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Will Lyft and Uber's Shared-Ride Service Hurt Public Transit?

Wrath0fb0b Re:should be banned or regulated (237 comments)

I don't think anyone claims that Uber should not have insured drivers or should permit their drivers to discriminated by race.

What they do claim, is that it's ridiculous for the city to have a fixed number of medallions for drivers, instead of letting anyone that meets the (insurance,inspection,background,...) checks compete under the same set of rule. The sad fact in a number of cities is that possession of an arbitrary token is more important that substantive comliance with an objective set of requirements.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd?

Wrath0fb0b Socket Activation/Passing (928 comments)

With a dozen or so lines of code you can convert any services that listens on a socket (UNIX, INET, NETLINK or POSIX) to have systemd create the socket and pass it in -- and that includes code to fall back to socket creation if it's not launched by systemd. This has a few benefits:

  • Startup: Services don't need to signal back init systems that a service is ready to receive requests (or, worse: I've seen colleagues either put in a sleep, or having dependent processes poll, shudder). As soon as the socket is created, requests can be received. When the process is ready to read/select, it gets everything in the buffer.

    In fact, while a ton of people are focused on the way systemd manages dependencies between startup processes, they overlook that socket-passing actually removes dependencies between them. In other words, even if you have some horribly complex web of socket-based services, you can treat them as entirely independent.

  • On-demand-services: Got a socket service that doesn't have tight startup latency requirements and is launched infrequently like sshd or ntpd? Why does it have to stick around all the time consuming resources? Let systemd hold the socket and launch it whenever a client connects and just exit() when your last client goes away. Apple has been doing this for years -- aggressively reclaiming memory from daemons that don't need to be immediately available. This also improves startup times because non-essential services aren't launching at the same time as essential ones, decreasing CPU/IO thrash -- I've seen admins create init-groups that launch 5 minutes after startup for this purpose actually, this solves the issue more sensibly.
  • Crashes: Services that crash obviously lose all session state, but having the socket persist means that requests never get rejected -- they just wait a bit longer. For a concrete example, if Apache relies on SQL and then SQL crashes, obviously any in-flight queries are going to return errors. But new queries launched by different Apache worker threads will just sit in the socket buffer until SQL comes back to life. This is a pretty big win for mitigating client impact.
  • In-place-updates: Services that need to be updated/patched are just a different manifestation of the "Crash" bullet above. Need to patch your services without killing all its clients? Stop processing new requests, fulfill everything in the queue, restart, pick up where you left off. Unless the client is closely monitoring the latency of requests, they won't even know that the service was patched underneath them.

So that's at least one thing that systemd brings that other init systems don't, that solves a few real problems and enables some new features that other init systems can't.

about a month ago
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Debate Over Systemd Exposes the Two Factions Tugging At Modern-day Linux

Wrath0fb0b Re:How about we hackers? (863 comments)

Actually systemd doesn't care if it's actually running yet or not, because it already created a socket listening on port 80/443 (or whatever) and passed it to Apache. If anyone tries to send something to 80, it will be queued in the socket's buffer, and once Apache finishes its startup goo, it will process the backlog.

In other words, there's a third state in between "Not Ready" and "Fully Ready" which is "I'm ready enough to receive and enqueue requests without dropping them but I can't fulfill them immediately". Once a service hits that state, no one should care any further.

[ Bonus round: if Apache crashes, that's fine too because systemd keeps the socket around and passes it to the relaunched instance with all the pending requests intact. Which actually means that it never goes to "Not even ready to receive requests" even on crash and all requests are seamlessly processed. ]

about a month ago
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Debate Over Systemd Exposes the Two Factions Tugging At Modern-day Linux

Wrath0fb0b Re:Administrators dislike constraint based systems (863 comments)

Administrators dislike constraint based systems. ...
it insists on controlling file descriptors and sockets and Mach ports for the things it starts - which means you have to rewrite a lot of at least the startup code in most Open Source software to tolerate being run by something that opens the files and sockets that it expects to do itself.

