Monday, September 1, 275760

Random Disclaimer: This blog is GRIMDARK AS FUCK

9/23/14 EDIT: For in-depth video game information for various obscure RPGs, check out my gaming blog at

5/29/12 EDIT: I've just created a new blog exclusively for ponies and pony-related news, WITHOUT the stressful news articles on this blog.  It's no Equestria Daily, nor will it ever be, but it's still a pony blog. Feel free to check it out if you please...

If you're a brony and a Final Fantasy fan, and you want to play a game that combines ponies with Final Fantasy, I just thought you might like to know that an excellent fan game called Pony Fantasy 6 was released a few days ago.

If you are interested in this game, and would like to give it a try, please follow this link...

This blog contains some controversial posts concerning certain political issues and depressing news stories. If you find some of the content on my blog too controversial for your liking, or you're simply interested in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, go to That is my DailyMotion channel that is filled with every episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic so far. If a new epsisode of MLP:FiM comes on, expect to see it on there within a few hours. It might help to take the edge off from hearing or seeing too much stressful stuff (i.e. some of the posts on my blog), and you may walk away with the realization that not ALL things pertaining to My Little Pony suck. In fact, in the case of FiM, it's AWESOME.

BTW, since DailyMotion absolutely ADORES putting ads all over the place, often ruining perfectly good videos by placing ads at the beginning, end, and occasionally, even the MIDDLE of many videos, please consider installing Adblock Plus for maximum pony enjoyment. DailyMotion can be a great deal better and more enjoyable than YouTube, but only if you use Adblock to get around the horribly annoying ads.

If you're interested in MLP:FiM, but you don't want to go to DailyMotion, either because of the annoying random ads or because the videos play slower there than on other sites, there are dozens, if not hundreds of channels on YouTube that have the entire first and second seasons uploaded to their channels, and they're all ad-free, too. I was planning on creating another YouTube channel to upload pony videos to, but it wouldn't allow me to upload videos past 15 minutes unless I gave a mobile phone number, and I don't have a mobile phone, and I'm NOT breaking these videos into parts.

If ponies aren't your thing, I understand. At any rate, I cannot stress enough that there are PLENTY of depressing pieces of news and controversial opinions about certain subjects on here. But if you can get past this disclaimer, you might find that this blog is fairly interesting and informative. I do my best to post interesting articles from various news sources, many of which provide a glimpse into the harsh realities of the world. Some of them may be easily accessed by searching your favorite news site or clicking on CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, etc, whereas some other news stories are less known for various reasons.

Just know what you're getting yourself into before you traverse my blog. While "GRIMDARK AS FUCK" is overselling it a bit, there is some HIGHLY depressing stuff on this blog, and I do use plenty of profanity in some of my posts.

BTW, I've noticed a few people have been searching for "Rainbow Dash Attack", basically a ponified version of the popular Adult Swim Flash game "Robot Unicorn Attack". If you want to play "Rainbow Dash Attack", follow the link below.

If you just want to play the original version, Robot Unicorn Attack, feel free to follow this link...

Saturday, December 31, 275555

A veritable encyclopedia of important links, including search engines, Pastebins, proxies, alternative news sources, etc.

Alternative Search Engines
009  (google)
011  (file search)
012  (library search engine)
019  (file search)
020 (free books)
021  (file search)
022 (file search)
025 (hide my ass)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Florida Department of Law Enforcement: Universal Studios employee among 16 arrested in child porn bust

State agents announced a major cybercrimes operation Monday, targeting people who were sharing and downloading child pornography.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement wrapped up a week-long operation with 16 arrests, five of whom were on probation.

"We want to instill fear that when they click that button, when they access that picture, that's going to be the last time they click it," said FDLE Special Agent Danny Banks.

Those arrested include a Seminole State College employee, a Universal Studios employee and an employee for the city of Deltona.

Agents said they found James Wood housing five other sex offenders.

"I've been fighting this for six years, and every time a new neighbor moves in with kids, I hand them the documents of the people that live in these houses," said neighbor Jeff Davis.

WFTV found out many of them are repeat offenders.

"To the families and children in central Florida, our message is: "Happy holidays. Your streets are a little bit safer today as a result of the activity last week,'" said Banks.

Five of those arrested are registered sex offenders, agents said.

However, one wanted man, Angel Rodriguez, was not at the Orlando home during the raid, agents said. Rodriguez was convicted on charges of molesting a child and having child porn.

"We are watching. We are agressively looking and we are coming for you next," Banks said.
Agents said Rodriguez cut off his ankle monitor and could be in New York.

"As with every other criminal charge, suspects have right to bond. We will continue to hold them accountable," Banks said.

The sex offenders who were caught violating their probation are being held without bond.

Up to 200 predators are sharing child abuse images in Staffordshire, England

UP to 200 predators across Staffordshire are sharing images of child sex abuse online at any one time.
Staffordshire Police has revealed the shocking figure after it emerged there have been 41 sex offenders arrested in two separate operations in recent months.

Using intelligence from a variety of sources – including police forces abroad – officers have monitored suspects and then seized computers for forensic analysis.

