US Navy radar

It won't surprise you to hear that governments are eager to buy unpatched security exploits for the sake of cyberdefense or surveillance, but they're rarely overt about it. No one must have told that to the US Navy until this week, however. The Electronic Frontier Foundation caught the military branch soliciting for both zero-day exploits and recently discovered vulnerabilities (less than six months old) for relatively common software from the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft. The Navy quickly took the posting down, but it was clear the organization wanted to turn these flaws into "exploit binaries" -- that is, finished software that would be useful for attacks.

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Kevin Spacey at a 'House of Cards' event

Typically, recreating a celebrity as an animated 3D character requires painstaking modeling based on motion capture and laser scans. In the future, though, all you'll need is a few limo-chasing photographers. University of Washington researchers have developed a system that creates digital face "puppets" by running a collection of photos -- in this case, paparazzi shots -- through special face tracking software. The digital dopplegangers (such as Kevin Spacey and Arnold Schwarzenegger) bear an uncanny resemblance to their real-world counterparts, but are sophisticated enough to mimic the expressions of virtually anyone else. Want the Japanese Prime Minister saying Daniel Craig's lines? You can make it happen.

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Alibaba's Jack Ma

Alibaba is already a cornerstone of China's online shopping space, and it's now setting its sights on one of the internet's other big draws: streaming video. Jack Ma and crew are planning to launch Tmall Box Office, a Netflix-like service that will combine HBO-like original video productions (hence the name) with content bought from both China and abroad. It'll represent a sharp break from the norm in China, where YouTube-style (and typically free) video portals like iQiyi and Youku Tudou tend to dominate. While about 10 percent of TBO's material will cost nothing, the rest will require that you either subscribe or pay per show. There's no telling how successful Alibaba's offering will be when it launches in a couple of months. However, we have a hunch that Netflix is feeling a lot of pressure to speed up its Chinese talks -- it'll want to get a solid foothold in the giant nation before it's too late.

[Image credit: Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images]

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The roster for Super Smash Bros. just grew a little larger. Nintendo announced today that Street Fighter icon Ryu and Fire Emblem's Roy are joining the fight on Wii U and 3DS. They're available for $3.99 on either system, or across both for $4.99 each -- Ryu's pack also comes with a Suzaku Castle stage, if you're struggling to decide which to buy first.

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A rendering of Philae on the comet surface

After seven months of not-so-voluntary deep sleep, the comet lander Philae has finally woken up in earnest. The European Space Agency got in contact with its explorer for 85 precious seconds late on June 13th, receiving 300-plus data packets that shed light on what happened following the machine's bumpy touchdown. As it turns out, Philae came back to life at least temporarily during its forced hibernation -- it just couldn't get back in touch with its Rosetta host ship and thus the ground crew.

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Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.

Inhabitat's Week in Green

We've seen 3D-printed clothing, cars and houses -- and now Amsterdam is building an entire bridge from 3D-printed steel! Designed by MX3D and Joris Laarman, the revolutionary pedestrian bridge will be constructed by multi-axis industrial robots. In other architecture news, Dubai has given the green light for a fleet of floating luxury islands to be built in The World archipelago. One World Trade Center opened late last year -- and now it looks like New York City's tallest building is about to get a new neighbor. Last week, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) unveiled a set of architectural renderings for Two World Trade Center, a 1,340-foot tower that will consist of a series of stacked boxes.

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Nismo GT-R Le Mans

Sure, 360-degree video is practically old news at this point, but we've never seen an example that works as well as this. To coincide with the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race, Nismo (Nissan's motorsports division) has uploaded a 360-degree lap of Circuit de la Sarthe, the course that plays venue to the contest. Although it's probably more immersive on your PC or laptop, we'd recommend also watching it through the YouTube app on your phone or tablet, as you'll be able to use your device's gyroscope to move the camera in any direction you chose.

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Amazon has finally published a bi-annual transparency report (PDF), revealing the kinds of data requests it received from the government in recent months and how the company responded to them. Apparently, from January 1st to May 31st, 2015, the e-commerce giant got:

  • 813 subpoenas - Amazon provided all the info requested for 542 of them
  • 25 search warrants - the company issued authorities every info they needed in 13 instances
  • 13 court orders - the court got every info it asked for a total of four times out of 13
  • 132 various requests from outside the US
  • 1 removal request, which Amazon granted
  • Between 0 and 249 national security requests, including Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders. The company can't legally publish the exact number, so you'll have to take a guess.

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Ready to guide a papercraft "You" through a world of hugs, malevolent squirrels and craft projects again? Yes, Tearaway Unfolded is coming at last to Sony's PS4 console on September 8th. The game is a remake of the Tearaway on PS Vita, but reworked extensively with better graphics and support for the PS4's DualShock 4 controllers. For instance, you can use the DualShock as a torch to attract (and then dispatch) enemy critters or catch objects "thrown" by on-screen characters. It'll cost the same $39.99 as the popular Vita original, and early adopters will get a limited "Crafted" edition with custom decor, costumes and the Tearaway Unfolded soundtrack.

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Technical error prevents US from issuing passports and visas overseas

A technical issue has halted the State Department's issuing of passports and visas from its overseas offices. According to the department's guidance, anyone that applied for a passport from outside the US after May 26th is affected by the problem, the root of which is unclear. Simultaneously, but apparently separate to the passport issue, visa applications made on or after June 9th are not able to be processed. At least this time, the department has pinpointed the problem: a hardware failure is preventing biometric clearance requests from making their way to database for processing. In a statement given to The Hill, a spokeswoman said there was "no evidence the problem is cyber security related."

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Ryu Smash Bros

Street Fighter's Ryu is almost certainly coming to Super Smash Bros. (SSB). Multiple files featuring the character have been extracted from a recent update, adding weight to a rumor that began back in April. The evidence is pretty compelling: there's a video (below) that seems to be Ryu's victory sequence, an image depicting what appears to be a recreation of his stage from Street Fighter 2 and a selection of color options for the character.

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Scientists have figured out how to pump water upwards in a thick tube using a combination of surface tension and water-repellent materials. Before you get your hopes up, it's definitely no perpetual-motion machine -- but the discovery from Beihang University researchers in China could bring other benefits. Here's how it works: The right angle pipe shown above is filled with a small amount of water, which can't drain thanks to a copper mesh doped with a superhydrophobic (water-rejecting) material at the bottom. When a small droplet is introduced, it's drawn upward by surface tension, albeit very slowly (the above GIF is sped up about 75 times).

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