First of all, it's about a dozen lines of code in the daemon to be able to query if you've been passed in a socket and, only then fall back to creating it yourself. And that's backwards compatible. There's example code totalling no more than a single page.

Second, Administrators ought to love the model of daemon's receiving the socket because it actually removes constraints entirely, instead of just managing them. You're correct that admins dislike constraint-based systems instead of imperative ones, but removing the constraint is even more favorable -- an real admin should love nothing more for the applications to sign a contract that says "You can launch me and my dependencies in any order and we will Do The Right Thing(TM)". Socket activation does exactly that.

about a month ago
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Austin Airport Tracks Cell Phones To Measure Security Line Wait

Wrath0fb0b Re:Randomized MAC for background scans ... (168 comments)

Yes, when you get to the front of the line you should pay attention to the instructions. In the meantime, while you are waiting to get to the front of the line, there's nothing to pay attention to.

about a month ago
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Austin Airport Tracks Cell Phones To Measure Security Line Wait

Wrath0fb0b Randomized MAC for background scans ... (168 comments)

If you've got a recent iPhone, it's already randomizing the MAC used for background scans:

When iOS 8 is not associated with a Wi-Fi network and a device's processor is asleep, iOS 8 uses a randomized Media Access Control (MAC) address when conducting PNO scans. When iOS 8 is not associated with a Wi-Fi network or a device's processor is asleep, iOS 8 uses a randomized MAC address when conducting ePNO scans. Because a device's MAC address now changes when it's not connected to a network, it can't be used to persistently track a device by passive observers of Wi-Fi traffic.

Of course, that doesn't work if you are using the phone to read Twitter while waiting in line, because seriously, what else are you expected to do while shuffling along?

about a month ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

Wrath0fb0b Re:Biased summary (282 comments)

This isn't a product, it is a service. So ergo the only way to regulate the service is to regulate the person doing the selling.

And you can regulate the person doing the selling and the car he's driving without favoring one person over another or empowering a cartel.

Falling into the "regulation-bad" "regulation good" dichotomy is really killing us here. Regulating the driver's record, the vehicle and his insurance is eminently sensible. Beyond that, it's just protectionism.

about a month and a half ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

Wrath0fb0b Re:Biased summary (282 comments)

I really don't have any problem with any of the requirements you've listed at the end there, so long as they are administered objectively and impartially. They all seem unobjectionable.

But providing favorable treatment to some licensed taxi companies over others -- such as the use of taxi stands and spaces -- rubs me as unjustified favoritism.

about a month and a half ago
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Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

Wrath0fb0b Re:Biased summary (282 comments)

What kind of person bills his grandmother for taking her to the supermarket? Jeezz...

Repeat after me: "it's against the law to drive people around for money without the proper credentials".

Your bit about "without proper credentials" makes it sound like all that's needed is for a driver to apply for a license and meet some objective requirements like driving records, vehicle inspections and insurance. If that were the case, you'd have a lot more folks siding with the law.

Instead, in order to pick up a fare in Amsterdam, you need to meet some other arbitrary requirements, chief among them being a member of a TTO ("Regulated Taxi Organization") with at least 100 cars. And to pick up a fare from a taxi stand in Amsterdam, you need a further license -- one given at the discretion of the municipality for "professionalism".

So there we have it -- there's a whole set of common sense regulations that are applied and that anyone can meet based on a set of objective criteria. Then there's another set that got "glued on" which makes no sense at all. So ditch the latter, and soon you'll find there's no reason for uber at all.

[ But hey, at least it's not as bad as the US medallion system ! ]

about a month and a half ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Wrath0fb0b Great feel but poor ergo ... (304 comments)

Straight keyboards are really poor ergonomically, but I do love the mechanical feel of these old IBM models (and their newer imitators).

