Thursday, February 21, 2013

Supreme Court Appears to Defend Patent on Soybean; New York Times, 2/19/13

Adam Liptak, New York Times; Supreme Court Appears to Defend Patent on Soybean: "A freewheeling and almost entirely one-sided argument at the Supreme Court on Tuesday indicated that the justices would not allow Monsanto’s patents for genetically altered soybeans to be threatened by an Indiana farmer who used them without paying the company a fee. The question in the case, Bowman v. Monsanto Company, No. 11-796, was whether patent rights to seeds and other things that can replicate themselves extend beyond the first generation. The justices appeared alert to the consequences of their eventual ruling not only for Monsanto’s very lucrative soybean patents but also for modern agriculture generally and for areas as varied as vaccines, cell lines and software."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Scholar Finds Flaws in Work by Archenemy of Comics; New York Times, 2/19/13

Dave Itzkoff, New York Times; Scholar Finds Flaws in Work by Archenemy of Comics: "Carol L. Tilley, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science, reviewed Wertham’s papers, housed in the Library of Congress, starting at the end of 2010, shortly after they were made available to the public. In a new article in Information & Culture: A Journal of History, Dr. Tilley offers numerous examples in which she says Wertham “manipulated, overstated, compromised and fabricated evidence,” particularly in the interviews he conducted with his young subjects. Drawing from his own clinical research and pointed interpretations of comic-book story lines, Wertham argued in the book that comics were harming American children, leading them to juvenile delinquency and to lives of violence, drugs and crime. “Seduction of the Innocent” was released to a public already teeming with anti-comics sentiment, and Wertham was embraced by millions of citizens who feared for America’s moral sanctity; he even testified in televised hearings. Yet according to Dr. Tilley, he may have exaggerated the number of youths he worked with at the low-cost mental-health clinic he established in Harlem, who might have totaled in the hundreds instead of the “many thousands” he claimed. Dr. Tilley said he misstated their ages, combined quotations taken from many children to appear as if they came from one speaker and attributed remarks said by a single speaker to larger groups. Other examples show how Wertham omitted extenuating circumstances in the lives of his patients, who often came from families marred by violence and substance abuse, or invented details outright."

Good Samaritan returns $1,200 he found in hardware store - and gets rude reaction instead of a thank-you; Daily Mail, 2/15/13

Daily Mail; Good Samaritan returns $1,200 he found in hardware store - and gets rude reaction instead of a thank-you: "A Missouri man found an envelope containing $1,200 in his local hardware store last week. But when Kyle Osborn, 29, tracked down and returned the money to its rightful owner, he didn't get the grateful reaction he was expecting. Instead of a smile or a thank you, the man looked at Osborn, who describes himself as 'tattooed, bearded and dirty', and said: 'I hope it's all there.'"

Falling Far Short of the Whole Truth; New York Times, 2/13/13

Russ Buettner, New York Times; Falling Far Short of the Whole Truth: "Questions were asked, which Ms. Sengupta, who was, in fact, in her late 40s at the time, declined to answer. Eventually, it became clear that she had not only shaved nearly two decades off her age but that nearly everything about her work and education history was not as she had claimed. Ms. Sengupta had, in fact, submitted many phony documents. The fraud was so comprehensive that the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales threw out an element of the application process that presumed a certain level of honor among its applicants; the board now requires that college transcripts come directly from the schools in a sealed envelope, without passing through an applicant’s hands."

Prof. bans Fox News: Classes not allowed to cite station;, 2/15/13

Effie Orfanides,; Prof. bans Fox News: Classes not allowed to cite station: "A prof. bans Fox News at West Liberty University and tells her students that the "biased" station makes her "cringe." On Feb. 15, the Daily Called [sic] reported that Stephanie Wolfe, a visiting assistant professor, made her class rules loud and clear, making sure that her students did not cite the news station in any of their work for the semester. "DO NOT use: 1) The Onion — this is not news this is literally a parody 2) Fox News — The tagline “Fox News” makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from the Onion (sic)," reads part of Professor Wolfe's syllabus."

