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Sat, 11 Jul 2020
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Cell Phone

How police secretly took over a global phone network for organized crime

phone handcuffed to arm
Something wasn't right. Starting earlier this year, police kept arresting associates of Mark, a UK-based alleged drug dealer. Mark took the security of his operation seriously, with the gang using code names to discuss business on custom, encrypted phones made by a company called Encrochat. For legal reasons, Motherboard is referring to Mark using a pseudonym.

Because the messages were encrypted on the devices themselves, police couldn't tap the group's phones or intercept messages as authorities normally would. On Encrochat, criminals spoke openly and negotiated their deals in granular detail, with price lists, names of customers, and explicit references to the large quantities of drugs they sold, according to documents obtained by Motherboard from sources in and around the criminal world.

Maybe it was a coincidence, but in the same time frame, police across the UK and Europe busted a wide range of criminals. In mid-June, authorities picked up an alleged member of another drug gang. A few days later, law enforcement seized millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs in Amsterdam. It was as if the police were detaining people from completely unrelated gangs simultaneously.

"[The police] all over it aren't they," the dealer wrote in one of the messages obtained by Motherboard. "My heads still baffled how they got on all my guys."

Unbeknownst to Mark, or the tens of thousands of other alleged Encrochat users, their messages weren't really secure. French authorities had penetrated the Encrochat network, leveraged that access to install a technical tool in what appears to be a mass hacking operation, and had been quietly reading the users' communications for months. Investigators then shared those messages with agencies around Europe.
"I've never seen anything like this."
Only now is the astonishing scale of the operation coming into focus: It represents one of the largest law enforcement infiltrations of a communications network predominantly used by criminals ever, with Encrochat users spreading beyond Europe to the Middle East and elsewhere. French, Dutch, and other European agencies monitored and investigated "more than a hundred million encrypted messages" sent between Encrochat users in real time, leading to arrests in the UK, Norway, Sweden, France, and the Netherlands, a team of international law enforcement agencies announced Thursday.


Russian court fines pro-Western propagandist for column 'justifying terrorism' in high-profile controversial case

Svetlana Prokopyeva
© Facebook / svetlana.prokopyeva.9
Svetlana Prokopyeva in front of the court house.
A military court in Pskov has handed a Russian journalist a $7,000 fine for an article in which she blamed police brutality for a bombing incident at a regional office of the FSB, Russia's main security agency.

The case has provoked outrage from the journalist's supporters, who believe that the criminal charge is an attack on free speech.

Svetlana Prokopyeva was found guilty of justifying terrorism after writing a 2018 story in which she speculated about the motives behind a bombing in Arkhangelsk.

The journalist argued that the 17-year-old assailant acted in response to the "repressive actions" of the government and the police. She claimed that the authorities are responsible for creating an environment that pushes citizens to fight back.

Bizarro Earth

Iraqi authorities deny reports of rocket attack on Baghdad International Airport

Baghdad international airport
© Associated Press / Khalid Mohammed
Baghdad International Airport
In the early hours of Monday reports emerged that Baghdad International Airport had been hit by a rocket attack although there were no reports of injuries or explosions in the area.

Iraq has denied reports that a rocket landed near the Baghdad International Airport on Sunday night.

"Several media outlets reported the fall of a Katyusha rocket near the Baghdad International Airport terminal", tweeted the security media cell of the office of Iraqi Prime Minister, Mustafa Al-Kazemi.

"We deny this news completely, and the Baghdad Operations Command did not indicate any missile launches until 0050 hours, and we call on the media to be accurate and to take information exclusively from the security media cell".

Mr. Potato

'Pharma Bro' Martin Shkreli endorses Kanye West for president, says he's available for role in the admin

Martin Shkreli
"Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli has endorsed Kanye West's 2020 presidential election bid.

In an email to the Gateway Pundit from the federal prison where he is serving his seven year sentence for securities fraud, Shkreli wrote "Yeezy for President," and that he's "got my endorsement and vote."

"I am available for treasury secretary or federal reserve chairman. I could immediately balance the budget and restore sanity to the American balance sheet, replete with debt and runaway spending," Shkreli wrote.

Comment: Geez, what an endorsement! Let's hope Kanye ignores Shkreli's offer.

