New Legislation Could Put Texas Pipeline Protesters Behind Bars For 10 Years
May23

New Legislation Could Put Texas Pipeline Protesters Behind Bars For 10 Years

Every year, more than 4 billion metric tons of oil is produced globally, and gas and oil together power 60% of U.S. energy consumption. Much of that oil and gas is extracted in Texas, which is typically friendly to oil and gas industries, a major economic driver in the Lone Star state. To protect those interests, state lawmakers recently passed legislation to protect oil pipelines in Texas. Texas lawmakers in both chambers of the state legislature just approved legislation that criminalizes certain actions of oil pipeline protesters. Under the new legislation, any protester who interrupts operations or damages equipment could potentially face up to 10 years in prison. According to the legislation, protesters who are found guilty of delaying the construction of an oil pipeline or halting its service could be charged with a third-degree felony. A felony could also be charged to anyone found guilty of these actions against pipelines for natural gas, a resource that powers up to 66.7 million homes in the United States. Under federal law a third-degree felony is punishable by serving anywhere between two to 10 years in prison. For reference, this is the same sentence that drive-by shooters who miss their targets face when found guilty. The measure is meant to protect the pipeline companies that build the 72,000 miles of crude oil lines in the United States. According to the proposed legislation, pipelines would be classified as “critical infrastructure,” which is the same category that covers power plants and water treatment facilities. The Texas Oil and Gas Association is in support of the bill’s passage because of this protection. The biggest opponents to the legislation are environmental groups. They view the bill as an attack on the protesters’ right to freedom of speech. “The bill was never about safety and security. It was about silencing protesters trying to protect their water and land,” Cyrus Reed, interim director for the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, said in an email to Bloomberg. Texas isn’t alone in putting this bill through its legislative bodies. As of early 2018, there were 58 anti-protest bills moving through the legislatures of 31 states. Similar legislation has already passed in Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Louisiana. All of these bills come in the wake of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests that took place during the summer of 2016 and the decade-long battle over the Keystone XL pipeline. Considering dangerous materials like asbestos (of which 804,000 tons were abated in 1973) and lead have historically led to harm in the areas in which they’re used. Protesting other harmful materials, or a pipeline, is a behavior protected by...

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Woman’s Last Wish to Meet Alpaca Comes True
May10

Woman’s Last Wish to Meet Alpaca Comes True

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Gloucestershire resident Helen Hancox was told she had only days to live. Despite this humbling news, Hancox was determined to cross one final item off her bucket list: to pet an alpaca. In the days following her diagnosis, Hancox had spent much of her time in bed watching television under the care of her husband Colin. When she saw an alpaca featured in a television program, however, Hancox couldn’t resist the urge to touch one. This spurred her daughter Jackie to action. As a last gift to her mother, Jackie reached out on social media to see if a local farmer would be willing to bring an alpaca to her mother. Hancox was bedridden after suffering from a fall which fractured her hip, the event which later revealed the brain tumor. Ginnie Meakin was more than happy to oblige. The Gloucester-based alpaca farmer delighted in bringing in 12-year-old alpaca, Cosmo, to Hancox’s bedside. A naturally sociable animal, the alpaca was used to crowds and small spaces from touring local schools and hospitals. Though Meakin doesn’t normally perform house calls, she was happy to perform this one-time event for Hancox. According to Hancox, this was the first time she had seen an alpaca in real life. Alpacas are a part of a group of four species known as camelids, and are distant cousins of the llama and camel. Hancox noted that seeing an alpaca in person was “10 times better” than seeing one on her television. She was joined by her husband Colin, her two daughters Jackie and Cat, and her grandson Dan for the event. Cosmo was calm, easygoing, and remain relaxed through the visit. To remember her time with Cosmo, Meakin even gave Hancox a small miniature of Cosmo to keep. When Cosmo and Meakin had to leave, Hancox spoke to the calm alpaca directly, thanking him for his time. “I’m very happy to have met you,” she said. She also claimed that the alpaca’s presence was able to “make things wonderful for people, even for...

