#AceNewsReport – July.30: When Berry’s auto dealerships falsified income and down payment information to qualify people for loans they couldn’t afford to pay back, they set people up for failure – including default, repossession, and ruined credit,” said Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “That’s why the FTC sued Berry and his dealerships.”
#AceDailyNews reports on FTC Obtains $450,000 Settlement in Tate’s Auto Group: By reaching an agreement with Richard Berry, the owner and manager of a group of bankrupt auto dealerships in Arizona and New Mexico, to resolve charges that he and the dealerships deceived consumers and falsified information on vehicle financing applications. Many of the affected consumers were members of the Navajo Nation.
The FTC reached an earlier settlement with the four dealerships: Tate’s Auto Center of Winslow, Tate’s Automotive, Tate Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, and Tate’s Auto Center of Gallup. If approved by the district court, the present settlement against Berry, would result in a $450,000 payment to the FTC and conclude the FTC’s case. The settlement also included a stipulated dismissal of relief defendant Linda Tate, which has been entered by the court.
The FTC’s complaint, filed in August 2018, alleged that the defendants falsified consumers’ income and down payment information to get vehicles financed and engaged in unlawful advertising. In an earlier ruling in the case, the judge found that the defendants violated the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Consumer Leasing Act (CLA) by failing to disclose legally required information in their advertisements.
In addition to the $450,000 payment, the proposed settlement prohibits Berry from misrepresenting information in documents associated with a consumer’s purchase, financing, or leasing of a motor vehicle, and misrepresenting the costs or any other material fact related to vehicle financing. The proposed order also requires Berry to provide consumers sufficient time to review and obtain a copy of the relevant vehicle financing documents and prohibits him from violating the TILA and CLA.
The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated order was 5-0. Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued a concurring statement. The proposed order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
NOTE: Stipulated final orders or injunctions, etc. have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
#AceNewsReport – July.30: Barely 48 hours before the arrival in China of one of Biden’s most-trusted diplomats, Beijing has announced its decision to impose counter-sanctions on seven American citizens and entities, including former commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, in retaliation against Washington’s earlier sanctions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong crackdowns….
On July 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State, alongside the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Labor issued an updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory to highlight the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang, given the entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses there and throughout China. This updates the original Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory issued by U.S. government agencies on July 1, 2020.
It is not the first time Washington and Beijing have imposed mutual sanctions, but the latest round marks the first time China has done so using its new anti-foreign sanction law, which was passed in June.
Others affected in Beijing’s “reciprocal counter-sanctions” are the current or former heads of a range of US organisations, including the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Washington-based Hong Kong Democracy Council.
In response to Beijing’s counter sanctions, one of the affected US citizens, HRW’s China director Sophie Richardson tweeted, sarcastically: “thanks, for the extra motivation!” She added in another tweet, in reply to Jo Smith Finley, a British Xinjiang expert who was sanctioned by Beijing in March: “Seriously: so much work to do! And this ain’t about us.”
Since the enactment of the anti-foreign sanctions law last month, Beijing’s decision to impose counter-sanctions has been expected, but the timing of it is indicative of the deteriorating US-China relations. It also comes just less than 48 hours before US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman’s China visit on Sunday.
“Washington has reiterated that Sherman’s visit and talk with the Chinese side will be from ‘a position of strength’, but Beijing may want to remind [the Biden administration] that they are equals,” said Ma Ji, a senior CV Starr lecturer at Peking University’s school of transnational law.
Ma added: “Of course, none of those targeted are in Biden’s inner circle, which means that Beijing still wants to continue the conversation with Washington. But by issuing this list shortly before Sherman’s visit, Beijing clearly intends to reduce her expectations.”
#AceNewsReport – July.30: Disinformation about the vaccines is certainly contributing to their slow uptake in various parts of the U.S. as well as other countries: This disinformation is spreading through a variety of ways: Local communities, family WhatsApp groups, FOX television hosts, and yes, Facebook.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk says EFF REPORT: Disentangling Disinformation: Body bags claiming that “disinformation kills” line the streets today in front of Facebook’s Washington, D.C. headquarters….
A group of protesters, affiliated with “The Real Facebook Oversight Board” (an organization that is, confusingly, not affiliated with Facebook or its Oversight Board), is urging Facebook’s shareholders to ban so-called misinformation “superspreaders”—that is, a specific number of accounts that have been deemed responsible for the majority of disinformation about the #COVID19 vaccines Jillian C. York July. 28, 2021…..Here’s why?
The activists pushing for Facebook to remove these “superspreaders” are not wrong: while Facebook does currently ban some COVID-19 mis- and disinformation, urging the company to enforce its own rules more evenly is a tried-and-true tactic: But while disinformation “superspreaders” are easy to identify based on the sheer amount of information they disseminate, tackling disinformation at a systemic level is not an easy task, and some of the policy proposals we’re seeing have us concerned.
1. Disinformation is not always simple to identify.
In the United States, it was only a few decades ago that the medical community deemed homosexuality a mental illness. It took serious activism and societal debate for the medical community to come to an understanding that it was not. Had Facebook been around—and had we allowed it to be arbiter of truth—that debate might not have flourished.
Here’s a more recent example: There is much debate amongst the contemporary medical community as to the causes of ME/CFS, a chronic illness for which a definitive cause has not been determined—and which, just a few years ago, was thought by many not to be real. The Centers for Disease Control notes this and acknowledges that some healthcare providers may not take the illness seriously. Many sufferers of ME/CFS use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to discuss their illness and find community. If those platforms were to crack down on that discussion, relying on the views of the providers that deny the gravity of the illness, those who suffer from it would suffer more greatly.
2. Tasking an authority with determining disinfo has serious downsides.
As we’ve seen from the first example, there isn’t always agreement between authorities and society as to what is truthful—nor are authorities inherently correct.
In January, German newspaper Handelsblattpublished a report stating that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was not efficacious for older adults, citing an anonymous government source and claiming that the German government’s vaccination scheme was risky.
AstraZeneca denied the claims, and no evidence that the vaccine was ineffective for older adults was procured, but it didn’t matter: Handelsblatt’s reporting set off a series of events that led to AstraZeneca’s reputation in Germany suffering considerably.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that even the CDC itself—the authority tasked with providing information about COVID-19—has gotten a few things wrong, most recently in May when it lifted its recommendation that people wear masks indoors, an event that was followed by a surge in COVID-19 cases. That shift was met with rigorous debate on social media, including from epidemiologists and sociologists—debate that was important for many individuals seeking to understand what was best for their health. Had Facebook relied on the CDC to guide its misinformation policy, that debate may well have been stifled.
