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The 'Dark', Illegal Internet Is Offering Bizarre Holiday Discounts
Looking for a discount on guns and dope? Cyber Monday deals come to Darknet.
Two years ago, while you were enjoying a relaxing Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family, eating way too much turkey and mashed potatoes, Jesse Korff was figuring out a new way to distill a biological toxin called abrin so he could sell it to terrorists.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, even a small dose of abrin is lethal to humans, and can cause death within 36 to 72 hours. Abrin is what is known as a “select agent.” Select agents are a subset of biological toxins that the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture have determined to have the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety. Similar to ricin, death by abrin usually comes from a severe allergic reaction that causes difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
There is no antidote.
In a message from Thanksgiving 2013, Korff wrote:
"When you handle the abrin itself you should were [sic] gloves. ... Each vial contains ... about 220mg of abrin enough to kill a 440 pound human. ... it is as simple as pouring it in a drink or sandwich bun, yes the drink should be somewhat dark because this is about the color of light rum or whiskey, and I suggest either a coke or a shot of rum or whiskey actually alcohol would probably be the best because you know they will drink all of it and they will start to feel flu like symptoms in 48 hours then it will progressively get worse until they die by the forth [sic] day."
Korff, a 19-year-old from Glades County, Florida, used Darknet, to sell his product to the highest bidder.
Most people are familiar with websites like Google, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the thousands of other sites and blogs maintained by individuals, media outlets, and companies. This is called the surface web and it’s what most people think of as the Internet. Darknet is one of the deepest and, perhaps, strangest parts of the Internet. It is a vast underground that is estimated to be more than 500 times larger, based on content, than the surface web. And, like the deepest parts of the ocean, it is home to a myriad of strange, bizarre communities. It is also home to a number of illicit marketplaces that sell everything from hardcore narcotics to hurtcore porn.
These black markets make it as easy to buy drugs, weapons, and other illicit material as buying a pizza. Darknet marketplaces are designed to look and feel like eBay, Amazon, or Craigslist. Since their initial development and because of their rapidly increasing availability, Darknet markets have gentrified crime. Now you don’t have to drive across town to meet with a weapons dealer in a seedy neighborhood to buy your gun — you can have it sent to your doorstep in a neatly packaged envelope.
And like surface web Cyber Monday deals, Darknet marketplaces offer similar discounts:
“Why wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday? We wanted to GIVE THANKS to the community by gifting our GRAMS, TEENERS and 8 BALLS of Cocaine and Crystal Meth for 20 [percent] off,” AlphaBay Market vendor aeirla writes, offering 3.5 grams of cocaine for $240 and the same amount of methamphetamine for $120.
“Keep in mind these deals will NOT last, This goes away the DAY AFTER BLACK FRIDAY,” writes vendor AddyOrZubsolv, who is selling the prescription stimulant Adderall and marijuana on Crypto Market. “You are basically getting 5 pills for free with every order! Get them while they last!”
In a presentation earlier this year at the 24th USENIX Security Symposium, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University released the results of a longitudinal study on the evolution of the Darknet marketplace ecosystem. They scraped 16 different marketplaces over two years (2013-2015) and discovered that since the development of the first Silk Road four years ago, total sales volumes “have reached up to $650,000 daily (averaged over 30-day windows) and are generally stable around $300,000-$500,000 a day.” About 70 percent of those sales are for cannabis-, ecstasy-, and cocaine-related products.
Perhaps more interesting: While some merchants are highly successful, the vast majority of vendors on Darknet grossed less than $100,000 over the course of the study. Carnegie Mellon scientists Kyle Soska and Nicolas Christin conclude that this substantiates the notion that “online anonymous marketplaces are primarily competing with street dealers, in the retail space, rather than with established criminal organizations which focus on bulk sales.”
To stay alive as a business, most Darknet vendors are forced to offer deals that drive increased sales. Otherwise, they will succumb to market forces similar to surface web vendors. Cyber Monday offers Darknet vendors an opportunity to drive customers to their site.
Unfortunately, as Soska and Christin suggest, current intervention strategies don’t seem to work. “In light of our findings, we suggest a re-evaluation of intervention policies against anonymous marketplaces. Given the high demand for the products being sold, it is not clear that takedowns will be effective; at least we have found no evidence they were.”
The adage that crime is a business seems to be alive and well this holiday season. And business is booming.
The idea of 'absolute time' is an illusion. Physics and subjective experience reveal why.
- Since Einstein posited his theory of general relativity, we've understood that gravity has the power to warp space and time.