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Cloud Constellation Will Partner With LeoStella To Build Data Storage Satellites
May02

Cloud Constellation Will Partner With LeoStella To Build Data Storage Satellites

When you look up into the night sky, you expect to see the moon, some twinkling stars, and the occasional passing light of an aircraft. Soon, there will be a few more objects in that dark expanse. Cloud Constellation Corp. has recently chosen LeoStella to build the satellites for its cloud-based data storage service. This service is meant to give customers the securest place possible to house their sensitive data: outer space. The ten satellites will form a constellation of sorts, known as SpaceBelt, and will only be accessible through Cloud Constellation’s telecommunications links. The SpaceBelt will be put in equatorial low Earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of approximately 400 miles. Third party satellites located in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) will provide connections to Cloud Constellation’s proprietary data terminals on Earth. And the sheet metal industry, which currently accounts for roughly $30 billion in U.S. revenue, will help build these structures. A startup focused on secure data storage, Cloud Constellation chose LeoStella to build the satellites because of the U.S.-European joint venture’s ability to lower the total cost of the project. LeoStella’s prices are lower than the previous frontrunner for satellite production, Northrop Grumman. According to Cloud Constellation CEO Cliff Beek, LeoStella’s lower price will reduce the overall cost of deploying SpaceBelt from $480 million to $350 million. “It’s a significant improvement from where we were, and makes it so that our capital raise is lower than what we previously needed it to be,” said Beek. Cloud Constellations will still need additional funding for SpaceBelt, but the $130 million reduction from LeoStella’s plan will make that fundraising easier. As it is, Cloud Constellations is sitting on a sturdy fund already. In December 2018, the innovative data storage startup received a $100 million investment from HCH Group of Hong Kong. With the ability to build the satellites more quickly and in a smaller size than Northrop Grunman, LeoStella was also chosen for its efficiency. The Seattle-based company has promised to deliver all 10 satellites in 24 months. According to Beek, these satellites will each weigh somewhere between 507 and 530 pounds. They will be built at LeoStella’s recently opened factory just south of Seattle. While about 96% of organizations have used cloud technology in at least one of its many forms, space-based cloud services can offer an entirely new level of data security. Beek has reported that various digital currency groups have already shown interest in using data storage located in space to better protect against cyberattacks. He also said that space-based clouds would be most useful for financial institutions. These organizations would be able to send transactional information...

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Baby Dolphin With Belly Full Of Plastic Trash Found Stranded In Florida
May01

Baby Dolphin With Belly Full Of Plastic Trash Found Stranded In Florida

As recent headlines have been full of articles and think pieces on plastic bags and straws, the harmful effect plastic has on the ocean is starting to feel more like a buzzworthy topic to gain clicks and likes than an actual issue. However, the recent death of a young female dolphin is starting to bring true compassion to the subject once again. On Apr. 23, a rough-toothed dolphin was found stranded on Florida’s Fort Myers Beach. When the dolphin was found, she was emaciated and in poor health at just 111 pounds and five feet and seven inches in length. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a healthy adult rough-tooth dolphin weighs 350 pounds and is about eight and a half feet in length. Biologists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cared for the months-old dolphin overnight, but she was in dire condition. Although the dolphin was in a facility made to care for its health, much like the 6,210 hospitals in the United States meant to care for humans, even the experts at the FWC couldn’t help her. According to FWC spokeswoman Michelle Kerr, the biologists made the decision to humanely euthanize the young dolphin. Afterward, biologists conducted a necropsy and discovered concerning contents in the dolphin’s stomach. Her belly didn’t contain a dolphin’s typical diet of fish or squid, but two plastic bags and a piece of a balloon. Scientists at the FWC said that the plastic they found in the dolphin’s stomach likely wasn’t the sole cause of her death, as a number of other factors could also be responsible. “Although a significant finding, there are many additional factors to consider, such as underlying illness, disease and maternal separation, before a final cause of stranding and death for the dolphin can be determined,” the FWC wrote in a Facebook statement. The Facebook post from the FWC also mentions that whether or not the plastic waste ultimately caused the death of the young dolphin, the incident points to the world’s ongoing plastic problem. The global production of just polyethylene, the most common plastic, totals around 80 million tons annually. Much of this plastic ends up in bodies of water around the world. Not only do these plastics pose a threat to unsuspecting wildlife, but they release potentially toxic chemicals into the aquatic environment as they degrade in the water. Consider the fact that the Turks and Caicos islands are only an 80 minute flight from Miami. All of that ocean could be home to dolphins just like this one who mistakenly ingest plastic. Several states have already taken legislative action to curb...

