How Cryptocurrency, Crowdfunding And A Little Internet Altruism Saved Jamaica’s Hopes For Bobsled Gold

Just in case you missed it, a heart-warming story unfolded this week involving an unlikely combination of bobsled, Jamaica, virtual currency, crowdfunding and generosity. It has all the makings of an inspiring Disney movie er, an inspiring Disney sequel. Last Sunday, news began trickling out that a two-man bobsled team from the island nation of Jamaica had qualified for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The countrys official Twitter account for the 2014 games announced the news that the team had qualified, including an image that appeared to be a reference to Cool Runnings, the John Candy-led cult film that loosely chronicled Jamaicas debut in bobsled for the 1988 Olympic Games in Alberta, Canada.

The world apparently loves a sequel. In a plot twist seemingly right out of Cool Runnings, despite qualifying for the 2014 Olympics, team captain Winston Watts told the New York Times that the team hadnt been able to raise the necessary funds to make it to Russia. Watts said that he had essentially been self-funding the teams efforts thus far, and had even dug into his personal savings to fly the team to the U.S. for the bobsledding qualifiers. Nevertheless, after finding little help from the Jamaican Olympic Association or private investors, the team was forced to turn elsewhere.

In the world of bobsled, and perhaps sports in general, there has never been a more quintessential underdog story. First of all, the Jamaican bobsled team is from, well, Jamaica. Second, the team is competing against teams with significant some financial backing (and actually hail from more arctic climes). Not only that, Winston Watts came out of retirement to lead the 2014 bobsled team, and if the team were to compete in Sochi, Watts would be second-oldest bobsled pilot in Olympic history at age 46.

Luckily, the citizens of the Internet are sympathetic to an underdog story and were not about to let the team sit this one out due to lack of funding. And thats when Jamaican bobsledding had its first introduction to the altruistic power of both virtual currency and digital crowdfunding proponents alike. Fittingly, it was a joke currency or a virtual currency inspired by a dog meme that came to the rescue. Yes, the very peer-to-peer cryptocurrency loved by Lassie, the worlds pooches and geeks alike, and the very currency that began as a joke but has since been hailed as a potential successor to Bitcoin: The noble, Dogecoin.

In a movement that began on Reddit, the Dogecoin Foundation seized the opportunity to promote its virtual currency on the world stage and help send the Jamaican bobsled team to Sochi. Over a matter of days, the Dogecoin community raised over 27 million Dogecoins, the equivalent of $30,000 for those without a canine cryptocurrency analyst on hand.

That, in and of itself, is something to behold, but the Internet wasnt done yet. Just as the Dogecoin campaign began to hit full steam, word of the Jamaican bobsled teams plight got to the founders of Y Combinator-incubated, group-funding platform, Crowdtilt. A Jamaican bobsled fan launched a campaign on Crowdtilt to pool funds for the team from sympathetic fans and, before long, the startup got wind of the campaign, as did the teams president, Chris Stokes, and founding member of the original Cool Runnings team, Devon Harris.

The team made the Crowdtilt effort its official fundraising campaign, and the Crowdtilt founders worked with the Dogecoin Foundation to convert the $30K raised in Dogecoin (from 1,600 Dogecoin supporters) into Bitcoin and then combine it with the money raised on Crowdtilt.

As one might expect, the campaign quickly surpassed its goal and then some. After three days live, the campaign raised just under $130K ($129,587, to be precise) more than 12 times the campaigns goal including the contribution from the Dogecoin community.

Crowdtilt co-founder James Beshara tells us that it was one of the fastest campaigns to reach its goal in the platforms history and there were points when as much as $3,000 was donated in 60 seconds. The average donation was $34.60, with nearly 3,000 individuals contributing to the campaign from 50 states and 52 countries.

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How Cryptocurrency, Crowdfunding And A Little Internet Altruism Saved Jamaica’s Hopes For Bobsled Gold

Israeli who leaked army data is released from jail

JERUSALEM — Anat Kamm, an Israeli woman convicted of stealing classified military documents during her army service last decade, was released from jail Sunday after being paroled for good behavior.

