SonicSpike writes "Overstock plans to become the first big U.S. online retailer to accept Bitcoin, as Patrick Byrne, the company's libertarian chief executive, warms to the virtual currency as a refuge from government control. Mr Byrne told the Financial Times that Overstock planned to start accepting Bitcoin next year – possibly by the end of the second quarter – a decision that he said was driven mainly by his own political philosophy. 'I think a healthy monetary system at the end of the day isn't an upside down pyramid based on the whim of a government official, but is based on something that they can't control,' Mr Byrne said."
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Daniel_Stuckey writes that venture capitalist Tim Draper has mooted a plan "to split California into six separate states, he told Tech Crunch, with Silicon Valley emerging as the richest and most powerful of all. The mockery is already pouring in. Of course a rich tech guru wants Silicon Valley to get its own government, so it can be freed from the dusty laws and regulations of California 1.0. Of course a deep undercurrent of self-aggrandizing narcissism runs through the proposal — only one other state-to-be gets an actual name, (inexplicably, 'Jefferson') and the rest are lazily affixed with topographical descriptors: West, South, Central, and North California...Yes, in shaping his doctrine, Draper has conjured the perfect blend of Seasteading's offshore tech nirvana lawlessness, boilerplate Tea Party antiestablishmentarianism, and good ol' secessionist chutzpah."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a Reuters report shedding light on one consequence of increasing knowledge of the extent of U.S. government spying: "Brazil awarded a $4.5 billion contract to Saab AB on Wednesday to replace its aging fleet of fighter jets, a surprise coup for the Swedish company after news of U.S. spying on Brazilians helped derail Boeing's chances for the deal. ... The timing of the announcement, after more than a decade of off-and-on negotiations, appeared to catch the companies involved by surprise. Even Juniti Saito, Brazil's top air force commander, said on Wednesday that he only heard of the decision a day earlier in a meeting with President Dilma Rousseff. Until earlier this year, Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet had been considered the front runner. But revelations of spying by the U.S. National Security Agency in Brazil, including personal communication by Rousseff, led Brazil to believe it could not trust a U.S. company."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "SF writer Charles Stross writes on his blog that like all currency systems, Bitcoin comes with an implicit political agenda attached and although our current global system is pretty crap, Bitcoin is worse. For starters, BtC is inherently deflationary. There is an upper limit on the number of bitcoins that can ever be created so the cost of generating new Bitcoins rises over time, and the value of Bitcoins rise relative to the available goods and services in the market. Libertarians love it because it pushes the same buttons as their gold fetish and it doesn't look like a "Fiat currency". You can visualize it as some kind of scarce precious data resource, sort of a digital equivalent of gold. However there are a number of huge down-sides to Bitcoin says Stross: Mining BtC has a carbon footprint from hell as they get more computationally expensive to generate, electricity consumption soars; Bitcoin mining software is now being distributed as malware because using someone else's computer to mine BitCoins is easier than buying a farm of your own mining hardware; Bitcoin's utter lack of regulation permits really hideous markets to emerge, in commodities like assassination and drugs and child pornography; and finally Bitcoin is inherently damaging to the fabric of civil society because it is pretty much designed for tax evasion. "BitCoin looks like it was designed as a weapon intended to damage central banking and money issuing banks, with a Libertarian political agenda in mind—to damage states ability to collect tax and monitor their citizens financial transactions," concludes Stross. "The current banking industry and late-period capitalism may suck, but replacing it with Bitcoin would be like swapping out a hangnail for Fournier's gangrene.""
PolygamousRanchKid writes with news that GM's outgoing CEO doesn't agree with the National Law and Policy Center's call for GM to repay the loss made by the Treasury from their bailout. From the article: "GM CEO Dan Akerson rejects any suggestion that the company should compensate for the losses. He says Treasury officials took the same risk assumed by anyone who purchases stock. Akerson said that GM repaid all the debt issued by the government beginning in December 2008 when George W. Bush was still president and extending into the first year of Barack Obama's presidency. He added that it was the Treasury's decision ... to take an ownership stake in the form of company shares."
itwbennett writes "The North Korean state propaganda machine has edited and deleted hundreds of news articles that mention Jang Song Thaek, the former top government and party official and uncle to leader Kim Jong Un, who was executed Thursday. Earlier this week, Jang was arrested in front of hundreds of senior members of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea and denounced for numerous alleged acts against the state and Kim Jong Un. From arrest to trial to death took only four days and the unprecedented fall from grace is widely being interpreted as an attempt by Kim Jong Un to keep officials loyal and scared."
alphatel writes "The Swedish company Resarchgruppen has discovered a flaw in the Disqus commenting system, enabling them to identify Disqus users by their e-mail addresses. The crack was done in cooperation with the Bonnier Group tabloid Expressen, in order to reveal politicians commenting on Swedish hate speech-sites."
