Category Archives: Crime

Appointed FCC Broadband Adviser Arrested For Million Dollar Fraud Allegation

By: Nick Statt of The Verge

A broadband adviser selected by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to run a federal advisory committee was arrested last week on claims she tricked investors into pouring money into a multimillion-dollar investment fraud scheme, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The adviser, Elizabeth Pierce, is the former chief executive of Quintillion, an Alaska-based fiber optic cable provider operating out of Anchorage. In her capacity as CEO, Pierce allegedly raised more than $250 million from two New York-based investment companies using forged contracts with other companies guaranteeing hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. Pierce resigned from Quintillion in August of last year, and she stepped down from her role in Pai’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) the following month.

“As it turned out, those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them,” US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in prepared remarks, as reported by the WSJ. “Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counter-party signatures on contract after contract. As a result of Pierce’s deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is worth far less than Pierce had led them to believe.” Pierce was trying to raise money to help build out a fiber optic system that would wire Alaska with high-speed internet and better help connect it to networks in other US states. Pierce was charged with wire fraud last Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Pierce was tapped by Pai in April of last year to be the chair of the BDAC, which he formed “to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet access, or broadband, by reducing and removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.” According to broadband industry news and advocacy website Stop the Cap, Pierce may have gotten on Pai’s radar by complaining about how cumbersome it was to bring internet access to parts of the country like Alaska.

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7 Inmates Killed In Mass Casualty Accident

By: DWAYNE MCLEMORE, TEDDY KULMALA AND EMILY BOHATCH of The State

Seven inmates were killed during fights that lasted more than seven hours at a South Carolina prison Sunday night and into Monday morning, according to officials.

At least six emergency agencies responded to the “mass casualty incident” at Lee Correctional Institution in Lee County that resulted in the seven inmate deaths and 17 other inmates requiring medical attention, the S.C. Department of Corrections announced early Monday morning.

The fight, which spanned three dorms, was likely gang related, and spawned from a disagreement over territory, contraband and cellphones, SC Department of Corrections Director Brian Stirling said.

“These folks are fighting over real money and real territory while they’re incarcerated,” Stirling said.

Though most of the autopsies have yet to be performed, it appears that many of the prisoners died from stabbing or slashing wounds from “shanks,” Lee County Coroner Larry Logan said. The official cause of death will not be determined until after the autopsies.

Videos that reportedly were taken by inmates inside the prison and shared to social media show the grisly scene after the riot.

One video, which was shot from what looks like a catwalk on the upper level of a cellblock, shows towels or clothing items on the floor and a long trail of what appears to be smeared blood leading to a larger puddle of blood near a wall. Another video shows a bloody man lying on his side against a wall, not moving.

The seven victims were identified Monday morning. Logan said coroner’s offices from across the state reached out to him and offered to assist on the numerous autopsies.

An inmate told The Associated Press that bodies at the prison were “literally stacked on top of each other” and that hours after the violence started, no correctional officers or medical personnel attended to the dead or dying.

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Was The Zuckerberg Trail A Total Sham?

By: Zephyr Teachout of The Guardian

On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg was in the hot seat. Cameras surrounded him. The energy in the room – and on Twitter – was electric. At last, the reluctant CEO is made to answer some questions!

Except it failed. It was designed to fail. It was a show designed to get Zuckerberg off the hook after only a few hours in Washington DC. It was a show that gave the pretense of a hearing without a real hearing. It was designed to deflect and confuse.

Each senator was given less than five minutes for questions. That meant that there was no room for follow-ups, no chance for big discoveries and many frustratingly half-developed ideas. Compare that to Bill Gates’ hearing on Microsoft, where he faced lawyers and staff for several days, or the Kefauver hearings, which were over a year. By design, you can’t do a hearing of this magnitude in just a couple of hours.

The worst moments of the hearing for us, as citizens, were when senators asked if Zuckerberg would support legislation that would regulate Facebook. I don’t care whether Zuckerberg supports Honest Ads or privacy laws or GDPR. By asking him if he would support legislation, the senators elevated him to a kind of co-equal philosopher king whose view on Facebook regulation carried special weight. It shouldn’t.

