Quiz of the Week: What’s the fountain furore in Rome?


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2018 Quiz of the Year 1: Jan – Mar

2018 Quiz of the Year 2: Apr – Jun

2018 Quiz of the Year 3: Jul – Sep

2018 Quiz of the Year 4: Oct – Dec

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Video 6: Why Bitcoin?

Why Bitcoin?
Scarce
Unforgeable
Digital asset; hard to steal

Alt Coins
Litecoin: clone of Bitcoin with a few unimportant parameters changed. Far less secure than Bitcoin. Intentionally introduced a security flaw: a mining algorithm that makes it difficult to commoditize mining hardware: so much less hashpower. Good for marketing, but bad for security. Founder Charlie Lee dumped all his litecoin at all-time-high price.

Ripple: a cryptocurrency without the crypto. Ripple doesn’t use any more cryptography than Google Hangouts. It’s just a centralized database. Not an attempt at creating a government-hard currency (which is the whole name of the game).

Monero: claims to be a privacy crypto, but there are very few transactions that can actually be done privately.

Grin: very high inflation schedule which never decreases. Anything it can do well will come to Bitcoin eventually anyway.

Ethereum: stupid from the very beginning. They took the most insecure programming language mankind has ever seen (javascript) and they used that to make smart contracts that were supposed to be immutable and secure. It didn’t work. They’ve had to hardfork to rewrite history, so there goes Ethereum’s immutability. Centralized.

Deception Techniques of Bitcoin Competitors

They Fake Stats

Market Cap Manipulation: Issue 10 million coins and sell your mom $10 worth of coins then equals a $10 million dollar market cap. Manipulate the price of the last trade = ability to manipulate the market cap.

Developer count: easily faked.

Node count: also easily faked by spinning up a bunch of useless nodes on Amazon Web Services. Used in conjunction with showing the trend: we don’t have as many nodes as Bitcoin, but we’re growing at 1,000% (which is just fake, unsustainable growth).

User count: you can never really know user account—many addresses per user.

App count and usage (Kryptokitties).

Transaction amount and volume.

We are not trying to be “money” —Ethereum.

We’re trying to be one part of money (medium of exchange), you guys be the other (store of value).

Diversification and other economics fallacies (stories for suckers).

Non Money Tokens
Equity tokens
Physical Asset Tokens

Roger Ver STILL Scamming | Binance Freezes Hacked Funds | Bitcoin Price Volatility

Roger Ver Still Scamming | Binance Freezes Hacked Funds | Bitcoin Price Volatility

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Roger Ver came out of his cave to start scamming newbies into buying bcash again. Here’s a link to his tweet so you can tell him what you think about that.

Binance was able to freeze some funds implicated in the Cryptopia hack. Upon deposit, trading of the tokens was disabled as they were quarantined by the team.
https://cointelegraph.com/news/binance-freezes-some-tokens-stolen-from-cryptopia-ceo-cz

Wyoming has introduced a bill that would allow corporations to tokenize securities when issuing stock. Wyoming is no stranger to the blockchain space, as they have previously passed two other bills to drive innovation/adoption.
https://cointelegraph.com/news/wyoming-introduces-bill-permitting-tokenization-of-stocks

MIT & Stanford researchers are funding a supposedly “globally scalable” crypto token called Unit-e. Why do we need yet another one of these? The world may never know.
https://cointelegraph.com/news/mit-stanford-researchers-to-fund-new-globally-scalable-cryptocurrency-unit-e

Bitcoin price volatility is down 98% from last year, along with a 75% drop in value. Does this mean we could be due for a breakout in either direction? Or will sideways action continue?

Bitcoin Price Volatility Is Down 98% Year-on-Year

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Judge acquits Chicago policemen in conspiracy trial

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A judge on Thursday found three Chicago policemen not guilty of conspiring to protect white fellow police officer Jason Van Dyke after he fatally shot a black teenager in 2014 in an incident that helped fuel the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

FILE PHOTO: Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke (L), reacts to his guilty verdict, as his attorney Daniel Herbert looks on during his trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, in Chicago, Illinois, Oct. 5, 2018. Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

A jury convicted Van Dyke in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17.

Judge Domenica Stephenson of the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County also found David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney not guilty of official misconduct and obstruction of justice. The trial began on Nov. 27.

Walsh and March, who was a detective, are no longer with the police force. Gaffney was suspended without pay.

“I got my life back,” March said outside the courtroom, declining further comment.

Police killings of mostly unarmed black men elsewhere in the United States helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement and were mentioned in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. McDonald was carrying a knife when he was shot 16 times.

Stephenson called the testimony of a key witness inconsistent and not credible. She said it was indisputable that McDonald ignored commands to drop his knife.

Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes had argued Van Dyke’s colleagues offered accounts of the shooting that conflicted with video footage to shield Van Dyke from prosecution. Defense attorneys said the prosecution’s case lacked evidence.

A dashboard camera video released in 2015 – more than a year after the shooting – provided the evidence to convict Van Dyke in a case that laid bare tensions between the black community and police in the third-largest U.S. city.

The Van Dyke verdict was the first time an on-duty Chicago police officer was held criminally accountable for the killing of an African-American. The conviction followed numerous acquittals or mistrials of police officers facing criminal charges across the country in the deaths of black men.

The video of McDonald’s shooting prompted days of protests, the ouster of the city’s police superintendent and calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign. Emanuel decided not to seek a third term in next month’s mayoral election.

Van Dyke, 40, is in jail awaiting sentencing, which is expected on Friday. He faces up to 20 years in prison for the second-degree murder conviction and up to 30 years for each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each shot he fired at McDonald.

Eric Russell, executive director of Tree of Life Justice League, a police accountability advocacy group from Chicago’s West Side, said he and other leaders expected hundreds to protest the verdict on Friday before Van Dyke’s sentencing.

McDonald’s great uncle, Marvin Hunter, told reporters the verdict was a step backward for the black community’s struggles for justice.

“To say these men are not guilty is to say Jason Van Dyke is not guilty,” Hunter said.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Robert Chiarito in Chicago; Additional reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Matthew Lewis

Talks resume as Los Angeles teachers’ strike enters fourth day

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Negotiators for striking Los Angeles teachers and America’s second-largest school district returned to the bargaining table on Thursday for the first time since talks collapsed last week, as a walkout by some 30,000 educators entered its fourth day.

FILE PHOTO: Los Angels public school teachers continue to deal with the rainy weather as their strike enters its third day in Gardena, California, U.S., January 16, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

In the first teachers’ strike in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 30 years, members of the United Teachers Los Angeles union are seeking higher pay, smaller classes and more support staff, while denouncing their current working conditions as an “injustice.”

“They are resolute on reaching an agreement,” the union’s president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, said at a news conference, referring to the union’s bargaining team ahead of Thursday’s talks.

School District Superintendent Austin Beutner has said the demands, if fully met, would place too great a strain on the district’s budget.

The union is seeking a 6.5 percent pay raise. School district teacher pay currently averages $75,000, according to state figures. The district has offered a 6 percent hike with back pay.

A statement from the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who attended a teachers’ rally earlier this week and has voiced strong support for their cause, said early Thursday afternoon that the bargaining teams “have returned to the table and negotiations have begun.”

Garcetti, serving as a mediator in the renewed talks, met earlier in the day with Caputo-Pearl and Beutner at City Hall, his office said. It was not clear whether the mayor spoke with the two together or individually.

Union leaders said Garcetti had met with both parties on Wednesday, and that California’s top education official, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, was also in contact with each side and had offered his support in efforts to reach a settlement.

Thurmond could play a key role in helping the district secure extra funds it may need to close a deal with the teachers.

Negotiators for the district and the union last met face-to-face last Friday, when union leaders rejected the district’s latest contract offer. The union disputes Beutner’s assertions that the district lacks sufficient resources to accept teachers’ demands.

Caputo-Pearl said on Wednesday that the union was “engaged” with Thurmond and California Governor Gavin Newsom to “try to push on the state as well for additional funding.”

“The money’s there. There’s no doubt about it. California is the richest state in the country,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “The money is there for kids.”

The teachers, who have been without a contract for nearly a year, walked off the job on Monday. District officials have kept all 1,200 schools open on a limited basis with a skeleton staff of administrators and substitute teachers, but attendance has been running at roughly a third of normal.

Thousands of striking teachers fanned out across the sprawling school district for a series of rallies and picketing on Thursday, braving a fourth day of showers that did little to dampen their spirits.

“It’s important that we show the example of what we can do and the power that we have as the people,” high school music teacher Justin Polk said at the news conference alongside Caputo-Pearl. “Our strength comes in numbers.”

Los Angeles’ walkout follows a wave of teacher strikes last year across the United States over pay and school funding, including work stoppages in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona.

In Denver, teachers could vote to strike by Saturday if no deal on a new contract is reached by then.

Beutner, a former publisher and investment banker, said the district had proposed staff increases that would cost $130 million a year – more than county officials have said is available – while the union’s demands would cost $800 million.

Reporting by Steve Gorman and Alex Dobuzinskis; additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles, Gina Cherelus in New York and Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis

UK in deadlock over Brexit ‘Plan B’ as May and Corbyn tussle

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s last-minute scramble to shape its exit from the EU, its biggest policy upheaval in half a century, hit the rocks on Thursday as Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dug in their heels for competing visions.

