Steinhatchee Church Deacon Convicted Of Production Of Child Pornography

Jonathan High, 30, of Steinhatchee, Florida, has been convicted of two counts of use of a child to produce child pornography. The guilty verdict, returned yesterday, at the conclusion of a one-day bench trial, was announced by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Prior to the trial, High pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. 

In August 2021, law enforcement officers received a Cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that a user of a cloud storage account uploaded files constituting child pornography. An investigation revealed the account belonged to High. Law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant for High’s cell phones and desktop computer, and after an examination of their contents, confirmed that High was in possession of multiple child pornography images and videos that depicted prepubescent boys engaged in sex acts or exposing their genitals in a lascivious manner.  Further investigation revealed that some of these images and videos were produced by High personally; High produced separate video recordings of two young boys using the bathroom in a Perry, Florida church where High served as a deacon.

High’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 9, 2023, at 1:30 p.m., at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee before United States District Judge Allen Winsor. High faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and a combined maximum of 70 years in prison for all three counts.

This conviction was the result of a joint investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys Justin M. Keen and Kaitlin Weiss prosecuted the case. 

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CCP Runs Police Outpost in New York City, Part of Global Network of Transnational Repression

Chinese authorities have opened at least one “overseas police service station” in the United States as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) global transnational repression, according to human rights group Safeguard Defenders.

“These operations eschew official bilateral police and judicial cooperation and violate the international rule of law, and may violate the territorial integrity in third countries involved in setting up a parallel policing mechanism using illegal methods,” the Spain-based group said in a recent report.

The report, titled “110 Overseas: Chinese Transnational Policing Gone Wild,” examined the initiative first launched by ten “pilot provinces” in 2018. These stations were also called 110 Overseas, named after the country’s police emergency services phone number.

An outpost in New York City was among the “first batch” of 30 overseas police service stations in 21 countries set up by the Public Security Bureau in Fuzhou city, the capital of the southern coastal province of Fujian. Other Chinese cities also set up their own outposts abroad.

The Chinese police authorities’ division in New York was opened on Feb. 15, according to Dongnan News, a media outlet backed by Fujian provincial government. The center, called Fuzhou Police Oversea Service Station, is located at 107 East Broadway, inside the headquarters of the American ChangLe Association (ACA), a non profit with close ties to the Chinese regime.

Safeguard Defenders identified 54 overseas police service stations across five continents, including in cities from Toronto to Dublin.

Yet the total number of such stations is unclear. “There is no complete list of such “110 Overseas” police service stations available,” the report stated. “[T]he number is undoubtedly larger and such stations more widespread,” it added.

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Secret Service says Biden Delaware visitor logs don’t exist, report says

The U.S. Secret Service says it cannot find records identifying any visitors to President Joe Biden’s Delaware homes, according to a Freedom of Information Act appeal from the New York Post. Biden has spent approximately one quarter of his presidency at his Delaware residences.

In a letter dated Sept. 27, Secret Service deputy director Faron Paramore said that “the agency conducted an additional search of relevant program offices for potentially responsive records.”

“This search also produced no responsive records,” Paramore claimed. “Accordingly, your appeal is denied.”

Rep. James Comer (R-KY) slammed the Secret Service’s claims and the Biden administration’s ongoing lack of transparency.

“The claim that there are no visitor logs for President Biden’s Delaware residence is a bunch of malarkey,” Comer told The Post. “Americans deserve to know who President Biden is meeting with, especially since we know that he routinely met with [first son] Hunter’s business associates during his time as vice president.”

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Firearms dealers now required to provide buyers’ addresses to feds for denied transactions

As part of a sweeping change that has gun rights groups alarmed, federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) are now required to provide the FBI with the personal addresses of individuals whose attempted purchases were denied.

In turn, the FBI must now provide details of the failed transactions — not only those denied but also those just delayed — and the personal information of the rejected individuals to local law enforcement, raising fears of greater government infringement on the Second Amendment.

The changes were quietly implemented last week by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to comply with new federal law. NICS was established to determine if an individual is prohibited by law from receiving firearms and can either approve, deny, or delay a firearms purchase.

In March, Congress passed and President Biden signed a massive appropriations package for fiscal year 2022 that included the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act (VAWA). Tucked into the VAWA was a bipartisan measure called the NICS Denial Notification Act, which mandates that the FBI’s NICS Section alert state and local law enforcement of all denied attempts to purchase a firearm within 24 hours.

The stated purpose of the bill is to stop criminals and prevent gun crimes before they happen.

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 FBI undercounts armed citizens stopping attacks

The FBI has been vastly undercounting the times a mass shooting or active shooting event has been stopped by legally armed citizens, according to an independent report provided to Secrets.

In the new report, some undercounting has been “by an order of more than 10,” suggesting that the so-called “good guy with a gun” event is not rare and may be involved in a third or more of the attacks.

“An analysis by my organization identified a total of 360 active shooter incidents during that period and found that an armed citizen stopped 124,” said John R. Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.

“There were another 24 cases that we didn’t include where armed civilians stopped armed attacks, but the suspect didn’t fire his gun. Those cases are excluded from our calculations, though it could be argued that a civilian also stopped what likely could have been an active shooting event,” he added.

In looking over FBI cases between 2014-2021, he found that some 34% were stopped by armed citizens, not the 4% cited by the FBI and often used by the media to dismiss the importance of legally armed citizens.

Lott did not assign any blame for the difference, instead citing how some shootings are counted in the FBI’s reporting.

