eldavojohn writes "NPR pointed out a press release claiming that North Korean archaeologists have found a 'unicorn lair' in Pyongyang. The members of the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences have "reconfirmed" that this site was used for King Tongmyong's unicorn where the unicorn would concoct his unicorn schemes and do his unicorn things if anyone ventured too closely. The last line is, perhaps, the most important line of the article, 'The discovery of the unicorn lair, associated with legend about King Tongmyong, proves that Pyongyang was a capital city of Ancient Korea as well as Koguryo Kingdom.' Fear not that North Korea is surpassing the world in cryptozoology, Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, TX has claimed to have recently sequenced Bigfoot's DNA and he's part human."
An anonymous reader writes "Lamar Smith, a global warming skeptic, will become the new chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Someone who disagrees with the vast majority of scientists will be given partial jurisdiction over NASA, EPA, DOE, NSF, NOAA, and the USGS. When will candidates who are actually qualified to represent science or at a minimum show an interest in it be the representatives of science with regard to political decision-making?"
SchrodingerZ writes "Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican congressman from California, has drafted a bill for the internet. The bill, aptly named the Internet American Moratorium Act (IAMA), is, 'a two-year moratorium on any new laws, rules or regulations governing the Internet.' In short it hopes to deny any new government bills related to lawmaking on the internet for the next two years. The bill was first made public on the website Reddit, and is currently on the front page of Keepthewebopen.com, a website advocating internet rights. 'Together we can make Washington take a break from messing w/ the Internet,' Issa writes on his Reddit post. The initial response to the bill has been mixed. Users of Reddit are skeptical of the paper's motives and credibility. As of now, the bill is just a discussion draft, whether it will gain footing in the future is up in the air."
theodp writes "The press has been filled with wide-eyed articles about how Obama's tech team pulled out the stops in their race against the Republicans. But as exciting as some of the new techniques dreamed up may be, Tom Steinberg points out it's important to reflect on the difference between choosing to use tech skills to win a particular fight, versus trying to improve the workings of the democratic system, or helping people to self-organize and take some control of their own lives. 'I am still filled with an excitement about the prospects for non-partisan technologies that I can't muster for even the coolest uses of randomized control trial-driven political messaging,' writes Steinberg. 'The reason why all comes down to the fact that major partisan digital campaigns change the world, but they don't do it in the way that services like eBay, TripAdvisor and Match.com do. What all these sites have in common – helping people sell stuff they own, find a hotel, or a life partner – is that they represent a positive change in the lives of millions of people that is not directly opposed by a counter-shift.'"
CowboyRobot writes with the (not unexpected) official U.S. denial of using the Flame malware to spy on France. From the article: "That allegation was leveled at the U.S. government by unnamed French officials, according to a Tuesday report in the weekly French newspaper L'Express. It reported that computers belonging to top advisers to then French president Nicolas Sarkozy had been hacked using the Flame cyberespionage malware, which was designed to be used in highly targeted attacks... Napolitano was also asked if it wasn't ironic that while the United States has been sounding alarms over the growing amount of malware that's targeting U.S. government system, it also commissioning the Stuxnet and Flame cyber-espionage malware used against Iran. Napolitano, however, pled official ignorance. 'These programs were never attributed in any way to the U.S. government.'"
dsinc writes "Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements. Since last week, Saudi women's male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together. 'The authorities are using technology to monitor women,' said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the 'state of slavery under which women are held' in the ultra-conservative kingdom. Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the 'yellow sheet' at the airport or border."
An anonymous reader writes "Last week, Nate Silver ranked Google Consumer Surveys as one of the most accurate polling firms of the 2012 US election. This week, Google has released the raw data that went into its election-day prediction, and is running a contest for interesting visualizations of that data. They provide a few examples of their own, including a WebGL globe view."