3. Enforcing rules around disinformation is not an easy task.
We know that enforcing terms of service and community standards is a difficult task even for the most resourced, even for those with the best of intentions—like, say, a well-respected, well-funded German newspaper. But if a newspaper, with layers of editors, doesn’t always get it right, how can content moderators—who by all accounts are low-wage workers who must moderate a certain amount of content per hour—be expected to do so? And more to the point, how can we expect automated technologies—which already make a staggering amount of errors in moderation—to get it right?
The fact is, moderation is hard at any level and impossible at scale. Certainly, companies could do better when it comes to repeat offenders like the disinformation “superspreaders,” but the majority of content, spread across hundreds of languages and jurisdictions, will be much more difficult to moderate—and as with nearly every category of expression, plenty of good content will get caught in the net.
#AceNewsReport – July.30: Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Palatine, Illinois tenured high school teacher Jeanne Hedgepeth, who was fired by the suburban-Chicago school district where she had worked for 20 years after posting comments on Facebook criticizing the riots, violence, and shootings in Chicago in the aftermath of the May 25, 2020, killing of George Floyd.
Judicial Watch Report: Files Civil Rights Lawsuit for High School Teacher Fired for Facebook Posts Criticising Chicago Riots, Looting, and Violence in the Aftermath of George Floyd Killing
Hedgepeth made the posts on her personal Facebook page while vacationing after the end of the school year, just as some of the most severe violence was occurring: In her posts, Hedgepeth recommended studying Thomas Sowell, whom she described as a “treasure” and a “truth seeker,” and praised political commentator and activist Candice Owens and talk show host Larry Elder. She alleges that the firing violated her First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, seeks damages from the school district, Township High School District 211, and district board members and officials who participated directly in the firing (Hedgepeth v. Britton et al. (Case No. 1:21-cv-03890)).
The lawsuit explains:
In late May and early June 2020, Hedgepeth was vacationing in Florida after the end of the 2019-20 school year when violent street protests, rioting, looting, and shootings erupted in Chicago and many other U.S. cities in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 by Minneapolis police officers. In Chicago alone, 82 persons were shot, 19 fatally, over the May 30-31, 2020 weekend. On May 31, 2020, which the Chicago Sun Times described as the most violent day Chicago had seen in 60 years, Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked Governor J.B. Pritzker to deploy the Illinois National Guard in the city.
That same day, May 31, 2020, Hedgepeth posted the following photos of herself on the beach in Florida along with the comment, “I don’t want to go home tomorrow. Now that the civil war has begun I want to move.”
An individual responded, “Follow your gut! Move!!!!!!!!!” Hedgepeth answered, “I need a gun and training.” The individual replied, “me too!”
Another individual posted a meme that same day suggesting that the riots could be stopped with a septic tank truck and a pressure cannon. Hedgepeth reposted the meme, obviously in jest, adding, “You think this would work?”
On or about June 1, 2020, Hedgepeth posted the following comment on Facebook in the course of an exchange of posts begun the previous day with a third individual:
I am about facts, truth seeking and love. I will speak on any topic I choose because I live in a free country. I find the term “white privilege” as racist as the “N” word. You have not walked in my shoes either so do not make assumptions about me and my so called privilege. You think America is racist? Then you have been hoodwinked by the white liberal establishment and race baiters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Travel the world and go see that every nation has racism and some more than others but few make efforts such as we do to mitigate or eliminate it. I have lived and seen. The people I am informed by about the black experience in America are actually some of the smartest people in America. And it so happens they are black. I highly recommend studying Thomas Sowell, who is now retired and in his 80’s. A treasure. A truth seeker. [D]oes REAL research and analysis. Candice Owens is one of the smartest and most courageous women in America and Larry Elders speaks the truth with a great sense of humor and FACTS not feelings. They are who I listen to when it comes to facts about the black experience in America. Don’t you think there is a deeper problem than racism when 50% of murders in America are committed by 13% of the population? Do you think there might be a subtle genocide of black babies when most planned parenthoods are put in poor neighborhoods and that 30% of abortions are black babies. [B]lack women only make up 7% of the U.S. population. The greatest power you have is what you believe about yourself. [W]hat have Democrats, mainstream media and intellectuals in ivory towers been telling the black community to believe about themselves for forty years? Wake up and stop believing them, then things will change.
All of Hedgepeth’s posts were on her personal Facebook page. None of Hedgepeth’s posts identified her as a teacher or a District 211 employee, nor did Hedgepeth post them in her capacity as a teacher or a District 211 employee. None of the persons with whom Hedgepeth exchanged Facebook posts were current District 211 or Palatine High School teachers, staff, or students.
Upon returning from her vacation in early June 2020, Hedgepeth learned that the school district was investigating her for her Facebook posts. She was fired by the school board six weeks later, on July 16, 2020, by a vote of 5-2. In her defense, Hedgepeth noted that the posts were on her personal Facebook page and were made “out of school.” She also expressly invoked her First Amendment rights.
“The school district took what could have been a teachable moment about respecting diversity of viewpoints and turned it into a clear civil rights violation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Jeanne Hedgepeth had every right to express herself freely and openly on her personal Facebook page, outside of school, about matters of undeniable public concern. Firing her for opposing lawlessness, speaking out about gun rights, praising black conservatives, and criticizing Democrats and tenets of Critical Racial Theory violated the First Amendment, and the school district and district officials who did so will be held accountable.”
Judicial Watch is being assisted by attorney Christine Svenson of Palatine, Illinois.
#AceNewsReport – July.28: Our officers have prioritized the arrest of noncitizens who pose the greatest threat to the security and safety of our communities,” said ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson. “By focusing our resources on those who have committed sex crimes and demonstrated predatory behavior, we reinforce our steadfast commitment to enhancing public safety across the United States.”
#AceDailyNews reports that ICE has announced the latest results of ‘Operation SOAR’ targeting noncitizen sex offenders being removed from citizens communities …
Operation SOAR is a coordinated enforcement operation that builds on ongoing efforts to arrest and remove noncitizen sex offenders from our communities In support of this endeavor, ERO’s Fugitive Operations Support Center has spearheaded a collaborative effort with the ERO Law Enforcement Support Center to identify criminal noncitizens who are registered as sex offenders.
In accordance with the civil immigration enforcement priorities, ICE is focusing its limited resources on national security, border security, and public safety.
#AceNewsReport – July22: Tres Genco, 21, of Hillsboro, Ohio, allegedly plotted to commit a hate crime, namely, a plan to shoot students in sororities at a university in Ohio. He was arrested by federal agents today…..
#AceDailyNewsreports a federal grand jury has charged a self-identified “incel” with attempting to conduct a mass shooting of student in sororities and with illegally possessing a machine gun…..
Genco identified as an “incel” or “involuntary celibate.” The incel movement is an online community of predominantly men who harbor anger towards women. Incels seek to commit violence in support of their belief that women unjustly deny them sexual or romantic attention to which they believe they are entitled.
