Russia Reactivates Military Airfield In The Arctic Region After 20 years

Russia Military Snow

Earlier in October, Putin stated strongly that Russia would never “surrender” its Arctic area. Indeed, Temp airfield located on Kotelny Island, the largest of Russian islands in Novosiberian region, is being reactivated.

The airfield has been operational beginning in 1949 then, 20 years ago, its activity was suspended, and the infrastructures preserved for future use. Since then, Russian policy towards Arctic has become more aggressive and one of the elements of that policy is to reinstate the aforementioned airfield for Russian Air Force planes.

In 2012, a helicopter crash occured during a Russian specialists’ visit to the island. Nobody died, but the mishap halted the reactivation activities. This year people and equipment were delivered by sea. Back in September an expedition included 150 people, 40 machines and vehicles.

The process of reactivation of the base went fast and, at the end of October, the first An-72 transport landed there. Currently, an air traffic control service is present, along with accomodation, own water supply, a power station and heating. The airfield is not to be a minor one, since it will be able to accomodate landings of planes as large as Il-76 cargos.

Air traffic on Temp is expected to be a regular, year-round and in all weathers.

There are plans to continue the expansion with another airfield, Tiksi, in Yakutsia. It is said that the role of the Arctic bases is to safeguard and serve the Northern Sea Route shipping lane and adjacent Arctic zone.

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David Cameron Opens Sina Weibo Account to Repair China’s ‘Hurt Feelings’

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and a retinue of more than 100 business representatives — the largest-everBritish trade delegation to go to China — descended on Beijing Monday. Cameron met with Chinese premier Li Keqiang, discussing a multibillion-dollar free trade deal between China and the EU, as well as a separate one with just the UK that the British government says could generate up to £1.8 billion ($3 billion) per year for the economy.

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Cameron is also in China to do some damage control. Relations between the two countries have been cool since Cameron met the Dalai Lama last May, prompting the Chinese foreign ministry to claim that he had “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.” It didn’t hurt UK-China trade — British exports to China were 20% higher in the first three quarters of 2013 than in 2010 as a whole — but British officials think it could be boosted even more.

Thus, to assuage the hurt feelings of the Chinese, Cameron became one of the first leaders to open an account on Chinese social media site Sina Weibo, joining Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Cameron also penned an editorial in a Chinese financial-news publication, Caixin, that called for ”a partnership of growth and reform that would help the achievement of the Chinese dream as well as long-term prosperity for Britain.”

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David Cameron’s Sina Weibo page. He has 158,172 followers. Sina Weibo

Cameron’s Weibo account already has more than 150,000 followers and thousands of comments on the six messages he’s so far posted — not bad for four days. But not all of the comments welcome his charm offensive. Responding to Cameron’s latest post on a ceremony for a £4.5 billion deal for British carmaker Jaguar Land Rover to provide 100,000 cars to China’s National Sales Company, one Weibo user said, “Now you’ve got the money. Go back and don’t see the Dalai Lama again.” Another blogger said, “If the 19th century belonged to the British empire and the 20th century was the US’s empire, than the 21st century must be the century of the Chinese empire!”

Cameron and his delegation have two more days to win over the Chinese public. In that time, analysts expect a deal announcing Chinese investment in British infrastructure projects. After meeting with Cameron, Li said China is interested in cooperatingwith the UK on its controversial high-speed rail project and more nuclear power. China Nuclear Corp, as part of a consortium led by Électricité de France, is building two nuclear reactors in the UK. Another Chinese firm is building a second financial district on the outskirts of London.

Man Buys $103K Tesla Model S With Bitcoin

Tesla-model-s

Proving once again that Bitcoin is not just for illicit purchases (you can go to space with it too!), a man bought a Tesla Model S car with bitcoins. The purchase is reportedly the first Tesla, and possibly the first car ever, to be bought with the online currency.

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Southern California sold the car, the dealership announced on its blog last Wednesday, but the buyer is currently unknown.

“We just sold our very first vehicle with Bitcoin as payment,” reads the blog post. “That’s right, an electronic currency was used to purchase a fully electric vehicle.” The dealership, which is not operated by Tesla, also announced that it would accept Bitcoin payments going forward.

