Review Category : National News

Authorities Investigate Russian Cyberattack on “The New York Times”

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S. officials say they are investigating a series of cyberattacks against The New York Times‘ Moscow bureau in what authorities suspect is a continuing onslaught of sneak attacks by Russia.

None of the Times’ internal systems were compromised, the paper said.

“We are constantly monitoring our systems with the latest available intelligence and tools,” a Times spokesman said. “We have seen no evidence that any of our internal systems, including our systems in the Moscow bureau, have been breached or compromised.”

Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former counterterrorism adviser to the White House, said, “Russian intelligence wants to know what the New York Times is going to write before it writes it.”

“They hack into political parties, into government agencies, into newspapers, to find out what they know about Russia, to find out what they’re thinking about Russia, and to find out who their sources are in Russia,” he said.

Officials told ABC News that the attacks came from the same Russian hackers who compromised the computers at the Democratic National Committee, and leaked over 19,000 emails among DNC party officials. The hacked emails showed how supposedly neutral party officials tried to undercut the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and revealed sensitive emails and voicemail messages about big Democratic donors and the favors they sought.

“There is little doubt in the case of the DNC that it was Russian intelligence related,” said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity. “The telltale signs for the DNC were the IP addresses that were used were previously attributed to Russian attacks.”

The Russian hackers have a long list of successful operations, in both the United States and the international community. In 2015, the German domestic intelligence agency accused Russia of hacking Germany’s parliament.

A few years prior in 2007, Russian hackers were suspected of launching a sustained cyberattack against Estonian organizations, including its Parliament, banks and newspapers after a Soviet war memorial was removed from Estonia’s capital.

That was followed in 2008 with a serious attack on classified systems at the Pentagon and, more recently in the United States, Russian hackers have been suspected of hacking nonclassified systems at the White House.

And in addition to the DNC this summer, Russian hackers also successfully compromised a private communication network for the Open Society Foundation run by billionaire American investor George Soros – internal documents that were subsequently uploaded onto DC Leaks.

Laura Silber, director of public affairs at the Open Society Foundation, confirmed that the emails posted on DC Leaks appeared to be stolen from their organization.

“The hack on our organization may not have been as intrusive as what happened at the DNC, but taken together, these recent events appear to be a part of a larger effort to attack our open society and shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Silber said.

In a forum about what role cybertools should play in the United States at the Aspen Security Forum in July, John Carlin, the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security, issued a warning that a symbolic criminal prosecution of Russia could soon be forthcoming.

“You haven’t seen a public action against Russia,” he said. “But it would be a mistake for them to assume that we are not going to apply this deterrence model when it comes to their action if they continue to intrude.”

The FBI had no comment to ABC News regarding the investigation.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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LAPD Officer Appears to Kick and Punch Man in the Head in Newly Released Video

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — A newly released video of an arrest made in October of 2014 by the Los Angeles Police Department depicts a police officer appearing to kick and punch a black man who seems to be surrendering.

In the three-minute video, several officers apprehend a man, Clinton Alford Jr., who is trying to evade capture. The officers bring him to the ground before another patrol car pulls up and Officer Richard Garcia gets out and runs toward Alford. Garcia appears to kick and elbow Alford Jr., and then appears to deliver several punches to his head, which is resting against the hard pavement. Later, as other officers move several feet away, Garcia appears to pin Alford to the ground by resting his knee along his spine.

The video, which was taken from a closed-caption surveillance camera on an adjacent factory, was used as evidence in the criminal case against Garcia. It was not released to the public until the Los Angeles Times obtained the footage by court action.

According to the Times, the LAPD refused to make the recording public for two years, even after prosecutors agreed to a plea deal that kept Garcia from doing jail time, provided that he “completes community service and donates $500 to a charity by late May of 2017.”

The LAPD has not yet provided a statement to ABC News on the video of Alford’s arrest, but said they will comment.