According to the indictment, Genco maintained profiles on a popular incel website from at least July 2019 through mid-March 2020. Genco was a frequent poster on the site.
In one post, Genco allegedly detailed spraying “some foids and couples” with orange juice in a water gun. “Foids” is an incel term short for “femoids,” referring to women. According to the charging document, Genco compared his “extremely empowering action” to similar conduct by known incel, Elliot Rodger. In May 2014, Rodger killed six people and injured 14 others, including shooting individuals outside a University of California, Santa Barbara sorority house. Prior to his mass attack, Rodger shot a group of college students with orange juice from a water gun.
Genco also allegedly wrote a manifesto, stating he would “slaughter” women “out of hatred, jealousy and revenge…” and referring to death as the “great equalizer.” As part of this investigation, law enforcement agents discovered a note of Genco’s that indicated he hoped to “aim big” for a kill count of 3,000 people and intended to attend military training. Searches of Genco’s electronics revealed that the day he wrote his manifesto, he searched online for sororities and a university in Ohio.
It is alleged that in 2019, Genco purchased tactical gloves, a bulletproof vest, a hoodie bearing the word “revenge,” cargo pants, a bowie knife, a skull facemask, two Glock 17 magazines, a 9mm Glock 17 clip and a holster clip concealed carry for a Glock.
Genco attended Army Basic Training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, from August through December 2019.
In January 2020, Genco allegedly wrote a document entitled “Isolated” that he described as “the writings of the deluded and homicidal.” Genco signed the document, “Your hopeful friend and murderer.”
The charging document claims Genco conducted surveillance at an Ohio university on Jan. 15, 2020. That same day, he allegedly searched online for topics including “how to plan a shooting crime” and “when does preparing for a crime become attempt?”
On March 12, 2020, local police officers responded to Genco’s residence in Highland County. At the residence, in the trunk of Genco’s vehicle, police officers found, among other things, firearm with a bump stock attached, several loaded magazines, body armor and boxes of ammunition. Inside the residence, police officers found a Glock-style 9mm semiautomatic pistol, with no manufacturer’s marks or serial number, hidden in a heating vent in Genco’s bedroom.
Genco is charged with one count of attempting to commit a hate crime which, because it involved an attempt to kill, is punishable by up to life in prison and one count of illegally possessing a machine gun which is punishable by up to 10 years.
Vipal J. Patel, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Cincinnati Division; and Roland Herndon, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), announced the charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Gaffney Painter and Assistant Deputy Criminal Chief Timothy S. Mangan are representing the United States in this case.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
#AceNewsReport – July.20: A group of Western countries had accused China of hacking Microsoft Exchange – a popular email platform used by companies worldwide…..
#AceSecurityDesk reports that Microsoft Exchange: Cyberattack was China taking advantage of the email vulnerabilityin January but Chinese authorities slam ‘groundless’ hacking claims…..but ‘Five Eyes’ says they provide a ‘Clear & Present Danger’ …….
The Five Eyes – The Intelligence Alliance of the Anglosphere bringing together the group brings the UK, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand into the world’s most complete and comprehensive intelligence alliance.
The Five Eyes (FVEY) is widely regarded as the world’s most significant intelligence alliance. The origins of it can be traced back to the context of the Second World War and by its necessity of sharing vital information mainly between Britain and the United States so both countries could enhance their close war effort.
The Five Eyes was formally founded in the aftermath of the Second World War, through the multilateral agreement for co-operation in signals intelligence (SIGINT), known as the UKUSA Agreement, on 5 March 1946.
Initially, compromising only the UK and the United States, it expanded to also include Canada in 1948 and Australia and New Zealand in 1956, all of these last three English-speaking countries, members of the Commonwealth of Nations and with similar political systems when compared to Britain. Thereby, the ‘Five Eyes’ term was created from the lengthy ‘AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/ Eyes Only’ classification level that included the ‘eyes’ that could have access to high profile papers and information.
The joint statement accused the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) of undermining global stability and security.
China has always maintained that it opposes all forms of cyber-crime.
On Monday, New Zealand joined the group of countries including the UK, US and Australia in blaming Chinese state-sponsored actors for “malicious cyber activity” in the country, including the Microsoft attack.
The Chinese Embassy in Wellington called the accusations “groundless and irresponsible”.
“Making accusations without [proof] is malicious.”
The Chinese embassy in Australia echoed these remarks, describing Washington as “the world champion of malicious cyber attacks”.
A scaled up attack
The Microsoft hack affected at least 30,000 organisations globally.
The Exchange system powers the email of major corporations, small businesses and public bodies worldwide.
Microsoft blamed a Chinese cyber-espionage group for exploiting a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange – which allowed hackers to remotely access email inboxes.
The group, known as Hafnium, was found by Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Centre to be state-sponsored and operating out of China.
Western security sources believe Hafnium obtained advance knowledge that Microsoft intended to patch or close the vulnerability, and so shared it with other China-based groups to maximise the benefit before it became obsolete.
“We believe that cyber-operators working under the control of Chinese intelligence learned about the Microsoft vulnerability in early January, and were racing to exploit the vulnerability before [it] was widely identified in the public domain,” a security source told the BBC and China accused of cyber-attack on Microsoft
The hack signalled a shift from a targeted espionage campaign to a smash-and-grab raid, leading to concerns Chinese cyber-behaviour is escalating, according to Western security services.
The UK Foreign Office said the Chinese government had “ignored repeated calls to end its reckless campaign, instead allowing state-backed actors to increase the scale of their attacks and act recklessly when caught”.
The White House said it reserved the right to take additional action against China over its cyber activities.
US President Joe Biden told reporters that the Chinese government may not have been carrying out the attacks themselves, but were ” protecting those who are doing it. And maybe even accommodating them being able to do it.”
The US Department of Justice has also announced criminal charges against four MSS hackers which it said were linked to a long-term campaign targeting foreign governments and entities in key sectors in a least a dozen countries.Nato warns cyber attacks could result in a military land incursion from allies
#AceNewsReport – July.20: Four Cabinet agencies — the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security — released the nine-page advisory that alerts companies about the shifting legal landscape in Hong Kong and the possibility that engaging with Hong Kong business could incur reputational and legal damages.
#AceDailyNews says that Biden has warned US companies about doing business in Hong Kong as control by China over political and economic freedoms
China News: July: 17, 2021
People visit the annual book fair in Hong Kong
At the same time, Treasury announced sanctions against seven Chinese officials for violating the terms of the 2020 Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which calls for asset freezes and other penalties against those who participate in the crackdown.
President Joe Biden had previewed the new advisory Thursday, telling reporters at the White House that the business environment in Hong Kong is “deteriorating” and could worsen.
