#InstaGun: Swedish Police Powerless to Stop Social Network Black Market

Today, everything can be purchased online, from designer clothes to air guns, knuckledusters, drugs and alcohol. It’s the open sale of these more dangerous categories that worries Swedish police, who admit to being almost completely powerless to clamp down on the accounts that specifically target young people and work around the clock.

While being a popular service for uploading self-made scenic views, Instagram is also a popular tool for peddling stolen goods, drugs, alcohol and assorted weapons. The prohibited articles are being advertised completely in the open, and Swedish police are powerless to stop the black market, Swedish national broadcaster SVT reported. The accounts often follow and promote each other, which further facilitates the purchase of illegal goods.

According to John Lindström, a police officer in Stockholm’s troubled area of Rinkeby, which is known for its propensity for violent crime, there are hundreds of accounts being circulated among Stockholm youth. Lindström noted that this shady business has grown significantly in recent years.

“You can definitely see an increase. Previously, it was more on Facebook, now, it’s on Instagram,” John Lindström told SVT. He also stressed that the awareness among the young people has also risen. “I would say that in every community or gang there is someone who knows about this,” he added.

According to Lindström, one of the foremost reasons why the sale is next to impossible to stop is the dramatic lack of resources. In some cases, however, it was possible to seize and prosecute the vendors, which turned out to be young boys, often under 18 years old.

“If we somehow were to gain access to all of these, we would need huge resources, which we do not have today,” says John Lindström.

In a field experiment, conducted by SVT, high school students tested how fast they could buy liquor on Instagram. It did not take long before the deal was successfully carried out in Solna, another Stockholm suburb.

“I don’t think there’s anyone who wants to buy alcohol and can’t get it,” high school student Erik told SVT.

Sweden’s Instagram liquor vendors seem to deal almost exclusively in vodka. Some accounts offer delivery around the city, whereas others arrange meetings on specific subway lines. When SVT’s “guinea pigs” bought their vodka, they were also informed that ecstasy, cannabis and other drugs were available on “advance order.”

“Instagram prohibits the marketing and sale of illegal content, including illegal drugs. Our team reviews notifications and deletes content that violates our policy, and in some cases, accounts are closed,” Instagram wrote in a commentary to SVT.

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(Source: sputniknews)

Jordan Approves Resolution to Stop Rapists Escaping Jail if They Marry Victim

A draft resolution has been approved by the Jordanian government which will stop rapists from avoiding prison if they marry the victim.
Campaigners have fought for decades to get the resolution approved and on April 23, the cabinet repealed Article 308 of the Penal Code, in response to recommendations by a royal judiciary committee, according to state news agency, Petra.

The move will now have to be ratified by parliament.
#Daemformedia proud of the team who achieved government decision of cancelling #article308 pic.twitter.com/IgnGjcgm52
— Daem Media Center (@Daemmedia) April 24, 2017
​​Princess Basma, who is the sister to King Hussein of Jordan, has always urged debate around the issue, according to local media.

“It is the role of the media to build a unified stand against it and to raise the level of debate to make it a public opinion issue,” Princess Basma is reported to have said.

According to a report in the Independent newspaper, between 2010 and 2013, 159 rapists avoided punishment by marrying their victims in Jordan.

Recently, an installation was held on Beirut’s Corniche, to protest against a similar law in Lebanon.

The Jordanian law says that rape is punishable by up to seven years in prison or capital punishment if the victim is aged 15 or under. However their is a loophole in the statute, which some consider outdated, which would suspend any criminal prosecution if the two people involved get married for a minimum of three years.

In extreme cases, women in Jordan who report rape can be murdered in honor killings.

Suad Abu-Dayyeh, who works for the campaign group Equality Now said that it is shocking that this can still go on in 2017.

“It’s 2017. How can a rapist be allowed to go free and at the same time make a girl or a woman’s life living hell?” Suad Abu-Dayyeh said.
Rape laws are failing women & girls. Sign on to help fix them! https://t.co/NBkN3oUgox … #theworldsshame pic.twitter.com/s5eTdVbHR2
— equalitynow (@equalitynow) April 5, 2017
​Equality Now has worked with Noor — a pseudonym — who at the age of 20 became pregnant after being drugged and raped by her employer, a man in his 50s.

“I couldn’t tell my family what had happened. I cried and cried not knowing what to do… He tried to make me calm by saying I will marry you and he promised to go and ask for my hand. In order to make me more confident, he brought a piece of paper and we both signed on as a marriage contract,” Noor said.

