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US Grants Home Schooling German Family Political Asylum Screenshot-sm 1324

A US judge has granted political asylum to a family who said they fled Germany to avoid persecution for home schooling their children. Uwe Romeike and his wife, Hannelore, moved to Tennessee after German authorities fined them for keeping their children out of school and sent police to escort them to classes. Mike Connelly, attorney for the Home School Legal Defence Association, argued the case. He says, "Home schoolers in Germany are a particular social group, which is one of the protected grounds under the asylum law. This judge looked at the evidence, he heard their testimony, and he felt that the way Germany is treating home schoolers is wrong. The rights being violated here are basic human rights."
Apple

iPad Is a "Huge Step Backward" 1634

An anonymous reader writes "FSF's John Sullivan launches the Defective by Design campaign and petition to rain on Steve's parade, barely minutes out of the starting gate. 'This is a huge step backward in the history of computing,' said FSF's Holmes Wilson, 'If the first personal computers required permission from the manufacturer for each new program or new feature, the history of computing would be as dismally totalitarian as the milieu in Apple's famous Super Bowl ad.' The iPad has DRM writ large: you can only install what Apple says you may, and 'computing' goes consumer mainstream — no more twiddling, just sit back, spend your money, and watch the show — while we allow you to." What is clear is that the rise of the App Store removes control of the computer from the user. It makes me wonder what the next generation of OS X will look like.
Government

FCC's Net Neutrality Plan Blocks BitTorrent 303

master_p writes "The FCC's formally issued draft net neutrality regulations have a huge copyright loophole in them; a loophole that would theoretically permit Comcast to block BitTorrent just like it did in 2007 — simply by claiming that it was 'reasonable network management' intended to 'prevent the unlawful transfer of content.' The new proposed net neutrality regulations would allow the same practices that net neutrality was first invoked to prevent, even if these ISP practices end up inflicting collateral damage on perfectly lawful content and activities."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Framerates Matter 521

An anonymous reader writes "As more and more games move away from 60fps, the myth of the human eye only being able to detect 30fps keeps popping up. What's more, most people don't seem to realize the numerous advantages of a high framerate, and there's plenty of those."
The Courts

The LHC, Black Holes, and the Law 467

KentuckyFC writes "Now that the physicists have had their say over the safety of the Large Hadron Collider, a law professor has produced a comprehensive legal study addressing the legal issue that might arise were a court to deal with a request to halt a multi-billion-dollar particle-physics experiment (abstract). The legal issues make for startling reading. The analysis discusses the problem with expert witnesses, which is that any particle physicists would be afraid for their livelihoods and anybody else afraid for their lives. How can such evidence be relied upon? It examines the well established legal argument that death is not a redressable injury under American tort law, which could imply that the value in any cost-benefit analysis of the future of the Earth after it had been destroyed is zero (there would be nobody to compensate). It asks whether state-of-the-art theoretical physics is really able to say that the LHC is safe given that a scientific theory that seems unassailable in one era may seem naive in the next. But most worrying of all, it points out that the safety analyses so far have all been done by CERN itself. The question left open by the author is what verdict a court might reach."
Privacy

Does Cheap Tech Undermine Legal Privacy Protections? 282

bfwebster writes "Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor who focuses on legal issues regarding information technology (I own a copy of his book Computer Crime Law) raises an interesting issue about a 2001 Supreme Court decision (Kyllo v. United States) that prohibited police from using a thermal imaging device on a private home without a warrant. (The police were trying to detect excess heat coming from the roof of a garage, as an indication of lamps being used to grow marijuana inside.) The Court made its decision back in 2001 because thermal imaging devices were 'not in general use' and therefore represented a technology that required a warrant. However, Kerr points out that anyone can now buy such thermal imaging devices for $50 to $150 from Amazon, and that they're advertised as a means of detecting thermal leakage from your home. In light of that, Kerr asks, is the Supreme Court's ruling still sound?"
Privacy

Kodak Wireless Picture Frames Open To Public 185

Jaxoreth writes "The Kodak Easyshare Wireless Digital Picture Frame displays images via a per-frame RSS feed hosted by FrameChannel. Each frame's URL is identical except for a parameter matching its particular MAC address, enabling public browsing of users' feeds. And worse, if you reach the feed of a not-yet-activated frame, it gives you the code to activate it, allowing you to preload it with whatever content you choose."
Earth

Save the Planet, Eat Your Dog 942

R3d M3rcury writes "New Zealand's Dominion Post reports on a new book just released, Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living. In this book, they compare the environmental footprint of our housepets to other things that we own. Like that German Shepherd? It consumes more resources than two Toyota SUVs. Cats are a little less than a Volkswagen Golf. Two hamsters are about the same as a plasma TV. Their suggestions? Chickens, rabbits, and pigs. But only if you eat them."
Businesses

Game Retailers Facing Digital Distribution Transition 155

This editorial at Eurogamer examines how the games industry is dealing with the growth of digital distribution — a transition they're handling better than other entertainment industries, but not without a few stumbling blocks of their own. "The examples from other industries undergoing this transition are not promising, since they tend largely to focus on metaphors involving creeks and a distinct lack of paddles. Bricks-and-mortar retailers of music and movies have largely sat back and grumbled while their businesses were hijacked, first by online retailers of physical product and then by digital distribution services. ... Specialist games retailers who follow that model face little more than a decline into insolvency in their medium-term futures. Worse again, they face competing with far bigger companies to retain their slice of an already shrinking pie — as boxed game retail sales fall off in favor of digital distribution, supermarket chains are increasingly seeing high profile games as a worthwhile loss-leaders."
It's funny.  Laugh.

