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Alledged Anonymous hacker behind Stratfor attack faces life in prison

A pretrial hearing in the case against accused LulzSec hacker Jeremy Hammond this week ended with the 27-year-old Chicago man being told he could be sentenced to life in prison for compromising the computers of Stratfor.

© AFP Photo / Chicago Police Department
Jeremy Hammond
Judge Loretta Preska told Hammond in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday that he could be sentenced to serve anywhere from 360 months-to-life if convicted on all charges relating to last year's hack of Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a global intelligence company whose servers were infiltrated by an offshoot of the hacktivist collective Anonymous.

Hammond is not likely to take the stand until next year, but so far has been imprisoned for eight months without trial. Legal proceedings in the case might soon be called into question, however, after it's been revealed that Judge Preska's husband was a victim of the Stratfor hack.

According to the indictment filed in March, Hammond illegally obtained credit card information stolen from Stratfor and uploaded it to a server that was unbeknownst to him maintained by the federal government. Months earlier the FBI had arrested Hector Xavier Monsegur, a New York hacker who spearheaded LulzSec under the alias "Sabu," and relied on from thereon out to help the authorities nab other individuals affiliated with Anonymous and LulzSec. The feds say Hammond openly admitted to compromising Stratfor's data in online chats with their informant and unsealed a three count indictment against him relating to hacking back in March.

After Anons gained access to Stratfor's servers, they collected a trove of internal emails and more thousands of credit card details belonging to the firm's paid subscribers that were released last Christmas. A class action suit was filed against Strafor over the breach of security, and in June the company settled with its customers at an estimated cost of $1.75 million. Just now, though, it's been learned that Judge Preska may have a vested interest in seeking a prosecution by any means necessary.

Among the thousands of Statfor client's whose credit card data was compromised in the hack alleged to be linked to Hammond is Thomas J. Kavaler, a partner at the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP and the husband of Judge Preska. The archived document dump released by LulzSec last year includes personal information from Mr. Kavaler that suggests he was victimized in the attack and thus qualifies for the class action settlement.

In a press release issued under the branding of the Anonymous collective, supporters for Hammond call for Judge Preska's immediate resignation from the case.

"Judge Preska by proxy is a victim of the very crime she intends to judge Jeremy Hammond for. Judge Preska has failed to disclose the fact that her husband is a client of Stratfor and recuse herself from Jeremy's case, therefore violating multiple Sections of Title 28 of the United States Code," the statement reads.


Comment: Will Judge Preska be disciplined for not reveling this huge conflict of interest?

Alarm Clock

Journalists killed at alarming rate in 2012

A total of 119 journalists were killed while on assignment so far in calendar year 2012, according to the International Press Institute based in Vienna, Austria, in a report released on Thursday.

The IPI report, when compared with previous reports, reveals that for journalists 2012 already has the highest death toll since the IPI started keeping track in 1997.

"It is deeply disturbing that in spite of a clear increase in international efforts to stop attacks against journalists, this year's death toll is the highest on IPI record," said IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills. "The killing of a journalist is the ultimate, most callous, chilling form of censorship. Unless we are able to roll back the cynical tide of impunity, these killings will continue."
Pistol

Man pulls gun on Black Friday line-cutter in Texas

© Shutterstock.com
A purely American sport.

Tensions ran high for shoppers who abandoned their turkey dinners Thursday night to line up for Black Friday deals.

The evening was particularly intense for one shopper who allegedly pulled a gun on a man who punched him in the face while in line at a Sears store at the South Park Mall in San Antonio, TX, police told San Antonio Express-News.

Sgt. Rob Carey said that a man was trying to cut his way to the front of the line, which didn't sit well with his fellow shoppers, according to San Antonio Express-News. Arguments escalated to name calling before the alleged line-cutter punched another shopper in the face.
Mr. Potato

Kentucky rep. Tom Riner likes forcing citizens to make declaration to 'Almighty God'

The Kentucky state legislature passed a controversial homeland security law in 2006 that mandates its citizens to recognize safety cannot be achieved without the Almighty God - or face up to a year in prison.

American Atheists now wants to the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the law.

State representative and Baptist minister Tom Riner sponsored the law, which has been a subject of debate since it passed. The Kentucky state Supreme Court, however, refuses to evaluate its constitutionality.

Edwin Kagin, legal director of American Atheists, has been challenging the court's lack of action since 2008.

"This is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen," Kagin said.
Arrow Up

Are black Friday riots a preview of the civil unrest that is coming when society breaks down?