Noor fell pregnant and had no choice but to marry the man who raped her. However this development in legalization could mean countless other women would avoid a similar fate.

(Source: sputniknews)

Be Aware: NSA’s Hacking Tools Being Used for ‘Mass-Scale Attacks’

One of the NSA hacking tools released in the Shadow Brokers leak earlier this month is already being used by hacking groups to infect almost a quarter of a million computers, the Swiss security company Binary Edge reports.
Called Doublepulsar, this malicious implant is a malware downloader used as an intermediary for downloading more potent malware files on infected host computers.

IT security expert Tiago Henriques of Binary Edge told Radio Sputnik that the Shadow Brokers hack consisted of vulnerabilities identified and implants developed by the NSA which are now being exploited by hacking groups.

“The exploits are the vulnerabilities that were released a couple of weeks ago that NSA had, that affected multiple versions of the Windows operating system. Then there are the implants, which is what hackers leave after they have exploited those vulnerabilities,” Henriques explained.

“Doublepulsar, in this case the one we’re scanning for, is an implant that has been deployed on many machines.”

According to Binary Edge, as of April 25 243,894 machines had been infected. If personal computer users are compromised, their system could be used as a botnet to attack other websites, or to get the users’ financial details.

“In the case of organizations, those machines are actually a bit more dangerous because when they get compromised they can be used as a bridge into an internal network to attack other machines internally.”

The most important thing users can do to prevent such an attack is to update their system with the latest version of their software.

“Unfortunately for some companies, (for example) banks that transfer entire GDP’s of countries across their networks in a day, it’s very hard to just update because these are very critical systems and if they go down or something goes wrong with the update, it causes a huge business impact.”

“If you are a home user, upgrade to the latest software and of course properly configure your firewalls. If you are exposing a service to the internet, allow only specific addresses to connect to that service, instead of the entire internet.”

The critical vulnerabilities identified by the NSA and published by the Shadow Brokers were patched by Microsoft in March, so users with up-to-date systems should be protected.

While the systems of home and small-office users were probably updated automatically, larger organizations may be at risk because the updates are tested by administrators for compatibility with intranets and other internal systems.

While the leak of NSA hacking tools raises concerns about hacking by the intelligence services, ordinary people are also at risk of attacks from hackers unconnected to the spy agencies who are using the leaked tools, Henriques said.

“It’s important for the public to understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being targeted by the NSA. You might be targeted by hacker groups using the tools of the NSA, which would make sense because these tools are beautifully designed from a security perspective.”

“They’re hard to detect, they do their job well, and they’re very much point-and-shoot in the sense that they’re easy to use, so it makes sense that other hacker groups are using them to do mass-scale attacks.”

(Source: sputniknews)

Every Cloud: Death Can Strengthen Social Bonds for Years Afterwards

It has long been acknowledged that death of a loved one can unite people in many different and often unexpected ways – friendships forged, relations reconnected with, etc. Still, the question of how long these bonds last has hitherto remained elusive.
For, while death can strengthen social bonds, once the grieving process is complete, or the event fades from painful emotional prominence, what is there to keep people allied? In instances where death reconnects former pals or alienated kin, there is presumably a risk of subsequent detachment anew as the emotional resonance of an event fades.

Now however, a University of California study of thousands of Facebook friend networks finds a person’s friends and acquaintances remain in tighter contact with each other than before years after someone passes.

Do social networks heal to fill the space left by the death of a friend? Research by William Hobbs & Moira Burke https://t.co/iy5Ke1SPJ5 pic.twitter.com/CkM6Q99YKG
— NatureHumanBehaviour (@NatureHumBehav) April 24, 2017

​The researchers collected anonymized statistics on 15,129 friend networks which had lost someone, and a comparison group of 30,258 networks that hadn’t. To measure interaction, the scientists counted comments, posts, and photo tags.

For each of the deceased, they looked at that person’s “close friends” — defined as individuals they’d interacted with at least once during a 6-month window — and tallied how much those friends interacted with various types of other people. This included close friends of the deceased, less close “acquaintances” — friends whom the deceased had not communicated with in that 6-month window — and “strangers” whom the deceased had no connection to.

In the month immediately after the death, close friends of the deceased interacted with each other about 30 percent more than usual, and with acquaintances of the deceased about 15 percent more than usual. Friend-friend communication died down over the following year, and friend-acquaintance communication died down over a few months. However, even two years later, in both cases interactions per month were still about three percent higher than in the comparison networks. The researchers expressed surprise at the resurged connection enduring so long.

