Category Archives: News

Campos proposes moratorium on luxury housing in Mission

from May 21, 2015 at 04:00PM

In the latest effort to curb the rapid displacement and the construction of expensive housing that has plagued the Mission District in recent years, District 9 Supervisor David Campos has proposed a temporary halt on luxury housing development.

The post Campos proposes moratorium on luxury housing in Mission appeared first on El Tecolote.

Read more at: El Tecolote » News

Bratton Proposes Amnesty for 1.2 Million Open Warrants

via Salon


NEW YORK (AP) — Sheila Beasley was struggling to clean up after her beloved Rottweiler, Rocky, on a Bronx sidewalk on a December day in 2008 when she briefly put his leash down — a move spotted by a nearby plainclothes police officer who promptly wrote her a summons for having an unleashed dog.

Beasley, a 50-year-old mother of two, said she forgot about the ticket and missed a court date to resolve it. That decision triggered a warrant for her arrest, and nearly three years later, police showed up at her door and hauled her off to jail, where she stayed for four days.

Read More →

Video Reveals Baltimore Corrections Officers Were Looting During Freddie Gray Protests

from May 16, 2015 at 09:33AM

Three Baltimore cops were accused of theft in two separate investigations.

Three Baltimore police officers were accused of theft in two separate investigations — including two charged after being caught on video looting a store during the unrest that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

According to the Baltimore Sun, correction officers Tamika Cobb and Kendra Richard were suspended without pay after footage showed them exiting a local convenience store holding Slim Jims and Tostitos chips on April 25.

That same day, riots broke out in the city after six hours of peaceful protests calling for charges to be filed against the officers who arrested Gray earlier that month. Six officers were later charged in connection wih Gray’s death.

Both Cobb and Richard were assigned to corrections facilities downtown, near the site of the unrest. They face charges of burglary and theft, and bail was set for each of them at $35,000.

Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Stephen T. Moyer said in a statement that authorities began investigating the two officers following a tip.

“We will not allow the vast majority of our employees who are honest and hardworking to be tainted by the actions of a few,” he said.

A separate sting operation led to Officer Maurice Lamar Jeffers being charged with theft of government property and “converting property of another” after allegedly stealing $3,000 that authorities left in a hotel room.

The Sun reported that Jeffers, who is part of a fugitive task force, was told to help secure the room so that Prince George’s County police could execute a search warrant. He was then filmed putting the money in his pockets after his partner left the room to alert a supervisor that it was clear.

A member of Jeffers’ task force reportedly told an internal affairs investigator that Jeffers cashed his paychecks instead of using a bank account, and always bought things in cash, calling the behavior “suspicious.” Jeffers had in fact been accused of theft three times between 2005 and 2011. 

Watch footage purportedly showing Cobb and Richard looting from the store, as posted by the Daily Mail, below.



Read more at: Alternet

Halprin Appeals Ruling Against Tenants’ Evictions

from May 20, 2015 at 11:15AM
Tenants at 812 Guerrero, who have been fighting their evictions by Google employee Jack Halprin for more than a year now, learned yesterday that their landlord would appeal the decision to quash their evictions. That decision was handed down in the cases of three units in the building last week; the fourth unit’s tenant is fighting her eviction separately and was unavailable for comment. Tenants said earlier they hoped the…

Read more at: MissionLocal

Fire Victims Lawyer Up Against Mission Landlord

from May 16, 2015 at 08:55AM
More than 30 residents from 15 units in the building on Mission and 22nd streets, where a fire in January claimed one life, severely injured another man, and displaced more than 60 residents, have retained legal counsel to file a suit against the building’s owner. They intend to sue landlord Hawk Lou for failing to maintain key safety features of the building, said Steven McDonald, an attorney with the firm representing the tenants….

Read more at: MissionLocal

NSA Transfers Spy Gadgets to Local Police Departments

from May 18, 2015 at 11:45AM

For those of a certain generation, one of the best childhood memories is the day the Sears Christmas catalog arrived in the mail. Kids eagerly grabbed the book, which was at least an inch thick, and started their holiday gift lists.


Now local law enforcement agencies can experience that same sense of anticipation and unbridled joy as they choose which spy equipment they want from Uncle Sam’s Big Technology Wish Book, or as it’s officially known, the National Security Agency 2014 Technology Catalog (pdf).


The National Security Agency (NSA) is offering technology to local law enforcement agencies, including programs that pick different voices out of a crowd; cryptographic key generation; transmitter location; and even one that can facilitate the sorting of large amounts of data, such as that that might be gathered in a cell tower dump. Some of this technology can be used in conjunction with devices such as a Stingray, a cell tower mimicking device provided to some agencies by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Stingrays allow a user to glean identification data from a cell-phone user.


The catalog outlines the steps an agency must take to acquire the technology. According to the catalog, “In the context of federal laboratories, technology transfer is the sharing of information, intellectual property (IP), expertise, and technology between the laboratories and non-federal entities (i.e., private industry, state and local governments, universities, and non-profit organizations).”


This program is an addition to a Defense Department effort to send surplus military equipment, such as mine-resistant vehicles and heavy weapons, to local law enforcement agencies.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

NSA Gadget Transfer Program Turning Local Cops into Spies (by Kelli Sladick, Tenth Amendment Center)

National Security Agency 2014 Technology Catalog (pdf)

Obama to Continue Arming Nation’s Police with Military Gear, But with Some Tweaks (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Which Companies Profit from the Use of Military Equipment by Police? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Read more at: News – AllGov

Military Recruiting Increasingly Aimed at Children

from May 18, 2015 at 11:50AM

Once it was tobacco companies targeting minors with cartoon characters. Now the U.S. military is similarly going after those too young to enlist, but old enough to begin forming impressions about whether they’d like to sign up for a tour of duty.