“Businesses, individuals, and other persons, including academic institutions, research service providers, and investors that operate in Hong Kong, or have exposure to sanctioned individuals or entities, should be aware of changes to Hong Kong’s laws and regulations,” said the notice, which is titled “Risks and Considerations for Businesses Operating in Hong Kong.”
“This new legal landscape … could adversely affect businesses and individuals operating in Hong Kong. As a result of these changes, they should be aware of potential reputational, regulatory, financial, and, in certain instances, legal risks associated with their Hong Kong operations,” it said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted the advisory in a statement marking the one-year anniversary of the passage of China’s new national security law that he said had a profoundly negative effect on Hong Kong.
Blinken said the risks to business include “potential electronic surveillance and lack of data privacy, reduced access to information, and potential retaliation against companies for their compliance with U.S. sanctions.”
“The business advisory outlines these emerging risks to inform U.S. individuals and businesses and recommends increased awareness and due diligence,” he said.
Hong Kong’s government responded with a statement calling the U.S. advisory “totally ridiculous and unfounded fear-mongering” driven by ideology. “The main victims of this latest fallout will sadly be those U.S. businesses and U.S. citizens who have taken Hong Kong as their home,” the statement said.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, meanwhile, responded to the advisory by acknowledging the business environment “is more complex and challenging” but saying that it would continue its work.
“We are here to support our members to navigate those challenges and risks while also capturing the opportunities of doing business in this region,” it said in a statement. It added that “Hong Kong remains a critical and vibrant facilitator of trade and financial flow between the East and West.”
The United States under both the Trump and Biden administrations has determined that since the passage of the national security law, Hong Kong no longer enjoys the significant autonomy from mainland China that Beijing had pledged to respect for 50 years when it assumed control of the former British colony in 1997.
As such, Hong Kong no longer enjoys preferential U.S. trade and commercial privileges and certain officials in Hong Kong have been hit with U.S. sanctions for their actions in cracking down on democracy.
China is one of the rare areas in which the Biden administration has largely hewed to Trump’s policies.
Friday’s warning came on the heels of a similar advisory issued earlier this week reminding American companies about potential sanctions liability if they engage in business with Chinese entities that operate in the western Xinjiang region, where China is accused of widespread repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities.
The seven officials targeted for sanctions are Chen Dong, He Jing, Lu Xinning, Qiu Hong, Tan Tieniu, Yang Jianping and Yin Zonghua. All seven serve as deputy directors of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, an agency the U.S. accuses of repeatedly undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.
#AceNewsReport – July.19: Tracy Stone-Manning, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), helped edit a radical environmental newsletter that advocated for violent action and sought to further the mission of the extremist group Earth First!, whose members committed acts of ecoterrorism in the 1980s and 1990s…
#AceDailyNews says Biden Nominee Edited Radical Ecoterrorist Newsletter: Stone-Manning testified that she “helped edit” a local Earth First! newsletter called the Wild Rockies Review while she was a graduate student at the University of Montana in Missoula 30 years ago according to Breibart Report
Though the editors and contributors of the Wild Rockies Review at that time frequently used pseudonyms or just last names to avoid legal consequences for their writings, multiple issues listed a “Stone” under “Assistance” on their mastheads. Stone-Manning went by “Tracy Stone” before she was married.
One such issue was the “Autumnal Equinox Issue,” labeled Vol. 1, No. 3. Also named under “Assistance” on that issue’s masthead was Stone-Manning’s classmate Bill Haskins, who was one of seven, including Stone-Manning, who were subpoenaed in 1989 over a tree spiking crime.
The Autumnal Equinox Issue included an obscene letter to the editor advocating violent action, and potentially assassination, against government officials. The letter began, “Dear Weeniewanker, What is all this pussyfooting bullshit about sensitive treatment of Forest Service pigdogs who ream our public lands”:
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 1, No. 3)
“Rend the entire USFS [U.S. Forest Service] limb from limb and tear out its guts,” it continued. “These swine are evil and must be rubbed out.”
On page 13 of the same issue, an article outlined steps Earth First! followers needed to take to prevent the building of a road in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest, the same forest that was later the target of the 1989 tree spiking crime that Stone-Manning was involved in.
Stages one and two of the article’s plan included contacting stakeholders to express opposition to building the road, as well as suing those stakeholders when necessary. Stage three resorted to physically blocking the project work “with non-violent civil disobedience actions, and a few new tactics.” Stage four ominously only instructed readers, “Use your imagination!”
“Remember, we’re in at Stage 1 now. Let’s hope we don’t make it to Stage 4, but be prepared!” the article stated.
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 1, No. 3)
A “Stone” is also named under “Assistance” in the 1988 “Winter Solstice Issue,” labeled Vol. 1, No. 4.
An article on page five of this issue, titled “$ummer Fire$ Up in $moke,” strikes a tune similar to that of a recent Harper’s Magazine article written by Stone-Manning’s husband suggesting homes in wildfire-prone areas ought to be left to burn as a consequence of perceived poor construction and zoning decisions. Stone-Manning last year shared her husband’s 2018 article on her social media and described it as a “clarion call.”
The Wild Rockies Review article asked, “Who really is responsible for a cabin that is consumed by wildfire?”
“Stone” was again listed on the masthead of the 1989 “Spring Equinox Issue,” labeled Vol. 2, No. 1. That issue’s lead editorial included a defense of the criminal acts of tree spiking and monkeywrenching.
Tree spiking is a form of sabotage — and an act of ecoterrorism as defined by the FBI — in which metal spikes are hammered into trees to prevent loggers from harvesting them. Tree spikes have been known to destroy expensive logging equipment and cause injury to the loggers or millworkers processing the spiked trees. Monkeywrenching is any tactic used by saboteurs to prevent what they believe to be environmental destruction, and the term can encompass acts of ecoterrorism.
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 2, No. 1)
The editorial, titled “Who Are the Real Terrorists,” promoted “confrontational politics” like “non-violent civil disobedience” and then stated, “We can, as a group make no statement condoning or denying monkeywrenching.”
“Some criticize those who spend their time writing for being hypocritical, and not getting out into the field to do something directly related to the terrorism that our politicians and military-industrial complex are wreaking,” the editorial continued. “This is all well and good, as the hand that writes need not necessarily be the hand that spikes. What binds us is our common goal to put Earth First!”
The editorial described tree spiking as a “fine art.”
Also in the Spring Equinox Issue is a letter to the editor from “Sick of Talk” calling for monkeywrenching. “What stops a road? Sand in an engine. What stops a saw? Metal and clay,” the letter read. “We know monkywrenching [sic] works. So do it. Often. You can go join an organization if you just want to talk”:
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 2, No. 1)
Later in that same issue, an ad appeared for an anonymous radical newsletter called Live Wild or Die and indicated that Earth First! chapters distributed the journal. Live Wild or Die has often been described as the “most radical” of the activist publications circulating during that time period. One particular 1989 issue of Live Wild or Diecontained an “Eco-Fucker Hit List,” which later became associated with Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber.