What If They Turned Off the Internet? 511

theodp writes "It's the not-too-distant future. They've turned off the Internet. After the riots have settled down and the withdrawal symptoms have faded, how would you cope? Cracked.com asked readers to Photoshop what life would be like in an Internet-addicted society learning to cope without it. Better hope it never happens, or be prepared for dry-erase message boards, carrier pigeon-powered Twitter, block-long lines to get into adult video shops, door-to-door Rickrolling, Lolcats on Broadway, and $199.99 CDs."
Television

Hulu May Begin Charging For Content Next Year 234

DJLuc1d tips news that Chase Carey, president and COO of News Corp., has said that Hulu may begin charging for its streamed video content as early as next year. He said at a recent conference that the free-to-air model is not sustainable in the long-term. The Atlantic takes a look at several business models Hulu could employ and wonders how their current advertising system would be involved.
The Courts

Sparc Sends SparkFun Electronics C&D Letter 219

moogied writes "SparkFun.com, a electronics component provider, has been sent a cease and desist letter by Sparc in response to the lengthy trademark process that SparkFun is participating in. The letter states 'Because the dominant portion of the SparkFun mark, namely, SPARK, is phonetically identical and nearly visually identical to SI's SPARC mark, and because it is used in connection with identical goods, we believe confusion is likely to occur among the relevant purchasing group.' SparkFun.com has provided the entire contents of the letter, with a breakdown of points it feels are most relevant."
The Courts

Data Entry Errors Resulted In Improper Sentences 138

shrik writes "Slate has a look at the efforts of Emily Owens, in 2005 a Ph.D student in economics at the University of Maryland, who 'came across thousands of inconsistencies and errors in the sentencing recommendations provided to judges' by the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy. Quoting: 'The sentencing guidelines for judges were based on a work-sheet [PDF] that "graded the severity of a convict's crime and his risk to society", ostensibly to make the rulings meted out more objective in nature. But on carefully studying her data, Owens noticed something wasn't adding up — the system seemed to be producing 1 error in every ten trials. She also realized that this "recommendation system" actually mattered: crimes and criminals analyzed to be quite similar were resulting in systematically different punishments correlated with the work-sheet.' The source of these discrepancies was ultimately found to be a simple, but very significant, PEBKAC: 'More than 90 percent of errors resulted from the person completing the work sheet [usually the DA, but signed off by the defense attorney] entering the figure from a cell next to the correct one. ... The remaining errors came mostly from incorrect choice of criminal statute in calculating the offense score and from a handful of math errors (in operations that were literally as simple as adding two plus two).' Timo Elliott's BI Questions Blog lists the morals of the story."
Games

Is Valve's Steam Anti-Competitive? 286

Absolut187 writes "Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford says Steam's domination of digital distribution is 'dangerous,' and exploits small developers. 'Steam helps us as customers, but it's also a money grab, and Valve is exploiting a lot of people in a way that's not totally fair. ... Valve is taking a larger share than it should for the service it's providing. ... There's so much conflict of interest there that it's horrid.' Pitchford's comments came as part of an interview with Maximum PC, and he thinks Valve should spin off Steam to its own company. Is he right? Is there a better answer?" Update: 10/10 at 02:00 GMT by SS: Randy has clarified his remarks in a comment here at Slashdot. He makes it clear that he likes Steam a lot, and for several reasons, but thinks stronger competition would benefit the industry as a whole.
Censorship

Wikileaks Plans To Make the Web Leakier 94

itwbennett writes "At the Hack In The Box conference in Kuala Lumpur, Wikileaks.org announced a plan to enable newspapers, human rights organizations, criminal investigators, and others to embed an 'upload a disclosure to me via Wikileaks' form onto their Web sites that would give potential whistleblowers the ability to leak sensitive documents to an organization or journalist they trust over a secure connection. The news or NGO site would then get an embargo period in which to analyze the material and write the story, after which Wikileaks would make the leaked material public. At the same time, the receiver would have greater legal protection, says Julien Assange, an advisory board member at Wikileaks 'We will take the burden of protecting the source and the legal risks associated with publishing the document,' said Assange. 'We want to get as much substantive information as possible into the historical record, keep it accessible, and provide incentives for people to turn it into something that will achieve political reform.'"

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