Ethereum: The New And Improved Bitcoin

Compliments of NY Times 

A new virtual gold rush is underway.

Even as Bitcoin, riven by internal divisions, has struggled, a rival virtual currency — known as Ethereum — has soared in value, climbing 1,000 percent over the last three months.

Beyond the price spike, Ethereum is also attracting attention from giants in finance and technology, like JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and IBM, which have described it as a sort of Bitcoin 2.0.

The rise of the relatively new virtual currency has been helped by abattle within the Bitcoin community over how the basic Bitcoin software should develop.

The fights have slowed down Bitcoin transactions and led some people to look for alternative virtual currencies to power their businesses. Enter Ethereum.

Like Bitcoin, the Ethereum system is built on a blockchain in which every transaction is recorded publicly. The promise of such a system is that it allows the exchange of money and assets more quickly and more cheaply than relying on a long chain of middlemen.

But Ethereum has also won fans with its promise to do much more than Bitcoin. In addition to the virtual currency, the software provides a way to create online markets and programmable transactions known as smart contracts.

The system is complicated enough that even people who know it well have trouble describing it in plain English. But one application in development would let farmers put their produce up for sale directly to consumers and take payment directly from consumers. There are already dozens of functioning applications built on Ethereum, enabling new ways to manage and pay for electricity, sports bets and even Ponzi schemes.

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The Dawn Of The Offended And Its Attribution To Systematic Censorship

By Paris Finnie

It seems as of late little can be said without risking a peers emotional disposition. News articles like F.B.I vs. Apple and Edward Snowden’s flee from country.  Go on to prove mass surveillance  systems and privacy are becoming major topics of debate. What these two  issue have in common however, serve a bigger interest. what is that?  Both aim to dismantle the ever diminishing power of the first amendment.

      Let us draw attention to a law in affect,  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibits employers and employment agencies, as defined in the statute, from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In a workplace, harassment directly violates that act. In a school, harassment directly violates that act. In an institution of any kind, harassment directly violates that act. The troubling factor to what in writing seems just, finds problems in its dis-ambiguity to state what exactly constitutes harassment.  For example pornography or discriminating expletives are clear, but what of a comment stating one liking to eating  meat? In some religions pork is considered taboo while in others beef is considered sacred. Can a religious devout take the meat lover in this case to court?

The law states that if is going to consider such a case then the a speech “must conclude not only that the speech was offensive, based on race, religion, sex, or some other attribute, but also that it was either ‘severe’ or ‘pervasive’ enough to create a hostile or abusive environment for the plaintiff and for a reasonable person.” Here lies the gray area. The accusation of  “severe” or “Pervasive” is extremely subjective and most administrators recognize this. So, instead of running a the risk of a lawsuit, it is better advised to cease “offensive” conversations all together. The logic although safe for business, mitigates diverse opinion. The outlet of speech is not only curtailed when under constant scrutiny of emotional dispositions, but also when under the looming shadow of government observation.

A study propagated by Washington Post took examines the effects of government surveillance on free speech.

Participants in the study were first surveyed about their political beliefs, personality traits and online activity, to create a psychological profile for each person. A random sample group was then subtly reminded of government surveillance, followed by everyone in the study being shown a neutral, fictional headline stating that U.S. airstrikes had targeted the Islamic State in Iraq. Subjects were then asked a series of questions about their attitudes toward the hypothetical news event, such as how they think most Americans would feel about it and whether they would publicly voice their opinion on the topic. The majority of those primed with surveillance information were less likely to speak out about their more nonconformist ideas, including those assessed as less likely to self-censor based on their psychological profile.
– Washington Post

In short, fear of potential government intrusion caused self-censorship. In a country that is based on democracy and equal representation, so they say, it would be impossible to expand and grow positively if the voices held by the minority are silenced. However, Herein lies the paradox.

