Category Archives: Crime

Netflix competitors and pirating are becoming inversely proportional

By : Karl Bode of Motherboard

A new study shows that after years of declines, BitTorrent usage and piracy is on the rise again. The culprit: an increase in exclusivity deals that force subscribers to hunt and peck among a myriad of streaming services to actually find the content they’re looking for.

Sandvine’s new Global Internet Phenomena report offers some interesting insight into user video habits and the internet, such as the fact that more than 50 percent of internet traffic is now encrypted, video now accounts for 58 percent of all global traffic, and Netflix alone now comprises 15 percent of all internet downstream data consumed. 

But there’s another interesting tidbit buried in the firm’s report: after years of steady decline, BitTorrent usage is once again growing.

According to Sandvine, file-sharing accounts for 3 percent of global downstream and 22 percent of upstream traffic, with 97% of that traffic in turn being BitTorrent. While BitTorrent is often used to distribute ordinary files, it remains the choice du jour for those looking to distribute and trade copyrighted content online, made easier via media PCs running Kodi and select plugins.

Back in 2011, Sandvine stated that BitTorrent accounted for 52.01% of upstream traffic on fixed broadband networks in North America. By 2015, BitTorrent’s share of upstream traffic on these networks had dipped to 26.83 percent, largely thanks to the rise in quality, inexpensive streaming alternatives to piracy.

But Sandvine notes that trend is now reversing slightly, with BitTorrent’s traffic share once again growing worldwide. That’s especially true in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, where BitTorrent now accounts for 32% of all upstream network traffic.

One major reason for BitTorrent’s rising popularity? Annoying exclusivity streaming deals.

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Mexican Military Steps In To Stop Acapulco’s Corrupted Police Force

By: Harriet Agerholm of Independent

Mexican authorities have taken control of the entire police force in the southern Mexican city of Acapulco, claiming the department has been infiltrated by drug gangs.

Two police commanders have been accused of murder, while the rest of the force officers have been stripped of their guns, radios and bulletproof vests and taken for background checks.

Acapulco – a beach resort – was a fashionable location favoured by movie stars in the 1950s and 60s, but has since been plagued by escalating violence due to warring drug gangs.

State police and the military will now assume the law enforcement responsibilities in the city, which has some 800,000 residents.

The state government said it took the step ” because of suspicion that the force had probably been infiltrated by criminal groups” and “the complete inaction of the municipal police in fighting the crime wave”.

Last year, Acapulco had a murder rate of 103 per 100,000 residents, one of the highest in Mexico and the world.

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Roman Catholic Clergy Distance Themselves From Pedophile Priests And Church

photo courtesy of yournewswire.com

NOT IN OUR NAME
A Legal and Moral Declaration and Pledge of Non-Cooperation issued by Concerned Roman Catholic Clergy
Issued on Sunday, September 23, 2018
We are a group of clergy within the Roman Catholic Church who in good conscience are unable to associate any longer with the criminal, anti-Christian actions of the Vatican and the Papacy. We refer to the massive cover up of violent crimes against children now being perpetrated as a matter of policy by the church hierarchy: crimes in which every Catholic is expected to collude.
The growing exposure in the world media of a massive network in our church of child trafficking, rape, torture and murder, and the direct implication of the Pope and senior Cardinals and Bishops in this network, compels every one of us to make a choice. For by our daily association with the Church of Rome we are accomplices in its crimes, under both the laws of God and Man.
No Papal statute or command can justify or absolve such a criminal and sinful association. Whether Pope or Priest, we must all face and answer to God for our actions, or our inaction. And we must also answer to the Law.
Under the law, anyone – including ordained clergymen – can be tried and convicted for harming a child or enabling or concealing those who do. As Catholics, we are all therefore guilty and subject to prosecution according to our own church policy known as Crimen Sollicitationas (1929), which requires that we suppress evidence of child abuse in the church, not tell the police of such abuse, and silence the victims.
This policy refers to the rape of children as “a pontifical secret” which, if disclosed, will result in the excommunication of any honest Catholic who reports the crime! Such a bizarre and inhuman statute constitutes a massive criminal conspiracy for which we are all liable for arrest and prosecution. (1)
For this reason, as moral beings and followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot any longer adhere to the collusion and silence imposed on us by a criminal church regime that places its own money and power ahead of the lives and safety of children. For did not our Lord tell us, “Whatever you do to the least of these my people, you do to me?”; and “Whoever would cause one of these little ones to fall, it would be better that a millstone be tied around his neck and he be cast into the sea”?
Christ’s judgement on those who harm children is the same as ours.
Accordingly, as of this day, we publicly disassociate ourselves from any allegiance to the leaders of the Church of Rome and from our vows of obedience to our Bishops and to the Pope. We will not be subject any longer to Crimen Sollicitationas and its requirement of collusion with the rape and murder of children. Under the law of God and Man, we are obligated to always protect children and prosecute their tormentors, not simply when it is expedient.
As a consequence, we pledge ourselves to the following faithful course of action:
1. We will actively uncover and report to our congregations, the police and the media any violence or other crimes done against children within our parishes, dioceses and communities, regardless of Church policy.
2. We will also uncover and report to our congregations, the police and the media the names of anyone within the Church who harms a child or who aids and abets such harm, and who conceals it, regardless of their rank or position within the Church.
3. As ordained clergymen, we will refuse to give Holy Communion or any other sacrament of the Church to anyone associated with such crimes. We will also refuse to accept financial donations or tithings of such persons.
4. If ordered by our nominal superiors to collude with such crimes, or if we face discipline or punishments for acting according to our consciences and the Law, we will separate ourselves from those officials and continue to conduct our pastoral and sacramental offices apart from the church hierarchy, within separate congregations under the authority of Christ Alone.
5. We will actively reach out to all our brethren clergy and to all Roman Catholics in our communities, and urge them to join us and take this same pledge of Non-Cooperation and Witness against the anti-Christ regime that governs our Church.
Our faith is in God and not in Man. As God wills it, so it is done.
Signed and Published on this 23rd Day of September in the year 2018 by Ordained Clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church in America, Canada, Ireland, England, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Please share this Declaration. It has been released to the global media. We invite all clergy and adherents of our church to reflect on and endorse this statement.
You can contact us at congregationalcovenant@gmail.com