(Wild Rockies Review, Vol. 2, No. 1)
The list was actually a reprint from a wilderness conference and contained names of conference cosponsors and committee members.
According to several reports from 1995–1996, Kaczynski possessed a copy of the “Eco-Fucker Hit List” and may have used it to target some of his victims. One of Kaczynski’s bombs was mailed to the organization at the top of the “Ec0-Fucker Hit List,” the Timber Association of California, which had changed its name to the California Forestry Association. The bomb package killed California Forestry Association President Gil Murray while he was at work in 1995.
As Breitbart News reported, Kaczynski granted his first media interview after his arrest to the then-editor of the Earth First! journal and praised the group during the interview as being like-minded. He even characterized himself as being an “Earth Firster satellite.”
Bruce Vincent, who runs a fourth generation logging business called Vincent Logging, testified before Congress in 1998 that he had been the target of ecoterrorism in Montana beginning in 1989. Vincent stated that he had been featured in a skit performed by a “group in Missoula, Montana,” in which he was shot and killed to save animals. He said he also received anonymous threatening letters and phone calls, and he explained instances in which his bulldozer and trucks were tampered with, which created dangerous scenarios for the equipment operators.
Vincent spoke with Breitbart News about the Missoula-based environmental activist community that Stone-Manning was a part of. “The school of environmental activism down there, the University of Montana, had some real issues then,” he said, adding those issues included “believing that it was okay to go to the extreme in order to make points, political points.”
Vincent recalled that environmental extremists during the height of the “timber wars” — which the ongoing battles between loggers and activists were often called — caused “tens of millions of dollars” in damage to forestry equipment throughout the west. “Their goal was to put us out of business by making us uninsurable,” he said.
Asked about Earth First! specifically, Vincent asserted, “They were a terror group. Terror is real.” He specifically referenced a satirical article that the Earth First! journal (which is separate from the Wild Rockies Review) printed in 1989 advocating for ecoterrorism suicide missions.
“Are you terminally ill with a wasting disease? Do you have AIDS, ALS, brain cancer, or syphilis?” the article read. “Don’t go out with a whimper; go out with a bang! Undertake an ecokamikaze mission.”
Vincent said, “When they printed tongue-and-cheek the article on ‘ecokamikazes’ … that is not simply a very vigorous conservation group. That is ecoterror.” He said of the group’s reputation, “Back then, Earth First! wanted to blow up the systems that were collaborating.”
Stone-Manning, who is now serving as senior policy adviser for the National Wildlife Federation, said in 2013 that she ultimately left Earth First! because the group members were “angry,” according to the Missoulian. She said, “Anger doesn’t do much. It doesn’t solve problems. What I do is solve problems.” She also at that time denied having a role in the 1989 tree spiking crime except for sending a letter on behalf of a “disturbed man” because she “didn’t want anyone to be hurt.”
As Breitbart News reported on the tree spiking case:
In 1989, Stone-Manning mailed a letter to the U.S. Forest Service on behalf of John P. Blount, an individual in her “circle of friends,” crudely warning federal authorities that trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest that were scheduled to be cut down had been sabotaged with metal spikes to prevent them from being harvested.
After the Forest Service received the warning letter, Stone-Manning and six other individuals in Missoula were the target of a 1989 grand jury investigation for which they were subpoenaed and required to submit fingerprints and hair samples. However, the 1989 grand jury did not uncover enough evidence to charge Blount or anyone else with the crime. The case was not solved until Blount’s ex-girlfriend reported him to authorities two years later, and in doing so, also named Stone-Manning as the person who mailed the letter for him. In exchange for immunity, Stone-Manning testified in the 1993 trial against Blount, who was convicted for the tree spiking crime and sentenced to 17 months in prison.
Former BLM Acting Director William Perry Pendley references interviews in which Stone-Manning admits she did not come forward about her knowledge of Blount’s 1989 tree spiking until her 1993 testimony. Stone-Manning later filled out a questionnaire for her Senate confirmation hearing with inaccuracies related to the tree spiking case.
Amid renewed scrutiny over her involvement with Earth First! and with the 1989 tree spiking case, Stone-Manning’s confirmation for BLM director remains in flux. No vote has been scheduled for it as of the time of this writing, and most Democrats have remained silent on her nomination despite outspoken opposition from Republicans.
The objections to Stone-Manning were reinforced this week after two individuals directly involved with the 1989 tree spiking came forward with corroborating accounts of Stone-Manning’s role in the crime.
Retired Forest Service special agent Michael Merkley, who led the investigation of the case at the time, wrote an accusing letter Wednesday to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about the nominee. He charged that she was “not an innocent bystander” but in fact helped in the planning process and allowed the crime to be carried out and remain unsolved for four years before coming forward in exchange for immunity.
The second individual, Blount, who was convicted in the tree spiking case, said to E&E News that Stone-Manning knew about his plan “far in advance.” He indicated she was not “heavily” involved in the planning and in the actual spiking of the trees but that she had a central and “agreed-upon” role in the operation as the letter deliverer.
As for Stone-Manning’s role in the Wild Rockies Review publications specifically, attempts to reach the nominee for comment through both the Department of Interior and the National Wildlife Federation were unsuccessful.
If you listen closely as MASN is going into the commercial break, the gun shots can be heard and you can see the #Nationals players turn around as they head into the dugout as they host the #Padrespic.twitter.com/xBhnRvNN2L
The game was suspended with the Padres leading 8-4 in the 6th inning:
Tonight’s game has officially been suspended with the Padres leading the Nationals 8-4 in the middle of the 6th. It will be resumed tomorrow at 1:05 p.m., in advance of the originally scheduled series finale.
Two people were shot, said Dustin Sternbeck, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesman. Investigators believe, based on preliminary information, that one of the victims was an employee at the stadium, he said.
Washington police later tweeted that ‘two additional victims associated with this incident walked into area hospitals for treatment of gunshot wounds.’
It is unknown if the shooter has been apprehended.
#AceNewsReport – July.17: It’s easy to get your money. Just go to the Quantum Refunds bottom of this page and follow the instructions for filling out a claim. The deadline for filing claims is August 31, 2021. The average refund check has been about $113 dollars.
NB: Once you get your check, deposit it right away since it will expire after 90 days.
July 15, 2021by
Acting Associate Director, Division of Consumer Response and Operations, FTC
Also, please know that the only way these FTC refund checks will come to you is by postal mail. And you never have to pay to get a refund from the FTC. If someone contacts you and asks you to pay, or says they can help you get a refund, it’s a scam — report it to the FTC.