Facebook is a known behemoth corporate monopoly. It has exposed at least 87 million people’s data, enabled foreign propaganda and perpetuated discrimination. We shouldn’t be begging for Facebook’s endorsement of laws, or for Mark Zuckerberg’s promises of self-regulation. We should treat him as a danger to democracy and demand our senators get a real hearing.

The best senators understood this was a show, and used it as such. “Your user agreement sucks,” said John Kennedy. “Are you a monopoly?” asked Lindsey Graham. (Zuckerberg “comically” responded: “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”) Richard Blumenthal said we needed laws, not promises or apologies.

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Facebook Announced 87% of Users Could Have Had Their Data Leaked By Cambridge Analytica

By: Troy Wolverton of Business Insider

Facebook made a bombshell admission about the security of its users’ personal information on Wednesday, in a startling revelation that’s almost certain to worsen the privacy crisis currently hanging over the world’s largest social network.

“Most” of Facebook’s 2 billion users may have had their personal data skimmed from the site by “malicious actors,” the company said in a blog post by Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer. Facebook said it has disabled the feature in its site’s search function that enabled the data scrapping, but the fact that so much user data may have been vulnerable was another setback to the company’s efforts to restore confidence with users.

Meanwhile, up to 87 million users may have been affected by the leak of personal information to Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica — a number that was much bigger than previous estimates.

Facebook has been reeling since a whistleblower disclosed that Cambridge Analytica had managed to get hold of user data and used it to target voters with emotional and divisive messages during the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

Schroepfer disclosed the new information about privacy compromises on Wednesday in a post describing changes the company has made to its service, to better protect users’ personal data.

“We believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences,” he said in the post. “We know we have more work to do — and we’ll keep you updated as we make more changes”

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China Claims North Korea Agrees To Denuclearize

By: CNBC

China said on Wednesday it won a pledge from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearize the Korean peninsula during a meeting with President Xi Jinping, who pledged in return that China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbor.

After two days of speculation, China announced on Wednesday that Kim had visited Beijing and met Xi during what the official Xinhua news agency called an unofficial visit from Sunday to Wednesday.

The trip was Kim’s first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive North Korea, but ties have been frayed by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s backing of tough U.N. sanctions in response.

Xinhua cited Kim as telling Xi that the situation on the Korean peninsula is starting to improve because North Korea has taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.

“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim Jong Un said, according to Xinhua.

North Korea is willing to talk with the United States and hold a summit between the two countries, he said.

“The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Kim said.

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French Officer Who Swapped Places With Hostage Was Married 2 Days Before His Death

By: Sky News

Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Beltrame voluntarily swapped himself for a female store worker during Friday’s siege.

The 44-year-old officer died in hospital from his injuries after being shot three times by radical Islamist Redouane Lakdim in Trebes, southwest France.

A mass was held, paying tribute to the victims of the attack.

It has emerged that hours before his death Lt Col Beltrame married his partner Marielle in a ceremony at a hospital in Carcassonne.

According to reports, the couple had been planning a church wedding in June after they met during a tour of an abbey in France in 2016.

Father Jean-Baptiste said the couple had spent some 30 hours preparing for their marriage ceremony.

He said: “I gave him the sacrament of marriage, and the sacrament of the sick.”

Ladkim, 25, was shot dead by police after Lt Col Beltrame left his mobile phone on so colleagues could hear what was happening inside the supermarket.

A national tribute is to take place at a later date for Lt Col Beltrane, who President Emmanuel Macron said had “died a hero” and deserved “the respect and admiration of the whole nation”.

The officer’s brother, Cedric, said he had given his life “for strangers” and knew he had “almost no chance” of surviving. “he did not hesitate one second,” Mr Beltrame told RTL radio.

“He did what needed to be done and thanks to him, many lives were saved and yes, I think the word hero is very appropriate.”

The officer’s mother, who has not been named, said she was “not surprised” by her son’s actions, saying: “He’s always been like that.”

