Including a widening war on the press. . .
First, from CBC News, a new development in a trans-Atlantic online extortion that ended in a Canadian teen’s suicide:
Amanda Todd: police alerted to extortion suspect before her suicide
- Police in Norway asked Dutch police to investigate Aydin Coban for alleged blackmailing another girl
An investigation by CBC’s the fifth estate and Dutch news program Zembla has found that police in the Netherlands were alerted to the online activities of the man eventually charged in the extortion of Amanda Todd, well before the teen committed suicide.
In October 2012, the 15-year-old from Port Coquitlam, B.C., committed suicide after posting a video on YouTube saying she had been blackmailed by an online predator after exposing her breasts using a webcam.
In January 2014, police in the Netherlands arrested Aydin Coban, 35, in relation to an investigation in that country involving Dutch victims and charged him with nine offences.
Here’s an earlier extended report from CBC News on the victim and the crime itself:
The Sextortion of Amanda Todd – the fifth estate
A year after her death, most people remember Amanda Todd from her YouTube video, holding up hand-written pages describing how one mistake in front of a webcam led to her torment by bullies at school and online. But beyond that viral video, the fifth estate reveals a more complex and disturbing story about what happened to the B.C. teenager driven to suicide in October 2012 – not just bullying, but the deliberate sexual extortion of a 15-year-old girl by online predators. the fifth estate host Mark Kelley goes deep into Amanda’s world, with never-before-seen videos and web chats from two personal laptops that her family shared with the fifth estate. With in-depth interviews from her mother, father and friends, Kelley reveals the untold story of The Sextortion of Amanda Todd.
From Al Jazeera America, protesting a growing source of domestic insecurity in the U.S.:
Workers hit the streets across US in growing minimum wage fight
- Workers and supporters stage strikes, walkouts, demonstrations at fast-food restaurants, airports, gas stations
Fast-food workers and other low-wage employees in nearly 200 cities across the country took part in a strike and protests Thursday, demanding a base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form unions in the latest in a series of day-long labor actions coordinated through a nationwide coalition of workers’ groups.
The protests in cities including New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia — organized under an umbrella organization called Fight for 15 — are believed to be the most expansive of such demonstrations to date, increasing to about 190 cities from 150 in a similar event in September. No arrests have so far been reported, according to Reuters.
Strikes and walkouts at fast-food restaurants were staged by workers at McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s locations as well as at major airports including New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Organizers said gas station employees and home care workers were also joining.
The anatomy of a murder from the Washington Post:
Investigation: Afghan shooter ambushed slain Army general at close range
The mass shooting that killed a two-star Army general and wounded 18 other people in Afghanistan on Aug. 5 was carried out by a lone Afghan soldier who did not have any apparent ties to the Taliban and who simply seized “a target of opportunity,” according to a U.S. military investigation.
The investigation, released by U.S. Central Command on Thursday, found that Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, of Falls Church, Va., died immediately after being shot multiple times in the pelvis, head and neck by an army private named Rafiqullah, 22, who also was killed in the incident. The report found that Rafiqullah opened fire from a bathroom window in a military police barracks less than 15 meters away from the nearest person he targeted. He had previously expressed disdain for Americans.
Greene was the highest-ranking U.S. officer killed in a combat zone since the Vietnam War. The others wounded in the shooting included German Army Brig. Gen. Michael Bartscher and Afghan Brig. Gen. Miyan-Yar Gulalm Sahki. The names of the others wounded are redacted from the newly released documents, but they include 10 Americans, three Afghans and two individuals from Britain.
The NSA , doing its thing, via the Guardian:
NSA accused of intercepting emails sent by mobile phone firm employees
- New claims against National Security Agency’s surveillance operations based on information obtained by Edward Snowden
The National Security Agency has reportedly intercepted emails sent by employees of mobile operators in an attempt to find security weaknesses in their networks that it could exploit for surveillance purposes.
