North American News


Man who lost job after complaint over ‘Walking Dead’ toy speaks with CBS 17

A former State Employees’ Credit Union employee accused of having racist toys in his office is sharing his side of the story with CBS 17 after he lost his job at the bank.

“I would just really appreciate it if people did not think that I was a racist or anything like that,” Matt Anderson said.

Anderson wants people to hear that message after an African-American customer at the Louisburg Road branch of SECU accused him of racism.

The customer uploaded pictures of figurines in Anderson’s office that she deemed offensive. The toys were characters from the AMC show “The Walking Dead.”

One of the toys is a black man who has become a zombie and has a chain around his neck. In the popular television show, a female African-American character named Michonne keeps two armless zombies as pets.

Anderson said the customer asked him what the figurines were.

“‘Have you ever seen the show?’ She didn’t respond to my question. She just said that she was offended and I asked her, ‘Well, why were you offended?’ because I wanted to know so that I could apologize to her,” he said.

He said the woman didn’t respond and instead complained to his boss. Anderson said he has since lost his job after less than a year working there.

“The credit union has not given me an official reason for letting me go. The initial reaction was that I shared customer information, however that’s not true. I wouldn’t ever do that,” he said.

 

 

 

source/read more: http://www.cbs17.com/news/local-news/wake-county-news/exclusive-man-who-lost-job-after-complaint-over-walking-dead-toy-speaks-with-cbs-17/1199027233

 

New Orleans Surveillance Program Gives Powerful Tools to a Police Department With a History of Racism and Abuse

23rd May 2018

As you walk down Felicity Street in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans, red and blue flashing lights radiate from around the corner. But when you turn on to South Liberty Street, you won’t find a patrol car. Your gaze will rise to the peak of a street lamp where the lights are fastened to an NOPD surveillance camera that, just like the lights, runs 24 hours a day.

The beams engulf the small, seven-house block, reflecting off the windows of cars and homes, ricocheting off the bicycles of kids riding by, and lighting up the cheeks of Keisha Smith, who sits on her stoop eating crawfish. “I hate those lights,” she says. “There’s no privacy for us now. Everyone’s uncomfortable. I feel like somebody’s always watching me.” She looks up at the camera and shivers. “Why’d they have to put those here? It’s like trauma when I see that red and blue.”

This camera is just one of an unknown number that the city installed over the past few months, part of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s $40 million public safety plan which the American Civil Liberties Union has condemned as “surveillance on steroids.” The plan also includes new license plate readers and a controversial city ordinance that requires the installation of cameras on the outside of all bars and liquor stores.

The plan has endured criticism about its high cost and the lack of evidence that surveillance programs are an effective crime prevention strategy. Still others have worried that the Big Easy’s free-wheeling spirit and eccentricity will wane under the perpetual gaze of the police.

But more concerning is the public safety plan’s ambiguous purpose and the potential for abuse. It seems that the only oversight will come from the city’s Office of Homeland Security and from within the police department itself, which is currently under a federal consent decree for a myriad of violations including “a pattern of stops, searches, and arrests that violate the Fourth Amendment.”

A spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department insisted that the department had controls on access to its systems, and that all activity on the system is logged and monitored, leaving an audit trail in cases of abuse. But beyond that, the department has failed to answer basic questions about how the cameras will be used, what technology it will incorporate, how long the footage will be stored, and who will have access to the footage.

The lack of details has sparked anxiety among the city’s undocumented immigrants, who fear that the new data will fall into the hands of the city’s exceptionally aggressive Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office.

But in the most incarcerated city in the most incarcerated state in the country, where black communities endure the brunt of police power, the most salient concern is how this powerful tool could exacerbate the city’s already racially disparate law enforcement.

 

 

source/read more: https://theintercept.com/2018/03/06/new-orleans-surveillance-cameras-nopd-police/

 

Chinese smartphones cited by intelligence as security risk sold on US bases

23rd April 2018

Chinese-made smartphones that the heads of U.S. intelligence have urged Americans not to buy are being sold to servicemembers across Germany at on-base exchange facilities, despite concerns of data theft and espionage.

The Huawei phones, which are being sold by TKS, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service concessionary and subsidiary of Vodaphone, could be used to gather sensitive information, according to U.S. intelligence agencies. They are banned for official government use in most cases.

The Defense Department asked whether Huawei mobile phones were being sold at exchange facilities but has not offered any other direction, said AAFES senior spokesman Chris Ward.

“We responded ‘yes’ and have had no other inquiries,” Ward said in an email response. “Should there be an official determination made by law enforcement officials that these phones present a security risk, the Exchange will instruct its vendors to remove impacted products from their assortment.”

Officials at Ramstein Air Base, where Europe’s largest exchange and a TKS concessionary operate, said they are aware that the phones are being sold on base.

Although officials did not address Huawei specifically, they said that servicemembers should adhere to operational security standards when they post anything online, take pictures or configure their location settings.

“Servicemembers need to pay attention,” said Lt Col. Joel Harper, 86th Airlift Wing spokesman. “Regardless of where the device is purchased, on base or off base, servicemembers should practice good (operational security).”

In February, the director of national intelligence, along with the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency testified before a Senate committee that Americans should not use Huawei products because of the security risks they pose.

The concern about Huawei first focused on routers, switches and other high-bandwidth commercial products but later expanded to consumer mobile phones.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that Huawei products provide the Chinese government with the ability to maliciously modify or steal information and to conduct undetected espionage.

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” Wray said.

