Suspected double agent spied on German NSA committee for the US, reports claim

4 Jul

Gigaom

A German intelligence agent has been arrested on suspicion of secretly reporting back to U.S. spies about the activities of politicians who are investigating U.S. espionage in Germany, according to Friday reports by Süddeutsche Zeitung and the broadcasters NDR and WDR, and Der Spiegel.

The targets, apparently, were members of a Bundestag (German parliament) committee that is examining the implications of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, taking testimony from the likes of NSA whistleblowers William Binney and Thomas Drake.

The individual arrested on the orders of the attorney general worked for the BND signals intelligence agency, Germany’s equivalent to the NSA, government sources told the news outlets. The 31-year-old was originally arrested on suspicion of having contact with Russian intelligence, but then apparently confessed to having reported back at least once to the Americans on the Bundestag committee’s activities. He reportedly did this for money.

The reports raise the possibility…

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Those with the highest IQs grow up in the country and move to the city

4 Jul

These beautiful photos show why we love drones

4 Jul

Gigaom

A jury of National Geographic staffers this week chose the winners of a Dronestagram photo contest. They included stunning snaps like this one of a Mexican waterfall, which took the prize for “most liked”:

Mexico Waterfall

The contest, which attracted more than 2,000 entries from around the world, shows how “drones” are about much more than spying and warfare. In the hands of photographers, they offer a beautiful new way to discover the world around us. Here is how my colleague Signe Brewster captured a sunset over San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood:

North beach drone photo

This new breed of consumers drones, which can weigh less than five pounds, are not just for taking pretty photos. They are also very useful in a range of industries, from search-and-rescue to news gathering to films to farming.

But who should be able to use the drones? I have very mixed feelings about this photograph, which won 1st Prize in the Dronestagram…

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Music-centric carrier ROK Mobile goes live today, but you can only sign up with an invite

4 Jul

Gigaom

ROK Mobile promised it would its launch new music subscription service/mobile carrier to the public on July 4, and according to the company, the service will in fact go live today. But ROK obviously holds a more restrictive definition of the word “public” than most of us.

ROK Mobile logoThe service, for now, is invite only, and ROK is offering those invites to VIPs close to the company as well as an undisclosed number of consumers who request one on its website. People who get an invite will be able to sign up for a free 14-day trial of its on-demand and streaming music app for iPhone or Android, or sign up for full mobile service plans, which includes unlimited data, SMS and voice for $50 a month, ROK COO Gabriel René told me in an interview on Thursday.

He added ROK will eventually open up to all consumers, but he…

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Rovio Owner Backs Teller, A Startup Aiming To Make Email Work Better When You Check It Less Often

4 Jul

TechCrunch

If you’re in the U.S., you’re probably taking a well-deserved break from work and all the accompanying email today for the July 4th holiday. But when you return, your inbox is going to be a nightmare. An unsorted, unfiltered, unorganized mess. A new startup called Teller wants to help with that. The company also has a small round of funding as one of the first investments from MOOR, the private VC firm funded by Kaj Hed, majority owner of Rovio, creators of Angry Birds.

[Note: Early adopter? See invites below.]

Based in Stockholm, and founded by ex-Stardoll employees, including UX designer Joel Marsh and engineer Jimmy Brodd, Teller is the first product from Takumii Sweden.

Initially arriving as a Mac desktop application before expanding to mobile, the idea with Teller is to help people better manage their email through the use of algorithms that automatically sort your email…

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Review: Transcend’s JetDrives add whopping 240-960GB SSD to MacBook Air at a great price

4 Jul

Apple lures executive from luxury Swiss watch maker to beef up its iWatch team

4 Jul

Gigaom

In what appears to be a move to expand its mobile team ahead of the much-rumored launch of the iWatch, Apple has hired the sales director of Swiss watch-maker TAG Heuer, a subsidiary of LVMH, according to a report from CNBC. A senior executive in the company’s watch unit told the news outlet that the sales director left last week to join Apple, and that the consumer electronics company plans to label its new smartwatch device as “Swiss made” in order to appeal to luxury buyers.

Jean-Claude Biver, the president of LVMH’s watch division — which includes the TAG Heuer, Hublot and Zenith brands — said the TAG Heuer sales director left last week, “to take a contract with Apple” in order to launch the iWatch. There have been widespread reports that Apple was looking to hire Swiss watchmakers to give its device the edge over similar smartwatch products…

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