After May’s two-year attempt to forge an amicable divorce with an independent trade policy was crushed by parliament in the biggest defeat for a British leader in modern history, May asked party leaders to forget self-interest to find a solution.

Yet there was little sign on Thursday that either of the two major parties — which together hold 88 percent of the 650 seats in parliament — were prepared to compromise on key demands.

Corbyn said May had sent Britain hurtling towards the cliff edge of a sudden exit on March 29 with no transition period, and urged her to ditch her “red lines”. But he repeated his own condition for talks: a pledge to block a no-deal Brexit.

“The government confirmed that she would not take ‘no-deal’ off the table,” Corbyn said in a speech in Hastings, scene of a battle in 1066 that ushered in the Norman conquest of England.

“So I say to the prime minister again: I am quite happy to talk, but the starting point for any talks about Brexit must be that the threat of a disastrous no-deal outcome is ruled out.”

But the further May moves towards softening Brexit, the more she alienates dedicated Brexit supporters in her own Conservative party who think the threat of a no-deal exit is a crucial bargaining chip and should anyway not be feared.

May’s spokeswoman said the prime minister had held “constructive” talks on Thursday with lawmakers, including some from Labour, to explore ways of winning support for her deal.

If she fails to forge consensus, the world’s fifth-largest economy will drop out of the European Union on March 29 without a deal or will be forced to delay Brexit, possibly holding a national election or even another referendum.

Corbyn said that, under certain conditions, he would look at options including another referendum — a remark that increased expectations in financial markets that the political chaos would ultimately delay or even stop Brexit.

But a second referendum would take a year to organise, according to official government guidance shown to lawmakers on Wednesday, a source in May’s office said.

DEAL BY PARLIAMENT?

Corbyn wants May to call another election, something she has refused, having lost her parliamentary majority in a snap poll in 2017 that left her reliant on the support of a small Northern Irish pro-Brexit party.

She has also repeatedly said another referendum would corrode faith in democracy among the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU in 2016. Her spokesman said Britain had not raised the idea of delaying Britain’s exit with the EU.

As the United Kingdom tumbles towards its biggest political and economic shift since World War Two, other members of the European Union have offered to talk.

“We will do everything we can so that Britain exits with, and not without, an agreement,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Berlin’s lower house of parliament.

Pro-Brexit protesters demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain January 17, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier said the bloc was open to the possibility of a “more ambitious” Brexit deal than May’s rejected agreement, which he said could not be improved on under the principles she had originally set out.

But they can do little until London decides what it wants.

Ever since the UK voted by 52-48 percent to leave the EU in June 2016, British politicians have failed to find agreement on how or even whether to leave the EU. If there is a solution to the riddle, it may be for parliament’s backbenchers to find it.

May will on Monday put forward a motion in parliament on her proposed next steps. Over the following week, lawmakers will be able to propose alternatives.

On Jan. 29, they will debate these plans, and voting on them should indicate whether any of them could get majority support.

If a way forward emerges, May could then go back to the EU and seek changes to her deal. Parliament would still need to vote on any new agreement, and it is not clear when that might happen.

Labour says it would back a deal with a permanent customs union with the EU — which would resolve the intractable problem of managing the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic — as well as a close relationship with its single market and greater protections for workers and consumers.

Most Conservative lawmakers reject a customs union because it would prevent Britain having an independent trade policy — one of their main demands.

Without any deal, trade with the EU would default to basic World Trade Organization rules — a worrying prospect for manufacturers dependent on smooth, uncomplicated supply lines.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Company chiefs are aghast at the political crisis over Brexit and say it has already damaged Britain’s reputation as Europe’s pre-eminent destination for foreign investment.

From Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel to Scottish whisky distillers, firms have called for urgent and decisive government action and warned of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

“If anybody believes that you can just go ahead without some sort of an agreement here, I think that that is reckless,” said John Bason, finance chief of Associated British Foods (ABF.L), a food and retail group with annual sales of over $20 billion.

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper in Hastings, England, and Kate Holton, Andy Bruce and James Davey in London; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Catherine Evans

Saturn’s spectacular rings are ‘very young’


The end phases of the mission should yield new information about Saturn's interiorImage copyright
Cassini Imaging Team/SSI/JPL/ESA/NASA

Image caption

The end phases of the mission should yield new information about Saturn’s interior

We’re looking at Saturn at a very special time in the history of the Solar System, according to scientists.

They’ve confirmed the planet’s iconic rings are very young – no more than 100 million years old, when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.

The insight comes from the final measurements acquired by the American Cassini probe.

The satellite sent back its last data just before diving to destruction in the giant world’s atmosphere in 2017.