Evidence recovered from hard drives has shown images of young people actually being abused, as opposed to simple shots of child porn.

Officers say it is part of a wider problem of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Staffordshire, with young people also being groomed online and on the streets.

In Staffordshire County Council’s area alone, 43 youngsters are currently known to be at risk of CSE. In Stoke-on-Trent last year, there were 32 cases.

Acting assistant chief constable Jon Drake said: “Although there are hotspots in Stoke-on-Trent and
Burton, there are children affected in every district in Staffordshire."

He outlined the challenges at a meeting of the county council’s safe and strong communities select committee today.

"In Staffordshire, there's probably about 100 to 200 people logged on at this moment in time, sharing images of child sexual abuse.

"My message is if you are sitting there doing this, you are on borrowed time."

Mr Drake said CSE wasn't a criminal offence in its own right.

“In terms of legislation, it can come under sex offences, drugs, abduction, " he added.

“We have just over 70 abduction notices at the moment. It is a powerful piece of legislation and means we can arrest that person for child abduction.”

Most CSE victims are 13 to 15 year-olds and are white British girls. High risk factors include if they live in a care home and repeatedly go missing.

Police say offenders operating in gangs are more likely to be Asian males, but lone predators are ‘the full mix of society’.

Recent cases in Staffordshire include:

* A 14-year-old female who disclosed she was being groomed online. It turned out the culprit was based in the U.S.;

* Another 14-year-old girl whose behaviour was causing concern at school. It emerged she and three
other girls were being groomed by a 19-year-old local male;

* A female who was sexually exploited by a network of men.

Now the police, councils and other agencies are creating the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent child sexual abuse forum to help tackle the issue.

It will focus on cases of CSE, child trafficking, missing children, female genital mutilation, honour-based violence, forced marriage and gangs.

Other work to raise awareness of how to spot the signs of CSE include offering training to taxi drivers and staff from other small businesses, including takeaways and B&Bs.

Jackie Carnell, chairman of Staffordshire Safeguarding Children Board, described it as a ‘vile form of abuse’.

Kidsgrove councillor Margaret Astle also called for more to be done.

She said: “Some children are being exploited and we are missing them.”

Steven Orloff, held on federal child porn charges, dead of apparent suicide at Middleton, Massachusetts Jail

MIDDLETON — An inmate at the Middleton Jail who faced federal charges he posed as a teenage boy to solicit explicit chat and videos from young teen girls died Sunday in an apparent suicide, Essex County Sheriff's Department spokesman Maurice Pratt said.

Pratt said Steven Orloff, 49, of Framingham died of an "apparent hanging." The death was confirmed by Essex District Attorney spokesman Carrie Kimball Monahan.

"He died in a shower," Pratt said. The shower was part of a unit consisting of a large bay of bunk beds where inmates live.
Orloff was admitted to Middleton Jail on Dec. 13, 2013, Pratt said.
Corrections officers were conducting a count of inmates late Sunday morning, and when Orloff was not in his bed, they searched for him, and found him hanging in the shower at 11:45 a.m.  "When someone is not in their bed, they do a search," Pratt said.
Pratt did not know what Orloff used to allegedly hang himself.
Monahan told the Salem News some type of "ligature" was used.
Corrections officers tried to save Orloff, Pratt said. Orloff was transported to Beverly Hospital and pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m.

The state Medical Examiner took possession of the man's body, Pratt said.

The jail's security investigation team and internal affairs are investigating the apparent suicide. The
Federal Marshals also responded because "it's their inmate," Pratt said.

State Police detectives assigned to the Essex District Attorney's office also responded.

"We take this very seriously," Pratt said. "Every corrections officers is annually trained in suicide prevention." Pratt was not aware when Orloff faced his next court proceeding.

Arrested in December 2012

Orloff was 47 when he first faced state charges in December 2012. He was arraigned in Framingham District Court on charges of distribution of obscene matter and posing or exhibition a child in the nude in order to get explicit photos, according to an Associated Press report news reports at the time. He was ordered held on $20,000 bail after pleading not guilty.

Prosecutors at the time alleged Orloff posed as a 14-year-old boy to get a Cumberland County, Maine girl to send photos of herself to him, the Associated Press report says. He was also charged with sending her explicit photos, though they were not of him. He resigned as Director of Student Services at Stoneham High School in January 2013, according to the Boston Herald.
About a year later, federal prosecutors added charges alleging Orloff interacted with several hundred young teen girls he met online using an video chat service called Skype. He would pose as teenage boy, and manipulate young girls to perform sexual acts live, according to various news reports in the Boston Herald and The Boston Globe.
A subsequent search of Orloff's computer revealed the extent of his activity. Investigators also said they found video he allegedly made of a foster child in his care by stashing a secret camera in his bathroom, which is the focus of a separate civil trial involving the Department of Children and Families, the Herald has reported.
A story in The Boston Herald reported U.S. Attorney Stacy Belf had argued in favor of Orloff being held because he had attempted suicide in February 2013. Orloff also made statements and was hospitalized after his initial arrest, according to the MetroWest Daily News.