A study (pdf) by Joseph A. Rosendale and Mary Beth Leidman of Indiana University of Pennsylvania shows that military recruiters are adept at using social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to hone in on possible recruits.


“Social media is currently the best type of communication when dealing with the sub-18 population. Kids are not watching [traditional media] programming as much anymore…social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the absolute best ways [to reach them] right now,” a Marine Corps recruiter told researchers.


But it starts at an even more basic level. The military knows that children can become addicted to video games and that some, such as “Call to Duty,” can get them excited at the prospect of going into battle. The Army has even created its own game, “America’s Army,” in which players go through the enlistment experience from boot camp to deployment.


The key is to get contact information on the potential recruits. That task has been made easier thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act. Part of that law’s mandate is that schools turn over personal information on students to military recruiters and allow them access to the schools for their message.


There’s some question whether adolescents are capable of understanding the potential consequences of signing up for the military. Research has shown that young people can have a “heightened sense of empowerment or the feeling that if they were in the military they could ‘stand up for themselves and no one could hurt them,’” according to the study.


As hard as the Pentagon is trying to recruit young people, there’s one source they’ve once again been denied: House Republicans last week blocked a provision of a bill that would have allowed Dreamers, those brought illegally into the United States as youngsters, to obtain citizenship by joining the military. 

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Locked-In on Our Youth: An Inquiry into American Military Recruiting Media (by Joseph A. Rosendale and Mary Beth Leidman, Indiana University of Pennsylvania) (pdf)

Republicans Block Young Immigrant ‘Dreamers’ From Military (by Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times)

Read more at: News – AllGov

Wyoming Criminalizes taking Soil Samples and “Ecological” Photos on Public Lands

from May 20, 2015 at 11:55AM

Those concerned with environmental pollution in Wyoming can no longer take soil samples or even photos of possible contamination without risking going to jail.


The Republican-dominated state has adopted a new law, the “Data Trespass Bill,” which outlaws “citizen science,” the collecting of ecological data on private and public lands. Violations can result in a year of prison time and fines of $5,000. It also makes any samples inadmissible as evidence in court, even if they show environmental hazards.


The law was adopted in response to a fight between 15 ranchers and the environmental group, Western Watersheds Project, in Fremont County. The ranchers sued the group, claiming it collected water samples from their land without permission. Western Watersheds took the samples because it suspected the landowners were allowing manure to contaminate local water sources. Their tests of the samples revealed the presence of E. coli bacteria, which can cause serious illness and even death in humans.


Supporters of the law are framing it as protecting property rights, but that doesn’t explain the prohibition from taking samples—and photos—from public lands. “The purpose of the bill is to discourage this kind of activity,” Debra Donahue, a law professor specializing in wildlife science at the University of Wyoming, told Courthouse News Service. “The state would prefer not to have citizens going out on public lands collecting data that could then be used against landowners.


“The idea is, if the water quality in the streams doesn’t meet standards, that [the ranchers] should do something about it. And whatever action that was, it would have an effect on their ability to raise cattle.”


The new law prohibits the gathering of photos and soil samples used for ecological purposes, even in state and national parks. Opponents say it is so broad, it would prevent taking photographs at Yellowstone National Park. 

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Wyoming Criminalizes Citizen Science (by Emma Gannon, Courthouse News Service)

Wyoming Senate Bill 12 (LegiScan)

Four Charged with Violating Utah’s “Ag-Gag” Law (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

Can Private Drones be Used to Counter “Ag-Gag” Laws in 7 States? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Read more at: News – AllGov

NSA Program has Long Converted Voice to Searchable Text

from May 19, 2015 at 11:50AM

First, there was bulk phone data collecting by the National Security Agency (NSA). Now, there’s bulk listening.


For the past decade, the NSA has had the ability to transcribe the contents of phone call conversations into written—and searchable—formats, according to The Intercept.


Documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA nearly 10 years ago developed what it calls “Google for Voice,” allowing its analysts to search recorded phone conversations and “even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest,” Dan Froomkin reported.


This program of automated speech recognition is not perfect, and lacks the capability of 100% accuracy in transcribing natural conversation. Reaching such a goal is considered a “holy grail” by intelligence officials.


The NSA documents also don’t indicate how widely the agency has employed its bulk listening power, at least outside Iraq and Afghanistan, where the U.S. used it in its fight against insurgents, as well as in Latin America.  


The development of bulk listening “has happened with no apparent public oversight, hearings or legislative action. Congress hasn’t shown signs of even knowing that it’s going on,” Froomkin pointed out.


“We don’t have any idea how many innocent people are being affected, or how many of those innocent people are also Americans,” Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Intercept. “Once you have this capability, then the question is: How will it be deployed? Can you temporarily cache all American phone calls, transcribe all the phone calls, and do text searching of the content of the calls? It may not be what they are doing right now, but they’ll be able to do it.”



Froomkin noted that efforts to reform the NSA’s mass surveillance efforts don’t mention bulk listening. The USA Freedom Act (pdf), recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and soon to be voted on by the U.S. Senate, would end the NSA’s bulk collection of domestic calling data. But it does not address this other form of government spying on communications.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

The Computers Are Listening: How the NSA Converts Spoken Words into Searchable Text (by Dan Froomkin, The Intercept)

The Computers Are Listening: Speech Recognition Is NSA’s Best-Kept Open Secret (by Dan Froomkin, The Intercept)

U.S. Said to Record all Cell Phone Calls in Afghanistan and…Bahamas (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Read more at: News – AllGov

Water Theft Rising In Wake Of Ongoing California Drought

from May 18, 2015 at 06:30PM

Read more at: disinformation