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Fraud Detected In Science Research That Suggested GMO Crops Were Harmful ( 357

An anonymous reader writes: Three science papers that had suggested that genetically modified crops were harmful to animals and have been used by activist groups to argue for their ban have been found to contain manipulated and possibly falsified data. Nature reports: "Papers that describe harmful effects to animals fed genetically modified (GM) crops are under scrutiny for alleged data manipulation. The leaked findings of an ongoing investigation at the University of Naples in Italy suggest that images in the papers may have been intentionally altered. The leader of the lab that carried out the work there says that there is no substance to this claim. The papers' findings run counter to those of numerous safety tests carried out by food and drug agencies around the world, which indicate that there are no dangers associated with eating GM food. But the work has been widely cited on anti-GM websites — and results of the experiments that the papers describe were referenced in an Italian Senate hearing last July on whether the country should allow cultivation of safety-approved GM crops. 'The case is very important also because these papers have been used politically in the debate on GM crops,' says Italian senator Elena Cattaneo, a neuroscientist at the University of Milan whose concerns about the work triggered the investigation.

Space Entrepreneur Opines Donald Trump Could Do an Inspirational Space Program ( 154

MarkWhittington writes: Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace opened his new Twitter account with the suggestion that Donald Trump, the mercurial businessman who is running for president, might just give the United States an inspirational space program. Then, thinking better of the idea, Bigelow deleted the tweet and replaced it with an image of the Olympus inflatable space module, which his company envisions as being the basis of a commercial space station.

18 Million Targeted Voter Records Exposed By Database Error ( 75

itwbennett writes: Last week, a database containing 191 million voter records was exposed because of a misconfigured database that no on wants to claim ownership of. Around the same time, a second, smaller database containing fewer than 57 million records similar to those previously discovered was also found by researcher Chris Vickery. But the second database also includes 18 million records that hold targeted demographic information. And as was the case with the previous voter database, no one wants to claim ownership.

Twitter To Revive Politwoops, Archive of Politicians' Deleted Tweets ( 106

An anonymous reader writes: Twitter shut down Politwoops, a network of deleted tweets from politicians, this summer with the statement: "Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user's voice." To the joy of open-government advocates and with the help of government transparency nonprofits, Twitter says it will work to get Politwoops up and running again. "Politwoops is an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make, and we're glad that we've been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the U.S. and internationally," said Jenn Topper, communications director for The Sunlight Foundation

North Carolina Town That Defeated Solar Plan Talks Back ( 336

mdsolar writes with news that city officials in Woodland, North Carolina have taken issue with being ridiculed by the internet and want to set the record straight. According to the article: "Usually what happens in Woodland stays in Woodland, a town 115 miles east of Raleigh with one Dollar General store and one restaurant. But news of the Northampton County hamlet's moratorium on solar farms blew up on social media over the weekend after a local paper quoted a resident complaining to the Town Council that solar farms would take away sunshine from nearby vegetation. Another resident warned that solar panels would suck up energy from the sun. As outlandish as those claims seem, town officials say the Internet got it wrong."

Obama Administration To Offer Full Position On Encryption By End of Year 152

blottsie writes with this story from The Daily Dot that the President met with encryption advocates on Thursday and is expected to make a statement on his official stance before the end of the year. From the story: "The Obama administration plans to clarify its stance on strong encryption before Washington shuts down for the holidays. Administration officials met Thursday with the civil-society groups behind a petition urging the White House to back strong, end-to-end encryption over the objections of some law-enforcement and intelligence professionals. Kevin Bankston, director of New America's Open Technology Institute and the coalition's organizer, told the Daily Dot that it was a 'very hopeful meeting.'"

