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Earth

As Drought Worsens, California Orders Record Water Cuts 599 599

New submitter GordonShure.com writes: The State of California has made an unprecedented move by uniformly restricting water supplies across the entire state as demand outstrips supply. Farms are most affected, though food prices aren't anticipated to rise in any hurry: imports from out of state continue apace. Notably, this is a problem Silicon Valley hasn't much helped to solve.

Will this move induce meaningful modernization upon the infrastructure supporting the state's thirty-eight million residents? Or will things continue to be corn, corn, corn for the time being?
Democrats

Trade Bill Fails In the House 413 413

schwit1 writes: President Obama suffered a major defeat to his Pacific Rim free trade initiative Friday as House Democrats helped derail a key presidential priority despite his last-minute, personal plea on Capitol Hill. "In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress — before it could even come to a final vote." This was after Silicon Valley heavyweights made a last minute push to pass the bill and the White House got personal with many Democratic lawmakers.
Education

WA Gov. Sides With Microsoft: Philanthropy-Funded K-12 CS Education Now the Law 166 166

theodp writes: During public hearings on WA State's House Bill 1813, which took aim at boys' historical over-representation in K-12 computer classes, the Office of the WA State Superintendent of Public Instruction voiced concerns that by relying on the generosity of corporations, wealthy individuals, and nonprofits to fund STEM, computer science, and technology programs, learning opportunities would be limited to a small group of students, creating disparity of opportunity. "If this is a real priority," pleaded Chris Vance, "fund it fully" (HB 1813, like the White House K-12 CS plan, counts on philanthropy to make up for tax shortfalls). But legislators in the WA House and Senate — apparently more swayed by the pro-HB 1813 testimony of representatives from Microsoft and Microsoft-backed TEALS and Code.org — overwhelmingly passed the bill, sending it to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature. Not to worry. On Wednesday, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Inslee, who was perhaps influenced by the we-need-to-pass-HB-1813 blogging of Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith, who coincidentally is not only responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work, but was also co-chair of Gov.-elect Inslee's transition team. The WA state legislative victory comes less than 24 hours after the San Francisco School Board voted to require CS instruction beginning with preschool.
Bug

Wassenaar Treaty Will Hamper Bug Bounties 35 35

msm1267 writes: If the proposed U.S. Wassenaar rules are enacted, researchers who make a living contributing to and participating in the numerous industry bug bounties may feel the pinch in their wallets. Worse may be the impact on the security of software worldwide since many independent researchers find a good number of the bugs that get patched.

Researchers are starting to speak out, not only about the rules' broad definition of intrusion software, but also about the potential need to share vulnerability details with a government if forced to apply for the required export license. Many may soon question whether it's worth the time and effort to go through the export process if governments are acting as a clearinghouse.
United States

US Army Website Hacked By Syrian Electronic Army 116 116

swinferno writes: On Monday afternoon, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed on Twitter to have successfully hacked the website of the United States Army, army.mil. Various screenshots that appeared on Twitter reportedly showed pro-Assad propaganda on the site before it crashed. "Today an element of the Army.mil service provider's content was compromised. After this came to our attention, the Army took appropriate preventive measures to ensure there was no breach of Army data by taking down the website temporarily," spokesman Brig. Gen. Malcom B. Frost said in a statement.
Democrats

Microsoft Will Help Iowa Caucuses Go High-Tech 71 71

jfruh writes: Poltical party caucuses are one of the quirkier aspects of American political life: local party members gather in small rooms across the state, discuss their preferences, and send a report of how many delegates for each candidate will attend later county and statewide caucuses to ultimately choose delegates to the national convention. It's also a system with a lot of room for error in reporting, as local precinct leaders have traditionally sent in reports of votes via telephone touch-tone menus and paper mail. In 2016, Microsoft will help both Democrats and Republicans streamline the process in a fashion that will hopefully avoid the embarrassing result from 2012, when Mitt Romney was declared the winner on caucus night only for Rick Santorum to emerge as the true victor when all votes were counted weeks later.
Censorship

Anti-TPP Website Being Blacklisted 180 180

so.dan writes: The CTO of Fight for the Future — the non-profit activism group behind Battle for the Net, Blackout Congress, and Stop Fast Track — Jeff Lyon, is seeking advice regarding a problem with facing the website they created — stopfasttrack.com — to fight the secret Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.

