The Campaign To Get Every American Free Money, Every Year 1291

merbs writes: Supporters of a basic income have finally organized a proper political movement. Basic Income Action is, according to co-founder Dan O'Sullivan, "the first national organization educating and organizing the public to support a basic income. "He tells me that "Our goal is to educate and organize people to take action to win a basic income here in the U.S." This 2013 Economist article does a good job of summarizing the pro and con viewpoints on the (ahem) basic idea.

NASA Delays Orion's First Manned Flight Until 2023 115

The Verge reports that the first manned flight planned for the Orion crew capsule has been delayed, and is now slated to take place in 2023, rather than the previously hoped-for 2021. The delay is based on both budget and design considerations; Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration at NASA, said at a press conference yesterday that several changes have been made to save weight in the capsule, including reducing the number of panels that make up the craft's cone. The article notes So far, Orion has met most of its major milestones. The spacecraft made its first uncrewed test flight in December 2014. The engineering team also recently demonstrated the Orion could land safely despite the failure of two of its parachutes. NASA hopes to eventually launch the Orion on top of the Space Launch System (SLS) — a giant rocket the space agency is currently building to go beyond lower Earth orbit. The plan is to send astronauts on the Orion to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

Interviews: Ask John McAfee About His Presidential Run 157

samzenpus writes: He's run a multi-billion dollar company and hidden in the jungles of Central America while being chased by Belizean authorities, but John McAfee's presidential bid may be his most interesting adventure yet. Last week John said: "Our government is in a dysfunctional state. It is also illiterate when it comes to technology. Technology is not a tool that should be used for a government to invade our privacy. Technology should not be the scapegoat when we fail to protect our digital assets and tools of commerce. These are matters of priorities," when announcing his run. According to his Cyber Party website: "Donkeys and elephants just don't make sense in the modern world. If the federal bureaucracy adopts technology in a meaningful way, it will become much easier to adapt to changes in policy or procedure. 10 hour long congressional hearings will no longer be needed for a simple change in workflow. By adapting a lean approach to government, the amount of savings that can be realized by improved efficiency will eliminate the need for wholesale changes to foundational policies. Other parties consistently lag behind trends in technology – Cyber Party members are committed to staying ahead of the curve and remaining proactive in policymaking." John has agreed to answer any questions you have about his step into politics or any other questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

NYU Study: America's Voting Machines Are Rapidly Aging Out 263

Presto Vivace passes on a link to a report at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU's law school which says that many of the vote-counting machines set to be used in the 2016 U.S. general election will be past their prime by the time of the election, if not long before. From the report: Technology has changed dramatically in the last decade, but America's voting machines are rapidly aging out. In 2016, for example, 43 states will use electronic voting machines that are at least 10 years old, perilously close to the end of most systems' expected lifespan. Old voting equipment increases the risk of failures and crashes — which can lead to long lines and lost votes on Election Day — and problems only get worse the longer we wait.

John McAfee On Why He's Running For President 242

Velcroman1 writes: Our government is in a dysfunctional state. It is also illiterate when it comes to technology. Technology is not a tool that should be used for a government to invade our privacy. Technology should not be the scapegoat when we fail to protect our digital assets and tools of commerce. These are matters of priorities." So says John McAfee, offering up a brief explanation into why he's running for president. As noted earlier on slashdot, McAfee has filed paperwork already (PDF) to found a new party.