The US government body has spied on hundreds of companies and organisations, including those in allies such as Britain and Australia, as well as in nations America regards as hostile. It plans to insert flaws into communications systems so that they can be accessed by their operatives.
The allegations, reported by the Intercept, are based on documents provided to the website and contained in material provided to them by Edward Snowden, the whistleblower and former NSA subcontractor who is now living in Russia.
A covert operation called AURORAGOLD that started in 2010, if not earlier, has monitored the content of messages to and from 1,200 email accounts associated with mobile operators to intercept relevant documents, the article states.
By May 2012, the NSA had collected technical data on about 700 of the almost 1,000 mobile networks worldwide.
And from Deutsche Welle, explains a lot:
Witness: German intelligence helped NSA to tap Internet hub
- A German parliamentary inquiry has been told that German intelligence fed America’s NSA filtered data from an Internet hub in Frankfurt, after clearance from Berlin. The “Eikonal” project ended in 2008.
A witness told a German parliamentary inquiry on Thursday that America’s NSA was fed filtered data from an internet exchange point in Frankfurt, after an OK from the Chancellery in Berlin.
The Eikonal project leader within Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency – identified only as S.L. – said the exchange’s own operator had legal doubts, but was convinced once confirmation came from the-then chancellery.
Germany’s federal intelligence service (BND) delivered filtered information from 2004 until 2008, when the “Americans saw that we could not extract anything more for them,” said the witness, who was quoted by Germany’s main news agency DPA.
Over that period, Germany was first governed by a center-left coalition headed by Social Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and from October 2005 by Chancellor Angela’s first grand coalition cabinet.
If at first you don’t succeed, from the National Journal:
House Lawmakers to Reintroduce Bill to Limit NSA ‘Backdoor’ Spying
The measure passed the House earlier this year with major bipartisan support, but was cut out of ongoing funding negotiations.
House lawmakers are attempting to revive a popular bill that would limit the National Security Agency’s ability to spy on Americans’ communications data, a day after the measure was left out from ongoing government funding negotiations.
The measure, dubbed the Secure Data Act and spearheaded by Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, would block the NSA and other intelligence agencies from compelling tech companies to create so-called backdoor vulnerabilities into their devices or software. Sen. Ron Wyden, also a Democrat, introduced a similar version of the bill earlier Thursday.
A Lofgren aide said the bill is expected to be introduced later Thursday with Republican cosponsors.
A broader form of the legislation overwhelmingly passed the House in June with bipartisan support on a 293-123 vote, in the form of an amendment tacked on to a defense appropriations bill. That previous bill additionally would have prevented intelligence agencies from engaging in content surveillance of Americans’ communications data without a warrant.
And from Sky News, the latest American legal travesty:
Eric Garner Chokehold Decision ‘A Travesty’
- As civil rights leaders lash out, fresh demonstrations are held and a judge releases details about the Eric Garner grand jury
Civil rights leaders have condemned a grand jury decision not to charge a white policeman in the chokehold death of a black man as “a travesty of justice”.
Following a meeting at the New York City headquarters of Rev Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, they also announced plans for a summit on racial justice in Washington later this month.
Father-of-six Eric Garner, 43, died after he was restrained by police while being arrested on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes on Staten Island in July.
More from the Associated Press:
Police cases converge to stir national debate
From the White House to the streets of some of America’s biggest cities, the New York chokehold case converged with the Ferguson shooting and investigations out of South Carolina and Cleveland to stir a national conversation Thursday about racial justice and police use of force.
A day after protests erupted in New York over the decision not to charge a white officer in the death of a black man, civil rights leaders pinned their hopes on a federal investigation. Demonstrators turned out in such cities as Denver, Detroit and Minneapolis. And politicians and others talked about the need for better police training, body cameras and changes in the grand jury process to restore faith in the legal system.
“A whole generation of officers will be trained in a new way,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he and his police commissioner outlined previously announced plans to teach officers how to communicate better with people on the street.
