#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: Robert Driver, 54, of Bloomfield Avenue, Wallsend, pleaded guilty to one charge of assault of a child by penetration and three charges of rape at Newcastle Crown Court on 20 November 2020:
‘Rapist jailed for eight-year campaign of abuse and three charges of rape – two of these charges accounted for over 100 separate rapes between them and he has been sentenced to 17 years and 2 months in prison and given a sexual harm prevention order for life’
19 February 2021:
Debbie Breen is a District Crown Prosecutor in the rape and serious sexual offences team in CPS North East said: “Robert Driver preyed on a vulnerable girl, grooming her from an early age before subjecting her to a lengthy campaign of sexual abuse: “ The effect of Driver’s actions on his victim has been significant and she is understandably deeply traumatised by his abuse: “ The CPS worked closely with Northumbria Police to build a robust case against Robert Driver, leaving him little option but to plead guilty to charges reflecting the scale of his offending: “ Our specialist team is committed to tackling rape and serious sexual violence offences like this and will continue to do so wherever the legal test is met.”
More information on how prosecutors and Police join forces in the North East to reduce delays in charging decisions for victims of rape and serious sexual offences can be found here
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: The villagers had found that people were frequently falling ill and dying during the past few months. The villagers then consulted one Mathura Topno, a priest and healer who resides in the same village: On February 23, at the gram sabha, Mathura Topno gave the names of the family members, saying they were the source of “evil”.
Jharkhand: ‘Five members of a family, including a five-year-old child axed to death by villagers over ‘black magic’ suspicions: In a barbaric incident, five members of a family, including a five-year-old kid was axed to death by their relatives on suspicion of practising black magic, reports Times of India’
According to the reports, the incident occurred on Tuesday night at Kuruhatu-Amtoli under Kamdara Police Station in Gumla, Jharkhand. However, the incident came to light only on Friday. The investigation into the matter is being conducted by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
4 March, 2021Toys of the killed 5-year kid lying in the ground (Photo courtesy- Times of India)
On the next day, a villager found the dead body of 55-year-old Josephina Topno outside her mud house: Inside the house, the dead body of her husband, Nikodim was lying on a cot. In the next room, three more bodies of her 35-year-old son Vincent, their daughter-in-law Silvanti, 30, and five-year-old grandson Albin were found:
Reportedly, the family had been hacked to death with axes at night after the Mathura Topno had given the names. “It was all done in 3 minutes,” said Salim Topno, an accused in the case:
Villagers consumed alcohol, killed the family on suspicion of carrying witchcraft, says police
Gumla SP Hrudeep P Janardhanan said, “After examining the evidence closely and considering all aspects, it was revealed to be a case of witch-hunting. During investigations, it was also found that after a few instances of death and sickness, the villagers concluded that it was a repercussion of witchcraft being practised by the couple”
The police officer said that villagers had organised a meeting at a football ground on Tuesday morning, where they decided to kill the family as they thought they were the only reason behind the people’s sufferings: He added that eight villagers assembled near the house of the victims on Tuesday night after consuming alcohol and killed Nikodine and his wife Josephina to death with sharp objects. After that, they killed the rest of the family to remove the eyewitnesses:
Speaking to TOI, Birendra Surin, Mukhiapati of Sarita panchayat, under which the village lies, said, “The villagers believed Sarna (the presiding animist deity) had been angered”. Another man said claimed, “We knew some action would be taken. But we didn’t know they would be killed”
Most families in the village practise animism, seven follow Christianity, while some families follow Hinduism. The 30-year-old nephew of the deceased Amrit Topno is also one of the accused in the case. Amrit is among eight who have been arrested so far.
Along with him, Soma (25), Sunil (30), Philip (55), Phirangi (45), Sawan (34), Daniel (40) and Salim (25) have been arrested. An accused – Salim was arrested seven years back for killing two women by branding them as witches. He had tied their bodies to a bike, dragged them to the railway tracks and had left the corpses there. The arrested persons have confessed to the crime, and the weapons used in the crime also have been recovered:
A total of 13 FIRs have been filed under relevant sections of IPC at Kamdara Police Station: The police are identifying others involved in the crime, the SP said. Apart from Daniel and Philip, all the other accused are distant relatives of one another: They have all been charged with murder, rioting, unlawful assembly and criminal conspiracy:
#AceFinanceReport – Mar.04: The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — known in shorthand as FinCEN — is underfunded and overstretched in its role as a leading player in the global effort to catch money launderers and other sophisticated financial criminals who use shell companies, cryptocurrencies and other tools to hide their activities, the nonprofit anti-corruption group Global Financial Integrity says:
‘Major reforms needed at ‘struggling’ US agency that leads dirty money fight, report says to keep from falling further behind in the battle against criminal money and terrorism financing, the United States must remake the federal agency at the center of the fight, according to a new report that draws on the views of top anti-money laundering experts’
By Michael Hudson and Ben HallmanMarch 1, 2021The U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.
“It is an agency that is struggling … to meet the nation’s emerging money laundering challenges of the coming decade and beyond,” the report says. But it adds that the U.S. government “should not see these realities as acceptable and impervious to change.”
The report urges the government to boost FinCEN’s funding and to embrace fundamental changes in how the agency operates. It proposes, for example, that FinCEN launch a “Manhattan Project” to develop new ways to use data and cutting-edge technology to fight financial crime.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has estimated that authorities detect less than 1% of the world’s dirty money. The Global Financial Integrity report released Monday notes that that estimate is a decade old, but says “there is little evidence to suggest” that the effectiveness of anti-money laundering efforts have substantially improved since then.