 

 

source/read more: https://www.stripes.com/news/chinese-smartphones-cited-by-intelligence-as-security-risk-sold-on-us-bases-1.523519

Sandy Hook Parents Sue Alex Jones for Defamation

18th April 2018

Three parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 filed a defamation lawsuit on Tuesday against Alex Jones, the right-wing conspiracy theorist who has long claimed the shooting was “completely fake” and a “giant hoax” perpetrated by opponents of the Second Amendment.

Mr. Jones, the popular radio show host who also operates the conspiracy theory website Infowars, has questioned for years whether 20 children and six adults died in the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. To bolster his false claims, he often cites news reports and video clips from the hours after the shooting that turned out to be incomplete or based on wrong information.

Soon after they buried their children, many Sandy Hook parents started to come under fierce attack by conspiracy theorists who have said they are actors in an elaborate scheme to enact stricter gun control laws. The fringe theories still thrive in small forums online but have reached a far greater audience through Mr. Jones, the most vocal propagator.

The two lawsuits filed on Tuesday represent the first civil action taken by parents accusing Mr. Jones of defamation. One was filed by Leonard Pozner and his former wife, Veronique De La Rosa, and the other was filed by Neil Heslin. Their sons, Noah Pozner and Jesse Heslin, both 6, were killed at Sandy Hook.

The suits focus on comments made by Mr. Jones in the past year. In a segment on his radio show called “Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed,” which aired on April 22, 2017, Mr. Jones highlighted an interview that Ms. De La Rosa did with Anderson Cooper of CNN after the shooting. While they are standing outside a downtown Newtown building, Mr. Cooper turns his head to face her.

During that quick head movement, Mr. Cooper’s nose seems to disappear — evidence, Mr. Jones said, that the interview with Ms. De La Rosa was conducted in a studio. In reality, the glitch is known as a compression artifact, a distortion that is common in video encoding.

Mr. Jones suggests it means they are both actors. “When he turns, his nose disappears repeatedly because the green screen isn’t set right,” he said.

A few months later, in June, Mr. Jones was profiled on NBC’s “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly,” which brought up his past comments about Sandy Hook. Ms. Kelly also interviewed Mr. Heslin, who recalled seeing his dead son.

“I held my son with a bullet hole through his head,” Mr. Heslin told her.

But a week later in an Infowars video, Owen Shroyer, who works for the site, argued that it was “not possible” that Mr. Heslin held his dead son because the medical examiner said he showed photographs to the parents to identify their children…

source/read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/17/business/media/alex-jones-sandy-hook.html

Infowars’s Alex Jones blasts Trump over airstrikes: ‘He’s crapping all over us’

14th April 2018

Infowars founder Alex Jones ripped into President Trump on Friday night after the president authorized military airstrikes in Syria, saying the decision made him “sick.”

“If he had been a piece of crap from the beginning, it wouldn’t be so bad,” a visibly emotional Jones said of Trump. “We’ve made so many sacrifices and now he’s crapping all over us. It makes me sick.”

Jones said the decision to strike Syria was especially painful because Trump had been “doing so good.”

“Trump’s now a fraud,” Jones later said. “Done.”

“F— Trump,” he vented Friday.

The conspiracy theorist, who interviewed Trump in 2015 during the presidential race, said in January that the president had called him several times in the previous months but he missed the calls.

His comments late Friday came after Trump announced he had ordered “precision strikes” against Syria in retaliation for an apparent chemical weapons attack last weekend by the forces of Syrian leader Bashar Assad

 

 

 

source/read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/383141-infowars-alex-jones-cries-over-trump-airstrikes-hes-crapping

Russia says it has IRREFUTABLE evidence that actors staged the chemical attack in Syria

14th April 2018

RUSSIA has evidence that foreign actors staged the alleged chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Mr Lavrov said in a press conference on Friday: “We have irrefutable evidence that this was yet another performance and that security services of a country which is trying to be in the frontlines of the Russophobic campaign were involved in this performance.”

He announced that Russian experts had examined the site of the alleged attack in the city, and found no trace of chemical weapons.

But Mr Lavrov failed to mention the country he alleges is spearheading a Russo-phobic campaign with the “fabrication”.

The foreign minister’s comments come after the US and several of its allies accused Damascus of using chemical gas during an offensive in Douma, killing up to 70 people.

US President Donald Trump also accused Russia and Iran of aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and promised to make a decision within 48 hours on his response to the alleged chemical weapons attack, threatening to launch “nice and new” missiles at Syria.

According to the foreign minister, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) experts left to Syria “not very quickly, without excessive enthusiasm” and only under pressure from Russia and Syria.

And in a press conference on Friday, Russia’s UK Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko claimed the UK-funded White Helmets are “famous for staging attacks” in Syria.

He said:”Syrian authorities were immediately blamed for the so-called attack, no proof was presented and no questions were asked.

“I think the conclusions were based on social media. Russian services for security visited the incident and didn’t find any kind of substances there, no traces of chemical poisoning were found in local hospitals.

“We are interested in meeting experts there to carry out necessary tests.”

He added: “At the request of the Syrian government, OPCW experts will be on ground tomorrow. We would like them to visit the place of the alleged incident and take samples, not just studying social media images and stories.”

The foreign minister has accused a state of spearheading a Russo-phobic attack
Prime Minister Theresa May has said it is highly likely that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible for the attack.

Mrs May said on Wednesday: “All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible…”

 

 

 

source/read more; https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/945645/russia-syria-chemical-attack-usa-actors-staged