White House Petition To Let Foreign STEM Grads Work Longer In US Hits 100K Signatures 216

theodp writes: Computerworld reports that a petition urging the White House to act urgently on a court ruling that could force thousands of recent foreign STEM graduates working in the U.S. on OPT STEM extensions to leave the States early next year reached 100,000 signatures Tuesday, the threshold for an official government response. It could present a political conundrum of sorts for the Obama administration. Because the administration didn't act to protect U.S. workers at Southern California Edison and Disney, explained an attorney in the case, "now that foreign workers will be losing their jobs, how would it look if Obama went into overdrive to protect their jobs?" By the way, using a map to gauge whether support for the petition comes from all over the country (as the White House suggests), indicates that support for the OPT STEM Extension petition is largely concentrated in tech hotspots and universities, including off-the-beaten-path college towns that host large international student populations.
United States

John McAfee Pondering Presidential Bid 184

An anonymous reader writes: Since this U.S. presidential election cycle clearly isn't chaotic enough already, it seems John McAfee is now considering a campaign as well. Wired reports that McAfee hasn't decided for sure yet, and he's hoping to persuade somebody more charismatic to run with his backing. He said his advisors are pressing him to run, adding, "I have many thousands of emails saying please run for President. It's not something I would just choose to do on my own." What would his platform be? It actually sounds pretty simple: "It's clear that the leadership of our country is illiterate on the fundamental technology that supports everything in life for us now, that is cyber science, our smartphones, our military hardware, our communications." He'd be a strong proponent for privacy and autonomy. We should know in a few days whether McAfee is in or out — Wired says he "seems far more concerned with having his voice heard on one particular issue than with taking a seat in the Oval Office." Something seems to have changed his mind about politics: in a 2014 interview here, McAfee said. "I would never run for office, neither would I want to be in office, of any kind. I would rather drive a nail through my foot." According to the paperwork McAfee has filed, he is founding a new party (PDF).

Concern Over India PM's Silicon Valley Visit 80

New submitter SAsiaFaculty writes: India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will visit Silicon Valley on September 27, 2015 to promote his vision of "Digital India." Mr. Modi was denied the right to visit the United States from 2005 -2014 because of his role as the chief minister of Gujarat in the violence that rocked the state in 2002 when 1,000 people died. The visit, his second to the United States since becoming Prime Minister, has generated enthusiasm in India and in the Indian community in the United States. It has also elicited a cautionary statement with more than 135 signatures from faculty who teach and do research about South Asia at U.S. universities.

The letter urges Silicon Valley leaders to be mindful of their corporate responsibility and ensure that Mr. Modi's Digital India project promotes transparency, protection of human rights and civil liberties and intellectual freedom. Aspects of the "Digital India" program have raised questions in India about the lack of privacy safeguards and the possibility of enhanced surveillance and the repression of Indian citizens' constitutionally protected rights. A response to comments critical of the statement has been posted on the AAUP site.

Larry Lessig Reaches Funding Goal and Is Running For President 281

LetterRip writes: Lessig has met his funding goal of one million dollars, and thus is committed to run for President. ABC reports: "After exceeding his $1 million crowd-funding goal, Harvard Law School professor Larry Lessig announced today on “This Week” that he is running for president. 'I think I'm running to get people to acknowledge the elephant in the room,' he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. 'We have to recognize -- we have a government that does not work. The stalemate, partisan platform of American politics in Washington right now doesn't work.'”

The Politics of Star Trek 485

smitty_one_each writes: Timothy Sandefur, a lawyer at the Pacific Legal Foundation has written a breezy overview of the politics of the little-known show Star Trek. His thesis: "...the key to Star Trek's longevity and cultural penetration was its seriousness of purpose, originally inspired by creator Gene Roddenberry's science fiction vision. Modeled on Gulliver's Travels, the series was meant as an opportunity for social commentary, and it succeeded ingeniously, with episodes scripted by some of the era's finest science fiction writers. Yet the development of Star Trek's moral and political tone over 50 years also traces the strange decline of American liberalism since the Kennedy era." The article traces through episodes at each phase of the franchise, exploring literary allusions and lamenting that "Star Trek's latest iterations — the 'reboot' films directed by J.J. Abrams — shrug at the franchise's former philosophical depth."