FinCEN is well-positioned to crack down on criminal money flows, because American law requires banks and other financial firms with operations in the U.S. to file “suspicious activity reports” whenever they spot transactions that have the hallmarks of illicit activity.
But the agency receives more than 2 million of these alerts each year. That number has zoomed upward over the past decade and FinCEN’s staffing, budgets and technology have failed to keep pace. Many suspicious activity reports simply go uninvestigated or even unread.
At FinCEN, the Global Financial Integrity report says, “innovation is limited and morale is poor.” The report adds that there is “general frustration” among anti-money laundering experts that “the agency’s approach has changed little over the years to the detriment of its ability to fight money laundering or to bolster national security.”
Reinventing FinCEN for 2021 and beyond
Tom Cardamone, the anti-corruption group’s chief executive, said in an interview with ICIJ that there is consensus among policy makers that money laundering is a key national security issue. This includes President Joe Biden. As a candidate last spring, Biden promised he would “lead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system, go after illicit tax havens, seize stolen assets, and make it more difficult for leaders who steal from their people to hide behind anonymous front companies.”
Cardamone’s organization brought together 19 anti-money laundering experts from government, the financial industry and academia in late 2020 to discuss ideas for transforming FinCEN and generally bolstering U.S. efforts to combat money laundering.
The resulting report recommends half a dozen strategic changes, including a “Manhattan Project” to reinvent FinCEN’s use of technology. A public-private partnership that draws on “some of the best minds in the country” should power this effort, which would include setting up a new data center so that the agency can “keep pace with quickly-evolving money laundering techniques,” the report says.
The group also urges the government to give FinCEN’s director a seat on the National Security Council’s deputies committee and create a “strategic analysis team” within FinCEN that would “examine emerging and long-term trends in money laundering methods and computer technologies to counter those threats.”
The report calls for “significantly more funding” and an expanded workforce to better prepare FinCEN “for a new generation of threats.” It notes that since 2015, despite a consistently growing workload, the agency’s budget increased by just 3% in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Cardamone said the report “is not meant to be a cudgel to beat up on FinCEN.” Instead, he said, it’s a call to action to push for better resources and better strategies that will help FinCEN, law enforcement agencies and banks step up efforts to staunch the flow of dirty money around the world.
In September — after BuzzFeed, ICIJ and other media partners informed U.S. Treasury officials of the FinCEN Files investigation’s findings — FinCEN announced it was seeking recommendations on new regulations that would help the agency “address the evolving threats of illicit finance.”
In December Congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act, which requires many U.S. companies to report their true owners to FinCEN, with the aim of discouraging the abuse of anonymous shell companies. The legislation also provided for a modest $10 million bump in FinCEN’s annual budget allocation, which was $126 million in the budget year ending September 2020.
The panel of experts who informed Global Financial Integrity’s report didn’t take a position on what FinCEN’s budget should be, but did agree that its current funding level is “far too low to provide the staff, skills and technologies needed for today’s challenges let alone those of the 2030s.”
#AceSecurityReport- Mar.04: A snapshot of the 2020 mobile threat landscape reveals major shifts toward adware and threats to online banks:
‘Mobile Adware Booms, Online Banks Become Prime Target for Attacks: Over the past 12 months, incidents of adware nearly tripled. And, overall in 2020 researchers saw a slight drop in the number of mobile cyberattacks, according to a report released Monday by Kaspersky’
In its’ Mobile Malware Evolution 2020, Kaspersky documents the current mobile threat landscape and identifies 2021 mobile security trends. It found that while mobile threats have dipped slightly over the past year, criminals have focused on the quality of mobile attacks versus mass infections.
“We saw a decrease in the number of attacks in the first half of the year, which can be attributed to the confusion of the first months of the pandemic,” wrote Victor Chebyshev, a mobile security researcher at Kaspersky and author of the report. “The attackers had other things to worry about [and] were back at it in the second half.”
What Are the Biggest Mobile Threats?
Leading mobile threat types in 2020 is adware, accounting for 57 percent of attacks. Risk tools came in second, representing 21 percent of attacks. Trojan droppers and mobile trojans each represented 4.5 percent of attacks and SMS-based trojans represented 4 percent of actual mobile criminal activity.
Risk tools, as Kaspersky calls them, are potentially dangerous or unwanted programs that are not inherently malicious, but are used to hide files or terminate applications and could be used with malicious intent.
Each of aforementioned threats, save adware, saw steep declines in attack occurrences. Compared to 2019, adware attacks against mobile users grew from representing 22 percent of attacks to 57 percent of all types of mobile threats.
The Most Popular Adware in 2020?
Leading adware families included Ewind (representing 65 percent of adware samples found) followed by FakeAdBlocker (representing 15 percent of samples) and trailed by HiddenAd (accounting for 10 percent of samples).
How did Ewind Adware Becomes to Potent?
Researchers credit the success of Ewind with the nearly 2 million Ewind.kp Android installer packages bundled successfully within legitimate applications, such as icons and resource files. These seemingly innocuous downloads, Chebyshev wrote, are readily available at seemingly trustworthy third-part Android application download sites.
What Mobile Malware Did Apple’s iOS Face?
