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Submission + - Google now bans all explicit adult content from Blogger (

Ellie K writes: As of 23 March 2015, Google will remove blogs on its Blogger platform that don't conform to its new anti-adult policies. This is an abrupt reversal of policy. Until today, Google allowed "images or videos that contain nudity or sexual activity," and stated that "Censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression."

Submission + - Another Bitcoin exchange fraud (

Ellie K writes: Bitcoin exchange MyCoin has vanished — leaving $387 million in investor funds unaccounted for.
MyCoin is a Hong Kong-based virtual currency trading exchange. Bitcoin exchanges are no stranger to controversy. Mt. Gox closed in February 2014, filing for bankruptcy and leaving investors approximately $500 million out of pocket. Others were "cyberattacked" including Flexcoin, Poloniex and Bitcurex.

Submission + - UK considers new Internet surveillance powers (

Ellie K writes: UK Prime Minister David Cameron is trying, again, to introduce legislation to expand data retention requirements. Specifically, that would mean compelling ISPs to log more online activity, e.g. Skype usage and Facebook chat logs, regardless of whether or not a crime was committed. Cameron also suggested banning encryption for secure communications.

Submission + - Shoe thrown at Iran's President Rouhani while rhyton returns home (

Ellie K writes: Upon his return to Tehran Airport today, an Iranian threw a shoe in the Iranian president's direction. According to CNN and Fararu, the semi-official media of Iran, it was an act of protest over President Rouhani's recent conversation with U.S. President Obama.

The historic conversation between the two world leaders was associated with more positive activities as well, including the return of a 2700-year-old Persian artifact in the shape of a rhyton. The rhyton was smuggled into New York in 2003, but languished in a U.S. customs warehouse for decades:

Customs officials had wanted to return it to Iran... but frigid relations between Washington and Tehran kept it in bureaucratic limbo.

* A rhyton is a mythical beast with a lion's body and the head of a bird of prey.

Submission + - Britain to privatize Royal Mail (

Ellie K writes: After 500 years, Britain announced plans to fully privatize Royal Mail today. Shares of stock (common equity) will be offered to the public "in coming weeks", according to Reuters. 10% of shares will be given to current Royal Mail employees, Deal size is estimated at $US 3 to 4.7 billion. Goldman Sachs and UBS were chosen as lead advisers.

Submission + - White House Comic Styling (

Ellie K writes: An official transcript of President Obama's remarks during the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner was released on 27 April 2013. Selected highlights of the 23 minute speech, which included a parody video:
  • The History Channel is not here. I guess they were embarrassed about the whole Obama-is-a-devil thing. (Laughter.)
  • I'm taking my charm offensive on the road — a Texas barbeque with Ted Cruz, a Kentucky bluegrass concert with Rand Paul, and a book-burning with Michele Bachmann. (Laughter and applause.)
  • I'm also hard at work on plans for the Obama Library. And some have suggested that we put it in my birthplace, but I'd rather keep it in the United States. (Laughter.)

In today's Chronicle of Higher Education, Lingua Franca columnist Ben Yagoda compares the comic stylings of Obama with Kennedy. JFK's press conferences were used as a benchmark for presidential humor for decades. Yagoda notes a significant change over the years though:

The presidency has been subject to the show-bizzification of our public life... top politicians are now expected not only to acquire A-level material, but deliver it as if they’d put in their time trodding the boards at the Comedy Store. (It is kind of weird that the convention is that they do standup, as opposed to, say, singing...)

Submission + - Publishing giant Elsevier acquires Mendeley, an open science platform (

Ellie K writes: Yesterday, science and medicine publisher Elsevier B.V. confirmed its purchase of Mendeley for an undisclosed sum. The deal will help Elsevier to expand its presence in open science. There has been

concern expressed that the product [Mendeley] would become too proprietary or commercial.

Victor Henning, CEO and co-founder of Mendeley said that remaining independent would have caused much more pressure to push revenue generation . Mendeley posted a detailed Q&A for users , providing details of the transition.

Mendeley, a London/New York based start-up founded in 2008, offers an open API, and has established a solid reputation for supporting open access initiatives, especially useful for research collaboration. All Mendeley employees will be hired by Elsevier.


Submission + - Japan's Internet Connectivity Remains Intact (

Ellie K writes: "Via IEEE Spectrum — Internet connectivity between Japan and North America was unaffected by the earthquake and tsunami-related devastation in Japan. Readers from Hong Kong and Japan noticed slower response times, but were not offline. This was a detailed follow-up to IEEE Spectrum's post two days earlier:"

Submission + - Evolution may have trained us to believe in luck (

Ellie K writes:

Evolution may have trained the mind to see scoring streaks — even where they don't exist. Sports fans have cried foul for 25 years as scientists have dumped statistical ice water on basketball players' "hot hands." It seems obvious to even casual spectators that competitors occasionally score a bunch of baskets in a row and need to keep shooting while they're in the zone. Sorry, b-ball buffs. Researchers have yet to document any chance-defying scoring runs among even the best players. Kobe Bryant may well sink shot after shot, game in and game out, but even this all-star's season-long pattern of hits and misses fits within the mathematical definition of a random sequence, scientists say. Kobe's chances of hitting a shot are no greater following a swish than a miss.


Submission + - Twitter to Start Selling Followers (

Ellie K writes: "While not quite as bad as it sounds, Twitter will soon be identifying followers with certain interests based on the content of their Twitter usage, and then providing this info to advertisers. Twitter is already selling sponsored Tweets for $100K or more. These reader comments captured the disquieting feeling I have: "Twitter selling followers? Will that be the same as Google selling top position in SERP?" and "I wonder when Facebook will start to sell friends".
Advertisers will be allowed to purchase placement in lists of "who to follow" recommendations targeted to users with particular interests on Twitter..."


Submission + - Facebook Introduces Remote Logout Feature (

Ellie K writes: "In an effort to improve overall security options for its users, Facebook has launched a new feature that enables users to log-out remotely from a computer (or computers) other than their own. After enabling the feature, users will be able to see where their account is logged-on beyond their main computer – including the host device and its geographic location. Simply clicking the 'End Activity' button alongside any or all listed devices will instantly perform a log-out at that location.

“View your recent account activity,” advises Facebook. “If you notice an unfamiliar device or location, click 'end activity'.”"

Submission + - Anthrax Advisory (

Ellie K writes: "For months, perhaps years now, we've heard nothing about the anthrax bacterium. In 2001 and 2002, several acts of terrorism involved airborne anthrax in a medium of white powder. However, in this recent incident, which was not part of any terrorist activities, animal hides on drum surfaces were contaminated with anthrax, and resulted in gastrointestinal anthrax rather than inhalation or cutaneous infection. Apparently the anthrax bacterium can live on in the animal skin hides used for drums, and is a concern of sufficient significance to warrant a CDC advisory as well."

Submission + - Indonesian parliament gets smut eyeful (

Ellie K writes: "Officials apparently struggled to turn off the smut stream from an adult website for 15 minutes before finally restoring control. The incident came in the run-up to the proposed application of a net filter designed to block porn downloads in the majority Muslim country."

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