The site been blacklisted by Twitter, Facebook, and major email providers as malicious/spam. Over the last week, nobody has been able to post the website on social networks, or send any emails with their URL. Lyon has posted a summary of the relevant details on Reddit in the hope of obtaining useful feedback regarding what the cause might be. However, none of the answers there right now seem particularly useful, so I'm hoping the Slashdot community can help him out by posting here.

Lyon indicates that the blackout has occurred at a particularly crucial point in the campaign to kill the TPP, as most members of the House of Representatives would likely vote against it were it brought to a vote now, and as pro-TPP interests have started to escalate their lobbying efforts on the House to counteract what would otherwise be a no vote.
Government

Presidential Candidate Lincoln Chaffee Proposes That US Go Metric 830 830

New submitter Applehu Akbar writes: The good news is that for the first time in years, a candidate in the next presidential cycle has proposed completing our transition to the metric system. Though unfortunately it's Lincoln Chaffee, let's all hope that this long-standing nerd issue gets into the 2016 debate because of this. Warning: Lame CNN autoplaying video.
Facebook

Facebook Sued In US Court For Blocking Page In India 100 100

itwbennett writes: Facebook has been sued in California by the non-profit organization Sikhs For Justice for blocking their page in India. The group has charged Facebook with engaging in 'a pattern of civil rights violation and blatant discriminatory conduct' by blocking its content in the whole of India. It has asked the court for a permanent injunction on further blocking of the page, access to Facebook's correspondence with the Indian government about the block, and an award of damages, besides other relief.
Privacy

Senate Passes USA Freedom Act 294 294

schwit1 points out that the U.S. Senate has passed the USA Freedom Act by a vote of 67-32, sending it on to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill removes mass metadata collection powers from the NSA, but also grants a new set of surveillance powers to replace them. Telecoms now hang on to that data, and the government can access it if they suspect the target is part of a terrorism investigation and one of the call's participants is overseas. "The second provision revived Tuesday concerns roving wiretaps. Spies may tap a terror suspect's communications without getting a renewed FISA Court warrant, even as a suspect jumps from one device to the next. The FISA Court need not be told who is being targeted when issuing a warrant. The third spy tool renewed is called "lone wolf" in spy jargon. It allows for roving wiretaps. However, the target of wiretaps does not have to be linked to a foreign power or terrorism."
United States

Patriot Act Spy Powers To Expire As Rand Paul Blocks USA Freedom Act Vote 500 500

Saturday, we mentioned that three major spying powers that the U.S. government has exercised under the Patriot Act might be nixed, as the sections of the Act granting authority to use them expires. The Daily Dot reports that Senator (and presidential contender) Rand Paul today used Senate rules to block a bill which would have extended those powers, which means that as of midnight Sunday on the U.S. east coast, sections 206, 207 and 215 of the Patriot Act will have expired. Says the Daily Dot's article, linked by reader blottsie: The reform bill, which the House passed before leaving town for a week-long recess, would end the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records under the Patriot Act's controversial Section 215 but leaves the other two provisions intact. ... Sunday's procedural meltdown was the second narrow defeat for the USA Freedom Act. In a late-night session on Friday, May 22, the bill fell three votes short of an initial procedural step after [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell lobbied hard against it. The Senate's failure to meet its deadline was a blow to President Obama, who on Friday had warned lawmakers that the country would be vulnerable if the USA Freedom Act did not pass.
Censorship

