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US Forces Coursera To Ban Students From Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the knowledge-is-a-controlled-export dept.

Education 306

An anonymous reader writes "Coursera is an online website that offers free courses from many of the world's top universities. Now, all students from Syria, Sudan, Iran and Cuba will no longer be able to access Coursera. The official blog provides more info regarding the ban: 'Until now the interpretation of export control regulations as they relate to MOOCs has been unclear and Coursera has been operating under the interpretation that MOOCs would not be restricted. We recently received information that has led to the understanding that the services offered on Coursera are not in compliance with the law as it stands ... United States export control regulations prohibit U.S. businesses, such as MOOC providers like Coursera, from offering services to users in sanctioned countries, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Under the law, certain aspects of Coursera's course offerings are considered services and are therefore subject to restrictions in sanctioned countries, with the exception of Syria.'"

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education (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099223)

Because obviously less education is the solution. [/irony]

Re:education (5, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 7 months ago | (#46099345)

Because obviously less education is the solution. [/irony]

Sure, that appears to be the policy answer dictated by the 1% for solving Americas internal problems [startpage.com] , why not extend it to our more traditional external enemies as well.

Re:education (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 7 months ago | (#46099455)

Obviously you don't want your *own* voters to be educated. They might vote you out of office.

Your enemies? I'd say education (with associated atheism + lower birth rates) is a good thing.

Re:education (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099511)

The 1% again, eh? Still blaming them for what the government does or does not do? When are you ever going to start blaming your leadership instead? Even if they are enforcing 1%-friendly policies they're still the enablers.
 
If government is able to be bought it's only because government is for sale.
 
But no... let's keep acting like the policy makers and policy enforcers are powerless to stop it. Let's keep our heads in the sand about the facts of the matter. Let's yet again vote for the status quo and blame big business for the failures of big government. The obvious solution is more regulation. Oh, wait... this is happening because of government regulations. Maybe we can throw tax money at that problem too.
 
SSDD.

Re:education (5, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#46099545)

The 1% again, eh? Still blaming them for what the government does or does not do? When are you ever going to start blaming your leadership instead? Even if they are enforcing 1%-friendly policies they're still the enablers.

If government is able to be bought it's only because government is for sale.

But no... let's keep acting like the policy makers and policy enforcers are powerless to stop it. Let's keep our heads in the sand about the facts of the matter. Let's yet again vote for the status quo and blame big business for the failures of big government. The obvious solution is more regulation. Oh, wait... this is happening because of government regulations. Maybe we can throw tax money at that problem too.

SSDD.

The main policy makers and enforcers are part of the 1%. It's not that they are powerless to stop it, they just don't want it stopped. The first step to making real change would be campaign finance reform. Hmmm, I wonder why Congress is to keen on doing that?

Re:education (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#46099567)

Even in a somewhat broken democratic republic, it takes more than the 1% to vote in the 1%...

Re:education (2, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46099633)

Even in a somewhat broken democratic republic, it takes more than the 1% to vote in the 1%...

Unless your election turnout is <1%.

Or, you know - rigged voting mechanisms.

I used to be against the idea of "verified voting," but with the mass adoption of black box voting machines, [blackboxvoting.org] I think I've changed tack on that one.

Re:education (4, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#46099827)

The 2012 US election turnout was around 58%, with only three states having less than 50% turnout (Oklahoma, Texas and W. Virginia). While there could be plenty of vote tampering, doing it on that scale would involve many thousands of people and would require balls the size of an aircraft carrier. So that's probably not the case here.

Re:education (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46099947)

The 2012 US election turnout was around 58%, with only three states having less than 50% turnout (Oklahoma, Texas and W. Virginia).

Are these numbers independent-third-party-verified, or are we taking the election commission at their word? Trusting the foxes with the henhouse, so to speak.

While there could be plenty of vote tampering, doing it on that scale would involve many thousands of people and would require balls the size of an aircraft carrier.

Two things the feds happen to have already.

Pardon me for not wanting to trust that a government who claims it has the right to kidnap citizens and hold them, indefinitely, without charges, to run a truly free and fair election.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100061)

@ hillman of the hills...
don't get out into the valley too much, huh ?
we have these thingies called 'com-pu-ters', they are black box machines with proprietary code that can not be audited which are running our voting chores, now...
it only takes (in theory) ONE evil minion of doom to perpetrate voting fraud by remote control...

oh, urine idjit...