In a statement provided to the Times, an LAPD spokesman said that Garcia had been relieved of duty without pay, as of March of this year, and must appear before an internal disciplinary committee. The spokesperson told the Times that three other officers seen in the video are no longer with the department.

Peter Bibring, Director of Police Practices with the American Civil Liberties Union of California, told ABC News that the video “so clearly conveys what Garcia did,” which he said had previously been left to police reports.

“Videos like this don’t necessarily come as a surprise to many residents of Los Angeles,” Bibring said, referring to conflicts between the police and the city’s black community.

“What they can effectively do is let people who may not know about this sort of thing,” he said, “what this kind of experience is really like.”

Bibring said that the video calls into question whether the leniency Garcia received from his plea deal is indicative of the legal system “going soft on police officers.”

As the department incorporates body cameras, he said the ACLU is fighting for greater transparency around that footage, which is currently under the authority of the LAPD. He said that restricting public access to that footage “undercuts public trust.”

The footage from the Alford arrest comes from a private security camera.

The release of the Alford video comes on the heels of the release of a video earlier this month, published by ProPublica, appearing to show the last moments in the life of Vachel Howard, a 56-year-old black man who was in custody for driving while intoxicated in 2012 and may have suffered from schizophrenia, according to the publication.

In that video, Howard is in the jailhouse following what police say was a visit to the nurse where he became aggressive. He appears to be surrounded by LAPD officers and placed in a chokehold by Officer Juan Romero. Subsequently, he lies motionless on the floor. Less than an hour later, Howard was pronounced dead, ProPublica said.

A spokesperson for the LAPD declined ABC News’ request for comment on the video of the Howard incident. A police commission which investigated the incident found that the LAPD officer’s lethal use of force in applying the chokehold was “out of policy.”

The commission found that Romero’s “explanation of the unfolding events, the Subject’s resistance and his attempt to bite [him] did not constitute a threat that the officer’s life or the lives of others were in immediate peril,” in their report.

The City of Los Angeles settled with the family for $2.85 million in a wrongful death claim and Romero was suspended for 22 days.

These recent video footage cases have raised references to the Rodney King video from 1991, in which officers of the department appeared to beat King, following a high-speed car chase.

During the King arrest in 1991, a witness, George Holliday, videotaped much of the incident from his balcony and sent the footage to local news station KTLA-TV in Los Angeles.

Subsequently, it became one of the first widely-viewed recordings of police violence involving black residents and played a significant role in inspiring riots in the city a year later, following the acquittal of the officers involved.

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Washington State to Kill Pack of Endangered Gray Wolves

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) — Wildlife officials in Washington state have made the decision to kill an entire pack of endangered gray wolves after several attacks on livestock.

This week, ranchers discovered two calf carcasses in addition to an injured calf, leading to the decision to eliminate the pack, KOMO, an ABC television affiliate in Seattle reported.

The wolves, known as the Profanity Peak wolf pack, have killed or injured six cows and are suspected in the deaths of at least five others since mid-July.

On Aug. 5, Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials culled two members of the pack, in the hopes of preventing any future livestock deaths.

“At that time, we said we would restart this operation if there was another wolf attack, and now we have three,” Donny Martorello, department wolf policy lead, told KOMO. “The department is committed to wolf recovery, but we also have a shared responsibility to protect livestock from repeated depredation by wolves.”

Jim Unsworth, director of Fish and Wildlife, authorized field staff to remove the remaining members of the pack after the two calves were found, according to KOMO.

The Profanity Peak wolf pack is one of 19 known wolf packs in Washington state, KOMO reported.

The pack had at least 11 members, including six adults and five pups earlier this summer.

In 1978, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reclassifed the gray wolf as endangered.

In some areas, the wolves have made a strong comeback, prompting calls for them to be delisted, especially as run-ins with human populations have increased.

Since 2008, Washington’s confirmed wolf population has grown from two wolves in one pack to at least 90 wolves and 19 packs by early 2016, wildlife figures show.