Cadiz, Kentucky Man Charged with Multiple Alleged Child Porn Crimes

CADIZ, Ky. (12/15/14) — Cadiz Police Major Duncan Wiggins arrested Douglas A. Halloran, 60, of Cadiz, on Dec. 12, 2014 and charged him with 49 counts of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor and one count of prohibited use of an electronic system to induce a minor to engage in sexual activities.

Both charges are Class D Felonies. The Hopkinsville Police Department began investigating a case of someone using their computer to download sexually explicit photos involving minors. Once they determined that the suspect lived in Trigg County, they turned over their information to Major Wiggins, who continued the investigation.

Cadiz Police and the Trigg County Sheriff's Department served a search warrant at the suspect's Apple Valley Drive residence and recovered the suspect's computer that contained the images.

The investigation remains active and further charges are possible.

Halloran was lodged in the Christian County Jail.

Search Something, Say Something: David Cameron Asks Google, Yahoo To Be 'Good Citizens' And Report Users Searching For 'Terrorist' Subject Matter

UK Prime Minister David Cameron doesn't ask for much from the world's tech companies. All he wants is for them to proactively police the web for child pornography, piracy and extremist content. He's not offering to pay for these services. He just expects Google et al to do this on their own time and own dime to make the world a better place.

Now, he's enlisting Google and Yahoo into the counterterrorism battle. As if the GCHQ and its stateside partner didn't have enough tendrils intertwined with every cable and backbone between here and the UK, Cameron now wants the two search companies to be a part of an informal "search something, say something" program… all for free and all because it would be the neighborly thing to do.
Internet companies like Google and Yahoo should tell the police if possible terrorists are searching for tips to make bombs on the internet, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to apply to the internet the "principles of common sense, decency, moral responsibility as we do to real life".
It's simply not enough to index the web for searchability. Now, search engines need to act as unpaid informants for the world's law enforcement agencies, turning over information on questionable searches to the proper authorities.

Of course, Google and Yahoo have no way of knowing whether searches for bomb-making tips are originating from terrorism suspects or screenplay writers or bored youths using search engines as an Anarchist's Cookbook proxy. These prickly issues have likely never troubled Cameron's grey matter. If so, these inane soundbites never would have escaped his lips. The more he talks, the more inane his platitudes-masquerading-as-solutions sound.
Mr Cameron said he wanted internet companies to take the same moral responsibility as if someone overheard a group planning a bombing in a pub.
"See something, say something" has done little more than tie up limited resources with a mass of false positives. Putting Google and Yahoo in this position is just asking for more of the same. What Cameron is asking for is the compilation of useless information that will only snag the innocent and the inept. If these are the sorts of "terrorists" Cameron wants removed from circulation, he should just ask his local law enforcement to follow the FBI's lead. Busting handcrafted terrorists is far easier than hunting down actual threats, but it still sounds like real "wins" in press releases or politicians' mouths.

Any would-be terrorist who doesn't want to end up behind bars knows better than to plan violent acts in public, unlike the metaphorical extremists in Cameron's fantasy. Using the two largest search engines isn't much different than mapping out a bombing over a few pints at the local pub, but asking Google and Yahoo to treat their search engines like overheard conversations is guaranteed to end in futility.

Cameron compares it to child porn (because of course he does) even though there's a big difference between searching out plainly illegal content and searches that may seem ominous when observed without context. Search engines track searches to provide relevant results to users, so there's little doubt this information is retained somewhere. But it isn't something that should be turned over to law enforcement just because certain terms were used. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for researching topics that are "terrorist-related" but Cameron's request doesn't leave any room for essential nuances like these.

We expect our search providers to return search results, not subject us to additional government scrutiny simply because our searches contain a few arbitrarily-flagged terms. If search engines become just another form of direct government surveillance, more and more users will take their business elsewhere. Terrorists -- at least those with any instinct for self-preservation -- already have.

El Paso, Texas Man Charged After Alleged Animal Abuse, Community Takes Matters Into Their Own Hands

Last week, an El Paso man was arrested for alleged animal abuse against puppies. The authorities say that 61-year-old Carlos Fernandez was first investigated after an injured pit bull puppy was discovered at his home. Only three months later, police responded to another report of another puppy being abused, and the police say that the animal’s injuries are consistent with animal cruelty. While in jail, community members took matters into their own hands.

Many residents were appalled by the news of alleged animal abuse. Neighbors had videotaped Fernandez with one of the puppies, according to ABC-7 News.

“I saw what he had done(on the news) and I honestly can’t believe that someone can do these types of things,” one neighbor said.

The neighbors have banded together to try to find more evidence that the authorities can use against the El Paso man. In one of the video recordings, he is allegedly seen throwing one of the puppies into the air and then allowing the puppy to simply fall to the ground.

“I found out they had already given the video to animal services back in August and for whatever reason they didn’t follow through on the video,” Loretta Hyde, founder of Animal Rescue League told KFOX14, adding that someone in the Kern Place neighborhood tipped her off to the animal abuse.

