New submitter nicoles writes with this quote from an AP report: "The Romney and Obama campaigns are spending heavily on television ads and other traditional tools to convey their messages. But strategists say the most important breakthrough this year is the campaigns' use of online data to raise money, share information and persuade supporters to vote. The practice, known as 'microtargeting,' has been a staple of product marketing. Now it's facing the greatest test of its political impact in the race for the White House. ... The Romney team spent nearly $1 million on digital consulting in April and Obama at least $300,000. ... Campaigns use microtargeting to identify potential supporters or donors using data gleaned from a range of sources, especially their Internet browsing history. A digital profile of each person is then created, allowing the campaigns to find them online and solicit them for money and support."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Cynic writes "Having read pretty heavily on the topic, weighed the pros and cons, and seen a few relevant slashdot articles, I wondered why an elected representative couldn't use online and in-person polling of constituents to decide the way he or she votes. Though we are living in the 'information age' and have rich communications media and opportunities for deep and accessible deliberation, we are getting by (poorly) with horse-and-buggy-era representation. In the spirit of science and because I think it's legitimately a better way of doing things, I recently announced my candidacy for Vermont's State Senate in Washington County." How do you think such polling could be best accomplished? Do you think it's worth trying? Whether or not you buy into it, it's something that's only been made feasible in recent times with modern technology.
New submitter gmfeier writes "An interesting study reported in Nature Climate Change indicates that concern over climate change did not correlate with scientific literacy nearly as much as with cultural polarization. Quoting: 'For ordinary citizens, the reward for acquiring greater scientific knowledge and more reliable technical-reasoning capacities is a greater facility to discover and use—or explain away—evidence relating to their groups’ positions. Even if cultural cognition serves the personal interests of individuals, this form of reasoning can have a highly negative impact on collective decision making. What guides individual risk perception, on this account, is not the truth of those beliefs but rather their congruence with individuals’ cultural commitments. As a result, if beliefs about a societal risk such as climate change come to bear meanings congenial to some cultural outlooks but hostile to others, individuals motivated to adopt culturally congruent risk perceptions will fail to converge, or at least fail to converge as rapidly as they should, on scientific information essential to their common interests in health and prosperity. Although it is effectively costless for any individual to form a perception of climate-change risk that is wrong but culturally congenial, it is very harmful to collective welfare for individuals in aggregate to form beliefs this way.'"
New submitter Peetke writes "The Dutch House of Representatives unanimously accepted a motion to urge the Cabinet to reject ACTA [Dutch original] (if they ever get the change to do so; it may already end in the European Parliament). Additionally, an even stronger motion was accepted to reject any future treaty that may harm a free and open Internet. This is a good day for the Internet."
scibri writes, quoting Nature: "A loose coalition of eco-anarchist groups is increasingly launching violent attacks on scientists. A group calling itself the Olga Cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation International Revolutionary Front has claimed responsibility for the non-fatal shooting of a nuclear-engineering executive on 7 May in Genoa. The same group sent a letter bomb to a Swiss pro-nuclear lobby group in 2011; attempted to bomb IBM's nanotechnology laboratory in Switzerland in 2010; and has ties with a group responsible for at least four bomb attacks on nanotechnology facilities in Mexico. Another branch of the group attacked railway signals in Bristol, UK, last week in an attempt to disrupt employees of nearby defense technology firms (no word on whether anyone noticed the difference between an anarchist attack and a normal Wednesday on the UK's railways). A report by Swiss intelligence says such loosely affiliated groups are increasingly working together."
New submitter wirelessduck writes "After some recent complaints from a Labor MP about price markups on software and technology devices in Australia, Federal Government agencies decided to look in to the matter and an official parliamentary inquiry into the issue was started. 'The Federal Parliament's inquiry into local price markups on technology goods and services has gotten under way, with the committee overseeing the initiative issuing its terms of reference and calling for submissions from the general public on the issue.'"
phaedrus5001 writes "The mayor of West New York, New Jersey was arrested by the FBI after he and his son illegally took down a website that was calling for the recall of mayor Felix Roque (the site is currently down). From the article: 'According to the account of FBI Special Agent Ignace Ertilus, Felix and Joseph Roque took a keen interest in the recall site as early as February. In an attempt to learn the identity of the person behind the site, the younger Roque set up an e-mail account under a fictitious name and contacted an address listed on the website. He offered some "very good leads" if the person would agree to meet him. When the requests were repeatedly rebuffed, Joseph Rogue allegedly tried another route. He pointed his browser to Google and typed the search strings "hacking a Go Daddy Site," "recallroque log-in," and "html hacking tutorial."'"
