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The Stingray: the cellphone tracker the government won’t talk about

(from theverge.com)

The government has the ability to track cellphones using the portable device pictured above called the Stingray — it was recently revealed in a criminal case in Arizona, but the government doesn’t want anyone to know how it works. When the judge in the case asked for more information about the Stingray in order to determine if its use requires a search warrant, the government filed a memo basically arguing both ways: it said Stingray use generally doesn’t require a warrant, but concedes that one was required in this specific instance — a huge concession that could cost them the case, just so the Stingray’s design and functionality remain a secret.

Although the government’s lawyers are willing to tie themselves in knots trying to conceal the Stingray, we do have some information on how it works: experts told the WSJ that it mimics an actual cell tower pinging for a specific device, and the data can be used to triangulate a phone’s location. It can be concealed in the back of a van and measure the distance to any type of cell phone from multiple locations — circles drawn from each point will intersect within 100 meters of the phone’s location. Our FBI contact told us that tracking a cellphone normally requires a wireless provider’s cooperation, which could take weeks to obtain — the Stingray simplifies investigations because cell towers aren’t needed. We’ll see what happens — if it comes down to keeping the Stingray a secret or allowing law enforcement to track anyone they want without a warrant, we suppose we prefer the first.

(keep reading at theverge.com)

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Unprecedented: Bitcoin Mining Network Exceeds 100 PH/s

(from coinbrief.net)

The total power of the Bitcoin network has broken through 100 petahashes per second (PH/s) for the first time in the cryptocurrency’s five years of life. According to blockchain.info, the hash rate peaked at 103.4 PH/s on Wednesday before fluctuating back down to 85.3 PH/s on Thursday. It rose up on Friday to around 98 PH/s and will likely break 100 again over the weekend.

The Bitcoin hash rate is a measurement of the entire network’s computing power, generated by a vast system of miners who perform complex mathematical calculations in order to secure the blockchain — Bitcoin’s public ledger of all transactions that ever occurred.

The hash rate generally increases because Bitcoin mining gets more difficult and energy-intensive as time goes on and more people join the network. There’s only so much BTC to be made by securing the single blockchain, and miners are in an arms race of computational power to claim as many block rewards as possible.

(keep reading at coinbrief.net)

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Fukushima – It’s a lot worse than we are told – VICE

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~ William Gibson, Neuromancer

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WildLeaks attracts major wildlife crime leads in first three months

(from theguardian.com)

A new WikiLeaks-style website targeting the kingpins of wildlife crime has attracted serious leads on elephant, tiger, fishery and forest destruction across the globe in its first three months.

The WildLeaks website, which uses Tor technology to ensure anonymity, has been set up by Andrea Crosta, a security consultant who first revealed how the al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia generated funds via ivory smuggling.

The slaughter of elephants, rhinos, tigers and other species has surged in the last decade, part of an illicit wildlife trade worth $10-20bn a year according to Interpol. Only drugs, people and arms trafficking earn more for criminals and the corruption and violence accompanying wildlife crime takes a heavy toll on local communities.

“We had our first tip within 24 hours and the response has been beyond our wildest imagination,” said Crosta, now executive director of theElephant Action League. He said the pervasive corruption means that whistleblowers frequently fear that contacting local law enforcement could put their lives in danger. “You can’t, for example, export containers full of ivory from Mombasa without bribing people left, right and centre,” Crosta told the Guardian. “We definitely feel we are filling a gap.”

A three-month trial period has yielded 24 serious tip-offs, spanning the world including:

• elephant poaching in Africa and illicit ivory trading in Hong Kong;

• killing of Sumatran tigers, of which there are just 400 left in the wild;

• illegal lion and leopard hunting in South Africa;

• chimpanzee trafficking in Liberia;

• illegal fishing activities in Alaska, including alleged mafia involvement;

• importing of illegal African wildlife products into the US;

• illegal logging in Mexico, Malawi and Siberia.