“You don’t know what’s going on or what this little puppy had to endure before he finally killed him. It’s is just unconscionable.”

In that video, the El Paso man is seen choking a dog and slamming it to the ground. Another video showed that same dog limping, apparently from the injuries sustained from the alleged abuse.

Neighbors also took photos of a fan that was broken and had blood on it. Neighbors say that he threw a dog into that fan. They say that at least 18 complaints have been made against the man about animal abuse they have collectively witnessed. One neighbor said that when he saw Fernandez leave a puppy in the middle of the road, it was cowering and shaking, and Fernandez told him that he was simply training the dog. The neighbors all say the El Paso man would get dogs off of Craigslist.

Some neighbors have done more than try to find additional charges to bring against him though. His home was recently vandalized. His house has been egged. According to ABC-7 News, eggshells are all over the mans lawn. The home has been spray painted, and the words “PETA” and “KILLR” are prominently displayed on the front of his home. PETA is the acronym for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Community members with El Paso Pets have posted flyers around the town looking for witnesses who may have given Fernandez a dog, hoping to build an even stronger case against the alleged animal abuser.

“If you see something going on then become part of the neighborhood and try to make it a better place by doing the right thing,” another unidentified resident implored.

Most of the residents were too fearful of the El Paso man to allow the media to use their names, because of the severity of animal abuse they claim they have witnessed.

Key hearing starts for man in 14-year-old's death

ROMEO, Mich. (AP) — A hearing is taking place to determine whether a man charged with killing a 14-year-old girl as she walked her dog in southeastern Michigan should stand trial.

The preliminary examination for 32-year-old James VanCallis began Monday morning in Romeo District Court. It's expected to continue into Tuesday.

Authorities say VanCallis hit April Millsap with a motorcycle helmet and stomped on her in Armada near a popular Macomb County trail on July 24. They say the man from St. Clair County's Wales Township was planning to rape her but a witness interrupted him.

VanCallis is charged with first-degree murder and assault with intent to rape.

Last month, VanCallis was sentenced to a year in jail in a separate drug case. He and his father earlier pleaded guilty to manufacturing marijuana.

'I'd do it again!' Cheney defends CIA torture, calls interrogators heroes

Former VP Dick Cheney expressed no regret over CIA torture techniques employed against detainees in the “war on terror,” even as a judge considers forcing the White House to release the remainder of the damning photos.
Cheney was apparently unfazed by the cruel accounts of torture techniques performed by the CIA at various foreign “black sites” as described in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s lengthy investigation.
"I'd do it again in a minute," Cheney told Meet the Press's Chuck Todd on Sunday.
READ MORE: CIA chief challenges torture report claims, defends Bush-era tactics
The former vice president, who critics say exerted a disproportionate amount of influence inside of the Bush administration, recalled those horrific moments on the morning of 9/11 to defend America’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” to get information from detainees.
"Torture to me…is an American citizen on his cell phone making a last call to his four young daughters, shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York," he said.
Far from suggesting punishment for the interrogators, Cheney believes they are worthy of praise for their controversial actions.
"I'm perfectly comfortable that they should be praised, they should be decorated," he declared.
At the same time, Cheney remained adamant when reminded that at least 26 of 119 detainees were cleared of any links to terrorist organizations.
"I'm more concerned with the bad guys that were released than the few that were, in fact, innocent," he said, while mentioning that the individual who went on to lead the Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL], Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was incarcerated by the US military in Iraq before being set free in 2004.
In addition to the torture technique known as water boarding, which creates the sensation of drowning, Todd pressed Cheney on other lesser-known practices, including the treatment of detainee Abu Zubaydah, who was placed in a coffin-size confinement box for a total of 266 hours (11 days, 2 hours) over a 20-day period, as well as forced to remain in a small confinement box (21 inches wide, 2.5 feet in length) for 29 hours.
Another detainee had one or both wrists handcuffed to an overhead bar that would not allow him to lower his arm for 22 hours each day for two consecutive days in order to “break his resistance.”
When questioned about so-called rectal feeding, which at least five detainees were purportedly subjected to, Cheney said it was part of the approved program and probably administered for "medical reasons." Todd challenged Cheney on that account, saying his explanation contradicts the Senate report findings, which says there was no medical need for rectal hydration in the detainees.
Despite the harsh public backlash over the program, the number two man in the Bush administration remains convinced that the CIA interrogation program helped the United States to protect itself from future terrorist attacks on the homeland.
"It worked, it absolutely worked," Cheney said, while going on to slam the report, saying it was “seriously flawed.”
“They didn’t talk to anybody who knew anything about the program; they didn’t talk to anybody who was in the program.”
Cheney defended the CIA’s approved methods of interrogation, saying US soldiers could expect far worse in the event they are taken prisoner.