Might as well use this as an impromptu Ask Slashdot: are there any ergonomic one-piece mechanical wireless keyboards out there? I periodically Google for it (to replace an old Logitech one that's nearing EOL after a decade or so) but have never been able to find anything suitable.

about a month and a half ago
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iOS Trojan Targets Hong Kong Protestors

Wrath0fb0b Re:Advanced? Requires a Jailbreak & manual ins (72 comments)

Perhaps stories like this will make clear what the costs of disabling code signing really are, to be weighed against the incentive to disable it ...

about 2 months ago
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The $1,200 DIY Gunsmithing Machine

Wrath0fb0b Re:Honestly, rifles are not the problem (651 comments)

Pistols, however, are used by criminals, by people committing suicide, and by kids playing around with them. As a direct result, over 30,000 people die every year after being shot with a pistol.

This is an example of a truthful but not useful statement. Yes, 30,000 people die every year as a result of being shot by a pistol. According to the CDC, in 2010 there were 11K firearm homocides and 19K firearm suicides.

That's a big difference in perspective, since a regulation that might be justifiable to prevent an individual from shooting his wife or neighbor might not be justifiable to prevent him from shooting himself. It's not dispositive, of course, but society has a much larger interest in preventing individuals from killing each other than killing themselves.

about 2 months ago
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Apple's TouchID Fingerprint Scanner: Still Hackable

Wrath0fb0b Re:Law Enforcement (70 comments)

Do these bags simultaneously keep the phone powered on while preventing the internal clock from advancing? If so, I think there's some folks in Sweden that would like to award the creator some very nice jewelry.

about 2 months ago
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Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Wrath0fb0b Re:So everything is protected by a 4 digit passcod (504 comments)

Too bad for "standard forensics" that the passcode is mixed in with a hardware-specific key baked into the SOC. So you'll first need to be able to run arbitrary code on the individual's phone itself in order to keep guessing beyond the limit. That's going to require a significantly more intrusive examination.

about 2 months ago
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Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Wrath0fb0b Re:Sanity... (504 comments)

Self incrimination has never applied to physical evidence that the individual has in his possession, it only applies to things that are "testimonial" (quotes because this is a term of art). After all, the 5A specifically talks about being a witness against one's self, not about providing evidence. See also Fisher v. United States, 425 U.S. 391 (1976), Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966) and United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218 (1967).

The classic example is business or tax records related to fraud prosecutions. An individual served with a valid order cannot refuse to turn over documents because they would tend to incriminate him, that doesn't make sense. You can't force the individual to testify to anything, but you can compel them to produce physical objects that you have probable cause to believe are evidence relevant to the prosecution of a crime.

Another canonical example is a court order forcing an individual to provide a cheek swab for a DNA test. Again, not testimonial because it's not communicative in any way -- you are just talking about physical, tangible evidence.

about 2 months ago
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Apple Denies Systems Breach In Photo Leak

Wrath0fb0b In combination with an accurate summary ... (311 comments)

In combination with iCloud credentials obtained with iBrute, the password-cracking software for iCloud released on Github over the weekend, EPPB lets anyone impersonate a victimâ(TM)s iPhone and download its full backup rather than the more limited data accessible on iCloud.com.

So basically, in combination with your password, this tools let's you access resources secured by your password. Amazing! Next up you'll tell me there's a tool that lets you open my front door in combination with a copy of my house key!

Let's put this another way -- you tell some /.er that he can buy a new iPhone, enter his password and immediately restore from an iCloud backup. Logically then, we expect that he understands that the password controls access to the backup, since the only thing he needed to provide was that password.

about 3 months ago
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You Got Your Windows In My Linux

Wrath0fb0b Re:What's wrong with Windows Server? (613 comments)

Which is why clamd should provide a systemd.socket, unit in which case the init system installs the sockets and then hands them off to the spawned process as soon as the respective daemon is to be started.

It's just as easy to to do this in systemd as it is to bung together shell that does it, but it's not as familiar. In a few years, most system admins will be able to mash out a systemd.socket unit in their sleep.

about 3 months ago
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Project Zero Exploits 'Unexploitable' Glibc Bug

Wrath0fb0b Re:Honestly, when will people learn? (98 comments)

An acquaintance recently posted "Six Stages of Debugging" on his g+ page. (1. That can't happen, 2. That doesn't happen on my machine, 3. That shouldn't happen, 4. Why does that happen? 5. Oh, I see, and 6. How did that ever work). Doesn't an software dev who has been working for more than about three years go straight to No. 4?