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Teen Accused of Rape Gets Probation; Survivor’s Group Says Judge’s Ruling May Deter Other Victims

iStock/Thinkstock(EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass.) — An 18-year-old accused of sexually assaulting two high school classmates is facing two years of probation despite the district attorney’s office’s recommendation of two years in prison.

David Becker, of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, was charged with two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery, according to court documents, after an April 2 incident in which he was accused of digitally penetrating two girls who were sleeping in a bed after a house party. Becker and the alleged victims, who are not being identified, were all seniors.

On Aug. 15, Becker’s case was ordered continued without a finding for two years by Palmer District Court Judge Thomas Estes.

As a part of his probation, Becker must remain drug- and alcohol-free and not contact the victims, the court documents state. He also has to undergo an evaluation for sex offender treatment, according to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office.

In a continuance without a finding, the court agrees to continue a case without a guilty finding for a certain period, as long as the defendant adheres to the terms of his or her probation. If the probation is successfully completed, the case is dismissed. In this case, if Becker completes his probation, he will not have to register as a sex offender, according to the district attorney’s office.

According to police reports, Becker told investigators that when one of the girls “didn’t protest,” he assumed it was “OK.” Becker denied to police having any physical contact with the other alleged victim.

A clerk for Estes’ office told ABC News he could not comment on his decision to continue the case without a finding.

The Hampden District Attorney’s Office recommended two years of prison time for Becker, a recommendation it considered “appropriate and fair, based on the facts and circumstances of the case,” according to a district attorney’s office spokesman.

Scott Berkowitz, the president of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, was disappointed by the decision.

“It’s really discouraging when everyone in the process does their job and … then you see a sentence like this,” he told ABC News Tuesday.

He said the judge’s decision in this case is probably “discouraging for the victims” and likely “deters other people from reporting their crimes” and “putting themselves through this entire criminal justice process” because they will wonder, “Is it worth it?”

Berkowitz said sexual assault should be taken seriously, even with an 18-year-old.

“I don’t think it would ever occur to a judge or lawyer that after someone [was] convicted of a murder, that they [would] just get probation because they deserve a second chance,” he said. “There would be a universal understanding that there are consequences for committing a crime that bad.”

Becker’s defense attorney, Thomas Rooke, did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but he told The Republican that his client “can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender.”

Becker’s case comes just months following the outrage after former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner, who was found guilty of the assault of an unconscious woman, was given just six months in jail.

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North Carolina Police Kill Deaf Man After Chase

Daniel K. Harris Foundation(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina police shot and killed a deaf man who was the father of a 3-year-old after a traffic stop following a brief chase, according to authorities.

On Aug. 18, police said they tried to stop a car driven by Daniel Kevin Harris for speeding on I-485.

After a brief pursuit the suspect got out of his vehicle and a confrontation took place with officers, during which a trooper fired a shot, police said.

Harris died at the scene.

“At the request of the Highway Patrol, the State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation into the shooting,” the North Carolina Highway Patrol said in a statement. “All questions regarding this investigation should be forwarded to their office.”

The SBI said “details of the encounter are still being investigated” and that the agency is working on getting body and dash-cam footage.

It was not clear if police knew that Harris was deaf at the time of the shooting.

Harris’ brother, Charles, said in a statement posted on Facebook: “my family and I dont understand why it had to happened.”

He said his brother was “really scared” of cops because of publicized police confrontations with unarmed or black people.

“Worst thing is…my brother Daniel is deaf. how he can communicate with polices and able to feel safe and protect himself from polices? My brother is UNARMED and still get shot by police,” Charles Harris wrote in the statement.

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Rare ‘Yellow’ Lobster Spared From Dinner Table at NYC Restaurant

Courtesy Steven Costello(NEW YORK) — A New York City restaurant has “pardoned” a special “yellow” crustacean after discovering that the little lobster was a one in 30 million find.

Ruby the lobster somehow found her way into the biweekly shipment of live lobsters to the downtown restaurant Burger & Lobster.