#AceNewsReport – July.17: The Department of Justice is committed to protecting Americans from the rise in ransomware attacks that we have seen in recent years,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland of the Justice Department.
#AceDailyNews reports that the U.S. Government has Launched the First One-Stop Ransomware Resource at StopRansomware.gov/
New Website Provides Cybersecurity Resources from Across the Federal Government
StopRansomware.gov establishes a one-stop hub for ransomware resources for individuals, businesses and other organizations. The new StopRansomware.gov is a collaborative effort across the federal government and is the first joint website created to help private and public organizations mitigate their ransomware risk.
“ Along with our partners in and outside of government, and through our Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force, the Department is working to bring all our tools to bear against these threats. But we cannot do it alone. It is critical for business leaders across industries to recognize the threat, prioritize efforts to harden their systems and work with law enforcement by reporting these attacks promptly.”
“As ransomware attacks continue to rise around the world, businesses and other organizations must prioritize their cybersecurity,” said Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the Department of Homeland Security. “Cyber criminals have targeted critical infrastructure, small businesses, hospitals, police departments, schools and more. These attacks directly impact Americans’ daily lives and the security of our nation. I urge every organization across our country to use this new resource to learn how to protect themselves from ransomware and reduce their cybersecurity risk.”
StopRansomware.gov is the first central hub consolidating ransomware resources from all federal government agencies. Before today, individuals and organizations had to visit a variety of websites to find guidance, latest alerts, updates and resources, increasing the likelihood of missing important information. StopRansomware.gov reduces the fragmentation of resources, which is especially detrimental for those who have become victims of an attack, by integrating federal ransomware resources into a single platform that includes clear guidance on how to report attacks, and the latest ransomware-related alerts and threats from all participating agencies. StopRansomware.gov includes resources and content from DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the U.S. Secret Service, the DOJ’s FBI, the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services.
Ransomware is a long-standing problem and a growing national security threat. Tackling this challenge requires collaboration across every level of government, the private sector and our communities. Roughly $350 million in ransom was paid to malicious cyber actors in 2020, a more than 300% increase from the previous year. Further, there have already been multiple notable ransomware attacks in 2021, and despite making up roughly 75% of all ransomware cases, attacks on small businesses often go unnoticed. Like most cyber attacks, ransomware exploits the weakest link. Many small businesses have yet to adequately protect their networks, and StopRansomware.gov will help these organizations and many more to take simple steps to protect their networks and respond to ransomware incidents, while providing enterprise-level information technology (IT) teams the technical resources to reduce their ransomware risk.
DHS, DOJ, the White House and our federal partners encourage all individuals and organizations to take the first step in protecting their cybersecurity by visiting StopRansomware.gov.
#AceNewsReport – July.17: Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters. The case is the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to homeoprophylaxis immunizations and fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) #COVID19 vaccination record cards.
#AceDailyNews reports that a California-licensed homeopathic doctor was arrested today for her alleged scheme to sell homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets and to falsify COVID-19 vaccination cards by making it appear that customers had received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Moderna vaccine.
“This defendant allegedly defrauded and endangered the public by preying on fears and spreading misinformation about FDA-authorized vaccinations, while also peddling fake treatments that put people’s lives at risk.
Even worse, the defendant allegedly created counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards and instructed her customers to falsely mark that they had received a vaccine, allowing them to circumvent efforts to contain the spread of the disease,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from fraudsters during this national emergency. This commitment is evident in this prosecution as well as in the ongoing work of the Department and our agency partners in the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force established by the Attorney General earlier this year.”
According to court documents, in April 2021, an individual submitted a complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) hotline stating that family members purchased from Mazi COVID-19 homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets. The complainant stated that the family members had told her/him that Mazi stated that the pellets contained the COVID-19 virus and would create an antibody response in the immune system. The complainant reported that her/his family did not receive injections of any of the three FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. However, in connection with the delivery of the homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets, Mazi sent COVID-19 Vaccination Record cards, with Moderna listed, to the complainant family. Mazi allegedly instructed the complainant family to mark the cards to falsely state that they received the Moderna vaccine on the date that they ingested the COVID-19 homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets.
“Steering through the challenges presented by COVID-19 requires trust and reliance on our medical professionals to provide sage information and guidance,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California. “According to the complaint, instead of disseminating valid remedies and information, Juli Mazi profited from unlawfully peddling unapproved remedies, stirring up false fears, and generating fake proof of vaccinations. We will act to protect trust in the medical developments that are enabling us to emerge from the problems presented by the pandemic.”
According to court documents, Mazi offered homeoprophylaxis immunizations for childhood illnesses that she falsely claimed would satisfy the immunization requirements for California schools, and falsified immunization cards that were submitted by parents to California schools. Homeoprophylaxis involves the exposure of an individual to dilute amounts of a disease, purportedly to stimulate the immune system and confer immunity. Mazi is alleged to have falsely claimed that orally ingesting pellets with small amounts of COVID-19 would result in full lifelong immunity from COVID-19.
“This doctor violated the all-important trust the public extends to healthcare professionals — at a time when integrity is needed the most,” said Special Agent in Charge Steven J. Ryan of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, our agency will continue to investigate such fraudsters who recklessly endanger the public’s health during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.”
The affidavit alleges that Mazi used the COVID-19 pandemic to expand the pre-existing immunization scheme by selling immunization pellets that she fraudulently claimed, in written documents and consensually monitored recordings, would provide “lifelong immunity to COVID-19.” Mazi explained that the pellets contained a “very minute amount of this [COVID-19] disease” that can result in “infectious symptoms” of COVID-19 or “automatically flag the immune system’s attention, inducing immunity.” To encourage customers to purchase the pellets, Mazi allegedly exploited disinformation and fear by falsely claiming that the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain “toxic ingredients.” Mazi further stated that her customers could provide the pellets to children for COVID-19 immunity, and that the “dose is actually the same for babies.”
“Spreading inaccurate or false medical information about COVID-19 for personal gain, as the complaint alleges, is dangerous and only seeds skepticism among the public,” said Special Agent in Charge Craig D. Fair of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office. “As the government continues to work to provide current and accurate information to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the FBI will continue to pursue those who attempt to fraudulently profit from spreading misinformation and providing false documentation.”
Mazi also provided CDC COVID-19 vaccination record cards to her customers with instructions on how to fraudulently complete the cards to falsely make it appear as if a customer had received two doses of the Moderna vaccine. As part of her scheme, Mazi provided customers with specific Moderna vaccine lot numbers to enter onto the cards and with instruction on how to select the purported dates on which they had received the Moderna vaccines to evade suspicion.
