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Education

The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat 438

Posted by samzenpus
from the eyes-on-your-own-paper dept.
ub3r n3u7r4l1st writes with this story of endemic cheating in Indian Universities and the students who see it as a right. "Students are often keen to exercise their rights but recently there has been an interesting twist - some in India are talking about their right to cheat in university exams. 'It is our democratic right!' a thin, addled-looking man named Pratap Singh once said to me as he stood, chai in hand, outside his university in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. 'Cheating is our birthright.' Corruption in the university exam system is common in this part of India. The rich can bribe their way to examination success. There's even a whole subset of the youth population who are brokers between desperate students and avaricious administrators. Then there's another class of student altogether, who are so well known locally - so renowned for their political links - invigilators dare not touch them. I've heard that these local thugs sometimes leave daggers on their desk in the exam hall. It's a sign to invigilators: 'Leave me alone... or else.' So if those with money or political influence can cheat, poorer students ask, why shouldn't they?"
Government

25th Anniversary: When the Berlin Wall Fell 151

Posted by samzenpus
from the bad-old-days dept.
Lasrick writes Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This retrospective describes how quickly the Wall was erected, and how Berliners were completely caught off guard by its construction: "Berlin's citizens woke up one morning in August 1961 to find coils of barbed wire running down the middle of their streets; the first inkling some people had that anything was amiss was when their subway train didn't stop at certain stations. Later, the first strands of wire were replaced with a cement wall, along with watchtowers, a wide 'death strip,' and an electrified fence."
The Almighty Buck

Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8 224

Posted by Soulskill
from the above-the-mendoza-line dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Lawrence Lessig's Mayday.us project had a bold goal: create a super PAC to end all super PACs. It generated significant support and raised over $10 million, which it spent endorsing a group of candidates for the recent mid-term elections and the primaries beforehand. The results weren't kind. Only two of the eight candidates backed by Mayday won their elections, and both of those candidates were quite likely to win anyway. Lessig was understandably displeased with the results. In a post on the Mayday site, he said, "What 2014 shows most clearly is the power of partisanship in our elections. Whatever else voters wanted, they wanted first their team to win."

Kenneth Vogel, author of Big Money, a recent book on the rise of super PACs, was critical of of Mayday's efforts, saying, "While voters do express high levels of disgust about the state of campaign finance and the level of corruption in Washington, they tend to actually cast votes more on bread-and-butter economic issues." Still, Lessig is hopeful for the future: "We moved voters on the basis of that message. Not enough. Not cheaply enough. But they moved."
News

Marijuana Legalized In Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC 588

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-doritos-factory-construction-already-underway dept.
Robotron23 writes: Coinciding with the midterm elections yesterday were state ballots proposing the legalization of cannabis. All three territories where full legalization was tabled approved the measure, joining Washington state and Colorado. The narrowest vote was that of Alaska at a roughly 52% to 48% margin. Washington D.C. meanwhile saw the vote strongly tipped in favor of legalization, at about 69% to 31% opposed. Oregon passed its measure by a vote of 55% to 45%. Buoyed by the news, advocates of legal cannabis are already contemplating the next round of state ballots in 2016.
Social Networks

Computer Scientists Say Meme Research Doesn't Threaten Free Speech 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-sure-if-good-thing-or-bad-thing dept.
dcblogs (1096431) writes "In a letter to lawmakers Tuesday (PDF), five of the nation's top computing research organizations defended a research grant to study how information goes viral. The groups were responding to claims that the government-funded effort could help create a 1984-type surveillance state. The controversy arises over a nearly $1 million research grant to researchers at Indiana University to investigate "why some ideas cause viral explosions while others are quickly forgotten," particularly on Twitter. "We do not believe this work represents a threat to free speech or a suppression of any type of speech over the internet," the letter said. "The tools developed in the course of this research are capable of making no political judgments, no prognostications, and no editorial comments, nor do they provide any capability for exerting any control over the Twitter stream they analyze," they wrote. The controversy over Truthy may be just another sign of the ongoing deterioration between the science community and lawmakers over basic research funding as well as the science itself.
Bug

Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches 388

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-vote-for-robot-nixon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As Election Day in the U.S. starts to wind down, reports from around the country highlight another round of technological failures at the polls. In Virginia, the machines are casting votes for the wrong candidates. In North Carolina, polling sites received the wrong set of thumb drives, delaying voters for hours. In Michigan, software glitches turned voters away in the early morning, including a city mayor. A county in Indiana saw five of its polling sites spend hours trying to get the machines to boot correctly. And in Connecticut, an as-yet-unspecified computer glitch caused a judge to keep the polls open for extra time. When are we going to get this right?
Patents

Silicon Valley Swings To Republicans 485

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-the-other-way dept.
phantomfive writes Silicon Valley is making a mark in Washington as Google has recently replaced Goldman as the largest lobbyist, but until recently, most of the money from Silicon Valley went to democratic candidates. In 2014, that has changed, and Republicans are getting most of the money. Why the change? Gordon Crovitz suggests it's because Harry Reid blocked patent reform. Reid gets a large chunk of donations from trial lawyers, who oppose the reform.
Government

US Midterm Elections Discussion 401

Posted by timothy
from the mostly-I-vote-because-I-love-dark-humor dept.
November 4th will be election day in the U.S. Though the presidential race is still forming, this midterm election has lots of close races that may give a hint about the likely outcome in 2016. Many pundits and pollsters see a strong chance that Republicans will gain a majority in the Senate in Tuesday's election. Think of the discussion attached to this post as the place to discuss the election: candidates, political advertising, voting technology, and the wisdom of voter ID laws. If you are voting, this chart of poll closing times might be useful. (And, as with the similar post from 10 years ago today, you can take a look at the current poll to see what the Zeitgeist looks like for Slashdot readers, and mentally fill in the past tense, if you're one of the many early voters; not much room in the poll question field.)
Earth

UN Climate Change Panel: It's Happening, and It's Almost Entirely Man's Fault 695

Posted by timothy
from the your-fault dept.
iONiUM writes The UN released a new climate change report which concludes that it is indeed happening, and it's almost entirely man's fault. From the article: "The IPCC was set up in 1988 to assess global warming and its impacts. The report released Sunday caps its latest assessment, a mega-review of 30,000 climate change studies that establishes with 95-percent certainty that nearly all warming seen since the 1950s is man-made." However, the report isn't entirely dire. It goes on to say: "To get a good chance of staying below 2C, the report's scenarios show that world emissions would have to fall by between 40 and 70 percent by 2050 from current levels and to 'near zero or below in 2100.'" Below zero of course means mining existing CO2 out of the atmopshere somehow.
Government

Is Public Debate of Trade Agreements Against the Public Interest? 219

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-discuss-it-afterwards dept.
onproton writes The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently being negotiated in secret, has been subject to numerous draft leaks that indicate these talks are potentially harmful to everything from public health to internet freedom. So why isn't the public involved, and why are the terms of the agreement being debated behind closed doors? According to New Zealand's current Trade Minister, Tim Groser, full disclosure of what is being discussed would likely lead to "public debate on an ill-informed basis before the deal has been done." Leaving one to question how revealing the full context and scope of the agreement talks would lead to an increase in misinformation rather than clarity.
Politics

Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology 330

Posted by timothy
from the aesthetics-and-morals dept.
LuxuryYacht writes A new study shows that the way your brain responds to photos of of maggots, mutilated carcasses, and gunk in the kitchen sink gives a pretty good indication of whether you're liberal or conservative. "Remarkably, we found that the brain's response to a single disgusting image was enough to predict an individual's political ideology," Read Montague, a Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute psychology professor who led the study, said in a written statement. 83 men and women viewed a series of images while having their brains scanned in a functional MRI (fMRI) machine. The images included the disgusting photos described above, along with photos of babies and pleasant landscapes. Afterward, the participants were asked to rate how grossed out they were by each photo. They also completed a survey about their political beliefs, which included questions about their attitudes toward school prayer, gun control, immigration, and gay marriage. There was no significant difference in how liberals and conservatives rated the photos. But the researchers noted differences between the two groups in the activity of brain regions associated with disgust recognition, emotion regulation, attention and even memory. The differences were so pronounced that the researchers could analyze a scan and predict the person's political leaning with 95 percent accuracy.
Facebook