There aren’t many details available about the purchase, but the dealership’s marketing director, Cedric Davy, told CNN that a man from Florida bought the car for 91.4 bitcoins, which at the time were equivalent to $103,000. Though the price of the notoriously volatile currency dropped shortly after the sale, CNN reports that payment processor BitPay locked in Tuesday’s Bitcoin price for both buyer and seller.

While the dealership didn’t previously accept Bitcoin, when the man called asking if he could pay with it, they researched the electronic currency and worked with BitPay to make the sale happen.

“All these people have bitcoins,” Davy told CNN. “I think some people are trying to spend it.”

FBI Sting Exposes Los Angeles Jail Corruption; 18 Sheriff’s Deputies Arrested

The officers charged include both current and former L.A. County sheriff’s deputies.

An FBI sting investigating misconduct at Los Angeles County jails led to the arrest of 18 current and former sheriff’s deputies Monday on a range of charges, including conspiracy and obstruction, a federal prosecutor said.

“The five cases allege a wide scope of illegal conduct,” said André Birotte Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. “This investigation started by focusing on misconduct in county jails, and we uncovered examples of civil rights violations that included excessive force and unlawful arrests.”

The FBI has been investigating reports of excessive force since 2011.

According to the Los Angeles Times, officials were being investigated for allegedly trying to hide an informant who was giving the FBI information after finding the cell phone he had been using to document officer offenses. They allegedly changed the name he had been held under several times and questioned him repeatedly about whether he would testify in an investigation. Sheriff’s officials say he wasn’t being hidden from the FBI but rather protected after he had been outed.

Silicon Valley investor wants to split California into six states

Six Californias

SAN FRANCISCO — Technology investor Tim Draper is trying to drum up support to split California into six states, one of them being Silicon Valley.

His argument for redrawing the California map: The state is underrepresented in Washington. He’s looking to get an initiative on the California ballot.

He told TechCrunch: “It is about time California was properly represented with senators in Washington. Now our number of senators per person will be about average.”

In October at Y Combinator Startup School, one tech entrepreneur called for Silicon Valley to secede from the United States altogether.

Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder of San Francisco–based genetics company Counsyl, gave a talk to aspiring entrepreneurs about “Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit,” which outlined his vision of a tech world free of the constraints of government.

“We need to build opt-in society, outside the U.S., run by technology,” Srinivasan said.

This techno-utopian vision of a world insulated from big-government intrusion is not new to Silicon Valley, which has some deep libertarian roots.

Google CEO Larry Page, during his Google I/O keynote in May, spoke of his desire to set aside a place in the world where technological experimentation can be conducted unfettered by regulation. (“There are many exciting things you could do that are illegal or not allowed by regulation,” Page said.)

Investor Peter Thiel has championed the “seasteader” movement, which would create floating societies off the coast of California just beyond the clutches of the U.S. government.

And the Blueseed project wants to put foreign-born workers on a cruise ship off the coast of Northern California in international waters to evade immigration laws.

Draper recently said he would not participate in his investment firm’s next fund, so he has some time on his hands to devote to this new six-state project. He’s holding a news conference Monday.

Under his proposal, the northernmost new state would be called Jefferson and would encompass these counties: Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas, Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama and Trinity.

Just south of that, Northern California state would encompass these counties: Amador, El Dorado, Marin, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba.

The state called Central California would be the only one to have no coastline, and it would encompass Alpine, Calaveras, Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne counties.

Silicon Valley state would encompass these counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz.

The state named West California would encompass these counties: Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

And finally, South California state would encompass Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

The 10 Best Places In The World To Retire

With the unbearable weather in much of the country, you might be thinking how pleasant it would be to retire where the only ice you’ll see is in a refreshing drink.

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If so, the International Living Annual Global Retirement Index, released today, is right on time. Six of its top 10 countries — ranked based on data and International Living correspondents’ firsthand knowledge — are in Latin America, including this year’s winner: Panama. Another three are in Asia and one’s in Europe.

“Ecuador and Panama usually slug it out for the number one position in our rankings,” says Dan Prescher, special projects editor at International Living, which runs a magazine, website and conferences for retirees and wannabees.