From Reuters, hardly surprising:
More protests expected after no charges in New York chokehold case
A police union official on Thursday defended a white officer’s role in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man in New York even as protesters planned a new round of demonstrations a day after a grand jury voted not to bring charges.
New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch told reporters on Thursday that Officer Daniel Pantaleo had acted properly in restraining Eric Garner during an arrest attempt in the borough of Staten Island in July.
“He’s a model of what we want a police officer to be,” Lynch said.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other civil rights leaders called for the appointment of a special federal prosecutor to investigate suspected cases of police abuse, including the shooting death in August of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.
While the Guardian questions a proclaimed preventative measure:
Body cameras for police officers? Not so fast, say researchers
- Obama supports the use of body cameras on police officers, but researchers say they’re unconvinced of the merits of the technology
In police departments across the country, body camera initiatives have been fast-tracked, aided by recent presidential backing. But among activists stung by a New York City grand jury’s refusal to indict an officer in the death of Eric Garner, an incident that was captured on video by at least three bystanders, body cameras are losing their appeal.
“There is a video of officer [Daniel] Pantaleo killing Eric Garner and the New York City medical examiner’s office ruled his death a homicide,” said Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project civil rights advocacy group, in a statement on Wednesday. “Yet he walks free.”
As media reports have pointed out, body cameras devices may not help prosecute police officers – many episodes of apparent brutality are captured on camera, but charges against officers are infrequent. Still, some say the devices should not be dismissed.
“There are a lot of good reasons to think the technology could be a win-win,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. The organisation is known for its right-to-privacy advocacy, but Stanley comes down on the side of the cameras. He argues they could make police more accountable to the public, “if the technology is done right”. “And that may be a big if,” he said.
Meanwhile, Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles has a suggestion for another way to use body cams:
The New York Times covers more of the usual:
Cleveland Police Abuse Pattern Cited by Justice Department
One week after the release of a surveillance video showing a Cleveland police officer fatally shooting a 12-year-old African-American boy who was holding a pellet gun, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flew here on Thursday to announce that a lengthy Justice Department civil rights investigation had found “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” by the city’s Police Department.
The Cleveland abuses highlighted by Mr. Holder included many that have caused friction with the police in minority communities around the country. Those include excessive use of deadly force like shootings and using weapons to hit suspects on the head; the “unnecessary, excessive or retaliatory use of less lethal force” involving Tasers, chemical spray and fists; excessive force against mentally ill people; and tactics that have escalated encounters into confrontations where use of force became inevitable.
“Cleveland officers are not provided with adequate training, policy guidance, support and supervision,” the Justice Department concluded in its report.
A surprising decision, given the state where it happened, from the San Antonio Express-News:
Texas cop resigns after putting woman in chokehold while she filmed arrest
An off-duty police officer who used a controversial neck restraint on a woman after she refused to stop filming an arrest in a Corpus Christi parking lot has resigned.
Gary Witherspoon, an off-duty investigator for the Nueces County Attorney’s Office, resigned at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release from Nuces County District Attorney Mark Skurka provided to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
“The termination is a result of his involvement and actions at an incident that took place on August 16, 2014, as well as other employment issues,” the news release said. “However, during the termination process, Mr. Witherspoon asked for and was allowed to resign in lieu of (termination).”
And then there’s this, from the U.N. Press Center:
US should respond to public demands for greater police accountability – Ban
In the wake of a grand jury decision in New York yesterday not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed man, in July, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged the United States to do “anything possible to respond to demands of greater accountability.”
“We are obviously aware of what is going on here in our backyard,” said UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric responding to questions at the daily press briefing at UN Headquarters. He said the Secretary-General’s thoughts are with the families of Mr. Garner, a Staten Island resident, and the people of New York.
“I think the case is again focusing on the attention of accountability of law enforcement officials,” he added, welcoming the announcement by the US Justice Department of opening a civil rights investigation in the case.
