Covering the world, paralyzed from the shoulders down

Reuters journalist Peter Apps was 25 when an accident left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. He thought his life was over. Twelve years later he reflects on his unexpected life.

Graduates of selective U.S. colleges earn 20 percent more after a decade: study

Students who graduate from selective U.S. colleges earn more than their peers in the long term, and majoring in a technical field adds to the premium, a study from the New York Federal Reserve released on Wednesday showed.

Japan acknowledges first radiation-linked death out of Fukushima

Man in protective gear gesturing outside Fukushima prefecture

On Wednesday, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare admitted that a man employed at the Fukushima nuclear power plant died of lung cancer linked to radiation exposure. Three of the power plant’s six reactors melted down in March 2011 when a tsunami hit the Fukushima area.

The deceased, who was in his 50s, “was in charge of measuring radiation at the Fukushima No.1 plant shortly after its meltdown,” the BBC reported. Japanese government officials reportedly said the employee had worked at the site “at least twice after it was damaged” and had worn the appropriate protective gear. The man’s death is the first to be officially linked to radiation exposure during the disaster.

“After hearing opinions from a panel of radiologists and other experts, the ministry ruled that the man’s family should be paid compensation,” the BBC wrote.

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AmEx’s forex unit being probed by FBI over pricing practices: WSJ

Pricing practices within American Express Co’s foreign-exchange unit is being probed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Student and salesman turn out for Denmark

Denmark field a student, a salesman and an internet star for a 3-0 defeat by Slovakia – with senior players unavailable amid a commercial dispute.

Stealthy wants to become the WeChat of blockchain apps

Meet Stealthy a new messaging app that leverages Blockstack’s decentralized application platform to build a messaging app. The company is participating in TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF and launching its app on iOS and Android today.

On the surface, Stealthy works like many messaging apps out there. But it gets interesting once you start digging to understand the protocol behind it. Stealthy is a decentralized platform with privacy in mind. It could become the glue that makes various decentralized applications stick together.

“We started Stealthy because Blockstack had a global hackathon in December of last year,” co-founder Prabhaav Bhardwaj told me. “We won that hackathon in February.” After that, the #deletefacebook movement combined with the overall decentralization trend motivated Bhardwaj and Alex Carreira to ship the app.

Blockstack manages your identity. You get an ID and a 12-word passphrase to recover your account. Blockstack creates a blockchain record for each new user. You use your Blockstack ID to connect to Stealthy.

Stealthy users then choose how they want to store their messages. You can connect your account with Dropbox, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, etc.

Every time you message someone, the message is first encrypted on your device and sent to your recipient’s cloud provider. Your recipient can then open the Stealthy app and decrypt the message from their storage system.

All of this is seamless for the end user. It works like an iMessage conversation, which means that Microsoft or Amazon can’t open and read your messages without your private key. You remain in control of your data. Stealthy plans to open source their protocol and mobile product so that anybody can audit their code.

Some features require a certain level of centralization. For instance, Stealthy relies on Firebase for push notifications. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you can disable that feature.

The company also wants to become your central hub for all sorts of decentralized apps (or dapps for short). For instance, you can launch Graphite Docs or Blockusign from Stealty. Those dapps are built on top of Blockstack as well, but Stealthy plans to integrate with other dapps that don’t work on Blockstack.

“We have dapp integrations in place right now and we want to make it easier to add dapp integrations. If somebody wants to come in and start selling messaging stickers, you could do that. If you want to come in and implement a payment system to pay bloggers, you could do that,” Bhardwaj said. “Eventually, what we want to be is to make it as easy as submitting an app in the App Store.”

When you build a digital product, chances are you’ll end up adding a messaging feature at some point. You can chat in Google Docs, Airbnb, Venmo, YouTube… And the same is likely to be true with dapps. Stealthy believes that many developers could benefit from a solid communication infrastructure — this way, other companies can focus on their core products and let Stealthy handle the communication layer.

Stealthy is an ambitious company. In many ways, the startup is trying to build a decentralized WeChat with the encryption features of Signal. It’s a messaging app, but it’s also a platform for many other use cases.

A handful of messaging apps have become so powerful that they’ve become a weakness. Governments can block them or leverage them to create a social ranking. Authorities can get a warrant to ask tech companies to hand them data. And of course, the top tech companies have become too powerful. More decentralization is always a good thing.

Trump says he did not discuss assassinating Syria’s Assad

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he did not discuss assassinating Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, disputing an account in a forthcoming book by journalist Bob Woodward.

Gordon weakens after storm kills child in Florida

Tropical Storm Gordon weakened into a depression on Wednesday after making landfall on Tuesday night near the Alabama-Mississippi border and killing a child when a tree fell on a mobile home in Florida, the National Hurricane Center said.