Artist Uses 3D Printing To Preserve Artifacts Destroyed By ISIS 73 73

tedlistens writes: "From the burning of the Library of Alexandria to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan by the Taliban, to the Nazi's battle to burn as much "degenerate art" as they could find, mobs and soldiers have been quick to destroy what took societies centuries to create; what museums and collectors spent decades collecting, preserving, and documenting for the public." However, as noted by Motherboard in an article to which tedlistens links, "The digital era looks different: files can be cheaply hosted in data centers spread across several states or continents to ensure permanence. Morehshin Allahyari, an Iranian born artist, educator, and activist, wants to apply that duplicability to the artifacts that ISIS has destroyed. Now, Allahyari is working on digitally fabricating the sculptures for a series called "Material Speculation" as part of a residency in Autodesk's Pier 9 program. The first in the series is "Material Speculation: ISIS," which, through intense research, is modeling and reproducing statues destroyed by ISIS in 2015. Allahyari isn't just interested in replicating lost objects but making it possible for anyone to do the same: Embedded within each semi-translucent copy is a flash drive with Allahyari's research about the artifacts, and an online version is coming.
Government

The Patriot Act May Be Dead For Good 218 218

HughPickens.com points out Shane Harris's report at The Daily Beast that when powerful spying authorities under the Patriot Act expire at the stroke of midnight Monday, as currently appears likely, they may never return. "Senators have been negotiating over whether to pass a House bill that would renew and tweak existing provisions in the long-controversial law, but if the sunset comes and the provisions are off the books, lawmakers in both chambers would be facing a vote to reinstate controversial surveillance authorities, which is an entirely different political calculation. ... Three major Patriot provisions are on the chopping block: so-called roving wiretaps, which let the government monitor one person's multiple electronic devices; the "lone-wolf" provision, which allows surveillance of someone who's not connected to a known terrorist group; and Section 215, which, among other things, the government uses to collect the records of all landline phone calls in the United States." Obama has been urging Congress to pass the Freedom Act, but not warning that the sky will fall if they don't. That may reflect a calculation on the president's part that the surveillance authorities aren't important enough to lose political capital fighting to keep them. Meanwhile with the Senate not slated to return to Washington until just hours before that deadline, opponents like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) showing no signs of budging, and the House so far unwilling to bail out the upper chamber, the prospects for an eleventh-hour breakthrough look slim.
Communications

Professional Internet Troll Sues Her Former Employer 184 184

baegucb sends a followup to the news from March that professional internet trolls were operating by the hundreds at factories in Russia. A woman hired to be one of these trolls, Lyudmila Savchuk, spoke to the media about her job, which led to her being fired. She's now suing her former employer and providing further details about how they operate. "The 'troll factory' operates based on very weird schemes, but all those firms are connected to each other, even though they are separate legal entities," she said. "I knew it was something bad, but of course I never suspected that it was this horrible and this large-scale." She describes how they flooded comment sections with pro-Putin responses, pushed out over 100 blog posts each shift, and doctored images to suit their employers' needs. Savchuk is now gathering activists to oppose this form of internet propaganda.
Space

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Urges America To Challenge China To a Space Race 275 275

An anonymous reader writes: According to a Tuesday story in the UK edition of the International Business Times, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, advocates a space race between the United States and China. The idea is that such a race would spur innovation and cause industry to grow. The Apollo race to the moon caused a similar explosive period of scientific research and engineering development. You might prefer the Sydney Morning Herald piece on which the IB Times article is based.
Education

A Ph.D Thesis Defense Delayed By Injustice 77 Years 134 134

Taco Cowboy writes: A story about a 102-year old lady doing her PhD thesis defense is not that common, but when the thesis defense was delayed by a whopping 77 years, that gotta raise some eyebrows. Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport studied diphtheria at the University of Hamburg in Germany and in 1938, the 25-year old Protestant-raised, German-born Ingeborg submitted for her doctorate thesis defense. She was denied her chance for her defense because her mother was of the Jewish ancestry, making her an official "cross-breed". As such the Nazi regime forbid the university from proceeding with her defense, for "racial reasons".