An anonymous reader writes "The Register is reporting on how debate over diversity has managed to get a Ruby conference in the UK cancelled, as the speakers were 100% white male. The person running the conference, Chuck Hardy, said he 'was not prepared to put [himself] in the position of legal liability and cost ramifications if a sponsor were to pull out under social media strain.' He added, 'The ramifications of comments such as race and gender can have financial and legal consequences for the conference organizer. Raise these issues but allow the conference organizers the chance to highlight and act on these industry level issues. Accusation and slander is not a solution.' Should conferences embrace diversity from the start, or should they go forward even if the speakers are all of the same denomination? How far do we have to go to ensure we are diverse?"
elashish14 writes "David Kappos, head of the USPTO, today provided a strong defense of the patent system, particularly in the mobile industry. In his address, he implored critics, 'Give the [America Invents Act] a chance to work.' He then went on to proclaim the 'absolutely breakneck pace' of innovation in the smartphone industry and that the U.S. patent system is 'the envy of the world,' though he was likely only referring to the envy of the world's lawyers. Perhaps the most laughable quote from his address: 'The explosion of litigation we are seeing is a reflection of how the patent system wires us for innovation.'"
Dupple writes with this excerpt: "It has become an increasingly large problem that Visa, MasterCard, and Paypal control the valve to any money flow on the planet. Today, the European Parliament established this as a clear problem, and initiated regulation of the companies, limiting and strictly regulating their right to refuse service. The Pirate Party was the initiator of this regulation, following the damaging cutoff of donations to WikiLeaks, after said organization had performed journalism that was embarrassing to certain governments."
Bennett Haselton writes: "Online political futures betting is in a legal limbo in the United States. But with the lifting of legal sanctions, and with the addition of one simple new feature, online futures betting could not only provide more accurate forecasts of the merits of different candidates, but also provide a tool for quieting partisan blowhards who think the opposing party's candidate is going to drag the country to hell. Let the blowhards bet!" You'll find the rest of Bennett's story below.
theodp writes "The WSJ catches up with FIRE's Greg Lukianoff and his crusade to expose how universities have become the most authoritarian institutions in America. In Unlearning Liberty, Lukianoff notes that baby-boom Americans who remember the student protests of the 1960s tend to assume that U.S. colleges are still some of the freest places on earth. But that idealized university no longer exists. Today, university bureaucrats suppress debate with anti-harassment policies that function as de facto speech codes. FIRE maintains a database of such policies on its website. What they share, lifelong Democrat Lukianoff says, is a view of 'harassment' so broad and so removed from its legal definition that 'literally every student on campus is already guilty.'"
cervesaebraciator writes "Saturday an article was featured on Slashdot which expressed some hope, if just a fool's hope, that a recent Republican Study Committee Brief could be a sign of broader national discussion about the value of current copyright law. When one sees such progress, credit is deservedly given. Unfortunately, others in Washington did not perhaps see this as worthy of praise. The committee's executive director, Paul Teller, sent a memo today disavowing the earlier pro-copyright reform brief. From the memo: 'Yesterday you received a Policy Brief or [sic] copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard. Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand.' People who live in districts such as Ohio's 4th would do well to send letters of support to those who crafted the original brief. I cannot imagine party leadership will be happy with so radical a suggestion as granting copyright protection for the limited times needed to promote the progress of science and useful arts."
cervesaebraciator writes "Regardless of how one feels about the GOP generally, it is always heartening to see current copyright and IP law questioned on a national stage. A Republican study committee, chaired by Ohio Representative Jim Jordan released a brief today titled Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it. Among other things, the brief attacks current copyright law as hampering scientific inquiry, penalizing journalism, and retarding the potential of the internet to allow the dispersion of knowledge through e-readers. In the briefs words, 'Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets.' Four potential policy solutions are proposed: statutory damage reform, expansion of fair use, punishing false copyright claims, and limiting copyright terms. There may yet be hope for a national debate on the current oppressive copyright system, if just a fool's hope."
stevegee58 writes "A tumblr blog entitled 'HelloThereRacists' is publicly identifying other online posters who make racist/assassination comments about President Obama. Beyond merely identifying online usernames, the blog's author is uncovering and publishing the real names and locations of offending posters. It's an interesting mess of legal issues. The outed posters are at risk of a Secret Service visit, but the trouble may not end there. The HelloThereRacists blogger himself may have some problems publicly identifying posters, who are frequently underage teenagers." Update: 11/16 19:17 GMT by S : The blog has already been taken down.