Archive for June 22nd, 2010

22
Jun
10

U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

NEWS
U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

U.K. Police Investigating Alleged Google Privacy Breach Through Public Wi-Fi Networks

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Britain has become the latest country to open an investigation into whether Google violated communication and privacy laws by mistakenly gathering data over public Wi-Fi networks.

London’s Metropolitan Police says it is looking into complaints that the search engine’s ‘Street View’ project picked up people’s online activities through unprotected networks.

It says it is determining what offences, if any, were committed.

Privacy International, a London-based privacy watchdog that filed the case with police, says it had received complaints from members of the public who feared their personal data could be at risk.

The French independent privacy watchdog CNIL said last week that Google, following a complaint, had handed over personal data sucked up by its technicians.

The attorney general of the U.S. state of Connecticut is also looking into whether Google broke the law.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multi-state probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy.”

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.
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22
Jun
10

Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot

NEWS
Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Admitted terrorist Faisal Shahzad was so eager to tell how he plotted to kill Americans in Times Square, he went to court with a prepared statement.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum refused to hear him read it on Monday, instead challenging the Pakistan-born American citizen to just say “what happened.”

In an unapologetic, matter-of-fact courtroom colloquy that followed, Shahzad offered chilling details about how he trained with the Pakistani Taliban to build bombs, then returned to the US to launch an attack that would avenge attacks on Muslims by U.S. forces overseas.

“One has to understand where I’m coming from,’ he said in an unusual departure from tightly scripted guilty pleas, with his defence lawyer and prosecutors sitting in silence in federal court in Manhattan. ‘I consider myself … a Muslim soldier.”

Shahzad, 30, admitted leaving a sport utility vehicle rigged with a homemade bomb in bustling Times Squares on a warm night on May 1.

The bomb failed to go off, and the Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident was arrested trying to leave the country on a Dubai-bound flight two days later.

Authorities say following his capture, Shahzad voluntarily started talking about the botched bombing right away – a pattern that continued in open court, where he agreed to plead guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts without the benefit of a plea deal and with certainty he’d face life in prison.

“I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over,” he said.

Until U.S. forces leave Muslim territory, he added, “we will be attacking U.S.”

Sentencing was set for October 5, and prosecutors say that at least one of the counts to which Shahzad pleaded guilty carries a mandatory life term. With no parole in the federal system, that means he would die behind bars.
Widely circulated snapshots of Shahzad – a U.S.-trained financial analyst and married father of two – show him with a neatly trimmed beard, all smiles and looking carefree behind sunglasses driving a car, or standing next to his American wife. When led into court on Monday, he had on a white skull cap and prisoner’s uniform, his beard shaggy and his demeanor full of pride and absent of remorse.

Shahzad traced his plot to a 2009 trip to Pakistan that began only three months after he received his U.S. citizenship.

While staying with his parents, he ventured into the lawless Waziristan region in December with “a couple of friends … to join the (Pakistani) Taliban.” He didn’t describe the friends any further.

But an intelligence official in Pakistan told The Associated Press that CIA investigators have been given access to two Pakistani men who helped Shahzad reach Mir Ali town in North Waziristan, as well as to three other suspects being held by Pakistani authorities.

The official insisted on anonymity because Pakistan’s intelligence agency does not allow its operatives to be identified.

Shahzad said he sought and received five days’ training in explosives before returning to the United States in February to pursue a one-man scheme to bring death and destruction to New York with funding from the militant group.

The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on February 25 from an unnamed coconspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, sent at the coconspirator’s direction.

Authorities say the bomb malfunctioned, emitting smoke that attracted the attention of an alert street vendor, who notified police, setting in motion a rapid evacuation of several city blocks.

The judge kept up a steady back-and-forth with Shahzad, questioning how it was possible he pulled off the near-bombing solo.

“You built the bomb all by yourself?” she asked.

“Yes. … Nobody helped me,” he replied.

She also pressed him on how he could target U.S. civilians if his goal was to retaliate against U.S. forces, asking of the potential in Times Square that night, “Did you look around to see who they were?”

“Well, the people select the government,” Shahzad said. “We consider them all the same. The drones, when they hit …”

Cedarbaum interrupted again: “Including the children?”

Shahzad answered: “Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It’s a war, and in war, they kill people.

They’re killing all Muslims.”

Later, he added: “I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorising the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attack.

Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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22
Jun
10

U.S. slaps BP with new bill

NEWS
U.S. slaps BP with new bill
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

••• The White House has slapped BP with a new $51 million bill, the third sent to the British energy giant.

Officials have stressed that they would keep billing the British energy giant for all associated costs from America’s biggest-ever environmental disaster, under a U.S. law requiring oil firms to pay for cleanups.

