Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
bs0d3 writes "From having a position in the development and support of ACTA, to implementation of HADOPI, to imposing an internet tax to pay for music; France has been at the forefront of anti-piracy legislation. This week, it has been announced that current President and anti-piracy advocate Nicolas Sarkozy is unlikely to win the next election. His leading opponent is a man named Francois Hollande. Hollande has in the past opposed both ACTA and HADOPI (France's 3 strikes law). Hollande believes that ACTA, 'originally intended to combat counterfeiting trade[,] was gradually diverted from its objective, in the utmost discretion and without any democratic process.' At the same time, Hollande is also strongly against piracy. 'Piracy has been costly,' Hollande said, 'but I do not think that law enforcement alone is the answer to the problem.' Will internet issues be of concern to the voters in France? It certainly is to the rest of us internet users."
Jeremiah Cornelius writes "While conducting investigative reporting on civilian contractors in the Pentagon's "InfoOps" Internet propaganda operations, two reporters found themselves the subject of a highly targeted, professional media manipulation effort. Reporter Tom Vanden Brook and Editor Ray Locker found that Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names. Some postings merely copied Vanden Brook's and Locker's previous reporting. Others accused them of being sponsored by the Taliban. 'I find it creepy and cowardly that somebody would hide behind my name and presumably make up other names in an attempt to undermine my credibility,' Vanden Brook said. If these websites were created using federal funds, it could violate federal law prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption."
wytcld writes "Sending an individually-written e-mail to my state senator resulted in an automated response saying that since she receives hundreds of e-mails a day, there might be no personal response, but please don't take that to mean she hasn't read my e-mail. So I contacted her again suggesting that was a pretty poor answer. Most of the e-mails she receives are mass mailings coordinated by various interest group websites. Why doesn't she put those to the side, I asked, and prioritize response to individual e-mails from constituents who've taken the time to actually write? Her response? She often can't tell the difference at first, so spends time drafting responses to the first instances of group e-mail spam, and gets diverted from responding to those who really write her. Are there tools out there which a politician can use to identify the incoming group-think blasts and put them to to side? It's easy enough to imagine sorting by repeated content or headers, if I ran the mail server, but I'm looking for packages already out there that a state-level representative, with no staff to speak of, might use to cut through the mess and prioritize communication with constituents who care enough about an issue to draft their own thoughts."
trichard writes with this quote from an AP report: "Ameren Missouri is vying to be the first utility in the country to seek a construction and operating license for a small-scale nuclear reactor, a technology that's appealing to utilities because of the smaller upfront costs and shorter development lead times. The small reactors, about a fourth or less the capacity of full-size nuclear units, are appealing to the nuclear industry because they could be manufactured at a central plant and shipped around the world. By contrast, building nuclear reactors today is a more cumbersome process that must be done largely on site and takes years."
nk497 writes "The first official expert witness in an inquiry into network-level filtering of porn was a Sun advice columnist called Dear Deidre. A group of MPs has been pushing to censor the UK web to prevent children from seeing porn, but reading the full report reveals the weakness of the evidence. It also features Dear Deidre defending the topless model on Page 3 of her own newspaper, saying, 'the Editor of The Sun thinks it's okay' and 'nine million people read it.'"
CAPSLOCK2000 writes "The Dutch Pirate Party (PPNL) just won a court-case against BREIN. Last week BREIN got a court to issue an emergency order to take down a reverse-proxy to The Pirate Bay. The next day BREIN claimed the court order also included a generic proxy also ran by PPNL and any other service that might lead to TPB (aka hyperlinks). PPNL responded with an emergency lawsuit of their own, asking for a literal interpretation of the verdict instead of BREIN's broad reading. The judge acknowledged the narrow interpretation of the verdict. proxy.piratenpartij.nl stays up and tpb.piratenpartij.nl now sports a list of other ways to reach The Pirate Bay. Due to the Streisand effect this list has grown to a considerable length. Noteworthy is that The Pirate Party got favorable verdict in a single day, a first in Dutch law." Full verdict (in Dutch). This is only a temporary order by the judge to keep the general-purpose proxy run by the Pirate Party and the list of alternative proxies to the Pirate Bay online. A full case hearing is expected on April 24th.
New submitter jamaicaplain sends this quote from an article in the NY Times: "Iraq, cut off from decades of technological progress because of dictatorship, sanctions and wars, recently took a big step out of isolation and into the digital world when its telecommunications system was linked to a vast new undersea cable system serving the Gulf countries. The engineers who designed and installed the cable that made shore in Al-Faw, near Basra, had to deal with an unusual number of challenges. There were more than 100 oil and natural gas pipelines to cross; stretches of shallow water where the cable had to be buried; and unexploded ordnance from the Iraq war that had to be avoided. ... Because of the crisis in Syria and the tensions over Iran, the possibility of routing traffic via Iraq has suddenly become more attractive to telecommunications operators. ... 'Iraq has a very strong strategic position to become a transit point for traffic between Europe and Asia.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Last week the Dutch Pirate Party refused to take down their proxy. Then, avoiding the Pirate Party in court, the entertainment industry organization BREIN obtained an injunction against the party's The Pirate Bay proxy (now a list of alternative proxies). After receiving additional demands from BREIN on Saturday night, including one to censor their generic proxy, the Dutch Pirate Party decided to take them to court, to strike the order and convince the judge of the need for due process and the freedom to inform." From the press release: "The penalties imposed by the court are 4 times higher than those ordered upon the large commercial ISPs XS4ALL and Ziggo..."
