2016 Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference – Event …

ePosters are available for viewing! This is available only to conference registrants; to access the ePosters site you will need your registration confirmation numberand the email address you used for registration. (If you don’t know your confirmation number, there’s a link to help jog your memory.) Once you’ve entered this information, click on the ePosters tab on top of the page and then follow the link provided.

The 2016 Conference Online Program and Planner are now available! Search through over 500 abstracts and plan out the presentations you want to hear. This year, the online planner and mobile app sync so that you can preview on a larger screen and manage your activities on your smartphone or tablet.

Important Dates Registration is now open. Online registration closes January 22, 2016. Onsite registration will be available at the conference.

Registration Fees Registration: $500 Student registration: $150 One-day registration: $250

We accept payment by credit card, PayPal and check. Credit card payments are processed through PayPal but you do not need a PayPal account.

If you are paying by check, please make it out to “Gulf of Mexico Alliance” and mail to: Gulf of Mexico Alliance 1151 Robinson Street Ocean Springs, MS 39564

Refunds If a registration is cancelled on or before November 20, 2015, a full refund will be issued, minus a small processing fee based on payment type. After November 20, no refunds will be made.

The 2016 conference theme, One Gulf: healthy ecosystems, healthy communities, will focus on opportunities to promote and sustain a healthy Gulf environment, communities, and economy, including new discoveries, innovations, technologies, and policies. A strong emphasis this year will be placed on the human dimensions of oil spill in addition to the ecosystem science research that has led past conferences.

The scientific program of the 2016 conference will invite Sessions, talks and posters on the following objectives:

Understand the dynamic physical processes of the Gulf of Mexico and related environment.

Understand the chemistry of the Gulf of Mexico system and the evolution, degradation, and interactions of pollutants introduced in coastal, open-ocean, and deep-water ecosystems.

Understand the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and its resilience, including the sea floor, water column, coastal waters, beach sediments, wetlands, marshes, and organisms.

Advance technology developments for improved research, observation, and operations in the Gulf.

Apply data management and informatics in the context of Gulf of Mexico ecosystem science and oil spill response, restoration and policy.

Understand the impacts of oil spills on public health, socio-economics, and ecosystem services.

Understand linkages between the health of people, animals, and Gulf and associated management and policy decision-making.

Understand the human dimensions of response, mitigation, and restoration following environmental emergencies.

Improve education, outreach, and other efforts to communicate with the public about the risks and long-term impacts of oil spill incidents, and the recovery, and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

Stay informed of conference updates by following us on Twitter (#gulfscienceconference #OneGulf) and liking us on Facebook.


2017 Conference – New Orleans, LA Venue: Hyatt New Orleans February 6-9, 2017

2018 Conference – New Orleans, LA Venue: Hyatt New Orleans February 5-8, 2018

2019 Conference – New Orleans, LA Venue: Hyatt New Orleans February 4-7, 2019


2015 Conference

2014 Conference

2013 Conference

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2016 Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference – Event …

Urban Dictionary: libertarianism

The political philosophy that…

1. …says no one has the right to initate force against another. Period. Even if it’s for their own good.

2. …says government in a free society exists only to (A)protect its citizens from having force initated on them, and to (B)punish those who have initiated force on others.

3. …IS NOT ANARCHISM, a belief that everything government provides, society can provide more effectively.

4. …was derived from classical liberalism, the very philosophy that the United States was founded apon and roughly operated under up until the end of the 1800s.

5. …is the most logical, humane, and ethical political system ever thought of.

For insight on the *practical* benefits of such a system, interested bodies should read “Healing Our World” by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, just to get started. (Freely available on the Net.)

“(Left-)Liberals want the government to be your Mommy. Conservatives want government to be your Daddy. Libertarians want it to treat you like an adult.”

A political philosophy based on the Non-Aggression Principle, which holds that people should be allowed to live as they choose and make their own choices without interference from government or others, so long as those choices do not involve the initiation of force or fraud against others.