Unlike Android handsets, Apple’s closed hardware and software ecosystem posed unique challenges for criminals, however it didn’t deter them completely.
Topping threats to Apple’s smattering of mobile devices – including its iPhone and iPad lines – are drive-by downloads abusing the company’s Safari browser rendering engine called WebKit, Kaspersky said.
“The payload was the LightSpy trojan whose objective was to extract personal information from a mobile device, including correspondence from instant messaging apps and browser data, take screenshots, and compile a list of nearby Wi-Fi networks,” he wrote.
The iOS malware LightSpy has a modular design. “One of the modules discovered was a network scanner that collected information about nearby devices including their MAC addresses and manufacturer names. TrendMicro said LightSpy distribution took advantage of news portals, such as COVID-19 update sites,” according to the report.
What’s the Most Common Android Trojans in 2020?
Popular malware families targeting the Android operating system in 2020 were banking trojans GINP, Cebruser, Ghimob and Cookiethief.
“The trojan Ghimob was one of 2020’s most exciting discoveries,” according to the Kaspersky report. “It stole credentials for various financial systems including online banking applications and cryptocurrency wallets in Brazil.”
The trojan was rudimentary, but effective, and abused the Android Accessibility feature with a common mobile overlay scheme.
“Whenever the user tried to access the Ghimob removal menu, the trojan immediately opened the home screen to protect itself from being uninstalled,” according to the report.
As for Cookiethief malware, researchers said the trojan targeted mobile cookies, which store unique identifiers of web sessions and hence can be used for authorization. “For example, an attacker could log in to a victim’s Facebook account and post a phishing link or spread spam. Typically, cookies on a mobile device are stored in a secure location and are inaccessible to applications, even malicious ones. To circumvent the restriction, Cookiethief tried to get root privileges on the device with the help of an exploit, before it began its malicious activities,” the researcher wrote.
There was Significant Growth in Mobile Financial Threats in 2020.
“We detected 156,710 installation packages for mobile banking Trojans in 2020, which is twice the previous year’s figure and comparable to 2018,” Kaspersky wrote.
Top banking Trojans were Agent (72 percent of infections) followed by a long list of banking Trojans representing single-digit infections including Wroba, Rotexy and Anubis.
Interest in targeting financial institutions is tied to the pandemic, researchers said. “The inability to visit a bank branch forced customers to switch to mobile and online banking, and banks, to consider stepping up the development of those services,” they wrote.
On the Bright Side: Incidents of Mobile Ransomware Plummet
“Overall, the decrease in ransomware can be associated with the assumption that attackers have been converting from ransomware to bankers or combining the features of the two. Current versions of Android prevent applications from locking the screen, so even successful ransomware infection is useless,” researchers noted.
How Do Adware and Malware Criminal Gangs Work Together?
It is unclear how new the trend is, but the Kaspersky report offered insights into the seldom-described symbiotic relationship between adware pushers and those behind malware infections.
“Adware creators are interested in obstructing the removal of their products from a mobile device. They typically work with malware developers to achieve this. An example of a partnership like that is the use of various trojan botnets: we saw a number of these cases in 2020,” the report stated.
The mutually beneficial relationship starts with bots infecting mobile devices.
“As soon as the owners of the botnet and their [criminal] customers come to an agreement, the bot receives a command to download, install and run a payload, in this case, adware. If the victim is annoyed by the unsolicited advertising and removes the source, the bot will simply repeat the steps,” the report outlines.
Those infections can sometime also lead to “elevate access privileges on the device, placing adware in the system area and making the user unable to remove them without outside help,” they said.
How Android Gear Comes Pre-Installed with Malware?
Another example of the partnership between less-than-savory actors is a scheme called “preinstalls”. This is when the phone’s maker preloads an adware application or a component with the firmware.
“As a result, the device hits the shelves already infected. This is not a supply chain attack, but a premeditated step on the part of the manufacturer for which it receives extra profits,” Kaspersky explains.
Researchers explain this is a particularly difficult, if not impossible, infection to inoculate.
“[N]o security solution is yet capable of reading an OS system partition to check if the device is infected. Even if detection is successful, the user is left alone with the threat, without a possibility of removing the malware quickly or easily, as Android system partitions are write protected. This vector of spreading persistent threats is likely to become increasingly popular in the absence of new effective exploits for popular Android versions,” it said.Write a comment
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: The metric we pay the most attention to is the hours contributed back to the mission. Our highly skilled workforce can use their talents in more strategic, value-added activities and address more complex work they will now have the time to complete,” said Frank Wood, RPA program manager:
Pentagon’s Logistics Agency Utilizes Software Bots to Improve Accuracy, Efficiency as the Defence Logistics Agency is improving accuracy, cycle time and productivity in supply chain management practices through robotic process automation, which uses software bots to execute tasks and interact with systems.
Since 2018, DLA has incorporated bots into 109 processes with 86 needing no human interaction. RPA bots support DLA acquisition’s post award requests process by identifying COVID-19 PARs, collecting supplier notes and comments, and reporting them to contracting officials for review and subsequent action. Bots are also used to redact sensitive information from Freedom of Information Office requests and in inventory management:
Another bot is used by DLA information operations’ equipment management solutions team as it processes lease and purchase requests for more than 53,000 devices like printers and scanners used by DLA employees and military and federal customers. Errors such as lack of funding and contractual issues are often reflected during monthly billing transactions, resulting in missing bills that must be corrected by EMS billing staff, said Terra Nguyen, EMS division chief.
