Renewed violence breaks out today near Ukraine’s parliament; several injured (live updates)

Police fired guns and used clubs, tear gas and flash grenades this morning in a bid to repel thousands of demonstrators marching on the Verkhovna Rada, as parliament was set to meet and consider opposition demands for a new constitution and change in government.

Police before noon were openly firing guns — some with rubber bullets and some with steel bullets — near Institutska Street. Many people were injured, including at least one man with a rubber bullet. Several front-line fighters were also fired upon.

Numerous injuries were reported by noon, including one man who lost his hand after a grenade was tossed at him by police. Also three other people, including two men and a woman, were seen injured.

Protesters responded with sticks, stones and some explosives.

At least one protester was seriously injured, bleeding from the head and being carried from the scene.

The clashes broke out in at least three separate approaches to parliament: on Mariinsky Park, on Hrushevskoho Street and on Institutska Street near Shovkovychna Street. The most serious clashes were taking place on Institutska and Shovkovychna streets.

The three flashpoints for today’s protests are on Mariinsky Park, Institutska and Shovkovychna streets and Hrushevskoho Street near Ukraine’s parliament, which did not convene today as scheduled.

Institutska Street and Shovkovychna Street

By noon, several police trucks were on fire after violent clashes between police and protesters at the intersection of Institutska and Shovkovychna streets.

At 11 a.m., protesters had set on fire one police truck that had been blocking protesters from reaching parliament. Police quickly put out that fire, but protesters started more.

At least four officers took rooftop positions on 17/5 Institutska St., a five-story residential and commerical building, and were lobbing smoke and flash grenades down on protesters who tossed fireworks at the police. Other officers had taken positions inside the building.

At least two officers on the rooftop were firing into the crowd of demonstrators with shotguns — some with rubber bullets and others with steel bullets. A spotter for the police was also on the roof, directing officers where to fire in the crowd. Other officers continued to throw tear gas into the crowd.

A group of protesters stormed the building with the police snipers and broke windows. The front entrance of 17/5 Institutska St. was set on fire as thousands of protesters shouted at the police on the rooftop. The front entrance of teh building was in flames. As police tried to exit, they were forced back inside by protesters.

Protesters — at least nine of them — made it to the roof on Institutska Street, some of them brandishing metal bars, in a tense standoff with police on the roof as more gunshots were being fired down on the crowd by police.

By noon, however, police had retreated and protesters had triumphantly scaled the roof and were waving a large Ukrainian flag. It was unclear where the armed police on the rooftop went, but at least two officers were trapped inside the building.

Nearby on Lypska Street, a group of protesters nearby at 11:30 a.m. broke into a ruling pro-presidential Party of Regions building.

Journalist-opposition activist Tetyana Chornovol was among the protesters trying to scale the fence, and throwing stones to break windows of the party building.

Someone with a hose inside fired water on the attacking demonstrators as Chornovol entered the party building and gleefully threw documents outside. A person inside the party building threw water bottles from a second floor window on protesters. There were no police or guards present. Demonstrators were chipping away with a hatchet at the door and looked set to enter.

Earlier this morning, some two dozen demonstrators dislodged a police vehicle blocking their path to begin the clashes with police. Protesters pushed back police some 10 meters closer to the parliament on Shovkovychna Street.

Many of the thousands of demonstrators were digging up paving stones underneath their feet this morning and passing them to the front line for dozens of fighters to throw at police. The brigade included old and young women.

Opposition lawmaker Volodymyr Ariev said on Twitter: “Law enforcers were the first to use grenades and shoot.

When lawmaker Olena Kondratiuk tried to pass them, they were aiming at her legs.”

Smoke was everywhere as convoys of protesters continued to dig up and pass paving stones to front-line fighters.

Hrushevskoho Street

Other groups of demonstrators were massed on Hrushevskhoho Street, the flashpoint for previous violence between police and protesters. Hundreds of “people’s self-defense” had taken positions between barricades abandoned only a day earlier Feb. 17. A Kyiv Post reporter on the scene said they appeared to be braced for violent conflict as riot police amassed on teh other side.