judgecorp writes "Google has opened data centers in Singapore and Taiwan to serve the boom in Asian Internet users. But it canceled a $300 million data center project in Hong Kong to focus on the Taiwan site and the smaller one in Singapore. Officially the problem was lack of space in Hong Kong, but China's repressive attitude to the Internet (and the history of the Chinese hack on Gmail in 2010) must have contributed to the move."
snydeq writes "The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Innovation Act, dealing trolls a severe blow despite opposition from universities looking to protect patents, InfoWorld's Simon Phipps reports. The act cleared the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority of 325 to 91 despite opposition from the organizations most likely to feed new patents to the trolls. 'So bravo to the Innovation Act. It's far from perfect, as the EFF documents and as I commented before the holiday. But it's a step in the right direction, and the tidal surge of support it's seeing suggests legislators' appetite for proper patent reform is finally growing strong enough for them to contemplate substantial change.'"
New submitter Emilio Hodge writes "Nelson Mandela, the revered statesman who emerged from prison after 27 years to lead South Africa out of decades of apartheid, has died, President Jacob Zuma announces. He was 95." Mandela's death is covered by lots of news sources, of course, including The New York Times and The Washington Post.
cartechboy writes "We've seen Tesla run into regulatory issues in Texas. And North Carolina. This time, it's Ohio, where car dealers are playing an entertainingly brazen brand of hardball. The Ohio Dealers Association is backing an anti-Tesla amendment to Ohio Senate Bill 137--which turns out to be an unrelated, uncontroversial proposal about drivers moving left when they see emergency vehicles (The bill is headed for adoption.) The sudden and subtle amendment would ban Tesla from selling its electric cars directly to customers, who place their orders online with the company after learning about the Model S in company-owned stores. A hearing on the amendment was suddenly scheduled for today; Tesla is fighting back by outlining the economic benefits to Ohio--after taking some legislators for a ride in the Model S (a Tesla tactic that has worked before)."
Not content with blacklisting certain kinds of pornography, writes an anonymous reader, according to this news from The Guardian, "The UK government is to order broadband companies to block extremist websites and empower a specialist unit to identify and report content deemed too dangerous for online publication. The crime and security minister, James Brokenshire, said on Wednesday that measures for censoring extremist content would be announced shortly. The initiative is likely to be controversial, with broadband companies already warning that freedom of speech could be compromised."
An anonymous reader writes "Singapore and South Korea are playing key roles helping the United States and Australia tap undersea telecommunications links across Asia, according to top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Indonesia and Malaysia have been key targets for Australian and Singaporean intelligence collaboration since much of Indonesia's telecommunications and Internet traffic is routed through Singapore. The NSA has a stranglehold on trans-Pacific communications channels with interception facilities on the West coast of the United States and at Hawaii and Guam, tapping all cable traffic across the Pacific Ocean as well as links between Australia and Japan. Japan had refused to take part."
cold fjord writes "France24 reports, "Beijing on Saturday announced it was setting up an 'air defence identification zone' over an area that includes islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China, in a move that could inflame the bitter territorial row. Along with the creation of the zone in the East China Sea, the defence ministry released a set of aircraft identification rules that must be followed by all planes entering the area, under penalty of intervention by the military. Aircraft are expected to provide their flight plan, clearly mark their nationality, and maintain two-way radio communication allowing them to 'respond in a timely and accurate manner to the identification inquiries' from Chinese authorities. The outline of the new zone ... covers a wide area of the East China Sea between South Korea and Taiwan that includes the Tokyo-controlled islands known as the Senkakus to Japan and Diaoyous to China. "China's armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions," according to the ministry. ' The Politico adds, "Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Saturday the United States is 'deeply concerned'" over the move. Spiegel Online has background on the conflict with Japan and on related regional issues. This announcement follows the recent publication in Chinese state media of maps showing nuclear strike plans against the U.S."
squiggleslash writes "The concerns, legitimate or otherwise, about genetically modified foods such as Monsanto's Round-up Ready soy-beans, may be causing unintended consequences: Monsanto's rivals such as BASF are selling 'naturally' mutated seeds where extreme exposure to ultra-violet is used to increase the rate of mutations in seeds, a process called mutagenesis. These seeds end up with many of the same properties, such as herbicide resistance, as GM seeds, but inevitably end up with other, uncontrolled, mutations too. The National Academy of Sciences warns that there's a much higher risk of unintentionally creating seeds that have active health risks through mutagenesis than by other means, including relatively controlled genetic engineering, presumably because of the blind indiscriminate nature of mutations caused by the process. But because mutagenesis is effectively an acceleration of the natural system of evolution, it's very difficult to regulate."