Q. and A. With Viviane Reding; New York Times, 2/2/13

New York Times; Q. and A. With Viviane Reding. "Viviane Reding, the vice president of the European Commission and the justice commissioner of the European Union, was asked to comment on trans-Atlantic data protection issues for the Slipstream column by Natasha Singer in the Sunday Business section. The following is Vice President Reding’s full statement, sent on Jan. 31, 2013. Q. Why do Europeans feel so strongly about privacy and data rights? Why was it important for you to make data protection one of your signature issues? A. Data protection legislation has a long history in Europe: the European Union has had common rules to protect personal data since 1995. Personal data protection is a fundamental right for all Europeans — this is inscribed in the E.U.’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The principles on which our laws are found are still valid. The main problem is that our rules predate the digital age and it became increasingly clear in recent years that they needed an update."

Data Protection Laws, an Ocean Apart; New York Times, 2/2/13

Natasha Singer, New York Times; Data Protection Laws, an Ocean Apart: "OVER the years, the United States and Europe have taken different approaches toward protecting people’s personal information. Now the two sides are struggling to bridge that divide. On this side of the Atlantic, Congress has enacted a patchwork quilt of privacy laws that separately limit the use of Americans’ medical records, credit reports, video rental records and so on. On the other side, the European Union has instituted more of a blanket regulatory system; it has a common directive that gives its citizens certain fundamental rights — like the right to obtain copies of records held about them by companies and institutions — that Americans now lack."

Son’s Suicide Leads to Aid for Students; New York Times, 2/1/13

Kate Zernike, New York Times; Son’s Suicide Leads to Aid for Students: "Jane and Joe Clementi once considered suing Rutgers University. Their son Tyler, a freshman, had discovered that his roommate used a webcam to spy on him having sex with another man and had jumped off the George Washington Bridge a few days later, setting off wide debate about cyberbullying and the struggles of gays and lesbians coming of age. But on Monday, over two years after Mr. Clementi’s suicide, his parents will stand alongside university officials to announce that they are working together through the newly created Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers... The center will hold conferences and sponsor academic research on students making the transition from home to college. The Clementis and university officials said the work would examine not only bullying and youth suicides, but also topics like how young people use, and abuse, new technologies. “Part of what was such an interest in Tyler’s story was that it affected so many people on so many different levels,” Ms. Clementi said. “It’s the transitional period, it’s the cyberbullying, it’s how our youth are dealing with this new technology, L.G.B.T. issues, suicide.”

Students Disciplined in Harvard Scandal; New York Times, 2/1/13

Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times; Students Disciplined in Harvard Scandal: "Harvard has forced dozens of students to leave in its largest cheating scandal in memory, the university made clear in summing up the affair on Friday, but it would not address assertions that the blame rested partly with a professor and his teaching assistants. Harvard would not say how many students had been disciplined for cheating on a take-home final exam given last May in a government class, but the university’s statements indicated that the number forced out was around 70. The class had 279 students, and Harvard administrators said last summer that “nearly half” were suspected of cheating and would have their cases reviewed by the Administrative Board. On Friday, a Harvard dean, Michael D. Smith, wrote in a letter to faculty members and students that, of those cases, “somewhat more than half” had resulted in a student’s being required to withdraw... The Administrative Board’s Web site says that forced withdrawals usually last two to four semesters, after which a student may return."

Staying Private on the New Facebook; New York Times, 2/6/13

Somini Sengupta, New York Times; Staying Private on the New Facebook: "Facebook is a personal vault that can contain photos of your firstborn, plans to bring down your government and, occasionally, a record of your indiscretions. It can be scoured by police officers, partners and would-be employers. It can be mined by marketers to show tailored advertisements. And now, with Facebook’s newfangled search tool, it can allow strangers, along with “friends” on Facebook, to discover who you are, what you like and where you go. Facebook insists it is up to you to decide how much you want others to see. And that is true, to some extent. But you cannot entirely opt out of Facebook searches."

Police Call Match-Fixing Widespread in Soccer; New York Times, 2/4/13

Sam Borden, New York Times; Police Call Match-Fixing Widespread in Soccer: "Soccer is known throughout much of the world as the beautiful game. But the sport’s ugliest side — the scourge of match-fixing — will not soon go away. With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil drawing closer, a European police intelligence agency said Monday that its 19-month investigation, code-named Operation Veto, revealed widespread occurrences of match-fixing in recent years, with 680 games globally deemed suspicious. The extent was staggering: some 150 international matches, mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America; roughly 380 games in Europe, covering World Cup and European championship qualifiers as well as two Champions League games; and games that run the gamut from lower-division semiprofessional matches to contests in top domestic leagues.

