[ARTICLE & PHOTO] Amazon’s Drug Dealer Scale

AWS-100 ScaleCritics say that Amazon.com has unintentionally created a drug dealer guide as part of its normal user experience. When you go to buy the AWS-100 scale, as with any other product on the site, you are also presented with a list of related products that users have also bought. Unfortunately, it seems like this scale is a favorite amongst drug dealers, if you scan through the related items that users also purchased:

  • Many “spice” grinders
  • Pipe screens
  • A rolling paper and tray bundle
  • Bulk pure caffeine powder (perhaps to cut heroin?)
  • Baggies
  • More baggies
  • Skull baggies
  • Pot-leaf baggies
  • An encapsulation machine and gelatin capsules
  • A scientific spatula
  • A diamond tester (?!)
  • “Air Tight Odorless Medical Jar Herb Stash Medicine Container”
  • Digital caliper
  • Tweezer and snifter set for “miners and prospectors”
  • A tool for cleaning a gun part
  • A safe in the form of a Dr. Pepper can
  • Potassium Metabisulfite (for decontamination?)
  • A drug testing kit (“this kit contains the same reagent chemicals as found in Justice Department test kits”)
  • A really powerful magnet
  • “TAP DAT ASH” ashtray
  • Beta alanine powder (maybe for bodybuilders?)
  • An actual drug called kratom (big in Thailand, apparently)

Amazon clearly did not set out to create such a field-tested kit for starting an illicit business. But looking at the list of items, it sure seems like they’ve created a group of products by looking at the purchasing habits of people who may not be recording all of their incomes on W-2s and 1099s. Not everyone who buys one of these scales is a drug dealer, but… it sure seems popular among a demographic in need of baggies.

The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs [via The Atlantic]

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[ARTICLE, PHOTO] Mapping Gang Structure Using Phone Records

Log-Analysis-SoftwareSoftware called LogAnalysis could help law enforcement map the structure of a criminal gang by analyzing the mobile phone records of the gang’s members. This is not the first time software has been used to do so, as Orca has been used by major police departments to analyze arrest records to understand relationships between criminals. The LogAnalysis software was develped by Indiana University researchers led by Emilio Ferrara, and it uses call records and other data to map gang hierarchy using “social network theory.” As funny as it may sound, this theory can be neatly summarized by saying that those who make the most calls are likely at the bottom of the hierarchy, while those who make the least calls are at the top (apparently even the top leadership in a criminal gang is as aloof as in legitimate organizations). Apparently, at least some of the group’s researchers are from Sicily, leading to some reasonable assumptions regarding what criminal organization they have been using as a base for their work!
How to Detect Criminal Gangs Using Mobile Phone Data [via MIT Technology Review]

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[ARTICLE, VIDEO] Police Are Testing a Live “Google Earth” to Watch Crime as it Happens

Police in Compton, CA last year quietly began testing a real-time surveillance system which allowed them to record all happenings in the city – meaning all crimes – in real-time. Unlike CCTV-type stationary cameras that are widely used in the United Kingdom and have gained some traction in cities like New York, the new system is aerial based, in which a plane is outfitted with a special high resolution camera that can surveil a 25 sq. mile area at a time. Specifically, cities like Compton, Baltimore, and Dayton have tested a wide area surveillance system developed by Persistent Surveillance Systems, which is owned by retired Air Force veteran Ross McNutt. This system can record and zoom in on street crimes as local and targeted as a purse snatching from a pedestrian on a sidewalk, and then follow the getaway vehicle as it drives around town. Though the system is not yet good enough to identify individual faces, it represents a promising advance for law enforcement to observe and track criminal activity.
Hollywood-style surveillance technology inches closer to reality [via The Center for Investigative Reporting]

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[ARTICLE, PHOTO, VIDEO] Volvo’s Inflatable Child Seat


Car manufacturer Volvo announced it is developing an inflatable child car seat concept that weighs under 11 pounds and which can inflate/deflate in 40 seconds at the push of the button with an electronic pump. Supposedly, the car seat is made out of a strong fabric that was originally developed for the military’s aborted attempt to make inflatable airplanes. You’ll have to wait to get your hands on one though, as there are no plans yet to bring the car seat to market.