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50 Cent’s Extravagant Connecticut Mansion Finally Finds Buyer After 12 Years On The Market
Apr20

50 Cent’s Extravagant Connecticut Mansion Finally Finds Buyer After 12 Years On The Market

For over a decade, rapper 50 Cent struggled to sell his mansion in Farmington, Connecticut. A symbol of 1980s excess and luxurious living, 50 Cent originally put the extravagant compound on the market for $18.5 million 12 years ago. On Apr 2, the home finally sold for a mere $2.9 million. Not only is that number over 80% less than the original asking price, but it is over $1 million less than what 50 Cent paid for it in 2003. The musician bought the property from former boxer Mike Tyson for $4.1 million. That real estate deal still holds the record in Farmington for the most expensive home ever sold. 50 Cent would have no such luck in making another record-breaking deal in selling the house. After initially putting it back on the market in 2007, he and his real estate team slashed the price again and again to no avail. The rapper even invested between $6 million and $10 million in renovations, joining the 58% of homeowners per year who say they plan to spend money on improving their homes, but far outdoing the average home remodel. His team also listed the property for rent at $100,000 a month and put it on Million Dollar Listing in an attempt to spark interest. Yet none of these efforts worked to attract buyers. With 50,000 square feet of space and 17 acres, the home has 19 bedrooms and 25 bathrooms. Within its massive size, the mansion also boasts an indoor pool, a basketball court, several game rooms, a hot tub that can fit 40 people, a gym, a home theater, a recording studio, and even a nightclub. While these amenities may be everything you’d find in a child’s drawing of a dream home, the impracticality of its size and the reality of paying for its upkeep is what kept buyers away for years. According to RC Atlee of Compass, a seller of luxury homes in the Hamptons, there is a variety of “invisible costs” that come with owning a mansion. For his Connecticut compound, 50 Cent was reportedly spending about $70,000 per month in expenses. These thousands included mortgage payments and property taxes, the latter of which had to follow New York’s mansion tax. This tax states that anyone who purchases a residential property for over $1 million has to pay 1% of the sale price. According to Atlee, that tax can be up to 4.15% for a property that sells for $25 million or more. These taxes alone for keeping a home make the cost of keeping actual living beings, like pets and plants, seem like chump change. For...

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Yet Another Data Leak Exposes Personal Information Of Facebook Users
Apr12

Yet Another Data Leak Exposes Personal Information Of Facebook Users

It’s been almost a year since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg’s infamous federal hearing regarding the Cambridge Analytica Scandal and the lack of data protection the social media platform gives its users. Unfortunately for the Silicon Valley staple, the security troubles haven’t stopped there. There’s been leak after leak in the months since. At this point, it doesn’t even seem like joining the 40% of Americans who consider themselves as very religious could save Facebook from its leak-ridden fate. The latest one, which researchers discovered on April 3, left over 540 million Facebook records exposed on an Amazon cloud-computing server. These records included users’ account names, comments, likes, and more. The security firm UpGuard Cyber Risk discovered these hundreds of millions of records. UpGuard has a history of discovering unsecured data, but in this instance alone it found two separate cloud storage data buckets from third party vendors that work with Facebook. The aforementioned 540 million records were all in just one data bucket, from a Mexico-based media company called Cultura Collective. The other bucket came from a Facebook-integrated app named “At the Pool” and included more than 22,000 plaintext passwords for the app. Cultura Collective sent a statement to media outlets, arguing that the information in question was already publicly available before UpGuard disclosed its exposure on the cloud. “All the publicly available data provided to us by Facebook, gathered from the fanpages we manage as publisher, is public, not sensitive, and available to all users who have access to Facebook,” the statement read. Despite this argument, this revelation shows how little oversight Facebook still has over its app developers’ use of user data. For years now, many of these developers have had access to users’ sensitive information, frequently without their knowledge or informed consent. This lack of security would be like organizations neglecting to regularly test their disaster recovery system. Yet just 25% of organizations never test their disaster recovery system. Meanwhile, Facebook is still facing similar leaks to the one involved in the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. “As Facebook faces scrutiny over its data stewardship practices, they have made efforts to reduce third party access. But as these exposures show, the data genie cannot be put back in the bottle,” UpGuard wrote in a blog post about its findings. According to Facebook spokesperson Katy Dormer, the social media giant’s policies prohibit the storage of Facebook information in a public database. Dormer also states that Facebook worked with Amazon to take down the databases as soon as they were made aware of the...

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