A corrupt former drug enforcement agent who played a central role in taking down the popular online drug bazaar Silk Road will serve six and a half years in prison for corruption, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Carl Mark Force IV pleaded guilty to extortion, money laundering, and obstruction of justice this past summer, after working for two years as an undercover agent for an interagency team tasked with identifying the owner of Silk Road. Force, who spent 15 years with the Drug Enforcement Administration, used his position in the investigation to swindle his way to a payout of more $700,000 in Bitcoin and a Hollywood contract. (Another member of the investigative team, ex-Secret Service Agent Shaun Bridges, also pleaded guilty over the summer to pocketing $820,000 from the accounts of Silk Road users.) Force has also been ordered to pay $340,000 in restitution.

In case you haven't been following the Silk Road case, here's a primer:

What exactly was Silk Road, again? Silk Road was a darknet marketplace that connected buyers and sellers dealing in a vast array of narcotics, false documents, weapons, and other contraband. "The idea was to create a website where people could buy anything anonymously, with no trail whatsoever that could lead back to them," creator Ross Ulbricht wrote in his journal. Users paid in Bitcoin—around $1.2 billion worth—and could only access the site using an anonymous internet browser called Tor. Ulbricht ran Silk Road using the moniker "Dread Pirate Roberts" from January 2011 until 2013, when he was caught red-handed at his laptop by a law enforcement sting in a San Francisco coffee shop.

Depending on whom you ask, the site was either a radical experiment in libertarian principles or "the most sophisticated and extensive criminal market on the Internet," as the criminal complaint against Force put it.

Ulbricht, who earned a commission on each transaction, was found guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering, and hacking, and he was sentenced to life in prison during the summer. At the sentencing hearing, the federal judge didn't hide her intention to make an example of Ulbricht: "What you did was unprecedented, and in breaking that ground as the first person you sit here as the defendant now today having to pay the consequences for that." Ulbricht's family, defense counsel, and supporters have mounted a public campaign to protest what they call a "draconian sentence."

Okay, but what does Carl Force have to do with all that? As the lead undercover cop for a Baltimore-based team of federal investigators, Force was in charge of communicating with Ulbricht. To that end, he created and used a fake persona, "Nob"—ostensibly a US drug smuggler—to make contact and gain Ulbricht's trust. In his communication with Nob, Ulbricht commissioned the murder of an employee, Curtis Green, whom he suspected of stealing Bitcoin from Silk Road accounts. (That money turned out to have been stolen by Bridges.) Force and the rest of the Baltimore team then staged the murder of Green. The incident was the first of six hits that Ulbricht has been accused of arranging, though those charges were not pursued in the final prosecution.

At what point did Force start breaking the law? In addition to Nob, Force created unauthorized personas, including "French Maid" and "Death from Above," which he used to extort more than $200,000 from Ulbricht in exchange for fake identification and inside information on the federal investigation. Because many of the communications were encrypted, it's impossible to tell whether the intelligence Force sold to Ulbricht was entirely junk, or whether he truly was a mole. What we do know is that once Ulbricht paid, Force has admitted to transferring the funds to a personal account, not a government one.

"Carl Force crossed the line from enforcing the law to breaking it," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement after Force's guilty plea, adding that the agent was "seduced by the perceived anonymity of virtual currency and the dark web."

That sounds like something straight out of The Shield. There's more: Force, who has invested heavily in Bitcoin since learning of it through the case, became the acting chief compliance officer at the Bitcoin company CoinMKT in 2013. There, he illegally seized more than $300,000 in assets from a user that the company had flagged for suspicious activity and transferred the money to his personal account.

And to top it all off, in March 2014, Force entered into a $240,000 contract with 20th Century Fox Film Studios for a film about the Silk Road investigation—without notifying his superiors.