Libertarianism is the opposite of authoritarianism or statism, which is the idea that governments should largely control people, allocate their resources, and make decisions for them, allegedly for their own good or the good of society (in practice usually for the good of those running the government).

The main problem with this delusional notion of co-existence is that it runs afoul of an annoying immutable natural law – roughly translated as “nature abhors a vacuum” – that’s understood and exploited by every drug pusher, credit card issuer, Las Vegas casino, and Madison Avenue marketer and even the bailout-happy U.S. Federal Reserve and which was summed up by Edmund Burke:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites; in proportion as they are disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good in preference to the flattery of knaves.

“Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

-or as John Adams said:

(The U.S.) constitution was made for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate for any other.

“We favor the repeal of all laws creating ‘crimes’ without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.”

“The only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights life, liberty, and justly acquired property against aggression”

Noun. The belief that pursuing one’s own self-interest, while shirking larger social responsibilities, is still somehow humanitarian.

Libertarianism is how the advantaged describe their neglect of the les-advantage: they’re “protecting everyone’s freedom” by respecting the impoverished’s right to be poor.

Also known as Libertarian Capitalism, not to be confused with Libertarian Socialism, which can lay a true claim to the term.

How would you like to pay for air?

To put it bluntly, a political theory for people who don’t have the balls to admit they are anarchists.

Random libertarian: No, I’m no anarchist. I just don’t believe government should interfere with my live at all. That’s all… honest…

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Urban Dictionary: libertarianism

Rand Paul selling 'NSA spy cam blocker'

NSA Spy Cam Blocker. Credit: Store.RandPaul.com

“That little front facing camera on your laptop or tablet can be a window for the world to see you – whether you know it or not! Stop hackers and the NSA with this simple camera blocker. Safe and practical,” the online store says of the product.

Several of the Paul products include visuals of the Constitutionincluding a T-shirt and an iPhone casewhich is a political theme for the son of libertarian icon and former Texas congressman Ron Paul.

“I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government,” a quote attributed to Paul says on his sitewhich broke the news the senator would run ahead of his scheduled midday in-person announcement.

The store even offers a $1,000 Paul-autographed Constitution. “It’s hard to find a greater defender of the U.S. Constitution in the Halls of Congress than Rand Paul,” the item’s description says.

But the merchandise goes beyond accessories: Paul’s branded clothing is “fashion for a cause,” his website says.

Read MoreWhy Rand Paul probably can’t win GOP nom

“It’s easy to be a fashion plate for the world’s biggest brands. When you wear the Rand Brand, you look good and stand for something bigger than all of us … liberty,” the site boasts, adding “Thomas Jefferson would be proud.”

Such fashion includes a T-shirt proclaiming “Don’t Drone Me, Bro!”

Even the payment options take a decidedly contemporary twist for the Kentucky senator’s campaign. In addition to credit card and PayPal choices, Paul’s website allows supporters to donate in bitcoin (the cryptocurrency boasts a strong following among a subset of libertarians).

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Rand Paul selling 'NSA spy cam blocker'

Posted in NSA

Accepting Cryptocurrency Solves Common Transactions Problems for Merchants

Boston, MA (PRWEB) April 07, 2015

According to a new white paper published by New Hampshire-based e-commerce company Ziftr, merchants of all sizes can overcome common transaction problems by accepting cryptocurrency. These problems, which are often associated with credit card transactions, include:

Cryptocurrency is an emerging payment technology that benefits both consumers and merchants in many key ways, said Bob Wilkins, CEO of Ziftr. At Ziftr, were focused on bringing cryptocurrency into the mainstream with our cryptocurrency/credit card payment platform, ziftrPAY, and a suite of tools that integrate with ziftrPAY to provide the ideal shopping experience for consumers and increase profit margins for merchants.

Highlights from the Ziftr white paper:

To read the full Ziftr white paper, click here: http://bit.ly/Merchant-WP

Ziftr is currently onboarding ziftrPAY merchants, with the goal of reaching a critical mass in time for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2015. Merchants that are interested in learning more about ziftrPAY can visit http://www.ziftrPAY.com for more information.