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
"He's not likely to be waterboarded, he's likely to have his head cut off," Cheney said, adding that the technique "produced phenomenal results for us."
Cheney also hit back at the report's finding that former President George W. Bush was unaware of the program’s details, saying the Republican leader "knew what we were doing, he authorized it, he approved it."
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is said to be sitting on many more photographs detailing detainee abuse at the hands of the United States military.
READ MORE: Romania agreed to host CIA 'black sites' to be accepted into NATO - ex spy chief
Some photographs show US troops “posing with corpses; others depict US forces holding guns to people’s heads or simulating forced sodomization,” the Daily Beast reported.
The White House faces a Friday deadline to submit to a federal court its argument as to why more photographs of detainees being tortured should be prevented from being released into the public realm.

White rhino on verge of extinction: Second-last male dies

The white rhino is one step closer to extinction with the death of Angalifu at the San Diego Zoo Safari. Only five members of the heavily-poached species exist now, including one male and four females.
The animal, estimated to be 44 years old, died from age-related ailments, park officials announced. Angalifu was in decline for some time and had refused food for several days.
"Angalifu's death is a tremendous loss to all of us," Rancy Reiches, curator of mammals at the Safari Park, told the Los Angeles Times.

The rhino is survived by elderly female Nola, who is living at the US zoo. Conservation scientists had been trying for years to coerce the pair into mating and producing progeny, but the attempts were futile.

Angalifu was transferred to the San Diego Zoo in the late 1980s from a zoo in Khartoum, Sudan.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya has three more white rhinos, one male and two females, although attempts to breed the near-extinct animal there were not successful either.

The effort is a gamble, since the females are both from the northern variety of the species while the male is a southern white rhino.

A male white rhino died in the Kenyan preserve earlier in 2014.

And an elderly female lives in Czech Republic’s Dvur Kralove Zoo, the same one that loaned Nola to its American colleagues.

White rhinos are the biggest in the family and have been heavily poached for their horns. Buyers value them as dagger handles and for their supposed medicinal properties – a superstition disproved by scientists, but persistent in many Asian cultures.

The San Diego Zoo Institute stored semen and testicular tissue from Angalifu for possible use in a project to revive the species, if the technology to do so is ever developed.

Five killed in Pennsylvania shootings, suspect in standoff with SWAT

A gunman suspected of killing at least five people at three separate locations in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County has barricaded himself inside a home in Souderton. A SWAT team is on the scene.

The first shooting was reported at 3:55 a.m. Monday in Lower Salford Township, about 45 minutes northwest of Philadelphia. Police found a woman shot to death at the location, WPVI reported.
Forensics investigators from Montgomery County could be seen investigating a unit there, and two bullet holes were visible, according to WCAU.

Half an hour later, at 4:25 a.m., police were called to a shooting in Lansdale, where they discovered two more people who had been shot and killed. A SWAT team responded to the scene, but drew back after nearly three hours. Police did not release any information about the gunman at that time, the NBC affiliate said.

Two more people were discovered shot to death in Souderton.

Sources told the ABC affiliate that all the victims had been shot at close range. The gunman is believed to be a military veteran, police say.

A fourth scene was discovered in Pennsburg, and is believed to be related to the three previous shootings, WPVI reported. Police have not released any details about what they have found at that location, however.

Souderton School District is under a “shelter in place" order, with schools operating on standby with limited visitors allowed in and out, officials told KYW.

Police say that two children were taken from Lower Salford during their response, and both have been found safe, according to WPVI.

The SWAT team entered the Souderton home where the suspect is believed to be barricaded at 9:45 a.m. Airspace is being closed above the area for the next two hours, WPVI’s Mike Neilon tweeted.

Sony Fires Off Letter To Press Outlets Demanding They Cease Publication Of And Destroy Any 'Stolen Information'

Sony may have no idea how to how to run a secure enterprise, but it doesn't really take a whole lot of expertise or technical know-how to see that this particular gambit could only backfire.
In a sharply worded letter sent to news organizations, including The New York Times, David Boies, a lawyer for Sony, characterized the documents posted online as “stolen information” and demanded that they be avoided, and destroyed if they had already been downloaded or otherwise acquired.

The studio “does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading or making any use” of the information, Mr. Boies wrote in a three-page letter sent Sunday morning to the legal departments of media organizations.
Somebody approved this -- someone higher up than David Boies. And that someone should probably step down and concentrate on staining his yacht deck or seeking to be nominated in the next Congressional election, or whatever it is studio execs do when they've outlived their usefulness.

The letter's wording [pdf link] makes it sound as though the press outlets are doing something illegal (mainly through repetitive use of the word "stolen") but is careful never to make that actual claim. It tries to bluster its way towards legitimacy by inserting a list of "in case of 'stolen' information" requests (worded to look like legal demands) into the letter.
As soon as you suspect that you may have possession of any of the Stolen Information*, we ask that you
(1) notify us using the contact information provided below;

(2) take all reasonable actions to prevent your company and any of your employees, independent contractors, agents, consultants, or anyone who may have access to your files from examining, copying, disseminating, distributing, publishing, downloading,uploading, or making any other use of the Stolen Information;

(3) arrange for and supervise the destruction of all copies of the Stolen Information in your possession or under your control, particularly information protected under US. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privileged communications, attorney work product, and related privileges and protections, as well as private financial and other confidential information and communications of current and former personnel and others, confidential personnel data, intellectual property, trade secrets andother business secrets and related communications; and

(4) confirm that such destruction has been completed.**
In addition, if you have provided the Stolen Information to anyone outside of your company, we ask that you provide them with a copy of this letter, and request the destruction of the Stolen Information by the recipient.
[*"Stolen Information" being much more sensitive than your garden variety, lower-case "stolen information," obvs.]
[**"Recycle Bin had little pieces of paper in it, but now appears to be empty."]