Kamm, now 26, stole more than 2,000 documents, hundreds of them classified and top-secret, while assigned to the office of a major general during her mandatory military service between 2005 and 2007 — a case that in some way parallels that of Pfc. Bradley Manning, now known as Pvt. Chelsea Manning, who was convicted of illegally downloading classified documents from a U.S. Army computer.

Upon completing her army service, Kamm passed the documents to Haaretz newspaper reporter Uri Blau, who in 2008 based several reports on the documents, including one suggesting the Israeli army was circumventing Supreme Court orders in military operations against Palestinian targets.

Blaus story was cleared for publication by military censors but tipped off an investigation by the army and the Shin Bet security agency. That probe led back to Kamm, who was arrested in 2009 and held under house arrest for months before a court-imposed gag order was lifted in April 2010, allowing Israeli media to report the case.

Originally charged with espionage, Kamm reached a plea bargain and admitted to unlawfully possessing and passing on classified material. She denied she intended to harm state security. She was sentenced to a four-and-a-half-year jail term, later reduced to three and a half years on appeal.

After 26 months in prison, Kamm was released Sunday under certain restrictions, including a ban on leaving the country for the remainder of her sentence.

A handful of activists waited for her outside the prison, calling her a traitor.

Blau, the journalist, had fled the country and ultimately returned to face charges. After agreeing to a plea bargain, he was sentenced to four months of community service in 2012.

The case raised concerns in Israel about freedom of the press.

Meanwhile, Kamm filed a civil lawsuit against Blau and Haaretz, demanding compensation of more than $700,000 for being exposed.

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Israeli who leaked army data is released from jail

Edward Snowden Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story …

Synopsis

Born in North Carolina in 1983, Edward Snowden worked for the National Security Agency through subcontractor Booz Allen in the NSA’s Oahu office. After only three months, Snowden began collecting top-secret documents regarding NSA domestic surveillance practices, which he found disturbing. After Snowden fled to Hong Kong, China, newspapers began printing the documents that he had leaked to them,

“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

Edward Snowden

“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, but I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

Edward Snowden

“I’m willing to sacrifice [my former life] because I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

Edward Snowden

“I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act.”

Edward Snowden

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Edward Snowden Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story …

Snowden Says ‘No Doubt’ NSA Engages in Industrial Spying

There is no doubt the U.S. engages in industrial espionage, Edward Snowden said in an interview in which he also asserted that he worked alone in disclosing mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.

The former U.S. government contractor, now a fugitive in Russia, told a German television station that if a company such as Germanys Siemens AG were found to have information useful to the U.S. government, the NSA would use it, he said.

Snowden dismissed accusations from members of Congress that he acted as a foreign agent.

I worked alone; I didnt need anybodys help, Snowden said in the interview with German broadcaster ARD. He said the wealth of data he took is now in the hands of journalists and that the U.S. public benefited from knowing what the government was doing.

If Im a traitor, who did I betray? Snowden asked.

Big Data Meets Big Surveillance

Snowden, 30, faces charges of theft and espionage and is in Russia on temporary asylum. Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that if Snowden wanted to return to the U.S. and plead guilty, prosecutors would be willing to negotiate.

U.S. legislators including Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, have suggested that Snowden had outside help to lay bare the workings of U.S. intelligence.

Former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden poses for a photo during an interview at… Read More

Former U.S. security contractor Edward Snowden poses for a photo during an interview at an undisclosed location in Moscow, in December 2013. Close

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Snowden Says ‘No Doubt’ NSA Engages in Industrial Spying

Edward Snowden: There Are ‘Significant Threats’ To My Life

Details Published on Monday, 27 January 2014 13:03

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden poses for a photo during an interview in an undisclosed location in December 2013 in Moscow, Russia. Snowden who exposed extensive details of global electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency has been in Moscow since June 2012 after getting temporary asylum in order to evade prosecution by authorities in the U.S. /Getty ImagesBERLIN: Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told German TV on Sunday about reports that U.S. government officials want to assassinate him for leaking secret documents about the NSA’s collection of telephone records and emails.

