Space

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Urges America To Challenge China To a Space Race 254

Posted by timothy
from the autocorrect-says-neil-degrease-tyson dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a Tuesday story in the UK edition of the International Business Times, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, advocates a space race between the United States and China. The idea is that such a race would spur innovation and cause industry to grow. The Apollo race to the moon caused a similar explosive period of scientific research and engineering development. You might prefer the Sydney Morning Herald piece on which the IB Times article is based.
Education

A Ph.D Thesis Defense Delayed By Injustice 77 Years 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-late-than-never dept.
Taco Cowboy writes: A story about a 102-year old lady doing her PhD thesis defense is not that common, but when the thesis defense was delayed by a whopping 77 years, that gotta raise some eyebrows. Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport studied diphtheria at the University of Hamburg in Germany and in 1938, the 25-year old Protestant-raised, German-born Ingeborg submitted for her doctorate thesis defense. She was denied her chance for her defense because her mother was of the Jewish ancestry, making her an official "cross-breed". As such the Nazi regime forbid the university from proceeding with her defense, for "racial reasons".

She became one of the thousands of scholars and researchers banished from German academe, which at the time included many of the world's most prestigious research institutions, because of Jewish ancestry or opposition to Nazi policies. Many of them ended up suffering or dying in concentration camps. Rudolf Degkwitz, Syllm's professor, was imprisoned for objecting to euthanizing children. Syllm, however, was able to reach the United States and earned her medical degree from the old Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Eventually she married a fellow physician named Samuel Mitja Rapoport, had a family, and moved back to Germany in the 1950s, where she achieved prominence in neonatology. Syllm-Rapoport, who is now 102 years old, might have remained just a doctor (if a very accomplished one) had not the present dean of the Hamburg medical school, Uwe Koch-Gromus, heard her story from a colleague of her son, Tom Rapoport, a Harvard cell biologist.

Determined to do what he could to mitigate this wrong, Koch-Gromus arranged Syllm-Rapoport's long-delayed defense. Despite failing eyesight, she brushed up on decades of developments in diphtheria research with the help of friends and the Internet. Koch-Gromus called the 45-minute oral exam given by him and two colleagues on 13 May in her Berlin living room "a very good test. Frau Rapoport has gathered notable knowledge about what's happened since then. Particularly given her age, she was brilliant."
Democrats

Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-makes-you-safer-because-reasons dept.
mi writes: President Obama has asked the Senate to renew key Patriot Act provisions before their expiration on May 31. This includes surveillance powers that let the government collect Americans' phone records. Obama said, "It's necessary to keep the American people safe and secure." The call came despite recent revelations that the FBI is unable to name a single terror case in which the snooping provisions were of much help. "Obama noted that the controversial bulk phone collections program, which was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is reformed in the House bill, which does away with it over six months and instead gives phone companies the responsibility of maintaining phone records that the government can search." Obama criticized the Senate for not acting on that legislation, saying they have necessitated a renewal of the Patriot Act provisions.
Education

Clinton Foundation: Kids' Lack of CS Savvy Threatens the US Economy 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the money's-in-the-code dept.
theodp writes: As the press digs for details on Clinton Foundation donations, including a reported $26+ million from Microsoft and Bill Gates, it's probably worth noting the interest the Clintons have developed in computer science and the role they have played — and continue to play — in the national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis that materialized after Microsoft proposed creating such a crisis to advance its 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy, which aims to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas. Next thing you know, Bill is the face of CS at the launch of Code.org. Then Hillary uses the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference to launch a Facebook, Microsoft, and Google initiative to boost the ranks of female and students of color in CS, and starts decrying woeful CS enrollment. Not to be left out, Chelsea keynotes the NCWIT Summit and launches Google's $50M girls-only Made With Code initiative with now-U.S. CTO Megan Smith. And last December, the Clinton Foundation touted its initiatives to engage middle school girls in CS, revamp the nation's AP CS program, and retrain out-of-work Americans as coders. At next month's CGI America 2015, the conference will kick off with a Beer Bust that CGI says "will also provide an opportunity to learn about Tech Girls Rock, a CGI Commitment to Action launched by CA Technologies in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that helps girls discover an interest in tech-related educational opportunities and careers." On the following days, CGI sessions will discuss tech's need for a strong and diverse talent pipeline for computer and information technology jobs, which it says is threatened by "the persistent poor performance of American students in science, technology, engineering, and math," presenting "serious implications for the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. economy." So what's the long-term solution? Expanding CS education, of course!
United Kingdom

British Politicians Delete Negative Wikipedia Descriptions Before Election 121

Posted by timothy
from the war-on-the-ground dept.
EwanPalmer writes: The Wikipedia pages of dozens of UK politicians had references to sex scandals, fraud and opposition to same sex marriage removed in the run up to the UK general election. Dozens of MPs had negative aspects of their online biographies removed or altered prior to the election in a bid to make them more electable. The changes include several instances of MPs' expense claim scandals being removed, as well as details of arrests and the use of 'chauffeur-driven cars.' The edits were made using computers with IP addresses registered from inside Parliament.
EU

EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-it-don't-spray-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The European Union recently published plans to ban 31 pesticides containing chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility. Those potential regulations have now been dropped after a U.S. business delegation said they would adversely affect trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. "Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue 'could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations.'"
United Kingdom

Bank of England Accidentally E-mails Top-Secret "Brexit" Plan To the Guardian 396

Posted by timothy
from the brexit-is-good-with-toast-and-jam dept.
schwit1 writes: The first rule of "Project Bookend" is that you don't talk about "Project Bookend." In retrospect, maybe the first rule should have been "you don't accidentally e-mail 'Project Bookend' to a news agency," because as the Guardian reports, one of its editors opened his inbox and was surprised to find a message from the BOE's Head of Press Jeremy Harrison outlining the UK financial market equivalent of the Manhattan project. Project Bookend is a secret (or 'was' a secret) initiative undertaken by the BOE to study what the fallout might be from a potential 'Brexit', but if anyone asked what Sir Jon Cunliffe and a few senior staffers were up to, they were instructed to say that they were busy investigating "a broad range of European economic issues." And if you haven't heard the term before, "Brexit" refers to the possibility of Britain leaving the EU -- one of the possible outcomes of an upcoming referendum.
Communications

NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate 135

Posted by timothy
from the couldn't-have-happened-to-a-nicer-bill dept.
New submitter Steven King writes with a link to The Daily Dot's report that the U.S. Senate has rejected the controversial USA Freedom Act, thus "all but guaranteeing that key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire"; had it passed, the bill would have allowed continued use of some mass data-collection practices, but with the addition of stronger oversight. From the article: The Senate failed to reach agreement on passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which the government has used to conduct bulk surveillance of Americans' phone records. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, but Senate Democrats, who unified behind the bill, did not get enough Republican votes to assure passage. The linked piece also mentions that the EFF shifted its position on this bill, after a panel of Federal judges ruled that the Feds at the NSA had overstepped their bounds in collecting a seemingly unlimited trove of metadata relating to American citizen's phone calls.
Earth

California Votes To Ban Microbeads 247

Posted by timothy
from the stock-up-now-on-crest dept.
New submitter Kristine Lofgren writes: The California Assembly just passed a vote to ban toxic microbeads, the tiny flecks found in toothpastes and exfoliants. Microbeads cause a range of problems, from clogging waterways to getting stuck in gums. The ban would be the strictest of its kind in the nation. As the article notes, the California Senate would need to pass a bill as well, for this ban to take effect, and if that happens, the resulting prohibition will come into place in 2020. From the article: Last year, Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to pass a ban on the usage of microbeads in cosmetics, approving a law that will go into effect in 2018, and earlier this year two congressmen introduced a bipartisan bill to outlaw the use of microbeads nationwide. And for exceptionally good reason; the beads, which serve as exfoliants and colorants are a massive source of water pollution, with scientists estimating that 471 million plastic microbeads are released into San Francisco Bay alone every single day.
The Media

WSJ Crowdsources Investigation of Hillary Clinton Emails 231

Posted by timothy
from the tag-this-story-recursive dept.
PvtVoid writes: The Wall Street Journal now has a page up that encourages readers to sift through and tag Hillary Clinton's emails on Benghazi. Users can click on suggested tags such as "Heated", "Personal", "Boring", or "Interesting", or supply their own tags. What could possibly go wrong? I'm tagging this story "election2016."
Businesses

Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States 322

Posted by timothy
from the when-monopolists-attack dept.
New submitter jeffengel writes: The push to regulate services like Uber and Lyft has spread through state legislatures nationwide. At least 15 states have passed ridesharing laws in 2015, joining Colorado, California, and Illinois from last year. More could follow, with bills pending in Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and others. All this activity has led to new clashes with companies, city leaders, and consumers. Ridesharing bills have stalled or been killed off in Texas, Florida, New Mexico, and Mississippi. Meanwhile, Uber has exited Kansas and is threatening to leave New Jersey and Oregon, while Lyft has ceased operations in Houston, Columbus, and Tacoma. How this plays out could affect the companies' expansion plans, as well as the future of transportation systems worldwide.
United States

The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties 609

Posted by samzenpus
from the last-of-their-kind dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Daniel McGraw writes that based on their demographic characteristics the Democratic and Republican parties face two very different futures. There's been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there's been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older and far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, McGraw calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. About 2.3 million of President Barack Obama's voters have died too but that leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats. "I've never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can't vote," laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. "I've seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that."

