Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 30

A girl was forced to remove her bra to take an exam because India is the world’s cheating capital

By Maria Thomas

Hard times call for tough measures, but tough measures also often result in collateral damage.

For years, India’s education boards have been grappling with the issue of cheating during examinations. To tackle the malpractice, often seen on a large scale across the country, these boards have of late issued strict dress codes. But these diktats also unfairly put innocent students in serious trouble.

For instance, in the run-up to the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for dental and medical colleges, the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) strict dress code barred clothes of dark colour and long sleeves, besides brooches, badges, closed shoes and socks. Following a series of embarrassing cheating scandals, all these were seen as potential hiding spots for cheating material and tiny communication devices.

Yet many of the over 1.1 million students who arrived at their test centres across the country on May 07 weren’t prepared for such measures. Students in states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala had to rip off their sleeves or change out of their jeans to just enter the exam centres.

One girl in Kerala’s Kannur district reportedly even had to take off her bra minutes before writing an important and potentially life-changing examination.

First, the 18-year-old struggled to find an open clothing store early on a Sunday morning as she had to change her black pants. Then, as she entered the exam centre, the metal hooks on her bra set off the metal detector.

“I told them that it was my bra-strap that had a metal hook on it, but they refused to let me in. They insisted that I remove it. Although I argued with them that the rules (do) not mention anything about innerwear, they refused to hear my pleas,” she told The News Minute. The girl eventually had to take her bra off and hand it over to her mother who was waiting outside.

Full story at Quartz India (May 2017)

Boy, 11, hacks cyber-security audience to give lesson on 'weaponisation' of toys

Reuben Paul, 11, tells conference that smart cars, fridges, lights and even teddy bears can be used to spy on or harm people

Reuben Paul showed how a teddy bear which can connect to the cloud can be hacked. Photograph: Lenora Gim/Getty Images

An 11-year-old “cyber ninja” has stunned an audience of security experts by hacking into their Bluetooth devices to manipulate a robotic teddy bear, showing in the process how interconnected smart toys “can be weaponised”.

Reuben Paul, who is in sixth grade at school in Austin, Texas, and his teddy bear Bob wowed hundreds at a cyber-security conference in the Netherlands.

“From airplanes to automobiles, from smartphones to smart homes, anything or any toy can be part of the Internet of Things (IOT),” said the small figure pacing the huge stage at the World Forum in The Hague.

“From terminators to teddy bears, anything or any toy can be weaponised.”

To demonstrate he deployed his cuddly bear, which connects to the cloud via wifi and Bluetooth to receive and transmit messages.

Plugging into his laptop a device known as a “Raspberry Pi” – a small credit-card size computer – Reuben scanned the hall for available Bluetooth devices, and to everyone’s amazement including his own, suddenly downloaded dozens of numbers, including some of top officials.

Then using a computer language called Python he hacked into his bear via one of the numbers to turn on one of its lights and record a message from the audience.

Full story at The Guardian (May 2017)

A Chinese student’s commencement speech praising “fresh air” and democracy is riling China’s internet

By Josh Horwitz

Every year in May a handful of commencement speeches will go viral, usually for the speaker’s sense of humor or ability to inspire. But one graduation speech from this year is going viral in China for a different reason–it’s politically incorrect.

On May 21, Shuping Yang, a graduating senior at the University of Maryland, appeared at her school’s commencement ceremony to give an address. In her speech, Yang said that she once had five face masks in China due to the air pollution. Upon coming to the United States, she experienced “fresh air.”

"People often ask me: Why did you come to the University of Maryland? I always answer: Fresh air. Five years ago, as I step off the plane from China, and left the terminal at Dallas Airport. I was ready to put on one of my five face masks, but when I took my first breaths of American air. I put my mask away. The air was so sweet and fresh, and utterly luxurious. I was surprised by this. I grew up in a city in China, where I had to wear a face mask every time I went outside, otherwise, I might get sick. However, the moment I inhaled and exhaled outside the airport, I felt free."

Yang went on to discuss how her time at the University of Maryland allowed her to enjoy the “fresh air of free speech.” A double-major in theater and psychology, she cited her attendance of a school production of the Anna Deveare-Smith play Twilight, which centers around the race riots in Los Angeles in 1992, as a formative experience.

“I have always had a burning desire to tell these kinds of stories, but I was convinced that only authorities on the narrative, only authorities could define the truth. However, the opportunity to immerse myself in the diverse community at the University of Maryland exposed me to various, many different perspectives on truth,” she said. “Democracy and freedom are the fresh air that is worth fighting for,” she added, as her speech came to a close.

Full story at Quartz (May 2017)

How students cheated in exams to get into China’s imperial civil service

Tiny book on display in Changsha gives glimpse of the underhand methods used by some trying to enter China’s bureaucracy during Ming and Qing dynasties

A tiny book used by Chinese students over hundreds of years to cheat in civil service exams has gone on public display, according to a newspaper report.

The miniature version of the classic Confucian texts Four Books and Five Classics was shown at a collectors conference in Changsha in Hunan province, the Changsha Evening News reported.

The book is a little larger than a matchbox and its text the size of a grain of rice.

Long Guisheng, the manager of a Hunan store selling ancient books, told the paper the tiny book was used by students in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) hoping for a leg up in their exams.

Students would bring smaller versions of texts they were supposed to memorise, sewing them into their clothing or the soles of their shoes.

“If cheating was successful, then the probabilty of getting in would be higher,” Long was quoted as saying.

Civil service examinations were held for 1,300 years in imperial China for those wanting to enter the state bureaucracy and were based on classic texts, such as works by Confucius. The exam system has echoes in today’s notoriously high-pressure gaokao college entrance exams in China.

A similar matchbox-sized “cheat sheet” book was discovered in Qingdao in Shandong province in 2009.

The 160-page text measuring just over 6 cm long and 5 cm wide, containing some 140,000 characters, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Full story at South China Morning Post (April 2017)