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Canadian Government Takes a Jab At U.S. Pharmaceuticals

By: Jeff Lagerquist of Yahoo

Canadian officials are considering how to take aim at the massive U.S. pharmaceutical industry in the event of a full-blown trade war with the United States, according to an Ottawa-based law professor with knowledge of the situation.

The plan would target valuable U.S. patents, granting Canada’s generic pharmaceutical firms the right to copy, sell and potentially export American drugs.

Amir Attaran, a biomedical scientist and University of Ottawa law professor, said the move would stun Wall Street and the White

House, while mobilizing the powerful U.S.

pharmaceutical lobby behind Canada’s cause.

“Canadian officials are aware of and studying the proposal in case the United States decides to impose a major retaliation on Canada,” he told Yahoo Canada Finance on Tuesday.  “I’m positive it’s being considered.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland travelled back to Washington to resume NAFTA negotiations on Wednesday. U.S. officials have demanded a deal by Oct. 1., upping the pressure to resolve long-held sticking points such as the dispute resolution mechanism, cultural protections, and the supply-managed dairy industry.

Attaran spelled out how Canada could employ a pharma-based retaliation strategy in a magazine column in June. He declined to disclose who in the federal government is now considering the plan, saying only that it is not the officials negotiating the trade deal with the U.S.

Global Affairs Canada did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

“I think one plausible reaction for the Canadian government would be to say if the Americans operate radically outside of NAFTA, as by penalizing our car industry, we will pursue their pharmaceutical industry’s interests,” Attaran said. “At that point, you have exited the negotiating model of resolving our differences, and you are resorting to brute force.”

The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America was the fourth largest U.S. lobby group in 2017, spending nearly US$26 million that year, according to the nonpartisan Centre for Responsive Politics. The Washington D.C.-based trade group’s members include drug industry giants Pfizer, Sanofi, and Johnson & Johnson.

Attaran said a threat by Canada to suspend U.S. patents on Canadian soil would be impossible for those companies to ignore.

“Pharma would be putting in phone calls out to everyone in Congress whom they made campaign donations to. And that is nearly everyone,” he said. “Pharma spends more on lobbying than banking and defence combined, and each of those are a huge lobby.”

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11 Disadvantaged L.A. Communities See Heaviest Oil-drilling Pollution

Courtesy of John Fleming, (310) 405-1532, jfleming@biologicaldiversity.org

LOS ANGELES— Eleven disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities endure the heaviest use of toxic oil-drilling chemicals in Los Angeles County, according to South Coast Air Quality Management District data analyzed by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The 15 zip codes in which oil companies used the most chemicals known to cause serious health problems (“air toxics”) include several areas of Long Beach, South L.A. County and the Westside. In one Long Beach zip code, the oil industry has used almost 50 million pounds of air toxics since 2013.