Nonetheless, not all deaths had the same impact. Post-death interactions were more frequent after deaths through cancer and unintentional injuries than other causes, and less frequent after stigmatized causes, such as suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, and liver disease (due to its associations with alcoholism).

Made my kid my Facebook legacy contact. He said that when I pass into the next world,he will update my status to: “Opps.” #proudmom #momlife
— Giovannie Espiritu (@giospirit) April 22, 2017
​The findings come with further caveats. The researchers didn’t analyze what the people in the study wrote to each other, merely measured communication — it could be they engaged in a negative way, with expressions of anger or helplessness, or simply desperate attempts to effectively keep a deceased alive via nostalgia. Moreover, the sample consisted of Californian Facebookers, meaning the results may not be extrapolated to the wider population.
Facebook has a “legacy contact” option?! That’s actually kind of disturbing. Choose who can view your profile and make changes once you pass
— Alyssa Nicole (@alyssapelkey) April 22, 2017
​Still, the research is unique for its focus on entire social networks, rather than individuals or small groups. The researchers believe it important to recognize humans naturally grieve in broader social contexts — understanding collective behaviors could help shape them to further increase resilience to traumatic events.

For instance, this study shows young people are more fluid in forming new bonds. Older mourners, and those grieving over a stigmatized death, may need active encouragement to reach out. Moreover, it may be the case the best way to reconnect with individuals, and maintain that reconnection, is to take relationships offline as much as possible.

(Source: sputniknews)

China in talks with Europe to collaborate on moon village construction

China is in talks with the European Space Agency regarding the construction of a moon village, Tian Yulong, chief engineer at the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense and secretary general of China National Space Administration (CNSA), disclosed in Xi’an on April 24.

Deep space exploration is key to China’s space development, Tian stated on China Space Day 2017. Tian added that the Chang’E-5 mission, to be carried out by the end of 2017, will achieve the major task of collecting samples from the moon and then returning to Earth. The Chang’e-4 mission in 2018 will land on the far side of the moon and explore the physical environment and mineral resources in that area – an unprecedented accomplishment for humankind.

In addition, Tian said that the next step for China’s space development is to create a safer, more reliable and economical aircraft, making it more convenient to send people into space. Already, China has started developing a heavy-lift launch vehicle and establishing a transportation system to achieve this goal.

“The cost of flying into and out of space must be reduced if we want to achieve this goal. If the price were around 50,000 RMB ($7,261) for one trip, it would be within reach for ordinary people, and we are now trying to make that a reality,” said Bao Weimin, director of the science and technology committee under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

China’s homegrown helicopter completes test flight over Qinghai plateau

China’s domestically made helicopter AC311A completed a test flight in the mountainous Delingha, Qinghai province on April 24. The aircraft withstood conditions of high altitude, low-oxygen air and harsh weather.

“The helicopter’s entrance to central and western China, especially the Qinghai plateau, aimed to provide an opportunity for people there to have close contact with the high-performance aircraft,” said Xu Wei, vice president of AVIC Changhe Aircraft Industry (Group) Co., Ltd. The choice to complete a test flight on the plateau was also intended to showcase the helicopter’s ability to cope with special climate and geographical conditions, Xu added.

The test flight lasted about two hours, and the helicopter climbed nearly 1,800 meters from an altitude of 2,900 meters. With a highest operating altitude of 4,700 meters, the plane successfully took off from and landed on the 4,100-meter-high Laha Lake tourist area.

The test flight was carried out to further expand the company’s market share of police and civil helicopters in central and western China.

Wild giant panda wanders into Shaanxi nature reserve

A wild giant panda in Yang County, northwestern China’s Shaanxi province wandered into Changqing National Nature Reserve on April 21.

After encountering the panda, a security guard named Chen Baozhong fed it some bamboo shoots he collected. A group of visitors passed by 20 minutes later and took photos with the panda. Surprisingly, the animal was neither shy nor scared when faced with such a big crowd. Nevertheless, security guards carefully maintained order and kept some distance between the visitors and the panda.

According to Chen, the panda didn’t leave immediately after it finished eating. Instead, it remained where it was and slept for about half an hour.

“This wasn’t the first time. We have seen wild pandas a few times before,” said one employee at the reserve.

