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+ - Ross Ulbricht, Creator of Silk Road Website, Is Sentenced to Life in Prison->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Ross W. Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, a notorious online marketplace for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison on Friday in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Mr. Ulbricht, 31, was sentenced by the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, for his role as what prosecutors described as “the kingpin of a worldwide digital drug-trafficking enterprise.”

Mr. Ulbricht had faced a minimum of 20 years in prison on one of the counts for which he was convicted. In handing down a much longer sentence, Judge Forrest told Mr. Urlbricht that “what you did in connection with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric.”

Mr. Ulbricht’s high-tech drug bazaar was novel and full of intrigue, operating in a hidden part of the Internet known as the dark web, which allowed deals to be made anonymously and out of the reach of law enforcement. In Silk Road’s nearly three years of operation, over 1.5 million transactions were carried out on the website involving several thousand seller accounts and more than 100,000 buyer accounts, the authorities have said.

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+ - Russian internet 'troll' sues former employer->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Lyudmila Savchuk says lawsuit will shed light on secretive practice of paying people to post political comments online. The Moscow Times reports.

A former Russian internet “troll” hired to promote political views online is suing her ex-employer in an attempt to draw attention to the country’s “information war” , a news report said on Friday.

The grounds for the lawsuit filed by Lyudmila Savchuk, which is expected to be heard by a St Petersburg city court next month, is the employer’s failure to provide any labour contract or other paperwork supporting her hiring and eventual dismissal, Kommersant reported.

Savchuk said she was fired after speaking to the media about her employer, Internet Research, which she described as part of Russia’s “troll factory”.

Internet Research is reported to be linked to another company with a similar name, Internet Research Agency, which in the spring merged with a firm called New Technologies, whose official registration documents identify it as a construction company.

“The ‘troll factory’ operates based on very weird schemes, but all those firms are connected to each other, even though they are separate legal entities,” Savchuk was quoted as saying.

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+ - Quebec man fined $120 for using Apple Watch while driving->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: A Quebec man plans to fight the $120 ticket and four demerit points he got for using his Apple Watch while driving.
Jeffrey Macesin said he was using his smartwatch to change songs when a provincial officer pulled him over on a road near Pincourt, Que.
Macesin said he was confused about why the officer’s flashing lights were on.

The officer then charged him under the section of the Quebec Highway Safety Code that says “no person may, while driving a road vehicle, use a hand-held device that includes a telephone function.”
Macesin disputes that an Apple Watch counts as a “hand-held.”
“It’s on my wrist,” he said. “That's where it gets really controversial.”
Traffic lawyer Avi Levy agreed the law isn’t clear.

“It was just a question of time before we actually got a case like this,” Levy said.
“I'm not convinced that the Apple Watch itself is a phone,” he added. “It's rather a Bluetooth device that communicates the telephone signal from the phone and it has been established under the law that you are allowed to use Bluetooth devices.”

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+ - GoPro enters virtual reality market with 16-camera capture rig->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: GoPro is moving into virtual reality with the announcement of a 16-camera, 360-degree array that can capture stereoscopic and spherical video. But this early model is too big to wear on your head.

The rig, meant to be mounted on a tripod, has yet to be priced. It will support 16 of GoPro’s Hero4 cameras to record 360-degree video that can be used for virtual reality. It comes integrated with software from Kolor, the virtual reality company GoPro acquired last month, which stitches and synchronizes the recorded footage. GoPro introduced the camera at Google’s developer conference on Thursday.

“What people don’t know is we’re already the de facto capture device for capturing virtual reality content today,” said C.J. Prober, the head of GoPro’s software and services division. “GoPro cameras weren’t designed for virtual reality capture purposes, but the quality and the content they enabled just made them a natural choice.”

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+ - GM to Offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on Chevrolets->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: General Motors Co. plans to offer both Google Inc.’s Android Auto and Apple Inc.’s CarPlay software in most of its Chevrolet vehicles, signaling that no mobile operating system dominates the auto industry yet.

An icon embedded in the center screen of Chevrolet vehicles will allow occupants to link cellphones via either Android Auto or CarPlay in the majority of its 2016 vehicle portfolio. The revamped Chevrolet Cruze, due out next month, will be the first to offer the feature, which will still be routed through the auto maker’s MyLink in-car infotainment system.

After initially offering their own telematics software or investing to develop exclusive technology, auto makers now are allowing consumers to link via mobile software provided by others, rather than favoring one system over another. Each gives users access to everything from maps to music.

Hyundai Motor Co., became the first auto maker to offer Android Auto on one of its production vehicles. The auto maker announced on Tuesday the system is available on the 2015 Sonata sedan. It is also working to add CarPlay. Ford Motor Co., meanwhile, also intends to offer both CarPlay and Android by the end of 2016, it has said.