Re:education (5, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#46100165)

And in every contest in that election and all elections in recent memory the real choice was made by the power brokers who selected Tweedledum and Tweedledee for the electorate to choose between in every contest. Every contest was a lost cause long before election day.

Re:education (2)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#46100101)

What appears to be the power of the electorate is really an empty choice which is really only an opiate and a channel for energy to dissipate through uselessly.

The system top to bottom is dominated by the organized puppet masters in furtherance of their power trip. They have infiltrated, subverted, and bought the media in their entirety; news and entertainment. They run both major political parties in a false show of competition, but actually arm in arm, making sure that no one with any freshness or independent thought ever gets nominated as D or R for any office. They conspire to marginalize all other parties. Faced with an empty choice in every race between Tweedledum and Tweedledee, what can the electorate do?

On top of that one is forced to believe that today's champions of liberty are being systematically co-opted or eliminated. How else can one explain their complete absence from the scene? Where are today's Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, and Ben Franklin? You sure as hell won't find them anywhere near the political process as dominated by D and R. You won't find them in the press. You won't find them visible anywhere.

Re:education (2)

mi (197448) | about 7 months ago | (#46099631)

The first step to making real change would be campaign finance reform. Hmmm, I wonder why Congress is to keen on doing that?

"Campaign finance reform" — First Amendment be damned — is just means to an end. An end to electing different sort of politicians.

But, face it, a person father to the Left and with a greater contempt for what America used to be (and still remains in some places despite his efforts to "fundementally transform" it) than the current President will not soon be elected... And for several years he even had his party's majority in the legislature.

If you aren't happy with this presidency, then you never will be happy with any — even if you manage to "reform" campaign finance...

Re:education (3, Insightful)

killkillkill (884238) | about 7 months ago | (#46099769)

Historically, all campaign finance reform does is make barriers to anyone who has a voice they wish to get out. Barriers that only the "1%" and their team of lawyers can navigate through. Guess I'm playing my cards as a nut job libertarian here, but this is one area more laws and regulation just make the problem they are trying to solve worse.

Re:education (1)

fnj (64210) | about 7 months ago | (#46100185)

Bingo. It is a simpleton's fix that does not address the real problem at all.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099923)

Another dolt who doesn't know about regulatory capture, I see.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100187)

The 1% do not exist. Neither do the 99%. Both groups are invented by people with a socialist agenda and propagated by people who like to feel sorry for themselves.

Business leaving USA (4, Interesting)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 7 months ago | (#46099549)

Because obviously less education is the solution. [/irony]

What we have here is that the US politicians representing a bunch of UN-EDUCATED FOOLS !

The US politicians don't seem to care that businesses are leaving USA.

By banning students from specific country to take ***FREE*** university courses offered by top universities from ***ALL OVER THE WORLD*** the United States of America is signifying to the world that "We Do Not Need Your Business Here".

With this kind of attitude coupled with the Snowden revelations, businesses _are_ leaving the United States.

Re:Business leaving USA (4, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#46099875)

No, what the US is signifying by banning students from Syria, Sudan, Iran and Cuba is that it doesn't want to assist those regimes.

Why do you think that banning 4 out of 200 countries tells the other 195 countries that they need not apply? You seem to be over-generalizing.

I also doubt that there is any real loss of businesses from the US due to this, but kudos for dragging Snowden into it. I am left wondering if you might be off your game today since you didn't work in a condemnation of the NSA as well.

Re:Business leaving USA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099943)

No man is an island. What I see as a foreigner in a country not banned (yet) is that the US is a capricious and arbitrary bull in a china shop. You are a petty nation seemingly hell-bent on destroying yourselves and I want to do as little business with American companies as practically possible.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099577)

Because obviously less education is the solution. [/irony]

I know the parent poster was joking, but in most of the Latin American military regimes of the 1960s and 1970s, that was the agreed consensus of the dictators, Pinochet's Chile being a noteworthy exception. And now Chile is better off economically and technologically than most of the others.

Re:education (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100181)

I know the parent poster was joking, but [...]

