United States FBI, police spying on phones


This video from the USA says about itself:

Tim Cook | EXCLUSIVE Interview on Apple’s Privacy Decision

24 February 2016

Apple CEO Tim Cook explained to ABC News anchor David Muir why he refused to create software that would help the FBI break into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. “I think safety of the public is incredibly important — safety of our kids, safety of our family is very important,” Cook said. “The protection of people’s data is incredibly important, and so the trade-off here is we know that doing this could expose people to incredible vulnerabilities.”

SeaWorld is certainly not the only organisation spying in the USA.

US government case against Apple would create broad precedent to override phone encryption: here.

The assault on encryption and the drive to expand police state spying: here.

By Isaac Finn in the USA:

New York police used military-grade cellphone surveillance equipment over 1,000 times

25 February 2016

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has used a military grade cellphone surveillance device—known as a “StingRay”—over 1,000 times since 2008, according to documents obtained by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) last November.

StingRays are briefcase-size machines that mimic cellphone towers and trick nearby cellphones into establishing a connection with it. The device can then be used to monitor communications from the phone and track the user’s whereabouts. Even when targeting a specific cellphone, a StingRay will gather information on other phones in the area.

Public discussion of the use of StingRays by local police departments has been limited due to a non-disclosure agreement between the FBI and the Harris Corporations, which manufactures the device. Under this agreement police departments—including the NYPD—are barred from referencing the use of StingRays, even when information gathered by the device is central to a prosecutor’s argument in a criminal case.

The NYCLU obtained documents last November about the NYPD’s use of StingRays as part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit, and received further information last week after appealing its initial lawsuit. This included a disclosure from the NYPD that it has used StringRays roughly 1,016 times between 2008 and May 2015.

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU, stated, “If carrying a cell phone means being exposed to military grade surveillance equipment, then the privacy of nearly all New Yorkers is at risk.”

The NYPD has become infamous for its extensive surveillance system, which has included spying on Muslim communities, its policy of stop-and-frisk that has allowed the department to establish electronic and analog databases of millions of predominantly minority working class youth, and most recently its Community Policing program based on cultivating a network of informants in working class neighborhoods.

New York police also have admitted to using ZBV vans equipped with x-ray technology, allowing officers to see through clothing and other light barriers without the individual being aware he or she is being scanned.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton … stated last year that he would not talk about ZBVs, because, “It falls into the range of security and counterterrorism activity that we engage in.”

The NYPD also disclosed in the lawsuit that they had no written policy on using StingRays, but usually obtained a “pen register order” before using the device. The requirements for obtaining a pen register order are less demanding than the probable cause required for obtaining a warrant.

Mariko Hirose, the NYCLU lawyer that received the documents from the NYPD, explained to the New York Times, “The text of New York’s pen register law does not apply to StingRays, and for good reason. That law was intended only to authorize the use of the primitive devices of the past that capture outgoing and incoming phone numbers on a landline. We’re now living in a different technological reality.”

Last year, the Department of Justice shifted policies demanding that all use of StingRays, except in emergency circumstances, be required to obtain warrants. The FBI also is required to obtain warrants for the use of StingRays, though with an extremely broad definition of exceptions.

Both Federal and NYPD officials have made fraudulent claims that StingRays do not pickup bystander information, and are primarily used to track terrorists and violent criminals. Despite this, there have been multiple recorded cases of the NYPD using StingRays to track non-violent criminals, and at least one instance of the technology being used to locate a witness.

FBI Director James Comey admitted in testimony to the House Judiciary Committee last October that StingRays were placed in planes and used to monitor mass protests against police brutality in both Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland.

The US Marshalls revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Request filed by USA Today that it has deployed the technology to track 5,975 individuals over an unspecified period of time. According to USA Today a Baltimore Police detective testified last year that the police force had deployed its StingRay 4,300 times since 2007.

Based on a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), at least 60 law enforcement agencies in 23 states own StingRays. Many others may not be disclosing purchases of the device.

The New York State Police alone have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on StingRays and related equipment. In a separate Freedom of Information lawsuit last year, the NYCLU also uncovered that the Erie County Sheriffs office, in New York State, has used StingRays 47 times over the past four years, and only obtained a pen register order from a court once.

Ultimately, the wide-scale use of military grade surveillance equipment is part of police-state measures put in place to defend the wealthy elite from the working population. The ruling elite’s fear is particularly palpable in New York City, which is plagued by massive inequality and record-breaking homelessness.

Akai Gurley killed, New York policeman convicted


This video from the USA is called Video Shows Akai Gurley‘s Bloody Clothes in the Dim Hallway He Was Shot In.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

NYC Cop Convicted Of Manslaughter In Death Of Akai Gurley

Officer Peter Liang fired in a dark housing complex stairwell.

02/11/2016 07:35 pm ET | Updated 14 minutes ago

Matt Ferner, National Reporter, The Huffington Post

New York City police Officer Peter Liang was convicted of manslaughter Thursday in the 2014 shooting death of an unarmed black man in a darkened Brooklyn public housing project stairwell.