“As a responsible party, BP is financially responsible for all costs associated with the response to the spill,” the administration said.

That includes “efforts to stop the leak at its source, reduce the spread of oil, protect the shoreline and mitigate damages, as well as long term recovery efforts to ensure that all individuals and communities impacted by the spill are made whole.”

Two earlier bills to BP and other responsible parties this month amounting to $70.89 million were paid in full, it said in a statement.
The invoice charges the firms for ‘specific federal government expenses’ including response costs for more than 24 federal entities and agencies from three U.S. states, as well as for reimbursing the trust fund set up by BP and the government to reimburse local individuals and businesses affected by the massive spill.

The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, enacted after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, made oil giants liable for cleanup costs resulting from spills and is being used by the administration to hold BP’s feet to the fire.

Obama has also vowed to hold BP responsible if it is found that the company broke any laws before the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig in April.

BP said on Monday it has so far spent $2 billion on the spill, including ongoing efforts at containment, relief well drilling, grants to Gulf states, claims paid to thousands of affected individuals and businesses, and costs incurred by the U.S. government.
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22
Jun
10

U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

NEWS
U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• The attorney general of a U.S. state is looking into whether Google broke the law by capturing people’s personal data from wireless networks.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multistate probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” which has drawn ire and scrutiny in an array of countries.

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.

Blumenthal said people had a right to know what information Google gleaned, how it was done and why.

He also wanted the internet giant to detail what safeguards are in place to fix the situation.

“While we hope Google will continue to cooperate, its response so far raises as many questions as it answers,” Blumenthal said.

“Our investigation will consider whether laws may have been broken and whether changes to state and federal statutes may be necessary.”

Blumenthal has asked Google to explain how and when it learned its Street View bicycles and cars were capturing data from unencrypted wireless networks and why they recorded the quality of wireless networks they passed.
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22
Jun
10

Times Square bomb accused Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty

NEWS
Times Square bomb accused Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Pakistani-born American Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty on Monday to the Times Square car bomb bid “100 times”, defiantly warning of more attacks on the United States until it leaves Muslim lands.

Reading out a combative statement in court, Shahzad portrayed himself as a Muslim warrior and showed no remorse as he pleaded guilty to all 10 charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and terrorism.

“I want to plead guilty 100 times because unless the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, until they stop drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen, and stop attacking Muslim lands, we will attack the U.S. and be out to get them,” he said, speaking in perfect English.

Asked by judge Miriam Cedarbaum why he tried to kill innocent Americans, 30-year-old Shahzad, who wore a white Muslim skullcap during the 90-minute proceedings, was unrepentant.

“Listen, you are attacking children with your drones in Afghanistan,” he said. “I would not consider what I did was a crime. I’m aware it’s a violation of the United States laws, but I don’t care for the laws of the United States.”

Shahzad was pulled off a flight to Dubai on May 3, two days after he parked a car containing a rudimentary explosive device in New York’s Broadway entertainment district.

The attempted bombing on a busy Saturday night was foiled when street vendors spotted smoke emanating from the back of a Nissan Pathfinder and alerted the authorities.

A 53-hour manhunt ensued, ending with Shahzad’s arrest as his plane was about to taxi for take-off from John F Kennedy Airport to Dubai.

“Americans only care about their people but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
– Failed bomber Faisal Shahzad

U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said there was no plea agreement between Shahzad and the U.S. government.

Shahzad was assured and determined as he spoke in detail in court, describing eerily how he plotted the attack to cause maximum casualties and waited for a bomb to go off that never did.

“I walked to Grand Central station. I was waiting to hear a sound, but I did not hear any sound so I went home,” he said.

“I didn’t choose a specific building, but I chose the center of Times Square, and obviously, the time, 6.30 pm, and obviously, a Saturday, May 1st.”

Shahzad told the judge he had undergone bomb-making training during a 40-day stay with the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan, between December 9 and January 25.

The five days of bomb-making training involved “the whole thing – how to make a bomb, how to detonate it,” he said.

On returning to the U.S., Shahzad said he planned the bombing alone and acted all by himself, telling the judge: “Nobody helped me.”‘
A 10-count indictment handed down on Thursday alleged that Shahzad received two payments totalling $12,000 from an unidentified co-conspirator in Pakistan.

He used the money to buy a semi-automatic nine millimetre Kel-Tec (Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc.) rifle in March and the Nissan Pathfinder, for which he paid $1,300 cash in a supermarket parking lot on April 24, it alleged.

He then bought components for ‘improvised explosive and incendiary devices’, loaded them in the Pathfinder, and on May 1 drove the sport utility vehicle to Times Square, the complaint said.

Shahzad pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, attempted use of a destructive device in a terrorist conspiracy and a string of other conspiracy, explosives and weapons related charges.