“Our personnel will research any missing billing that occurs due to errors on the debit memo report, which generates sales orders for all assets in our inventory,” she continued. “Once a list of missing bills has been generated, our EMS billing personnel then have to generate a sales order for each missing bill — a long process that can be manually intensive.”
Since implementation in December 2020, the team has billed more than $1.5 million using the bot.
“Thanks to the integration of the bot, our EMS billing specialists have additional time to communicate with customers, research other billing issues and concentrate on additional work-related tasking,” Nguyen said.
RPA also makes the agency more audit-ready by reducing errors and maintaining measurable, documented processes.
“The return on investment for DLA comes not only in hours, but in readiness and accountability to the Department of Defense and taxpayers,” Wood said.
The enterprise RPA team has requests for 27 additional automations. Process or business owners wanting to integrate bots into their functional areas must first quantify potential cost, savings and workload restructuring. The data is used by DLA’s RPA steering committee, made up of leaders from across the agency, to prioritize resources and projects. New automations take about 8 weeks to implement after approval.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: The interdiction resulted from multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs, and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF):
‘Coast Guard transfers 3 smugglers, over $5.6 million in seized cocaine to federal agents in Puerto Rico, following interdiction near the U.S. Virgin Islands: The suspected smugglers are 3 males, one Venezuelan and two Dominican Republic nationals, who now face criminal charges by Department of Justice prosecution partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico’
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 03/03/2021 09:59 AM ESTNews Release
Editor’s Note: Click on photos to download high resolution version.
Coast Guard transfers 3 smugglers, over $5.6 million in seized cocaine to federal agents in Puerto Rico, following interdiction near the U.S. Virgin Islands
“This interdiction was the result of great teamwork from beginning to end with our interagency partners.” said Lt. Peter Kelly, Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon commanding officer. “I am extremely proud of the execution of the Richard Dixon crew in what was not an easy mission, and we are pleased to have kept such a large amount of cocaine from reaching U.S. streets.”
The bust occurred during the afternoon of Feb. 23, 2021, after the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch maritime patrol aircraft detected a suspicious go-fast vessel in international waters southeast of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Dixon diverted to interdict the go-fast vessel with the assistance of the cutter’s small boat. Following the interdiction, the Cutter Richard Dixon’s boarding team located and seized over 200 kilograms of cocaine.
The crew of the cutter Richard Dixon embarked the three men and seized contraband from the go-fast vessel, and later transferred them aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez for transport and offload in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where CCSF federal agents received custody.
Cutters Richard Dixon and Heriberto Hernandez are 154-foot fast response cutters homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF) is a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force group operating in the District of Puerto Rico focusing on Caribbean and South American-based Transnational Criminal Organizations involved in the maritime and air smuggling shipments of narcotics from Puerto Rico to the Continental U.S. and in the laundering of drug proceeds using bulk cash smuggling and sophisticated laundering activities. CCSF signatory agencies include the DEA, HSI, FBI, CGIS, USMS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: U.S. law gives big tech a free pass to provide platforms to terrorist groups and dictators,” Barr, R-Ky., told Fox News. “Social media companies should not provide a vehicle for terrorist groups like ISIS to raise money or for dictators like the Ayatollah of Iran to spread propaganda.”
‘No social media accounts for terrorists’: House GOP pushes to block sanctioned foreign leaders from platforms: The legislation, led by GOP Reps. Andy Barr, Jim Banks, and Joe Wilson, and cosponsored by 40 other members of the House Republican Study Committee, is titled the “No Social Media Accounts for Terrorists or State Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2021.”
The social media platforms include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube
Under current U.S. sanctions law, the president of the United States does not have the authority to require social media platforms to adhere to U.S. sanctions laws on terrorists due to the International Economic Emergency Powers Act of 1976—specifically the “Berman Amendments” passed in 1988 and 1994—which prohibit the president from even indirectly regulating or prohibiting anything to do with the free flow of informational services.
Under the amendments, the president of the United States “does not include the authority to regulate or prohibit, directly or indirectly- (1) any postal, telegraphic, telephonic, or other personal communication, which does not involve a transfer of anything of value.”
The amendment also does not give the president authority to regulate or prohibit “the importation from any country, or the exportation to any country, whether commercial or otherwise, regardless of format or medium of transmission, of any information or informational materials, including but not limited to, publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, microfilms, microfiche, tapes, compact disks, CD ROMs, artworks, and news wire feeds.”
The Republicans argued that the Berman Amendments were passed before the modern age of the internet and before social media existed, and said they have been used by Big Tech and others to argue that social media companies can provide services to terrorists.
Fox News exclusively obtained a copy of the new legislation, which would clarify the existing sanctions law by providing the president with authority to sanction the “provision of services,” including the provision and maintenance of accounts, by social media platforms to foreign individuals or entities sanctioned for terrorism, and senior officials of state sponsors of terrorism.
The social media platforms include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
“Economic sanctions prohibiting the provision of services to individuals and entities sanctioned for terrorism should apply to social media platforms, while still supporting the free flow of information and maintaining the important principle that information should remain free of sanctions,” the legislation states.
A congressional aide explained to Fox News that banks and U.S. insurance companies are not allowed to provide accounts to sanctioned individuals or entities, but due to the current loophole in sanctions law, social media companies are allowed to provide the accounts because it is related to information.
