According to a story at Northwest Public Radio, the state of Virginia's board of education has decided to institute different passing scores for standardized tests, based on the racial and cultural background of the students taking the test. Apparently the state has chosen to divide its student population into broad categories of black, white, Hispanic, and Asian — which takes painting with a rather broad brush, to put it mildly. From the article (there's an audio version linked as well): "As part of Virginia's waiver to opt out of mandates set out in the No Child Left Behind law, the state has created a controversial new set of education goals that are higher for white and Asian kids than for blacks, Latinos and students with disabilities. ... Here's what the Virginia state board of education actually did. It looked at students' test scores in reading and math and then proposed new passing rates. In math it set an acceptable passing rate at 82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities." (If officially determined group membership determines passing scores, why stop there?) Florida passed a similar measure last month.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google is following up last month's Samsung Chromebooks with a new, lower-priced one developed by Acer. Retailing for $199, the 11.6-inch Acer C7 Chromebook features an Intel Celeron 847 processor, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB hard drive, three USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port for various cords and auxiliary devices. It's designed for portability, weighing 3.05 pounds and measuring an inch thick. Boot time is reportedly less than 18 seconds. If the new Chromebook has a weakness, it's the advertised 3.5 hours of battery life. That's less than the MacBook Air (which features anywhere from 5-7 hours' battery life, depending on specs) and many of the Windows-backed Ultrabooks, some of which claim up to 11 hours of battery life depending on usage. It's also far less than the posted battery life for tablets such as Apple's iPad and Google's Nexus 7, which are widely viewed as the most prominent competition to laptops in the extra-portable category."
New submitter calder123 writes "Last week, the BBC won an FOIA tribunal ruling that they didn't have to reveal the names of attendees at a seminar in 2006, designed to shape the BBC's coverage of climate change issues. The document, uncovered by Maurizio Morabito, puts comments by the BBC that the meeting was held under Chatham House rules, and that the seminar drew on top scientific advice in an interesting light. In a bizarre coincidence, four of the BBC's attendees at the seminar have resigned in the last few days."
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that according to a report by the International Energy Agency, the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer by about 2017, will become a net oil exporter by 2030, and will become 'all but self-sufficient' in meeting its energy needs in about two decades — a 'dramatic reversal of the trend' in most developed countries. 'The foundations of the global energy systems are shifting,' says Fatih Birol, chief economist at the Paris-based organization, which produces the annual World Energy Outlook. There are several components of the sudden shift in the world's energy supply, but the prime mover is a resurgence of oil and gas production in the United States, particularly the unlocking of new reserves of oil and gas found in shale rock. The widespread adoption of techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has made those reserves much more accessible, and in the case of natural gas, resulted in a vast glut that has sent prices plunging. The agency's report was generally 'good news' for the United States says Michael A. Levi, senior fellow for energy and environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, because it highlights the nation's new sources of energy but Levi cautions that being self-sufficient does not mean that the country will be insulated from seesawing energy prices, since those oil prices are set by global markets. The message is more sobering for the planet, in terms of climate change. Although natural gas is frequently promoted for being relatively low in carbon emissions compared to oil or coal, the new global energy market could make it harder to prevent dangerous levels of warming (PDF). 'The report confirms that, given the current policies, we will blow past every safe target for emissions,' says Levi. 'This should put to rest the idea that the boom in natural gas will save us from that.'" The folks over at The Oil Drum aren't quite so optimistic: shale reserves may have an abysmal EROI. And, of course, Global Warming is a liberal myth.
theodp writes "GeekWire's Taylor Soper reports that the University of Washington has capped live sports coverage at 20 Tweets per basketball game (45 for football) and threatens to revoke the credentials of journalists who dare exceed the Twitter limits. Tacoma News Tribune reporter Todd Dybas was reportedly 'reprimanded' after drawing the ire of the UW Athletic Dept. for apparently Tweeting too much during UW's 85-63 Sunday win over Loyola."
New submitter kallisti5 writes "The Haiku project released their 4th alpha release today. A year and four months have passed since the 3rd alpha release. Haiku R1A4 includes several enhancements such as a large number of bug fixes, early IPv6 support, better drivers, improved file system support, better localization, and a wide variety of new features and applications." Multimedia enhancements include support for modern Intel and Radeon HD cards.
benrothke writes "Advanced persistent threat (APT) is one of the most common information security terms used today and it is an undeniably real and dangerous menace. Wikipedia notes that APT's usually refer to a group, such as a foreign government, with both the capability and the intent to persistently and effectively target a specific entity. The term is commonly used to refer to cyber threats, in particular that of Internet-enabled espionage using a variety of intelligence gathering techniques to access sensitive information, but applies equally to other threats such as that of traditional espionage or attack. Every organization of size and scope is a target, and many of the world's largest firms and governments have been victims. In Reverse Deception: Organized Cyber Threat Counter-Exploitation, Dr. Max Kilger and his co-authors provide an effective counterintelligence approach in which to deal with APT. The good news is that the authors provide an effective framework. The bad news is that creating an effective defense is not an easy undertaking." Keep reading below for the rest of Ben's review.
