07-18-2024  4:14 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather

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NORTHWEST NEWS

Money From Washington's Landmark Climate Law Will Help Tribes Face Rising Seas, Climate Change

Tens of millions of dollars raised by a landmark climate law in Washington state will go to Native American tribes that are at risk from climate change and rising sea levels to help them move to higher ground, install solar panels, buy electric vehicles and restore wetlands. The Quinault Indian Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula is getting million to help relocate its two main villages to higher ground, away from the tsunami zone and persistent flooding.

The Top Draft Pick of the Mariners Pitches Lefty and Righty. Jurrangelo Cijntje Wants to Keep It Up

Cijntje threw right-handed to lefties more often in 2024 but said it was because of discomfort in his left side. The Mariners say they want Cijntje to decide how to proceed as a righty and/or lefty as a pro. He says he wants to continue pitching from both sides.

Wildfire Risk Rises as Western States Dry out Amid Ongoing Heat Wave Baking Most of the US

Blazes are burning in Oregon, where the governor issued an emergency authorization allowing additional firefighting resources to be deployed. More than 142 million people around the U.S. were under heat alerts Wednesday, especially across the West, where dozens of locations tied or broke heat records.

Forum Explores Dangerous Intersection of Brain Injury and Law Enforcement

The Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing hosted event with medical, legal and first-hand perspectives.

NEWS BRIEFS

UNCF Celebrating 80 Years of Transforming Lives

The UNCF Each One Teach One Luncheon is Sunday, July 21, 2-5 p.m., Hyatt Regency at the Oregon Convention Center. ...

Interstate Bridge Replacement Program Awarded $1.499 Billion

Federal support again demonstrates multimodal replacement of the Interstate Bridge is a national priority ...

Echohawk Selected for Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board

Indigenous woman and executive leader of Snoqualmie-owned enterprise to serve on national board advancing regulatory fairness and...

HUD Reaches Settlement to Ensure Equal Opportunity in the Appraisal Profession

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has entered into an historic Conciliation...

HUD Expands Program to Help Homeowners Repair Homes

The newly updated Federal Housing Administration Program will assist families looking for affordable financing to repair, purchase, or...

Oregon authorities recover body of award-winning chef who drowned in river accident

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon authorities said Wednesday that they have recovered the body of award-winning chef Naomi Pomeroy following her drowning in a river accident. The Benton County Sheriff's Office said it located her body Wednesday morning in the Willamette River between...

Aging bridges in 16 states will be improved or replaced with the help of B in federal funding

Dozens of aging bridges in 16 states will be replaced or improved with the help of billion in federal grants announced Wednesday by President Joe Biden's administration, the latest beneficiaries of a massive infrastructure law. The projects range from coast to coast, with the...

Missouri governor says new public aid plan in the works for Chiefs, Royals stadiums

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday that he expects the state to put together an aid plan by the end of the year to try to keep the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals from being lured across state lines to new stadiums in Kansas. Missouri's renewed efforts...

Kansas governor signs bills enabling effort to entice Chiefs and Royals with new stadiums

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' governor signed legislation Friday enabling the state to lure the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Major League Baseball's Royals away from neighboring Missouri by helping the teams pay for new stadiums. Gov. Laura Kelly's action came three days...

OPINION

The 900-Page Guide to Snuffing Out American Democracy

What if there was a blueprint for a future presidential administration to unilaterally lay waste to our constitutional order and turn America from a democracy into an autocracy in one fell swoop? That is what one far-right think tank and its contributors...

SCOTUS Decision Seizes Power to Decide Federal Regulations: Hard-Fought Consumer Victories Now at Risk

For Black and Latino Americans, this power-grab by the court throws into doubt and potentially weakens current agency rules that sought to bring us closer to the nation’s promises of freedom and justice for all. In two particular areas – fair housing and...

Minding the Debate: What’s Happening to Our Brains During Election Season

The June 27 presidential debate is the real start of the election season, when more Americans start to pay attention. It’s when partisan rhetoric runs hot and emotions run high. It’s also a chance for us, as members of a democratic republic. How? By...

State of the Nation’s Housing 2024: The Cost of the American Dream Jumped 47 Percent Since 2020

Only 1 in 7 renters can afford homeownership, homelessness at an all-time high ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

New Mexico governor cites 'dangerous intersection' of crime and homelessness, wants lawmakers to act

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Citing what she calls the “dangerous intersection” of crime and homelessness, New Mexico's governor is calling on lawmakers to address stubbornly high crime rates as they convene Thursday for a special legislative session. In issuing her proclamation, Gov....

