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In a press release late Tuesday night, Gemalto, one of the world’s largest SIM manufacturers, denied recent allegations that the company had a vast number of sensitive SIM encryption keys stolen by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). The company's statement addressed a number of confidential documents from 2010 which were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published last week by The Intercept. The documents indicated that a task force organized by the NSA and GCHQ broke into Gemalto employee e-mails and found ways to steal the encryption keys corresponding to the SIMs that Gemalto manufactured and sent to mobile carriers. Such a hack would allow state-sponsored spies to decrypt traffic coming to a fake cell tower and thereby watch voice, data, and text messages without a wiretap. But Gemalto says that after a “thorough investigation,” it concluded that although the company did experience hacks in 2010, it suffered none that could have resulted in the loss of the vast number of SIM encryption keys that The Intercept article referenced. And, the company continued, if some keys had been stolen, then technology pertaining to the 3G and 4G networks that Gemalto builds SIMs for would have prevented substantial hacking. The company believed 2G networks were the only ones that would have truly suffered under such a hack. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Does your Xbox live life a quarter-mile at a time? It’s about to. Thanks to a new partnership between Universal Studios and Microsoft, one of Hollywood’s biggest car franchises is teaming up with one of the best racing game franchises to bring us Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, a standalone expansion to Forza Horizon 2. What’s more, the game will be free for both Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles if you download it between March 27 and April 10 (after that, it will cost you $10). The game will take advantage of the already-built game environment of Forza Horizon 2, with races and challenges set on and around the roads of Southern France. But a number of Fast and Furious-specific vehicles will also be present, including the iconic 1970 Dodge Charger R/T that has appeared in most of the films. Players will be guided through the game by Tej Parker, played by Ludacris, who will assign tasks like finding cars for the crew’s next big mission. This isn’t the first Fast and Furious video game, but it does stand a good chance of being the best. We already know that Turn 10’s Forza physics engine is outstanding, and the open world that Playground Games has built looks stunning (and a lot like the real thing, as I found out on a recent trip to that part of the world). The fact that the game will be free for a time is also a welcome change from the much-hated industry trend of charging for DLC (even if there are legitimate reasons behind the practice in most driving games). Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Just one member of the Federal Communications Commission who will vote on net neutrality tomorrow was on the commission the last time it tackled the issue in 2010. Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, took office in August 2009 and soon thereafter argued that the FCC should pass a far stronger version of net neutrality than it ultimately approved. She said that rules preventing broadband providers from interfering with Internet traffic should apply fully to wireless carriers and that the FCC should use its Title II authority to regulate broadband providers as common carriers. Julius Genachowski, the chairman at the time, ultimately pushed a plan that did not fully apply to wireless and relied on the commission's weaker authority under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act. Clyburn voted in favor of the plan to get rules in place but made it clear she wanted a stronger net neutrality regime. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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On Wednesday, Google unveiled a new flight-shopping site clearly designed to compete with the travel industry's current deal-sorting titans. Dubbed Google Flights, the new site shares a lot in common with Kayak and Hipmunk, meaning that if you know your destination and ideal travel dates, you can sort available flights and tweak your schedule to easily save a few bucks. But Google Flights' key usability difference is an interesting one: helping travelers make decisions when they don't have a specific destination in mind. "Our research shows more than half of searchers don’t know where they’re going to travel when they sit down to plan," Google's Eric Zimmerman wrote in the product's announcement page, and he linked to a data-rich study about how Google users work out their typical travel arrangements. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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In spite of how much I hate traveling, I was kind of excited to draw the Munich assignment of our "Chasing Brilliance" series. Long ago when I was in high school, I took two years of German language class—though living in Texas, I’ve regretted for years that I didn’t take Spanish instead since it would be a lot more useful in daily life. My trip to Deutschland was a long-overdue opportunity to dust off what I’d learned way back in the early 1990s and make my teacher, Frau Bauch, proud. To me, German is actually not that different from English—in fact, tracing the tangled roots of modern English back through its inception reveals strong Germanic influence. Probably the most complicated new thing an English speaker has to deal with when learning German is gendered nouns; as with most languages, everything in German has a gender, and a thing’s gender is often pretty arbitrary. The German word for "pants," for example, is female (die Hosen—that's pronounced "dee," not "die") and the German word for skirt is male (der Rock—and, yeah, you capitalize all nouns in German). But as far as words that sound vaguely similar or share similar roots, German and English aren’t too far off. It’s not difficult to string together a sentence or two of (bad, broken, but understandable) Deutsch if you know the nouns you’re talking about as well as a few basic verbs and pronouns. Hilariously, though, the phrase I got the most usage out of was "Ich bin Auslander und spreche nicht gut Deutsch," which means "I’m a foreigner, and I don’t speak German all that well." It's not hilarious because of the phrase's pedestrian content, but rather because of why I remember it. The stupid thing was burned into my skull in German class by this video of a balding man singing those words to the tune of "She’ll be Coming 'Round the Mountain," except when we saw it in German class, it was on videocassette instead of on YouTube (this was 1992 and YouTube was still about 13 years off). Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The law that the Obama administration cites to allow bulk telephone metadata collection expires on June 1, and the FBI has already begun lobbying to keep Section 215 of the Patriot Act from expiring. Bad guys "going dark" using encryption, the FBI says, is one of the reasons why the government needs to collect the metadata of every phone call made to and from the United States. Robert Anderson, the FBI’s chief of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, told reporters during a roundtable discussion Tuesday that the Patriot Act is necessary because encrypted communications are becoming more commonplace in the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures. "In the last two to three years, that whole ‘going dark’ thing went from a crawl to a flat-out sprint because the technology is changing so rapidly," Anderson said. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Likely in response to the January 2015 incident where a small consumer drone crashed inside the White House perimeter, the United States Secret Service announced that it will be conducting drone exercises in the Washington, DC, area “in the coming days and weeks.” The agency did not elaborate beyond a short statement on Tuesday other than to say that the exercises “have been carefully planned and will be tightly controlled.” In the wake of the White House incident, popular consumer drone maker DJI said that it would update its devices’ firmware to comply with the existing no-fly zone that is centered on downtown Washington, DC, and extends for a 25 kilometer (15.5 mile) radius in all directions. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Artificial intelligence, machines and software with the ability to think for themselves, can be used for a variety of applications ranging from military technology to everyday services like automated telephone systems. However, none of the systems that currently exist exhibit learning abilities that would match the human intelligence. Recently, scientists have wondered whether an artificial agent could be given a tiny bit of human-like intelligence by modeling the algorithm on aspects of the primate neural system. Using a bio-inspired system architecture, scientists have created a single algorithm that is actually able to develop problem-solving skills when presented with challenges that can stump some humans. And then they immediately put it to use learning a set of classic video games. Scientists developed the novel agent (they called it the Deep Q-network), one that combined reinforcement learning with what's termed a "deep convolutional network," a layered system of artificial neural networks. Deep-Q is able to understand spatial relationships between different objects in an image, such as distance from one another, in such a sophisticated way that it can actually re-envision the scene from a different viewpoint. This type of system was inspired by early work done on the visual cortex. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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ars.AD.queue.push(["xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:[], collapse: true}]);Late last week, Motorola asked me for my shipping address. It wanted to send me a mystery box. Being a reviewer means that a lot of boxes show up at your door. If you're lucky, you've actually asked for them, and you know what they all are. If you're unlucky, some unscrupulous PR firm has gotten your address and is using it to send you weird headphones and iPhone screen protectors you never wanted. Once, a company sent me a box with one of those trash can basketball hoops and a bunch of wadded up pieces of construction paper in it—they literally sent me a box full of garbage. Sometimes, as in this case, you give them your address and hope that the package has something good in it. We weren't disappointed—Motorola's mystery box contained the latest version of the Moto E, the cheapest of its three Moto phones and the successor to the budget handset that came out last May, along with a "press conference in a box" designed to save reporters from yet another presentation at Mobile World Congress next week. We'll be giving the phone the full review treatment once we've been able to spend a little more time with it, but here are our first-blush impressions. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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With just one day until the Federal Communications Commission votes on a controversial net neutrality plan, Republicans in Congress are keeping up the pressure on Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler declined an invitation to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) postponed the hearing but criticized Wheeler in a joint statement with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). They said: Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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If you're a game company looking to release an HD remake this year (and looking at the 2015 release schedule, there are plenty of you out there), then the Homeworld Remastered Collection is one of the better blueprints you could look to. As the name implies, this isn't just a remake of the Relic’s 1999 masterpiece Homeworld. The package also Includes a revamped version of the slightly less classic (though still quite good) Homeworld 2, as well as unaltered versions of both games for absolute purists out there who like their three-dimensional space strategy raw and low-res. Those who don't mind sacrificing historical accuracy for convenience will find familiar gameplay from a one-of-a-kind duology that’s prettier than ever. That much is clear just from replaying through the first few missions in both included single-player campaigns—the atmospheric heart and soul of Homeworld. What’s still unclear is Gearbox's new "unified" multiplayer, which encompasses both games but was not accessible prior to launch. Even when the game is fully released, players will initially have access to a multiplayer beta rather than the final experience. Even with that limitation, Remastered is still a masterful collection of games not quite like anything that's come before or since. While real-time strategy games have been on the decline as a genre for years now, Homeworld was unique even before the Command and Conquer- and Warcraft-makers of the world moved on to more profitable things. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Toyota has unveiled the assembly line for its upcoming fuel cell vehicle (FCV)—the four-door Mirai sedan—which will go on sale in the US later in 2015. The assembly line, located at Toyota's Motomachi plant in Japan, will churn out an increasing number of the futuristic cars over the next few years. The Mirai is notable for being the first mass-produced car that is powered entirely by a fuel cell. Unlike most electric cars, such as the Tesla Model S, fuel cell vehicles are refueled rather than recharged—in the case of the Mirai, Toyota says it takes only five minutes to refuel the car, which then gives you around 300 miles of range. Way back in 2010, Toyota signed a fairly large deal with Tesla to develop an electric version of the RAV4. Tesla provided both the battery pack and the electric powertrain. Then, in the middle of 2014, Toyota rather dramatically announced that it was giving up on battery-based electric vehicles, deciding instead to focus on hydrogen fuel cell technology. For now, the Mirai (which literally means "future" in Japanese) is being produced in fairly small quantities—but responding to increased demand, Toyota will boost production to 2,000 cars next year, then 3,000 in 2017. According to Autoblog, Toyota is "prioritizing quality and precision" for the Mirai. The video below, released this week, shows workers at the Motomachi plant assembling the Mirai's fuel cell system and electric powertrain. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A joint international operation led by Europol and assisted by Microsoft, Symantec, and Anubis Networks has claimed success in clamping down on a cybercrime group suspected of deploying the Ramnit botnet for malicious purposes. Ramnit is one of the world's biggest botnets, believed to have infected up to 3.2 million computers worldwide. A botnet is a network of subservient computers which operate under criminal control to spread viruses or send out spam containing malicious links. Cybercriminals deployed Ramnit to gain remote access and control of computers infected by the malware, allowing them to disable antivirus protection and steal personal and banking information from people. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The PC version of Capcom's recently released Resident Evil: Revelations 2 lacks a long-promised offline cooperative mode, even though concurrent console versions of Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, and PS4 all have the feature. Since Revelations 2 went up for preorder on Steam, the order page has promised that players can make use of an "adaptive co-op" system in "either single player mode with an AI partner or offline co-op." That statement still appears in the Steam listing, but a recently added footnote on the page clarifies that "the PC version does not support offline co-op play in the Campaign or Raid Mode." Capcom said in a statement provided to Eurogamer that the variable graphics settings on the PC were somehow to blame for the promised feature's removal, and the company suggested that a local co-op campaign isn't in the plans for any subsequent patches. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Since its discovery, HIV has posed a major threat to human health, affecting millions worldwide. Scientists have spent countless hours looking for treatments and attempting to develop vaccines. But now, scientists have found an alternative to conventional vaccines: an injection that shows promise in preventing the spread of HIV. HIV presents a challenge to vaccines because it changes so rapidly. Studies have shown there are certain antibodies that can broadly neutralize HIV-1, preventing it from infecting cells. But these antibodies can only effectively neutralize 10 to 50 percent of HIV-1 isolates—to provide protection, you'd need unrealistically high levels of the antibodies in your system. So the search for development of an effective vaccine has continued. Recently, scientists have designed an antibody (they're calling it eCDF-Ig) that simultaneously binds two sites on the virus' surface, neutralizing HIV more efficiently than previous antibodies. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Newly released records show that Florida law enforcement agencies have been using stingrays thousands of times since at least 2007 to investigate crimes as small as a 911 hangup. They also seemingly obliquely refer to stingrays in police reports as “electronic surveillance measures,” or even as a “confidential informant.” Stingrays, the common name for “cell-site simulators,” can be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone. Earlier this month, Ars reported on how the FBI is actively trying to “prevent disclosure” of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America. The trove of documents, which were published earlier this week by the American Civil Liberties Union, show that while police agencies often justify the purchase of such hardware in the name of counter-terrorism—none of the the hundreds of disclosed uses involve terrorism. Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Pointer Events specification, an API for Web developers to handle touch, mouse, and pen inputs in Web applications, has been published as a Recommendation by the World Wide Web Consortium. This is the Web standards group's final, mutually agreed on version of the spec. Pointer Events was first proposed by Microsoft as an alternative to another specification, Touch Events. Touch Events was born from Apple's initial work to touch-enable Safari on the iPhone. W3C moved to standardize it without Apple's involvement, and at one point during Touch Events' development, it looked as if the spec would be covered by Apple-owned patents, with Apple unwilling to offer a royalty free grant for users of the spec. Had this situation continued, it would have precluded W3C from issuing the spec as a Recommendation. Pointer Events avoided the patent issues. It was also a more general specification; while Touch Events was designed for touch and touch alone, Pointer Events allowed developers to use similar code to handle touch, stylus/pen, and mouse inputs. Pointer Events also addressed certain problems with Touch Events, such as a 300 millisecond delay before responding to taps in order to disambiguate between single and double taps. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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SAN FRANCISCO—In opening arguments held today, attorney Alan Exelrod said his client, reddit CEO Ellen Pao, faced gender discrimination at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), one of the premier venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. "Who is penalized for complaints about trying to do her best?” Exelrod asked the assembled panel of seven women and five men. “The woman." Pao was a stellar employee, who spearheaded investments in patent management company RPX and sat on the Board of Directors for Flipboard, Exelrod said. Despite that, Kleiner Perkins management failed to stop harassment from male employees, and unjustly promoted men while keeping her in a junior partner position. Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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More than one million websites that run on the WordPress content management application run the risk on being completely hijacked by attackers exploiting critical vulnerability in most versions of a plugin called WP-Slimstat. Versions prior to the recently released Slimstat 3.9.6 contain a readily guessable key that's used to sign data sent to and from visiting end-user computers, according to a blog post published Tuesday by Web security firm Sucuri. The result is a SQL injection vector that can be used to extract highly sensitive data, including encrypted passwords and the encryption keys used to remotely administer websites. "If your website uses a vulnerable version of the plugin, you’re at risk," Marc-Alexandre Montpas, a senior vulnerability researcher at Sucuri, wrote. "Successful exploitation of this bug could lead to Blind SQL Injection attacks, which means an attacker could grab sensitive information from your database, including username, (hashed) passwords and, in certain configurations, WordPress Secret Keys (which could result in a total site takeover)." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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AMD has unveiled some of the first details of its Carrizo system-on-chip. The processor is the latest iteration of AMD's accelerated processing unit (APU) concept, pairing a CPU with a tightly integrated GPU. The CPU portion of Carrizo is AMD's latest iteration of its Bulldozer family. This version is called Excavator, with Carrizo having two Excavator modules providing four cores. Currently, not much is known about Excavator, aside from having larger caches: the level 1 data cache has been doubled in size to 32KB per core. Compared to the previous iteration of the design, Steamroller, performance is up about 5 percent at the same clock speed. The GPU portion has similarly been updated; Carrizo uses 8 cores using the Tonga design, which made its debut in the Radeon R9 285. This is version 1.2 of AMD's Graphics Core Next architecture. It supports the forthcoming DirectX 12 and AMD's own Mantle API, and also heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) 1.0. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The boom in US natural gas production made possible by fracking techniques has raised an awkward question: how much is leaking to the atmosphere before reaching a power plant turbine or your furnace? Natural gas power plants are more efficient than coal-burning plants and emit much less CO2. But methane is a potent, though short-lived, greenhouse gas, so the exact benefit of that trade off depends on the level of leaks from wells and pipelines. The EPA produces estimates of leakage calculated using limited measurements of typical equipment and production practices. Those estimates put natural gas leakage in the neighborhood of one percent of production— low enough to ensure that the shale gas (fracking) boom is a net positive in terms of climate-changing emissions. A major study sampling new shale gas wells showed that the EPA estimates for well leakage did a pretty good job—at least for those newer wells. Much has been made, however, of several studies that took a different approach and got very different results. Those studies used methane measurements made from a NOAA airplane upwind and downwind of shale gas fields. At a field outside Denver, that yielded an estimate of 3.1 to 5.3 percent leakage. At a Utah field, leakage was estimated at between 6.2 and 11.7 percent. Near Los Angeles, a leakage rate of 12-22 percent was calculated. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Several months after reddit found itself at the center of a controversy involving stolen celebrity nude photos, the site has changed its policy regarding nudity. As of March 10, any photos posted without permission of those photographed will be banned. The change was announced today in a short statement signed by executives and "the reddit team," which also mentions new hires and other changes. It alludes to reddit's failure to act promptly when unruly users in a few subreddits continued to post links to nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and other celebrities. The statement reads: Last year, we missed a chance to be a leader in social media when it comes to protecting your privacy—something we’ve cared deeply about since reddit’s inception. At our recent all hands company meeting, this was something that we all, as a company, decided we needed to address. No matter who you are, if a photograph, video, or digital image of you in a state of nudity, sexual excitement, or engaged in any act of sexual conduct, is posted or linked to on reddit without your permission, it is prohibited on reddit. We also recognize that violent personalized images are a form of harassment that we do not tolerate and we will remove them when notified. As usual, the revised Privacy Policy will go into effect in two weeks, on March 10, 2015. A new section in reddit's privacy policy called "involuntary pornography" explains that anyone who believes such images have been posted without their consent should email contact@reddit.com "and we will expedite its removal as quickly as possible." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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In the New York City of the late 1970s, things looked bad. The city government was bankrupt, urban blight was rampant, and crime was high. But people still went to the city every day because that was where everything was happening. And despite the foreboding feelings hanging over New York at the time, the vast majority of those people had at most minor brushes with crime. Today, we all dabble in some place that looks a lot like 1970s New York City—the Internet. (For those needing a more recent simile, think the Baltimore of The Wire). Low-level crime remains rampant, while increasingly sophisticated crime syndicates go after big scores. There is a cacophony of hateful speech, vice of every kind (see Rule 34), and policemen of various sorts trying to keep a lid on all of it—or at least, trying to keep the chaos away from most law-abiding citizens. But people still use the Internet every day, though the ones who consider themselves "street smart" do so with varying levels of defenses installed. Things sort of work. An actual brochure created by the police union in New York City during the 1970s as part of a campaign to stave off job cuts. Just like 1970s New York, however, there's a pervasive feeling that everything could go completely to hell with the slightest push—into a place to be escaped from with the aid of a digital Snake Plisskin. In other words, the Internet might soon look less like 1970s New York and more like 1990s Mogadishu: warring factions destroying the most fundamental of services, "security zones" reducing or eliminating free movement, and security costs making it prohibitive for anyone but the most well-funded operations to do business without becoming a "soft target" for political or economic gain. Read 44 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev. FBI The Justice Department announced Tuesday a reward of up to $3 million leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the alleged leader of "a tightly knit gang of cybercriminals" who developed the Gameover ZeuS botnet. Gameover ZeuS siphons passwords to online banking sites from Microsoft Windows computers. The authorities are offering the reward for Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, accused of various charges in connection to the botnet. The authorities said the botnet infected more than 1 million computers and resulted in $100 million in losses. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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On Tuesday, a Twitter and YouTube user who had spent months posting disturbing content under the alias "Jace Conners" revealed his true identity, but not to apologize for the nasty, GamerGate-related stuff he'd sent to game makers such as Brianna Wu. Rather, 20-year-old Maine resident Jan Rankowski came clean with a statement that would make Alanis Morissette's head spin: his videos had been a "joke" all along, and now he's the one suffering a wave of anonymous Internet harassment. Rankowski confirmed his identity to Buzzfeed in a lengthy interview, in which he alleged that he's been subjected to the types of messages and nuisances common to recent online doxings. According to Rankowski, that activity has included "nasty things" being said in phone calls to his old high school and his current place of work, along with "a letter in the mail with a picture of me from my high school yearbook… It said I shouldn’t have fucked with 8chan.” He claimed that the harassment began after he posted his weirdest GamerGate-related video to date, in which Rankowski kicked and shouted—complete with racist epithets—at a Prius that had flipped over on a road. The video concluded with a text-loaded slideshow that alleged that game maker Brianna Wu, a frequent target of recent anonymous harassment, was somehow responsible for the car flipping over—and that she had done so to prevent Rankowski from driving to her house "to expose her as a corrupt gamer." The video went on to announce the beginning of an effort known as "Wu-pocalypse" to "discredit the [social justice warrior] people online." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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