posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Deadspin An already tense soccer match in Belgrade between the national teams of Albania and Serbia has been suspended after a drone flew over the field waving a Greater Albania flag. Based on online footage, the drone appears to be a DJI Phantom or a Phantom 2, which retails for roughly $500 to $800 depending on the model. The Tuesday game, which was to be a Euro 2016 qualifier match between the two sides, was the first time they had met in the Serbian capital since 1967. According to The Guardian, away fans were not allowed in the stadiums in either Belgrade or in the upcoming rematch in Tirana, the capital of the Republic of Albania. The two sides’ enthusiasm for soccer has been overshadowed by a larger political issue: Kosovo, a republic that broke away from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo, which has a majority ethnic Albanian population, is not formally recognized by Serbia but is recognized by the United States, Canada, Australia, France, the United Kingdom, and many other states. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Since its successful launch back in 2010, the Humble Bundle pay-what-you-want-for-indie-PC-games distribution service has expanded to include AAA games, Android games, music, and even eBooks. Now, the service is expanding in another new direction with the Humble Mozilla Bundle, focused exclusively on games that can be played in any WebGL-compatible browser. For the next two weeks, users can pay what they want for access to DRM-free versions of Super Hexagon, Aaaaa! for the Awesome, Osmos, Zen bound 2, and Dustforce DX. Contributing over certain thresholds adds access to Voxatron, FTL: Advanced Edition, and Democracy 3. While most of the games can also be redeemed on Steam or downloaded directly (and DRM-free) for Windows, Mac, or Linux, the gimmick here is that all eight titles can all be played in a modern WebGL-compliant browser like Chrome or Firefox (other browsers may work, but they aren't guaranteed to be supported by the Humble Bundle folks). To prove the concept, you can play limited demos of each title right now on HumbleBundle.com, without having to download any executables, plug-ins, storefronts, or game managers (you can also expand to full screen, of course). Just a quick data download in an embedded HTML5 object is all you need to play the game locally, not streamed from a remote server as is the case with some other in-browser gaming "solutions." While many users no doubt still think of browser-based gaming as the province of bulky, 2D Flash games with huge processor overhead, that impression is pretty outdated at this point. Using HTML5 and WebGL standards and optimized coding subsets like asm.js, developers can now approach native executable performance while still taking advantage of the cross-platform compatibility of a browser window. Epic's in-browser Unreal Engine 4 demos and the Unity engine's addition of browser support earlier this year proved that concept quite well, and now the Humble Bundle is going further to prove it as a viable model for distributing actual games. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Linksys Linksys is betting big on its new blue router, a resurrection of the classic WRT54G design with modern components inside. The company (now owned by Belkin) today said it plans a new line of networking peripherals to complement the device, starting with an 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch. "It Looks so Cool!" Linksys's public relations squad informed us in an e-mail, which also said the switch saves space by stacking beneath the $250 WRT1900AC router. And it does look pretty neat. But at $70, it's a little pricey. The Netgear GS108NA 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch is smaller than the new Linksys one and can be had for $47. For $80, you could buy a TrendNet 16-port Gigabit switch. You could even buy an 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch for $50 from Linksys.  But nothing says "cool" like a sweet looking network switch. "With its sleek lines and designed to physically stack below the WRT1900AC, the SE4008 is a perfect match for the iconic WRT1900AC router (sold separately)—allowing users to expand their local area network and connect devices to the Internet without taking up additional shelf space," Linksys said. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Welcome to Google's actual offices in Dublin, Ireland. Tobias Abel Ireland's Ministry of Finance announced that Ireland will phase out its controversial (but legal) tax scheme known as the "Double Irish," which lets companies, especially tech companies, drastically reduce their overseas tax burden. "I am abolishing the ability of companies to use the ‘Double Irish’ by changing our residency rules to require all companies registered in Ireland to also be tax resident," Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in a statement accompanying the government’s new 2015 budget on Tuesday. "This legal change will take effect from the 1st of January 2015 for new companies. For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020." The move will affect many tech firms that take advantage of this arrangement such as Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft, and Google. Last year, for example, Google alone cut billions off of its tax bill. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A smattering of the brands with products available via Google Express (née Google Shopping Express). Google Blog Google has added a subscription option to its Shopping Express service, putting it in competition with Amazon's Prime membership program. Shopping Express customers can now pay $95 per year or $10 per month to access a number of perks, including free same-day or overnight delivery on orders of $15 or more and the ability to share the membership with another person in the household. Google has offered Shopping Express (which, going forward, the company will simplify to "Google Express") in Northern California since the spring of 2013. It expanded the service to New York and LA a year later, just as a same-day delivery service. As of October, the company will expand Express to Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC. Google Express service is limited to certain brands including Staples, Walgreens, and Target. New stores and retailers were added with this most recent update, including 1-800-Flowers, Barnes and Noble, and Sports Authority, as well as regional stores like Paragon Sports in New York and Stop & Shop in Boston. When users order from the selection of stores, a livery vehicle picks the items up and delivers them to the user's location. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
TrackingPoint's ShotGlass wearables. TrackingPoint When we last visited Austin-based TrackingPoint in August, the company was keen to show off some as-yet-unnamed preproduction wearable technology that was still in development. At the time, this took the form of a somewhat difficult-to-see Android-powered screen mounted on some ski goggles. The tech mirrored the image on a TrackingPoint Precision Guided Firearm directly into your eye, enabling the weapon’s user to do some fancy "no-look" shots. The wheel has turned, and a few months later, the goggles have evolved into a set of sleek sunglasses with a new name: ShotGlass. ShotGlass has kept its Android-powered core, but it has gained quite a few features from the prototype model we used a few months back. In addition to being able to display and record the output of the rifle’s scope (transmitted via Wi-Fi), ShotGlass has its own microphone and forward-facing camera to record what the wearer sees and hears. When added to the rifle’s own audio and visual recordings, ShotGlass has the potential to capture a considerable amount of information about each and every shot taken. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Ethan Kirschner In March, Newsweek came roaring back to the print world with a tech-themed cover story. The publication said it had discovered "the face behind Bitcoin"—an unemployed engineer living an unassuming life in a Los Angeles suburb. Within days of publication, critics began pointing out that the magazine's case that Dorian Nakamoto was actually Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto was based on circumstantial evidence. The 65-year-old Dorian Nakamoto, who has no background in cryptography at all, denied the story after it was published. Newsweek and author Leah McGrath Goodman did not apologize and instead doubled down on their thesis, putting out a statement that "the facts as reported point toward Mr. Nakamoto's role in the founding of Bitcoin." Now, Nakamoto and his lawyer Ethan Kirschner have made clear they'd like to sue Newsweek over the story—but they need more money to do it. The two have created a website called "Newsweek Lied," which lays out their grievances and features a photo of Dorian Nakamoto holding a sign saying "Newsweek's article hurt my family." Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Thanks to base pairing, a carefully designed DNA molecule can fold into all sorts of interesting shapes. Caltech Controlling the shape of tiny, inorganic structures could help us build light harvesting devices and other nanophotonic equipment. Previous methods for making them were limited in terms of controlling things like size, symmetry, and shape, and there were problems with scalability for commercialization. Recently, researchers have developed DNA nanotechnology, which allows us to rationally design and synthesize nanoscopic structures with specific shapes. They've now used the successes they’ve had with DNA to develop an innovative approach to making 3D inorganic structures with specific shapes. Researchers used computational modeling to design the shape of a 3D DNA cavity that is then created by self-assembled DNA strands—base pairing dictates how the DNA folds up in three dimensions. The DNA structure then acts as a mold for casting metal nanoparticles into desired 3D shapes, including asymmetric ones. Computational design of the DNA mold involved optimizing its structural stiffness and the dimensions of the internal cavity. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Traditionally, Skype has been built all around more or less synchronous conversations; whether audio, video, or instant message, Skype chats have tended to be realtime conversational communication. Today, the company is branching out with a new standalone messaging app, Skype Qik, built around asynchronous video messaging, available for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS. I think the best way to describe Qik is by analogy to other mobile messaging platforms. Like WhatsApp, Qik has no real registration or user ID concept; it just uses your phone number, verified by SMS message. The app ties into your phone's address book to put names to numbers, and it seems that to send a message to someone, they must in fact be in your address book. There are no friendships or other formal relationships, so anyone can send a message to anyone, but if you don't want someone to send you messages, you can block them (though currently this feature is missing from the iOS version). Listing your conversations, on the Windows Phone version. 