Eleven of the 15 zip codes with the heaviest air toxics use contain neighborhoods like Wilmington that are considered “disadvantaged” by the California Environmental Protection Agency. The agency’s CalEnviroScreen index weighs the percentage of residents who are people of color, poverty levels, asthma rates and other measures of pollution burden and vulnerability.

“Oil companies are using massive amounts of chemicals that make people sick in communities already suffering high rates of asthma and other health problems,” said John Fleming, a Center staff scientist who conducted the analysis. “State regulators give out drilling permits like they’re candy, and here in Los Angeles we see how it hurts people of color and vulnerable residents the most.”

oil-pump-jack-1407715_1280

An earlier analysis of air district data revealed that oil companies have used more than 98 million pounds of chemicals known to cause serious health problems in L.A. County since 2013. These air toxics were often used dangerously close to homes, hospitals and schools.

Over 80 percent of air toxics usage involved just 12 chemicals, including carcinogens like crystalline silica and formaldehyde. Hydrochloric acid, one of the most frequently used air toxics, is a corrosive gas that can cause suffocation or irreversible lung damage at high concentrations.

Today’s analysis underscores the disproportionate harms of California’s oil extraction on vulnerable communities. Gov. Jerry Brown faces growing pressure to confront California’s oil and gas production prior to hosting the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this week.

On April 11 a diverse array of environmental, public-health, faith, labor and community groups launched the Brown’s Last Chance campaign to demand that he halt new oil and gas extraction and devise a just transition plan to phase it out entirely. To date more than 800 organizations have signed on.

“Fossil fuel dependence is a disease, and environmental injustice is one of its nastiest symptoms,” Fleming said. “That’s why Governor Brown should tackle the root of this problem by planning an end to California’s incredibly dirty oil extraction.”

Los Angeles County zip codes where air toxic usage was highest between June 4, 2013 and Feb. 28, 2017

Rank

Zip Code

Community(ies)

Total amount of air toxics used by mass (lbs.)

CalEnviroScreen Score Percentile*

1

90802

Long Beach

48,271,904

80.2

2

90056

Ladera Heights

12,242,946

58.9

3

90744

Wilmington

5,513,548

94.3

4

90813

Long Beach

3,552,481

96.1

5

90670

Santa Fe Springs

3,501,947

93

6

90755

Signal Hill

3,440.721

78.6

7

90640

Montebello

1,225,214

86.5

8

90048

West Hollywood

1,210,425

54.8

9

90018

Jefferson Park, Leimert Park

377,147

91.1

10

90710

Harbor City

303,994

75.8

11

90019

Mid-City, Arlington Heights

183,180

84.3

12

90804

East Long Beach

162,277

84.5

13

90815

Long Beach

143,194

34

14

90064

Cheviot Hills, Rancho Park

137,151

38

15

90745

Carson

125,245

87.4

*Communities with CalEnviroScreen scores in the top 25th percentile are designated “disadvantaged communities” by the California Environmental Protection Agency.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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New Mexico Sues Google For Spying

By: Ray Downs of UPI

New Mexico has filed a lawsuit against Google, Twitter and several app developers for illegally collecting data from children under the age of 13 without parental consent.

New Mexico Attorney General Balderas said the companies are violating the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law, by collecting and selling the data on children.

The lawsuit comes after a University of California, Berkeley study analyzed nearly 6,000 children’s apps and found that the majority of them appeared to violate COPPA.

“These apps can track where children live, play, and go to school with incredible precision,” Balderas said. “These multi-million-dollar tech companies partnering with app developers are taking advantage of New Mexican children, and the unacceptable risk of data breach and access from third parties who seek to exploit and harm our children will not be tolerated in New Mexico.”

In addition to Google and Twitter, the lawsuit alleges Tiny Lab Productions, MoPub, AerServ, InMobi PTE, AppLovin and IronSource of collecting data on children.

Google spokesman Aaron Stein told The New York Times that it is the responsibility of app developers to disclose if their products are primarily for children, and that apps in the store’s family section “must comply with more stringent policies.”

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Amazon Employees Accepting Bribes For Positive Reviews

By: Zoë Bernard of Business Insider

For Amazon’s online sellers, a negative product review can be extremely damaging to businesses selling their products on the retail giant’s site.