The grey area of offensive statements and under representation sparks the controversial push and pull of our first amendment. Because you are of the minority you can instill a law to force my acceptance? Because we are at a disagreement you are offended? Because they may or may not be monitoring our interactions online you would rather not speak at all? Much less frequently are there compromises made from contrasting opinions and more so are there accusations of overstepped boundaries. Societies recent inability to converse upon taboo subjects is systematically censoring thoughts and opinions of the public. Those willing to take a stand and dissent sadly hesitate walking on eggshells to not end up the next Edward Snowden. The solution is not an easy one, but one thing is for certain. If we do not refocus upon the importance of our first amendment, George Orwell’s 1984 will seem less like  a fictional story  and more like a premonition.

Sources:
Washington Post
UCLA Law
Department of Labor 

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FBI Accesses Terrorist Phone Without Apple’s Help

By Paris Finnie

What you have heard is true, the United States Government has been able to access the Phone of Syed Rizwan Farook. The alleged shooter of the San Bernardo attacks that claimed over a dozen lives last year. The FBI has dropped the court mandate requesting google assist in the access of the shooters phone and claims they have accessed the stored data.

Below is the court filing detailing their access to the phone.

Read Here 

Sources
Washington Post 

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Easter Bombing Claims 70 Lives

Compliments of Reuters 

Pakistan has decided to launch a paramilitary crackdown on Islamist militants in Punjab, the country’s richest and most populous province, after an Easter Day bombing killed 70 people in the provincial capital Lahore, officials said on Monday.

Sunday’s suicide bombing at a public park was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban’s Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction, which once declared loyalty to Islamic State. The group said it was targeting Christians.

The brutality of the attack, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar’s fifth bombing since December, reflects the movement’s attempts to raise its profile among Pakistan’s increasingly fractured Islamist militants.

At least 29 children enjoying an Easter weekend outing were among those killed when the suicide bomber struck in a busy park in the eastern city of Lahore, the power base of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan is a majority-Muslim state but has a Christian population of more than two million.

Pope Francis condemned the attack as “hideous” and demanded that Pakistani authorities protect religious minorities.

It was Pakistan’s deadliest attack since the December 2014 massacre of 134 school children at a military-run academy in the city of Peshawar that prompted a government crackdown on Islamist militancy.

Security and government officials told Reuters the decision had been made to launch a full-scale operation involving the paramilitary Rangers, who would have powers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects in the same way as they have been doing in the southern city of Karachi for more than two years.

The move, which has not yet been formally announced, represents the civilian government once again granting special powers to the military to fight Islamist militants.

“The technicalities are yet to be worked out. There are some legal issues also with bringing in Rangers, but the military and government are on the same page,” said one senior security official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to share details of the plan.

One other military official and two government officials confirmed the decision on condition of anonymity.

“The PM ordered a joint operation of ‎the counter-terrorism department and Rangers in the border areas of Punjab against terrorists and their facilitators,” said one government official who attended a meeting with Sharif and Punjab officials on Monday.

The move is likely to be controversial in Punjab. In Karachi, the Rangers’ crackdown has drawn accusations of human rights abuses and the targeting of opposition politicians, though the rate of militant and criminal violence has dropped sharply since the paramilitary force arrived.

Sharif’s own party has long opposed any militarized operation against militants in its Punjab heartland.

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Can Brazil Stabilize In Time For The Olympics

Compliments of CNN

An increasingly uncertain political backdrop is sparking widespread, and sometimes violent, protests. The country is in the midst of its worst recession in 25 years. A massive corruption scandal involving its biggest company has engulfed numerous executives and politicians. Add to that the deadly Zika virus, and you have a country in crisis mode.

Concerns are rising over whether Brazil will be adequately prepared for this seminal global event. The International Olympic Committee told CNNMoney Friday that it is “very closely” watching the political events unfolding.

The Summer games begin August 5 in Rio de Janeiro, and the world spotlight will turn on a nation at a crossroads.

Brazil was awarded these Olympics games in 2009, when the country’s economy was booming. Now the country is battling a slew of social, economic and political challenges.

“This was going to be the coming out party for Brazil,” says Paulo Sotero, director of the Brazil Institute at the Wilson Center. “This will probably be a scaled down party.”