Hugh Pickens writes "Dr. James Hansen, director of the NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who first made warnings about climate change in the 1980s, says that public skepticism about the threat of man-made climate change has increased despite the growing scientific consensus. He says that without public support, it will be impossible to make the changes he and his colleagues believe need to occur to protect future generations from the effects of climate change. 'The science has become stronger and stronger over the past five years while the public perception is has gone in completely the other direction. That is not an accident,' says Hansen. 'There is a very concerted effort by people who would prefer to see business to continue as usual. They have been winning the public debate with the help of tremendous resources.' Hansen's comments come as recent surveys have revealed that public support for tackling climate change has declined dramatically in recent years. A recent BBC poll found that 25% of British adults did not think global warming is happening and over a third said many claims about environmental threats are 'exaggerated,' compared to 24 per cent in 2000. Dr. Benny Peiser, director of skeptical think tank The Global Warming Policy Foundation, says it's time to stop exaggerating the impact of global warming and accept the uncertainty of predictions about the rate of climate change. 'James Hensen has been making predictions about climate change since the 1980s. When people are comparing what is happening now to those predictions, they can see they fail to match up.'"
Fluffeh writes "The United States' global trade representative has strongly criticized a perceived preference on the part of large Australian organizations for hosting their data on-shore in Australia, claiming it created a significant trade barrier for U.S. technology firms. A number of U.S. companies had expressed concerns that various departments in the Australian Government, namely the Department of Defence had been sending negative messages about cloud providers based outside the country, implying that 'hosting data overseas, including in the United States, by definition entails greater risk and unduly exposes consumers to their data being scrutinized by foreign governments.' Recently, Acting Victorian Privacy Commissioner Anthony Bendall highlighted some of the privacy concerns with cloud computing, particularly in its use by the local government. He said the main problems were the lack of control over stored data and privacy, in overseas cloud service providers."
bobwrit writes with this excerpt from CNN: "Conservative challenger Rick Santorum announced Tuesday that he is suspending his Republican presidential campaign after a weekend of 'prayer and thought,' effectively ceding the GOP nomination to front-runner Mitt Romney. Santorum made his announcement after the weekend hospitalization of his 3-year-old daughter Isabella, and in the face of tightening poll numbers in Pennsylvania — the state he represented as a U.S. senator — ahead of the April 24 primary. 'Ladies and gentlemen, we made the decision to get into this race around our kitchen table, against all the odds,' Santorum told a news conference, flanked by emotional family members. 'We made a decision over the weekend that while the presidential race for us is over, and I will suspend my campaign effective today, we are not done fighting.'"
Harperdog writes "In 1999, Senate Republicans rejected the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty on the grounds that it wasn't verifiable. The National Academy of Sciences feels this is no longer true, due to new technology. Quoting: 'Technologies for detecting clandestine testing in four environments — underground, underwater, in the atmosphere, and in space — have improved significantly in the past decade. In particular, seismology, the most effective approach for monitoring underground nuclear explosion testing, can now detect underground explosions well below 1 kiloton in most regions. A kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of chemical high explosive. The nuclear weapons that were used in Japan in World War II had yields in the range of 10 to 20 kilotons.'"
An anonymous reader writes "As congressmen in Washington consider how to handle the ongoing issue of cyberattacks, some legislators have lent their support to a new act that, if passed, would let the government pry into the personal correspondence of anyone of their choosing. This is SOPA being passed in smaller chunks... 'H.R. 3523, a piece of legislation dubbed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (or CISPA for short) has vague definitions that could allow Congress to circumvent existing exemptions to online privacy laws and essentially monitor, censor and stop any online communication that it considers disruptive to the government or private parties.'"
First time accepted submitter samazon writes "According to a recently proposed abstract by the United States Geological Survey, hydraulic fracturing, or more specifically the disposal of fracking wastewater, may be directly correlated to the increase in seismic activity in the midwest. Results of the paper will be presented on April 18th, but the language of the abstract seems to imply that there is a connection. After years of controversy regarding hydrofracking including ground water contamination and disclosure of chemical solutions, the results of the study, if conclusive, could influence the cost of natural gas due to increased regulations on wastewater disposal." The actual language of the abstract leaves a fair amount of wiggle room: "While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production."
New submitter si622test1 writes "A judge has determined that the ex-astronaut-turned-politician who was sued by California Republicans for putting 'astronaut' as his occupation while running for Congress will be allowed to do so, saying that Hernandez is an astronaut for 'more than the time spent riding a rocket.'"