Absolutely true for debugging. But there's a few steps you missed.

Somewhere near 3-4: Ok, how bad would it be if that happened? Does it recover without user intervention (i.e. service crashes and cron restarts it)? Does it recover with user intervention ("did you turn it off and back on?)? Does it lose user data (oh poop)?

The question here (which is altogether not trivial) is exactly this: "how bad would it be if we wrote an extra '\0' somewhere"? And what geohot did was answer that in the most productive way possible - by actually showing with a real example that the impact is major and permanent. If you aren't explicitly doing assessment of the impact of your bugs for schedule/priorities then you must be doing it implicitly somehow because most projects have more bugs than coders/time.

There's another step you missed, happens probably at step 10 or 11 and probably not by the developer that fixes the bug -- given the impact and the risk of the fix, when/how should this be deployed? Should it be backported to the stable releases? Do we have to ping everyone downstream? Is this so bad we should post on /. telling everyone to pull the emergency fix ASAP or else zombie Putin will kill Natalie Portman?

Again, if you aren't doing this step explicitly, it's either happening implicitly or else you are just letting it land whenever/however.

about 2 months ago
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$125,000 Settlement Given To Man Arrested for Photographing NYPD

Wrath0fb0b Re:precedent (231 comments)

There's already binding precedent in the Circuit that covers NYS.

Tunick v. Safir, 228 F.3d 135, 137 (2d Cir. 2000)
loom v. Levy, 159 F.3d 1345 (2d Cir. 1998).

I'm not sure what another case would prove -- the appellate courts are loath to repeat themselves.

about 3 months ago
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Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture

Wrath0fb0b Re:The only good thing (511 comments)

The (heartless) thing about it is that drugs are not too different from many other things in society that are used by rich and poor alike but harm the latter much more.

The rich are far more likely to own firearms than the poor and far less likely to shoot someone or be shot.
The rich buy far more alcohol than the poor but are far less likely to drive drunk or be alcoholics .
The rich do far more drugs than the poor but are far less likely to become non-functional addicts.
The rich are far more likely to waste their education on party schools than the poor but are less likely to suffer the career consequences.
The rich and the poor engage in about the same amount of premarital sex but the former are less likely to have kids out of wedlock.
The rich gamble more often than the poor but are far less likely to become chronic gamblers.

To my mind, this suggests that the ultimate cause of these problems isn't the particular vices, but rather the cultural and economic context around them that causes them to be destructive. We should work at fixing that context, along with providing opportunity and support for everyone to work towards their own success, rather than wasting our time on proximate causes.

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Revelations on the French Big Brother

Wrath0fb0b Wrath0fb0b writes  |  about a year ago

Wrath0fb0b (302444) writes "Days after President François Hollande sternly told the United States to stop spying on its allies, the newspaper Le Monde disclosed on Thursday that France has its own large program of data collection, which sweeps up nearly all the data transmissions, including telephone calls, e-mails and social media activity, that come in and out of France. The report notes that "our email messages, SMS messages, itemised phone bills and connections to FaceBook and Twitter are then stored for years."

For those /.ers that grok Français, you can read the original at Le Monde or the translated version from LM. The NYT also has a writeup on the story."