Chevy’s seven-inch screen MyLink system will offer both on the early 2016 models including the Spark, Malibu, Camaro, Camaro Convertible and Silverado. The eight-inch version will be compatible only with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the 2016 model year with Android Auto to be offered later.

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+ - Charter agrees to buy Time Warner Cable for $56 billion->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Charter Communications Inc struck a $56 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable Inc, seeking to combine the third and second largest U.S. cable operators to better compete against market leader Comcast Corp.

The Federal Communications Commission immediately served notice that it would closely scrutinize the deal, focusing not only on absence of harm but benefits to the public.

Charter, in which Malone-chaired Liberty Broadband Corp owns about 26 percent, is offering about $195.71 in cash-and-stock for each Time Warner Cable share, based on Charter's closing price on May 20.

Including debt, the deal values Time Warner Cable at $78.7 billion.

A key area of regulatory concern would be competition in broadband Internet.

A merger of Charter and Time Warner Cable, with other related deals, would create a company that controls more than 20 percent of the U.S. broadband market, according to research firm MoffettNathanson.

"Regulatory approval is no longer a given but we expect this is highly probable and greater than Comcast-Time Warner," Macquarie Research analyst Amy Yong wrote in a note.

Comcast walked away last month from a deal to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, citing regulatory concerns.

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+ - Coffee May Perk Up More Than Men's Brains: It Could Stave Off ED->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: According to a new study out in the journal PLOS ONE, caffeine intake is linked to reduced odds of having erectile dysfunction (ED) in men who drink the equivalent of two to three cups of coffee per day. Among the lifestyle factors that are known to put a man at risk of ED – poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking, and alcohol consumptions – caffeine has not been of the biggest candidates. But the new study suggests that like other areas of physical and mental health, ED may be another beneficiary of caffeine’s fascinating benefits. Since erectile function, and dysfunction, is in some ways an extension of cardiovascular health – and caffeine is known to help heart health in certain ways – the idea that it could also help ED may not be so surprising. But for men who are devout coffee drinkers, the results may come as good news.
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+ - Google Patents Toys That Watch and Listen to Your Kids->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Worried about Google snooping on your Web browsing or email? That may be the least of the Internet giant's intrusions if this patent for sensor-packed dolls and toys ever gets put to use in your kids' room. Filed in 2012 but just published Thursday, the patent describes "interactive electronics that support social cues." In other words, toys that watch and listen.

The illustration above pretty much says it all, but the truth is Google isn't likely to start putting out teddy bear snooping devices any time soon. The point, in fact, isn't surveillance but allowing kids to control their music or movies without having to invoke an invisible Siri or navigate a TV interface. Children can just grab the smart toy, say "play 'My Little Pony'!" and it'll do the rest. Think of it like a 21st-century Teddy Ruxpin.

Put like that it's not so creepy — might even be useful. But an illustration of a stuffed rabbit with cameras for eyes is naturally going to alarm people. In the meantime, there are already camera-equipped dolls and toys that kids can talk to and interact with, if you're not troubled by the idea. Of course, you'll have to tear them away from that smartphone or tablet first.

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+ - Neural implants let paralyzed man take a drink->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Erik Sorto was shot in the back 13 years ago and paralyzed from the neck down. Yet recently the father of two lifted a bottle of beer to his lips and gave himself a drink, even though he can’t move his arms or legs.

Mr. Sorto, 34, picked up his drink with a robotic arm controlled by his thoughts. Two silicon chips in his brain read his intentions and channeled them via wires to the prosthetic arm on a nearby table. The team that developed the experimental implant, led by researchers at the California Institute of Technology, reported their work Thursday in the journal Science.

“That was amazing,” Mr. Sorto said. “I was waiting for that for 13 years, to drink a beer by myself.”

Mr. Sorto’s neural implant is the latest in a series of prosthetic devices that promise one day to restore smooth, almost natural movement to those who have lost the use of their limbs through disease or injury, by tapping directly into the signals generated by the brain.

For years, laboratories at Brown University, Duke University and Caltech, among others, have experimented with brain-controlled prosthetics. Those devices include wireless implants able to relay rudimentary mental commands, mind-controlled robotic leg braces, and sensors that add a sense of touch to robotic hands. In 2012, University of Pittsburgh researchers demonstrated a brain implant that allowed a paralyzed woman to feed herself a chocolate bar using a robot arm.

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+ - Mansion Fire: DNA on Pizza Crust Led Authorities to DC Murder Suspect->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Authorities searched a Maryland home overnight in the investigation of a deadly mansion murder, going through the trash and removing bags of evidence — but in the end it was a piece of pizza crust that could lead to the suspect's arrest.