I imagine the contact information provided is swiftly being bombarded with ridicule, fake tips, more ridicule, more fake tips and pictures of empty Recycle Bins.

The only threat in the document (other than the overall tone) is this:
If you do not comply with this request, and the Stolen Information is used or disseminated by you in any manner, SPE will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you, including any damages or loss to SPE or others, and including, but not limited to, any loss of value of intellectual property and trade secrets resulting from your actions.
OK. Good luck with that. The Supreme Court has already held that this sort of dissemination is protected by the First Amendment. (h/t to Marcia Hofmann)
In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that the First Amendment protects the disclosure of illegally intercepted communications by parties who did not participate in the illegal interception.
The only mitigating factor is the relative worth of the "stolen information" to the public interest. Much of what's been covered likely isn't and much of what's contained in the files that hasn't been disseminated by press outlets definitely isn't. But there are some revelations that are definitely matters of public interest, not the least of which is the MPAA's plan to throw money at elected officials in exchange for some Google-hassling.

Sony appears to be in full panic mode, but it's tough to sympathize with a corporation that has been hacked 56 times in 12 years but still keeps passwords in a folder labeled "Passwords." This latest move won't earn it anything more than an internetload of derision.

Sony Jabs Hornets Nest, Allegedly Engages In DDoS Attacks Against Sites Hosting Leaked Documents

To be sure, there is a large amount of schadenfreude contained within the hacking of Sony Pictures. To have your dirty laundry aired for the world to see is excruciatingly painful, but Sony Corporation's past actions have drawn a target on its back on multiple occasions.

Rayne, a contributor to Marcy Wheeler's emptywheel blog, notes that Sony has been hacked 56 times in twelve years. And it has learned nothing. Passwords for Sony Pictures accounts were stashed away in a folder labeled "Passwords." The password for this folder? "Password."

So, when Sony fights back, as it is now, it's far too late. It had several chances to shore up its defenses, but it never made a serious effort to fix its security holes. Now, nearly everything has been exposed. Celebrities' personal data. Staffers' borderline racist opinions on Barack Obama's movie preferences. Its plan to join the MPAA in paying off states' attorneys general to go after Google.

Sony has issued hundreds of DMCA notices in response to the leaked documents. It has seeded bogus torrents to thwart further distribution. Now, it's allegedly decided to take an even more aggressive approach to the continuing leaks.
The company is using hundreds of computers in Asia to execute what’s known as a denial of service attack on sites where its pilfered data is available, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.

Sony is using Amazon Web Services, the Internet retailer’s cloud computing unit, which operates data centers in Tokyo and Singapore, to carry out the counterattack, one of the sources said.
Or not. Or possibly not at this moment. Re/code's updated post contains a denial from Amazon.
“The activity being reported is not currently happening on AWS (Amazon Web Service),” Amazon said in an emailed statement to Re/code on Thursday. Amazon declined to comment further on whether the activity happened prior to Thursday.

“AWS employs a number of automated detection and mitigation techniques to prevent the misuse of our services,” according to Amazon’s statement. “In cases where the misuse is not detected and stopped by the automated measures, we take manual action as soon as we become aware of any misuse.”
Re/code's sources say "yes." Others say this isn't happening.
CloudFlare, which offers denial-of-service protection and network monitoring, said it has not seen anything that would suggest Sony had conducted a counter-attack. The company said it would continue monitoring the situation.
If Sony is indeed engaged in DDoS attacks, it's participating in the sort of behavior it's been quick to decry in the past. Sony Pictures may be relishing the chance to turn hackers' tools against them, but its history strongly suggests it really isn't in the position to be provoking further attacks. To pursue this option is pure hubris. It's hypocrisy and stupidity rolled into one. It may think it will escape this latest hack bowed but not broken, but whatever pride it has left at this point is delusional. It has opened everything up to criticism by failing to take proper precautions and destroyed its employees' trust that their employer would make the minimum of effort to keep their internal conversations internal.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Google ‘halted anti-piracy co-op’ after MPAA snarked at its anti-torrent crusade

MPAA’s “snarky” press release about Google’s cooperation with the group’s anti-piracy campaign enraged the tech giant and put the whole process on hold, according to leaked emails.

READ MORE: Project Goliath: Sony leaks reveal alleged MPAA plot against Google
Google worked with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) by removing copyright infringing site links from its search results. Reportedly, it has been doing so quicker than most other search engines.
“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites,” Torrent Freak quoted Google’s Copyright Policy Counsel Katherine Oyama as saying.
“Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in search results. This ranking change helps users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.”
But instead of acknowledging Google’s role in the fight against piracy, MPAA responded with a statement implying that the tech giant was complicit in illegal activity by displaying the search results in the first place, the outlet reported.