Why Panama Popped

This year, Panama — the southernmost country in Central America — won by recently making it easier to move there. Normally, you can get a Panamanian visa if you receive a pension of at least $1,000 a month; Social Security qualifies. But if you don’t have a pension, you might now be able to gain permanent residency through the fairly new “Friends of Panama” visa. You just need to have a local bank account there with at least $5,000 and either buy real estate, open a business or get a job in Panama.

Other reasons for Panama’s pop: “The weather is great, the value for the dollar is exceptional, the economy is robust and the government is stable,” says Prescher. “If there’s something you can’t get in Panama City, you probably don’t need it. And the rest of the country is just unconscionably gorgeous — it’s a tropical paradise with beaches, jungles and mountains.”

No place is perfect, of course. Panama didn’t score especially well in International Living’s infrastructure category. “Outside of Panama City, the roads are not that well maintained,” says Prescher. And in Ecuador, where Prescher and his wife Suzan live, “if you need your refrigerator repaired, it can take a long time, sometimes. There’s a lot of bureaucracy.”

International Living’s latest Top 10:

1. Panama
2. Ecuador
3. Malaysia
4. Costa Rica
5. Spain 
(up from No. 8 last year)
6. Colombia
7. Mexico 
(down from No. 4 last year)
8. Malta
9. Uruguay (down from No. 6 last year)
10. Thailand

Winners According to U.S. News

Panama — more specifically, Coronado, Panama — led the list of U.S. News’ just published list of “The World’s 8 Best Places to Retire in 2014,” too. Those eight, chosen by Kathleen Peddicord, founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group, include locales in four countries that are on International Living’s list and four that aren’t:

1. Coronado, Panama
2. Languedoc, France
3. Ambergris Caye, Belize
4. Cuenca, Ecuador
5. Chiang Mai, Thailand
6. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
7. Granada, Nicaragua
8. Medellin, Colombia

Prescher concedes that even the International Living list is “at least half” subjective.

“If you don’t like the heat, you won’t like Panama. It’s tropical. And Panama City is a big, noisy place. If you don’t like big noisy places, you won’t like Panama City.”

A Critical Take on Panama

Indeed, two recent Huffington Post articles by George Rajna, of the We Said Go Travel blog, knocked Panama as a retirement haven. After noting that “Panama has serious pluses for potential retirees who desire to relocate abroad to a country with a cheaper standard of living than the United States,” Rajna said Panama City has “heinous traffic” and “crime can be a serious issue in many of the barrios” there. He was equally disappointed by Panama’s mountain highlands and the colonial town of Pedasi.

How to Suss Out a Retirement Locale

This kind of difference of opinion is exactly why Prescher says people thinking about retiring abroad should first “ruthlessly profile themselves” to honestly assess what they’d love and hate about a place.

“As soon as you leave your country, things will be different,” he says. “If you can’t get highly-pasteurized half-and-half for your morning coffee and that would bug the hell out of you, you’re not going to be happy living there.”

To do your research, spend some time reviewing the International Living and U.S. News rankings and their accompanying articles. Also, check out the free calculator at a site called Xpatulator.com, which lets you compare the cost of living in hundreds of countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. (Xpatulator says that in Panama, a loaf of white bread costs $1.36, a summer dress runs $38, monthly internet goes for $34 and the cost for a private-practice doctor visit for an uninsured patient is $49.)

After you’ve loaded up on stats and other people’s opinions, come up with a list of a few places that sound intriguing to you and spend some time in each to see whether you’d like living there. “Find out what it’s like in the worst season for weather and during rush hour,” says Prescher. “See a place at its worst.”

Your experiences and data will ultimately let you figure out which place truly is the best — for you.

In search of Utopia in the Deep Web

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The following article contains content and images that may be NSFW.

Since the fall of Silk Road, there has been no rest on the Deep Web. Some sites disappeared, others like were mothballed with the promise to reopen again. Considering the latest charges brought against the alleged Silk Road founder, Ross Ulbricht, who is now risking a potential minimum prison sentence of 30 years, times seem grim for the Internet’s black markets.