“Previous estimates of the age of Saturn’s rings required a lot of modelling and were far more uncertain. But we now have direct measurements that allow us to constrain the age very well,” Luciano Iess from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, told BBC News.

The professor’s team has published an account of its work with Cassini in Science magazine.

Cassini: A mission of ‘astonishing discovery’

Cassini has been circling around Saturn for 13 years

On the icy moon Enceladus it discovered…

an ocean of water hidden beneath the surface

eight times as deep as the oceans on Earth.

Cassini’s chemical analysis of the water…

suggests conditions could be right for micro-organisms to live there.

While visiting Saturn’s largest moon

which is the size of the planet Mercury

Cassini flew over seas and lakes of methane

and discovered they are up to 170 metres deep.

On Saturn itself, above the north pole

Cassini took photos of a hexagonal hurricane 32,000km across.

Scientists have puzzled over how this giant storm spins.

Cassini measured its winds at a staggering 330mph

Four times as strong as a hurricane on Earth!

Back out on the edge of one of Saturn’s rings

among the clouds of ice particles

Cassini even captured the birth of a possible new moon.

It’s been named Peggy and is just 1km wide.

Finally, running out of fuel,

Cassini was flown directly towards the planet

until it burnt up in Saturn’s atmosphere.

There has long been a debate about the age of Saturn’s rings. Some had argued these gorgeous loops of icy particles most likely formed along with the planet itself, some 4.5 billion years ago.

Others had suggested they were a recent phenomenon – perhaps the crushed up remains of a moon or a passing comet that was involved in a collision.

Image copyright
NASA

Image caption

Artwork: Cassini plunged between the rings and the planet’s cloudtops

The US-European Cassini mission promised to resolve the argument in its last months at the gas giant.

The satellite’s end days saw it fly repeatedly through the gap between the rings and the planet’s cloudtops.

These manoeuvres made possible unprecedented gravity measurements.

Cassini essentially weighed the rings, and found their mass to be 20 times smaller than previous estimates: something on the order of 15,400,000,000,000,000 tonnes, or about two-fifths the mass of Mimas – the Saturn moon that looks like the “Death Star” weapon in the Star Wars movies.

Image copyright
Cassini Imaging Team/SSI/JPL/ESA/NASA

Image caption

Mimas: The “Star Wars” moon is a favourite among Saturn fans

Knowing the mass was a key piece in the puzzle for researchers.

From Cassini’s other instruments, they already knew the proportion of dust in the rings and the rate at which this dust was being added. Having a definitive mass for rings then made it possible to work out an age.

Prof Iess’s team says this could be as young as 10 million years but is no older than 100 million years. In terms of the full age of the Solar System, this is “yesterday”.

The calculation agrees with one made by a different group which last month examined how fast the ring particles were falling on to Saturn – a rate that was described as being equivalent to an Olympic-sized swimming pool every half-hour.

This flow, when all factors were considered, would probably see the rings disappear altogether in “at most 100 million years”, said Dr Tom Stallard from Leicester University, UK.

“The rings we see today are actually not that impressive compared with how they would have looked 50-100 million years ago,” he told BBC News.

“Back then they would have been even bigger and even brighter. So, whatever produced them must have made for an incredible display if you’d been an astronomer 100 million years ago.”

Cassini’s investigations cannot shed much light on the nature of the event that gave rise to the rings, but it would have been cataclysmic in scale.

It was conceivable, said Dr Stallard, that the geology of the moons around Saturn could hold important clues. Just as rock and ice cores drilled on Earth reveal debris from ancient meteorite and comet impacts, so it’s possible the moons of Saturn could record evidence of the ring-forming event in their deeper layers.

Maybe we’ll get to drill into the likes of Mimas and Enceladus… one day.

and follow me on Twitter: @BBCAmos





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Judge finds Chicago policemen not guilty in conspiracy trial

FILE PHOTO: Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke (L), reacts to his guilty verdict, as his attorney Daniel Herbert looks on during his trial for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, in Chicago, Illinois, Oct. 5, 2018. Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A judge on Thursday found three Chicago policemen not guilty of conspiring to protect white fellow police officer Jason Van Dyke after he fatally shot a black teenager in 2014.

A jury convicted Van Dyke in October of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17.

Judge Domenica Stephenson of the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County also found David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney not guilty of official misconduct and obstruction of justice. The trial began on Nov. 27.

Walsh and March, who was a detective, are no longer with the police force. Gaffney was suspended without pay.

Prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said Van Dyke’s colleagues offered accounts of the shooting that conflicted with video footage to shield Van Dyke from prosecution. Defense attorneys argued that the prosecution’s case lacked evidence.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Robert Chiarito in Chicago; Editing by Caroline Stauffer and Matthew Lewis