Demonstrators on Hrushevskoho Street were starting to burn tires, as they have done in previous standoffs, to create a smokescreen between them and police.

Oleksandr Chaban of Kyiv came to support demonstrators on Hrushevskoho Street, but says he doesn’t believe the fight will be at this location. “Too many police officers on the other side here just stupid to fight against that. Besides that I hope the situation can still be peacefully resolved in parliament today,” he said. “Besides I hope that the sitaution can still be peacefully resolved in parliament today.”

However, 300 to 400 “people’s self-defense” fighters massed in rows, put on their masks and stood in rows as if ready for fighting. The effect was to draw police away from Institutska Street, the scene of today’s most violent clashes so far, and back down on Hrushevskoho Street.

Mariinsky Park

Also groups of anti-government and pro-government demonstrators were massing in nearby Mariinsky Park. Some 7,000 anti-government protesters were massed in the park, including many members of the opposition Svoboda Party. They chant “Together to victory!”

About 11 a.m, protesters broke down a metal fence protecting the parliament building, but were stopped in their advance by police firing tear gas. The protesters did not retreat, however, and appeared to be massing for an assault on parliament.

Protesters get ready for battle with police on Hrushevskoho Street on Feb. 18.

Black smoke from burning tires starts on Hrushevskoho Street, the scene of bloody clashes between police and protesters that killed at least four demonstrators in January.
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Silk Road 2.0 ‘Hack’ Blamed On Bitcoin Bug, All Funds Stolen

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 2.56.45 PMThe same bug that has plagued several of the biggest players in the Bitcoin economy may have just bitten the Silk Road.

On Thursday, one of the recently-reincarnated drug-selling black market site’s administrators posted a long announcement to the Silk Road 2.0 forums admitting that the site had been hacked by one of its sellers, and its reserve of Bitcoins belonging to both the users and the site itself stolen. The admin, who goes by the name “Defcon,” blamed the same “transaction malleability” bug in the Bitcoin protocol that led to several of the cryptocurrency’s exchanges halting withdrawals in the previous week.

“I am sweating as I write this… I must utter words all too familiar to this scarred community: We have been hacked,” Defcon wrote. “Our initial investigations indicate that a vendor exploited a recently discovered vulnerability in the Bitcoin protocol known as “transaction malleability” to repeatedly withdraw coins from our system until it was completely empty.”

A message on the Silk Road homepage linking to Defcon’s “hacking” announcement.

Just how many bitcoins were stolen wasn’t said in the post, although it listed a series of Bitcoin addresses that the Silk Road administrators believe to have been involved in the heist. Those transactions seem to point to a single Bitcoin address that contains 58,800 coins, worth more than $36.1 million at current exchange rates. But tracing Bitcoin’s pseudonymous transactions is always tricky–other estimates range from 41,200 by a Silk Road user and 88,000 by the Bitcoin news site.

Update: Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, estimates the total theft of Silk Road’s bitcoins at a much lower number: just 4,400 or so coins, worth around $2.6 million.

Based on the Silk Road’s data about the attack, the site’s staff point to three possible attackers, two in Australia and one in France. “Stop at nothing to bring this person to your own definition of justice,” Defcon writes.

Silk Road’s users, predictably, didn’t take the announcement at face value, and many instead suspect that the site’s staff have used the “transaction malleability” bug as a scapegoat to cover their own incompetence–the site has been plagued with more pedestrian bugs since launching in November–or even that they’ve run off with the users’ bitcoins themselves. “Transaction malleability,” after all, has been a known issue with Bitcoin for two years, and is described by most Bitcoin security experts as more of a major nuisance than a real threat that would allow funds to be stolen.

“Something’s not correct: The bug…can’t be made responsable if bitcoins are missing now!” writes a user named pathfinder.

