Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.

 

According to Forbes, which spoke with sources close to local and federal investigations, it’s becoming standard operating procedure for cops to use dead people’s fingerprints to unlock their Apple iPhones.

FBI forensic specialist Bob Moledor detailed for Forbes the first known instance of law enforcement making such an attempt, during an investigation into the motives of an attacker killed by Ohio police back in 2016.

Seven hours after Abdul Razak Ali Artan was shot to death by officers, Moledor says, an FBI agent applied Artan’s index finger to his iPhone screen. The attempt to bypass security failed, and the device had to be sent to a forensics lab.

But other attempts have been successful, sources told Forbes. In fact, the outlet reports that these sources say it’s “now relatively common for fingerprints of the deceased to be depressed on the scanner of Apple iPhones.”

One source gave the example of police using the tactic to unlock an overdose victim’s phone in the hopes it contained information about the dead person’s dealer.

And it’s all perfectly legal. Marina Medvin, who owns a law firm, told Forbes that once a person dies they no longer have a privacy interest in their corpse. Friends and family of the deceased are also out of luck, Medvin says:

“Once you share information with someone, you lose control over how that information is protected and used. You cannot assert your privacy rights when your friend’s phone is searched and the police see the messages that you sent to your friend. Same goes for sharing information with the deceased — after you released information to the deceased, you have lost control of privacy.”

It seems this fact is very much known to law enforcement. “We do not need a search warrant to get into a victim’s phone, unless it’s shared owned,” homicide detective Robert Cutshall, who worked on the Artan case, told Forbes.

But that doesn’t mean everyone is fine with the practice. Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the outlet that in many of these cases there exists “valid concern” over cops using the tactic without probable cause.

“That’s why the idea of requiring a warrant isn’t out of bounds,” Nojeim said.

Indeed, the legality of such methods is an issue that might soon need to be more directly examined, as it’s being shown that newer Apple iPhones’ facial recognition software can be fooled without the use of a living person.

The FBI’s Moledor told Forbes he doesn’t think law enforcement has tried this on a corpse yet, but that if and when it does, then legally “it’s probably going to be same as using the fingerprint.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Cops Are Now Using Dead People's Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media.
 
According to Forbes, which spoke with sources close to local and federal investigations, it’s becoming standard operating procedure for cops to use dead people’s fingerprints to unlock their Apple iPhones.
FBI forensic specialist Bob Moledor detailed for Forbes the first known instance of law enforcement making such an attempt, during an investigation into the motives of an attacker killed by Ohio police back in 2016.
Seven hours after Abdul Razak Ali Artan was shot to death by officers, Moledor says, an FBI agent applied Artan’s index finger to his iPhone screen. The attempt to bypass security failed, and the device had to be sent to a forensics lab.
But other attempts have been successful, sources told Forbes. In fact, the outlet reports that these sources say it’s “now relatively common for fingerprints of the deceased to be depressed on the scanner of Apple iPhones.”
One source gave the example of police using the tactic to unlock an overdose victim’s phone in the hopes it contained information about the dead person’s dealer.
And it’s all perfectly legal. Marina Medvin, who owns a law firm, told Forbes that once a person dies they no longer have a privacy interest in their corpse. Friends and family of the deceased are also out of luck, Medvin says:
“Once you share information with someone, you lose control over how that information is protected and used. You cannot assert your privacy rights when your friend’s phone is searched and the police see the messages that you sent to your friend. Same goes for sharing information with the deceased — after you released information to the deceased, you have lost control of privacy.”
It seems this fact is very much known to law enforcement. “We do not need a search warrant to get into a victim’s phone, unless it’s shared owned,” homicide detective Robert Cutshall, who worked on the Artan case, told Forbes.
But that doesn’t mean everyone is fine with the practice. Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the outlet that in many of these cases there exists “valid concern” over cops using the tactic without probable cause.
“That’s why the idea of requiring a warrant isn’t out of bounds,” Nojeim said.
Indeed, the legality of such methods is an issue that might soon need to be more directly examined, as it’s being shown that newer Apple iPhones’ facial recognition software can be fooled without the use of a living person.
The FBI’s Moledor told Forbes he doesn’t think law enforcement has tried this on a corpse yet, but that if and when it does, then legally “it’s probably going to be same as using the fingerprint.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Father of Orlando Mass Shooter Was an FBI Informant

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

Florida — The father of slain Pulse nightclub gunman Omar Mateen, the man who killed 49 people and injured 53 others during a 2016 rampage in Orlando, was a confidential FBI informant for over a decade, it was revealed over the weekend.