About Ziftr

Established in 2008 and based in Milford, New Hampshire, Ziftr is revolutionizing the online shopping experience by bringing cryptocurrency into the mainstream for both consumers and merchants. To accomplish this goal, Ziftr has developed the following tools and applications: ziftrCOIN, a digital coin that functions like a coupon; ziftrPAY, a one-stop cryptocurrency/credit card payment platform and customer loyalty program; ziftrWALLET, a multicoin digital wallet; and ziftrSHOP, a worldwide online marketplace where consumers will be able to conduct transactions using credit cards and cryptocurrency.

Ziftr is a product of myVBO, a full-service design, marketing and development company that helps businesses turn their ambitions into realities.

For more information about Ziftr, visit http://www.ziftr.com.

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Accepting Cryptocurrency Solves Common Transactions Problems for Merchants

Capitol Report: Rand Paul taking bitcoin donations

Open up your virtual wallet Sen. Rand Paul is taking donations.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) In what appears to be a first for a presidential campaign, Rand Paul is accepting donations made in bitcoin.

The cryptocurrency would appear to be a good thematic fit for the presidential campaign of the Republican senator from Kentucky, who has somewhat of a libertarian bent. Paul also accepts credit card or PayPal donations.

While new at the presidential level, candidates for U.S. Congress did take bitcoin after a Federal Elections Commission advisory opinion gave its support.

Most who accept bitcoin as payment quickly convert it into good-old-fashioned U.S. dollars, though the FEC opinion doesnt require this.

Also read: Bitcoin has no place in your or any portfolio.

From four-figure highs, one bitcoin was worth roughly $254 on Tuesday.

Excerpt from:

Capitol Report: Rand Paul taking bitcoin donations

Ziftr Launches ziftrPAY, a Cryptocurrency Payment Platform and Customer Loyalty Program

Boston, MA (PRWEB) March 24, 2015

New Hampshire-based e-commerce company Ziftr today announced the launch of ziftrPAY, a one-stop cryptocurrency/credit card payment platform and customer loyalty program.

The benefits of ziftrPAY include the following:

As part of ziftrPAYs customer loyalty program, all merchants will receive free ziftrCOIN digital coupons to give to their shoppers to incentivize them to use cryptocurrency, a low-cost, low-risk alternative to credit cards. When spent within Ziftrs network of ziftrPAY merchants, each ziftrCOIN will have a minimum redemption value of $1.

ziftrPAY is more than just a payment platform, its also a customer loyalty program, said Bob Wilkins, CEO of Ziftr. The Ziftr team has been developing e-commerce products for over six years now, so we have a solid understanding of what merchants want and need. We know they need ways to incentivize customers and establish brand loyalty, and the ziftrCOIN digital coupons are there to help them do just that.

Along with the launch of the ziftrPAY website, Ziftr is working to onboard the first group of ziftrPAY merchants, with the goal of reaching a critical mass of ziftrPAY merchants in time for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2015.

Ziftrs ultimate goal is to bring cryptocurrency into the mainstream by making it easy for consumers to spend and easy for merchants to accept. ziftrPAY is one component of this strategy, along with ziftrCOIN, ziftrWALLET, and ziftrSHOP.

Merchants that are interested in learning more about ziftrPAY can visit http://www.ziftrPAY.com for more information.

About Ziftr

Established in 2008 and based in Milford, New Hampshire, Ziftr is revolutionizing the online shopping experience by bringing cryptocurrency into the mainstream for both consumers and merchants. To accomplish this goal, Ziftr has developed the following tools and applications: ziftrCOIN, a digital coin that functions like a coupon; ziftrPAY, a one-stop cryptocurrency/credit card payment platform and customer loyalty program; ziftrWALLET, a multicoin digital wallet; and ziftrSHOP, a worldwide online marketplace where consumers will be able to conduct transactions using credit cards and cryptocurrency.

