News & Updates

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Joe Raedle )

Starting today, the US Drug Enforcement Administration is free to list a popular herbal supplement called kratom as a Schedule I controlled substance. This would put kratom in the same lineup as heroin and make its sale and use a felony. But, in statements to the press, the agency said it has no timetable for officially listing kratom—it could be next week or longer—leaving users on the edge of their seats.

Since the DEA announced its plan to ban kratom at the end of last month, thousands of users have frantically sought to reverse the decision, as well as buy up as much of the drug as they can. Users claim kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, a tree in the coffee family, is effective at treating chronic pain, as well as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other ailments. The main active ingredients in kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which can interact with opioid receptors in the brain. While the data to back up medical use of the plant is scant, users are adamant that it’s a lifesaver, allowing them to kick deadly and all-too-common opioid addictions.

Since late August, more than 140,000 people have signed a petition asking the Obama administration to keep the DEA from banning kratom. On September 13, hundreds marched in front of the White House, hoisting signs that read “Kratom Saved Me” and sharing personal stories of how the drug got them off of opioid pain killers.

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

Enlarge (credit: Newsweek)

Newsweek suspects that attackers took down its site for hours on Thursday in order to bury a story about a company that Donald Trump owned decades ago. The magazine claims that the company secretly did business in Cuba, even though that was illegal at the time.

Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco told Politico:

We don’t know everything. We’re still investigating. But it was a massive DDoS attack, and it took place in the early evening just as prominent cable news programs were discussing Kurt Eichenwald’s explosive investigation into how Donald Trump’s company broke the law by breaking the United States embargo against Cuba.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack came, the newsmagazine suggests, in response to its cover story, “How Donald Trump’s company violated the United States embargo against Cuba.”

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

Enlarge / Google’s event invitation.

Are you ready for some hardware? On October 4, at 9am PT (Noon ET), Google is hosting a big launch party for its new phones and possibly all sorts of other Google Hardware devices.

Given the fact that Google kept its event invite appropriately vague, the rumor mill has been in high gear. So with less than a week until the big day, it’s time to sort through it all and determine the plausibility.

First up: Hype. Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google’s SVP of Android, Chrome OS, and Google Play, has been talking this event up in the strongest possible terms. He compared the event to the launch of Android 1.0 eight years ago, and “has a feeling” we’ll be talking about the 10/4 event eight years from now. That’s basically promising this event will be up there with one of the most significant events in Google’s history. Strong words.

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

Enlarge / Leonardo DiCaprio signs autographs for fans during the Tokyo premiere for “The Revenant” in March. (credit: Yuriko Nakao via Getty Images)

The pirate who in December leaked The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie days ahead of their US releases has been ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to 20th Century Fox and was also handed eight months of home confinement, federal prosecutors said.

The defendant, William Morarity of the Los Angeles suburb of Lancaster, was working for an undisclosed studio lot when he unlawfully accessed watermarked, screener versions of the films and uploaded them to a private BitTorrent site “Pass the Popcorn,” according to his guilty plea (PDF). The Revenant was downloaded more than 1 million times and The Peanuts Movie more than 220,000 times, according to court documents. (PDF)

Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said the defendant’s behavior is a killer of creativity and jobs. “Mr. Morarity used his position of trust to gain access to sensitive intellectual property, then shared that content online and incurred large-scale losses to the owner of that property,” Fike said. “The theft of intellectual property—in this case, major motion pictures—discourages creative incentive and affects the average American making ends meet in the entertainment industry.”

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

(credit: Photo illustration by Aurich Lawson)

Today, September 30, Netflix releases its original documentary, Amanda Knox. The film features the now exonerated suspects and the prosecutor who charged them as the piece looks back at a murder trial that grabbed headlines worldwide. As such, we’re resurfacing our piece from October 2011 that examined how DNA evidence put Knox in jail before ultimately rescuing her.

If you watch crime dramas, you’ll be forgiven for the impression that DNA evidence makes an airtight case. And if you do have that impression, you might be confused about the internationally famous case of American Amanda Knox, convicted of murdering her British roommate in Perugia, Italy in 2007. After all, the prosecution’s case was based on DNA evidence; Knox’s genetic fingerprints were found by Italian police on the handle of a kitchen knife, which also had the victim’s DNA on the blade.

But not all DNA evidence is created equal—and Knox walked free last week from an Italian jail after scientists savaged the forensic evidence against her as being wholly unreliable. How did DNA analysis go so wrong?

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

<i>ArtStyle: Pictobits</i> is one of the many DSiWare games that will soon no longer be available on their original hardware.

ArtStyle: Pictobits is one of the many DSiWare games that will soon no longer be available on their original hardware.

If you have an old Nintendo DSi or DSi XL lying around, you might want to dig it out today for one final trip to the online store. That’s because today marks your last chance to add funds to purchase downloadable games that will soon be lost down digital gaming’s ever-expanding memory hole.

After 5pm PDT today, you will no longer be able to purchase the virtual “DSiWare points” currency used to download digital games on DSi systems. Points purchased today (or previously) can still be spent on new games until March 31, 2017; that will also be the last day to redownload games you’ve previously purchased.

Games already downloaded to a DSi will still work after that date, and you can even transfer those DSiWare purchases over to a newer 3DS to keep them consolidated on fresher hardware. The vast majority of the DSiWare library will also still be available through the DSiWare section of the Nintendo 3DS eShop, so this isn’t exactly the end of the line for the hundreds of titles made for Nintendo’s first portable digital storefront. (If you’re looking for some good DSiWare download recommendations, NeoGAF has a robust crowdsourced list going.)

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Auscape)

Do humans kill each other because it’s in our blood, or is it all based on our environment? Philosophers and scientists have batted around theories for centuries. But an extensive climb through the evolutionary tree of mammals brought scientists to a fresh vantage point. From there, the answer seems to be: a mix of both, but mostly, it’s in our blood.

After carefully compiling more than 4 million murder records across 1,024 mammalian species, evolutionary biologists at the University of Granada found that humans are more vicious than most mammals but generally on par with our primate lineage. And this jibes with the rest of the evolutionary tree, in which species tended to bunch as either murderous, slightly savage, or peaceful. Being territorial and social were big determinants of those bloodthirsty bunches, the authors note. Overall, the finding, published this week in Nature, offers solid support for the argument that homicidal urges stem from evolutionary roots.

However, when the researchers tracked the murder rates of human populations from 50,000 BC forward—capturing hunter-gatherers to bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states—they noted that murder rates jumped around a lot. And the timespans for those fluctuations in ferociousness are too swift for a genetic explanation. Societies, it seems, can modify our killer instincts.

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Source: http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/

iPhone 7 and Apple Watch 2 have already launched, with the iPhone 7 having lower than expected sales numbers. But, those were the two most popular Apple devices for this year, and since they have been released, one question remains. Will Apple unveil another new device before the end of the year? Well, it seems […]

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Finally, European customers will also get to enjoy the latest flagship smartphone from Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 finally goes on sale in Europe on October 28th. The sale depends on the full completion of the exchange programme, though. The Galaxy Note 7 was originally set to go on sale in Europe on September […]

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