And yet, there early signs of progress and promise. A new drug market, called Utopia, opened this week. With a sleek design and a green earth as a symbol, it promises to be a “bright star in the shadows of the darknet.”


Screengrab via Utopia

In just a matter of days, the market has collected a staggering number of listings: 1700 in the Drug category; 62 under Service, which includes hacking and gambling; 24 in the Weapons section; and 88 in the Ebook category. Utopia’s forum, which has been online for a while on a separate address, counts over 3000 users and a growing number of posts and topics.

How is such rapid growth possible? The new bazaar appears to have strong connections with an old one, Black Market Reloaded (BMR). Some people from the BMR’s staff moved there, and the market has been developed “with some help and inspiration from Backopy,” wrote Swim, Utopia’s admin, in the same forum.


Backopy, who is well-known and respected within the Deep Web community, is the founder of Black Market Reloaded, which appeared at one point to be the heir apparent to Silk Road. It had a turbulent end to 2013: first by having some of its code leaked, then by being hacked—although its vendors were refunded of eventual losses. After being briefly shut down and then opened again in October, it closed for good in December for security reasons, claiming it was not able to cope with the influx of new customers. Many old BMR vendors appeared to have moved to the new market.

“All BMR vendors names are protected on Utopia market and can only registrar (sic) if they confirm their PGP key,” explains one forum post. “Also the feedback reputation will be imported and available to keep doing business.” Utopia also promises to automatically encrypt users’ personal messages, and to add convenient search filters.

So is Utopia the new BMR? Apparently not. Backopy is still reportedly working on his own project for a new version of BMR. But it’s a promising sign for the future of the Deep Web.

In fact, there are a number of new marketplaces, each vying to capitalize on Silk Road’s disappearance. The site DeepDotWeb, a sort of TripAdvisor for the black markets, has reviewed around 15 of them. Here’s what you need to know.

Silk Road 2.0

The new version of the infamous bazaar, led by a new Dread Pirate Roberts, opened just a month after the original site was seized by the FBI; however, it has faced a lot of problems since its launch. Two of its alleged moderators, who had moved from the first Silk Road, have been arrested. At the same time, Dread Pirate Roberts temporarily disappeared, leaving his second-in-command, named Defcon, at the helm of the ship. Today, the site lists over 12,000 items.

Agora Market and Outlaw Market

Both of these markets are considered at least relatively stable. The Agora Market has a spartan layout, lists roughly 2,400 drug-related items, has got a popular Information category that includes hacking how-to guides, and a Counterfeit section that’s full of watches. The Outlaw Market shows a funny Old West-style design, and it takes a very international approach: Its interface can be configured to use different languages. Apparently, judging from its login page, it’s even looking for admins for different countries and regions.


Screengrab via Outlaw Market

The Blue Sky Marketplace and Pirate Market

Blue Sky Marketplace is small and drug-oriented (mainly selling cannabis) that kindly advises its visitors to disable Javascript in their Tor browser, in order to surf more safely. Pirate Market was formerly known as RoadSilk. It’s a niche market that trying to siphon off customers from larger enterprises. Apart from marketplaces, vendors’ shops also appear to be increasing, likely because some of Silk Road’s old top sellers have decided to start independent operations.

The WhiteRabbit Marketplace

The WhiteRabbit Marketplace is one of the more prominent markets operating with an I2P address, an anonymous overlay network, which is basically a network within a network. It provides strong anonymity and a distributed platform that’s meant to deflect attacks. For the paranoid types, there’s also The MarketPlace, which also has already created a considerable hub on Reddit.

Taken together, the Deep Web appears to be recovering in the wake of the Silk Road closure. There’s still cause for serious concern, obviously. These are illegal markets we’re talking about, where the risk of being scammed runs deep. Just consider the meteoric rise and fall of Atlantis, a marketplace that went so far as to publicize itself on YouTube, only to suddenly fold for “security reasons” suspiciously close to the feds’ seizing of Silk Road, or Sheep Marketplace, which shut down after a suspicious “hack” that stole at least 5,400 bitcoin, worth about $4.6 million at the time.

At least now customers know full well the risk of doing business in the Deep Web.

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