Black Friday
© The Economic Collapse Blog
If Americans will trample one another just to save a few dollars on a television, what will they do when society breaks down and the survival of their families is at stake? Once in a while an event comes along that gives us a peek into what life could be like when the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is stripped away. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey there was rampant looting and within days people were digging around in supermarket dumpsters looking for food. Sadly, "Black Friday" also gives us a look at how crazed the American people can be when given the opportunity. This year was no exception. Once again we saw large crowds of frenzied shoppers push, shove, scratch, claw, bite and trample one another just to save a few bucks on cheap foreign-made goods. And of course most retailers seem to be encouraging this type of behavior. Most of them actually want people frothing at the mouth and willing to fight one another to buy their goods. But is this kind of "me first" mentality really something that we want to foster as a society? If people are willing to riot to save money on a cell phone, what would they be willing to do to feed their families? Are the Black Friday riots a very small preview of the civil unrest that is coming when society eventually breaks down?

Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was not really a commercial holiday. It was a time to get together with family and friends, eat turkey and express thanks for the blessings that we have been given.

But in recent years Black Friday has started to become even a bigger event than Thanksgiving itself.

Millions of Americans have become convinced that it is fun to wait in long lines outside retail stores in freezing cold weather in the middle of the night to spend money that they do not have on things that they do not need.

And of course very, very few "Black Friday deals" are actually made in America. So these frenzied shoppers are actually killing American jobs and destroying the U.S. economy as well.

The absurdity of Black Friday was summed up very well recently in a statement that has already been retweeted on Twitter more than 1,000 times...

"Black Friday: because only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have."
Attention

Springfield Massachusetts building explodes following gas leak

The Scores Gentlemen's Club building at 453 Worthington St. has exploded following the report of a natural gas leak.

The building was flattened, and the remains of the club look like a huge cavity in the road. At least two people were injured. Emergency officials set up a command center at Chestnut and Worthington streets. Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray is in Springfield and is consulting with Mayor Domenic Sarno and State Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera. Murray and Sarno were at a tree lighting ceremony at the Quadrangle when the explosion occurred. They are now at the scene.

© Patrick Johnson, The Republican
The scene near the Scores building on Worthington St. after it exploded.
Glass littered the streets and sidewalks throughout a multi-block radius from the site of the explosion. Everyone is being evacuated from apartments in the area. A shelter is being set up on Central Street. The Square One day care next door was heavily damaged. A five-story building at Worthington and Chestnut was heavily damaged.

Ambulances are being called in from all available areas. West Springfield Deputy Fire Chief Danny Borsari said his city had two ambulances near Chestnut Street. Agawam sent two ambulances, according to its deputy chief. Chicopee fire officials said units were sent as needed.

At Chestnut and Taylor, a block away, there were blown-out windows on several buildings. All the windows on a two-story building on Chestnut and Taylor, facing Worthington. People in Wilbraham and South Hadley felt the explosion. A number of emergency vehicles have responded.

Dave Cutter, who owns a tattoo parlor at 378 Dwight St., about a block and a half away, said his front windows were blown out, and that the ceiling in his cellar was blown down. There's a large crowd downtown tonight because of the Thanksgiving holiday. At Theodore's, about two blocks away from the blast, the crowd was startled, said Stephanie Simmons, a waitress. "It rocked us so hard the windows smashed. It felt like an earthquake or a large explosion. There was pretty much chaos." She said about 30 to 40 people were at the bar, all on their feet, and many went out side to see what happened.

© Patrick Johnson, The Republican
Emergency personal bring a man injured by the Worthington Street explosion on Friday night into an ambulance.
Worthington Street is blocked off at both Dwight and Chestnut streets. Albert Fuster, was in his apartment at the corner of Chestnut and Taylor, a block away, with his two dogs, Moochie and Papi. "All of a sudden I hear the boom and all my windows blow out. All the smoke started filling up the place," Fuster said, standing with a crowd of people after the blast in the parking lot of the Mardi Gras. "I thought someone set off a bomb." He and the dogs were the only ones home at the time. "So I grabbed my babies and got the hell out," he said.

One observer reported five ambulances on the scene. "There is shattered glass everywhere," he said over the sound of a fire alarm. "It looks like a war zone." Megan Labombard, 21, who works as a dancer at the Scores, said her employer gave her about 20 minutes notice to get out of the club where she had been working. "I went across the street to the Mardi Gras Champagne Room, where we were having a drink, and the building where I work blew up," she said. She said she watched her livelihood go up before her eyes.
© David Molnar, The Republican
A view from Armory Commons of some of the damage to the areas on Worhtington St. after a gas explosion.
Bullseye

Japan's ninjas heading for extinction

Ninja Weapons
© BBC News
Graphic showing weapons and tools used by a ninja.
Japan's era of shoguns and samurai is long over, but the country does have one, or maybe two, surviving ninjas. Experts in the dark arts of espionage and silent assassination, ninjas passed skills from father to son - but today's say they will be the last.