Alaska: The Only US State Where Everyone Gets Free Money 284

merbs writes: Alaska’s Permanent Fund was established in 1976, in the midst of a black gold rush; the massive Trans-Alaska pipeline was in the process of being built, and the state had reaped $900 million in revenue from the sale of drilling leases in Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America, in a matter of years. In a matter of a few more, it’d spent it. Alaskans soon recognized that their enormous oil reserves were nonetheless limited, so, with a kind of longterm forward-thinking rarely seen in politics today, they voted to add an amendment to the state constitution to establish a fund that would protect a portion of all incoming oil wealth for future generations. In 2014, the net income of the fund was $6.8 billion dollars and the dividend doled out $1,884 to 640,000 citizens, despite a decline in oil revenues that year.
The Courts

TPP Scuttles Attempts To Fix Orphan Works 128

jsrjsr writes: David Post, writing at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, describes how the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty may prevent any changes to copyright law regarding orphan works. Quoting: "Big problem #1 is that copyright law doesn’t require the plaintiff to show any damage whatsoever. And it authorizes awards of up to $150,000 in “statutory damages” for each work that is infringed — independent of any damage assessment. ... It appears that the latest version of the treaty contains, buried within its many hundreds of pages, language that could require the U.S. to scuttle its plans for a sensible revision of this kind. ... Any provision of U.S. law that eliminated 'pre-established damage' or 'additional damages' for any class of works could be a violation of various TPP provisions requiring that such damages be made available, and it even appears that distribution of orphan works would have to subject the distributor to criminal copyright liability."

The Paris Climate Talks: Negotiating With the Atmosphere 130

Lasrick writes: The Paris climate change talks are in December, but what negotiators plan to propose will only be part of non-legally-binding pledges—and they represent only what is achievable without too much difficulty. 2009's Copenhagen Accord say 114 countries agree that global temperature increases should be held below 2 degrees Celsius. "Paradoxically, an accord that should have spurred the world to immediate action instead seemed to offer some breathing room. Two degrees was meant to be a ceiling, but repeated references to an internationally agreed-upon “threshold” led many people to believe that nothing really bad could happen below 2 degrees—or worse yet, that the number itself was negotiable." Dawn Stover writes about alternatives to the meaningless numbers and endless talks: 'The very idea that the Paris conference is a negotiation is ridiculous. You can't negotiate with the atmosphere."

Snowden: Clinton's Private Email Server Is a 'Problem' 344

An anonymous reader points out comments from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in a new interview with Al Jazeera about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was the U.S. Secretary of State. Snowden said, "Anyone who has the clearances that the Secretary of State has or the director of any top level agency has knows how classified information should be handled. When the unclassified systems of the United States government — which has a full time information security staff — regularly get hacked, the idea that someone keeping a private server ... is completely ridiculous." While Snowden didn't feel he had enough information to say Clinton's actions were a threat to national security, he did say that less prominent government employees would have probably been prosecuted for doing the same thing. For her part, Clinton said she used the private server out of convenience: "I was not thinking a lot when I got in. There was so much work to be done. We had so many problems around the world. I didn't really stop and think what kind of email system will there be."

Machine Learning Could Solve Economists' Math Problem 157

An anonymous reader writes: Noah Smith argues that the field of economics frequently uses math in an unhealthy way. He says many economists don't use math as a tool to describe reality, but rather as an abstract foundation for whatever theory they've come up with. A possible solution to this, he says, is machine learning: "In other words, econ is now a rogue branch of applied math. Developed without access to good data, it evolved different scientific values and conventions. But this is changing fast, as information technology and the computer revolution have furnished economists with mountains of data. As a result, empirical analysis is coming to dominate econ. ... [Two economists pushing this change] stated that machine learning techniques emphasized causality less than traditional economic statistical techniques, or what's usually known as econometrics. In other words, machine learning is more about forecasting than about understanding the effects of policy. That would make the techniques less interesting to many economists, who are usually more concerned about giving policy recommendations than in making forecasts."