Additionally, Seddique Mateen made money transfers to Turkey and Afghanistan and was seeking to raise up to $100,000 to contribute to an attack against the Pakistani government. Mateen is currently the focus of an FBI investigation into those matters.

The revelations came by way of a email sent by prosecutors to the defense attorneys of Noor Salman, Omar Mateen’s widow. Salman is accused of aiding her husband in the attack and could face life in prison if found guilty.

In a motion to dismiss the charges filed Sunday, the widow’s lawyers argued that the state’s belated disclosure of these facts — the email was sent Saturday, after prosecutors had already rested their case — prevented them from providing Salman a proper defense.

That motion, which argued the new information shows the elder Mateen might have been coordinating with his son on the attack, was denied Monday on the grounds that Salman’s lawyers were not harmed by the state’s failure to disclose the details earlier.

Further, the judge said that even if it were true that the killer had help from his father, this fact wouldn’t negate the possibility that Noor Salman was an accomplice, as well. Salman’s attorneys began their defense following the ruling.

In the failed motion, the widow’s lawyers argued:

“The evidence withheld by the Government establishes that Seddique Mateen was working for the Government as an informant for an eleven-year period from 2005 to June 2016. Thus, he was working with the Government until the time of the Pulse attack.”

The defense team also noted that the new information shows Seddique “may have been involved in the promotion of violent activities during the time he was working with the FBI.”

Continuing:

“Against this backdrop, the Government’s conduct has had a significant impact on Ms. Salman’s defense. If the Government had provided this information, the Defense would have investigated whether a tie existed between Seddique Mateen and his son, specifically whether Mateen’s father was involved in or had foreknowledge of the Pulse attack.”

The motion also pointed out that “Omar Mateen was searching plane tickets to Turkey prior to his attack on his Pulse.” This didn’t seem like much to the defense team before, but now:

“The fact the Seddique was sending money to Turkey and Afghanistan indicates the possibility that Omar Mateen was planning to travel to either of those countries to join forces with a terroristic organization.”

Additionally, the team alleged that the FBI’s decision not to give Salman a polygraph test “was based on the FBI’s desire to implicate Noor Salman, rather than Seddique Mateen in order to avoid scrutiny of its own ineptitude with the latter.”

In other words, the attorneys claim the FBI focused their investigation on Mateen’s widow in a bid to hide the fact that one of their own informants may have had a hand in the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Video of Vegas Shooter Finally Released: Here’s How He Brought the Guns In

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

Las Vegas, NV — Newly released surveillance footage from Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino shows that Stephen Paddock, the man who committed the worst mass shooting in modern American history, acted completely normal in the days leading up to the event.

The footage, obtained by the New York Times and published Thursday, depicts the same unassuming loner hotel staff had come to know. Paddock, who lived just an hour away in Mesquite, Nevada, was a regular at Mandalay Bay.

Over the course of several days prior to the shooting on October 1, Paddock is seen playing video poker in the casino, buying snacks at a newstand, eating sushi at a restaurant, chatting with staff, and quietly riding in elevators, among other mundanities.

But the footage also shows a man carrying out steps in a methodical plan to commit a massacre — a plan that used Mandalay Bay employees as unwitting accomplices.

Multiple times, Paddock leaves the resort and travels to his home in Mesquite, only to return with more and more bags. With no way of knowing they were transporting the guns and ammunition that would soon cause 58 deaths and more than 800 injuries, the bellhops carry the bags up to the killer’s 32nd floor suite.