The aide said the legislation seeks to “require the president to implement regulation that will treat social media platforms just like the bank and insurance companies—they cannot provide a service to a sanctioned individual or entity.”
The legislation states that social media platforms “make a profit on accounts provided and maintained to individuals and entities sanctioned for terrorism through the sale of advertisements which are viewed by such sanctioned individuals through their accounts.”
But the lawmakers maintained the importance of the free flow of information, saying explicitly in the legislation that the Treasury Department “should encourage the free flow of information in Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, and other countries controlled by authoritarian regimes in order to counter such regimes’ repression of their peoples.”
The legislation also urges the Treasury Department to “ensure that consumer communications technologies, as well as tools to circumvent government censorship, are available to civil society and democratic activists in such countries.”
In the legislation, the lawmakers point to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been a specially designated global terrorist by the Treasury Department, and “the leader of the world’s leading State Sponsor of Terrorism,” saying that Khamenei has “multiple social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram.”
“The Supreme Leader has used his accounts to threaten violence against Americans, support the destruction of the State of Israel, promote conspiracy theories and disinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines and incite anti-Semitism on a number of occasions,” the legislation states.
“The Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, a senior official of a State Sponsor of Terrorism, has a number of social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms,” the legislation states, noting that last month, he tweeted “an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Israel was plotting attacks on Americans in Iraq.”
“The President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, responsible for the brutal killing of half a million of his own people, and the President of a State Sponsor of Terrorism, has multiple social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram,” the bill reads. “He has used his accounts on social media to whitewash and promote his regime, and promote hatred against the United States and Israel.”
The legislation goes on to point to the President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel, who “heads a regime responsible for multiple violations of human rights, and which is a State Sponsor of Terrorism,” and says he has “an account on Twitter representing the official Cuban Presidency,” which they claim he uses to “promote global communism, anti-Americanism, and whitewash the Cuban regime’s human rights abuses.”
“Terrorist organizations and entities sanctioned for terrorism under Executive Order 13224, including the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Hamas, and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, have a number of social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube,” the legislation states.
Republican Study Committee Chair Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., said because of “outdated sanctions laws, social media platforms are able to ban President Trump and other conservatives but let the Iranian Supreme Leader and President Bashar Assad of Syria continue having accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.”
“Thanks to Rep. Barr, we have a bill that would fix this double standard and hold Big Tech accountable to the same sanctions laws other American companies are required to follow,” Banks said.
Wilson, R-S.C., another co-sponsor, said that under current law, “social media platforms can provide services to terrorists and rogue regimes sponsoring terrorism with American blood on their hands.”
“The Supreme Leader of Iran, the President of Cuba, and criminal Bashar al-Assad all have social media accounts on multiple platforms hosted by American companies,” Wilson continued. “This is unacceptable which is why I cosponsored this important conservative initiative with over 40 of my colleagues in the Republican Study Committee to hold Big Tech accountable to the same sanctions laws other companies are required to follow.”
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on the legislation.
Meanwhile, if the legislation is enacted, the congressional aide told Fox News that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would not be a shield for social media companies.
Republicans have questioned whether social media giants should still be afforded liability protections under Section 230 — a rule that shields social media companies from being held liable for content on their platforms while allowing them to moderate that content.
“When we’re talking about sanctions, we’re talking about criminal penalties—knowing and willful violations,” the aide said. “If this was enacted, 230 would not be a shield for the activity of social media companies.”
The aide said that the protections social media companies have from the Berman Amendments “are even worse than 230.”
“They can hide behind the fact they are related to information, and are immune from any presidential policy making or regulatory policy making that would reach them in terms of sanctions law,” the aide said.
A source familiar told Fox News Twitter has examined the issue closely in consultation with outside counsel. The source told Fox News that they understand Twitter is currently in compliance with sanctions regulations.
Facebook did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. Twitter declined to comment to Fox News.
Youtube did not comment on the legislation, but according to the company, it removes content from known terrorists or terrorist organizations, and content promoting terrorism from their platform.
Social media platforms have received criticism from Republicans, and international scrutiny for permanently banning former President Trump from the platforms in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Twitter, specifically, has come under fire for removing Trump from the platform indefinitely, claiming his continued use of his account risked incitement of violence, while allowing Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to continue using Twitter, despite his threatening tweets against the U.S. and using the platform to threaten attacks against Israel.
During a Senate hearing in October, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explained Khameni’s tweets did not “violate our terms of service because we considered them ‘saber rattling,’ which is part of the speech of world leaders in concert with other countries.”
“Speech against our own people or a country’s own citizens we believe is different and can cause more immediate harm,” Dorsey added.
Twitter last month, though, told Fox News that Khamenei’s account is not considered verified on the platform.
Twitter told Fox News that the company recognizes Khamenei as “a theocratic leader and religious figurehead” as opposed to a traditional leader of the state.
Broadly pointing to Khamenei’s account, Twitter said “no account is above the Twitter Rules.” Twitter suspended Khamenei from the platform in January, removing his tweet that claimed that the United States’ and other western nations’ coronavirus vaccines were “completely untrustworthy.”