“I think I would just add that we’ve seen a lot of demonstrations here in New York. [Mr. Ban] would urge the [protestors] to demonstrate peacefully, and for the authorities for the respect of those demonstrators to do so peacefully,” the spokesperson said.
And from RT America, inevitable:
Protests spread nationwide after NYPD non-indictment
Thousands took to the streets of New York, Washington and other cities across the country on Wednesday night, protesting a grand jury’s decision to not indict a police officer who killed 43-year-old unarmed Eric Garner with a chokehold. Coming just over a week after the latest Ferguson, Mo. unrest, the decision touched a nerve with many who feel justice for victims of police brutality is not being served. RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky and Manuel Rapalo have more details.
From the London Telegraph, a nose for it:
Police use ‘nose telescope’ for cannabis odour mapping
- Police in Denver are using a nose telescope to tackle odours from the recreational use of marijuana
As more cities in America legalise the drug, attention has switched to the pungent smell that wafts from the joint itself.
Denver has passed a new “odour ordinance” with a potential $2,000 (£1,247) fine for anyone found guilty of polluting the atmosphere.
The need to draw up standards emerged because of the confusion over the legal position of whether somebody smoking marijuana in their own home could be committing an environmental offence when the smell seeps into the street.
Under the new law an offence is committed if the odour is detectable when the smoke is mixed with seven times the volume of clean air.
And from RT, a cop shock Down Under:
Brutal police beating of model shocks Australia
A video showing three Sydney police officers brutally beating a young woman has gone viral, with over 750,000 views on Facebook. During the clip, the victim is repeatedly hit with a police baton and appears to be kicked in the head by a male officer.
Police brutality has been hitting the headlines in the US, but now it seems the unfortunate trend has made its way to Australia. The woman in question, Claire Helen, who works as a model and actress and was on the receiving end of recurring blows from a police officer, said: “It was the most frightening and humiliating experience of my life.”
Law enforcement officers allege that Helen punched a policewoman in the mouth, as well as resisting arrest – an action that the model stringently denies. “They pushed me down. They hit me and kicked me. They pulled my dress over my head,” she said, speaking to Channel Nine. Onlookers could be heard shouting, “Let her go,” and, “She’s not resisting arrest.”
A controversial figurative branding from TheLocal.fr:
French homeless forced to wear ‘yellow triangles’
The city of Marseille has been blasted for using Nazi-era tactics to identify its homeless population by issuing them with ID cards, adorned with a yellow triangle. The cards detail their health issues and will be worn visibly.
Authorities in France’s second-largest city have come under fire for issuing its homeless with ID cards that detail their health issues.
Human rights groups and government ministers have slammed the “yellow triangle cards”, comparing them to the Nazi-era Star of David that was sown onto Jewish people’s clothes during the Holocaust.
“This is scandalous, it’s stigmatizing,” Christophe Louis, president of the homeless charity Collectif Morts de la Rue, told The Local.
After the jump, it’s on to the Hollywood hack of the year and a denial from Pyongyang, while suspicion remains though questions are raised, the leaks continue, and a malware signature is discovered, a gang of cybercrooks is broken, Chinese cybervulnerabilities proclaimed, rottenness from an Apple and a Russian Apple ban contemplated, deadly message for a Sicilian journalist covering the mafia, politics behind Egypt’s jailing of journalists, a Liberian journalists fear a secret police death plot, Allegations of a British undercover provocateur’s incitement, a Pakistani lawyer threatened with gunshots and death for defending an alleged blasphemer, Indian bigotry empowered, a Chinese takeover of Taiwan predicted and a Taiwanese arsenal addition, Vietnam jails a blogger critical of the government, China mulls an Obama criticism of the country’s president, China ends a gruesome recycling operation, remaining Occupy Hong Kong activists mull retreat, Beijing slams Washington’s agreement with an Occupy aim, Japanese police monitor anti-Korean hate group and the air force install cameras to monitor Chinese fly-bys, plus Tony Blair’s Henry Kissinger fetish. . . Continue reading