After checking into Mandalay Bay on September 25, Paddock was able to nonchalantly move at least 21 suitcases, including two smaller bags, a laptop bag, and a white container up to his killing perch. Contained in that cargo were 23 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Following his assault on the concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, Steven Paddock took his own life. While the new footage grants better insight into the man’s actions, it still doesn’t speak to the most important question: his motive, which remains unknown.

In a statement, MGM Resorts, the parent company of Mandalay Bay, said the surveillance footage was released “in the interest of providing greater context around Stephen Paddock’s actions in the days leading up to October 1.”

MGM also wants it known that there was no way to predict such a tragedy was coming:

“As the security footage demonstrates, Stephen Paddock gave no indication of what he planned to do and his interactions with staff and overall behavior were all normal. MGM and Mandalay Bay could not reasonably foresee that a long-time guest with no known history of threats or violence and behaving in a manner that appeared outwardly normal, would carry out such an inexplicably evil, violent and deadly act.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Video of Vegas Shooter Finally Released: Here's How He Brought the Guns In

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 
 
Las Vegas, NV — Newly released surveillance footage from Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino shows that Stephen Paddock, the man who committed the worst mass shooting in modern American history, acted completely normal in the days leading up to the event.
The footage, obtained by the New York Times and published Thursday, depicts the same unassuming loner hotel staff had come to know. Paddock, who lived just an hour away in Mesquite, Nevada, was a regular at Mandalay Bay.
Over the course of several days prior to the shooting on October 1, Paddock is seen playing video poker in the casino, buying snacks at a newstand, eating sushi at a restaurant, chatting with staff, and quietly riding in elevators, among other mundanities.
But the footage also shows a man carrying out steps in a methodical plan to commit a massacre — a plan that used Mandalay Bay employees as unwitting accomplices.

Multiple times, Paddock leaves the resort and travels to his home in Mesquite, only to return with more and more bags. With no way of knowing they were transporting the guns and ammunition that would soon cause 58 deaths and more than 800 injuries, the bellhops carry the bags up to the killer’s 32nd floor suite.
After checking into Mandalay Bay on September 25, Paddock was able to nonchalantly move at least 21 suitcases, including two smaller bags, a laptop bag, and a white container up to his killing perch. Contained in that cargo were 23 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Following his assault on the concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, Steven Paddock took his own life. While the new footage grants better insight into the man’s actions, it still doesn’t speak to the most important question: his motive, which remains unknown.
In a statement, MGM Resorts, the parent company of Mandalay Bay, said the surveillance footage was released “in the interest of providing greater context around Stephen Paddock’s actions in the days leading up to October 1.”
MGM also wants it known that there was no way to predict such a tragedy was coming:
“As the security footage demonstrates, Stephen Paddock gave no indication of what he planned to do and his interactions with staff and overall behavior were all normal. MGM and Mandalay Bay could not reasonably foresee that a long-time guest with no known history of threats or violence and behaving in a manner that appeared outwardly normal, would carry out such an inexplicably evil, violent and deadly act.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Army National Guard General Investigated After Ties to Defense Contractor Exposed

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

A former general of the Army National Guard who rose to the role of advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, is under criminal investigation over his close ties to a defense contractor.

Brigadier General Michael Bobeck, whose military service spanned nearly four decades, retired in December of 2016. But that was only after he was fired from his high-ranking position on the Joint Staff months earlier for having an extramarital affair, a violation of military law.

Ousted from his advisory role at the Pentagon in September, Bobeck was reassigned to an administrative position at the National Guard Bureau. He remained there for a handful of months before exiting the military in December. Bobeck’s LinkedIn profile states that the former general has worked as a “business development consultant” for Koniag Information Security Services since January of 2017.

But the affair that grounded Bobeck’s military career is only part of the story. According to USA TODAY, which spoke with officials familiar with the matter, Pentagon investigators have been looking into Bobeck’s connection to a consulting firm that works for Sikorsky, a division of defense contracting giant Lockheed Martin, for nearly a year.