(keep reading at theguardian.com)

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Americans by 2 to 1 Would Pay More to Curb Climate Change

(from bloomberg.com)

Americans are willing to bear the costs of combating climate change, and most are more likely to support a candidate seeking to address the issue.

By an almost two-to-one margin, 62 percent to 33 percent, Americans say they would pay more for energy if it would mean a reduction in pollution from carbon emissions, according to the Bloomberg National Poll.

While Republicans were split, with 46 percent willing to pay more and 49 percent opposed to it, 82 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents say they’d accept higher bills.

“We’re already hitting 110 degrees here,” said Larry McNamed, a 44-year-old independent in Henderson,Nevada. “A lot of people are trying to sweep this under the rug, but we need to do something. It’s only going to get hotter.”

(keep reading at bloomberg.com)

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Expedia Now Accepting Bitcoin

(from coinbrief.net)

Expedia, an online travel booking service, announced on the morning of Wednesday, July 11, 2014 that it will begin accepting Bitcoin as a means of payment. Expedia will be the first major travel service to accept Bitcoin as a means of payment. The company said that it would start out small with its options for accepting Bitcoin payments, bringing Bitcoin to only hotels for the time being. If enough people use Bitcoin to pay for hotel reservations, then Expedia says that they will start expanding its acceptance to other lines of service, such as cruise and airline tickets. Customers will be able to pay for their hotels in Bitcoin upon checkout; the Bitcoin payment option will be placed alongside the other various payment methods, like credit cards and Paypal. Expedia will be receiving payments through Bitpay, which will take the bitcoins received and immediately convert them into dollars. Michael Gulmann clarified that this instant conversion was not “a statement on Bitcoin, pro or con,” but that the instant conversion from bitcoins to dollars is the default method of the Bitpay payment system.

Expedia is now the latest name in a growing list of major businesses that accept Bitcoin as payment for their goods and services. The travel company will now join the likes of Overstock, Elon Musk, Dish NetworkEuro Pacific Precious Metals, and Virgin Galactic on the forefront of the rapidly expanding Bitcoin economy.

(keep reading at coinbrief.net)

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‘It’s a warzone in the US’: Indiana sheriff explains why he deployed heavy armor in his county

(from rt.com)

From the streets of Fallujah to Franklin, Indiana, heavily armored military vehicles have been rolled out for one and the same reason: many police officers in the US believe there’s a war going on.

Franklin, Indiana is by all accounts the idyllic Midwestern American town. Eponymously named after one of the founding fathers and “the first American,” Franklin’s small town bona fides provided Life Magazine with a Norman Rockwell-esque scene for a bit of village life utopia in the heart of the Great Depression.

But if you were to talk to local law enforcement, a battle is raging in the streets of Mayberry.

Franklin is the county seat of Johnson Country, Indiana. Speaking with Mark Alesia from The Indianapolis Star, Sheriff Doug Cox described the 139,000-strong administrative district as a place where officers’ old-time policing just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Leading Alesia to a pole barn in Franklin, Cox shows him a MRAP – a 55,000 pound, six-wheeled Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected armored-fighting vehicle with the word “SHERIFF” emblazoned on its flank.

“We don’t have a lot of mines in Johnson County,” confessed Sheriff Doug Cox, who acquired the vehicle. “My job is to make sure my employees go home safe.”

Cox isn’t alone in believing his deputies have something to fear. Johnson County is one of eight Indiana law enforcement agencies to acquire MRAPs from military surplus since 2010, according to public records obtained by The Indianapolis Star.

All across the state, and the country, the trend is similar. From picking up military surplus to using to $35 billion in grants from the Department of Homeland Security to acquire the most advanced weapons, police forces across America are armed to the teeth.

And as Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer puts it, the effects are not only tactical, but psychological.

To put it bluntly: “It’s a lot more intimidating than a Dodge.”

(keep reading at rt.com)

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