Barence writes "A British man has been arrested for posting a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook. The poppy is a symbol of remembrance for those who died in war, and the arrest was made on Remembrance Sunday. 'A man from Aylesham has tonight been arrested on suspicion of malicious telecommunications,' Kent police said in a statement after the arrest. 'This follows a posting on a social network site of a burning poppy. He is currently in police custody awaiting interview.' The arrest has been criticized by legal experts. 'What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by @Kent_police for burning a poppy?' tweeted David Allen Green, who helped clear the British man who was prosecuted for a joke tweet threatening to blow up an airport."
An anonymous reader writes in with a story about another side effect of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. "Rising carbon dioxide levels at the edge of space are apparently reducing the pull that Earth's atmosphere has on satellites and space junk, researchers say. The findings suggest that man made increases in carbon dioxide might be having effects on the Earth that are larger than expected, scientists added... in the highest reaches of the atmosphere, carbon dioxide can actually have a cooling effect. The main effects of carbon dioxide up there come from its collisions with oxygen atoms. These impacts excite carbon dioxide molecules, making them radiate heat. The density of carbon dioxide is too thin above altitudes of about 30 miles (50 kilometers) for the molecules to recapture this heat. Cooling the upper atmosphere causes it to contract, exerting less drag on satellites."
William Robinson writes "Scientists have found way to use X-Ray Lasers to create supercharged particles. The specific tuning of the laser's properties can cause atoms and molecules to resonate. The resonance excites the atoms and causes them to shake off electrons at a rate that otherwise would require higher energies. This could be used to create highly charged plasma."
Hugh Pickens writes "With the 'fiscal cliff' just weeks away, Chris O'Brien writes that venture capital fundraising in silicon valley is down, the amount invested is down, the number of folks investing in venture capital is down, and the number of VC firms and partners are down. 'The people I talked to in the industry sounded grim even as they tried to make the case for optimism,' writes O'Brien. 'Still, it remains difficult to identify a clear path for turning things around for the battered venture capitalists who make Silicon Valley hum.' So what's wrong with the VC industry? The problems are many and complex but they can be boiled down to one thing: Not enough exits. For the size of venture capital being raised and invested, there simply aren't enough initial public offerings of stock or mergers and acquisitions to generate the returns that funds need. Venture insiders blame the global economic uncertainty. They believe that is part of the reason that giant corporations, which have amassed huge piles of cash, are just sitting on it, rather then using it to acquire startups. 'The numbers are way down,' said Ray Rothrock, a partner at Venrock. 'All these companies with these fantastic balance sheets, and nobody is really buying anything. With all the uncertainty they're facing with the economy and taxes, buying little companies is way down on their list.'"
KermMartian writes "It has been nearly two decades since Texas Instruments released the TI-82 graphing calculator, and as the TI-83, TI-83+, and TI-84+ were created in the intervening years, these 6MHz machines have only become more absurdly retro, complete with 96x64-pixel monochome LCDs and a $120 price tag. However, a student member of a popular graphing calculator hacking site has leaked pictures and details about a new color-screen TI-84+ calculator, verified to be coming soon from Texas Instruments. With the lukewarm reception to TI's Nspire line, it seems to be an attempt to compete with Casio's popular color-screen Prizm calculator. Imagine the graphs (and games!) on this new 320x240 canvas."
dryriver writes "George Entwistle, the new Director General of the BBC who had been on the job for a mere 54 days, has voluntarily resigned over a BBC program that featured 'poor journalism'. The program in question was 'Newsnight', which typically features hard-hitting investigative journalism similar to American programs like '60 Minutes'. On Friday night, Newsnight accused a prominent Conservative MP and former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, Lord Alistair McAlpine, of having sexually abused a number of young boys at Bryn Estyn Children's Home in the 70s and 80s. Only after Newsnight aired with the allegations in the UK did the BBC realize that 'the wrong photographs were shown' to the alleged sexual abuse victims, who are now adults, and that Lord Alistair McAlpine had nothing whatsoever to do with the abuses committed. Newsnight's 'poor journalism' caused George Entwistle, the Director General of the British Broadcasting Corporation, to resign voluntarily over the scandal caused by the erroneous allegations. This example of an important media chief 'resigning voluntarily due to bad journalism' is interesting, because many TV, Web and Print journalists make 'serious mistakes' in their coverage at some point or the other, and quite often no heads roll whatsoever as a result."
First time accepted submitter GinaSmith888 writes "This is a deep dive in the BP protocol Vint Cerf developed that is the heart of NASA's Delay-Tolerant Networking, better known as DTN. From the article: 'The big difference between BP and IP is that, while IP assumes a more or less smooth pathway for packets going from start to end point, BP allows for disconnections, glitches and other problems you see commonly in deep space, Younes said. Basically, a BP network — the one that will the Interplanetary Internet possible — moves data packets in bursts from node to node, so that it can check when the next node is available or up.'"