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Ziftr Launches ziftrPAY, a Cryptocurrency Payment Platform and Customer Loyalty Program

Britons can now buy Dell computers with Bitcoin

Through the expansion of Bitcoin were enabling new levels of convenience for our customers, making it easier for them to do business with Dell.”

Coinbase is one of the largest payments processors helping large organisations to adopt Bitcoin.

In an interview with the Telegraph co-founder Brian Armstrong said that Europe was lagging behind the US in terms of adoption, but that he was determined to push it forwards.

I remember back in 2002 my mum said I would never put my credit card details on the internet. Now she does shopping online all the time. What is considered normal or secure changes very quickly,” he said.

To me its the most exciting thing in the world to be working on right now. Bitcoin is like a giant wave, were just a little surfer riding it. Maybe it makes sense for there to be an internet currency, and have that be the reserve currency of the world.

Fred Ehrsam, co-founder at Coinbase, said of the news: Were really pleased to partner with Dell once again, this time bringing its customers in the UK and Canada the option to pay with Bitcoin.

Dell saw that many of its customers wanted to pay with the currency and responded by quickly working with us to give them that option. It is now the largest merchant to accept Bitcoin internationally, paving the way for retailers around the world to follow suit.

Its another big step towards expanding Bitcoin acceptance worldwide and something were excited to be a part of.

Late last year technology giant Microsoft announced that it would also start accepting Bitcoin, albeit in a more limited way than Dell.

Customers can use the currency to add credit to their Microsoft account, but not to pay for goods directly. Once you add money to your Microsoft account you can use it to buy apps, games and other digital content from the Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox Games, Xbox Music and Xbox Video stores.

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Britons can now buy Dell computers with Bitcoin

Myth Busting Artificial Intelligence | WIRED

Weve all been seeing hype and excitement around artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning and deep learning. Theres also a lot of confusion about what they really mean and whats actually possible today. These terms are used arbitrarily and sometimes interchangeably, which further perpetuates confusion.

So, lets break down these terms and offer some perspective.

Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science that deals with algorithms inspired by various facets of natural intelligence. It includes performing tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, problem solving and language translation. Artificial intelligence can be seen in many every day products, from intelligent personal assistants in your smartphone to the X-box 360 Kinect camera, allowing you to interact with games through body movement. There are also well-known examples of AI that are more experimental, from the self-aware Super Mario to the widely discussed driverless car. Other less commonly discussed examples include the ability to sift through millions of images to pull together notable insights.

Big Data is an important part of AI and is defined as extremely large data sets that are so large they cannot be analyzed, searched or interpreted using traditional data processing methods. As a result, they have to be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations. This computational analysis, for instance, has helped businesses improve customer experience and their bottom line by better understand human behavior and interactions. There are many retailers that now rely heavily on Big Data to help adjust pricing in near-real time for millions of items, based on demand and inventory. However, processing of Big Data to make predictions or decisions like this often requires the use of Machine Learning techniques.

Machine Learningis a form of artificial intelligence which involves algorithms that can learn from data. Such algorithms operate by building a model based on inputsand using that information to make predictions or decisions, rather than following only explicitly programmed instructions. There are lots of basic decisions that can be performed leveraging machine learning, like Nest with its learning thermostats as one example. Machine Learning is widely used in spam detection, credit card fraud detection, and product recommendation systems, such as with Netflix or Amazon.

Deep Learningis a class of machine learning techniques that operate by constructing numerous layers of abstraction to help map inputs to classifications more accurately. The abstractions made by Deep Learning methods are often observed as being human like, and the big breakthrough in this field in recent years has been the scale of abstraction that can now be achieved. This, in recent years, has resulted in breakthroughs in computer vision and speech recognition accuracy. Deep Learning is inspired by a simplified model of the way Neural Networks are thought to operate in the brain.