“Oh, this is rich. How many users called for the shutdown of SR2 to fix the problems? They were ignored,” writes a user named aqualung on the site’s forums. “Admins did this. Not some vendor.”

Defcon denied those accusations, but took full responsibility for allowing the theft. “I didn’t run with the gold,” he writes. “I have failed you as a leader, and am completely devastated by today’s discoveries…It is a crushing blow. I cannot find the words to express how deeply I want this movement to be safe from the very threats I just watched materialize during my watch.”

The hack is just latest in a series of mishaps, crackdowns and scams that have roiled the “dark web” drug market since the shutdown of the original Silk Road anonymous drug site in October by the FBI. Among the more than half dozen sites that have sprouted to pick up Silk Road’s lucrative stream of Bitcoin-based drug transactions, at least three have run off with the users’ funds and two have shut down after being hacked. Several drug site administrators have also been arrested, including three former Silk Road staffers and five men in the Netherlands and Germany who launched their Silk Road copycat, Utopia, earlier this month.

Amidst that chaos, the relaunched Silk Road has been perhaps the most stable and popular marketplace for drugs and other contraband, with over 13,000 product listings at last count. And its hacking and sudden bankruptcy shakes the anonymous ecommerce community more than any of those other dark web eruptions.

While some Silk Road users wrote on the site’s forums that they planned to take their business to other marketplaces like Pandora and Agora, others declared the Silk Road model altogether dead. All the sites currently keep users’ bitcoins in “escrow” before a transaction is complete to prevent fraud, a model that often allows the funds to be stolen, seized.

Defcon ended his message to the site’s users by announcing that the Silk Road will no longer use an escrow, and will instead ask users to send money directly between buyers and sellers, a model that will no doubt lead to many more scams on the site. But he said that the site will move to so-called “multi-signature” transactions, a largely experimental use of Bitcoin that would require multiple users to “sign off” on a transaction before it’s made. That means a third party could serve as a trusted escrow with no way to steal a user’s funds. He promised a “generous bounty” to anyone who could help Silk Road to implement the change.

“Silk Road will never again be a centralized escrow storage,” Defcon writes. “Hindsight is already suggesting dozens of ways this could have been prevented, but we must march onward.”

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids?

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids stickers multiples kids installation color

In a surprisingly simple yet ridiculously amazing installation for the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, artist Yayoi Kusama  constructed a large domestic environment, painting every wall, chair, table, piano, and household decoration a brilliant white, effectively serving as a giant white canvas.

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids stickers multiples kids installation color

Over the course of two weeks, the museum’s smallest visitors were given thousands upon thousands of colored dot stickers and were invited to collaborate in the transformation of the space, turning the house into a vibrantly mottled explosion of color. How great is this?

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids stickers multiples kids installation color

Given the opportunity my son could probably cover the entire piano alone in about fifteen minutes. The installation, entitled The Obliteration Room, is part of Kusama’s Look Now.

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids stickers multiples kids installation color

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids stickers multiples kids installation color

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids stickers multiples kids installation color

This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids stickers multiples kids installation color

Erdogan blames outside forces for Turkish corruption scandal

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Erdogan warns diplomats against ‘provocative acts’

The political crisis shaking Turkey spilled over into the country’s ties with the rest of the world on Saturday, as Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed outside forces for the country’s worst corruption scandal for years and appeared to threaten the US ambassador.

Speaking at a rally at the Black Sea town of Samsun, the prime minister attributed the investigation into the scandal – which involves allegations of millions of dollars of bribes, smuggling, the fixing of tenders and illegal construction – to a plot “with international dimensions” against his government.

Sixteen people were formally taken into pre-trial detention on Saturday – including the sons of the country’s interior and economy ministers and the chief executive of Halkbank, a state-owned bank – while others were released from police custody pending trial.

On a day when several pro-government papers prominently accused Francis Ricciardone, US Ambassador to Turkey, of involvement in the corruption probe, Mr Erdogan warned “foreign ambassadors” against meddling.