Not joking, sarcastic. Because as you point out, this ban on education only helps to further solidify the positions of the dictators in the countries that the US has an embargo against. An embargo that was (presumably) put in place to try and get the dictators to change their ways about something. And here the US is, banning something that could get the populations of those countries to force the dictators into that change.

Makes you wonder what the real purpose of those embargoes is.

Re:education (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 7 months ago | (#46099589)

My first thought entirely. Of all the education debates, providing education does have a serious cultural impact: it empowers people. Universal higher education is severely detrimental--especially to the lower class--but it still empowers people: it gives them discrete skills and critical thinking skills, and makes them interact with the world around them.

When an educated person fails, he decides the system around him is broken. This is a natural consequence of education: you have all these skills, you feel you can apply yourself, and yet you are not being allowed to do so. No faceless evil across the other end of the earth is doing this to you. When you are uneducated and starving, you feel there is nothing you can do; all explanations are readily accepted, especially if we blame someone else.

Education is the enemy of government. Strong education makes government subordinate; weak education makes government powerful. Since there are more citizens than government, it is strictly optimal for government to be subordinate to the needs of the people.

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099667)

And government is the enemy of education.

Pol Pot 2012!

Re:education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099609)

It worked for their own population.

the law is a blunt instrument. bans doing business (3, Interesting)

raymorris (2726007) | about 7 months ago | (#46100027)

Most of the replies here assume that the US has banned providing courses to these countries. That's not the case. The embargos ban providing SERVICES to these countries. It's not that anyone thinks restricting education is a good idea. The law is just ham-fisted. "Don't provide any services to Syria" means ANY services, including educational services.

That law is ham-fisted is a good thing to keep in mind generally. "You may not hire anyone for less than $10 / hour" means the retarded kid can't be hired as an apprentice, for example, because his work only generates $6/ hour.

Re: education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100151)

Filtered due to preferences.

the war hero who never got a standing ovation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099255)

or anything but grief http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=scott%20olsen&sm=3

results never vary so far (or near?) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099407)

both 'sides' look alike on the way to the welcome home coming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk9mV8qBiEk

never a fair 'fight' is the WMD cabals lowgo; http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=phosphorous%20weapon&sm=3

millions of old campers murdered (moved under ground) in earlier genocidal holycosts http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=unrepentant&sm=3

Yea. So? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099271)

News flash! The U.S. has some strict laws that bar trade, even free trade, with a short list of countries classified as enemies of the state. Those mooks, running this MOOC, thought it was OK to ignore that?

It seems perfectly reasonable to me that the United States not share its knowledge and higher education with its enemies.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Re:Yea. So? (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 7 months ago | (#46099485)

It seems perfectly reasonable to me that the United States not share its knowledge and higher education with its enemies.

Why? A good general education program in Iran/Afghanistan would do a lot more to help fight the Taliban then the $4,000,000,000,000 they just wasted.

Re:Yea. So? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 7 months ago | (#46099491)

I meant "Iraq", obviously. The USA hasn't started on Iran and Syria yet.

Re:Yea. So? (1)

Spamalope (91802) | about 7 months ago | (#46099573)

It seems perfectly reasonable to me that the United States not share its knowledge and higher education with its enemies.

Why? A good general education program in Iran/Afghanistan would do a lot more to help fight the Taliban then the $4,000,000,000,000 they just wasted.

I meant "Iraq", obviously. The USA hasn't started on Iran and Syria yet.

Could that be why Iraq and Afghanistan aren't on this list of banned countries? Outrage!

Re:Yea. So? (4, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 7 months ago | (#46099617)

Why? A good general education program in Iran/Afghanistan would do a lot more to help fight the Taliban then the $4,000,000,000,000 they just wasted.

Because that good education could also serve to provide applicable knowledge to one's adversaries, especially in the science and engineering fields.

Think of it through another medium, in the form of those that our military is willing to take as enlistees. Known gang members are generally barred from enlisting, as there's concern that once they've acquired knowledge in learning how to fight and learning how to use weapons, they'll take that knowledge back to train their gang and will use it against the local civilian population. A single enlistment term is a fairly short amount of time, and given the fairly low death rate of our soldiers, it's very likely that someone will survive to return with this training without having 'been converted' in taking their true allegiance from their pre-military-service days.