Facebook Wants You To Vote Tuesday 165

Posted by timothy
from the in-particular-way dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Six years in the making, Facebook's get-out-the-vote tool — a high-profile button that proclaims "I'm Voting" or "I'm a Voter" — will on Tuesday give many of the social network's more than 150 million American users a gentle but effective nudge to vote. "If past research is any guide," writes Micah L. Sifry in Mother Jones, "up to a few million more people will head to the polls partly because their Facebook friends encouraged them. Yet the process by which Facebook has developed this tool — what the firm calls the 'voter megaphone' — has not been very transparent, raising questions about its use and Facebook's ability to influence elections. Moreover, while Facebook has been developing and promoting this tool, it has also been quietly conducting experiments on how the company's actions can affect the voting behavior of its users." Sifry adds, "There may be another reason for Facebook's lack of transparency regarding its voting promotion experiments: politics. Facebook officials likely do not want Republicans on Capitol Hill to realize that their voter megaphone isn't a neutral get-out-the-vote mechanism. It's not that Facebook uses this tool to remind only users who identify themselves as Democrats to vote — though the company certainly has the technical means to do so. But the Facebook user base tilts Democratic." So, it's probably worth mentioning again that Facebook caught flack last summer for deliberately experimenting on users' emotions without their consent. And just last June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC put out a call for "pissed off Data Scientists" to data mine critical legislative districts and "growth hack" ways to motivate "registered voters who are registered Republicans who we think are likely to support immigration reform.""
IBM

Khrushchev's 1959 Visit To IBM 54

Posted by timothy
from the economic-coordination dept.
harrymcc (1641347) writes In September of 1959, Nikita Khrushchev, the premier of the Soviet Union, spent 12 days touring the U.S. One of his stops was IBM's facilities in San Jose, which helped to create the area later known as Silicon Valley. The premier got to see the first computer which came with a hard disk, which IBM programmed to answer history questions. But what he was most impressed by was IBM's modern cafeteria. Over at Fast Company, I've chronicled this fascinating and little-known moment in tech history, which will be covered in an upcoming PBS program on Khrushchev's U.S. trip.
Privacy

Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You 468

Posted by timothy
from the public-records-are-public dept.
An anonymous reader writes I received some interesting mail this week from the House Majority PAC. First, a "voter report card" postcard telling me my voting record was "excellent" (I'm a good citizen!), but also letting me know that they "plan to update this report card after the election to see whether you voted". OK, so one of the Democratic Party's super PACs want me to vote, but it seems to be something of an attempt at intimidation. Today, I received a letter in which they really put the pressure on. Here are some excerpts: "Who you vote for is secret. But whether or not you vote is public record. Our organization monitors turnout in your neighborhood, and we are disappointed that many of your neighbors do not always exercise their right to vote." So why contact me instead of them? Voting is a civic duty, but it isn't illegal to abstain. That's my neighbors' business, not mine. It's one way of expressing dissatisfaction, isn't it? And if there are no candidates you wish to vote for, then why should you vote for someone you don't want? But Big Brother PAC has other ideas: "We will be reviewing the Camden County [NJ] official voting records after the upcoming election to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014. If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not." The letter is signed "Joe Fox Election day Coordinator". So what happens if I don't vote? Well, at least I got a scare this Halloween. Are PACs using similar tactics in other states?
The Internet

Hungary's Plans For Internet Tax On Hold After Protests 48

Posted by Soulskill
from the gigabit-off-more-than-they-could-chew dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When news broke last week that the Hungarian government was planning to tax internet traffic at a rate of about 62 cents per gigabyte, people on the internet were outraged. But it went beyond that: there were protests in the streets in Hungary, and the European Union warned against the plan. Now, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has put the plans on hold, saying, "This tax in its current form cannot be introduced." It's not completely dead — Orban has planned consultations over the next year to look for other ways to tax revenue generated over the internet.

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