No one is saying the Olympics will be canceled. But there is the potential for more violent protests, a global travel warning ban is in effect advising pregnant women not to travel to Brazil and no one knows who will be president in August.

Millions of Brazilians have taken to the streets to demand the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff.

The political uncertainty escalated this week. On Thursday Rousseff appointed the former president, Ignacio Lula da Silva, as her chief of staff — a move that would provide him with legal immunity from prosecution on corruption charges. Prosecutors have accused Lula of money laundering and identity fraud, claiming he covered up ownership of a vacation home.

Politicians, company execs and all types of elites have been embroiled in the gargantuan Petrobras scandal. And now, the next victims could be Rousseff and Lula.

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F.B.I Finds Third Party to Unlock Terrorist Iphone

Compliments of Venture Beat

Israel’s Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is helping the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s attempt to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Wednesday.

If Cellebrite succeeds, then the FBI will no longer need the help of Apple Inc, the Israeli daily said, citing unnamed industry sources.

Cellebrite officials declined to comment on the matter.

Apple is engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over a judge’s order that it write new software to disable passcode protection on the iPhone used by the shooter.

The two sides were set to face off in court on Tuesday, but on Monday a federal judge agreed to the government’s request to postpone the hearing after U.S. prosecutors said a “third party” had presented a possible method for opening an encrypted iPhone.

The development could bring an abrupt end to the high-stakes legal showdown which has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the United States.

Cellebrite, a subsidiary of Japan’s Sun Corp, has its revenue split between two businesses: a forensics system used by law enforcement, military and intelligence that retrieves data hidden inside mobile devices and technology for mobile retailers.

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Is Hydrogen The Fuel Source Of The Future?

By Paris Finnie

Just recently Hyundai set a world record for providing a hydrogen fuel cell car for the longest recorded driven distance without refueling and longest distance traveled in a fuel cell car. That distance traveled without refueling? 400 unbroken miles. That distance traveled in a fuel cell car setting the new world record? 6,000 beautiful green miles.

The demonstration ran about six days. During those six days The London Hydrogen Network Expansion project (LHNE) drove the Hyundai ix35 around the M25 motorway located just outside of London. This success of course does not come without its criticisms.

There are plenty of mixed feelings about hydrogen fuel as an energy source. The most frequent argument is, ” Where would I refuel?” The following argument usually is, ” Is it really so green if it requires fossil fuels to transport and generate fuel cells?” The first counter argument is contested by California’s pledge to make hydrogen fuel cell refill stations as accommodating as gas stations by 2025. The US government also wants to make at least ten percent of all cars on the road green vehicles in that same time frame. A spectacular feat, but it seems what is on that back of everyone’s mind is, ” How does it work?”

Below is a video provided by Toyota explaining exactly how the process works. The demonstration video is not the only thing being exhibited by Toyota. The company has accrued over 5,000 patents during their fuel cell research, but what makes this significant is how Toyota for the first time in history is releasing all of their intellectual property royalty free for other companies to use.

There are many “if” statements in seeing this new fuel source’s prevalence. As noted above, most of them stem around hydrogen’s practicality. although the tech faces much opposition It does seem the likelihood of another alternative energy source is underway. If you are looking for another reason to facetiously shame your carbon emitting friends, you may have a new soapbox to stand on soon.

 

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Scientist Seem To Have Underestimated The Timeline For Climate Shifts

Compliments of New York Times 

The nations of the world agreed years ago to try to limit global warmingto a level they hoped would prove somewhat tolerable. But leading climate scientists warned on Tuesday that permitting a warming of that magnitude would actually be quite dangerous.

The likely consequences would include killer storms stronger than any in modern times, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets and a rise of the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century, the scientists declared.

“We’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control,” said James E. Hansen, the retired NASA climate scientist who led the new research. The findings were released Tuesday morning by a European science journal, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

A draft version of the paper was released last year, and it provoked aroiling debate among climate scientists. The main conclusions have not changed, and that debate seems likely to be replayed in the coming weeks.