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, was identified on Wednesday as the key suspect in the quadruple slaying and arson attack in Northwest, a section of Washington, D.C. A court issued an arrest warrant for Wint with “murder one while armed,” authorities said.

Two sources familiar with the case told ABC News that DNA found on the crust of a Domino's pizza that had been delivered to the house led authorities to identify Wint as the suspect.

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+ - FBI Use of Controversial Patriot Act Section Expands->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Lower legal threshold and wider availability of electronic information cited in report on greater use of Section 215

The Federal Bureau of Investigation used a controversial section of the Patriot Act to gather information more than 50 times in a three-year period, according to a new internal review released as Congress debates whether to let the law expire.

The FBI’s use of Section 215 of the Patriot Act “continues to expand,” according to the report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz. The expansion is in part because the legal threshold for its use has been lowered and because society’s use of the Internet has also “expanded the quantity and quality of electronic information available to the FBI,’’ the report states.

Section 215 authorizes the government to collect “tangible things” such as business records with an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The types of information sought with such orders range from “hard copy reproductions of business ledgers and receipts to gigabytes of metadata and other electronic information,’’ the report found. The FBI has been “broadening the scope of materials sought in applications,’’ in part because they are not limited to requesting information only about suspects.

The FBI uses Section 215, the report said, “in investigations of groups comprised of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with any FBI investigation.’’

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+ - Rand Paul wraps up NSA "filibuster" after 10 hours->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: After standing on the Senate floor for more than 10 hours in protest of the National Security Agency's sweeping surveillance programs, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, wrapped up his so-called "filibuster" just after Midnight on Thursday morning.

NSA illegal spying and data collection of innocent Americans must end. Thank you all for standing with me. #StandwithRand

— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) May 21, 2015
The senator and 2016 presidential candidate staged the talkathon ahead of the Senate's consideration of legislation to extend the NSA's authority to collect phone records in bulk. The controversial surveillance program — which has been deemed illegal by one federal court — is supposedly authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act. That section of the law is set to expire on June 1, giving Congress little time to renew it.

Paul started his "filibuster" against an extension of the Patriot Act on Wednesday afternoon, even though the Senate was actually in the middle of debate time on an entirely different issue — trade authority. Paul's efforts likely slowed down Senate business — lawmakers are trying to finish a few important bills before taking off for a weeklong recess — but the Senate is still expected to take up legislation to deal with the expiring NSA program.

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+ - Get Ready for Tweets in Google Search Results->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: Twitter and Google are formally getting back together.
The companies said today that Twitter content will show up in Google search results. It's rolling out to the iOS and Android Google apps and the mobile Web in the U.S. The desktop version will arrive "shortly," as will content in other countries.
In a blog post, Twitter pointed to a search for Taylor Swift. In searching her on the iOS app, her tweets appear halfway down the page; swipe left to read her five latest posts and tap her Twitter handle to read more.
Twitter also recommended searching #Madmen, which produced a "Popular on Twitter" box atop the search results with recent tweets about the AMC drama. Searching for "Mad Men" without the hashtag, however, did not produce any tweets.
"By deeply integrating Twitter's real-time content into Google search, we hope you find it easier than ever to explore your interests across both Twitter and Google," Twitter said.

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+ - Robotic Space Plane Launches in Mystery Mission This Week-> 1

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: he United States Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane will head to orbit this week for the fourth time.

The unmanned X-37B spacecraft is scheduled to launch Wednesday (May 20) at 10:45 a.m. EDT (1445 GMT) atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The liftoff will begin the reusable space plane’s fourth mission, which is known as OTV-4 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-4).

Most of the X-37B’s payloads and specific activities are classified, so it’s not entirely clear what the space plane will be doing once it leaves Earth Wednesday. This secrecy has led to some speculation that the vehicle might be some sort of space weapon, but Air Force officials have repeatedly refuted that notion, saying X-37B flights simply test a variety of new space technologies

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+ - International Space Station may get laser cannon to vaporize orbital debris->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp writes: The International Space Station (ISS) has been forced to alter trajectory numerous times over the years, but not for any scientific of logistical reason — it was necessary to avoid collisions with space junk. The day of simply stepping out of the way could be coming to an end, though. Researchers from Japan’s Riken Computational Astrophysics Laboratory have proposed a system that could blast dangerous space debris out of the sky before it comes close to the ISS.

The business end of the proposed laser system would be a Coherent Amplification Network (CAN) laser that can focus a single powerful beam on a piece of debris. The laser would vaporize the surface of the target, causing a plume of plasma to push the object away from the station and toward the atmosphere. The full-scale version of this system would use a 100,000-watt ultraviolet CAN laser capable of firing 10,000 pulses per second. That would give it a range of about 60 miles, which should be more than enough distance to keep the station safe.

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