolen tune.

“Of course, it’s stealing. But the general public has no idea,” said Diramore, a 39-year-old pop singer, composer and associate professor at Myanmar’s National University of Arts and Culture. “They’ve never heard the song. So, to them, it’s a hit."

Submission + - Farmer Ants Use Parasites as Mercenary Soldiers (

Antipater writes: Scientists have discovered a relationship between ant species that echoes stories of the Wild West or Seven Samurai. Past research had assumed that Megalomyrmex ants were parasites of the fungus-growing Sericomyrmex ants. But Rachelle Adams at the University of Copenhagen found that rather than simply feeding off the farmers, the Megalomyrmex serve as a hired defense force. When the nest is approached by hostile raiders, the Sericomyrmex run and hide, while the Megalomyrmex rush out to fight and defend their hosts.

Submission + - 787 Dreamliner On Fire Again

Antipater writes: It looks like there's more trouble afoot for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner: London's Heathrow Airport has been shut down as fire crews attend to a "suspected fire" on a Dreamliner owned by Ethiopia Airlines.

Aerial pictures of the scene on the U.K.'s Sky News showed the new plane — which was not carrying passengers at the time — had been sprayed by foam, but there were no signs of fire.
The aircraft was not blocking either runway, but with all the airport's fire crews tacking the Boeing 787 incident, authorities were forced to suspend departures and arrivals because of safety rules.


Submission + - Disney Wants to Track You With RFID ( 3

Antipater writes: Disney parks and resorts have long had a system that combined your room key, credit card, and park ticket into a single card. Now, they're taking it a step further by turning the card into an RFID wristband (called a "MagicBand"), tracking you, and personalizing your park experience, targeted-ad style.

"Imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park," wrote Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in a blog posting on Monday. "With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone."

Disney does go on to talk about all the things you can opt out of if you have privacy concerns, and the whole system seems to be voluntary or even premium.


Submission + - New Species of Monkey Flower Shows Speciation in Action (

Antipater writes: NBCNews is reporting on a hybrid of two monkey flowers, which has evolved to become fertile. It will breed with other flowers of the new hybrid type, but not other monkey flowers — a clearly distinguished new species, showing speciation on a macroscopic scale. From the article:

"While many new species of plants are thought to arise this way, it has only been witnessed amongst wild plants a handful of times in history, said Vallejo-Marin, a scientist at the University of Stirling. Hybrid flowers typically have an odd number of chromosomes, or enormous packets of DNA, making them unable to reproduce. But this flower somehow duplicated its entire genome. "


Submission + - Researchers Design Memory-Strengthening Implant (

Antipater writes: "Researchers at Wake Forest University have created a brain implant that can imitate signals through the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory retention. Rats implanted with the device were able to remember information even after their hippocampus was shut down, reports the New York Times. Though still in its infancy, this technology could hopefully be used to help treat dementia or stroke victims."

Submission + - Physical, Emotional Pain Use Same Brain Networks (

Antipater writes: "To the brain, heartbreak and emotional torment are no different from having hot coffee spilled on your hand, reports CNN. They cite a recent study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which 40 recently-dumped men and women underwent fMRI scans while having their arm burned or being shown a picture of their ex. The stimuli produced nearly identical brain reactions."

Submission + - Multicellular Organisms Live Deeper than Expected (

Antipater writes: "Despite the prevailing notion that life cannot survive deep underground, scientists have found not just extremophile bacteria but multicellular organisms — nematodes — living more than a mile deep in South African gold mines. Nicknamed "worms from hell", these nematodes open new windows for research into life both on Earth and off."

Submission + - War over Arsenic-Based Life (

Antipater writes: "Slashdot readers may remember the announcement and ensuing controversy six months ago over the NASA discovery of microbes that can supposedly incorporate arsenic into their DNA. Now, The Washington Post reports that Science has published a collection of eight scathing critiques of astrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon, her methods, and her conclusions. Wolfe-Simon is starting to fire back and gather her own allies — one wonders if we're in for another cold-fusion style science war."

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