As Extremists Invaded, Timbuktu Hid Artifacts of a Golden Age; New York Times, 2/3/13

Lydia Polgreen, New York Times; As Extremists Invaded, Timbuktu Hid Artifacts of a Golden Age: "“This is the record of the golden ages of the Malian empire,” Ms. Bokova said. “If you let this disappear, it would be a crime against all of humanity.” The cultural artifacts in Timbuktu — whose population of around 50,000 has shrunk with the latest troubles — have faced many dangers over the centuries. Harsh climate, termites and the ravages of time have taken a toll, along with repeated invasions — by the Songhai emperors, nomadic bandits, Moroccan princes and France. Yet many of the antiquities have endured. “It is a miracle that these things have survived so long,” Mr. Essayouti said... It turned out the worries were not unwarranted. In the chaotic final days of the Islamist occupation, all that changed. A group of militants stormed the library as they were fleeing and set fire to whatever they could find. Fortunately, they got their hands on only a tiny portion of the library’s collection. “They managed to find less than 5 percent,” he said. “Thank God they were not able to find anything else.”"

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Exclusive: Eric Schmidt Unloads on China in New Book; Wall Street Journal, 2/1/13

Tom Gara, Wall Street Journal; Exclusive: Eric Schmidt Unloads on China in New Book: "With the Arab uprisings rolling onward, “The New Digital Age” picks up where that previous essay left off, taking a big-picture view on how everything from individual identities to corporate strategy, terrorism and statecraft will change as information seeps ever deeper. And in this all-Internet world, China, the book says again and again, is a dangerous and menacing superpower. China, Schmidt and Cohen write, is “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information” as well as “the most sophisticated and prolific” hacker of foreign companies. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, the willingness of China’s government and state companies to use cyber crime gives the country an economic and political edge, they say. “The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States as a distinct disadvantage,” because “the United States will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play,” they claim. “This is a difference in values as much as a legal one.” The U.S. is far from an angel, the book acknowledges. From high-profile cases of cyber-espionage such as the Stuxnet virus that targeted Iranian nuclear facilities, to exports of surveillance software and technology to states with bad human rights records, there is plenty at home to criticize."

Twitter Hacked: Data for 250,000 Users May Be Stolen; New York Times, 2/1/13

Nicole Perlroth, New York Times; Twitter Hacked: Data for 250,000 Users May Be Stolen: "Twitter announced late Friday that it had been breached and that data for 250,000 Twitter users was vulnerable. The company said in a blog post that it detected unusual access patterns earlier this week and found that user information — usernames, e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords — for 250,000 users may have been accessed in what it described as a “sophisticated attack.” “This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident,” Bob Lord, Twitter’s director of information security, said in a blog post."

Washington Post Joins List of News Media Hacked by the Chinese; New York Times, 2/1/13

Nicole Perlroth, New York Times; Washington Post Joins List of News Media Hacked by the Chinese: "Security experts said that in 2008, Chinese hackers began targeting American news organizations as part of an effort to monitor coverage of Chinese issues. In a report for clients in December, Mandiant, a computer security company, said that over the course of several investigations it found evidence that Chinese hackers had stolen e-mails, contacts and files from more than 30 journalists and executives at Western news organizations, and had maintained a “short list” of journalists for repeated attacks. Among those targeted were journalists who had written about Chinese leaders, political and legal issues in China and the telecom giants Huawei and ZTE...In her final meeting with reporters, Mrs. Clinton addressed a question about China’s efforts to infiltrate computer systems at The New York Times. “We have seen over the last years an increase in not only the hacking attempts on government institutions but also nongovernmental ones,” she said, adding that the Chinese “are not the only people who are hacking us.”"

Hacking the Old Gray Lady;, 1/31/13

Farhad Manjoo,; Hacking the Old Gray Lady: "The most important outcome here might be the chilling effect: Now that a Chinese attack on the New York Times is international news, any dissident or potential whistle-blower in China will be wary of talking to journalists at the paper—or, for that matter, all journalists. In other words, the hack worked. Indeed, the attack on the New York Times points out why cyberattacks are such a spectacularly diabolical and effective weapon, especially when they’re aimed at journalists. Until now, when a government or criminal enterprise didn’t like something a reporter wrote, it had two options—it could shut down the outlet or kill the journalist. Hacking presents a third option, one that’s far more nuanced and effective."