elashish14 writes "The Westboro Baptist Church stated earlier this week that they would be picketing the funerals of the victims of Newtown Connecticut's tragic shooting in an effort to bring awareness to their hate messages. In response, the Anonymous hacker collective has hacked their website and posted the personal information of all of its members."
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Presto Vivace writes that the UK's Newcastle University is instituting a finger-print based attendance system. From the linked article: "University students may have to scan their fingerprints in future — to prove they are not bunking off lectures. ... Newcastle Free Education Network has organised protests against the plans, claiming the scanners would 'turn universities into border checkpoints' and 'reduce university to the attendance of lectures alone.'" The system is supposed to bring the university "in line with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and clamp down on illegal immigrants."
Hugh Pickens writes "VOA reports that President Obama says it does not make sense for federal authorities to seek prosecution of recreational marijuana users in states where such use is legal. 'As it is, you know, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions,' said Obama during a television interview with ABC's Barbara Walters. 'It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that, under state law, that's legal.' When asked if he supported legalizing marijuana, the president said he was not endorsing that. 'I wouldn't go that far, but what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you've seen the voters speak on this issue.'"
CowboyRobot writes "Earlier this year, the state's Department of Revenue was storing 3.3 million bank account numbers, as well as 3.8 million tax returns containing Social Security numbers for 1.9 million children and other dependents, in an unencrypted format. After a state employee clicked on a malicious email link, an attacker was able to obtain copies of those records. It's easy to blame the breach on 'Russian hackers' but who is really to blame? 'The state's leadership, from the governor on down, failed to take information security seriously or to correctly gauge the financial risk involved. As a result, taxpayers will pay extra to clean up the mess. Beyond the $800,000 that the state will spend — and should have already spent — to improve its information security systems, $500,000 will go to the data breach investigation, $740,000 to notify consumers and businesses, $250,000 for legal and PR help, and $12 million for identity theft monitoring services.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "David Crane and Robert F.Kennedy Jr. write in the NY Times that with residents of New Jersey and New York living through three major storms in the past 16 months and suffering sustained blackouts, we need to ask whether it is really sensible to power the 21st century by using an antiquated and vulnerable system of copper wires and wooden poles. Some have taken matters into their own hands, purchasing portable gas-powered generators to give themselves varying degrees of grid independence. But these dirty, noisy and expensive devices have no value outside of a power failure and there is a better way to secure grid independence for our homes and businesses: electricity-producing photovoltaic panels installed on houses, warehouses and over parking lots, wired so that they deliver power when the grid fails. 'Solar panels have dropped in price by 80 percent in the past five years and can provide electricity at a cost that is at or below the current retail cost of grid power in 20 states, including many of the Northeast states,' write Crane and Kennedy. 'So why isn't there more of a push for this clean, affordable, safe and inexhaustible source of electricity?' First, the investor-owned utilities that depend on the existing system for their profits have little economic interest in promoting a technology that empowers customers to generate their own power. Second, state regulatory agencies and local governments impose burdensome permitting and siting requirements that unnecessarily raise installation costs. While it can take as little as eight days to license and install a solar system on a house in Germany, in the United States, depending on your state, the average ranges from 120 to 180 days."
hackingbear writes "One of the Chinese Web censorship's central features has long been blocking searches for the names of top leaders to maintain their public images. Sina Weibo, China's largest microblog service, unblocked searches for the names of many top political leaders in a possible sign of looser controls a month after new senior officials were named to head the ruling party, though a number of other senior leaders are still blocked on Weibo, including Premier Web Jiabao. That (President) Xi might be leading by example on softening Web censorship could be a promising sign for future reforms. It isn't on a major shift, but it could portend one."
mpawlo writes "Mr Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame, has, according to The Age, confirmed his intention to run for the Australian Senate in 2013. He will also form a Wikileaks political party. From the article: 'Mr Assange said plans to register an Australian WikiLeaks party were ''significantly advanced''. He indicated he would be a Senate candidate, and added that "a number of very worthy people admired by the Australian public" have indicated their availability to stand for election on a party ticket. Mr Assange said he is able to fulfill the requirements to register as an overseas elector in either New South Wales or Victoria and that he will shortly take a "strategic decision" about which state he would be a Senate candidate for.'"
virtualXTC writes with news that North Korea, in defiance of international pressure to halt development and testing of long-range weaponry, launched a multi-stage rocket which successfully followed its intended trajectory. The North Korean government claims a weather satellite was placed into orbit. "South Korea has confirmed the launch time, and Japan has confirmed that the rocket went over Okinawa. Two stages of the rocket have successfully avoided other countries and fallen into the sea. While it is still unconfirmed as to whether or not North Korea actually put a satellite into orbit, it seems clear that sanctions have failed to curb North Korea's quest for more powerful weaponry."