Frey points out that, since Republicans are getting whiter and older, replacing the voters that leave this earth with young ones is essential for them to be competitive in presidential elections. "Millennials (born 1981 to 1997) now are larger in numbers than baby boomers ([born] 1946 to 1964), and how they vote will make the big difference. And the data says that if Republicans focus on economic issues and stay away from social ones like gay marriage, they can make serious inroads with millennials." Exit polling indicates that millennials have split about 65-35 in favor of the Dems in the past two elections. If that split holds true in 2016, Democrats will have picked up a two million vote advantage among first-time voters. These numbers combined with the voter death data puts Republicans at an almost 2.5 million voter disadvantage going into 2016.
The Internet

Kim Dotcom Calls Hillary Clinton an "Adversary" of Internet Freedom 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-attention-to-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes: CNET reports that Kim Dotcom views Hillary Clinton as "an enemy of online freedom." Hilary's candidacy came up when Kim was asked about a tweet he made in which he called himself "Hillary's worse nightmare in 2016." He says now that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would probably be a bigger headache for Clinton. "I'm aware of some of the things that are going to be roadblocks for her," he added. Dotcom said he hoped to expand the influence of the Internet Party and provide some transparency. Brietbart adds that a conflict between Assange and Clinton may have personal motivations, but it also seems inevitable. Hillary is obsessive about maintaining control of information. She created a personal server in her home to handle her emails as Secretary of State and then deleted all the contents after self-selecting the emails she believed were work-related. Assange is famous for parceling out secret information."
Canada

Canadian Prime Minister To Music Lobby: Here's Your Copyright Term Extension 121

Posted by timothy
from the plenty-more-where-that-came-from dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Canadian government's decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings in the budget may have taken most copyright observers by surprise, but not the music industry. The extension will reduce competition, increase costs for consumers, and harm access to Canadian Heritage, but apparently all it took was a letter from the music industry lobby to the Prime Minister of Canada. Michael Geist reports on a letter sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the music lobby on the day the change was announced confirming that industry lobbying convinced him to extend the term of copyright without any public consultation or discussion.
Government

House Science Committee Approves Changes To Space Law 103

Posted by timothy
from the wildcat-days dept.
schwit1 writes: In a series of party line votes, the House Science Committee has approved a number of changes to the laws that govern the private commercial space industry. Almost all of the changes were advocated by the industry itself, so in general they move to ease the regulatory and liability burdens that have been hampering the industry since the 2004 revisions to space law. While it is very unlikely commercial space can ever get free of strong federal regulation, these changes indicate that they can eventually get some of the worst regulations eased.
Privacy

House Votes To End Spy Agencies' Bulk Collection of Phone Data 142

Posted by timothy
from the big-brother-has-his-eye-on-you-just-the-same dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a story at Reuters that gives a rare bit of good news for the Fourth Amendment: The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would end spy agencies' bulk collection of Americans' telephone data, setting up a potential showdown with the U.S. Senate over the program, which expires on June 1. The House voted 338-88 for the USA Freedom Act, which would end the bulk collection and instead give intelligence agencies access to telephone data and other records only when a court finds there is reasonable suspicion about a link to international terrorism.
Transportation

British Pilots: Poll Data Says Public Wants Strict Rules For Drones 110

Posted by timothy
from the are-new-rules-actually-needed? dept.
According to the Guardian, a survey of members of the British public conducted on behalf of the British Airline Pilots Association reveals support among those surveyed for strict rules governing drone flights in urban areas, and (probably less surprising) calling for serious consquences in the form of jail sentences for those who endanger passenger aircraft with drone flights. A slice: The study, which will be presented on Monday at a drone safety summit organised by UK pilots, revealed that about a third of those polled think no one should be able to fly drones over urban areas.
Businesses

FWD.us To Laid-Off Southern California Edison Workers: Boo-Hoo 612

Posted by timothy
from the versus-what-alternative-exactly? dept.
theodp writes: Speaking at a National Journal LIVE event that was sponsored by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us and Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective, FWD.us "Major Contributor" Lars Dalgaard was asked about the fate of 500 laid-off Southern California Edison IT workers, whose forced training of their H-1B worker replacements from offshore outsourcing companies sparked a bipartisan Senate investigation. "If you want the job, make yourself able to get the job," quipped an unsympathetic Dalgaard (YouTube). "Nobody's going to hold you up and carry you around...If you're not going to work hard enough to be qualified to get the job...well then, you don't deserve the job." "That might be harsh," remarked interviewer Niharika Acharya. Turning to co-interviewee Pierre-Jean Cobut, FWD.us's poster child for increasing the H-1B visa cap, Acharya asked, "Do you agree with him?" "Actually, I do," replied PJ, drawing laughs from the crowd.
Facebook

Is Facebook Keeping You In a Political Bubble? 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear dept.
sciencehabit writes: Does Facebook make it harder for people with different political views to get along? Political scientists have long wondered whether the social network's news feed selectively serves up ideologically charged news while filtering out content from different camps. Now, a study by Facebook's in-house social scientists finds that this does happen, though the effect seems to be very small. "There's a growing concern that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow us to more precisely engineer our informational environments than ever before, so we only get info that's consistent with our prior beliefs," says David Lazer, a political and computer scientist who authored a commentary on the paper.