City council vote could enable a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark — and the old site's transformation

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A key city council vote Thursday on a major redevelopment project in St. Petersburg could pave the way to give baseball's Tampa Bay Rays a new ballpark, which would guarantee the team stays for at least 30 years. The .5 billion project, supporters say,...

John Deere ends support of 'social or cultural awareness' events, distances from inclusion efforts

NEW YORK (AP) — Farm equipment maker John Deere says it will no longer sponsor “social or cultural awareness” events, becoming the latest major U.S. company to distance itself from diversity and inclusion measures after being targeted by conservative backlash. In a statement...

ENTERTAINMENT

NBA agrees to terms on a record 11-year, billion media rights deal, AP source says

The NBA has agreed to terms on its new media deals, a record 11-year agreement worth billion that would assure player salaries will continue rising for the foreseeable future and one that will surely change how some viewers access the game for years to come. A person familiar with...

On anniversary of Frida Kahlo's death, her art's spirituality keeps fans engaged around the globe

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Frida Kahlo had no religious affiliation. Why, then, did the Mexican artist depict several religious symbols in the paintings she produced until her death on July 13, 1954? “Frida conveyed the power of each individual,” said art researcher and curator Ximena...

Celebrity birthdays for the week of July 21-27

Celebrity birthdays for the week of July 21-27: July 21: Actor Leigh Lawson (“Tess”) is 81. Singer Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) is 76. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau (“Doonesbury”) is 76. Actor Jamey Sheridan (“Homeland”) is 73. Singer-guitarist Eric Bazilian of The Hooters is 71....

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

China investigators suspect construction work caused fire that killed 16 people in shopping mall

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese investigators suspect construction work sparked a fire that caused 16 deaths in a...

Hundreds attend vigil for man killed at Trump rally in Pennsylvania before visitation Thursday

SARVER, Pa. (AP) — Hundreds of people who gathered to remember the former fire chief fatally shot at a weekend...

The Latest | Israeli minister's visit to Jerusalem holy site puts pressure on cease-fire talks

A leading far-right figure in the Israeli government visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site on Thursday, a...

Pacific island leaders agree to enhance Japan's role in the region amid growing China influence

TOKYO (AP) — Leaders of 18 Pacific island nations and areas agreed to an enhanced role of Japan in the region's...

In landmark verdict, South Korea's top court recognizes some rights for same-sex couples

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s top court ruled Thursday that same-sex couples are eligible to receive...

China Communist Party policy meeting endorses leader Xi's high-tech vision for economy

BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party wrapped up a top-level meeting on Thursday by endorsing policies...

By Tim Hume CNN







The FBI caught the man accused of creating Silk Road -- the shadowy e-commerce site it describes as "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today" -- after he allegedly posted his Gmail address online, according to court documents.

Federal agents swooped on Ross William Ulbricht in a San Francisco public library Tuesday afternoon, charging the 29-year-old American with narcotics trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering. They allege he is "the Dread Pirate Roberts," the Silk Road's mysterious founder, who drew his pseudonym from the feared, fictitious character in the film The Princess Bride.

The FBI claims the former physics and engineering student even publicly alluded to his alleged criminal enterprise on his LinkedIn profile, with a statement describing how his goals had "shifted" in accordance with his libertarian economic views since leaving grad school at Pennsylvania State University.

Ulbricht's LinkedIn profile states that, since completing his studies in 2010, he has focused on "creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force" of the kind imposed by "institutions and governments."

"I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression (sic) amongst mankind," he wrote.

In the indictment against Ulbricht, filed in a New York court, the FBI cyber-crime specialist who led the investigation, Christopher Tarbell, stated that he believed "that this 'economic simulation' referred to by Ulbricht is Silk Road."

The Amazon.com of vice

The FBI swiftly shuttered the site, an underground digital marketplace that, since its inception in 2011, has allowed users to anonymously trade illegal goods and services in near total secrecy, using the digital currency bitcoin, and an encryption network called Tor that routes traffic through a "hidden" area of the Internet known as "the dark web."

Tarbell said the site "sought to make conducting illegal transactions on the Internet as easy and frictionless as shopping online at mainstream e-commerce websites," and carried listings for hard drugs, hackers, counterfeit cash, forged ID documents, firearms, ammunition, even hitmen -- one of whom Ulbricht is alleged to have enlisted to kill a blackmailer.

