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The Almighty Buck

Revealed: How One Amazon Kindle Scam Made Millions of Dollars (zdnet.com) 40

An anonymous Slashdot reader shares an excerpt with us from a report via ZDNet that summarizes a catfishing scheme designed to deceive Amazon users into buy low-quality ebooks: Emma Moore is just one of hundreds of pseudonyms employed in a sophisticated "catfishing" scheme run by Valeriy Shershnyov, whose Vancouver-based business hoodwinks Amazon customers into buying low-quality ebooks, which have been boosted on the online marketplace by an unscrupulous system of bots, scripts, and virtual servers. Catfishing isn't new -- it's been well documented. Some scammers buy fake reviews, while others will try other ways to game the system. Until now, nobody has been able to look inside at how one of these scams work -- especially one that's been so prolific, generating millions of dollars in royalties by cashing in on unwitting buyers who are tricked into thinking these ebooks have some substance. Shershnyov was able to stay in Amazon's shadows for two years by using his scam server conservatively so as to not raise any red flags. What eventually gave him away weren't customer complaints or even getting caught. It was good old-fashioned carelessness. He forgot to put a password on his server.

Submission + - Michigan court rules against civil forfeiture

schwit1 writes: The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that civil forfeiture denies citizens their due process rights under the Constitution. As the court wrote:

“Because of her indigency and inability to pay the required bond, [Kinnon] was excluded ‘from the only forum effectively empowered to settle [her] dispute.’ Ultimately, Michigan’s civil asset forfeiture scheme operated to deprive [Kinnon] of a significant property interest without according her the opportunity for a hearing, contrary to the requirements of the Due Process Clause.”

This shouldn’t be rocket science, as the language and intent of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution is quite plain.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The problem today is that this has become rocket science. Too many people either don’t know this plain language, or work dishonestly to distort it to empower government to oppress us.

Submission + - Why are GitHub and WordPress.com censoring content? (networkworld.com)

Miche67 writes: The internet is known for the free and rapid dissemination of uncensored information, but lately sites and services have been censoring content--including GitHub and WordPress.com.

Bryan Lunduke says: "GitHub, a service primarily used for open source and free culture projects, recently censored a repository that contained information proving the NSA developed malware targeting numerous systems." And WordPress.com "censored content posted by “Guccifer 2” that was potentially damaging to the reputation of the Democratic party."

Neither organizations have responded to requests by Lunduke to find out why they took those actions.

This comes after Twitter and Facebook came under fire for their censorship actions.

Lunduke poses the question:

When something that many people feel is important to their lives occurs and the major online platforms for disseminating that information censor them, what does that say about those platforms?


Submission + - NASA crunchtime: 2 minutes or less to fix lost satellite 189 million miles away (businessinsider.com)

bongey writes: NASA may have only 2 minutes or less to fix a STEREO-B satellite before the computer causes it to lose contact again. NASA lost contact with their STEREO-B satellite nearly 22 months ago when performing a routine test. NASA scientist are afraid to turn on the computer at this point because it may cause them to lose contact again. A more detail techincal summary can be found here http://www.nasa.gov/feature/go...

Submission + - Anti-Piracy Outfit Sends Takedown Requests for Non-Existent Torrents

TroII writes: In yet another example of DMCA abuse and false claims, a protection firm named IP-Echelon has been sending numerous takedown requests for torrent files that never existed. IP-Echelon, whose clients include HBO and Paramount Pictures, continues to file claims against a magnet URI index named Zoink.it. The catch? While IP-Echelon's DMCA claims refer to a 2016 HBO series, Zoink.it shut down in 2014, so the allegedly infringing URLs were never valid.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Email Workflow and Hillary's Woes 3

Tablizer writes: Political blame issues aside, how could a work environment like the State Department monitor and ensure "wrong stuff" does not end up in regular office emails? It seems they should have a monitoring team in place to monitor all emails and outgoing documents. There may be urgent situations that could result in them not having enough time to vet something before it's released, but at least they'd know about it as soon as possible afterwards in order to mitigate the damage, investigate the cause, and "educate" the perpetrator(s), perhaps issuing formal reprimands. Bad habits wouldn't be allowed to fester. Has any slashdotter seen a similar setup at their shop?

Submission + - SPAM: Mysterious, ice-buried Cold War military base may be unearthed by climate change

sciencehabit writes: It sounds like something out of a James Bond movie: a secret military operation hidden beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet. But that’s exactly what transpired at Camp Century during the Cold War. In 1959, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the subterranean city under the guise of conducting polar research—and scientists there did drill the first ice core ever used to study climate. But deep inside the frozen tunnels, the corps also explored the feasibility of Project Iceworm, a plan to store and launch hundreds of ballistic missiles from inside the ice.

The military ultimately rejected the project, and the corps abandoned Camp Century in 1967. Engineers anticipated that the ice—already a dozen meters thick—would continue to accumulate in northwestern Greenland, permanently entombing what they left behind. Now, climate change has upended that assumption. New research suggests that as early as 2090, rates of ice loss at the site could exceed gains from new snowfall. And within a century after that, melting could begin to release waste stored at the camp, including sewage, diesel fuel, persistent organic pollutants like PCBs, and radiological waste from the camp’s nuclear generator, which was removed during decommissioning.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Can Crowdfunding Save the Pluto Discovery Telescope? (seeker.com)

astroengine writes: 85 years before NASA's New Horizons mission buzzed Pluto on July 14, 2015, the dwarf planet (then a planet) was found hidden in photographic plates by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh while he was working at Lowell Observatory in Arizona. Those plates came from a telescope (actually, an "astrograph," or astronomical camera) that was built specifically to hunt down the much-fabled "Planet X" that was believed to be a massive planet orbiting beyond Neptune. Though it turned out Pluto wasn't a massive planet, it was a planet nonetheless and its 1930 discovery went down in the history books as the year an American astronomer added the 9th planet to the solar system. But now, 87 years since its construction, the Pluto Discovery Telescope needs help and a Kickstarter campaign has been set up to get the telescope and its dome back in working order. There are even hopes to get its optics back up to par so it can image Pluto once more. "People have such a connection with Pluto ... there's a certain magic," said Lowell Observatory Historian Kevin Schindler. "There's a lot more feeling and emotion over Pluto than the other planets."

Submission + - SPAM: Scribbles reveal Leonardo da Vinci ahead of his time, again

schwit1 writes: A historian doing a detailed study of Leonardo da Vinci’s research on the nature of friction has discovered his first notes on the subject, where da Vinci outlined the laws of friction two hundred years before they were finally documented by a French scientist.

“The sketches and text show Leonardo understood the fundamentals of friction in 1493,” says Hutchings. “He knew that the force of friction acting between two sliding surfaces is proportional to the load pressing the surfaces together and that friction is independent of the apparent area of contact between the two surfaces. These are the ‘laws of friction’ that we nowadays usually credit to a French scientist, Guillaume Amontons, working 200 years later.”

It is an unfortunately thing that da Vinci lived and worked in Italy. Though this was where the Renaissance blossomed, it is also the place where some scientists at the time were persecuted for being too honest about their research. To protect himself da Vinci confined his scientific genius to his private diaries, written in a backwards script he created so that no one could easily understand them. Thus, while his brilliance as a painter was recognized in his lifetime and after, the discoveries he had made about engineering and science were lost for literally centuries.

Submission + - WikiLeaks takes down DNC Chair after damaging release (cnn.com) 1

SonicSpike writes: Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she is stepping down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the end of the party's convention, which is set to begin here Monday.

The Florida congresswoman's resignation — under pressure from top Democrats — comes amid the release of leaked emails showing DNC staffers favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 primary contest.

Submission + - DoJ uses obsolete software to subvert FOIA requests (theguardian.com)

Bruce66423 writes: An MIT PhD student has filed a suit in Federal court alleging that the use of a 21yo IBM green screen controlled search software to search the Department of Justice databases in response to Freedom of information requests constitutes an deliberate failure to provide the data that should be being produced

Submission + - Scientists Say the Asteroid That Killed The Dinosaurs Almost Wiped Us Out Too

HughPickens.com writes: Conventional wisdom states that mammalian diversity emerged from the ashes of the Cretaceous/Tertiary mass extinction event, ultimately giving rise to our own humble species. But Joshua A. Krisch writes at This Week that the asteroid that decimated the dinosaurs also wiped out roughly 93 percent of all mammalian species. "Because mammals did so well after the extinction, we have tended to assume that it didn't hit them as hard," says Nick Longrich. "However our analysis shows that the mammals were hit harder than most groups of animals, such as lizards, turtles, crocodilians, but they proved to be far more adaptable in the aftermath." Mammals survived, multiplied, and ultimately gave rise to human beings.

So what was the great secret that our possum-like ancestors knew that dinosaurs did not? One answer is that early mammals were small enough to survive on insects and dying plants, while large dinosaurs and reptiles required a vast diet of leafy greens and healthy prey that simply weren't available in the lean years, post-impact. So brontosauruses starved to death while prehistoric possums filled their far smaller and less discerning bellies. "Even if large herbivorous dinosaurs had managed to survive the initial meteor strike, they would have had nothing to eat," says Russ Graham, "because most of the earth's above-ground plant material had been destroyed." Other studies have suggested that mammals survived by burrowing underground or living near the water, where they would have been somewhat shielded from the intense heatwaves, post-impact. Studies also suggest that mammals may have been better spread-out around the globe, and so had the freedom to recover independently and evolve with greater diversity. "After this extinction event, there was an explosion of diversity, and it was driven by having different evolutionary experiments going on simultaneously in different locations," Longrich says. "This may have helped drive the recovery. With so many different species evolving in different directions in different parts of the world, evolution was more likely to stumble across new evolutionary paths."

Submission + - And then, after you die, some genes turn ON and start to...

gurps_npc writes: Gizmodo has a summary of two separate scientific studies about what your genes do after you die. You think your body stops after death, but up to 2 days later certain genes may turn ON and start doing stuff for another 2 days before they give up the ghost. We are all zombies for upto 4 days after death.

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