HHS-OIG’s San Francisco Regional Office and the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Sridhar Babu Kaza of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section’s National Rapid Response Strike Force and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christiaan Highsmith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California are prosecuting the case.
The case was brought in coordination with the Health Care Fraud Unit’s COVID-19 Interagency Working Group, which is chaired by the National Rapid Response Strike Force and organizes efforts to address illegal activity involving health care programs during the pandemic.
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 federal 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 and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.
In May, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
#AceNewsReport – July.15: Security guards stand at the gates of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in Huocheng County in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region
WASHINGTON: U.S. Senate passes bill UNDER ‘The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act’ that would create a “rebuttable presumption” assuming goods manufactured in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and therefore banned under the 1930 Tariff Act, unless otherwise certified by U.S. authorities.
Issuance of the Updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory
The U.S. Department of State, alongside the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Labor, issued an updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory in response to the government of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and the growing evidence of its use of forced labor there. The updated Advisory highlights the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang given the entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses there and throughout China.
Among other elements, the updated Business Advisory:
Includes information from the Department of Labor and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which are now co-signatories;
Notes that the PRC government is perpetrating genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang;
Provides specific information regarding risks related to investment in PRC companies linked to surveillance and forced labor in Xinjiang;
Strengthens recommendations for businesses regarding the risks and potential exposure related to supply chains and investment links to Xinjiang, including but not limited to surveillance;
Updates the list of U.S. government enforcement actions in and in connection to Xinjiang;
Adds information on silicon and polysilicon supply chains linked to Xinjiang; and
Provides a list of other countries’ relevant regulatory provisions and information on forced labor in supply chains.
The United States will continue to promote accountability for the PRC’s atrocities and other abuses through a whole-of-government effort and in close coordination with the private sector and our allies and partners.
Passed by unanimous consent, the bipartisan measure would shift the burden of proof to importers. The current rule bans goods if there is reasonable evidence of forced labor.
The bill must also pass the House of Representatives before it can be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law. It was not immediately clear when that might take place.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who introduced the legislation with Democrat Jeff Merkley, called on the House to act quickly.
“We will not turn a blind eye to the CCP’s ongoing crimes against humanity, and we will not allow corporations a free pass to profit from those horrific abuses,” Rubio said in a statement.
“No American corporation should profit from these abuses. No American consumers should be inadvertently purchasing products from slave labor,” Merkley said.
Democratic and Republican aides said they expected the measure would get strong support in the House, noting the House approved a similar measure nearly unanimously last year. read more
The bill would go beyond steps already taken to secure U.S. supply chains in the face of allegations of rights abuses in China, including existing bans on Xinjiang tomatoes, cotton and some solar products. read more
The Biden administration has increased sanctions, and on Tuesday issued an advisory warning businesses they could be in violation of U.S. law if operations are linked even indirectly to surveillance networks in Xinjiang. read more
Rights groups, researchers, former residents and some Western lawmakers and officials say Xinjiang authorities have facilitated forced labor by detaining around a million Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim minorities since 2016.
Reuters: Reporting by Michael Martina; additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Leslie Adler
#AceNewsReport – July.15: Many Afghans who hoped the #Taliban would reform their extreme views amid ongoing talks with the Afghan government and the U.S. troop withdrawal have been disappointed by the new severe restrictions imposed on the local population in some of the districts that they have recently captured.
AFGHANISTAN: #Taliban impose new restrictions on women, force men to grow beards according to Media In Afghanistan’s North,” by Gul Rahim Niazman and Roshan Noorzai, VOA News, July 9, 2021:
Several residents of Balkh, a district in northern Balkh province that is located 20 kilometers north of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, confirmed to VOA that the Taliban have distributed leaflets, ordering locals to follow strict rules that are similar to those they imposed on Afghans when they last governed the country from 1996 to 2001.
“They want to impose the restrictions that were imposed on women under their rule,” said Nahida, a 34-year-old resident of Balkh district, adding that the restrictions targeting women include “not leaving our houses without a male companion and wearing hijab.”
Before their ouster by the United States in 2001, the Taliban mandated Afghans follow a strict interpretation of Sharia law, forcing women to cover themselves from head to foot and preventing them from leaving their houses without a male companion.
That changed after 2001 when the new Afghan government, supported by U.S.-led forces, introduced laws to encourage more girls to attend school and to have more women participate in the workforce.
Nahida, who requested to be identified by her pseudonym due to safety concerns, said the group’s new restrictions will be difficult for women to follow “since many of them are the breadwinners of their families and they have to work outside.”…
Since May, when the United States and NATO began withdrawing their remaining troops, the Taliban captured about 100 of Afghanistan’s more than 400 districts from government-allied forces. Afghan officials have since vowed to retake the lost districts.
Another resident of Balkh, who requested anonymity due to fears of retaliation by the militants, said “salons were ordered not to shave or trim beards” when the Taliban controlled the district last month.
“It is possible that they impose more restrictions. In some of the mosques, during the Friday sermons, Mullahs say that the Sharia law should be implemented,” another Balkh resident told VOA.
In several districts of Takhar, Badakhshan, and Kunduz province that came under the Taliban control recently, local reports claim the Taliban issued similar restrictions on women and forced men to grow beards….
#AceNewsReport – July.14: US President Joe Biden said he raised the issue with Vladimir Putin during a phone call on Friday, after discussing the subject during a summit with the Russian president in Geneva last month.
LATEST: REvil: Ransomware gang websites disappear from internet that monitors say a payment website and a blog run by the REvil group became suddenly unreachable on Tuesday and the reason behind the disappearance is unknown, but has sparked speculation that the group may have been targeted deliberately by authorities.
The timing of Tuesday’s outage has sparked speculation that either the US or Russian officials may have taken action against REvil – though officials have so far declined to comment and cyber experts say sudden disappearances of groups are not necessarily uncommon.
The development comes after a series of high-profile ransomware attacks which have hit major US businesses this year.
The FBI accused REvil – also known as Sodinokibi – of being behind a ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat processing company JBS last month.
A huge scalp claimedREvil is one of the most prolific and feared of all ransomware gangs and if this really is the end, it’s extremely significant: The rumour mill is in hyperdrive about what’s behind this sudden shutdown but one hacker who claims to be an affiliate of the gang gave me some insights. I’m yet to confirm his identity but other researchers say his claims are highly plausible.He claims that the US “Feds took down” elements of their websites and so they pulled the plug on the rest of their operation. He also said there was pressure from the Kremlin too saying: “Russia is tired of the US and other countries crying to them.” Like all hacker claims we have to take them with a large dollop of salt but if this scenario proves to be accurate, it shows a dramatic shift in policy from Russia which has so far been happy to sit back and let gangs like REvil operate without fear of intervention. However another comment from my contact also hints at the bigger picture. He says he has no plans to retire and is already planning another unknown venture. “Make one go away, more will rise,” he warned. Technology explained: what is ransomware?
