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)
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)
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 Network, Euro Pacific Precious Metals, and Virgin Galactic on the forefront of the rapidly expanding Bitcoin economy.
(keep reading at coinbrief.net)
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)
The Russians are actually making a move against the petrodollar. It appears that they are quite serious about their de-dollarization strategy. The largest natural gas producer on the planet, Gazprom, has signed agreements with some of their biggest customers to switch payments for natural gas from U.S. dollars to euros. And Gazprom would have never done this without the full approval of the Russian government, because the Russian government holds a majority stake in Gazprom. There hasn’t been a word about this from the big mainstream news networks in the United States, but this is huge.
When you are talking about Gazprom, you are talking about a company that is absolutely massive. It is one of the largest companies in the entire world and it makes up 8 percent of Russian GDP all by itself. It holds 18 percent of the natural gas reserves of the entire planet, and it is also a very large oil producer. So for Gazprom to make a move like this is extremely significant.
When Barack Obama decided to slap some meaningless economic sanctions on Russia a while back, he probably figured that the world would forget about them after a few news cycles.
But the Russians do not forget, and they certainly do not forgive.
(keep reading at theeconomiccollapseblog.com)