The basic claim of the paper is that by burning fossil fuels at a prodigious pace and pouring heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, humanity is about to provoke an abrupt climate shift.

Specifically, the authors believe that fresh water pouring into the oceans from melting land ice will set off a feedback loop that will cause parts of the great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to disintegrate rapidly.

That claim has intrigued some experts who say the paper may help explain puzzling episodes in Earth’s past when geological evidence suggests the climate underwent drastic shifts. Yet many other scientists are unconvinced by some of the specific assertions the authors are making.

Continue reading the main story

“Some of the claims in this paper are indeed extraordinary,” said Michael E. Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “They conflict with the mainstream understanding of climate change to the point where the standard of proof is quite high.”

Despite any reservations they might have about the new paper, virtually all climate scientists agree with Dr. Hansen’s group that society is not moving fast enough to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, posing grave risks. An agreement reached late last year in Paris seeks to cut emissions, but it is not remotely ambitious enough to limit global warming to the degree Dr. Hansen regards as necessary.

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More Than 30 Dead In Brussels Bombing

By Ophelia Eden

Belgium is the latest country to fall victim to the increasing amount of terrorist attacks around the globe.

More than 30 people have been killed in attacks at Brussels International headquarters and metro station.

The Islamic State has declared it was behind the attacks.

Two bombs went off at Zaventem  airport in the check-in area, one of these blasts occurred outside a Starbucks. It was reported that some people escaped the first blast, only to fall victim to the second explosion. Eleven people were killed and 81 wounded in the blasts according to the Belgium Health Minister. A third explosion went off an hour later in the Maelbeek metro station, near the EU headquarters. This blast killed about 20 people and injured more than 100, 17 of them seriously.

Reports indicate shots were fired and shouts in Arabic could be heard before the blasts went off.  It is believed a suicide bomber was involved in the attacks.

An unexploded bomb belt was found and reports say it will be detonated safely soon.

“People were running over others that had fallen, I couldn’t breathe. I can’t believe I’m alive,”  said a 15-year-old named Antoine.

Hearses passed by as tourists sobbed and walked to a makeshift reception centre, escorted by police.

Security has now been stepped up all over Europe, including French and Dutch airports, in preparation for more attacks.

The blast that wet off at the metro station, exploded during rush hour, striking the middle carriage of a three carriage train and it was leaving the platform.

It is speculated these attacks were done in revenge after the capture of Salah Abdestam.

Source: BBC

Image Source: Independent 

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Chibok Schoolgirls Were located But No Rescue Mission Was Carried Out

By Ophelia Eden

In 2014, the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok, Nigeria.

Shortly after, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls went viral in an effort to put pressure on the Nigerian and Western governments to find the kidnapped girls.

The school girls in fact, were found. However, instead of organizing a rescue a mission the girls were left in captivity with their kidnappers.

British and American surveillance spotted a group of 80 girls in the Sambia forest around a tree, called by the locals the Tree of Life.

Dr Andrew Pocock, who was British high commissioner to Nigeria, told The Sunday Times that the information was passed on to Nigeria but nothing was done with it.

The Nigerian government did not officially ask for help from the UK or the US so both countries say they felt they could not carry out a rescue mission.

Pocock said there had been no request for help from the Nigerian government, and a rescue mission was deemed to risky.

“A land-based attack would have been seen coming miles away and the girls killed,” he said.

“An air-based rescue, such as flying in helicopters or Hercules, would have required large numbers and meant a significant risk to the rescuers and even more so to the girls.”

He said only a few would have been successfully rescued, and the rest would have been killed by the captors.

The Sunday Times has revealed they were sent videos showing the girls being raped and used as sex slaves.

Reports also indicate some of the girls have been forcibly married and impregnated by the terrorist group.

It has been nearly two years since the girls were captured and their lives turned upside down, we can now only hope the Nigerian and Western governments can come together to formulate a plausible rescue plan to bring back the girls.

Source: News.com.au

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