See also:

Heart - Black

'You can't blame it on police', Atlanta mayor says after 8yo black girl shot dead during protest

Atlanta police
© REUTERS / Elijah Nouvelage
Police officers stand guard during a Juneteenth protest in Atlanta.
The mayor of Atlanta, Georgia gave an impassioned plea to disclose any information on the gunmen who shot up a car, killing an eight-year-old black girl inside, during a BLM protest.

The shooters need to be brought to justice, because as long as they are roaming free, they pose a threat to everyone, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said during an emotional press conference on Sunday. Staying silent regarding people like them will not keep people safe, and violence undermines the cause that has gained momentum in the past weeks, she said.

"In the civil rights movement there was a defined common enemy. We are fighting the enemy within. We are shooting each other on our streets," she said. "You've shot and killed a baby!"

Comment: The Civil Rights movement was so effective because it didn't pit people against one another. It's aim was to bring people together, which it did. This mayor is dangerous, and it is no wonder Atlanta is in the dire state it is in.


FBI agents used spy planes, smashed down door to Ghislaine Maxwell's $1m US bolthole

ghislaine maxwell home new hampshire raid
© Reuters
Ghislaine Maxwell’s secret New Hampshire hideaway
Armed officers smashed down the front door of Ghislaine Maxwell's secret hideaway before hauling her off in handcuffs.

The raid on the 156-acre property where Maxwell was staying in Bradford, New Hampshire, swung into action at 8.20am on Thursday when 24 armed FBI agents, officers from the local police force, New York police and New Hampshire's gang task force used bolt-cutters to break the lock on a metal gate leading to the secluded property that she bought for cash last December.

An officer told The Mail on Sunday: 'We drove at speed up the half-mile driveway in a convoy of 15 vehicles. And let's just say, we didn't knock politely on the door. It was smashed down.

Bizarro Earth

Statue of Frederick Douglass torn down in Rochester, NY

Frederick Douglass
© Library Of Congress/Getty Images
A statue of abolitionist legend Frederick Douglass was torn down overnight over the Fourth of July holiday in Rochester, New York, local media reported.

WXXI News reported:
Rochester Police are investigating damage done to a statue of Frederick Douglass in Maplewood Park. It happened over the weekend, and police say that the statue was torn off its base, and left about 50 feet from its pedestal. The statue had been placed over the fence to Genesee River gorge and was leaning against the fence.
Police say in addition to the damage at the bottom of the statue, one of the fingers on the left hand of the statue was damaged. Aside from that damage, there was no graffiti on the statue or in the surrounding park. The statue has been removed for repairs.


'Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times' slogan now illegal in Hong Kong for being 'pro-independence, secessionist, subversive'

liberate hong kong
© KH/United Social Press
The Hong Kong government has declared that protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times," is pro-independence, secessionist and subversive, and thus criminalised under the newly-enacted national security law.

In a statement released on Thursday night, the government claimed that the popular slogan among pro-democracy demonstrators is a call for Hong Kong independence. The authorities claimed that the wording also has the connotation of separating the HKSAR from the People's Republic of China (PRC), changing the legal status of the SAR or subverting the state power, it said.

"The HKSAR government strongly condemns any acts which challenge the sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity of the People's Republic of China. The [national security law] prohibits secession, subversion of state power and other acts and activities which endanger national security. The HKSAR government calls upon members of the public not to defy the law," the statement read.

The official remark came a day after 10 people were arrested for violating the national security law at a protest on the 23rd anniversary of the city's handover to China. Some arrested persons possessed and displayed flags, banners and printed materials that featured slogans such as "Hong Kong independence" and "One nation, one Hong Kong."

Comment: On the same day as the announcement, police delivered warnings to local politicians against displaying the slogan:
Group members, Lam Chun and Ng Kin-wai - both candidates in the pro-democracy camp's primary legislative elections - told reporters police had asked their volunteers to sign a form admitting to having hung such banners.

Lam said no publicity materials were confiscated and no one was arrested as police only gave a verbal warning: "'Hong Kong independence' has always been a forbidden phrase. We were clear on this bottom line. But now, even 'Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times' is banned. The government has interpreted the law. But the courts are supposed to hand down the judgement. [The government] has a biased understanding of the slogan."