Liang’s single gunshot killed Akai Gurley, 28, who was walking down the stairs on Nov. 20, 2014.

NYPD said after the jury’s verdict that Liang had been fired from the department. He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced on April 14.

Liang said he drew his pistol as he and his partner patrolled the darkened 8th floor stairwell of the Louis H. Pink Houses in Brooklyn. He said he flinched when he was startled by a noise, which he said caused the gun to fire.

The bullet ricocheted off of the stairwell wall and struck Gurley, who was on the seventh floor. Gurley, who was unarmed, died from a wound in his chest.

Liang tearfully recounted the shooting in court, claiming his finger was never on the trigger.

“I was panicking. I was in shock, in disbelief that someone was actually hit,” he told jurors.

Prosecution evidence contradicted the claim and showed pressure had to have been applied to the trigger in order for the weapon to fire. To test this notion, the judge allowed each of the 12 jurors to take turns pulling the trigger of Liang’s handgun. 

Liang and his partner testified they didn’t realize anyone had been shot for several minutes and said they didn’t try to perform CPR on Gurley because they felt untrained.

Gurley’s family was unmoved by the rookie’s tears.

“Peter Liang, my son was no accident,” Sylvia Palmer, the victim’s mother, said Monday. “You murdered my son. I need justice for my son. I need a conviction of Peter Liang.”

Convictions of police officers involved in shootings are exceedingly rare. The last time an NYPD officer was convicted in a shooting death of a civilian was 2005, when Bryan Conroy was convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the killing of Ousman Zongo, an unarmed African immigrant. 

Sanctions for the use of lethal force are also rare. A 2014 New York Daily News investigation found that out of the 179 people killed by on-duty police officers during 15 years, just three of those deaths resulted in indictments.

See also here.

Brooklyn district attorney Ken Thompson has decided to seek no prison time for the police officer convicted of killing 28-year-old Akai Gurley in the stairwell of his Brooklyn housing development in November, 2014: here.

Monk parakeets build nest in New York


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 January 2016

A pair of Monk Parakeets builds a stick nest in New York. It may come as a surprise to see noisy, green-and-gray parrots racing through North American cities. But Monk Parakeets, native to South America, have been long popular in the pet trade, and established wild populations in the U.S. in the 1960s.

Snowboarding in New York City, USA


This 24 January 2015 video is about snowboarding by Casey Neistat in the streets of New York City in the USA.

A big blizzard has caused many problems in New York and elsewhere in the USA. However, like with the flooding in Ireland, some people use unusual weather for sporting opportunities.

DIGGING OUT AFTER THE STORM The East Coast began the dig out process Sunday after massive blizzard Jonas paralyzed the region with several feet of snow over the weekend. At least 29 people died in the severe weather, and over 12,000 flights were canceled since Friday. And here’s what “Snowzilla” looked like from space. [Reuters]

A strong winter storm system (named “Winter Storm Jonas”) moved through the eastern United States over the weekend, burying major cities and towns from the Carolinas to New York under record-setting amounts of snow. So far, 27 people have been confirmed dead from car crashes, hypothermia and other tragedies that would have been prevented had there been fully funded safety response programs and a safe transportation infrastructure: here.

The death toll from last weekend’s blizzard in the eastern United States climbed to 49 on Wednesday, according to the latest press reports, as the region struggles to bring its decaying infrastructure, devastated by repeated budget cuts, to something like working order: here.

Shark nursery discovery off New York


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 June 2014

Another exciting Shark Academy introduces viewers to the Sand Tiger shark, an animal with a confusing name and the peculiar reproductive strategy known as “intrauterine cannibalism.”

From Blue York in the USA:

Shark Nursery Discovered Off New York

January 5, 2016

Turns out juvenile sand tiger sharks cut their (many) teeth in the New York area.

Scientists and veterinarians working for WCS‘s New York Aquarium have discovered a nursery ground for the fearsome-looking but non-aggressive fish in the near shore waters of Long Island’s Great South Bay.

“Sand tiger shark pups are not born here but migrate from down south to spend the summers as juveniles in New York’s coastal waters,” said Dr. Merry Camhi, Director of the NY Seascape program, WCS’s local marine conservation program.

The Great South Bay shark nursery provides juvenile sand tiger sharks ranging from several months to five years in age with a place to feed and grow. A nursery also gives juvenile sharks protection from predators, including other sharks.

After birth off the southeastern United States (sand tiger sharks give birth to live young as opposed to laying eggs), the juvenile sharks migrate north in the spring and spend the summer in New York waters before returning south in the fall.

Only a handful of sand tiger shark nursery grounds have been identified, one of which is in the waters of Massachusetts.

The discovery was made by researchers who have collected a wealth of information on sharks in local waters over the past four years through the use of acoustic tags, devices that enable scientists to remotely track marine animals as the animals move about.

There are still many unknowns about the nursery. Scientists are not sure how much of the bay is used by these sharks, the number of young sharks in the bay each summer, or what the sharks are eating.