MPAA’s October release said: “Everyone shares a responsibility to help curb unlawful conduct online, and we are glad to see Google acknowledging its role in facilitating access to stolen content via search.”
READ MORE: Anti-piracy curriculum for elementary schools decried as ‘propaganda'
The statement was reportedly released after Google reached out to MPAA chief Senator Chris Dodd in an email describing its efforts. The communication was made public with the recent email leak after the hack attack on Sony.

The ensuing email correspondence obtained by Torrent Freak revealed that Google’s executives were angered by MPAA’s response and decided to put an end to any cooperation with the association.

“At the highest levels [Google is] extremely unhappy with our statement,” an email from MPAA to the studios said.

“[Google] conveyed that they feel as if they went above and beyond what the law requires; that they bent over backwards to give us a heads up and in return we put out a ‘snarky’ statement that gave them no credit for the positive direction.”
One of the top executives at Google’s policy department also told MPAA that the tech giant will no longer “speak or do business” with the association and instead deal with studios directly, including Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney, the leaked emails stated.

Torrent Freak earlier reported that Google’s anti-piracy efforts became visible as early as October, when big torrent websites were removed from the engine’s top positions and their search traffic plunged.

Instead of the most popular addresses leading to free (and often pirated) content, Google began to show “legal” sites to download media from, as well as databases like IMBd, where the movies and recordings are only listed and described. The difference could be easily spotted by comparing the search results with those of alternative engines, like that of Russian giant, but it is also apparent that links to torrent websites were not removed entirely.

READ MORE: Google rejects music industry request to remove Pirate Bay homepage

US woefully unprepared for major sun storm – report

A study by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims up to 100 million Americans could lose electrical power in the event of a magnetic space storm, which would knock out the electric grid and cause other infrastructure to fail.

An internal fact sheet in 2012, from the just-released DHS’ Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), noted that the damage and impact from a future solar storm isn’t known.
Space weather means conditions on the sun, in space, the upper atmosphere or in the earth’s magnetic field that can impact technological systems on the ground and endanger human life on earth.

READ MORE: Solar threat: Space weather center seeks to defend UK against extreme storms

The report states that a “coronal mass ejection” from the sun would first be detected by satellites and would reach the earth in 24-72 hours and affect up to 100 million people.

The largest of these storms are called G-5s and would disrupt power grid operations, GPS satellites, aircraft, manned space flights, satellite operations, communications cables and gas distribution pipelines.
“The extreme geomagnetic space weather event will cause widespread power outages to a large number of people (approximately 100 million people) in a multi-region, multi-state area of the US due to geomagnetic induced currents damaging EHV transformers, especially along coastal regions,” the report says.

Once transformers and transmissions lines are put out of action, it will cause many other electrically operated items to stop working, including water systems, refrigerators, computer systems and fuel distribution.

Reuters/Wade Payne
Reuters/Wade Payne

The report predicts that within 36 hours of the storm passing, 65 million people would have electric power again, and after two weeks another 25 million would be reconnected, but for the remaining ten million people in six states it would take two months to restore power to them, although it doesn’t say why.

However, there is some disagreement about the exact number of people that would be affected, and the document noted that in 2011 DHS experts were not convinced about the appalling consequences of an earlier study. But whatever the effect, its consequences would be huge and unknown.

READ MORE: Extreme solar storm approaches Earth
“It occurs rarely, can’t be predicted, full protection is impossibly expensive and the potential impact ranges from inconvenient to cataclysmic,” said Mark Sauter, coauthor of the book Homeland Security:
A Complete Guide, who managed to get hold of the report under the Freedom of Information Act.

He noted that more than 200 pages from the FEMA report were blacked out.
“This makes one wonder why FEMA is refusing to release the government’s space weather response plan. How would the government deal with ten million or many more Americans without power for two months or even longer?” said Sauter.

He questioned if the government is taking the threat seriously or just going through the bureaucratic motions and crossing its fingers that such an event won’t happen.

There were two major solar storms in 1859 and 1921, but electricity was much less prevalent then than today and so their effect was far more limited.

Baltimore, Maryland cops taser woman who filmed them beating man in custody

Stopping to film Baltimore police officers kicking a handcuffed man, a local woman says she found herself being tasered and arrested while police hurled expletives. She is now suing the department.

Kianga Mwamba, 36, claims she was tasered and arrested by Baltimore Police Department officers in March while filming the arrest of another man on her mobile phone. After she was released, she noticed someone had tampered with her mobile phone – erasing the arrest video. Charges against her were eventually dropped in September, but Mwamba recently served the police department with a lawsuit seeking $7 million.
READ MORE:Grand jury doesn’t indict NYPD officer accused in chokehold death
"I'm in shock for real, like are they really doing this to me," Mwamba, the daughter of a veteran of the Maryland Capitol Police, said as she recalled the arrest in an interview this fall with the Baltimore Sun.