#AceNewsReport – July.14: The United States could take action against the criminal hacking group REvil if Russia does not do so on its own. This was stated at a briefing by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
US cybersecurity experts say the REvil group operates from Russia.
“If the Russian leadership is unable or unwilling to counter the criminal elements living in Russia, we will act, ” she said.
According to Jen Psaki, the President of the United States receives updates almost daily from the team working on this issue. At the same time, the United States is in contact with Russian officials on this issue.
“It simply came to our notice then. And although the intelligence community has not yet confirmed the authorship of the attack, and we still do not have new information about it, our cyber community agrees that the criminal group REvil works with Russia with branches around the world, “ – added the White House spokeswoman.
#AceDailyNews reports that Biden has signed an ‘Executive Order’ cracking down on Big Tech as the move points to his desire for tougher scrutiny of Big Tech, which the administration has accused of “undermining competition” “Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation,” Mr Biden said at Friday’s signing event as he backs infrastructure compromise deal
The order includes 72 actions and recommendations involving ten agencies: It suggests that problems have arisen because of large tech firms collecting too much personal information, buying up potential competitors and competing unfairly with small businesses.
Several recommendations it sets out include:
Greater scrutiny of mergers in the tech sector
New rules to be set out by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on data collection
Barring unfair methods of competition on internet marketplaces.
The Biden administration is also targeting a number of other sectors with the order.
It encourages other government agencies to take action to improve competition across healthcare, travel and agriculture.
Once fully implemented, it would allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter, for example, as well as the ban of early exit fees from internet contracts. It also intends to make it easier for consumers to claim refunds from airlines
“For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating,” the fact sheet released by the White House says, describing the order as “a whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy”.
Mr Biden said that the order seeks to limit the use of “non-compete agreements” as a condition of getting a job, which he claimed can make it harder for people to change jobs and therefore limits wages.
The executive order alone, however, does not mean these recommendations will come into force immediately.
The government agencies responsible will need to implement the changes, while some elements could be subject to court challenges.
The clearest sign yet of Biden’s views of Big TechBiden is on the warpath – and he has Big Tech in his sights: For Biden, there’s no better example of broken competition than in Silicon Valley. The “fact sheet” accompanying the executive order doesn’t name companies by name – but it’s clear which firms he’s talking about. Big Tech has long been accused of making “killer acquisitions”, essentially buying up the competition. It’s something the president wants to cut down on – expect greater scrutiny of mergers going forward. The fact sheet also talks about other criticisms of Big Tech. It describes how companies that run dominant online retail marketplaces can see how small businesses’ products sell and then use the data to launch their own competing products.It’s pretty clear Biden is talking about Amazon here – an accusation the company has always denied. These executive orders, though, lack teeth. They aren’t going to suddenly usher in a new competition regime. But it’s the clearest direction of travel we’ve seen yet from the president. Biden thinks Big Tech is too big, and he wants to do something about it.Built on a ‘flawed belief’The US Chamber of Commerce criticised the order, saying it was “built on the flawed belief that our economy is over-concentrated, stagnant and fails to generate private investment needed to spur innovation”. Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer, said: “Our economy needs both large and small businesses to thrive – not centralised government dictates. “In many industries, size and scale are important not only to compete, but also to justify massive levels of investment,” he added.It comes weeks after the House Judiciary Committee also voted to approve a series anti-trust bills, which could eventually become law and force big tech firms to transform or even break up their businesses.
#AceNewsReport – July.13: According to the FTC’s complaint, Moneta Management, LLC, Moneta Management, Inc., and their CEO Michael Todd Greene knowingly provided false or deceptive information to credit card and ACH processors to obtain merchant processing for the scam operated by Brandon Frere and his three companies.
#AceDailyNews reports that Frere and his companies reached a settlement with the FTC in November 2020 and also pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in 2019 and two Florida companies and their CEO will be permanently barred from offering payment-processing services to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they aided a criminal student debt relief scam that bilked $62 million from thousands of students and their families.
July 12, 2021
Greene and his companies submitted payment processing applications that concealed Frere’s scam, denied that Frere and his companies were offering consumers prohibited debt relief services, and ignored repeated warnings and direct evidence that Frere’s scam was defrauding consumers and violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule, according to the complaint. The accounts that Greene and his companies helped create for Frere’s scam allowed the processing of credit card and debit payments from consumers.
As part of the settlement with the FTC, Greene and his two companies will be barred from payment processing, acting as a sales agent or independent sales organization, and from assisting and facilitating unfair and deceptive trade practices. The proposed final order also imposes a monetary judgment of $28.6 million on Greene and his companies, which will be partially suspended after payment of $20,493 due to their inability to pay the full amount. They will be required to pay the full amount if they are found to have misrepresented their finances.
The Commission voted 4-0-1 to file the complaint and proposed final order. Chair Lina Khan did not participate. The FTC filed the complaint and final orderin the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The Court approved the final order on July 8, 2021.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated final orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.
#AceNewsReport – July.12: That’s really where our energies are best applied right now – in helping them get their arms around investigating this incident and figuring out who’s culpable … and how best to hold them accountable,” Kirby said in the interview.
#AceDailyNews says on Monday an inter-agency team largely from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are heading down to Haiti right now to see what we can to do help in the investigative process,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told “Fox News Sunday.”
Telegram Reuters Wire: July.11, 20218:12 PM BSTLast Updated 15 hours ago: Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Susan Heavey; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney
President Joe Biden will be briefed by the team when it returns and “then make decisions about the way forward,” a senior Biden administration official told Reuters separately.
Haiti has sought U.S. aid in securing the country and investigating the attack that killed President Jovenel Moise on Wednesday at his Port-au-Prince homeand plunged the impoverished island nation further into turmoil. Haitian authorities have said two Haitian Americans were among the suspected assassins. read more
It was not immediately clear how long the U.S. team would remain in Haiti. The administration official saidon Sunday that Washington would also consult with its regional partners and the United Nations.
The United States has so far rebuffed Haiti’s request for troops, while the United Nations would need Security Council authorization to send armed forces.
Kirby said: “We’re analyzing it just like we would any other request for assistance at the Pentagon. It’s going through a review.”
State Dept: Secretary Blinken’s Call with Acting Haitian Prime Minister Joseph
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Acting Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph today. Secretary Blinken extended condolences to the family and loved ones of President Moïse and to the people of Haiti. The Secretary also expressed the United States’ wishes for First Lady Martine Moïse’s recovery. Secretary Blinken reiterated the United States’ continued commitment to work with the Government of Haiti in support of the Haitian people and democratic governance, peace, and security.