“Very strangely, ambassadors have become involved in some provocative acts in recent days,” Mr Erdogan said. “I am calling on them here: do your job . . . We do not have to keep you in our country.”

“The US is in no way involved in the ongoing corruption and bribery operation,” the US Embassy said. “Nobody should put Turkey-US relations in danger with unfounded claims.”

Turkey’s relations with the US hit a peak in 2009, when President Barack Obama praised the “model partnership” between the two countries.

But ties have become tense with differences over Egypt, where Mr Erdogan called for the West to denounce the coup against former President Mohamed Morsi, Syria, where the Turkish prime minister wanted a Kosovo-style campaign against President Bashar al-Assad and Washington’s concerns about the Turkish government’s crackdown on mass protests.

Mr Erdogan has sought to rally his base as he faces some of the biggest political challenges of his rule ahead of important elections next year including a contest for control of Istanbul and the country’s first direct vote for president.

“I presume this will work with Erdogan’s core constituency,” said Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations of the prime minister’s latest remarks. “There’s a reservoir of anti Americanism in Turkey and this is going back to the well.” He added, however, that despite frustration with Mr Erdogan Washington still sought co-operation with Turkey because of the country’s strategic importance.

“The US doesn’t want to be the story; it believes it can work with Turkey on a variety of issues and we are essentially going to turn the other cheek when Erdogan turns up the heat.”

The prime minister’s depiction of the corruption investigation, which has seen more than 50 people detained, as a conspiracy against his government, echoes his rhetoric over this summer’s mass protests over his rule, initially sparked by concerns over the fate of Istanbul’s Gezi Park. “We will give this dirty game away as we did during Gezi,” he said on Saturday.

However, many of Mr Erdogan’s supporters, and a large number of outside observers, link the investigation specifically to the movement of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric whose followers are widely thought to have extensive influence within the Turkish police and prosecutors service.

In a sign of the intensification of the crisis, Mr Gulen issued his most bitter attack on the government on Friday night, cursing those who were seeking to halt the probe.

“Those who don’t see the thief but go after those trying to catch the thief, who don’t see the murder but try to defame others by accusing innocent people – let God bring fire to their houses, ruin their homes,” Mr Gulen said in a video released on the internet.

Mr Gulen’s lawyer has denied that the 72-year old has any connection with the investigation, as have members of the Gulenist movement. But Mr Gulen said there was an effort to “finish off” his movement – Mr Erdogan has removed or reassigned dozens of police, including national police chiefs and the Istanbul police chief. “The issue is about the public’s rights,” Mr Gulen added. “If public property is being robbed, you cannot somehow soften this, by either regulations or demagogy and dialectics.”

According to widespread reports in the Turkish media, police have found $4.5m in a shoebox belonging to of one of the targets of the investigation – Mr Aslan, the Halkbank chief executive.

Photos purportedly from the investigation have also been leaked to the Turkish press showing what appear to be very large cash transactions, and in the case of Baris Guler, the son of the interior minister, large piles of cash in his house.

Halkbank has not responded to Financial Times requests for comment. But Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s EU minister, one of four ministers reportedly targeted by the investigation, denounced in a written statement what he said was “irresponsible reporting . . . completely based on misleading and speculative information.” He said claims against him were “part of an outrageous conspiracy.” Mr Bagis, like the other ministers, has parliamentary immunity.

Outlandish Concept Cars Inspired by Nature (PHOTOS)

Subaru Global Design Team Suba-Roo

It’s not a car. It not even a motorcycle. It’s a bioengineered suit designed to mimic the movements of a kangaroo — hence Suba-Roo. Cute. Still, it keeps with Subaru’s theme of go-anywhere mobility, and comes complete with Google Glass-like headgear, a kinetic energy recovery system, and a “Gyro Tail” to keep the rider upright. Because in the future, our prehensile appendages will make a comeback.

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