For now I agree with not providing such educational services to those living in countries facing such export controls. Yes, it sucks for those people in those countries, but without practical ways to confirm that those using these services are not proxies of the state, there's no way to keep those states from benefiting from the service.

Re:Yea. So? (2)

Ksevio (865461) | about 7 months ago | (#46099867)

... they'll take that knowledge back to train their gang and will use it against the local civilian population

That would be terrible if they started using integrals and cell osmosis against the locals! We must put an end to this education at once!

Re:Yea. So? (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 7 months ago | (#46100179)

... they'll take that knowledge back to train their gang and will use it against the local civilian population

That would be terrible if they started using integrals and cell osmosis against the locals! We must put an end to this education at once!

Yes, because everyone knows integrals and cell osmosis are totally worthless knowledge when designing and using ballistic, biochemical, or nuclear weaponry.

Have you been up to Coursera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100141)

Because that good education could also serve to provide applicable knowledge to one's adversaries, especially in the science and engineering fields.

It's all basic shit up there on Coursera. And of course, there are no practical labs - it's all theory/textbook learning - Freshmen - maybe Sophomore - level stuff.

Frankly, if I wanted learn how to build things to do harm, WikiPedia is a MUCH better source than Coursera!

This ban seems to me to be just some clueless bureaucrat or someone with a real power trip problem.

Re:Yea. So? (1)

fgb (62123) | about 7 months ago | (#46099581)

Exactly!

Encryption export restrictions were incredibly effective because no other country has mathematicians.

I mean, it's not as if VPN technology is freely available right now. Even if it wasn't, there are no programmers skilled enough to implement that sort of thing anywhere else in the world.

Re:Yea. So? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 7 months ago | (#46099687)

Educating our enemies might enlighten them so that they are no longer our enemies. Sure would be a lot cheaper that way than starting another war, you know, like in Iraq, over Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn't exist.

We should better educate ourselves. Too much of what passes for education in the US and the West is indoctrination. Read some Noam Chomsky [chomsky.info] and A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn for a bit of perspective.

It always amazes me how many very narrowly educated people there are. I used to think a Bachelor of Arts degree was a watered down, wimpy sort of college degree and the Bachelor of Science was the way to go. Now, after encountering quite a few people who know technical stuff like how to be a good code monkey but are utterly ignorant of philosophy and the basics of science and rational thought, I wonder if an Arts degree was meant to deal with precisely that problem. Every person with a college degree should be equipped to understand that, for example, Creationism is bunk.

This is like banning it from black people and Jews (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099275)

Why doesn't the US do business with communist Cuba but they do with communist China?

The US is mad at governments, not the people of countries. Are they insinuating that all citizens are potential terrorists? Why not ban it from Americans too because the US seems to think that every American could be a domestic terrorist -- especially those darned Tea Party and Libertarians. Mention the word constitition and you go on a watch list.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099391)

Why doesn't the US do business with communist Cuba but they do with communist China?

Because there are outspoken anti-Castro cuban immigrants that form huge voting blocks in south Florida.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099427)

Because of people, like my parents, who are from Cuba and came to the US in '75. They live in Northern Florida and want nothing less than the Cuban government destroyed and won't vote for ANYONE who even waivers in their distain for Cuba.

Myself? I think it's silly.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (2)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 7 months ago | (#46099637)

Exactly. Big block of single-issuer voters in a hugely important swing state.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 months ago | (#46099405)

Why doesn't the US do business with communist Cuba but they do with communist China?

If Cuba could beat China on the price of cheap electrical goods, toys, etc. I think there would be a quick change in policy.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 7 months ago | (#46099587)

And there's not as many feelgood stories about Chinese refugees being picked up by the Coast Guard while swimming across the ocean on a raft made out of an old Chevy to escape their homeland.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46099645)

And there's not as many feelgood stories about Chinese refugees being picked up by the Coast Guard while swimming across the ocean on a raft made out of an old Chevy to escape their homeland.