Interviews: Ask Attorney and Author Mike Godwin a Question 83

Mike Godwin worked as the first staff counsel of the EFF and served as general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation. He has been a contributing editor of Reason magazine and was elected to the Open Source Initiative board in 2011. Mike is probably best known however for coining the internet adage Godwin's Law. He is currently general counsel and director of innovation policy at the R Street Institute. Mike has given us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question (and one comparison involving Nazis or Hitler) per post.
The Internet

Donald Trump: America Should Consider "Closing the Internet Up In Some Way" ( 735

Patrick O'Neill writes: Hours after Donald Trump suggested the U.S. ban Muslims from entering the United States, the leading Republican presidential candidate said America should also consider "closing the Internet up in some way" to fight Islamic State terrorists in cyberspace. Trump mocked anyone who would object that his plan might violate the freedom of speech, saying "these are foolish people, we have a lot of foolish people ... We have to go see Bill Gates," Trump said, to better understand the Internet and then possibly "close it up."

Congress Votes to Scrap Obama's Clean Power Plan ( 151

sciencehabit writes with news that the House voted 242-180 to repeal the EPA's Clean Power Plan, and 235-188 to block EPA rules governing emissions from new power plants. Science reports: "Congress has voted, largely along party lines, to block a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's climate change agenda. The votes are largely symbolic, however, because Obama plans to veto the bills. Still, Congressional Republicans, and a few Democrats, say they want to send a message to global leaders who are meeting this week to negotiate a new climate agreement that the majority of U.S. lawmakers may not agree with any deal."

Museum of Political Corruption Planned For New York ( 97

McGruber writes: In Albany, NY, Bruce Roter has secured approval to build the Museum of Political Corruption, dedicated to the state's long history of scandal. In the last decade alone, more than 30 state officeholders have either been accused or convicted of wrongdoing. On Monday, the former Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, was found guilty of taking nearly 4 million dollars in bribes and kickbacks. He was convicted on charges of conspiracy, fraud and extortion. The former Senate majority leader continues to face separate corruption charges in court. "I tell people, quite frankly, I want to institutionalize corruption," Roter says. "I want to put it in this museum. I want it to be laughed at, and I want people to learn about it." New York leads the list of states Americans view as having the most political corruption, according to a poll by New Jersey's Monmouth University.

Georgia Gives Personal Data of 6 Million Voters To Georgia GunOwner Magazine ( 110

McGruber writes: A class action lawsuit alleges that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's office released the personal identifying information of Georgia voters to twelve organizations, "including statewide political parties, news media organizations and Georgia GunOwner Magazine".

According to Kemp, his office shares "voter registration data every month with news media and political parties that have requested it as required by Georgia law. Due to a clerical error where information was put in the wrong file, 12 recipients received a disc that contained personal identifying information that should not have been included."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution independently confirmed the inclusion of the personal data in the October file. The AJC did so by accessing the October data disc, looking up information for an AJC staffer and confirming his Social Security number and driver's license information was included. The AJC has returned its copy of the disc to the state.


Journalist: NASA Administrator Has Short Memory on Changing Space Policy ( 87

MarkWhittington writes: Recently, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stated that NASA would be "doomed" if the next president were to deviate in any way from the current Journey to Mars program. Space journalist and founder of the America Space website Jim Hillhouse took exception to Bolden's assertion in a letter to the aerospace newspaper Space News. In the process, Hillhouse provides a good summary of how space policy has evolved during the past five years under the Obama administration.
United States

Larry Lessig Ends Presidential Campaign, Citing Unfair Debate Rules ( 309

An anonymous reader writes: Harvard law professor Larry Lessig is ending his run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Lessig blames the demise of his campaign on party rules that have left him "shut out" of the Democratic debates. "The party won't let me be a candidate," Lessig said in his final campaign video. "I can't ask people to support a campaign that I know can't get before the members of the Democratic Party."
United Kingdom

Big Data Attempts To Find Meaning In 40 Years of UK Political Debate ( 44

An anonymous reader writes: International researchers have analyzed 40 years of political speeches from the UK Parliament in an effort to move the study of political theory from social science towards the quantitative analysis offered by Big Data analytics techniques. The group used Python to crunch publicly available data from, comprising 3.7 million individual speeches. A few strange trends emerged in this initial experiment, such as the decline of 'health care' as a trending Parliamentary topic, with 'welfare' consistently on the rise, and the decrease of fervent interest in any particular topic during the more pacific years under Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

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