In order to quash bad feedback, some sellers are offering Amazon employees bribes to obtain bad reviewers’ email addresses or to erase the negative review from the site entirely, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s sources, this practice is especially common in China, where small business owners sometimes pay Amazon employees around $300 for each bad review they take down.

These services are reportedly overseen by brokers who use the Chinese messaging service WeChat to connect sellers with Amazon employees.

Sellers can even contact brokers to get proprietary information on sales volume and data relating to shoppers’ online spending habits in order to boost sales, the sources said.

Amazon policies prohibit disclosing this information, and the online retail giant has launched an internal investigation to determine which employees are violating the company’s policies.

In a statement to Business Insider, an Amazon spokesperson said that the company holds employees to a “high ethical standard” and that anyone violating these codes “faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties.”

“In addition,” they wrote, “we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action.”

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Human Rights Violations In UK’s Mass Surveillance Programe

By: Harriet Agerholm of The Independent

The UK government’s mass surveillance programme violated human rights and had “no real safeguards”, the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) has said in a landmark ruling.

The Strasbourg court said British intelligence agencies’ interception regime violated the right to a private and family life, since there was “insufficient oversight” over which communications were chosen for examination.

Not enough protection was given to journalistic sources by the government’s mass information collection programme, violating the right to freedom of expression, it also said.

But the court ruled that sharing the information with foreign governments did not violate either the right to a private and family life, or to free speech.

The case, brought by a group of charities including human rights groups Big Brother Watch and Amnesty International, centred on complaints about powers given to security services under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa).

It is the first major challenge to the legality of the UK’s bulk collection of communications and follows revelations that both the US and British governments were gathering communications on a “population-level”.

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EU Passes Controversial Internet law

By: Ryan Browne

European parliamentarians have passed a controversial overhaul of copyright law that could force tech giants to install filters that prevent copyright-protected content from being uploaded.

Lawmakers in Strasbourg, France, voted on Wednesday in favor of the European Union’s revamped directive, which is aimed at bringing the bloc’s rules on copyright into the 21st century.

The copyright reform was passed with 438 votes in favor, 226 against and 39 abstentions.

But critics say such a law would normalize censorship and restrict internet freedom, preventing users from being able to post content ranging from memes to links to articles from news outlets.

The controversy mainly surrounds two sections of the law — Articles 11 and 13.

Article 11 would grant press publications copyright over the sharing of their content online, meaning they would be able to charge services like Google News for aggregating their stories. Critics have dubbed this as an effective “link tax,” but proponents say hyperlinks will be exempt.

Meanwhile, Article 13 calls for “effective content recognition” technology to filter out copyright-protected content. Detractors hold that this part of the law could threaten social media users’ ability to share anything from internet memes to snippets of music and film.

Member of the European Parliament Axel Voss — a key supporter of the directive — said parliament had addressed concerns raised by activists, citing amendments including the exclusion of “small and micro platforms or aggregators” from the scope of legislation.

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China Cracks Down on Christianity

By: Kelsey Cheng and Associated Press

Concerns have been raised over China‘s apparent crackdown on Christianity as the ruling Community party continues to intensify its control over religious freedom in the country.

Churches were raided and demolished, Bibles and holy books were confiscated and new laws were established to monitor religious activities in the country’s province of Henan, which has one of the largest Christian populations in China.

Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, believers are seeing their freedoms shrink dramatically even as the country undergoes a religious revival.

Experts and activists say that as Xi consolidates his power, he is waging the most severe systematic suppression of Christianity in the country since religious freedom was written into the Chinese constitution in 1982.

Guo, a 62-year-old Chinese shopkeeper had waited nearly his entire adult life to see his dream of building a church come true – a brick house with a sunny courtyard and spacious hall with room for 200 believers.

But in March, about a dozen police officers and local officials suddenly showed up at the church on his property and made the frightened congregants disperse.

They ordered that the cross, a painting of the Last Supper and Bible verse calligraphy be taken down. And they demanded that all services stop until each person along with the church itself was registered with the government, said Guo, who gave his last name only from fear of retribution.

Without warning, Guo and his neighbors in central Henan had found themselves on the front lines of an ambitious new effort by the officially atheist ruling Communist Party to dictate – and in some cases displace – the practice of faith in the country.

The crackdown on Christianity is part of a broader push by Xi to ‘Sinicise’ all the nation’s religions by infusing them with ‘Chinese characteristics’ such as loyalty to the Communist Party. Over the last several months, local governments across the country have shut down hundreds of private Christian ‘house churches’. A statement last week from 47 in Beijing alone said they had faced ‘unprecedented’ harassment since February.

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