Specifically, investigators are interested in Bobeck’s relationship with an executive at Peduzzi Associates, a consulting firm with offices near the Pentagon. Peduzzi is named in congressional records as a lobbyist for Sikorsky, maker of the Army’s Black Hawk helicopter.

That executive, Joe Ferreira, himself a former military man, has reportedly maintained a friendship with Bobeck that goes back 35 years. And after his friend’s divorce was finalized in September of 2015, Ferreira allowed Bobeck to live in his home, rent-free, for eight months. At the time of accepting Ferreira’s offer, Bobeck had already secured his position at the Pentagon.

The notion of an advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff living in the home of a lobbying group executive is enough to raise eyebrows in itself. But once again, there’s far more to the story.

Documents and emails obtained by USA TODAY show there was communication between Bobeck and Ferreira regarding the future of Sikorsky’s Black Hawks. From a November 2016 report:

“In July 2015, when Bobeck was serving on the Joint staff, Ferreira sent him an email thread that included entries from several executives from Sikorsky. At the time, allocation of Sikorsky Black Hawks between the Guard and active-duty Army was a contentious issue.

“Ferreira sent Bobeck the email thread from his business account to Bobeck’s personal email address, calling Bobeck’s attention to the emails from Sikorsky executives.”

This essentially means a member of the Joint Staff was being fed inside information — from his friend and Sikorsky executive — at a time when Sikorsky was pushing the Pentagon to purchase more of its product. At a minimum, this raises concerns over a conflict of interest.

What’s more, the emails show that as far back as 2013, Ferreira was working on finding Bobeck a position at Sikorsky following the former general’s retirement. Scott Amey, general counsel for the non-profit Project on Government Oversight, told USA TODAY that this facet of the story alone should have prompted Bobeck to take a step back.

“This raises a number of red flags,” Amey said. “The job offer opens another can of worms. He should have recused himself from any matter the company had an interest in.”

Senator Claire McCaskill of the Armed Services Committee told the outlet in a statement that the situation highlights a longstanding problem:

“We’ve seen far too often the effects of the revolving door between the military and contractors to assume this is just a coincidence, and I’ve got some serious questions for the Pentagon to get to the bottom of these allegations and help ensure our military’s senior leaders continue to be held to the highest standards of integrity.”

The Pentagon did, in fact, open an investigation into the matter of Bobeck living rent-free at Ferreira’s home. However, the Defense Department’s inspector general found that because of the pair’s prior and established friendship, there was no wrongdoing on display.

But the inspector general apparently didn’t speak for everyone. According to USA TODAY’s sources, a separate Pentagon investigation sprang up shortly after the initial ruling. That probe into Bobeck’s potentially criminal dealings is ongoing.

The Project on Government Oversight’s Amey says it should have been this way from the start:

“This case raises a lot of concerns and always deserved more attention. The reports that Brig. Gen. Bobeck received emails from contractors involving Black Hawk helicopters should trigger an ethics review to determine if he was influenced in his government responsibilities and violated the public trust.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Facebook Just Lost $50 Billion in Market Value Over the Last Two Days

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has Facebook feeling it where it counts most for a publicly traded company — investor confidence.

On Friday, the social media giant’s closing stock price was $185.09, making it worth about $538 billion. The next day, the news broke that data consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked with Donald Trump on the 2016 election, had allegedly obtained unauthorized access to some 50 million Facebook accounts.

The effects were felt immediately, and not just in the area of privacy concerns. Facebook shares tumbled nearly seven percent on Monday. That’s a loss of about $35 billion in market value, making it the worst day of trading the company has seen in four years.

The slide continued on Tuesday, spurred on by news that the Federal Trade Commission will launch an investigation into the handling of user data and calls from lawmakers for Facebook executives to testify before Congress on the subject.

The further 2.6 percent drop, which put the stock price at around $168, means that Facebook lost roughly $50 billion in market value over the course of two days. That’s after slightly recovering from an even further dip of around six percent.

