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Toyota's Mirai NASCAR pace car

NASCAR may be dominated by gas-guzzling racers, but its pace car this weekend is decidedly kinder to the environment. The motorsport league's Sprint Cup race in Richmond on the 26th (delayed from the 25th due to rain) has Toyota's hydrogen-powered Mirai as its pace car -- the first time a fuel cell car has had that distinction at a NASCAR event. This is largely a publicity stunt to build up hype for the Mirai's Californian launch later this year, but it shows that hydrogen cars have the performance needed to keep up with stock cars during yellow flags. The real challenge will be getting the actual competitors to go green. While there have been hydrogen-fueled race cars before, the odds are that NASCAR and its fans aren't eager to abandon roaring V8s any time soon.


Developer Treyarch has a good record of keeping things fresh in Call of Duty. The company started working on the franchise back in 2005. With World at War it added zombies; Black Ops went to Vietnam; Black Ops 2 traversed time and added branching narratives. For its next installment, Treyarch is, once again, trying something new. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (set to arrive November 6th on PC, Xbox One and PS4) brings campaign co-op back to the franchise. The entire campaign will be playable co-operatively by up to four players online (or two players locally). The addition of up to three campaign players meant building bigger combat arenas, better AI and adding social features for showing off medals and achievements.

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Nokia Lumia 735

We hope you weren't counting on Nokia reviving its phone business. The Finnish firm is now bluntly denying claims that it's planning to return to making phones -- there are "no plans" to make or sell any, Nokia says. That's not surprising given both the company's expansion of its networking efforts and an agreement with Microsoft that it won't make phones until at least 2016. Simply speaking, Nokia wouldn't have the cash or permissions to build these devices in the near future. With that said, the company mentioned this fall that it was considering licensing its storied name to a third party handset maker. If you don't mind buying a Nokia-approved phone, there's still a chance (however small) that you'll get your wish.


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

Tesla made headlines again this week with the official (sort of) announcement that it will be unveiling a battery that can power your entire home at the end of the month. In autonomous vehicle news, some of the biggest automakers are starting to roll out self-driving concept cars. Just a few weeks after Mercedes-Benz revealed a self-driving concept, Chevrolet has now rolled out the FNR, a futuristic autonomous concept car of its own, at the Shanghai Motor Show. In other automotive news, automakers from around the world are continuing to roll out more efficient electric vehicles and hybrids. Volvo has announced plans to release hybrid versions of its entire lineup, beginning with the 2016 Volvo XC90 SUV, which is slated to hit the road with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain.

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Tor in Tails

A recent security breach just provided a painful reminder that Tor's anonymity network isn't completely foolproof against truly determined intruders. The email service SIGAINT is warning users that someone recently launched a sustained attempt to break into its servers and snoop on messages. While that direct attack wasn't successful, the culprit also tried setting up malicious exit nodes (where data reaches the normal internet) in hopes of spying on messages the moment they left Tor. The chances of actually connecting to one of these rogue routers was slim (about 2.7 percent), but you clearly wouldn't have enjoyed winning this lottery.

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Identical twin women

Believe it or not, police have a real problem with identifying suspects who are identical twins -- unless you're willing to spend a month sequencing genes, DNA samples are all but useless. They may be far more effective in the future, though, as British researchers have developed a technique that melts DNA to identify what few differences exist. The team has determined that heating genes will break hydrogen bonds that form due to a person's environment and habits. Unless the twins live eerily similar lives, those bonds will snap at different temperature points and quickly identify who's who.

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Tesla Model S 70D

It's all too common to see ne'er-do-wells compromising a website or a social network account, but Tesla just got hit with a triple whammy. At least one group has hijacked not just the electric car maker's website and its Twitter account, but also founder Elon Musk's account. Both social services were quickly back in running order, but the site is going up and down as of this writing. The attackers appear to be attention-seeking pranksters (they offered a "free Tesla" to anyone calling a PC repair shop, for example) rather than sinister agents. Still, something tells us that the company isn't quite so amused -- we've reached out for its take on the situation, and we'll let you know if it has more to add.


The floor at the CIA

Whatever you think about the morality of using mass surveillance to catch evildoers, the technology only works if people can use it -- just ask the CIA. The New York Times has obtained a declassified report revealing that that the agency was largely kept in the dark about the President's Surveillance Program (aka Stellarwind), which allows for bulk data collection, until at least 2009. Only the highest-ranking officials could use PSP as a general rule, and those few agents that did have access often didn't know enough to use it properly, faced "competing priorities" or had other tools at their disposal. To boot, there wasn't documentation showing how effective the program was in fighting terrorism.

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Anonymous in front of the White House

Russian hackers may have had more success in breaching the White House network than first thought. New York Times sources understand that intruders who got into the White House's unclassified system managed to collect some of President Obama's email. They didn't compromise the account itself, and they didn't snap up the classified messages passing through the President's BlackBerry. However, these messages likely included some "highly sensitive" material, like policy discussions, schedules and staff changes -- the data could have been abused in the worst circumstances.

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People look for survivors after the Nepal earthquake

The Nepal earthquake has caused an immeasurable amount of tragedy this weekend, but some internet services are offering tools that might provide comfort if you have friends or family in the area. Facebook has rolled out its recently introduced Safety Check feature to tell you if contacts in the area are okay -- survivors only have to report in to ease your mind. Google, meanwhile, has revived its longstanding Person Finder to assist you in both locating loved ones and sharing news with others. You'll want to get in direct contact or reach out an embassy if you're still concerned about affected locals, but these internet tools could spare you from a lot of uncertainty.

[Image credit: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images]


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