The group chanted the slogan several times before answering reporters' questions.

Police also gave a warning to another primary election candidate, Wong Ji-yuet. The activist wrote on Facebook that several officers told her that some of her words were "sensitive."

She asked them to clarify which phrases they were referring to and whether they had any specific requests. The officer did not respond and instead told her to keep her voice down, according to footage she shared online.

On Saturday afternoon, police entered Sha Tin District Councillor Leticia Wong's office as it opened, according to her Facebook live-stream. An officer was filmed saying the black flag in her office - containing the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times" - intended to secede from and subvert the state.

The district councillor later asked the officer if she was using her power under the national security law to enter her office without a warrant. The officer replied saying Wong's staff had invited the police in - a claim which they denied.
Some Hongkongers staged a silent "blank placard" protest in a mall today in response. Police entered, stating that the protesters were potentially in breach of the national security law and arrested 8 (three men and five women aged between 17 and 68).

hong kong mall
© Guardians of Hong Kong, screenshot
The blank placard first displayed by a young Hong Kong woman on July 1st. She was inspired by the following Soviet joke. Hongkonger Michelle Ng writes:
Her gesture, she told a reporter, was inspired by a joke she once heard about the Soviet Union: someone begins to distribute pamphlets at the Red Square; a policemen accosts her, only to discover she is handing out blank papers. The policeman arrests her all the same. "You mean you think I didn't know what you wanted to say?" he bellows at her.

I had to reach back a decade to find an indictment of Beijing as telling as that of the girl's blank placard. In 2010, a full five years after dissident writer Liu Binyan (刘宾雁) had died in exile, the Chinese government finally granted his family permission to bury his ashes in Beijing. It didn't let them carve the epitaph Liu had hoped to put on his gravestone, though. It was supposed to have read: "Here lies a Chinese who did what he ought to have done, and said what he ought to have said." (长眠于此的这个中国人,曾做了他应该做的事, 说了他应该说的话).

Ironically, by refusing to allow Liu's epitaph to appear on his gravestone, the Chinese Communist Party only drew attention to it. I, for one, doubt if I would have remembered the epitaph word for word had it not been for the ban.

Bizarro Earth

White supremacy, or harmless gesture? Oregon police say cop accused of racist hand signal was simply checking protester was OK

Oregon State Police okay
An Oregon trooper was accused of dog whistling a counter-protester at a Black Lives Matter event in Salem, but state police said it was just an innocent OK gesture. 4Chan pranksters who started the hand sign confusion may rejoice.

The Oregon State Police (OSP) said their investigation into a viral video allegedly showing a white power gesture shown by an officer to an opponent of BLM demonstrators has revealed no wrongdoing.

Footage from the anti-racism protest in Salem on Saturday shows cops on the scene tasked with separating BLM demonstrators from groups of counter-protesters. The video shows one of the officers approaching a counter-protester and making an 'OK' sign. The man responded by patting the trooper on the shoulder.

Comment: A degenerate activist pushes an older man to the ground, and fellow degenerates turn this incident inside out by trying to make a concerned police officer into a representation of hate.

Bad Guys

Hong Kong police handed power to do warrantless searches, freeze assets, intercept comms, control internet - WhatsApp, Telegram refuse to share data

hong kong police
© Kevin Cheng/United Social Press
People detained by police on July 1, 2020.
Hong Kong police will be authorised to conduct searches at private properties without a warrant, restrict suspects' movements, freeze their assets, intercept communications and require internet service providers to remove information, as the city's leader handed more powers to the force for implementing the new national security law.

On Monday night, the government gazetted the details of Article 43 of the controversial legislation, which criminalises secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference. It came after the first meeting of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR, chaired by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

According to the latest legal document, an officer of - or above - the rank of assistant commissioner can authorise officers to enter premises without a warrant under "urgent" situations to search for evidence. Police can also apply for a warrant to demand suspected violators of the national security law to surrender their travel documents to restrict them from leaving the territory.

The secretary for security may issue a written notice to freeze assets if they have "reasonable grounds" to suspect the property is related to an offence endangering national security. Additionally, the secretary for justice may apply for a restraining order or charging order to the Court of First Instance in order to confiscate or forfeit such property.

Comment: See also: