Recovery: Many Older Americans Are Living a Desperate, Nomadic Life

November 11th, 2017

Via: MarketWatch:

In her powerful new book, “Nomadland,” award-winning journalist Jessica Bruder reveals the dark, depressing and sometimes physically painful life of a tribe of men and women in their 50s and 60s who are — as the subtitle says — “surviving America in the twenty-first century.” Not quite homeless, they are “houseless,” living in secondhand RVs, trailers and vans and driving from one location to another to pick up seasonal low-wage jobs, if they can get them, with little or no benefits.

The “workamper” jobs range from helping harvest sugar beets to flipping burgers at baseball spring training games to Amazon’s “CamperForce,” seasonal employees who can walk the equivalent of 15 miles a day during Christmas season pulling items off warehouse shelves and then returning to frigid campgrounds at night. Living on less than $1,000 a month, in certain cases, some have no hot showers. As Bruder writes, these are “people who never imagined being nomads.” Many saw their savings wiped out during the Great Recession or were foreclosure victims and, writes Bruder, “felt they’d spent too long losing a rigged game.” Some were laid off from high-paying professional jobs. Few have chosen this life. Few think they can find a way out of it. They’re downwardly mobile older Americans in mobile homes.


Hive: CIA Infrastructure to Control Its Malware

November 9th, 2017

Via: Wikileaks:

Today, 9 November 2017, WikiLeaks publishes the source code and development logs to Hive, a major component of the CIA infrastructure to control its malware.

Hive solves a critical problem for the malware operators at the CIA. Even the most sophisticated malware implant on a target computer is useless if there is no way for it to communicate with its operators in a secure manner that does not draw attention. Using Hive even if an implant is discovered on a target computer, attributing it to the CIA is difficult by just looking at the communication of the malware with other servers on the internet. Hive provides a covert communications platform for a whole range of CIA malware to send exfiltrated information to CIA servers and to receive new instructions from operators at the CIA.

Hive can serve multiple operations using multiple implants on target computers. Each operation anonymously registers at least one cover domain (e.g. “perfectly-boring-looking-domain.com”) for its own use. The server running the domain website is rented from commercial hosting providers as a VPS (virtual private server) and its software is customized according to CIA specifications. These servers are the public-facing side of the CIA back-end infrastructure and act as a relay for HTTP(S) traffic over a VPN connection to a “hidden” CIA server called ‘Blot’.


BitTorrent Inventor Announces Bitcoin Competitor Chia

November 9th, 2017

Via: TechCrunch:

A bitcoin transaction wastes as much electricity as it takes to power an American home for a week, and legendary coder Bram Cohen wants to fix that. And considering he invented the ubiquitous peer-to-peer file transfer protocol BitTorrent, you should take him seriously.

Cohen has just started a new company called Chia Network that will launch a cryptocurrency based on proofs of time and storage rather than bitcoin’s electricity-burning proofs of work. Essentially, Chia will harness cheap and abundant unused storage space on hard drives to verify its blockchain.

“The idea is to make a better bitcoin, to fix the centralization problems” Cohen tells me. The two main issues he sees in bitcoin are in environmental impact and the instability that arises from the few bitcoin miners with the cheapest access to electricity exerting outsized influence.

Chia aims to solve both.


Big Data Meets Big Brother as China Moves to Rate Its Citizens

November 8th, 2017

Behold, the biggest Magic 8 Ball ever.

Via: Wired:

On June 14, 2014, the State Council of China published an ominous-sounding document called “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System”. In the way of Chinese policy documents, it was a lengthy and rather dry affair, but it contained a radical idea. What if there was a national trust score that rated the kind of citizen you were?

Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date.

A futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control? No, it’s already getting underway in China, where the government is developing the Social Credit System (SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens. The Chinese government is pitching the system as a desirable way to measure and enhance “trust” nationwide and to build a culture of “sincerity”. As the policy states, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”


Support Cryptogon with Your Hashing Power

November 8th, 2017

Update: Thanks!

Thanks to the person out there running NiceHash for Cryptogon and bringing in NZ$1.17/day.

Really cloudy on my end today. I’ve got enough juice to run the hot water cylinder, but not the miners. 😉

There are a relatively high number of people involved with cryptocurrencies reading Cryptogon, so I thought I’d reach out to those folks to see if they would be interested in helping to support the site. Even if you’re not interested in cryptocurrencies, but you want to help out AND you have a gaming PC, read on…

First, the really quick version for the people who know about this stuff and just want to help out right away:

Set your NiceHash Miner wallets to: 1FWA1vX7uKaPm9wfkw8GVAC1yhJPGajtkq

Thank you for your support!

Now, a little more of an explanation:

NiceHash allows people to buy and sell computing resources related to mining cryptocurrencies. By installing the NiceHash client on your computer, the short version of the story is that you can essentially convert electricity into Bitcoin. For those of you in the Northern hemisphere, this is a great way to heat a room in winter! Stay warm, support Cryptogon. *thumbs up*

NiceHash mines a variety of cryptocurrencies, depending on your hardware and market conditions, but pays miners for their services in Bitcoin. By designating my Bitcoin wallet in your NiceHash client (or clients), the NiceHash system will pay me.

When you install and run NiceHash (no registration necessary at all, just download and go), before you start mining, you’ll need to designate a wallet ID. To help Cryptogon, use this wallet: 1FWA1vX7uKaPm9wfkw8GVAC1yhJPGajtkq

Note: If you want to run NiceHash across multiple computers, make sure sure to enter the wallet above into each instance of NiceHash.

You can check compatible hardware on the NiceHash profitability calculator. If you are able to play modern video games on your PC, you probably have hardware that can do this.

Please don’t be discouraged if NiceHash says you’ll only earn some small amount of money per day. The point is that lots of people doing this could potentially make a big difference.

And who knows… Maybe someone with an ASIC miner (or 10) will read this. 😉


Las Vegas: Self Driving Shuttle Crashes After Less Than Two Hours On Road

November 8th, 2017

*chortle*

Via: AP:

A driverless shuttle bus has crashed less than two hours after it was launched in Las Vegas.

Police say no injuries were reported in the Wednesday crash between the self-operating vehicle and a semi-truck. It’s not yet clear what caused the wreck.

Officials had hosted an unveiling ceremony to promote what they described as the nation’s first self-driving shuttle pilot project geared toward the public.


Off Topic: Start and Stop E-Coin Miners Based on Solar System Power Output

November 6th, 2017

Watching our solar system export so much power to the grid started to drive me a little bit nuts.

Since we don’t yet have a Tesla Powerwall to store all of that extra power, it’s essentially going to waste by being exported to the grid. I fired up a couple of instances of a pooled e-coin miner and found that we could earn, what is for us, a non trivial amount of money per month using our existing computer gear. (Cryptogon earnings have mostly disappeared, despite a handful of people who are contributing a few dollars per month and using Amazon links to buy things. Thank you so much to those of you who are supporting the site.)

I’d mostly want to run the miners on solar power.

I’d been using the Windows Task Scheduler to wake the systems and run the miners at 7:30am, when solar is starting to crank. I’d check the weather for the day ahead, and if it was anything but rain, I’d put the systems to sleep and let the scheduler do its thing.

But what if we make a little effort to see if the solar system is actually cranking before spawning the miners?

My miners use 700 watts of power. I’ve rigged my solar system to output power generation data to PVoutput. Essentially, what I want to do is:

Read power output for the latest period from PVoutput

If power output is greater than 700 watts then start miner

If power output is less than 700 watts then terminate miner

That’s it. The solar power data is updated automatically every five minutes.

This is a very blunt instrument that doesn’t consider other household loads at all, but it would work great! Well, far better than just blindly spawning the miners based on the weather forecast, which is what I’m doing now.

The miners are running on Windows 10.

Can any programmers out there think of an easy way to do this on Windows 10? Thanks!


Paradise Papers

November 5th, 2017

Via: Guardian:

The world’s biggest businesses, heads of state and global figures in politics, entertainment and sport who have sheltered their wealth in secretive tax havens are being revealed this week in a major new investigation into Britain’s offshore empires.

The details come from a leak of 13.4m files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

The material, which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens, was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with partners including the Guardian, the BBC and the New York Times.

The project has been called the Paradise Papers. It reveals:

Millions of pounds from the Queen’s private estate has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund – and some of her money went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

Extensive offshore dealings by Donald Trump’s cabinet members, advisers and donors, including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.

How Twitter and Facebook received hundreds of millions of dollars in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions.

The tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s chief moneyman.

A previously unknown $450m offshore trust that has sheltered the wealth of Lord Ashcroft.

Aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, including Nike and Apple.

How some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes.

The billions in tax refunds by the Isle of Man and Malta to the owners of private jets and luxury yachts.

The secret loan and alliance used by the London-listed multinational Glencore in its efforts to secure lucrative mining rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

The disclosures will put pressure on world leaders, including Trump and the British prime minister, Theresa May, who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.


Mass Shooting at Texas Church

November 5th, 2017

Update: Air Force Error Allowed Gunman to Purchase Weapons

Fascinating.

Via: Reuters:

The Pentagon separately disclosed that it had failed to furnish information about the gunman’s criminal record from his U.S. Air Force service to a national database that should have prevented him from legally purchasing the firearms he bought.

The killer, Devin Kelley, 26, was convicted by court-martial of assaulting his first wife and step-son while serving in an Air Force logistics readiness unit and spent a year in detention before his bad-conduct discharge in 2014, according to the Pentagon.

The Air Force acknowledged on Monday that Kelley’s 2012 conviction on two counts of domestic violence were never entered into the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) system, a U.S. government data bank used by licensed gun dealers for conducting background checks on firearms purchasers.

Federal law forbids anyone from selling or giving a gun to someone convicted of a crime involving domestic violence.

Update: Armed Citizen ‘Engaged’ Killer

Via: Fox8:

Were it not for a local resident who confronted the gunman, the deadliest shooting in Texas history could have claimed even more lives.

At a news conference Sunday night, investigators offered a preliminary timeline of the attack at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs and laid out the role the resident played.

The gunman entered the small church in the rural town east of San Antonio, firing with an assault weapon at the congregation attending the morning service.

A man who lives next to the church grabbed his own rifle and engaged the gunman, said Freeman Martin, the regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“The suspect dropped his rifle, which was a Ruger AR assault-type rifle and fled from the church,” Martin said.

The man then chased the gunman, Martin said.

When police spotted the suspect’s vehicle a short time later at the county line, they found the gunman inside — dead of a bullet wound.

Update: Armed Citizen Shot at Kelley

Via: Reuters:

After the shooting, the gunman, described as a white man in his 20s, was fired on by a local resident. He fled in his vehicle and was later found dead in neighboring Guadalupe County.

It was not immediately clear if the suspect killed himself or he was hit by gunfire by the resident, authorities said.

Via: Daily Mail:

The mass shooter who opened fire during Mass inside a Texas church killing at least 27 – including a two-year-old child – has been identified as a 26-year-old former Bible study teacher who was dishonorably discharged from the US Air Force.

Devin Patrick Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, dressed in black, tactical gear with a ballistics belt and an assault rifle, and began shooting, according to local law enforcement sources.

The attack only stopped when Kelly was tackled by a heroic local man.

Kelley, 26, of New Braunfels, a suburb of San Antonio, fled in his SUV but crashed near state lines and was killed after a brief foot chase into Guadalupe County, according Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Robert Murphy.

It’s still unclear if the gunman shot himself or was taken down by a local resident.

San Antonio police raided Kelley’s home on Sunday evening, with K9 and bomb squad units.

Kelley, who was reportedly married, had recently posted a photo of an AR-15 style gun on his Facebook page with the caption: ‘She’s a bad b***h.’

A LinkedIn account which appears to be Kelley’s states that he joined the US Air Force after graduating New Braunfels High School in 2009. He worked in logistics and supply in the Air Force until he was dishonorably discharged in 2014 and was even court martialed in May 2014, CBS News reported.

He then volunteered as a teacher for Bible studies at Kingsville First Baptist Church, according to his LinkedIn which shows him posing which a young child. Police are now investigating the possibility that Kelley was in a local militia group.


Saudi Billionaire Prince Alwaleed, Former Ministers Detained in Corruption Probe

November 5th, 2017

What is this? Nipping a coup in the bud?

Via: Reuters:

One of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent businessmen and a former finance minister are among dozens detained in a probe by a new anti-corruption body, a senior Saudi official said on Sunday.

The official, who declined to be identified under briefing rules, said billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding 4280.SE, and former finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf had been detained.

Neither man nor Kingdom Holding officials could be reached immediately for comment. Aside from being one of the largest shareholders in Citigroup C.N, Kingdom owns stakes in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWSA.O) and microblogging site Twitter.

Saudi King Salman announced late on Saturday the creation of a new anti-corruption committee chaired by his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said the body had detained 11 princes, four current ministers and tens of former ministers.


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