Could this affect a potential appeal by Ulbricht? Yup. His defense attorney, Joshua Dratel, has indicated that the appeal will challenge the decision to ban any reference to the corruption from the courtroom. "We knew that the case agent who made the first contact with Dread Pirate Roberts was, in fact, entirely corrupt," Ulbricht's lawyer said following the sentencing. "We were prevented from using any of that at trial. That is going to be an issue." Dratel had previously called for a retrial after the corruption charges came to light, but the request was denied—in part because a second, concurrent investigative team based in New York was the one that ultimately busted Ulbricht, not the Baltimore team. The appeal, which has not yet been scheduled, will go before a panel of three judges in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Francoise Hardy
Tous les Garcons et les Filles
Le Premier Bonheur du Jour
Mon Amie la Rose
La Maison ou J'Ai Grandi
Light in the Attic

Often mistakenly described as one of the yé-yé girls of French pop, teenager Francoise Hardy achieved instant stardom in 1962 with the beautifully melancholy hit "Tous les Garcons et les Filles," and became an international sensation. Unlike the bubbly yé-yé singers, who were attuned primarily to the latest chart sounds, she mixed more traditional influences like Charles Aznavour and Jacques Brel with contemporary elements. Her elegant singing eschewed youthful exuberance for a serene gravity that would serve her well over the course of a career that has thrived into the current century.

Recording in English, Italian, and German, as well as French, she wrote much of her own material, a rarity for female singers of the day. The photogenic Hardy socialized with members of the Beatles and the Stones, and was famously pursued (to no avail) by Bob Dylan, who addressed a poem to her on the back of his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan. While America has proven immune to Hardy's alluring artistry, the wonderfully idiosyncratic Seattle reissue label Light in the Attic is seeking to rectify that by reissuing her first five French-language albums from 1962 through 1966. Taken as a whole, they tell the engrossing story of an ongoing evolution, as echoes of folk, girl groups, and torch balladry were absorbed into her singular, yet consistently accessible style. The trappings changed over time, and the music grew more elaborate and orchestral, but Hardy was her own person from the very start, secure in her identity.

When you're online shopping for the perfect Halloween mask or an awesome shirt for casual Friday, do you ever get the sense that those five-star reviews seem a tad exaggerated? You're not the only one: For the second time this year, Amazon is cracking down on fraudulent product reviews.

In a civil complaint filed in Seattle on Friday, the company targeted 1,114 users listed on the UK-based website Fiverr, where freelancers list odd-job services like proofreading, graphic design, programming, and translation. According to the complaint, most of the defendants use the site to sell five-star Amazon product reviews for $5 apiece—often asking Amazon vendors to send them prewritten reviews, which they post from multiple usernames and IP addresses to outwit the company's detection software. The result, the company argued, undermines the credibility of all reviews on its website, violating Washington state's consumer protection act and its own terms of service.

"Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and expressly prohibits compensated reviews," the complaint stated. "Nonetheless, an unhealthy ecosystem has developed outside of Amazon to supply reviews in exchange for payment."

In April, Amazon filed suit against several websites that produced paid reviews of Amazon products, causing most of the sites to close. With the Fiverr suit, Amazon is trying a different tactic: suing individual users. The company admitted, however, that it only knows their usernames, many of which are no longer listed on Fiverr. Still, even a quick search on the site turns up many freelancers still offering the same kind of service. User Brett_lee, who is not listed in the lawsuit, says he'll post a negative review on Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Yahoo for $5 (a one-day turnaround, multiple reviews, or downvotes on other listings cost extra):

Hi there, I will post negative reviews in anywhere you need. Its more better if you send me the text reviews. Need revenge or anything else, Just place your order :)

Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical executive who back in September was caught price-gouging an HIV drug by more than 5,000 percent, is upset with Bernie Sanders.

After attempting to donate to the Vermont senator's presidential bid—with an offering of $2,700, which Sanders' campaign swiftly declined—the "most hated man in America" took to Twitter last night to claim that he was so enraged by the public rejection that he punched a wall and was left with a broken wrist.

But Shkreli's "broken wrist" is probably just one petulant cry for attention. As noted by Twitter user Mike Leeman, who used the power of reverse image search to expose yet another layer of pharma sliminess, it's looking highly likely that the X-ray posted by Shkreli is actually a stock image of a fractured wrist.

"IDK" is right. Perhaps hoping to detract attention away from the escalation of conflicting medical opinions, soon after this exchange Shkreli posted a photo of himself playing the guitar—no visible signs of a fractured wrist either.

Noted without comment, here is Larry David playing Bernie Sanders on tonight's Saturday Night Live.

The internet is quite taken.


I didn't actually watch it myself because I am a millennial cliché who doesn't know how to watch actual TV. I have a TV but I lost the remote and gave up trying to find it months ago, like a good millennial. Anyway, the internet is pretty in love with it.

Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher on "Murder, She Wrote"

Come with me down a rabbit hole, won't you?

The most popular name for baby girls in the United States from 1970 until 1984 was Jennifer. In 1985, Jessica surpassed Jennifer and stayed the top name until 1990.

Most common baby name for girls Jezebel/Reuben Fischer-Baum

What could have caused the change? Murder, She Wrote, in which Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher, premiered on September 30, 1984, on CBS.

Did the one cause the other? Maybe! Maybe not! I think it did.

Today is Angela Lansbury's 90th birthday. If your name is Jessica and you are between the ages of 25 and 30, you should thank her.

Unless you hate your name, in which case you should blame her. But it's her birthday, so keep it to yourself.

Wayne Simmons, a regular Fox News commentator who claimed to have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for almost three decades, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly fabricating his agency experience.

CNN Money reports that Simmons appeared in court on Thursday, where he faced charges of major fraud against the United States for falsely claiming to be a former "outside paramilitary special operations officer"—a padded resume that federal officials say he used to successfully gain government security clearances.

The frequent Fox News guest was often credited as a "terrorism analyst" and former CIA operative, who would routinely issue outlandishly false claims on national security matters, including the assertion there are "19 paramilitary Muslim training facilities" in the country.

In the indictment unsealed on Thursday, federal agents said they also believe Simmons had a "significant criminal history, including convictions for a crime of violence and firearms offenses, and is believed to have had an ongoing association with firearms notwithstanding those felony convictions."

Other charges include wire fraud and making false statements to the government.

According to CNN, a Fox spokesperson said Simmons "was never a contributor for Fox News," and that he only appeared on the network as an unpaid guest.

Danny Meyer, the man behind Shake Shack and a string of acclaimed restaurants in New York City and around the country, announced Wednesday that his restaurant group will be putting an end to tipping at all 13 of Union Square Hospitality's full-service properties.

The move makes Meyer the most high-profile restaurateur to jump on the progressive policy, whose supporters argue that the tipping system doesn't actually incentivize work and in fact leads to unequal pay.

In a letter posted on the company's website, Meyer said that while he believes hospitality is "a team sport," workers like cooks, reservationists, and dishwashers "aren't able to share in our guests' generosity, even though their contributions are just as vital" to a customer's experience.

To compensate for higher wages, Meyer said his restaurants will be raising menu prices significantly.

The shift will begin in November at The Modern, located in New York's Museum of Modern Art, and gradually roll out to the rest of the group's restaurants. Shake Shack, however, will not be included in the changes.

The current pace at which women are elected to office in the United States and abroad is incredibly slow. A recent study cited in the Nation found that gender equality in American politics won't be seen for another 500 years— a demoralizing trend that's also evident in most major industries, from Silicon Valley to Hollywood.

For anyone who believes that women's underrepresentation in politics and industry is a progressive myth, a new video created by Elle UK proves otherwise. Using the power of Photoshop, the project wipes out all the men in politics, entertainment, and more to show just how few women actually have a seat at the table. Watch below:

Update, October 13, 3:51 p.m. EST: Jennifer Connell lost her lawsuit. It took the jury just 20 minutes to decide to decline awarding her the $127,000 she sought in damages against her 12-year-old nephew. Here she is leaving the courthouse:

Today's spotlight for some internet outrage can be directed toward Jennifer Connell, a human resources manager who hails from New York.

According to the Connecticut Post, 54-year-old Connell has filed a lawsuit against her 12-year-old nephew claiming he acted "unreasonably" after giving her a hug that caused her to fall and break her wrist.

The unabashed display of affection happened four years ago at her nephew Sean Tarala's eighth birthday. He is the only defendant identified in the lawsuit, which claims his "negligent" hug caused her serious harm.

"All of a sudden he was there in the air, I had to catch him and we tumbled onto the ground," Connell testified before a jury last Friday. "I remember him shouting, 'Auntie Jen, I love you,' and there he was flying at me."

She says she did not complain to her nephew at the time because she didn't want to hurt his feelings, she told jurors. But four years later, Connell is now seeking $127,000 in damages, which include compromising her ability to eat gracefully at social occasions.

"I was at a party recently," she explained. "And it was difficult to hold my hors d'oeuvre plate."

On Friday, local media reported Tarala sitting next to his father in court looking "confused." His mother died last year.