Japan's ninjas were all about mystery. Hired by noble samurai warriors to spy, sabotage and kill, their dark outfits usually covered everything but their eyes, leaving them virtually invisible in shadow - until they struck.

Using weapons such as shuriken, a sharpened star-shaped projectile, and the fukiya blowpipe, they were silent but deadly.

Ninjas were also famed swordsmen. They used their weapons not just to kill but to help them climb stone walls, to sneak into a castle or observe their enemies.

Most of their missions were secret so there are very few official documents detailing their activities. Their tools and methods were passed down for generations by word of mouth.
Che Guevara

Protesters set fire to Morsi party's headquarters in 3 Egyptian cities

Furious Egyptians have set ablaze the headquarters of President Mohamed Morsi's party in three cities in protest to a constitutional declaration that gives the president unlimited powers.
Gear

Entrapped Cleveland anarchists sentenced for WMD conspiracy

© Agence France-Presse/FBI
This combination of handout booking photos provided May 1, 2012 by the FBI shows L-R: Connor Stevens, Brandon Baxter, Douglas Wright, Anthony Hayne and Joshua Stafford
Three of the suspects accused of plotting to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio were sentenced in federal court on Tuesday to no fewer than eight years apiece behind bars.

Douglas Wright, 26, will serve more than 11 years in prison this week - 138 months, to be exact - for his role as the supposed 'ringleader' behind an unsuccessful plot hatched by self-proclaimed anarchists to destroy a major bridge over the Cuyahoga River. His cohorts Brandon Baxter and Connor Stevens, both 20 years old, were sentenced to roughly 10 and eight years, respectively, for their role in the plan.

Stephen D. Anthony of the Cleveland Division of the FBI said early on in the investigation that "The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views," and prosecutors said that they hoped that by doing so they would "send a message to corporations and the United States government." That case has come under scrutiny from some, however, who have called into question the Federal Bureau of Investigation's own role in advising the accused terrorists in the days before they were expected to act.

According to the FBI's investigation, Wright and his colleagues were coached into plotting an attack on the Valley View Bridge over the Cuyahoga River after an undercover source working for the feds infiltrated their social circle and offered to help them obtain explosives. The court has admitted that Wright initially suggested the group use items such as stink bombs or paint guns to wage a more low-profile attack that would get the attention of the government. After being repeatedly coerced by the confidential source to consider something bigger, though, Wright and his peers purchased from an FBI agent what they were told were explosives. From there, they were busted in late April.

Comment: For more information please read:
FBI Appears to be Unleashing a War of Entrapment Against the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Fake terror plots, paid informants: the tactics of FBI 'entrapment' questioned
The FBI, Elaborate Entrapment and Hannah Arendt on Secret Police
Protest movements are crawling with COINTELPRO: Sixth police spy unmasked in British protest movement
How COINTELPRO really works and destroys social movements: Open letter from former Tea Partier to Occupy Wall Street protesters

Shopping Bag

Americans to pay for Thanksgiving dinner with food stamps in record numbers

© Agence France-Presse/Spencer Platt
People fill out state forms for food stamps.
While some will spend Thanksgiving and days after it feasting on turkeys, 13 percent of Americans will rely on food stamps to avoid going to sleep hungry this holiday season.

About 42.2 million Americans will eat on a budget of $1 to $1.25 per meal this Thanksgiving as the number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program remains high, found a new report by The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit government watchdog group. The number of Americans relying on food stamps this Thanksgiving is equal to the populations of California and Connecticut combined.

The latest data from the US Department of Agriculture shows that 47.1 million Americans relied on food stamps in August - the highest number yet.

Since 2007, participation in the food stamp program has skyrocketed, increasing by 70 percent. The cost of feeding the approximately 44.7 million Americans who relied on food stamps last year cost the US government a record $72 billion.

But the high number of Americans dependent on the nutrition assistance in a struggling economy is not the only problem the US faces this Thanksgiving. This past summer's record-breaking drought has taken a toll on the food industry, causing prices to skyrocket while supplies remain low - making it even more difficult to provide Thanksgiving-style food to low-income families.
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