The lawsuit filed with the Circuit Court for Baltimore City last Thursday said the police "attacked" her, "dragged" her from her vehicle, and "threw her onto the street, handcuffed her, tasered her, called her a 'dumb bitch,' and kept her restrained."

The suit alleges the officers arrested Mwamba to "prevent the disclosure of the video taken of them beating a handcuffed man."
READ MORE:Baltimore cop sued for millions after police brutality video surfaces
Video of the March 30 melee surfaced online this week. Police erased the 135-second recording from Mwamba’s phone, but it was recovered from her cloud account, according to the lawsuit.
Mwamba was driving home from a family gathering in March. Stopped in traffic, she began filming the nearby arrest of a man who she says was kicked by police. On the video we hear the following:
"You telling me I can't record," the woman says on the video as police tell her to move on.
"I'll park. I'll park. I'll park," the woman is heard saying in her own recording.
All of a sudden an officer says, "Out of the car. Out of the car."
After she is reportedly yanked out of her car, the woman is heard screaming, “He burning me. He burning me.”

Mwamba was arrested on charges of assault for allegedly trying to run over two officers. Charges were dropped, and she suffered cuts and bruises.

At the end of the tape, an officer says, "You a dumb bitch, you know that?"

"What did I do?" she asks.

"You just tried to run over an officer," the officer responds.

While in custody, she gave her phone to an officer to show that in the video she didn't try to run over anyone. The video was allegedly erased from the phone in what her attorney, Joshua Insley, described in a telephone interview as a "cover-up."

The police department said in a statement that the language the officer used was "both offensive and unacceptable."

"The video does not capture enough information to draw definitive conclusions about what transpired before, during, and after the arrest," the department said. "What is clear is that the language used is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Meanwhile, the handcuffed man was Cordell Bruce, who faces assault charges on allegations of striking an officer outside a nightclub – charges Bruce denies. The video does not capture him being beaten by police.
READ MORE: DOJ: Cleveland police have exhibited pattern of excessive force
The lawsuit comes as the Baltimore Police Department has been undertaking broad reforms due to a pattern of forceful of arrests and complaints. This year, there have been 66 complaints over forceful arrests, compared to 122 in all of 2012. The department has also received 55 notices from lawyers planning to sue police. Those have dropped a third from the number in 2012, the Sun reported.
But the Sun found that some Baltimore officers were involved in multiple lawsuits and there were gaps in monitoring misconduct at the department.
The police department has asked the U.S. Justice Department to review how the city paid $5.7 million in court judgment and settlements in 102 civil suits alleging police brutality since 2011,” the newspaper reported.

#ICantBreathe: Thousands march against police brutality across US

Tens of thousands of Americans across the country joined in a massive march against the killing of unarmed black men by police. Protesters staged rallies and ‘die-ins’ under the banners ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Justice for All.’

RT's LIVE UPDATES on protests against police brutality

Major cities where the rallies took place included New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The demonstrators came together on Saturday to march and speak out against grand juries’ decisions not to indict the white officers responsible for the deaths of two unarmed black men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. They are demanding police accountability.

The New York march attracted over 25,000 young and ethnically diverse people, who participated in
what was largely a peaceful rally.

At 2 pm local time, protesters began pouring out of Washington Square Park, with the crowd stretching for more than 20 blocks.

Towards the evening, the demonstrators made their way to New York Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan. A group of people shut down traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, but were soon diverted by security forces.

About 10,000 people took to the streets in Washington, DC, in what was overall a peaceful march towards the Capitol building.

Protesters held banners reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Who do you protect? Who do you serve?"

Protesters march on 5th Avenue during the Millions March NYC on December 13, 2014 in New York.( AFP Photo / Don Emmert)
Protesters march on 5th Avenue during the Millions March NYC on December 13, 2014 in New York.( AFP Photo / Don Emmert)
“It's not black against white; it's right against wrong,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, the organizer of the march in Washington. “This is not a black march; this is a march for the rights of the American people.”

A hundreds-strong rally in Boston wasn’t as peaceful, though: at least 23 people were arrested.
“Troopers arrested 15 male and eight female demonstrators who ignored repeated orders to comply [with] the law,” according to David Procopio, a state police spokesman.

In California, several hundred demonstrators made their way from Berkeley to Oakland and rallied at the Alameda County Courthouse.

San Francisco saw massive traffic congestion, as protesters temporarily shut down the Embarcadero while marching to City Hall.

The US has witnessed a wave of protests across the country following a grand jury decision that acquitted a white New York City police officer of any wrongdoing in the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black Staten Island resident, on July 17.

The incident was videotaped by a passer-by and uploaded online, causing global outrage against police brutality.

The video shows the officer placing Garner in an illegal chokehold while a group of other law enforcers force Garner to the ground. Mr Garner, who reportedly suffered from asthma, died after repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe” – a phrase that has become a backbone of the protests.

The jury’s decision in the Garner case follows a Missouri grand jury's ruling not to indict a white police officer in the death of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot several times following a confrontation with police in Ferguson, Missouri, despite being unarmed. Police suppressed the wave of protests in Missouri.