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US Supreme Court upholds First Sale doctrine for works manufactured abroad

Wrath0fb0b Wrath0fb0b writes  |  about a year and a half ago

Wrath0fb0b (302444) writes "The US Supreme Court reversed the $600,000 fine for a student who imported cheaper textbooks from Thailand and resold them for a profit in the US. The ruling affirms that the exclusive right of importation is subject to the same limitations (first sale, archival, fair use) as the restriction on reproduction and that a book bought abroad by a lawful assignee of the copyright is "lawfully obtained" for the purposes of the First Sale doctrine. The dissent focused more closely on the intent of Congress in passing the Copyright Act, and called the Court's decision a "bold departure from Congress’ design" and said it was at odd's with the US treaty position on copyright exhaustion. The opinion is also notable for the odd lineup, with three of the Court's liberal wing joining three of the more conservatives Justices in the 6-3 majority in favor of the appellant (the Court is current split 4-1-4)."
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Facebook iOS App Ditching HTML5 for ObjectiveC

Wrath0fb0b Wrath0fb0b writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Wrath0fb0b (302444) writes "The New York Times reports that Facebook is overhauling their iOS App to ditch their HTML5 based UI for a native ObjectiveC one. This is an about face from their position a few months ago in which FB wonks said HTML5 would allows them to write once run anyhwere. While WORA certainly has a lot of appeal for both programmers (due to desire not to duplicate effort) and management alike (due to desire not to pay programmers to duplicate effort), the large number of negative reviews that FB for iOS has illustrate that this approach is not without drawbacks. No matter how the new app is received, this is more fuel on the native vs. web-app fire."
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CA Governor Vetoes Bill Protecting Arrestees' Cell

Wrath0fb0b Wrath0fb0b writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Wrath0fb0b (302444) writes "The U.S. Supreme Court let stand Diaz v. California, a Fourth Amendment case from California's Supreme Court which held that a cell phone can be searched incident to a lawful arrest. Meanwhile, over the summer, California state legislators passed SB 914, a bill limiting searches incident to arrest in California. Just today, however, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill stating that the courts are better suited to resolve complex and case specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections.

Noted Fourth Amendment scholar Orin Kerr opines that Governor Brown has it exactly backwards and lays out the advantages of the legislature in rapidly-evolving fields such as new technology and their ability to better assess facts, amend the law to reflect the latest technology and disregard precedents that they feel no longer ought to apply. He argues that legislatures are much better equipped than courts to strike the balance between security and privacy when technology is in flux."

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US Supreme Court: Video games qualify for First A

Wrath0fb0b Wrath0fb0b writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Wrath0fb0b (302444) writes "The United States Supreme Court threw out a California law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors (signed by a man who would never pander violence to children). Notable in the opinion is a historical review of the condemnation of "unworthy" material that would tend to corrupt children, starting with penny-novels and up through comic books and music lyrics. The opinion is also notable for the odd lineup of Justices that defies normal ideological lines, with one conservative and one liberal jurist dissenting on entirely different grounds. In the process, they continue the broad rule that the First Amendment does not vary with the technological means used:

Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And the basic principles of freedom of speech . . . do not vary with a new and different communication medium.

"

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Study on Endowment Effects in IP Transactions

Wrath0fb0b Wrath0fb0b writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Wrath0fb0b (302444) writes "[Disclosure: I'm not involved in any way in this research or Cornell, nor do I know any of the researchers or papers cited. ]

The endowment effect is a long-studied cognitive bias in which owners of property consistently assign it a higher value for sale (WTA, willing to accept) than non-owners for purchase (WTP, willing to pay). This effect is occurs even if the property is assigned randomly, meaning it is independent of the fact that we acquire things we consider valuable or have experienced as valuable. A brief overview of the evidence for the effect, and a number of possible psychological bases for this bias, are discussed in the paper.

This studyis the first to test the extent and manner in which this effect applies to transactions involving IP — that is, non-rivalrous goods. Subjects (undergrads) were divided into three groups based on their order of scheduling: the first third became Authors; the middle third became Bidders; and the final third became Owners. The authors were told to write a poem for entry into a contest, in which the winner would be awarded $50. They were then asked at what price they would be willing to sell their chance of winning — their WTA for the work. Each bidder was assigned a single poem and asked at what price they would be willing to buy that poems chance of winning. Finally, each owner was assigned a single poem, told that they already "owned it", and asked for a WTA for that work's chance of winning.