"Feelgood," not so much; when it comes to Chinese illegal immigration, you get more stories like this one. [modelminority.com]

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (1)

andydread (758754) | about 7 months ago | (#46099535)

Last time I checked it was the Occupy people that got put on a terrorist watch list not tea party of liberterian types but don't let the facts in they way of your trolling.. carry on.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099679)

The point I was trying to make is that it is rediculous to categorize people who want to uphold the constitution are potential terrorists.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46099703)

Last time I checked it was the Occupy people that got put on a terrorist watch list not tea party of liberterian types

A) [citation needed]

B) You should check again. [huffingtonpost.com]

C) "Tea Party" != Libertarian.

That is all.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (1)

andydread (758754) | about 7 months ago | (#46099803)

erm the link you posted had nothing to do with Tea Party or Libertarians unless you are implying that TP and Libertarians are "Right Wing Extremists". It seems you are lumping in TP and libertarians with the folks at StormFront and the like.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46099919)

erm the link you posted had nothing to do with Tea Party or Libertarians unless you are implying that TP and Libertarians are "Right Wing Extremists". It seems you are lumping in TP and libertarians with the folks at StormFront and the like.

Not so much me, as the Department of Homeland Security.

Regardless of what you preferred media outlet tells you, a group of people who protest armed very much is a group the feds want to keep an eye on. To try and imply otherwise indicates intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, and/or good ol' fashioned bias.

So, your turn - how about that citation I requested?

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (2)

andydread (758754) | about 7 months ago | (#46100049)

Well we can imagine all we want about who may be on a watch list however the documents that have come to light clearly shows that the feds and other police infiltrated the occupy movement. [huffingtonpost.com] Hardly a libertarian or Tea Party group.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46100145)

So, the feds performed surveillance.

I disagree with them doing it, but that's hardly the same thing as putting the members on a terrorism watch list.

Congratulations, you've committed the same hyperbolic sin you lambasted me for. Hypocrisy, thy name is andydread.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099853)

Who committed acts of terrorism? Who planned acts of terrorism? Who destroyed untold amounts of property, spread disease, fought police, did not buy insurance for mass demonstrations on public property, violated laws at every level of government?

Oh yeah....occupy.

Who was a foreign backed movement whose stated purpose was the overthrow of the current American economic hegemony?

And who was working within the system to cause change? Who followed the laws applicable to demonstrations - seeking permits and insurance?

Keep lying to yourself, bud.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099885)

Yes, those Tea Party organizers just has their group tax statuses delayed indefinitely so they could not raise free speech (money).
You better check you attitude, it is having an affect on what gets thru to your brain.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 7 months ago | (#46099731)

Cowardice. China could do real harm to the US if China embargoed the US. Cuba is too weak to hurt the US. Therefore Cuba can be punished but China must be left alone.

Re:This is like banning it from black people and J (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099921)

With us, it's personal. The Castros crossed the US, which is never forgiven. They'll have to die first or plead for mercy (a la Gaddafi). Fidel Castro urged Hrushchev to launch a nuclear attack on the US. The US hasn't forgotten.

How short sighted... (4, Insightful)

emagery (914122) | about 7 months ago | (#46099287)

If, as a nation, you decide that some other nation is an enemy, how better to influence their youth and upcoming generations to become your friend than offering them a good education? All this does is worsen the divide and entrench the relatively few 'bad guys' said other nation may even have running the show into their positions against us. *headdesk*

Re:How short sighted... (4, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | about 7 months ago | (#46099375)

The problem here is that our laws haven't kept pace with technology. In the height of the Cold War, you didn't want our nuclear scientist teaching the world how to build atomic bombs, and yet every student who went into physics at US university was basically taught the core technologies. The list goes on. Export of knowledge is thus highly regulated. Hopefully coursera will lead the charge in changing the laws, but we can't pretend these laws don't exist.

Re:How short sighted... (4, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46099725)

If, as a national government, you decide...

FTFY. Most of us, especially those who were born after the Cuban Missile Crisis, have no problem with either Cuba or the people living there.

Re:How short sighted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100023)

https://medium.com/the-nib/35ad23800282

It's an SMBC comic which was done on some kind of commission, so there is no SMBC URL to be had.

Export Control Regulations. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099349)

So I guess it's true: the deadliest weapon of all is an educated mind.