Zhao Naxun, a senior engineer at the reserve, explained that April and May are the months when pandas search for bamboo shoots in low-elevation areas (1,200 meters), where humans often live. When the bamboo in higher-elevation zones (2,000 meters) becomes ripe, the pandas also go to those places, Zhao said. Pandas normally change routes when they smell human scents, but they are always easy to spot because of the loud noise they make when eating the shoots.

A total of 345 pandas currently live on the nearby Mount Qin.

Scientists identify ‘Super Earth’ that could contain water

According to Nature magazine and Space.com, scientists recently discovered a “Super Earth,” a rocky planet that might contain water in liquid form. It could be the best chance of finding life outside the solar system.

Thousands of planets have been considered during the past two decades, but most failed to meet the requirements for a Super Earth. Most planets’ temperatures are either too high or too low to mimic the natural environment of Earth. Even the TRAPPIST-1 system, which has seven terrestrial planets, cannot support life due to frequent and strong radiation.

This time, an M dwarf named LHS 1140 has been identified by Jason A. Dittmann and his colleagues from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics using a MEarth-South telescope array. The planet is 39 light years away from the sun, and scientists have also noted that LHS 1140b transits LHS 1140, suggesting that its circular orbit might have existed at the time it was formed.

The mass of the planet is estimated to be 6.6 times that of Earth, consistent with a rocky bulk composition. Because of mild “sunlight” and low radiation, the planet sits in the habitable zone of its parent star, and water may exist on its surface.

Dittmann said this is the most exciting exoplanet he has seen in the past decade, and he will collect data about its atmosphere using the Hubble Space Telescope. According to the research team, LHS 1140b is detectable using existing telescopes since its parent star is small and not far from Earth. Astronomers hope to soon prove the existence of an atmosphere surrounding the planet.

Odd! Man awaits ‘auspicious’ death in grave, saved by police

A man from Guang’an, Sichuan province climbed into the grave he dug for himself on March 23 – a date he had been told by a fortune teller would be auspicious. He then proceeded to remain in the grave until he was rescued by local police and sent to hospital.

The man, Xiang Chaojie, is 72 years old. He has been suffering from esophageal cancer for several years. Though he received treatment, his condition continued to deteriorate. In the last year, Xiang asked a fortune teller about his death. The latter told him it would fall on the “auspicious” day of March 23, 2017. As a result, Xiang dug himself a grave on the mountain behind his house and patiently waited for that day to come. He even left several possessions to his friends, telling everyone he knew that he would die on that day.

When the day came, nobody other than Xiang believed the prophecy would come true. Nonetheless, his niece worried about his safety and went to visit him around 9 a.m. When she found his house vacant, she went to her uncle’s grave and saw a man lying inside. Panicking, she called the police.

Police confirmed that the man inside the grave was none other than Xiang, but he didn’t respond to their calls. Several onlookers spoke up, urging police to respect Xiang’s wishes, but the police insisted on confirming Xiang’s condition.
After entering the grave, the officers found Xiang still alive. They later extracted him from the hole and sent him to the hospital. Xiang told police he had been drinking before he entered the grave, and it was probably the alcohol that had caused him to fall asleep. He promised to cooperate with his doctor and live the rest of his life to the fullest.

China anticipates 680 billion RMB reduction of tax after 1 year of VAT reform

China is expected to reduce taxes by 680 billion RMB ($98.74 billion) by April 30, after comprehensively replacing business tax with value added tax (VAT) for one year, said Wang Jun, head of the country’s State Administration of Taxation, on April 13.

Wang said at the fourth meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Forum on VAT that China has achieved a total tax reduction of 1.2 trillion RMB between January 2012, when the country began its pilot VAT reform, and February 2017. In addition to tax reduction, Wang said China’s VAT reform has also promoted adjustment of the economic structure, stimulated innovation and entrepreneurship, accelerated financial and taxation reform, and normalized market order.

According to Wang, China’s VAT reform involves nearly 16 million enterprises and 10 million individual taxpayers, replacing business taxes of over 2 trillion RMB. He said it has groundbreaking significance for the incorporation of banking, insurance and security businesses into the scope of VAT collection.

Representatives attending the forum from various countries expressed the belief that successful VAT reform showcases China’s excellent strategic execution of economic reform. It will not only spur the country’s economic growth, but will also inject momentum into global economic development, according to the representatives, who also noted that China’s practice has provided a successful example of tax reform for the international community in recent years.

The OECD Global Forum on VAT is the forum with the greatest degree of global participation and with the broadest scope of cooperation. Tax departments from more than 100 countries and international organizations attended the meeting.