Fox News’ Peter Hasson contributed to this report.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: Joseph D. Jones, 38, of Zion, Illinois, was convicted by a federal jury on one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS in 2019. According to court documents, Jones advocated on social media for violent extremism in support of the terrorist group:
‘Suburban Chicago Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison for Conspiring to Provide Material Support to ISIS: In 2015, Jones began meeting with undercover FBI employees and individuals who, unbeknownst to Jones, were cooperating with law enforcement: During the meetings, Jones discussed his devotion to ISIS and his commitment to ISIS principles’
In 2017: Jones furnished cellular phones to one of the cooperating individuals, believing the phones would be used to detonate explosive devices in ISIS attacks overseas. On April 7, 2017, Jones drove with the cooperating individual to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, with the understanding that the cooperating individual would be traveling to Syria to fight with ISIS:
A co-defendant, Edward Schimenti, 39, of Zion, Illinois, was also convicted of the conspiracy charge, as well as a charge of making false statements to the FBI. U.S. District Judge Andrea R. Wood set sentencing for Schimenti for April 9, 2021 at 12:30 p.m.
U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. for the Northern District of Illinois; Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division; and Special Agent-in-Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI Chicago Field Office made the announcement.
The Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force comprised of numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Alexandra S. Hughes of the Justice Department’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and David Rojas of the Northern District of Illinois prosecuted the case.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: The Drug Enforcement Administration is warning the public of a widespread fraud scheme in which telephone scammers impersonate DEA agents in an attempt to extort money or steal personal identifiable information:
DEA Warning: Scammers Impersonating DEA Agents: A new public service announcement aims to raise awareness that DEA will never phone demanding money or asking for personal information: There are variations in the false narrative, among them, that the target’s name was used to rent a vehicle which was stopped at the border and contained a large quantity of drugs:
The caller then has the target verify their social security number or tells the target their bank account has been compromised. In some cases, the caller threatens the target with arrest for the fictional drug seizure and instructs the person, over the phone, to send money via gift card or wire transfer to pay a “fine” or to assist with the investigation or with resetting the bank account. A portion of an actual scam call was captured by DEA and can be heard here.
Employing more sophisticated tactics, Schemers have spoofed legitimate DEA phone numbers to convince their target that the call is legitimate, or texted photos of what appears to be a legitimate law enforcement credential with a photo. The reported scam tactics continually change but often share many of the same characteristics. Callers use fake names and badge numbers as well as names of well-known DEA officials or police officers in local departments. Additionally, they may:
use an urgent and aggressive tone, refusing to speak to or leave a message with anyone other than their targeted victim;
threaten arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, and, in the case of medical practitioners and pharmacists, revocation of their DEA registration;
demand thousands of dollars via wire transfer or in the form of untraceable gift card numbers the victim is told to provide over the phone;
ask for personal information, such as social security number or date of birth;
reference National Provider Identifier numbers and/or state license numbers when calling a medical practitioner. They also may claim that patients are making accusations against that practitioner.
DEA personnel will never contact members of the public or medical practitioners by telephone to demand money or any other form of payment, will never request personal or sensitive information over the phone, and will only notify people of a legitimate investigation or legal action in person or by official letter. In fact, no legitimate federal law enforcement officer will demand cash or gift cards from a member of the public. You should only give money, gift cards, personally identifiable information, including bank account information, to someone you know.
The best deterrence against these bad actors is awareness and caution. Anyone receiving a call from a person claiming to be with DEA should report the incident to the FBI at www.ic3.gov. The Federal Trade Commission provides recovery steps, shares information with more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies and takes reports at reportfraud.ftc.gov. For any victims who have given personally identifiable information like a social security number to the caller, can learn how to protect against identity theft at www.identitytheft.gov.
Reporting these scam calls will help federal authorities find, arrest, and stop the criminals engaged in this fraud. Impersonating a federal agent is a violation of federal law, punishable by up to three years in prison; aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison plus fines and restitution.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of Bankass, which is near Gorey and Simikanda, blamed the attacks on the same militants who killed eight people in attacks on a Malian military post and a gendarme base last Thursday.
‘Suspected Islamists kill nine civilians in central Mali after two different sets of assailants struck the ethnic Dogon villages of Gorey, Simikanda and Djamnati in Mali’s Mopti region, which has been ravaged in recent years by Islamist and inter-ethnic violence, the officials said according to Reuters’
Islamist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State regularly attack Malian security forces, U.N. peacekeepers and civilians in the area, and they have stoked ethnic conflict between farming communities like the Dogon and Fulani herders.
Guindo and Yacouba Kassogué, the deputy mayor of Doucoumbo, which is near Djamnati, said four people were killed in Gorey, four in Djamnati and one in Simikanda.
“They attacked, set fires and stole cattle,” Kassogué told Reuters.
Mali has been in crisis since Islamist militants seized its desert north in 2012, forcing France to intervene the following year to push them back. But they have regrouped and extended their operations into central Mali and neighbouring countries in West Africa’s Sahel region.
Reuters: Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Giles Elgood
#AceNewsReport – Mar.04: A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing crew, and two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews launched and arrived on scene:
‘ U.S., Canadian, Coast Guards, Royal Canadian Air Force, rescue 31 fishermen from sinking vessel off Nova Scotia: At 7:05 p.m., Tuesday, the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax notified watchstanders at the Coast Guard First District Command Center that the 143-foot vessel, Atlantic Destiny, was disabled with a fire on board, and was taking on water’
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 03/03/2021 07:52 PM ESTNews Release
U.S., Canadian, Coast Guards, Royal Canadian Air Force, rescue 31 fishermen from sinking vessel off Nova Scotia
Editors’ Note: Click on images to download high resolution version.
A Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant helicopter crew from 14 Wing Greenwood, in Nova Scotia, Canada, hoisted six crewmembers from the vessel, and dropped off two search and rescue technicians to assist in dewatering the vessel. A Canadian CC-130 Hercules, also from 14 Wing Greenwood, provided top cover for the operation.
The U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk crews hoisted another 21 fishermen between the two helicopters. All hoisted crewmembers were taken to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, where they were transferred for medial assessment.
The remaining four crewmembers, and the two SAR technicians, ceased dewatering efforts and were transferred to the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Cape Roger shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. The Atlantic Destiny sank to the bottom at 9:36 a.m.
“We have a strong connection with our Canadian partners,” said Capt. Wes Hester, the 1st Coast Guard District chief of response. “We conduct joint training every year with our partners in Greenwood, and our crew’s consistent training, coordinated responses, and international partnership saved 31 lives yesterday. That monumental effort is a testament to the hard work and sacrifice of everyone involved.”
“We were very fortunate to have had the support of the U.S. Coast Guard during this rescue. Their ability to provide such valuable support in the saving of the lives of these fishermen is very much appreciated and demonstrates how important our relationship is in providing search and rescue services to both Canada and the United States.” Maj. Kristin MacDonald, Officer in Charge, Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Halifax.
The weather on scene was 35 mph winds and 26-foot seas.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.03: In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on November 21, 2018, Lomax entered the Northwest Savings Bank, 3407 Liberty Street in Erie and by force, violence and intimidation, took $5,000. On December 28, 2018, Lomax robbed the same Northwest Savings Bank branch and by force, violence and intimidation, took $6,100. Lomax pointed a handgun at the victim teller during the bank robbery on December 28th. When he committed the bank robberies, Lomax was on parole in Pennsylvania for a conviction involving the rape of a child:
‘Erie Man on Parole for Child Rape Admits Committing Two Violent Bank Robberies: Ronald Eugene Lomax, 32, pleaded guilty to three counts before United States District Judge Stephanie L. Haines’
Western District of Pennsylvania:
Judge Haines scheduled sentencing for July 2, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. The law provides for a total sentence of life in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Erie Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Lomax.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.03: Manison Largo, 41, of Church Rock, New Mexico, and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, made an appearance on March 1 in federal court where he is charged with sexually abusing a child younger than 16. Pending trial, Largo will be released to a halfway house when space is available:
‘Largo allegedly sexually abused the victim, who is also an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation: During the course of the alleged abuse, which occurred at Largo’s residence in Church Rock, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation, the victim had not attained the age of 12: The victim was able to borrow a phone and called 911 to report the abuse on or about Feb.02:’
An indictment is only an allegation. A defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Largo faces a minimum of 30 years and up to life in prison.
The FBI investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Police Department. Assistant U.S. Alexander F. Flores is prosecuting the case.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.03: The Iraqi military released a statement saying the attack did not cause significant losses and that security forces had found the launch pad used for the missiles:
“Rockets fired on United States Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq in suspected retaliatory attack after rockets struck Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province at 7:20am local time on Wednesday, US military spokesperson Colonel Wayne Marotto said, adding that investigations were continuing”
Posted 2h ago
It’s not immediately known if there were any casualties.
The US strike along the border had been in response to a spate of rocket attacks that targeted the American presence, including one that killed a coalition contractor from the Philippines outside the Irbil airport.
The Pentagon had said the strike was a “proportionate military response” taken after consulting coalition partners.
Wednesday’s attack comes two days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq, despite deteriorating security in some parts of the country.
The much anticipated trip will include the capital city of Baghdad, southern Iraq and the northern city of Irbil.
US troops in Iraq significantly decreased their presence in the country last year under the Trump administration.
The forces withdrew from several Iraqi based across the country to consolidate chiefly in Ain al-Asad and Baghad.
Frequent rocket attacks targeting the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the US Embassy, during President Donald Trump’s time in office frustrated the administration, leading to threats of embassy closure and escalatory strikes.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.03: The duo worked near the farthest set of existing solar arrays on the station’s left (port) side, known as P6. Glover built a bracket structure and worked with Rubins to attach the bracket and support struts to the mast canister, the base, of one of the P6 solar arrays, known as 2B. One of the bolts did not fully engage on the first attempt, so Rubins used a power drill to back it out and reseat it, then used a ratchet wrench to tighten the bolt, reaching a safe configuration. The bolt likely will need to be secured further before installing one of the new solar arrays that will be delivered to the space station later this year aboard SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission.
Rubins and Glover then moved to begin identical assembly work for the bracket for the second of the P6 solar array pair, known as 4B. They completed the construction of upper support hardware and secured it to the space station’s exterior structure until work can be completed on the next spacewalk on Friday, March 5.
To ensure a sufficient power supply is maintained for NASA’s exploration technology demonstrations for Artemis and beyond as well as utilization and commercialization, NASA is augmenting six of the eight existing power channels of the space station with new solar arrays. The new solar arrays, a larger version of the Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) technology, will be positioned in front of six of the current arrays, ultimately increasing the station’s total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts. The current solar arrays are functioning well but have begun to show signs of degradation, as expected, as they were designed for a 15-year service life.
This was the third career spacewalk for both Rubins and Glover. Rubins has now spent a total of 19 hours and 50 minutes spacewalking. Glover now has spent a total of 19 hours and 20 minutes spacewalking.