4 more images in gallery Like Vine and Snapchat, Qik messages are short videos, with a limit of 42 seconds (a number that was apparently chosen for its cosmic significance). These can be recorded with the front or back cameras. On iOS and Android (and coming later to Windows Phone), Qik also lets you save short (5 second) messages, called Qik Fliks, that you can use as canned responses for when you want to reply to a conversation but aren't somewhere that you can record a video response. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Nordic Food Labs (mobile division?). Flickr user: Gregory Povey At first my meal seems familiar, like countless other dishes I’ve eaten at Asian restaurants. A swirl of noodles slicked with oil and studded with shredded chicken, the aroma of ginger and garlic, a few wilting chives placed on the plate as a final flourish. And then, I notice the eyes. Dark, compound orbs on a yellow speckled head, joined to a winged, segmented body. I hadn’t spotted them right away, but suddenly I see them everywhere—my noodles are teeming with insects. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. On this warm May afternoon, I’ve agreed to be a guinea pig at an experimental insect tasting in Wageningen, a university town in the central Netherlands. My hosts are Ben Reade and Josh Evans from the Nordic Food Lab, a non-profit culinary research institute. Reade and Evans lead the lab’s ‘insect deliciousness’ project, a three-year effort to turn insects—the creepy-crawlies that most of us squash without a second thought—into tasty, craveable treats. Read 62 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
A group of cyber spies targeted the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Ukrainian and Polish government agencies, and a variety of sensitive European industries over the last year, in some cases using a previously unknown flaw in Windows systems to infiltrate targets, according to a research report released on Tuesday. Dubbed "Sandworm" by iSIGHT Partners, the security consultancy that discovered the zero-day attack, the campaign is suspected to be Russian in origin based on technical details, the malware tools used, and the chosen targets, which also included government agencies in Europe and academics in the United States. If confirmed, the attack is an uncommon look into Russia's cyber-espionage capabilities. "We can confirm that NATO was hit; we know from several sources that multiple organizations in the Ukraine were targeted," John Hultquist, senior manager of cyber-espionage threat intelligence for iSIGHT. "We have seen them using Ukrainian infrastructure as part of their attacks." Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Popular online locker service Dropbox appears to have been hacked. A series of posts have been made to Pastebin purporting to contain login credentials for hundreds of Dropbox accounts, with the poster claiming that altogether 6,937,081 account credentials have been compromised. Reddit users who have tested some of the leaked credentials have confirmed that at least some of them work. Dropbox seems to have bulk reset all the accounts listed in the Pastebin postings, though thus far other accounts do not appear to have had their passwords reset. The hackers claim that they will release more username/password pairs if they receive donations to their bitcoin address. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Financial Times reported on Monday (paywall) that YouTube has paid out $1 billion to copyright holders in a program that allows them to monetize unauthorized use of their copyrighted material. YouTube introduced ContentID in 2007 to scan user-generated uploads for copyright infringement. When ContentID finds an upload that may have unauthorized copyrighted material on it, it alerts rights holders and gives them the option to either have the video taken down or to place ads on the video and make money off those views. Over 5,000 copyright holders, like music labels and TV and movie studios, participate in the program. “All of the big US TV networks and movie studios” are included, the Financial Times notes. Over the last seven years, $1 billion has been paid to those participants, in some cases making unauthorized uses on YouTube an important revenue stream for the rights holders. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management One of the more unusual recent developments in ocean conservation has been the use of artificial reefs. Old ships and even old subway cars have been used to create environments for fish to congregate in areas of the seafloor that are otherwise featureless. But it's not clear whether these habitats provide a place for fish to gather or actually boost the fish populations in the area. A new study looked at the productivity of a different sort of artificial reef: the oil and natural gas rigs that dot the state's coastline. The report finds that the oil rigs are the most productive fisheries ever measured—not only in California but in the entire world. The report notes that many of these platforms will be obsolete over the coming decades, and we might want to think about what we do when we're done using them for their original purpose. There are different ways of measuring an ecosystem's productivity. One is primary productivity, or how much carbon dioxide is converted into useful organic molecules by plants and other photosynthetic organisms. Then there's secondary productivity, defined as how much of that finds its way to herbivores and predators. In this case, the authors were interested in fish, so they focused on secondary productivity. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Websites focused on the involuntary publication of nude photos already had the attention of lawmakers in recent years, even before last month's leak of stolen photos of various celebrities. Now the United Kingdom is ready to pass the first national law banning the practice, making it punishable by up to two years in jail. "The fact that there are individuals who are cruelly distributing intimate pictures of their former partners without their consent is almost beyond belief," said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling in a statement. "We want those who fall victim to this type of disgusting behavior to know that we are on their side and will do everything we can to bring offenders to justice." Grayling's statement also notes that depending on circumstances, distribution of nude photos without a subject's consent may already violate other British laws, including the Communications Act of 2003. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 9 days ago on ars technica