No doubt AI is in a hype cycle these days. Recent breakthroughs in Distributed AI and Deep Learning, paired with the ever-increasing need for deriving value from huge stashes of data being collected in every industry, have helped renew interest in AI. Unfortunately, along with the hype, there has also been much concern about the risks of AI. In my opinion, much of this concern is misplaced and unhelpful most of the concerns raised apply equally to technology in general, and just because this specific branch of technology is inspired by natural intelligence should not make it particularly more or less of a concern.

[Recently on Insights:The Upside of Artificial Intelligence Development|Google and Elon Musk to Decide What Is Good for Humanity]

As mortal humans, we do not understand the functionality of many of the technologies we use, and in this age of information, many decisions are already being made for us automatically by computers. If not understanding how these technologies around us work is concerning, then there is plenty to be concerned about before we start worrying about AI. The fact of the matter is that AI technologies already enable many of the products and services we know and love, so better to start understanding more about what these technologies are and how they work, than to believe in the Hollywood-style hype about futuristic scenarios.

When it comes to the potential of the recent AI breakthroughs, there is, in spite of the hype, much to be excited about. While there is a vast and growing amount of data available related to critical problems, it remains mostly unmined, unrefined and un-monetized. There is an inability to analyze and utilize available data to make intelligent, bias-free, decisions. Companies should be using refined data to make the right decisions and solve the worlds most vexing challenges. The speed and computing scale required to make advances in mission critical problem solving has not existed until now.


Myth Busting Artificial Intelligence | WIRED

The Black Market For Stolen Health Care Data

President Obama is at Stanford University today, hosting a cybersecurity summit. He and about a thousand guests are trying to figure out how to protect consumers online from hacks and data breaches.

Meanwhile, in the cyber underworld, criminals are trying to figure out how to turn every piece of our digital life into cash. The newest frontier: health records.

I grab a chair and sit down with Greg Virgin, CEO of the security firm RedJack.

“There are a lot of sites that have this information, and it’s tough to tell the health records from the financial records,” he says.

We’re visiting sites that you can’t find in a Google search. They have names that end with .su and .so, instead of the more familiar .com and .org.

After poking around for about an hour, we come across an advertisement by someone selling Medicare IDs.

We’re not revealing the site address or name because we don’t want the dealer to know we’re watching.

According to the online rating system similar to Yelp, but for criminal sales the dealer delivers what’s promised and gets 5 out of 5 stars. “He definitely seems legit” to the underworld, Virgin says.

The dealer is selling a value pack that includes 10 people’s Medicare numbers only it’s not cheap. It costs 22 bitcoin about $4,700 according to today’s exchange rate.

Security experts say health data is showing up in the black market more and more. While prices vary, this data is more expensive than stolen credit card numbers which, they say, typically go for a few quarters or dollars.

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The Black Market For Stolen Health Care Data

Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge presents 'Astronomy Adventure,' Feb. 21

Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge presents ‘Astronomy Adventure,’ (shown here) Feb. 21. (courtesy photo)The Messenger-Gazette The Naturalists at the Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center will present “An Astronomy Adventure” on Saturday, Feb. 21, 6-7 p.m. at 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge. Family & friends with children age 10 years and older accompanied by a parent will enjoy a presentation by Paul Cirillo, member of the NJ Astronomical Society, on the fascinating subject of Astronomy that will include breathtaking pictures of the Planets, our Galaxy, and beyond. Participants will learn about the latest exploration of Mars and the search for other planets. Information will be provided on the resources available that allow anyone to easily understand the night sky by identifying constellations and planets, seeing satellites, and more!

Fee is $6 per person and preregistration is required. Registration and payment may be made online at http://www.somersetcountyparks.org, in-person at the Environmental Education Center, via mail, or by telephone (if using a credit card) at 908-766-2489.

The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center is located within Lord Stirling Park, in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards Township, and is nestled within 450 acres of the western portion of the Great Swamp Basin of the Passaic River. A swamp vivarium, and an environmentally based library are located within the Center itself.