“We couldn’t help but notice her,” the U.S. director of operations for Burger & Lobster, Steven Costello, told ABC News Tuesday, “and that one of these things was not like the others.”

Costello added of Ruby’s unusual pigmentation: “She is like a ruby-red color. She looks almost like a cooked lobster.”

After poking around online, Costello said they discovered that Ruby was actually categorized as a “yellow” lobster, despite having a more orange-hued exterior.

That’s when they found out that Ruby was a “one in 30 million” lobster, according to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.

Costello said the staff took a liking to Ruby, and he describes her as “healthy, feisty and happy.”

She is currently on display at their restaurant until she’s transferred to her new forever home at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, New York.

Costello added that Ruby’s personality, as well as her looks, make her unique.

“Most lobsters are fairly docile,” Costello said, adding that Ruby is quite “feisty” and probably has to fight off a lot of “male suitors.”

Rare lobsters seem to pull at the heartstrings in unique ways. An especially overweight lobster, Larry, who tipped the scales at at a whopping 15 pounds, was recently spared from the dinner plate at a seafood restaurant in Florida. Unfortunately, Larry the lobster passed away en route to a better life at an aquarium.

Earlier this month, a Cape Cod fisherman caught a bright blue lobster and separated him from the pack of lobsters heading toward the market, hoping to send “Bleu” to a local aquarium.

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Feds Investigate Hack of The New York Times, Suspect Russian Operatives Are to Blame

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Federal authorities are investigating a series of cyberattacks on The New York Times and other U.S. media organizations, and they believe those web-based assaults were “probably” carried out by the same Russian hackers who recently infiltrated Democratic organizations, a source familiar with the probe told ABC News.

The intrusions were discovered in recent months, and it’s unclear exactly why the hackers would have targeted news outlets. Journalists, however, routinely interact with countless officials across the U.S. government as part of their jobs.

ABC News was unable to determine what other news outlets, aside from The New York Times, were hit. CNN first reported the intrusions and subsequent investigation.

For months, the FBI has been investigating what appear to be coordinated cyberattacks on Democratic organizations, with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee being the most damaging so far.

Not only did the hack apparently allow cyber operatives to steal opposition research on Republican nominee Donald Trump, but many suspect it led to the theft of internal messages that showed efforts by DNC officials to undermine Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during the primary season. After those damaging emails were publicly released by WikiLeaks, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down as DNC chairwoman.

The FBI declined to comment for this article.

Asked last month whether Russia might have intentions to undermine the U.S. political process, James Clapper, the nation’s top intelligence official, said Russian officials “believe we’re trying to influence political developments in Russia, we’re trying to affect change, and so their natural response is to retaliate and do unto us as they think we’ve done to them.”

Speaking at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, Clapper said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “paranoid” about the potential for revolutions in Russia, “and of course they see a U.S. conspiracy behind every bush, and ascribe far more impact than we’re actually guilty of.”

Referring to cyber warfare, Clapper said it is not “terribly different than what went on during the heyday of the Cold War,” just with different tools and “a different modality.” And, he said, the U.S. intelligence community is now “at war” with Russia, conducting operations every hour of every day against Russia and other adversaries.

Nevertheless, Clapper said he’s “taken aback a bit by … the hyperventilation over” the hack of the DNC, adding in a sarcastic tone, “I’m shocked somebody did some hacking. That’s never happened before.”

The American people “just need to accept” that cyber threats and computer-based attacks are a major long-term challenge facing the United States, and he said Americans should “not be quite so excitable when we have yet another instance of it.”

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Man Accused of Deadly Georgia Day Care Shooting Found Guilty in Retrial

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — A former General Electric executive charged with murder after confessing to shooting a man outside a day care in 2010 was found guilty Tuesday by jurors in a Georgia courtroom.

Hemy Neuman, an engineer, had admitted to shooting Rusty Sneiderman in cold blood outside of a Dunwoody, Georgia, day care center in 2010. Sneiderman, a father of two, was dropping his 2-year-old son at the day care when he was shot.

