Apple and many other tech companies have offered benefits to same-sex couples (and sometimes made them a sticking point) for quite some time now, but Google is taking its position of inclusion for sexual minorities outside the company itself; the company has announced an international campaign to promote legal marriage equality for same-sex couples, called "Legalize Love." According to CNN's version of the story, while this represents Google's policies overall, the campaign will at first "focus on countries like Singapore, where certain homosexual activities are illegal, and Poland, which has no legal recognition of same-sex couples." dot429 quotes Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe of Google, speaking in London Saturday at a summit where the initiative was announced: "We want our employees who are gay or lesbian or transgender to have the same experience outside the office as they do in the office. It is obviously a very ambitious piece of work." Also at CNET.
Find out the latest on data centers with SlashDataCenter.
Rambo Tribble writes "The BBC is reporting that the worldwide, tangled mess of IP litigation has come to the attention of the UN's International Telecommunication Union. The agency has announced it will be holding talks aimed at reducing this massive drag on the digital economy. Good luck."
New submitter smugfunt writes "A number of incidents at schools in Afghanistan, especially girls' schools, have been attributed to poisoning by the Taliban. The World Health Organization has investigated 32 of them but found no poison. "Mass Psychological Illness is the most probable cause," they conclude, the Telegraph reports. The Taliban has consistently denied poisoning schools and have even consented to allow the education of girls in a deal with the government which allows significant Taliban control over the curriculum."
The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a landmark resolution (PDF) declaring that internet freedom is a basic human right. They wrote: "...the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." The council also called upon all countries to 'promote and facilitate access to the Internet.' The article points out that this comes alongside a report from the Pew Internet Center, which asked a group of internet stakeholders how they think firms in the private sector will handle the ethical issues that arise with countries wanting to censor or restrict internet access. The responses were varied, but skepticism was a recurring theme: 'Corporations will work around regional differences by spinning off subsidiaries, doing what's needed to optimize on future profits.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A year ago, we discussed this on Slashdot: E-Voting Reform In an Out Year?. The point was that due to the hoard of problems with electronic (and mechanical) voting, it is best to approach reform in an out year, when it is not on everyone's mind yet too late to do anything about it. Well, we failed, didn't we? Another election year is upon us, and our vote is less secure, less reliable, and less meaningful than ever. To reference the last article, we still have no open source voting, no end-to-end auditable voting systems and no open source governance. So don't complain if this election is stolen. You forgot to fix the system."
Charliemopps writes "Ron and Rand Paul are shifting the central focus of their family's libertarian crusade to a new cause: Internet Freedom. From the article: 'Kentucky senator Rand and his father Ron Paul, who has not yet formally conceded the Republican presidential nomination, will throw their weight behind a new online manifesto set to be released today by the Paul-founded Campaign for Liberty. The new push, Paul aides say, will in some ways displace what has been their movement's long-running top priority, shutting down the Federal Reserve Bank. The move is an attempt to stake a libertarian claim to a central public issue of the next decade, and to move from the esoteric terrain of high finance to the everyday world of cable modems and Facebook.' This seems like welcome news to me. Let's see if they can get more traction here than they did with the Fed."
judgecorp writes "WikiLeaks has started publishing 2.5 million emails from Syrian political figures and other bodies. The material will embarrass Syria, as well as other governments according to Julian Assange (still hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London). As well as revealing the behaviour of the Syrian regime, the emails will also expose the hypocrisy of other governments and companies, Assange has said."
Grumbleduke writes "Today the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Despite attempts by the EPP Group to delay the vote until after the Courts have ruled on its legality, the Parliament voted against the Treaty by 478 to 39; apparently the biggest ever defeat the Commission has suffered. However, despite this apparent victory for the Internet, transparency and democracy, the Commission indicated that it will press ahead with the court reference, and if the Court doesn't reject ACTA as well, will consider bringing it back before the Parliament."
lampsie writes "You may recall from back in January 2012 that the Irish government had deemed their stock of 7,000 e-voting machines 'worthless.' Turns out they are not — after spending upwards of €54 million purchasing them almost a decade ago, all 7,000 will now be scrapped for €70,000 (just over nine Euros each). The machines were scrapped because 'they could not be guaranteed to be safe from tampering [...] and they could not produce a printout so that votes/results could be double-checked.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Texas Republican delegates met earlier this month to put together their 2012 platform. Much of this focused on the educational system. Alarmingly, they openly state that they oppose schools teaching critical thinking, on the grounds that it may challenge 'student's fixed beliefs' and undermine 'parental authority.' Page 12 of their official platform (PDF) discusses their thinking on teaching thinking."