- This "time dilation" effect occurs even at small levels.
- Outside of physics, we experience distortions in how we perceive time — sometimes to a startling extent.
Physics without time<p>In his book "The Order of Time," Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli suggests that our perception of time — our sense that time is forever flowing forward — could be a highly subjective projection. After all, when you look at reality on the smallest scale (using equations of quantum gravity, at least), time vanishes.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If I observe the microscopic state of things," writes Rovelli, "then the difference between past and future vanishes … in the elementary grammar of things, there is no distinction between 'cause' and 'effect.'"</p><p>So, why do we perceive time as flowing <em>forward</em>? Rovelli notes that, although time disappears on extremely small scales, we still obviously perceive events occur sequentially in reality. In other words, we observe entropy: Order changing into disorder; an egg cracking and getting scrambled.</p><p>Rovelli says key aspects of time are described by the second law of thermodynamics, which states that heat always passes from hot to cold. This is a one-way street. For example, an ice cube melts into a hot cup of tea, never the reverse. Rovelli suggests a similar phenomenon might explain why we're only able to perceive the past and not the future.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Any time the future is definitely distinguishable from the past, there is something like heat involved," Rovelli wrote for the <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/ce6ef7b8-429a-11e8-93cf-67ac3a6482fd" target="_blank"><em>Financial Times</em></a>. "Thermodynamics traces the direction of time to something called the 'low entropy of the past', a still mysterious phenomenon on which discussions rage."</p>
The strange subjectivity of time<p>Time moves differently atop a mountain than it does on a beach. But you don't need to travel any distance at all to experience strange distortions in your perception of time. In moments of life-or-death fear, for example, your brain would release large amounts of adrenaline, which would speed up your internal clock, causing you to perceive the outside world as moving slowly.<br></p><p>Another common distortion occurs when we focus our attention in particular ways.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If you're thinking about how time is <em>currently</em> passing by, the biggest factor influencing your time perception is attention," Aaron Sackett, associate professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, told <em><a href="https://gizmodo.com/why-does-time-slow-down-and-speed-up-1840133782" target="_blank">Gizmodo</a></em>.<em> "</em>The more attention you give to the passage of time, the slower it tends to go. As you become distracted from time's passing—perhaps by something interesting happening nearby, or a good daydreaming session—you're more likely to lose track of time, giving you the feeling that it's slipping by more quickly than before. "Time flies when you're having fun," they say, but really, it's more like "time flies when you're thinking about other things." That's why time will also often fly by when you're definitely <em>not</em> having fun—like when you're having a heated argument or are terrified about an upcoming presentation."</p><p>One of the most mysterious ways people experience time-perception distortions is through psychedelic drugs. In an interview with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/14/carlo-rovelli-exploding-commonsense-notions-order-of-time-interview" target="_blank"><em>The Guardian</em></a>, Rovelli described a time he experimented with LSD.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It was an extraordinarily strong experience that touched me also intellectually," he said. "Among the strange phenomena was the sense of time stopping. Things were happening in my mind but the clock was not going ahead; the flow of time was not passing any more. It was a total subversion of the structure of reality."<br></p><p>It seems few scientists or philosophers believe time is completely an illusion.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"What we call <em>time</em> is a rich, stratified concept; it has many layers," Rovelli told <em><a href="https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/PT.6.4.20190219a/full/" target="_blank">Physics Today</a>.</em> "Some of time's layers apply only at limited scales within limited domains. This does not make them illusions."</p>What <em>is</em> an illusion is the idea that time flows at an absolute rate. The river of time might be flowing forever forward, but it moves at different speeds, between people, and even within your own mind.
The world's 10 most affected countries are spending up to 59% of their GDP on the effects of violence.
- Conflict and violence cost the world more than $14 trillion a year.
- That's the equivalent of $5 a day for every person on the planet.
- Research shows that peace brings prosperity, lower inflation and more jobs.
- Just a 2% reduction in conflict would free up as much money as the global aid budget.
- Report urges governments to improve peacefulness, especially amid COVID-19.
The lush biodiversity of South America's rainforests is rooted in one of the most cataclysmic events that ever struck Earth.
- One especially mysterious thing about the asteroid impact, which killed the dinosaurs, is how it transformed Earth's tropical rainforests.
- A recent study analyzed ancient fossils collected in modern-day Colombia to determine how tropical rainforests changed after the bolide impact.
- The results highlight how nature is able to recover from cataclysmic events, though it may take millions of years.