The results were in line with what one might expect from Endowment Effect literature — Authors and Owners both valued the poems at nearly twice as high as bidders, which is even more interesting because what was being "sold" here was only partial alienation of the property — the author would continue to have the poem for personal use but sold only the winnings from the contest. Even more interestingly, the results do not change much if you allow all the subjects to read all the poems entered into the contest before writing their bids/sells. Nor do they change if you inform the subjects that the winning poem will be selected by lottery instead of by subjective judgment. The conclusions for the rational structuring of IP law are broad and generally point towards a "liability rules" (what we would call compulsory-licensing) over the extant "property rules" (what we would call the current system in which the owner retains the unlimited power to refuse to sell). As the authors put it more verbosely:

Our findings suggest that private transactions in creative goods may face significant transaction costs arising from cognitive biases. These biases in turn drive the price that creators and owners of IP are likely to demand considerably higher than buyers will, on average, be willing to pay. This discovery does not mean, of course, that transactions in IP will not take place — we see such transactions happening every day. Our research suggests, however, both that IP transactions may occur at a frequency that is significantly suboptimal and that the baleful effect of cognitive and affective biases is likely to be more serious for transactions in works of relatively low commercial value or for which no well-established custom or pattern helps to inform valuation. These results have considerable implications for the structuring of IP rights, IP formalities, IP licensing, and fair use.

Most broadly, we believe that our results should inform the ongoing debate over whether IP law is best structured around property rules or liability rules. Additionally, we argue that our results point toward the advisability of copyright re-formalization, which is best achieved via reformulation of copyright as remedies provisions to limit owners of works that are unregistered (and therefore presumptively of low commercial value) to the effective equivalent of a liability rule. Finally, our findings should inform copyright'(TM)s fair use doctrine. Many courts considering the fair use defense already base their analysis, in part, on the presence of significant transaction costs that lower the likelihood that the parties would have negotiated a license and therefore make fair use more appropriate. In light of our findings, courts should consider whether a license for the use at issue in a particular case would likely be subject to significant endowment effects. If so, it is less likely that the parties would have struck a deal as an alternative to the defendant'(TM)s unauthorized use, therefore making a finding of fair use more appropriate.

"

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OSU Pres Cans Anthrax Vaccine Research on Primates

Wrath0fb0b Wrath0fb0b writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Wrath0fb0b (302444) writes "OSU President Burns Hargis has abruptly canceled an NIH-funded study on an anthrax vaccine on primates, who would then have to be euthanized. Suspicion that the decision was meant to appease large donor Madeleine Pickens, the wife of noted huntsman T. Boone Pickens, who had previously pressured the school over animal-rights issues. Scientists counter that the study was approved by the NIH peer-review process, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and subject to the Federal Animal Welfare Act (by virtue of using NIH money) and that the decision by the President is short-circuited months of planning and deliberation on the matter.

Hargis has denied being influenced by Pickens and cited "confidential factors" that he couldn't discuss, telling the faculty council that "to go through every lurid detail is simply not prudent". A post on Pickens' blog, on the other hand, obliquely takes credit for the "great decision", noting the a faculty hunch that ""generous benefactor to OSU and her ties to the Humane Society of the United States may have played a role in the termination of the project". Meanwhile, the NIH expressed displeasure at the decision, releasing a statement that stated "NIH fully expects institutions to honor these assurances and commitment to complete NIH supported projects as requested, approved and funded". Some OSU scientists speculated that the fiasco would make it harder for them to receive NIH funding in the future.

Read more: http://www.newsok.com/anthrax-study-rejected-by-osu/article/3421451#ixzz0aIt7Qy5y
Angry reaction: http://speakingofresearch.com/2009/12/16/standing-together-widespread-support-for-osu-and-its-research/
More angry reaction: http://scienceblogs.com/drugmonkey/2009/12/oklahoma_legislator_displeased.php
School responds: http://newsok.com/osu-chief-discusses-research-decision/article/3423662?custom_click=headlines_widget
Pickens' blog post: http://www.madeleinepickens.com/news/osu-president-cancels-antrax-study-proposal-requiring-primate-euthanasia/"

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