Geoffrey.landis writes "At last, a public opinion poll that gets the opinions of ordinary Americans on the issues that matter! Apparently, two thirds of Americans polled think that Barack Obama is better suited to defend against an alien invasion than Mitt Romney, according to a survey from National Geographic Channel, done to tout their upcoming TV series 'chasing UFOs'. In follow-up questioning, Americans would rather call on the Hulk (21%) than either Batman (12%) or Spiderman (8%) to save the day. No word on which candidate is most fit to defend America against shambling hordes of undead seeking to destroy civilization in the zombie apocalypse (perhaps that will be brought out in the debates)." The real question of course is how Obama would handle Galactus.
Dupple tips a story at Techdirt about comments from EU commissioner Karel De Gucht, who made some discouraging remarks to the EU International Trade committee about the opposition to ACTA: "If you decide for a negative vote before the European Court rules, let me tell you that the Commission will nonetheless continue to pursue the current procedure before the Court, as we are entitled to do. A negative vote will not stop the proceedings before the Court of Justice. ... If the Court questions the conformity of the agreement with the Treaties we will assess at that stage how this can be addressed." De Gucht also spoke about proposing clarifications to ACTA if Parliament declined to ratify it, which, as Techdirt points out, doesn't make much sense: "Remember that ACTA is now signed, and cannot be altered; so De Gucht is instead trying to fob off European politicians with this vague idea of 'clarifications' — as if more vagueness could somehow rectify the underlying problems of an already dangerously-vague treaty."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that more than 9,000 people have been driven from their homes by a wind-whipped wildfire started by two shooters at landfill popular with target shooters who won't face any charges because they were not breaking any laws. The fire was the 20th this year in Utah sparked by target shooting where low precipitation, dry heat and high winds have hit the West hard, exacerbating the risk that bullets may glance off rocks and create sparks. Despite the increasing problem, local agencies are stuck in a legal quandary — the state's zealous protection of gun rights leaves fire prevention to the discretion of individuals — a freedom that allows for the careless to shoot into dry hills and rocks. When bullets strike rock, heated fragments can break off and if the fragments make contact with dry grass, which can burn at 450 to 500 degrees, the right conditions can lead to wildfires. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has called on Utahns to use more "common sense" in target shooting urging target shooters to use established indoor and outdoor ranges instead of tinder-dry public lands. "We can do better than that as Utahns," says Herbert, calling on shooters to "self-regulate," since legislation bars sheriff's officials from regulating firearms. "A lot of the problem we have out here is a lack of common sense.""
Hugh Pickens writes "According to Business Week, the traffic accident that left U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson unconscious and alone in his bashed-up Lexus on June 9 raises questions about why the 10th official in line to succeed the president was left so vulnerable. It also highlights potential gaps in security for senior U.S. government officials, who receive varying levels of protection. 'They lost track of him,' says James Carafano, a terrorism scholar at the Heritage Foundation. 'Post 9/11, that's a bit of a head scratcher.' Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who are high in the line of succession and have national-security responsibilities, are provided protection 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but other federal officials, even in cabinet-level positions or other top posts, often travel without the security details that even a big-city mayor or state governor would be provided. Threats to cabinet-level officials aren't overblown, says Norman Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, who has urged that the government revamp its succession plans and says a nuclear bomb hidden in a suitcase detonated in Washington could leave a headless government. 'The lack of interest in continuity may stem from the same reasons some smart people refuse to create wills, even though failure to do so leaves behind horrific messes for their loved ones,' writes Ornstein. 'Yet the threat is real. Our leaders' failure to establish plans to ensure that our Constitution survives is irresponsible.'"
judgecorp writes "Iran has reported that its nuclear facilities are under a sustained cyber attack which it blames on the U.S., UK and Israel. America and Israel created Stuxnet, and have been accused of starting the Flame worm." And once a country admits that it's created such software, publicly deflecting such blame gets a lot harder.