But it’s not just the company as a whole that’s hurting. The Cambridge Analytica debacle is affecting the man at the top, as well. From CNBC on Tuesday:

“Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth status has changed — he’s lost more than $9 billion in stock wealth over the past 48 hours.

Zuckerberg, who owns about 400 million shares of Facebook, has seen his wealth drop to around $66 billion from $75 billion since the stock closed on Friday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index and Forbes. This weekend, he was the fourth richest man in the world. Now, he will be sixth or seventh.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Government Tells Living Man That Legally, He's Dead — And Must Remain That Way

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 
 
Romania — Despite a 63-year-old man presenting himself as alive and well before judges this week, a Romanian court has ruled that due to a technicality, he must remain legally deceased.
In 1992, Constantin Reliu moved from Romania to Turkey, where he found work as a chef. According to local media reports, the last time he returned to his native country was in 1999. This was also the last time he was in contact with his family.
In 1999, a devastating earthquake struck Turkey, killing nearly 17,000 people. Hearing nothing from her estranged husband for years, Reliu’s wife assumed he had died in the quake. Wanting to remarry, she obtained a death certificate for Reliu in 2016.
In January of this year, Reliu was detained by Turkish authorities and deported back to Romania for having expired documents. That’s when he first learned he was legally a walking dead man.
Seeking to regain his identity and return to his life in Turkey, Reliu petitioned the city of Vaslui’s court to throw out the death certificate. However, judges rejected his petition on Friday, saying too much time had passed since the certificate had been issued.
Apparently, that ruling is final and can’t be appealed. Now, Constantin Reliu is stuck in a legal limbo where he has lost the ability to earn a living and, essentially, do anything else.
“I am officially dead, although I’m alive,” Reliu told local media following the verdict. “I have no income and because I am listed dead, I can’t do anything.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Government Tells Living Man That Legally, He’s Dead — And Must Remain That Way

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

Romania — Despite a 63-year-old man presenting himself as alive and well before judges this week, a Romanian court has ruled that due to a technicality, he must remain legally deceased.

In 1992, Constantin Reliu moved from Romania to Turkey, where he found work as a chef. According to local media reports, the last time he returned to his native country was in 1999. This was also the last time he was in contact with his family.

In 1999, a devastating earthquake struck Turkey, killing nearly 17,000 people. Hearing nothing from her estranged husband for years, Reliu’s wife assumed he had died in the quake. Wanting to remarry, she obtained a death certificate for Reliu in 2016.

In January of this year, Reliu was detained by Turkish authorities and deported back to Romania for having expired documents. That’s when he first learned he was legally a walking dead man.

Seeking to regain his identity and return to his life in Turkey, Reliu petitioned the city of Vaslui’s court to throw out the death certificate. However, judges rejected his petition on Friday, saying too much time had passed since the certificate had been issued.

Apparently, that ruling is final and can’t be appealed. Now, Constantin Reliu is stuck in a legal limbo where he has lost the ability to earn a living and, essentially, do anything else.

“I am officially dead, although I’m alive,” Reliu told local media following the verdict. “I have no income and because I am listed dead, I can’t do anything.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

IBM Announcement Proves the Blockchain Has Officially Gone Mainstream

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

In January, tech giant IBM was able to happily report to investors that after 22 consecutive quarters — nearly six years — of declining revenue growth, the company saw gains in the last quarter of 2017.

In a news release, executives clearly identified the reason for the turnaround at IBM, a century-year-old institution that began as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company.

“During 2017, we strengthened our position as the leading enterprise cloud provider and established IBM as the blockchain leader for business,” IBM chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty was quoted as saying.

CFO James Kavanaugh also mentioned the blockchain while speaking of IBM’s future plans:

“2018 will be all about reinforcing IBM’s leadership position in key high-value segments of the IT industry, including cloud, AI, security and blockchain.”

Indeed, IBM has emerged as the world leader in blockchain technology. It very much appears that at some point in the recent past, company leaders saw the writing on the wall, shifted their focus toward innovation, and were then rewarded with a positive gain for their efforts.