theodp writes "On September 13, 2010, President Obama called A123 Systems from the Oval Office to congratulate them on opening the nation's first manufacturing facility to mass-produce electric vehicle batteries, which the White House noted was made possible by a $249 million Recovery Act grant the company received the prior August. 'When folks lift up their hoods on the cars of the future,' the President said, 'I want them to see engines and batteries that are stamped: Made in America. And that's what you guys are helping to make happen.' But on Saturday, the assets of A123 Systems were auctioned off to the Wanxiang Group, a large Chinese auto parts maker. Wanxiang agreed to pay $256 million for A123's automotive and commercial operations, including its three factories in the United States. Forbes reports that A123's stock, which closed at 7 cents a share on Friday, is now worthless."
hype7 writes "The Harvard Business Review is running a very interesting piece on how money in politics is having a deleterious effect on U.S. innovation. From the article: 'Somehow, it seems that every time that [Mickey Mouse] is about to enter the public domain, Congress has passed a bill to extend the length of copyright. Congress has paid no heed to research or calls for reform; the only thing that matters to determining the appropriate length of copyright is how old Mickey is. Rather than create an incentive to innovate and develop new characters, the present system has created the perverse situation where it makes more sense for Big Content to make campaign contributions to extend protection for their old work.if you were in any doubt how deep inside the political system the system of contributions have allowed incumbents to insert their hands, take a look at what happened when the Republican Study Committee released a paper pointing out some of the problems with current copyright regime. The debate was stifled within 24 hours. And just for good measure, Rep Marsha Blackburn, whose district abuts Nashville and who received more money from the music industry than any other Republican congressional candidate, apparently had the author of the study, Derek Khanna, fired. Sure, debate around policy is important, but it's clearly not as important as raising campaign funds.'"
ATKeiper writes "The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, which was selected by the U.S. government in the 1980s to be the nation's permanent facility for storing nuclear waste, is essentially dead. A new article in The New Atlantis explains how the project was killed: 'In the end, the Obama administration succeeded, by a combination of legal authority and bureaucratic will, in blocking Congress's plan for the Yucca Mountain repository — certainly for the foreseeable future, and perhaps permanently.... The saga of Yucca Mountain's creation and apparent demise, and of the seeming inability of the courts to prevent the Obama administration from unilaterally nullifying the decades-old statutory framework for Yucca, illustrates how energy infrastructure is uniquely subject to the control of the executive branch, and so to the influence of presidential politics.' A report from the Government Accountability Office notes that the termination 'essentially restarts a time-consuming and costly process [that] has already cost nearly $15 billion through 2009.'"
Bob9113 writes "Ars Technica reports that Derek Khanna is getting axed over his memo detailing the conflict between laissez-faire-oriented free market ideals and the regulatory monopoly that is copyright. 'The Republican Study Committee, a caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives, has told staffer Derek Khanna that he will be out of a job when Congress re-convenes in January. The incoming chairman of the RSC, Steve Scalise (R-LA) was approached by several Republican members of Congress who were upset about a memo Khanna wrote advocating reform of copyright law. They asked that Khanna not be retained, and Scalise agreed to their request.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. House of Representatives voted 397-0 today on a resolution to oppose U.N. control of the internet. 'The 397-0 vote is meant to send a signal to countries meeting at a U.N. conference on telecommunications this week. Participants are meeting to update an international telecom treaty, but critics warn that many countries' proposals could allow U.N. regulation of the Internet.' The European Parliament passed a similar resolution a couple weeks ago, and the U.N. telecom chief has gone on record saying that freedom on the internet won't be curbed. However, that wasn't enough for U.S. lawmakers, who were quite proud of themselves for actually getting bipartisan support for the resolution (PDF). Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said, 'We need to send a strong message to the world that the Internet has thrived under a decentralized, bottom-up, multi-stakeholder governance model.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Pirate Party of New Zealand has issued a strongly-worded (yet satirical) press release, decrying a recently-launched pro Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) website, stating, among other things: 'The use of a masted sailing ship is the most glaring example of the satirical nature of this website and one of our main grounds for offence. The Pirate Ship and all its related depictions are clearly intellectual property of the Pirate Party or at least if not the Party then The Pirate Bay which the Party shares a mutual affinity with for a free and open Internet. In these heady days of lawsuits over patents for rounded corners we can not stand by on the decks of the Internet and allow these cannon shots to go unanswered!'"
The Bad Astronomer writes "A recent hearing of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform became a bully pulpit for antivaccination rhetoric when Representatives Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.) made speeches connecting vaccines to autism — a connection that medical experts have shown does not exist. Although there were actual medical researchers there as witnesses, they were mostly berated by the Congressmen on the panel. Vaccines are one of the most successful medical advancements in human history, having saved hundreds of millions of lives, and after copious studies have been shown to have no connection with autism. Despite this, a vocal antivax lobby exists, including, clearly, members of Congress. In part this is why preventable and potentially fatal diseases like pertussis and measles are once again on the rise."