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March For Our Lives Protest Extends Across The U.S

By: The Washington Post

In a historic groundswell of youth activism, hundreds of thousands of teenagers and their supporters rallied across the United States against gun violence Saturday, vowing to transform fear and grief into a “vote-them-out” movement and tougher laws against weapons.

They took to the streets of Washington and cities across the country, including New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; and Los Angeles, California. The numbers were like those seen in protests during the Vietnam era, about 50 years ago.

They were called to action by a brand-new corps of leaders: student survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead February 14.

“If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking,” Parkland survivor David Hogg said to roars from the protesters packing Pennsylvania Avenue from the stage near the Capitol many blocks toward the White House. “We’re going to take this to every election, to every state and every city. We’re going to make sure the best people get in our elections to run, not as politicians but as Americans.

“Because this,” he said, pointing behind him to the Capitol dome, “this is not cutting it.”

Some of the young voices were very young.

Yolanda Renee King, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s 9-year-old granddaughter, drew from the civil rights leader’s most famous words in declaring from the stage: “I have a dream that enough is enough. That this should be a gun-free world. Period.”

By all appearances — there were no official numbers — Washington’s March for Our Lives rally was as big as the women’s march last year that drew far more than the predicted 300,000.

The National Rifle Association went silent on Twitter as the protests unfolded, in contrast to its reaction to the nationwide school walkouts against gun violence March 14, when it tweeted a photo of an assault rifle and the message “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.”

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Shooter Dead and Two Injured in Great Mills High School Shooting

By: Kathleen Joyce of Fox

A gunman who shot and wounded two students at Great Mills High School in Maryland was killed Tuesday after engaging an armed school resource officer, an official said.

The shooter was the only fatality. A female student was critically injured and a male student was also shot but is in stable condition at a hospital, authorities said.

“Our school resource officer was alerted to the event. he pursued the shooter, engaged the shooter, fired a round at the shooter,” St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said. “The shooter fired a round as well. In the hours and days to come, we’ll be able to determine if our school resource officer’s round struck the shooter.”

The resource officer, who wasn’t immediately identified, was not injured. Cameron said the gunman died after being transported to a local hospital.

Earlier, the school was placed on lockdown and students were being evacuated to Leonardtown High School to be reunified with their parents.

The Maryland State Police along with the FBI and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are on the scene assisting with the investigation. The scene at the school which has about 1,600 students and is near the Patuxent River Naval Air Station was said to be “contained.”

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Whistleblowers Expose Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Data Mining Practices

By: Paul Lewis of The Guardian

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a new whistleblower.

Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, told the Guardian he warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach.

“My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” he said.

Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand” and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused.

Parakilas, whose job was to investigate data breaches by developers similar to the one later suspected of Global Science Research, which harvested tens of millions of Facebook profiles and provided the data to Cambridge Analytica, said the slew of recent disclosures had left him disappointed with his superiors for not heeding his warnings.

“It has been painful watching,” he said, “because I know that they could have prevented it.”

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U.S. Loses Bid To Stop Youth Climate Change Lawsuit

By: Jonathan Stempel of Reuters

A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected the U.S. government’s bid to halt a lawsuit by young people claiming that President Donald Trump and his administration are violating their constitutional rights by ignoring the harms caused by climate change.

By a 3-0 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the administration had not met the “high bar” under federal law to dismiss the Oregon lawsuit, which was originally brought in 2015 against the administration of President Barack Obama.

The potentially far-reaching case is one of a handful seeking to have courts address global warming and its causes.

Twenty-one plaintiffs, now aged 10 to 21, accused federal officials and oil industry executives of knowing for decades that carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels destabilise the climate, but refusing to do anything about it.

They said this has deprived them of their due process rights to life, liberty and property, including to live in a habitable climate.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, Oregon in November 2016 refused to dismiss the lawsuit, saying a quick dismissal without addressing the merits could sanction the government’s alleged “knowing decision to poison the air.”

In seeking to overturn that ruling, the government said letting the case proceed could lead to burdensome litigation, and provoke a “constitutional crisis” by pitting courts against Trump and the many other Executive Branch officials named as defendants.

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