Fluffeh writes "Republican Assemblyman Jim Conte said, '[this] turns the spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.' Republican Senator Thomas O'Mara added, '[this will] help lend some accountability to the Internet age.' The two are sponsoring a bill that would ban any New York-based websites from allowing comments (or well, anything) to be posted unless the person posting it attaches their name to it. But the bill also goes further, saying New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, must 'remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.'"
redletterdave writes with an update to news from a few months ago that France had banned the growing of Monsanto's genetically modified corn. After reviewing the evidence France submitted in support of the ban, the European Food Safety Authority has now rejected it. An official opinion (PDF) stated that they "could not identify any new science-based evidence indicating that maize MON 810 cultivation in the EU poses a significant and imminent risk to the human and animal health or the environment."
After years of accusations of creating a 'chilled work environment,' Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko resigned this morning (PDF). His largest achievement was perhaps killing the Yucca Mountain waste repository, and he oversaw the certification of the AP1000 reactor. It is unknown whether a new chairman will be appointed from within the NRC. Quoting the Washington Post: "The reason for his resignation is unclear. He is stepping down before the release of a second inspector general report rumored to be into allegations of Mr. Jaczko's misconduct. NRC spokesman Eliot Brenner told The Washington Times that the report had no impact on the timing of Mr. Jaczko's resignation announcement. Mr. Jaczko's statement was vague, saying that it 'is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum. This is the right time to pass along the public safety torch to a new chairman...' While his statement did not specifically touch on the embarrassing revelations of his tyrannical approach to the job or its impact on NRC staff, he did sound a defiant note by claiming the NRC was 'one of the best places to work in the federal government throughout my tenure.'" Today also marks the start of the annual nuclear industry conference.
Okian Warrior writes "Various new sources are reporting the results of a recent Labor Party poll, indicating that Julian Assange would be elected to the Australian senate, should he choose to run. From the Sun Daily article: 'Controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stands a real chance of winning an upper house seat in his native Australia if he presses ahead with plans to stand for election, a poll showed Saturday. A survey conducted by the ruling Labor party's internal pollsters UMR Research and published in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper showed 25 percent of those polled would vote for the whistleblowing website chief.'"
First time accepted submitter ixarux writes "India is at a crucial crossroad at the moment. Internet censorship laws are getting stricter as it begins to ban file-sharing and video-sharing websites. It started with Indian courts allowing censorship of Google, Facebook, etc. It has now gone one step ahead and decided to ask ISPs to block file-sharing sites. It is the movie industry which is again at the forefront of this. Anonymous retaliated, and targeted the websites of various Indian government websites in protest. What India lacks at this crucial juncture are debates in the public domain about this and citizens actually organizing protests as seen in the West."
cedarhillbilly writes "In his new book The Geek Manifesto, Mark Henderson 'pleads for citizens who value science to force it onto the mainstream political agenda and other main walks of life.' There are some important questions that need answers: 'Do you have to give up your tech practice to undertake a public role?' Also, 'Is political life (compromise, working by consensus, irrationality) antithetical to the "geek" values?'" The Guardian's coverage sums up the idea nicely: "What I desperately want is a move toward an evidence-based culture in politics. Politicians are free to say: 'I think people on drugs should be punished because drugs are immoral.' That's a moral call, albeit a rather stupid one in my opinion. What they shouldn't do is say: 'I want to reduce drug use, and sending all users to prison is the most cost-effective way to achieve that.' That's not a moral call, it's a factual statement; as such it should be evidence-based, or else the person making it should shut the hell up."
New submitter kimtysirt sends this excerpt from a Bloomberg report about U.S. tariffs for Chinese solar panels: "The U.S. yesterday imposed tariffs of as much as 250 percent on Chinese-made solar cells to aid domestic manufacturers beset by foreign competition, though critics said the decision may end up raising prices and hurting the U.S. renewable energy industry. The U.S. Commerce Department ruled that Chinese manufacturers sold cells in the U.S. at prices below the cost of production and announced preliminary antidumping duties ranging from 31 percent to 250 percent, depending on the manufacturer. China criticized the action, saying the U.S. is hurting itself and cooperation between the world’s two largest economies. The decision is meant to provide a boost to the U.S. solar manufacturing industry, where four companies filed for bankruptcy in the past year."
An anonymous reader writes "In the midst of Congressional races around the country, one stands out to techies. Thomas Massie, an MIT whiz kid who pioneered touch-based interfaces and founded SensAble Technologies in the 1990s, is the favorite to win the Republican nomination in his Kentucky district next week. SensAble was recently sold on the cheap, but in a new exclusive, Massie explains why he left the haptics firm years ago to lead a simpler life of farming, family, and guns — lots of guns. Along the way he built a solar-powered, off-the-grid house and became a local hero of the Tea Party. Now Massie is leading the charge to get more engineers into politics, and if he wins, he could be a force to be reckoned with in Washington, DC."