Shahzad has co-operated fully in custody, waiving Miranda rights that protect detainees from incriminating themselves, U.S. justice officials say.

“Faisal Shahzad plotted and launched an attack that could have led to serious loss of life, and today the American criminal justice system ensured that he will pay the price for his actions,” Attorney General Eric Holder said, reacting to the guilty plea.

The son of a respected Pakistani air force officer, Shahzad attended an elite Pakistan Air Force college before coming to the United States to study at the age of 18 and eventually becoming a naturalized American citizen.

The botched car bombing left residents, visitors and authorities in Times Square jittery, with several ‘suspicious packages’ that later turned out to be harmless sparking false alarms.

U.S. aviation officials also changed security regulations, shortening the amount of time for airlines to check updated “no-fly” lists, after Shahzad was able to board his flight despite having been added to the list.
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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22
Jun
10

Lakers victory parade 2010: Lakers crowned NBA kings again

NEWS
Lakers victory parade 2010: Lakers crowned NBA kings again

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The LA Lakers are the NBA Champions after taking out game seven of their finals series against the Boston Celtics 83-79 in Los Angeles.

It’s the Lakers’ fifth championship in 11 years and their second in as many seasons, with Kobe Bryant taking out the Finals MVP award in back-to-back seasons.

It was also sweet revenge for LA, who were beaten by the Celtics in the NBA finals two years ago.

The Lakers’ star-studded fan base were suitably happy with the win although several fans took the celebrations a bit too far, starting fires, throwing rocks and bottles at police and jumping on cars in the street.

The plan was to have the Lakers players discuss the season while riding atop a flat-bed truck during Monday’s championship parade. Their answers would then be broadcast to the adoring throng of fans that lined a two-mile route along Figueroa Street.

But whatever Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the rest of the players said Monday afternoon was lost amid the constant cheering and chanting that greeted the Lakers as the city celebrated the team’s latest NBA championship.

“When you’re playing, you don’t really get a chance to see those who are at home or at a local bar watching the game, supporting and screaming and cheering,” Kobe Bryant said before the parade. “Now you get a chance to put a face to it.”

And there certainly were plenty of faces see – many painted in Lakers colors. The crowd, estimated at more than 1 million, created a purple-and-gold sea on both sides of the street, on top of bus stops, fences and restaurants from Staples Center to USC.

The crowd, many of whom had stood there for five hours, cheered hysterically as the truck holding the Lakers players rolled by. Some fans were even brought to tears by the sight of their heroes.

For more than an hour, the noise was deafening as fans, including a construction crew that had stopped working, chanted “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe! and “MVP! MVP!” Some begged Gasol “look over here” for a picture, while others just wanted Lamar to smile.

There were some who yelled for Sasha Vujacic to marry them, while others simply held up signs with the same request. Vujacic seemed to enjoy the attention, screaming back at the fans and applauding them. Bryant said one woman nearly fainted when she saw the Slovenian guard.

On the other side of the street, one young girl made a sign asking guard Shannon Brown to call her and had included her phone number.

Still other fans simply saluted the 2010 NBA champions with Lakers flags, banners and home-made signs. One promoted Derek Fisher for President (in Spanish), another said “Back to Back without Shaq” and yet another read “This is Kobe’s Town.”

By the reaction Bryant received as the truck rolled by the sign was right.

No other player received as much attention as Bryant, who stood alongside his wife, Vanessa, and his two young daughters during the parade. This is Bryant’s fifth such celebration and he seemed to be enjoying it as much as the first one in 2000.

Still, he said that this title was “the best one by far because it was the hardest one to get.” The Lakers defeated their longtime nemesis, the Boston Celtics, in a decisive seventh game to win their 16th championship.

The two-mile celebration was largely peaceful as thousands of LAPD officers lined the street. The parade included a fire truck that carried the Laker Girls and a rig carrying former Lakers greats such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and A.C. Green.

Unlike last year’s celebration, there wasn’t a rally at the end.

“The energy was so crazy, it almost made me go insane,” said Ron Artest, who hoisted his young daughter onto his shoulders for much of the parade. “I almost wanted to jump into the crowd. Maybe I will do that next year.”

Phil Jackson missed the celebration because of medical appointments he had scheduled and could not be changed, according to Lakers spokesman John Black. Jackson has said his decision to return as coach depends largely on his health.

But the Lakers coach was there in spirit. Lakers executive and Jackson’s girlfriend Jeanie Buss wore a yellow cap with the Roman numeral “X” on it, along with a note that read “+1” – signifying Jackson’s 11 NBA titles he has won as coach.
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• Source(s): NBA Media Ventures, LLC, Turner Sports and Entertainment Digital Network & Los Angeles Times
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