Until now, the full extent of IBM’s foray into the growing blockchain industry has been unknown, but that picture got much clearer on Thursday when IBM made public a briefing it sent out to investors.

According to that document, IBM is currently involved in over 400 blockchain-related projects with at least 63 of its clients, and many of those clients are behemoths of the corporate world: Walmart, Visa, Dow, Nestle, DuPont, and megabank HSBC, to name a few.

While revealing, for those following the technology’s advance, the data shouldn’t be all that surprising. Even in these early days of blockchain exploration, the system framework has already proven beneficial to companies for things such as securing payments and tracking shipments and inventory.

And evidence suggests the future is wide open. In fact, some projections estimate the market for blockchain-related products and services will reach $7.7 billion by 2022, up from $242 million in 2016. That’s a compound annual growth rate of almost 80 percent.

And it all comes down to demand, as IBM’s Kavanaugh told financial news outlet The Street on Thursday — the day the briefing to investors was made public:

“Clients are very interested in blockchain. It’s not because of the Bitcoin hype. It’s because they see what blockchain can do to improve trust, transparency and speed in their most complex supply chains and markets.”

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

Top General Issues Warning Over US-China Collision Course in Africa

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 

 

Djibouti — China is the rising world power. This much is clear, but nowhere is that reality felt more than behind closed doors in Washington, D.C. The global hegemony of the United States is being challenged, and the contest is perfectly encapsulated in what’s happening now in the small African nation of Djibouti.

Strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal, Djibouti is home to both U.S. and Chinese military bases, and the two are only miles apart. The U.S. base houses around 4,000 military personnel and is used as a launching pad for operations in Yemen and Somalia.

On Tuesday, Reuters highlighted how the situation at a key port in Djibouti has U.S. officials worrying over China’s growing reach:

“Last month, Djibouti ended its contract with Dubai’s DP World, one of the world’s biggest port operators, to run the Doraleh Container Terminal, citing failure to resolve a dispute that began in 2012.

“DP World called the move an illegal seizure of the terminal and said it had begun new arbitration proceedings before the London Court of International Arbitration.”

It also described the reaction in Washington at a session of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee:

“During a U.S. congressional hearing on Tuesday, which was dominated by concerns about China’s role in Africa, lawmakers said they had seen reports that Djibouti seized control of the port to give it to China as a gift.”

Speaking before lawmakers, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the top U.S. commander in Africa, warned that the military’s ability to resupply and refuel ships would be greatly affected if China restricted access to the port:

“If the Chinese took over that port, then the consequences could be significant.”

He also suggested there would be “more” such power projections from China in the coming days:

“There are some indications of (China) looking for additional facilities, specifically on the eastern coast…So Djibouti happens to be the first — there will be more.”

For China’s part, the country’s Foreign Ministry has rejected the notion that China would exclude a third party from having access to the port and asked the U.S. to keep an open mind.

“We hope that the U.S. side can objectively and fairly view China’s development and China-Africa cooperation,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing.

At the congressional hearing on Tuesday, General Waldhauser pointed out that the U.S. was entering new territory in terms of physically competing with China over resources on the ground:

“China has been on the African continent for quite some time, but we as a combatant command have not dealt with it in terms of a strategic interest.”

And it’s territory the military is entering slowly. “We are taking baby steps in that regard,” Waldhauser said.

All this cautiousness speaks directly to what’s happening here. One power, the United States, is sensing a legitimate threat from another, China. And in the case of Djibouti, the proximity is forcing tensions out into the open.

While giving a talk on U.S.-Africa relations at George Mason University on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Djibouti “a very critical trading route for the world’s economy and a critical partner in securing that trading route.”

He also compared the United States’ and China’s approaches toward African nations:

“The United States pursues, develops sustainable growth that bolsters institutions, strengthens rule of law, and builds the capacity of African countries to stand on their own two feet. We partner with African countries by incentivizing good governance to meet long term security and development goals.”

