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Even as the biggest banks have reached up for billions in federal aid, they have reached down to collect more and more penalty fees from consumers… The rates are rising despite the recession, says the [New York] Times, because with “fewer customers overdrawing their accounts, overdraft fees risk shrinking to a smaller income stream from what [one research firm] estimates is a $38.5 billion business this year.”–“Big Bailed-Out Banks Ramp Up Fees,” Paul Kiel, ProPublica
Under the Portuguese plan, penalties for people caught dealing and trafficking drugs are unchanged; dealers are still jailed and subjected to fines depending on the crime. But people caught using or possessing small amounts—defined as the amount needed for 10 days of personal use—are brought before what’s known as a “Dissuasion Commission,” an administrative body created by the 2001 law. Each three-person commission includes at least one lawyer or judge and one health care or social services worker. The panel has the option of recommending treatment, a small fine, or no sanction. Peter Reuter, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, says he’s skeptical decriminalization was the sole reason drug use slid in Portugal, noting that another factor, especially among teens, was a global decline in marijuana use. By the same token, he notes that critics were wrong in their warnings that decriminalizing drugs would make Lisbon a drug mecca. “Drug decriminalization did reach its primary goal in Portugal,” of reducing the health consequences of drug use, he says, “and did not lead to Lisbon becoming a drug tourist destination.” –“5 Years After: Portugal’s drug decriminalization policy shows positive results,” Brian Vastag, Scientific American (via)
IBM Researcher Craig Gentry came up with he calls “fully homomorphic encryption,” which uses a mathematical system known as an “ideal lattice,” that lets people to fully interact with encrypted data in ways previously thought impossible. Using the technology could also bolster the cloud computing model where a service provider hosts the confidential data of others. It might better enable a service to perform computations on clients’ data at their request, such as analyzing sales patterns, without exposing the original data. “Fully homomorphic encryption is a bit like enabling a layperson to perform flawless neurosurgery while blindfolded, and without later remembering the episode. We believe this breakthrough will enable businesses to make more informed decisions, based on more studied analysis, without compromising privacy. We also think that the lattice approach holds potential for helping to solve additional cryptography challenges in the future, ” said Charles Lickel, vice president of Software Research at IBM in a release. –” IBM touts encryption innovation ,” Michael Cooney, Network World
Chances that an American knows the position of his or her senators on health-care reform:
Climate experts proposed creating a fleet of cloud-seeding yachts that will pump water vapor into the atmosphere to thicken global cloud cover, thereby reflecting more sunlight, in order to counteract the effects of global warming.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."