Space station crew members have conducted 235 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 61 days, 14 hours, and 11 minutes working outside the station.
During the spacewalk March 5, Rubins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will venture outside the orbiting outpost to complete the installation of the 4B array modification kit and are expected to tackle additional work, including the venting of ammonia from the Early Ammonia System.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.03: Officers located a male adult victim inside of a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest: Witnesses reported that the male victim was seen arguing with an unidentified individual, possibly a female Black: A shot was heard and the victim got back into his vehicle: The woman walked away, heading east on Sunset Boulevard:
‘Hollywood Shooting Leaves One Dead: On March 2, 2021, around 6:25 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department Hollywood officers responded to a call of a shooting at Sunset Boulevard and Orange Drive’
News Release: Tuesday, March 2, 2021:
Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded and transported the victim to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification to next of kin.
Anyone that may have seen or heard anything is asked to call West Bureau Homicide detectives at (213)382-9470. During non-business hours, or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247).
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may also visit www.lapdonline.org, and click on “Anonymous Web Tips” under the Get Involved-Crime Stoppers” menu to submit an online tip: Lastly, tipsters may also download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program:
#AceNewsReport – Mar.03: West Bureau Homicide investigators identified 28-year-old James Lesnau as the killer in this case. Lesnau had been involved with prior family violence and assault of his own family members. He was wanted in connection to those prior crimes.
LAPD Update ……. ‘Man Stabbed to Death On March 1, 2021, Lesnau stabbed the victim to death, held family members against their will, and assaulted two additional family members with a knife: Lesnau fled the location prior to police arrival’
Monday, March 1, 2021
March 2, 2021 Case No: NR21056dm
Booking #6135441 Bail – $3,225,000.00
This case will be presented to the District Attorney for filing consideration on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information should contact West Bureau Homicide investigators at (213) 382-9470.
Los Angeles: Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s West Bureau Homicide are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the suspect responsible for killing a man.On March 1, 2021, around 4:50 a.m., Wilshire Area patrol officers responded to a radio call of an Ambulance Cutting in an apartment in the 4500 block of West Olympic Boulevard. Officers located a male, not conscious, not breathing, stabbed at the location. The suspect fled on foot.
Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded and pronounced the victim dead at scene. Two other individuals suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were treated at scene.
There is no suspect description.
Anyone that may have seen or heard anything is asked to call West Bureau Homicide detectives at (213)382-9470. During non-business hours, or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247).
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may also visit www.lapdonline.org, and click on “Anonymous Web Tips” under the Get Involved-Crime Stoppers” menu to submit an online tip. Lastly, tipsters may also download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.03: Spratt’s son reported to watchstanders that his father last checked in on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. He was reportedly flying from Spruce Creek to Boca Raton and was scheduled to land the same day in a private community that had its own airstrip: “ The decision to suspend a case is never an easy one,” said Lt. Shawn Antonelli, a command duty officer for District Seven. “Our greatest sympathies go out to the Spratt family during this time.”
‘Coast Guard suspends search for missing pilot off Boca Raton after Air Force Rescue Coordination Center personnel alerted District Seven watchstanders Friday at approximately 11:30 a.m., regarding a downed aircraft, described as a Lancair 320, with at least one person aboard approximately 15 miles southeast of Boca Raton’ God Bless 🙏’s’
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 03/02/2021 11:22 AM ESTNews Release
#AceNewsReport – Mar.03: Farrah Forough Farizani, D.O., 57, Hamid Reza Razavi, 60, Elie Hanna Hajjar, 48, and Juan Acuña, 64, all of Houston, made their appearances today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina Bryan:
‘Four Charged in $32 Million Health Care Fraud Scheme: Farizani and Razavi are the medical director and operator, respectively, of Hillcroft Physicians, while Hajjar and Acuña were former unlicensed practitioners there’
The indictment, unsealed today, charges all four with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Farizani, Razavi and Hajjar are also charged with five counts of making false statements relating to health care matters.
The indictment alleges the defendants participated in a health care fraud scheme. They allegedly submitted false and fraudulent claims to Medicaid and Medicare for services that were not provided as billed or were not provided by a licensed, qualified and enrolled provider. Farizani, Razavi, Hajjar, and Acuña allegedly misled patients and staff to believe that Hajjar and Acuña were licensed to practice medicine in Texas.
According to the indictment, Farizani and Razavi directed Hajjar and Acuña to pose as licensed medical professionals. Hajjar and Acuña then allegedly examined, diagnosed, treated, referred and prescribed drugs for patients, many of whom were non-English speaking Medicaid clients unfamiliar with the American medical system. Farizani and Razavi allegedly directed Hillcroft Physicians’ billing staff to submit false claims to Medicaid and Medicare as though Farizani had seen and treated the patients, even when Farizani was out of the country.
The indictment alleges that the defendants submitted or caused the submission of approximately $31 million in claims to Medicaid for which Medicaid paid approximately $12.2 million. They also submitted approximately $600,000 in claims to Medicare for which Medicare paid approximately $250,000.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery of the Southern District of Texas; Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI’s Houston Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Miranda Bennett of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Dallas Region; and Stormy Kelly of the Texas Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) made the announcement.
The FBI, HHS-OIG and Texas Attorney General’s MFCU conducted the investigation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations assisted with the arrests.
Trial Attorney Devon Helfmeyer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Olson of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.
The Fraud Section leads the Health Care Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Health Care Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for nearly $19 billion. In addition, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.