She became one of the thousands of scholars and researchers banished from German academe, which at the time included many of the world's most prestigious research institutions, because of Jewish ancestry or opposition to Nazi policies. Many of them ended up suffering or dying in concentration camps. Rudolf Degkwitz, Syllm's professor, was imprisoned for objecting to euthanizing children. Syllm, however, was able to reach the United States and earned her medical degree from the old Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Eventually she married a fellow physician named Samuel Mitja Rapoport, had a family, and moved back to Germany in the 1950s, where she achieved prominence in neonatology. Syllm-Rapoport, who is now 102 years old, might have remained just a doctor (if a very accomplished one) had not the present dean of the Hamburg medical school, Uwe Koch-Gromus, heard her story from a colleague of her son, Tom Rapoport, a Harvard cell biologist.

Determined to do what he could to mitigate this wrong, Koch-Gromus arranged Syllm-Rapoport's long-delayed defense. Despite failing eyesight, she brushed up on decades of developments in diphtheria research with the help of friends and the Internet. Koch-Gromus called the 45-minute oral exam given by him and two colleagues on 13 May in her Berlin living room "a very good test. Frau Rapoport has gathered notable knowledge about what's happened since then. Particularly given her age, she was brilliant."
Democrats

Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping 389 389

mi writes: President Obama has asked the Senate to renew key Patriot Act provisions before their expiration on May 31. This includes surveillance powers that let the government collect Americans' phone records. Obama said, "It's necessary to keep the American people safe and secure." The call came despite recent revelations that the FBI is unable to name a single terror case in which the snooping provisions were of much help. "Obama noted that the controversial bulk phone collections program, which was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is reformed in the House bill, which does away with it over six months and instead gives phone companies the responsibility of maintaining phone records that the government can search." Obama criticized the Senate for not acting on that legislation, saying they have necessitated a renewal of the Patriot Act provisions.
Education

Clinton Foundation: Kids' Lack of CS Savvy Threatens the US Economy 208 208

theodp writes: As the press digs for details on Clinton Foundation donations, including a reported $26+ million from Microsoft and Bill Gates, it's probably worth noting the interest the Clintons have developed in computer science and the role they have played — and continue to play — in the national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis that materialized after Microsoft proposed creating such a crisis to advance its 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy, which aims to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas. Next thing you know, Bill is the face of CS at the launch of Code.org. Then Hillary uses the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference to launch a Facebook, Microsoft, and Google initiative to boost the ranks of female and students of color in CS, and starts decrying woeful CS enrollment. Not to be left out, Chelsea keynotes the NCWIT Summit and launches Google's $50M girls-only Made With Code initiative with now-U.S. CTO Megan Smith. And last December, the Clinton Foundation touted its initiatives to engage middle school girls in CS, revamp the nation's AP CS program, and retrain out-of-work Americans as coders. At next month's CGI America 2015, the conference will kick off with a Beer Bust that CGI says "will also provide an opportunity to learn about Tech Girls Rock, a CGI Commitment to Action launched by CA Technologies in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that helps girls discover an interest in tech-related educational opportunities and careers." On the following days, CGI sessions will discuss tech's need for a strong and diverse talent pipeline for computer and information technology jobs, which it says is threatened by "the persistent poor performance of American students in science, technology, engineering, and math," presenting "serious implications for the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. economy." So what's the long-term solution? Expanding CS education, of course!
United Kingdom

British Politicians Delete Negative Wikipedia Descriptions Before Election 121 121

EwanPalmer writes: The Wikipedia pages of dozens of UK politicians had references to sex scandals, fraud and opposition to same sex marriage removed in the run up to the UK general election. Dozens of MPs had negative aspects of their online biographies removed or altered prior to the election in a bid to make them more electable. The changes include several instances of MPs' expense claim scandals being removed, as well as details of arrests and the use of 'chauffeur-driven cars.' The edits were made using computers with IP addresses registered from inside Parliament.
EU

EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US 156 156

An anonymous reader writes: The European Union recently published plans to ban 31 pesticides containing chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility. Those potential regulations have now been dropped after a U.S. business delegation said they would adversely affect trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. "Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue 'could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations.'"