Controversial SOPA Author to Lead Congressional Tech Committee


Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican representative who authored the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), was selected Wednesday as the Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee for the upcoming Congress.

Smith will move to his new role in January when the next Congress begins. The Science committee is charged with overseeing NASA and non-military research and development.

“As Chairman of the Science Committee, I will be an advocate for America’s innovators by promoting legislation that encourages scientific discoveries, space exploration and the application of new technologies to expand our economy and create jobs for American workers,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith is well-known in the technology community, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. SOPA, intended to address the problem of content pirating on the web, was widely assailed as a threat to the free and open nature of the Internet. Millions of Internet users signed a Google-sponsored petition against the bill urging Congress to vote down the legislation. Enough public pressure mounted that Smith chose to withdraw the bill.

Smith is also the author of the STEM Jobs Act, an immigration reform package that provides more visas to foreign students receiving degrees in advanced subjects. The bill would also allow for spouses and children of legal permanent residents to live in the U.S. while awaiting a green card. Additionally, it drastically changes the way the U.S. assigns visas, a process currently based on a lottery and quota system.

Many in the technology community have long called for some type of STEM visa. However, some of this bill’s naysayers argue that the proposed visa reform would reduce the number of immigrants granted visas from particular parts of the world, particularly Africa. The Obama administration also opposes the bill, saying it doesn’t mesh with the administration’s immigration policy.

The STEM Jobs Act was first voted upon earlier this year under suspension of the rules, wherein a bill needs two-thirds of the House’s approval to pass that chamber. It failed to pass that threshold, but has now been re-introduced.

Photo via Brendan Smialowski/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

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I'm Tired Of People Bashing Republicans. There Are Good Ones.

This video makes a good point. Republican presidents created some of the most important progressive federal programs in our history. Yes, Reagan is in it, but if you ignore that part, this is spot on. Also try to block out Nixon’s bad bits. Then, this is perfect.

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While We Weren’t Looking, 1.3 Million People Just Got The Shaft. Happy New Year.

Even though the financial data show that for every $1 spent on unemployment, at least $1.50 is returned to the economy, Congress went ahead and let benefits expire for 1.3 million people who can’t find a job. And there’s more to come in the next 3 months. I’ll just leave that insanity right there…

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Watch A Politician Ask A Journalist To Stop Doing Her Job

The chair of the Republican Party made the mistake of going on Soledad’s show. Then he made the mistake of assuming the status quo of dodging all questions was still acceptable. Then he basically begged for mercy.

At :30, she asks an easy question.  At 2:45, Reince goes for his normal dodge. At 3:20, Soledad brings the smackdown in her special gentle way. At 4:32, he begs Soledad to be mean to people other than him. At 4:40, she basically says, “Bless your heart.”

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Ron Burgundy Sings Mayor Rob Ford’s Campaign Song ‘Working For The Weekend’

Ron Burgundy Sings Mayor Rob Ford’s Campaign Song ‘Working For The Weekend’

While visiting with Conan O’Brien, Ron Burgundy admitted that he was asked by Toronto’s controversial mayor Rob Ford to sing his campaign theme song for his reelection.

Appropriately, that song happens to be Working For The Weekend by Lover Boy. 

“Everybody needs a second chance.”

As expected, Ron pulled out the flute.


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Boy Explains To Mom Why He Doesn’t Want To Eat Octopus

Boy Explains To Mom Why He Doesn’t Want To Eat Octopus

Over the week, Flavia Cavalcanti published this adorable Portuguese video of a young boy Luiz Antonio explaining to his mom why he doesn’t want to eat his octopus gnocchi. He simply explained that animals must be taken care of and not killed just to be eaten.

Mom was touched to the point of tears, and so was the web, helping the video quickly amass over one million views

Now, Raffaella Ciavatta has added English subtitles for the English web to enjoy, and now this video is trending as well, appearing on ClipNation, LaughingSquid, TastefullyOffensive, and MostWatched


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Cities Are The Opposite Of Nature, Right? Here's A Futuristic Twist On That.

What do Berlin, Chicago, Mexico City, Montreal, and São Paulo all have in common? Well, for one thing, a lot of wildlife. Many urban areas are doing a lot to foster plants and animals as well as improve the standard of living for humans. There are big challenges, but cities are where it’s at. Enjoy this trippy journey into how the urbanized world might look in 2030 and beyond.

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Uber Car Service Price Hike Is off After Outcry


The D.C. City Council backed off an effort to jack up the minimum fares on the smartphone-dispatched car livery service Uber, after a sudden outpouring of support on Twitter and e-mail that took Council Members by surprise.

Council Member Mary Cheh, a Democrat who represents Ward 3, removed an amendment to legislation designed to modernize the District’s taxi fleet that would have set Uber’s minimum starting rate to $15 — five times the price of getting into an ordinary D.C. cab.

District regulators have long been at odds with Uber, which acts as a middleman between drivers and passengers, without actually owning a fleet of cars or employing drivers, operates in large North American metro areas including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto and Washington D.C. Currently, Uber employs drivers of upmarket sedans, but it recently announced plans to deploy hybrid cars as part of a lower priced service.

In January, Uber ran afoul of D.C.’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, which sets fares and licensing requirements for the District’s cabs. Ron Linton, who leads the Taxi and Limousine Commission, personally took part in a sting in January that busted an Uber driver on a licensing infraction.

Ubers’s fans, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who tweeted his support of the service early Monday evening, tout its reliability and promptness as compared to typical D.C. cabs, which are notoriously difficult to have dispatched to the District’s far-flung neighborhoods.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, gianlucabartoli

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This article originally published at National Journal

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What Digital Media Can Teach Us About Politics


The political landscape continues to embrace digital, as it dictates how we learn about candidates and policies. Throughout the 2012 U.S. presidential election, Mashable has kept you updated on the most trending topics, from crowdfunding to online fact-checking to Big Bird. Furthermore, Mashable also launched its first ever e-book, Politics Transformed, an in-depth special report that takes an eye-opening look at how social media is shaking up politics.

At this year’s Media Summit, Mashable‘s US & World reporter, Alex Fitzpatrick, and Salon‘s editor at large, Joan Walsh, will have an in-depth conversation about how digital is changing politics forever. Every year, tickets sell out for the Mashable Media Summit, so if you want to guarantee a seat, buy your tickets this week.

Eventbrite - Mashable Media Summit 2012

Held on Nov. 2 at The TimesCenter in New York City, the Mashable Media Summit is a one-day conference that will explore the latest innovations in the space and the future of journalism. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to network with high-level executives in many industries and mingle with Mashable staff. Make sure to get your tickets today!

You can view the agenda online, and in the gallery below, see an inside look at some of the speakers who will appear onstage at the Media Summit.