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Matt’s Favorites: Silk Road Seized, Twitter Talks Shutdown, And Much More

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Silk Road

So what’s the wildest and most fantastic news from the worlds of science and technology? Glad you asked… here we go!

* One of the things that happened earlier this week when I was sick is that when I posted yesterday’s Lawrence Tech Leaders & Innovators honoree, I neglected to post the link to his full profile. Check it out at http://www.ltu.edu/leaders/.

* Also, here are links to your Tech Report home page, the Tech Report Page Two (trust me, it contains much fascinatin’ news), as well as our latest reports on event notices, HR notices, and awards and certifications.

* The Federal Bureau of Investigations has seized the online black market website Silk Road and arrested its alleged owner Ross Ulbericht, 29, who also goes by the name “Dread Pirate Roberts.” Silk Road is a website that can only be accessed through the anonymous Tor Web browser. Users can purchase drugs, guns, forged documents and other illegal paraphernalia using the online currency Bitcoin.

* From widespread outrage at the shutdown of the National Zoo’s beloved panda cam to trending shutdown pickup lines, Twitter can’t stop talking about the government shutdown. Despite the real ramifications and high cost of the current government shutdown, here’s a look at those taking to Twitter to find the humor in it.

* The “Say no to Internet censorship” petition has tallied nearly 100,000 signatures in the past week — showing that opposition to possible government proposals on stricter Internet laws is growing. It opposes growing Internet restrictions proposed as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade deal with a lot of scary parts.

* Over the past two weeks, an estimated 10,000 walruses unable to find sea ice over shallow Arctic Ocean waters have come ashore on Alaska’s northwest coast. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday photographed walruses packed onto a beach on a barrier island near Point Lay, an Inupiat Eskimo village 300 miles southwest of Barrow and 700 miles northwest of Anchorage. The gathering of walruses on shore is a phenomenon that has accompanied the loss of summer sea ice as the climate has warmed.

* Target announced Wednesday that it will launch its own brand of prepaid mobile services this weekend, following the lead of rival retailer Walmart.

* Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday that any reports that the U.S. government had access to the social networking site’s information were false.

* Apple fans anticipating the release of the next iPad mini with Retina Display may have to wait a little longer. According to Reuters, Apple may not be able to produce enough Retina Display screens for the smaller tablet to meet demands for the holiday season.

* Scientists have created the first-ever cloud map of a planet beyond our solar system. Although the roughly Jupiter-size Kepler-7b lies far closer to its star than scorching-hot Mercury does to the sun, astronomers using NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes have determined that clouds exist high up in the western portion of the exoplanet’s atmosphere.

* California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a bill outlawing so-called revenge porn and levying possible jail time for people who post naked photos of their exes after bitter breakups.

* Iran’s chief of the Cyber War Headquarters, Mojtaba Ahmadi, is the latest person said to be killed in a string of murders targeting the country’s nuclear scientists and security bosses. Ahmadi was said to be found dead with two bullet wounds near his heart in the outskirts of a town near the capital Tehran, according to the Telegraph.

* When the encrypted e-mail service reportedly used by NSA leaker Edward Snowden suddenly closed its doors in August, its founder mysteriously said he’d “been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit.” Ladar Levison couldn’t provide further info, he said, because “Congress has passed laws that say otherwise.” On Wednesday, however, the mystery was solved. Drawing from newly unsealed court records, Wired’s Kevin Poulsen reports that the FBI had, in its desire to trace a single Lavabit user, and in the face of resistance from the company on that score, obtained a search warrant demanding that Levison turn over the keys to the encryption that protected data for all the service’s users.

* Staff at the former company of Marina Shifrin, the woman who danced her resignation, respond on YouTube (by dancing and taking their pants off). Were they all told to dance or else?

Flutter, a company that makes a hand-gesture interface for simple media, announced Wednesday it’s been acquired by Google. The 3-year-old startup uses a device’s built-in Webcam to detect users’ hand gestures, allowing them to control the playback of music and videos on a variety of applications with the swipe of a hand. The app, which the company describes as the “Kinect for iOS X,” is also available for the Windows operating system.

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