Tillerson said this model “stands in stark contrast to China’s approach, which encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth.”

This depiction settles nicely into the grander narrative of China as one of the world’s “revisionist powers” that “seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models.” That’s the picture painted by Secretary of Defense James Mattis back in January.

He was unveiling a broad new strategy at the Defense Department, one that shifted focus away from terrorism.

“We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today,” Mattis said, “but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of US national security.” The defense secretary’s comments echo those of President Donald Trump in a speech on national security in December.

In that speech, Trump noted that “whether we like it or not, we are engaged in a new era of competition.” Indeed, and the fact of it is very much on display at the south end of the Red Sea.

Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingerprints to Unlock iPhones

SEC Warns of 'Potentially Unlawful' Platforms That Trade in Cryptocurrency

This article originally appeared at Anti-Media. 
 
A federal crackdown may be looming over the cryptocurrency world.
On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a warning on “potentially unlawful” online platforms used to trade digital assets.
“The SEC staff has concerns that many online trading platforms appear to investors as SEC-registered and regulated marketplaces when they are not,” reads the statement. “Many platforms refer to themselves as ‘exchanges,’ which can give the misimpression to investors that they are regulated or meet the regulatory standards of a national securities exchange.”
Continuing, the SEC questions the standards used by platform operators when choosing which assets to trade:
“Although some of these platforms claim to use strict standards to pick only high-quality digital assets to trade, the SEC does not review these standards or the digital assets that the platforms select, and the so-called standards should not be equated to the listing standards of national securities exchanges.”
The regulatory body also suggests the operating framework of some online platforms lacks the “integrity” of exchanges governed by federal rules:
“Many of these platforms give the impression that they perform exchange-like functions by offering order books with updated bid and ask pricing and data about executions on the system, but there is no reason to believe that such information has the same integrity as that provided by national securities exchanges.”
The statement triggered a sharp selloff in cryptocurrency markets, with the top dog, bitcoin, dropping to below $10,000. That puts it roughly 50 percent down from its peak of nearly $20,000 back in December.
This reaction by investors isn’t difficult to understand.
As the cryptocurrency movement has significantly gained steam over the last couple of years, governments and traditional financial regulatory agencies have struggled to come to terms with how to address the “Wild West” nature of digital assets.
A main point of contention among regulators is that most of the initial coin offerings (ICOs) used by startups strongly resemble stock offerings. As such, their reasoning goes, cryptocurrencies should be treated as securities and both the coins and the ICOs should fall under federal regulation.
But the idea of regulation runs contrary to the driving force that made cryptocurrencies so popular in the first place. Naturally, with the SEC issuing such warnings on digital exchanges, investors might be scared away. As Ars Technica explained on Wednesday:
“The cryptocurrency boom has largely been driven by the craze for ICOs — many of which might not pass muster with the SEC. If the SEC starts insisting that exchanges drop tokens that amount to unregistered securities, it could quickly deflate the value of many of those tokens — and also destroy enthusiasm for future ICOs that could run afoul of the same rules.”
Taken in the larger context, the SEC statement reeks of fear. This is perhaps best encapsulated by its closing paragraph:
“We encourage market participants who are employing new technologies to develop trading platforms to consult with legal counsel to aid in their analysis of federal securities law issues and to contact SEC staff, as needed, for assistance in analyzing the application of the federal securities laws.”
The federal government wants — rather, it needs — to have a say in how the trading of digital assets operates. Without an official hand in the game, it risks obsolescence.
Don’t forget, as Anti-Media reported Tuesday, the Marshall Islands just became the first country in the world to adopt a cryptocurrency as legal tender. Venezuela has also  ventured into the fray, with the rollout of its recently created digital currency, the oil-backed “petro,” proceeding as planned.
As with technology in general, the cryptocurrency movement is an ever-evolving organism. No one truly knows what the landscape will look like in the future. At present, however, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: Regulators, whichever way they fall on the issue, are feeling the pressure to act — and act now.

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