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[ARTICLE & VIDEO] Next Generation Anti-Counterfeiting Tech

Some 2 to 5 percent of all international trade involves counterfeit goods, according to a 2013 United Nations report. These illicit products — which include electronics, automotive and aircraft parts, pharmaceuticals, and food — can pose safety risks and cost governments and private companies hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

Many strategies have been developed to try to label legitimate products and prevent illegal trade — but these tags are often too easy to fake, are unreliable, or cost too much to implement, according to MIT researchers who have developed a new alternative.

Led by MIT chemical engineering professor Patrick Doyle and Lincoln Laboratory technical staff member Albert Swiston, the researchers have invented a new type of tiny, smartphone-readable particle that they believe could be deployed to help authenticate currency, electronic parts, and luxury goods, among other products. The particles, which are invisible to the naked eye, contain colored stripes of nanocrystals that glow brightly when lit up with near-infrared light.

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[ARTICLE & PHOTO] Smart Roadway Already Here

Glow-in-the-Dark-RoadsIn the Netherlands, a 500 meter section of road near the city of Oss now holds the distinction of having become the first road in thec country to have its lane markings painted using light-absorbing paint which glows in the dark. The special paint absorbs light during the day and then slowly releases this energy at night, during which time it can glow for up to eight hours, clearly illuminating the edge of the road along with other key markings. The technology would be particularly useful for roads where there are no street lamps. The glow-in-the-dark paint was developed by construction firm Heijmans, and though no concrete plans have been set future illuminated roads, the company is said to be very interested in applying the material to other thoroughfares.

First glowing road opened near Oss via [Dutch News]

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[ARTICLE] Can You Buy Your Way Out of a CA Speeding Ticket?

In California, by making a donation to the 11-99 Foundation, you can get license plate frames that say “CHP 11-99 Foundation,” which is the full name of a charitable organization that supports California Highway Patrol officers and their families in times of crisis. Whether this means you can get out of a speeding ticket when pulled over has been a matter of some discussion.

On Officer.com, in a discussion about 11-99 frames (and fakes) mentioned earlier, a number of cops weighed in. Priceonomics is still trying to verify identities, so their statements could be fabrications. But it presents an intriguing perspective of officers’ potential views on the 11-99 frames.

A number of cops reported ignoring the license plate frames when they decided whether to pull over and ticket drivers. One cop describes a driver whose “first words” were about the stickers indicating the donations he made. When the driver insisted that they required big donations, the cop replied, “Well, paying for these citations shouldn’t be a problem.”

But some answers indicate that people have reason to believe that the frames will help them avoid tickets. In addition to the frames, the CHP 11-99 Foundation gives out membership cards to big donors. In reference to secondhand or fake frames, one cop wrote, “Unless you have the I.D. in hand when (not if) I stop you, no love will be shown.” Another added, “Ya gotta have more than just a license plate frame or a sticker.” The implication from these officers seems to be that buying a fake license plate frame is useless, but real donors will receive some leniency.

Can You Buy A License to Speed? [via Priceonomics]

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[ARTICLE & PHOTO] Remote Controlled Drone Flies and Drives (with no Driver)


Private company Advanced Tactics has been commissioned by he U.S. military to look into developing a remote-controlled vehicle that can take off like a helicopter, land, and then immediately drive off without a driver. The prototype, currently in testing, has eight rotors that fold into the body of the vehicle on land to make it more easy to drive. It has been developed to allow for delivering cargo into areas where traditional aircraft cannot go, plus has the advantage of not needing to send pilots into hazardous situations.

U.S. military look into remote controlled ‘helicopter truck transformers’ that can be sent on rescue missions WITHOUT a driver [via Daily Mail]

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[VIDEO] Dog Imitates Siren

This video has gone viral recently. Not a bad effort on the part of the canine, but this video of a kid imitating a siren is absolutely perfect.

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[ARTICLE] Coming Soon: A Thermal Imaging Camera for your iPhone

FLIR-One1FLIR, an industry leader in thermal imaging devices for security and military uses, is coming out this spring with the FLIR One, a $350 iPhone 5 case that, when used in conjunction with a special app, allows users to see heat vision with their iPhone camera. (This is almost as cool as the radiation detector app we noted weeks ago that turns your first responder iPhone into a Geiger Counter). The case also provides the user with extra battery capacity amounting to a 50 percent extension of battery life. The product website has more details on specs and uses.

Note, however, although the FLIR One’s sensor was originally developed for the military before now being made available for civilian use, the company notes it cannot see through walls, doors, glass, or clothing. Expect that claim to be thoroughly tested.

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