According to the indictment, Silk Road had acquired nearly a million registered users worldwide -- about 30% of whom were based in the U.S. -- in its two and a half years of operation, providing them guidance on how to encrypt their communications and vacuum-pack their wares before shipping through the postal service to avoid detection by law enforcement. Last year, it said, the site added a "stealth mode" for users who considered themselves "at risk of becoming a target for law enforcement."

The indictment said the site had generated over 9.5 million bitcoins in sales revenue and over 600,000 bitcoins in commissions for its owner, allowing the site to employ a team of administrators. The value of bitcoins has fluctuated dramatically since the digital currency was created -- it plummeted after Ulbricht's arrest -- but Tarbell estimated Silk Road's turnover to be worth about $1.2 billion in sales, and $80 million in commissions.

In February, an Australian drug dealer became the first person to be convicted in connection to Silk Road after using the site to import cocaine and MDMA from Europe.

Catching the Dread Pirate Roberts

In the section of the indictment outlining how the link between Ulbricht and Dread Pirate Roberts was established, Tarbell detailed how an FBI expert codenamed Agent-1 had located an early online mention of Silk Road dating to January 27, 2011, when a user under the handle "Altoid" made a post on a forum for users of magic mushrooms.

"I came across this website called Silk Road," wrote Altoid, in a post which linked to the site. "I'm thinking of buying off it... Let me know what you think."

Two days later, someone using the handle "Altoid" made a similar post on a forum called Bitcoin Talk, recommending Silk Road and providing a link. "Has anyone seen Silk Road yet? It's kind of like an anonymous Amazon.com. I don't think they have heroin on there, but they are selling other stuff," it read.

The posts, said Tarbell, were an attempt to drum up interest in Silk Road, employing the online marketing tactic of "astroturfing."

Investigators were given a major break when, eight months later, "Altoid" made another posting on Bitcoin Talk, stating he was looking for "an IT pro in the Bitcoin community" to hire in connection with "a venture backed Bitcoin startup company." The posting asked interested parties to contact [email protected].

The indictment also noted that Ulbricht and Dread Pirate Roberts were both vocal adherents of the libertarian theories of Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises, with Ulbricht's public Google+ account linking to YouTube videos posted by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and Dread Pirate Roberts repeatedly crediting von Mises with "providing the philosophical underpinnings for Silk Road."

From a San Francisco Internet cafe

Tarbell said that while Dread Pirate Roberts used a "virtual private network," or VPN, to create a "false" IP address, the VPN server's records indicated a user had accessed it from a San Francisco Internet café near the home of a friend Ulbricht had gone to live with around September last year.

Records obtained from Google showed Ulbricht had regularly logged into his Gmail account from the Internet café, he said -- including on the same day in June that the VPN was accessed.

In July, Ulbricht was visited in San Francisco by Homeland Security agents who had intercepted a package from Canada containing fake ID documents in nine different names, each bearing a photograph of Ulbricht.

According to the indictment, Ulbricht -- whose roommates knew him as "Josh," and said he was always at home on his computer -- refused to answer questions about the IDs, but told the agents that "hypothetically" anyone could go on the Silk Road and purchase them.

In the weeks prior to the encounter, said Tarbell, Dread Pirate Roberts had been inquiring with Silk Road users about buying fake IDs, saying he needed them in order to rent extra servers for the site.

A killing for hire?

It was not the only time Ulbricht is alleged to have used the site to procure illegal services. Tarbell claimed that in March, Dread Pirate Roberts solicited the killing of a Silk Road user who was attempting to blackmail him by threatening to release the identities of thousands of users of the site.

The FBI alleges that the Canada-based extortionist, known as FriendlyChemist, demanded $500,000 to prevent the release of the information, prompting Dread Pirate Roberts to contact another user and order a hit on FriendlyChemist.

"In my eyes, FriendlyChemist is a liability and I wouldn't mind if he was executed," he is alleged to have written, before attempting to haggle down the price. "Don't want to be a pain here, but the price seems high. Not long ago, I had a clean hit done for $80k."

The FBI claims the hitman later sent a picture of the victim after the job was done -- for approximately $150,000 in bitcoins -- although Tarbell said Canadian authorities had no record of a Canadian resident with the name passed to the alleged hitman, nor any record of a homicide around that location and time.

Ulbricht's lawyer, Brandon Leblanc, declined to comment on the case.

Silk Road's closure is unlikely to bring an end to the trade of illegal goods on the "dark web," as similar sites operate on the Tor network.