In what German public broadcaster ARD said was Snowden’s first television interview, Snowden also said he believes the NSA has monitored other top German government officials along with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Snowden told ARD that he felt there are “significant threats” to his life but he said that he nevertheless sleeps well because he believes he did the right thing by informing the public about the NSA’s activities.

“I’m still alive and don’t lose sleep for what I did because it was the right thing to do,” said Snowden at the start of what ARD said was a six-hour interview that was filmed in a Moscow hotel suite. ARD aired 40 minutes of the six-hour interview.

“There are significant threats but I sleep very well,” he said before referring to a report on a U.S. website that he said quoted anonymous U.S. officials saying his life was in danger.

“These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower,” Snowden said.

Questions about U.S. government spying on civilians and foreign officials became heated last June when Snowden leaked documents outlining the widespread collection of telephone records and email.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia last summer after fleeing the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges for leaking information about government surveillance practices.

The revelations shocked Germany, a country especially sensitive after the abuses by the Gestapo during the Nazi reign and the Stasi in Communist East Germany during the Cold War.

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Edward Snowden: There Are ‘Significant Threats’ To My Life

edward_snowden_portrait_twitter_reuters.JPG

January 27, 2014

A portrait of former US spy agency contractor, Edward Snowden is displayed behind a screen as he answers users’ questions on Twitter in this photo illustration in Sarajevo, January 23, 2014. Reuters pic, January 27, 2014. Former US National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden told German TV yesterday about reports that US government officials want to assassinate him for leaking secret documents about the NSA’s collection of telephone records and emails.

In what German public broadcaster ARD said was Snowden’s first television interview, Snowden also said he believes the NSA has monitored other top German government officials along with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Snowden told ARD that he felt there are ‘significant threats’ to his life but he said that he nevertheless sleeps well because he believes he did the right thing by informing the public about the NSA’s activities.

“I’m still alive and don’t lose sleep for what I did because it was the right thing to do,” said Snowden at the start of what ARD said was a six-hour interview that was filmed in a Moscow hotel suite.

ARD aired 40 minutes of the six-hour interview.

“These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower,” Snowden said.

Questions about US government spying on civilians and foreign officials became heated last June when Snowden leaked documents outlining the widespread collection of telephone records and email.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia last summer after fleeing the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges for leaking information about government surveillance practices.

The revelations shocked Germany, a country especially sensitive after the abuses by the Gestapo during the Nazi reign and the Stasi in Communist East Germany during the Cold War.

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edward_snowden_portrait_twitter_reuters.JPG

Snowden says officials want to kill him

Fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has voiced fears that US ‘government officials want to kill me’, in a TV interview to be broadcast in Germany.

The comment comes just days after Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said Snowden feared for his life, following a report by US website BuzzFeed of explicit threats against him from unnamed Pentagon and National Security Agency (NSA) officials.

Snowden also told the German broadcaster: ‘These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket, and then watch as I die in the shower.’

The translated Snowden quotes were released by German public television chain ARD, as part of a longer interview shot secretly in Moscow that it plans to screen later on Sunday.

In a BuzzFeed article posted online last week and entitled ‘American Spies Want Edward Snowden Dead’, a Pentagon official is quoted as saying: ‘I would love to put a bullet in his head.’

‘In a world where I would not be restricted from killing an American, I personally would go and kill him myself,’ a current NSA analyst was further quoted as saying.

One unnamed army officer told BuzzFeed that Snowden could be ‘poked’ on his way home from buying groceries by a passerby who is actually a US agent.

Snowden ‘thinks nothing of it at the time (and soon) starts to feel a little woozy,’ the US intelligence officer is quoted as saying.

‘And the next thing you know he dies in the shower.’

Snowden, a former NSA contractor, is wanted by US authorities on treason charges for disclosing details of a vast intelligence operation that monitored millions of phone calls and emails across the world.

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Snowden says officials want to kill him