What is the right punishment for blasphemy?

BBC Asian Network raised a few eyebrows after tweeting "What is the right punishment for blasphemy?" While it's clear from watching the video all the way through that BBC's Shazia Awan is not taking a side, BBC Asia later apologized. Read the rest

Catastrophes are reliable levelers of inequality; inequality creates catastrophes

Stanford history and classics professor Walter Scheidel writes in the Atlantic that the only reliable ways for unequal societies to become more equal is to suffer catastrophes that upend the order of things; Scheidel concludes that our modern, unequal state may not be able to avail itself of a convenient catastrophe for this purpose because "Technology has made mass warfare obsolete; violent, redistributive revolution has lost its appeal; most states are more resilient than they used to be; and advances in genetics will help humanity ward off novel germs." Read the rest

Researchers show they can beat address space layout randomization with Javascript in a browser (!)

Address space layout randomization is an important first line of defense against malicious software: by randomizing where in memory instructions are stored, ASLR makes it much harder to overwrite memory with new code that will be jumped to as a program executes, offering significant protection against buffer overflow attacks. Read the rest

Investigation accuses French right-wing leader of funnelling €500K to his wife for "fake job"

François Fillon is the French Republican Party's political candidate, the right-wing frontrunner against the neofascist Marine Le Pen. Following an investigation by the Canard Enchainé newspaper, French government investigators have announced an investigation into the period in the late 1990s and early 2000s when his British-born wife Penelope drew a salary of €7,000/month as his parliamentary aide; the newspaper alleged that Ms Fillon was not actually working in Parliament at that time and drew her salary for a "fake job." Read the rest

Macedonian strongman contests election and obituaries for his opponents appear on Imgur

An anonymous reader writes, "After snap elections on December 11th in Macedonia, when designers united against a dictatorship, Nikola Gruevski, the leader of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party gave a Milosevic-style speech declaring that foreign powers are interfering with the work of the SEC. VMRO-DPMNE won (for now) 51 seats, the opposition party won 49 of total 120 seats in Parliament. Yesterday, obituaries from the US and EU ambassadors to Macedonia appeared on IMGUR. Read the rest