Blue BOBO (Buy One – Bring One) Fridays bins now are located at the Environmental Education Center and Lord Stirling Stable in Basking Ridge, as well as at the Somerset County Park Commission headquarters at North Branch Park in Bridgewater. The public is invited to drop off canned food or personal-care items for donation to Somerset County food banks.

Information on this event and other Somerset County Park Commission activities may be found on the Internet at http://www.somersetcountyparks.org

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Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge presents 'Astronomy Adventure,' Feb. 21

Instead of Fighting Bitcoin, the US Could Make Its Own Digital Currency

The US government has been seriously studying bitcoin for about two years now. The FBI knows how to seize the digital currency. The Marshals Service knows how to sell it. The IRS knows how to tax it. And now, the Federal Reserve should copy it.

So says James Angel, a professor of economics at Georgetown University. He thinks the government should create what he calls bitdollar, a bitcoin-like digital currency thats backed by the US dollar.

Yes, many believe the whole point of bitcoin is to separate money from the governments of the world. But bitcoin also seeks to create an open payment network anyone can use without jumping through the hoops that encumber, say, credit card or international money transfer networks, and Angel thinks the government can help accomplish such a thing. He is among those who believe the really powerful idea is bitcoin as a payment system, rather than bitcoin as a currency.

I think Janet Yellen ought to get out in front of this.

A bitdollar would help bring the idea of an open payment network to maturity, he says, and because it would be backed by the dollar, it could bring new life to foreign countries struggling for economic stability, such as Venezuela, by giving them a stable digital currency. I think Janet Yellen ought to get out in front of this, Angel says, referring to the head of the Federal Reserve, to basically put some competition into the payment space.

Angel isnt alone in exploring a merger between government and bitcoin. The worlds governments already are looking for ways to regulate bitcoin. And the Canadian government has explored its very own digital currency, MintChip, which is something akin to Angels proposal.

The Canadians eventually shelved their MintChip dreams, but the rise of digital currencies seems inevitable. In some shape or form, the governments of the world must learn to accommodate them. Indeed, just last month, the Bank of Canada said a Canadian digital currency might be back on the table.

Like bitcoin, Angels bitdollar would run across a vast network of computers, and it would use a public ledger akin to bitcoins blockchainmeaning all transactions would be recorded online for all the see. But it would differ from bitcoin in how it encourages people to set up the machines needed to run this massive system. Rather than just paying them in newly minted bitdollars, it would give them a small cut of every transaction that happens on the network. And it would be backed by the greenback, which would eliminate some of the seesaw volatility that has spooked some would-be bitcoin users.

These arent huge changes. But the very idea of a government-backed digital currency is sure to horrify the bitcoin faithful. One of bitcoins central premises is that its a deflationary currencyonly about 21 million bitcoins will ever be createdand Angels Fed-backed bitdollar wouldnt have the same kind of restriction. One of the most important characteristics of bitcoin is the limited supply, says Roger Ver, a well-known bitcoin entrepreneur and evangelist. If the supply is unlimited, it isnt nearly as interesting.

One of the most important characteristics of bitcoin is the limited supply.

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Instead of Fighting Bitcoin, the US Could Make Its Own Digital Currency

Why Some Retailers Are Accepting Bitcoin

Some of the virtual currency’s unique characteristics have proven attractive to some businesses.

Bitcoin’s broadest impact might happen outside payments, but some retailers are already finding value in accepting Bitcoin for goods and services. A panel of businesses that are taking Bitcoin payments discussed their experiences with the virtual currency at a Money2020 panel this month.

Surprisingly, security was one of the biggest benefits of Bitcoin for two of the businesses represented on the panel: Amagi Metals, a trading site for precious metals, and Newegg, an online computer and electronics retailer.

Typically, fraudsters want to use stolen credit card credentials to buy goods that can be a store of value (like gold, silver, or high-end electronics). Stephen Macaskill, Amagi’s CEO, said his company is a constant target for fraudsters. “We always have people trying to make orders with fraudulent credit cards. We have to have a whole department to make sure that all of our credit card transactions are legitimate, so it is expensive for us. We catch people on a weekly basis.”