Prosecutors say Neuman had a premeditated plan to kill Sneiderman and was having an affair with Sneiderman’s wife, Andrea.

Neuman was convicted of malice murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to a statement released by the District Attorney’s office.

Neuman claimed he was not guilty by reason of insanity. A jury in 2012 found Neuman guilty but mentally ill.

The Georgia Supreme Court overturned that conviction in June, ruling that Neuman’s mental health records should not have been part of the evidence.

In Neuman’s second trial, a psychologist hired by Neuman’s defense told jurors that she does not believe state mental health experts spent enough time with Neuman to properly diagnose him.

One of Neuman’s defense attorneys, Letitia Delan, claimed in court that her client had “undiagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder.”

Neuman’s attorneys also alleged that in the months before the shooting, Neuman, 48, believes he was visited by a demon with the voice of Barry White and an angel with the voice of Olivia Newton-John.

“You will come to the right verdict and that is that Hemy Neuman is not guilty by reason of insanity,” Delan told jurors in court.

Prosecutors argue that Neuman is not delusional but simply a “selfish” murderer.

“He wanted something that someone else had,” Robert James, Dekalb County district attorney, said in court. “He was going to do whatever it took to get it, including that, committing murder.”

Andrea Sneiderman, the victim’s wife, is out on parole after being convicted of perjury for lying under oath and obstruction of justice for lying to the police about the affair.

“Ms. Sneiderman had nothing to do with the murder of her husband,” Sneiderman’s attorney, J. Tom Morgan, told ABC News in a statement. “Mr. Neuman acted alone when he killed Rusty Sneiderman and he should be found guilty of murder and punished for his crime.”

The District Attorney’s Office and Neuman’s defense attorney both declined to comment to ABC News prior to the jury’s verdict.

Neuman will be sentenced later Tuesday.

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Over 2,600 People in Shelters in Louisiana: The Latest on Flood Recovery by the Numbers

File photo. iStock/Thinktsock(BATON ROUGE, La.) — Over 2,600 people remain in shelters in Louisiana as President Obama prepares to visit the southeastern part of the state today, which was devastated by deadly flooding that unexpectedly swept through towns and overpowered neighborhoods.

Twenty-four schools districts were closed at some point as a result of the flooding, according to the Louisiana Department of Education.

Here is the latest on more flood recovery by the numbers, according to Mike Steele of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Number of Houses so Damaged That Residents Are Displaced: 60,646

Number of People in Shelters: 2,634

Number of People Rescued: 30,000

Number of Pets Rescued: More Than 3,300

Number of State Highways Closed: 40

Number of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Registrants: 110,509

Number of FEMA Home Inspections Completed: 3,100

Number of National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Claims Filed: 25,636

Amount of Homeowner Assistance Approved: $55 Million, With $20 Million Distributed

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Federal Court Set to Hear Appeal on Kansas Voter ID Law

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments regarding an effort by the state of Kansas to reinstate rules that require its residents to present proof of U.S. citizenship at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when registering to vote.

The hearing, which will take place in Denver, Colorado, comes as a series of proposed voter ID laws are being considered or contested across the country prior to the presidential election in November. The Kansas law notably left thousands of residents who believed they had registered to vote while obtaining driver’s licenses ineligible to do so, angering civil rights groups.

The controversial law was struck down earlier this year by a U.S. District Court judge in Kansas City.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who sued the state in July, argued that the Kansas law is in conflict with the National Voter Registration Act, a federal law that was enacted to “enhance voting opportunities for every American,” according to the Department of Justice.

In North Carolina last month, federal judges overturned state voter ID laws, ruling that they were formed with “discriminatory intent” toward black voters. State officials then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to maintain the voter identification requirement and 10 days of early voting for the November election.

In Texas this month, a judge agreed to a proposal that will allow citizens without sufficient photo ID to still vote with a regular ballot.

A U.S. appeals court suspended a July 19 ruling by a federal judge that struck down parts of Wisconsin’s voter ID law.

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