Now that every attempt to educate our own citizens has also been shut down or hobbled by everyone from teachers' unions to the creationists, I guess the only way we can maintain an education gap is to deny a Western education to our adversaries too.

This makes sense to an extent (-1, Troll)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 months ago | (#46099397)

Of course we don't want Muslim terrorists learning Chemistry, Biology, and things they could use to design weapons. On the other hand we should encourage courses on things like comparative religion. Then, just maybe, some of them might question whether a "God of Peace" would choose a pedophile warlord for his message of love that people of other beliefs should be subdued or killed.

Re:This makes sense to an extent (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099475)

Then, just maybe, some of them might question whether a "God of Peace" would choose a pedophile warlord for his message of love.

How does Obama fit in to the course you are talking about?

Re:This makes sense to an extent (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 7 months ago | (#46099517)

Then, just maybe, some of them might question whether a "God of Peace" would choose a pedophile warlord for his message of love.

How does Obama fit in to the course you are talking about?

Not at all. I was thinking about a straight comparison of beliefs of various religions together with looking at an impact of each belief on society.

Stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099403)

Yeah we wouldn't want to educate anyone in those 'bad' countries. They might grow up to like the usa...

That'll show em.

My god as a nation we're just fucking up in pretty much every way possible.. For the stupidest reasons ever.

What about North Korea? (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 7 months ago | (#46099441)

Oh, right... I forgot Coursera offers ONLINE courses!

Re:What about North Korea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099619)

But Little Kimmy's daddy was an INTERNET EXPERT!!! surely the apple must not have fallen too far from the tree!

dumb. (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 7 months ago | (#46099467)

:( "We have a problem with your government, so we'll punish you instead." brilliant.

non-american universities on coursera (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099497)

More than half of the excellent courses I've taken on Coursera were offered from non-US universities... isn't it lovely that these juristictions must once again bow to American short sightedness in thanks for having graciously provided their services on an American platform.

There are a few nice US courses also, but now I'll gladly look elsewhere for alternatives to avoid American taint; just as I now more actively than ever look elsewhere for internet hosting/cloud services.

North Korea (1)

mattie_p (2512046) | about 7 months ago | (#46099499)

Great news for everyone on the internet in North Korea, they seem to still be able to take Coursera classes! I bet the 1970's Film Appreciation instructor is happy to still have all their students.

Same old story (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 7 months ago | (#46099541)

We need someone new to step up and challenge the DoC export restrictions on published website content as unconstitutional interference with free speech, like we had with DJ Bernstein challenging cryptography export restrictions.

Re:Same old story (1)

Burz (138833) | about 7 months ago | (#46100075)

We need someone new to step up and challenge the DoC export restrictions on published website content
as unconstitutional interference with free speech,
like we had with DJ Bernstein challenging cryptography export restrictions.

The official position now is there are no constitutional rights across borders, and the UN declaration of human rights is toilet paper. "Human rights" is something defined/forgotten sporadically by the US State Dept. and the Council on Foreign Relations between war campaigns against third-world countries; it is something relegated to short-term memory.

But some students will be able to (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099547)

I suppose the poster could have taken a basic course in logic.

Yes! (1)

betterprimate (2679747) | about 7 months ago | (#46099559)

Because everyone knows knowledge and education breeds intolerance!

This is novel but it's not new (3, Informative)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about 7 months ago | (#46099569)

The US has enforced digital trade sanctions [eff.org] for years, even LinkedIn has blocked users before in fear of violating export sanctions [arabcrunch.com] . However, this is the first case I've heard of the US blocking access to a free service offered online.

Proxies? (1)

hummassa (157160) | about 7 months ago | (#46099575)

Does anyone else see the ridicule of this attempt? People on the banned countries that really want to continue their courses will use proxies and other technological measures to bypass it?

For those who didn't know what the acronym meant (2, Informative)

kent_eh (543303) | about 7 months ago | (#46099579)

For others (who (like me) weren't familiar with the acronym MOOC:

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) [wikipedia.org]

Would it be so hard for submitters to expand their acronyms in the posts?

Re:For those who didn't know what the acronym mean (1)

Bacon Bits (926911) | about 7 months ago | (#46099911)

Would it be so hard for submitters to expand their acronyms in the posts?

Yeah, this site needs some editors!

Easy solution (5, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#46099591)

If MOOC believes that offering education from the world's top university benefits all of humanity, there is a simple solution. Move the company offshore, or obtain a foreign partner.

The irony with treating this as banned with regards to certain countries that we are not on good terms with is that educational opportunities are very limited in those countries. Having access to education and the exposure to new ideas it brings is an opportunity to change those societies from within. Other than the industrial-military complex, who doesn't benefit from that?

Re:Easy solution (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 7 months ago | (#46099663)

If MOOC believes that offering education from the world's top university benefits all of humanity, there is a simple solution. Move the company offshore, or obtain a foreign partner.

Not that easy a solution, since, in some cases, the US can go after the employees or management of non-US companies that violate US sanctions. Not sure it'd apply in this case, but there's certainly a risk.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099791)

Not that easy a solution, since, in some cases, the US can go after the employees or management of non-US companies that violate US sanctions. Not sure it'd apply in this case, but there's certainly a risk.

I hope not... I'm a US citizen working for a university in a foreign nation, and I provide IT support to students from at least one of those countries...

Re:Easy solution (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 7 months ago | (#46100001)

Really doubt you've got any risk there. The law is really designed to target, for example, senior management of companies that do business with Iran. Then again, I'm not a sanctions specialist.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099823)

I still wonder why the US still has some leadership position in the world. Is there any government in the world that one can say truly looks out for the people (both nationals and non-nationals)?

The US bans Coursera from providing services in Iran and other countries. What is the result? The minorities take the blow. Take, for example, the Baha'is in Iran. They are denied access to the universities and the few options they have are BIHE (www.bihe.org) and other initiatives such as Coursera (www.coursera.org).

Breaking out of vicious cycles takes non-vicious solutions and banning educational initiatives to the citizens of a country because the government is unfriendly is certainly vicious.

Re:Easy solution (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 7 months ago | (#46099841)

If MOOC believes that offering education from the world's top university benefits all of humanity, there is a simple solution. Move the company offshore, or obtain a foreign partner.

The irony with treating this as banned with regards to certain countries that we are not on good terms with is that educational opportunities are very limited in those countries. Having access to education and the exposure to new ideas it brings is an opportunity to change those societies from within. Other than the industrial-military complex, who doesn't benefit from that?

They can certainly prevent US based universities from sharing that information with Coursera if they do not follow US export regulations.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099883)

Yeah, the point of sanctions is to apply pressure on foreign governments to change their policies. You can't say well we won't apply the sanction this time because blah blah blah, otherwise it's not really a sanction, is it? It's like punishing your kid and saying he can't watch TV until he tidies up and then being all like oh ok just that one program then.

The military-industrial complex hates sanctions, by the way - it much prefers wars.

Open secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099743)

Last time I heard the state-run biotech sector in socialist Cuba was the main supplier of exotic vaccines for the US military. The dealing went through some middle-men, but there wasn't too much effort to hide what's happening. This is pretty widespread knowledge in Europe, but not something you'll hear on Fox TV.

So, who needs education? The cubans are among the best educated people in the world, at least in humanity subjects, because they have a long-running tradition. In non-noisy workplaces, like cigar manufactures, half workday goes for listening to music and half goes for reading aloud. People with a good voice take turns reciting newspapers end-to-end as well as classics and romances.

What About Facebook? (4, Interesting)

guttentag (313541) | about 7 months ago | (#46099759)

Certain United States export control regulations prohibit U.S. businesses, such as MOOC providers like Coursera, from offering services to users in sanctioned countries, including Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. Under the law, certain aspects of Coursera’s course offerings are considered services and are therefore subject to restrictions in sanctioned countries...

Facebook is a "U.S. business" that is "offering services" to users in sanctioned countries. Only it's the Iranian government that tries to block it and redirects you to a page informing users the Web site they are trying to access is "bad for your health." I suppose the difference is that Facebook can be used to help people organize to overthrow the regime the U.S. government does not want, so that makes it OK. Plus, more people using it in a sanctioned country gives the NSA a clearer picture of the trends, attitudes and threats in that country.

I'm not saying Facebook should be restricted from offering services in countries like Iran. I'm saying laws should be applied equally, not politically.

Re:What About Facebook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100059)

Facebook is allowed to operate in these sanctioned countries because it is a gold mine for NSA and CIA operations.

It is a honeypot.

This online educational course has no or little benefit to these other operations, so it is blocked.

Re:What About Facebook? (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about 7 months ago | (#46100093)

My understanding, and I'm not a lawyer (and if I were it would not make me automatically right), is that the restriction being applied to Coursera is export-control law. This is a set of laws that says you can't share details of certain technologies such as missiles, nuclear reactors and bombs, and even the advanced materials required to make such things, even though such information is not classified.

While it is possible that some of Coursera's subjects pertain to science and technology that falls under the ever-expanding scope of export-control law, it is hard to imagine how everything it teaches falls into applicable categories.

Like many laws, export-control laws seemed like a good idea at the time. Selling missile and bomb secrets during the Cold War would probably not have been good. And like many laws, some jackass with an axe to grind -- in this case someone who hates Iran, Syria, and Cuba -- has decided to use that law to shut down free speech and free commerce and, you know, freedom.

In my opinion, the world has changed in two ways since the law was passed. First, the Internet has made it basically impossible to stop the flow of information, so quit trying. Second, oppressive jackasses like the official who demanded Coursera block Iran and Syria are now the biggest threat to American freedom (in hindsight, they always were, which I thought is why we have a Bill of Rights). So both the law, and the people who are applying it, are stupid and need to be changed.

really? (0)

Mr_Nitro (1174707) | about 7 months ago | (#46099847)

Cuba....really ? wtf is wrong with the US ... tides will turn ...be ready..

I love USA because of their education materials (1)

aiwarrior (1030802) | about 7 months ago | (#46099881)

I must for one state that I am as indebted to my country education system as to good will of american educators.
Even though Europe is considered more socialist than the USA most of the thesis's and papers I read are from USA. Examples in my field are the publications of programs and theory documents from Professor Mark Drela.

Europe does good research also, but when it can have practical and commercial applications it is rarely published or highly redacted. America may have lots of problems but I have found their openness in education a true beacon for the whole world. It is a pity this measures are enforced because they don't actually defeat an adversary government but do hinder the young minds that try to follow knowledge and civilization against barbarity.

It is true that knowledge does not preclude some kinds of backward thinking but it sure as hell influences positively. For one, I am terribly influenced by the American society yet in Europe culture is quite different. How was that? Not through isolation surely.

I think Cubans have bigger worries... (1)

Nova Express (100383) | about 7 months ago | (#46099893)

...than being denied particular coursework on an Internet they're not allowed to access anyway. Things like surviving on $20 a month [worldaffairsjournal.org] and avoiding getting arrested for owning unauthorized shrimp [huffingtonpost.com] .

Re:I think Cubans have bigger worries... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100091)

[I think Cubans have bigger worries] than being denied particular coursework on an Internet they're not allowed to access anyway.

Since when? According to 2600 [2600.com] the only website blocked in Cuba is a propaganda radio.
Cuba is doing much better than other Caribbean countries. They don't get to elect a singer with no idea of what he is doing for the Presidency (unlike Haiti), but the statistics that matter, like quality of life, education, healthcare, look good.

Your idea of Cuba comes from Cold War-era propaganda. The Cold War is over. You can leave your bunker now. Sadly, we lost. The fascists won, despite not even taking part in it.

American govt is full of retards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099941)

the last thing governments want is an educated population, people might get smart enough to throw their monkey asses out on the street.

The U.S (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46099967)

wants to control everything, even knowledge and education. When will people realize the biggest threat to freedom and world peace is in fact the U.S?

You'd think there would be a 1st amendment issue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100025)

Teaching is free speech! I can't think of anything the 1st amendment was more about, then the free exchange of ideas.

Or, if you're grading someone and telling them if they're right or wrong, it's now a 'service'?

All other notions about the value of educating people asside, it's rediculous that this could be an issue.

Sometimes I'm truly do hate my government.

Land of the Free (1)

plopez (54068) | about 7 months ago | (#46100029)

We're number 1! usa! usa! USA!

Proxies can get around censorship... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46100173)

...and work even when the evil government censoring the web is American.
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