Amagi was hit with chargebacks from fraudulent card transactions in 2012, and it started accepting Bitcoins that year. Thanks to the Bitcoin Blockchain, it doesn’t have to worry about any chargebacks with its Bitcoin transactions. The Blockchain, a public ledger of all Bitcoin transactions, makes it impossible to counterfeit Bitcoins. Each transaction recorded in the Blockchain is verified by a third party.

[For more on the Bitcoin Blockchain, check out: Banks, Bitcoin & the Blockchain]

“I don’t see a way to end credit card fraud and we have the highest rate of credit card fraud in precious metals,” Macaskill told the audience. “With Bitcoin, we don’t ever have to worry about chargebacks.”

Security might not be the first benefit that comes to mind when people think about Bitcoin, after incidents like Mt. Gox this year. But the Blockchain technology gives the virtual currency security as a payment mechanism, even if some of the Bitcoin exchanges have proven far less secure.

Ted Rogers, chief strategy officer of Xapo, told Bank Systems & Technology that Bitcoin advocates need to provide a great deal of education about the security benefits of the Blockchain for payments.

“There’s a security aspect that’s partly educational. Our challenge is explaining why this technology is so secure,” he said. “It is easier to steal the Mona Lisa than to steal a Bitocin in a cold wallet.”

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Why Some Retailers Are Accepting Bitcoin

The anti-NSA case thats pushed farthest through the system is back in court today

In December, the federal district court for the District of Columbia ruled that the collection of bulk metadata likely violates the constitution, but the government appealed

Larry Klayman is as litigious as Barack Obama is American. Indeed, he was the tea-partier who challenged the validity of the presidents birth certificate in court. Taking on presidents is nothing new for the lawyerhe filed 18 lawsuits against the Clinton Administration. His latest suit against the Federal Government, filed in October, contends the Ebola virus is a biological weapon that Obama allowed into the country to support terrorist organizations against Jews and Christians.

Klayman was also one of the first plaintiffs to sue Obama and the National Security Agency for the collection of telephone metadata, an aspect of the secret surveillance program revealed by the documents leaked by Edward Snowden. So far, his suit has gone the furthest for the case against the program, though there are various cases challenging the NSAs metadata collection currently in the court system.

As previously reported here, any decision affecting the governments latitude to collect and analyze citizen information has implications for journalists and their sources. As it stands, any journalist who communicates with a source either targeted by the NSA or within two hops of a person flagged could have their own metadata analyzed by the agency.

Last December, Richard Leon, federal district court judge for the District of Columbia, held in Klaymans case that the collection of bulk metadata likely violates the constitution. In fact, in the 68-page judgment he calls the NSAs program Orwellian and said James Madison, author of the constitution, would be aghast. That judgment ordered the government to stop collecting information about the personal phone calls of the two plaintiffs and destroy records already made, pending the full trial on the constitutionality of the program. However, with a nod to the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues, Leon put off the order while the government appealed.

That appeal is being heard Tuesday by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. According to court documents, Klayman will be arguing that the NSAs collection of metadata violates First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights and will be asking the court to uphold the trial judges decision. The governments court documents suggest their argument will center on the idea the program is minimally invasive on constitutional rights, and that it serves the paramount government interest of combating terrorism. They say the metadata they review is the tiny fraction that is within one or two steps of contact of records concerning individuals who are reasonably suspected of association with terrorist activity.

The collection of telephone records is something the Electronic Frontier Foundation has cared about for a very long time, says Andrew Crocker, legal fellow at the EFF, in a telephone interview. As early as 2008, the EFF sued the NSA, questioning its practice of collecting telephone records, says Crocker, who notes the case is still in the court system.

Post-Snowden, the EFF assembled more cases against the NSA. Theyre representing the plaintiffs in First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, et al. v. NSA et al, and they are also acting as a friend of the court in Klayman v. Obama, arguing along with the American Civil Liberties Union that the collection of telephone metadata is concerning for digital privacy rights.