We're now close to two weeks into the game industry's critical holiday quarter, and if your wallet isn't crying yet, it likely will be when the flood of games continues through November and into December. A new offer from Microsoft has the potential to cushion that blow a little bit, offering $15 in Xbox Live Rewards for Xbox 360 and Xbox One games pre-ordered through the Microsoft Store website. To get the deal, you have to link your Xbox Live account to the Xbox Live Rewards program, which gives additional online store credit for other online activities. Use that Rewards account e-mail when pre-ordering Xbox games on MicrosoftStore.com starting today and you'll get 15,000 Reward points, worth $15 in Xbox Live store credit, for each of up to three pre-orders. After that, you can still take advantage of the same $10 gift card or Xbox Live credit being offered to anyone who pre-orders from the site. More details are available on Xbox Wire and on the Xbox Live Rewards site. It's not clear how long the bonus rewards offer will last, so if you're planning on pre-ordering an Xbox game anyway, you might as well take advantage sooner than later. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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If you can't beat 'em... @Snappening An Indianapolis-based events planning search engine startup is seeing huge upticks in Web traffic and social media activity this week, attracting thousands of new visitors from over 150 countries—though not because it knocked its marketing goals out of the park. In the midst of a campaign to roll out nationally, Snappening has been getting a lot more eyeballs, and most of them are searching for something other than a wedding planner. Since the Snapchat photo leak that was dubbed “the Snappening” on 4Chan last week, Snappening has seen 100,000 new visitors to its site. Evidently a few trolling posters on 4Chan offered up the company's website as the location for gigabytes of stolen Snapchat photos pulled from the website SnapSaved.com. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
LAPD in action. Flickr user: John Liu This piece originally appeared in Pro Publica. In 2007, as it pushed to build a state-of-the-art surveillance facility, the Los Angeles Police Department cast an acquisitive eye on software being developed by Palantir, a startup funded in part by the Central Intelligence Agency's venture capital arm. Originally designed for spy agencies, Palantir's technology allowed users to track individuals with unprecedented reach, connecting information from conventional sources like crime reports with more controversial data gathered by surveillance cameras and license plate readers that automatically, and indiscriminately, photographed passing cars. Read 61 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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xlibber For the first time, the government is removing seven Americans from the no-fly list to comport with a federal judge's ruling that the methods to challenge placement on the watch list were "wholly ineffective." Federal authorities notified the American Civil Liberties Union—which is representing 13 people who sued to get off the list—of its decision (PDF) late Friday. The government has until January to deal with the other six plaintiffs the ACLU is handling. The government's actions are in response to a June decision by US District Judge Anna Brown of Oregon, who ruled that the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program run by the Department of Homeland Security was unconstitutional and does not provide "a meaningful mechanism for travelers who have been denied boarding to correct erroneous information in the government's terrorism databases." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Every second, the Earth is being struck by cosmic rays, high energy particles that slam into the atmosphere. Understanding where they come from and how they're generated could provide information about some of the most energetic processes in the Universe. But Earth's atmosphere protects us from them, ensuring that they don't make it to the surface. Instead, we have to look for the shower of photons and particles that the cosmic rays create when they hit the atmosphere. Even large detectors, however, only capture a few traces of the high energy particles that reach the Earth, meaning that careful studies of their origin can take years, possibly even decades. So some researchers decided it might be possible to take advantage of a large population of non-specialized detectors that are pre-positioned all over the world: cell phone cameras. The researchers from the University of California have drafted a paper in which they describe testing whether a smartphone camera can detect high energy photons and particles of the sort produced by cosmic rays. Testing with radioactive isotopes of radium, cobalt, and cesium showed that the detector easily picked up gamma rays (and you didn't even have to point the phones at the source!). They also put a phone inside a lead box and showed that they could detect high energy particles. Finally, they took a phone up on a commercial flight and were able to obtain a particle track across the detector. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Apple Pay is the most important thing to launch with iOS 8.1. Apple 9to5Mac has received training materials “from a reliable source” that were given out by Apple to acquaint its employees with the ins and outs of the company's forthcoming Apple Pay service. These training materials have some interesting new details about the service, specifically mentioning that expired credit cards will be updated automatically in Apple Pay by the card issuer. Keeping credit card information current shows an interesting level of commitment from banks to making Apple Pay work. On competing platforms, once a credit card has expired, that card will be declined until the updated information is entered manually. The leaked document also shows that Apple Pay will be closely integrated with Apple's Passbook app. “Apple Pay can be set up via the Passbook application through both the initial iOS 8 setup process or in a new Settings.app tab called Passbook & Apple Pay,” 9to5Mac reports. Passbook will apparently take cards that are already on file through iTunes, or users can upload card details by taking a picture of the card. Users can then store up to eight debit or credit cards, which they will be able to select at checkout when using Apple Pay. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Netflix's payments to Verizon for a direct connection to its network didn't result in immediate improvements for the companies' joint subscribers, but they're finally paying off with better video performance. Verizon FiOS actually topped all other major ISPs in Netflix performance in September with an average stream rate of 3.17Mbps, Netflix said today. Netflix Although Verizon FiOS led all large ISPs in Netflix performance, Google Fiber is still No. 1 among all ISPs regardless of size with a 3.54Mbps average in September. In August, Netflix streamed at an average of 2.41Mbps on Verizon FiOS, ranking tenth out of 16 major ISPs. In July, Netflix speed on Verizon FiOS was 1.61Mbps and in June it was 1.58Mbps, ranking 12th in both months. The Netflix/Verizon deal was announced in late April. When performance continued to get worse after the interconnection agreement, Verizon said it might take until the end of 2014 to get all the proper network connections in place to speed up video. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Posters to 4Chan’s /b/ forum continue to pore over the contents of thousands of images taken by users of the Snapchat messaging service that were recently leaked from a third-party website. Meanwhile, the developer behind that site, SnapSaved.com, used a Facebook post to say it was hacked because of a misconfigured Apache server. The statement also gets into the extent of the breach, while playing down reports that personal information from the users involved was also taken. “I sincerely apologize on behalf of SnapSaved.com,” the developer’s spokesperson wrote. “We did not wish to cause Snapchat or their users harm, we only wished to provide a unique service.” SnapSaved’s developer said there was no substance to claims by some 4Chan posters that a searchable database of the images stolen from the service’s server was being developed. “The recent rumors about the snappening are a hoax,” the developer wrote. “The hacker does not have sufficient information to live up to his claims of creating a searchable database.” The developer also said that the service actively “tried to cleanse the database of inappropriate images as often as possible…SnapSaved has always tried to fight child pornography, [and] we have even gone as far as reporting some of our users to the Swedish and Norwegian authorities.” Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Everywhere you look in this game, there's another stunning vista. Even though it only has two games to its name, Borderlands was already kind of feeling set in its ways. The 2012 sequel to the 2009 original largely provided more of the same mix of shooting action, RPG-style leveling, and a ridiculously huge selection of ever-more-powerful guns. It's not that the Borderlands games are bad—on the contrary, they provide some of the most finely tuned, all-out shooting insanity this side of the Serious Sam series, especially when played cooperatively with friends. It's just that, even after only two games, Borderlands was already feeling like the kind of franchise that was going to stick to a predictable, proven formula, perhaps for decades—the kind of series where if you'd played one game, you'd feel like you played them all. Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The U.S. National Security Agency has worked with companies to weaken encryption products at the same time it infiltrated firms to gain access to sensitive systems, according to a purportedly leaked classified document outlined in an article on The Intercept. The document, allegedly leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, appears to be a highly classified summary intended for a very small group of vetted national security officials according to details included in The Intercept article, which was published this weekend. The document outlines six programs at the core of the NSA's mission, collected under the name Sentry Eagle. The Intercept claims the document states "The facts contained in [the Sentry Eagle] program constitute a combination of the greatest number of highly sensitive facts related to NSA/CSS’s overall cryptologic mission." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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