The call records collected by the government are not just metadatathey are intimate portraits of the lives of millions of Americans, according to the jointly-filed brief by the EFF and ACLU. Specifically, it states the records can indicate political affiliations, health, habits, beliefs, and relationships. The argument uses the example of a call made at 3am to a suicide prevention hotlineeven without knowing the content of the call, the action is revealing, they say.

But in a world where information is collected daily, the maintenance of such a database by the government is not a very large intrusion on privacy, says constitutional scholar and Harvard Law professor Mark Tushnet in a phone interview. That kind of information and indeed much more is stored by large businesses, credit card companies, and everybody who does business on the internet. He says its companies that know more about our preferences and proclivities than the government. Id be more concerned about the maintenance of real data, by all these other entities, than metadata by the government, he says.

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The anti-NSA case thats pushed farthest through the system is back in court today

Posted in NSA

Cryptocurrency Round-Up: BitPay's NFC Payment App and '1% of Consumers' Use Bitcoin

Bitcoin sees its price rise for the first time in over a week amid a market-wide upturn(IBTimes UK)

Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies have seen some respite from the recently tumbling prices, as all 10 of the most valuable altcoins saw positive market movement.

Bitcoin, dogecoin, peercoin and namecoin all rose in value by around 3.5%, while the largest gains from any of the big players came from darkcoin.

The anonymity-focussed altcoin saw a 9% price rise to take its market capitalisation above $8 million once again.

The Bitcoin Checkout app was announced at Money2020 and is available immediately on Android and “soon” on iOS.

“For retailers, accepting mobile payments is a growing trend, but none of today’s industry offerings can provide a lower risk or lower cost than swiping a credit card,” said Tony Gallippi, co-founder and executive chairman of BitPay.

“Accepting bitcoin can offer tremendous savings to merchants, especially merchants with a large international customer base, and BitPay’s service combined with the new mobile app is a fantastic value for merchants.”

A new study has found that more than 1% of consumers use bitcoin as a payment method, half of which use it as their primary payment method.

The survey of 1,000 online consumers, commissioned by digital commerce solution provider Avangate, looked at the evolution of mobile technology and how it is spawning the next generation of software and online services.

The study did not take into account transactions through online black marketplaces like Silk Road 2.0, which generally see cryptocurrencies used as the main form of payment.

Continued here:

Cryptocurrency Round-Up: BitPay's NFC Payment App and '1% of Consumers' Use Bitcoin

Liberty Reserve Founder Extradited to New York, U.S. Says

Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky was extradited to New York from Spain to face federal charges that his company was a black-market bank which masked more than $6 billion of criminal proceeds.

Liberty Reserve, incorporated in Costa Rica, was one of the worlds most widely used digital currency services, according to the U.S. The company was created and structured to help criminals conduct illegal transactions, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. Prosecutors shut it down last year.

Budovsky, 40, who was arrested in Spain in May 2013 after being indicted by the U.S., was brought to New York this afternoon, Bharara said. Hes scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 14.

He and six others have been charged in the case. To date, four co-defendants have pleaded guilty and await sentencing. Charges are pending against Liberty Reserve itself and two other men who the U.S. said acted as its operators. Both are Costa Rican citizens, havent been arrested and arent subject to extradition, prosecutors said.

Liberty Reserve had an estimated 1 million users around the world and conducted about 55 million transactions — almost all of them illegal — including 200,000 in the U.S., Bharara said. Investigators have found that criminal rings used Liberty Reserve to distribute illicit proceeds from Vietnam, Nigeria, Hong Kong, China and the U.S.

The company helped users launder illegal proceeds from crimes or transfer funds among associates, prosecutors said. Liberty Reserves digital currency was used by people committing identity theft, credit card fraud, computer hacking, child pornography and narcotics trafficking, prosecutors said.

The case is U.S. v. Kats, 13-cr-00368, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in Federal Court in Manhattan at


To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Andrew Dunn, Charles Carter


Liberty Reserve Founder Extradited to New York, U.S. Says