“Two factors explain this discrepancy – one, misclassified shootings; and two, overlooked incidents. Regarding the former, the CPRC determined that the FBI reports had misclassified five shootings: In two incidents, the bureau notes in its detailed write-up that citizens possessing valid firearms permits confronted the shooters and caused them to flee the scene. However, the FBI did not list these cases as being stopped by armed citizens because police later apprehended the attackers. In two other incidents, the FBI misidentified armed civilians as armed security personnel. Finally, the FBI failed to mention citizen engagement in one incident,” said the report.

Lott found that when he adjusted and corrected the numbers, the percentage of shootings stopped by a legal gun owner jumped from single digits to 34%-49%.

He also argued that gun-free zones were a hindrance to good data and defenses that, if eliminated, would boost the percentage of shootings stopped.

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“Be Afraid, Be Actually Afraid”: Reporters Panic At The Thought Of Twitter Restoring Free Speech Protections

“Be afraid, be actually afraid.”

Those words from former Politico Magazine editor Garrett M. Graff captures the hyperventilation in the media week. No it is not Vladimir Putin’s threat of unleashing a nuclear war or the word that our national debt has reached a staggering $31 trillion. No, it is the news that Elon Musk may go forward with the purchase of Twitter and . . . [triggering warning] . . . free speech protections might be restored on the platform. The pearl-clutching of various media and academic figures show how engrained the censorship culture has become in the United States.

After Musk indicated that he was going forward, the Twitter stock quickly soared. The news that Musk might bring an end to Twitter’s extensive censorship system has previously drawn people back to the platform. However, the media is in full panic mode that the control over speech could be loosened with Musk. Twitter employees also previously panicked at the thought that they might lose some of their control over the speech of others.

NBC News reporter Ben Collins wrote quickly raises the most immediate concern that the sudden ability to speak freely on Twitter could impact the midterm elections.

Consider that for a second: the loss of control over political speech could mean a loss of control over the midterm elections. 

There is, of course, no concern by Collins that Twitter (and other social media companies) have long been “aligned” with Democrats and the Biden Administration.

NPR editor Neela Banerjee retweeted and echoed his concern about “the broader implications for the rest of us of a Musk takeover of Twitter.” 

Others joined in on the collective panic that there could be a loss of control over what people say on social media.

BBC journalist Dickens Olewe warned that “Guardrails will be dropped, misinfo & conspiracy theories will thrive. No functional alternatives available, this is it: a complete destruction of the global public square. Been nice y’all.”  In other words, free speech protections will lead to the destruction of “the global public square” by losing control of who can speak or what people can say.

PoliticusUSA head Sarah Reese Jones seemed to move from the desperate to the outright delusional: “Before 2020, Facebook deplatformed progressives, then it came for mainstream media and elevated only radicalized conservatives. Cut to 2022, we know Elon Musk plans to do same with Twitter. We know how damaging it will be.Tech giants pose ongoing threat to western democracy.”

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When a ‘conspiracy theory’ turns out to be…not a theory

WHEN A ‘CONSPIRACY THEORY’ TURNS OUT TO BE…NOT A THEORY. On Monday, the New York Times published a story about Konnech, a small election software company that has just 27 employees, 21 based in Michigan and six in Australia. The paper reported that Konnech has been the target of “election deniers” who have made it the focus of “a new conspiracy theory about the 2020 presidential election.”

“Using threadbare evidence, or none at all,” the New York Times’s Stuart A. Thompson reported, the “election deniers” said Konnech “had secret ties to the Chinese Communist Party and had given the Chinese government backdoor access to personal data about two million poll workers in the United States.”

In the last two years, the New York Times added, “conspiracy theorists have subjected election officials and private companies that play a major role in elections to a barrage of outlandish voter fraud claims.” But now, “the attacks on Konnech demonstrate how far-right election deniers are also giving more attention to new and more secondary companies and groups.”

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Konnech officials assured the New York Times that “none of the accusations were true.” Thompson reported that employees “feared for their safety” from right-wing violence and that “Konnech’s founder and chief executive, Eugene Yu, an American citizen who immigrated from China in 1986, went into hiding with his family after receiving threatening messages.”

Any reasonable reader would come away with the conclusion that Konnech, an innocent company that makes products to deal with “basic election logistics, such as scheduling poll workers,” has been the target of crazy, and possibly dangerous, conspiracy theories. To press the point, the New York Times used the phrase “conspiracy theory” or “conspiracy theorists” nine times in the article, once in the headline — “How a Tiny Elections Company Became a Conspiracy Theory Target” — seven times in the body of the story, and once in a photo caption. Got it?

Fast forward one day. Twenty-four hours. The New York Times published another story about Konnech, this one headlined, “Election Software Executive Arrested on Suspicion of Theft.” Thompson reported that Yu had been “arrested by Los Angeles County officials in connection with an investigation into the possible theft of personal information about poll workers.”

From the New York Times: “The company has been accused by groups challenging the validity of the 2020 presidential election with storing information about poll workers on servers in China. The company has repeatedly denied keeping data outside the United States, including in recent statements to The New York Times.” And then: The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office “said its investigators had found data stored in China.” And this is from the New York Times on the core of the matter:

Konnech came under scrutiny this year by several election deniers, including a founder of True the Vote, a nonprofit that says it is devoted to uncovering election fraud. True the Vote said its team had downloaded personal information on 1.8 million American poll workers from a server owned by Konnech and hosted in China. It said it obtained the data by using the server’s default password, which it said was ‘password.’ … The group provided no evidence that it had downloaded the data, saying that it had given the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Spotify buys company that detects “dangerous misinformation” and “harmful content”

Audio streaming service Spotify has acquired Kinzen – a company that detects and flags “dangerous misinformation and harmful content” within audio content by generating and analyzing audio transcriptions.

Spotify began partnering with Kinzen in 2020. In a blog post about the acquisiton, Spotify said Kinzen’s technology helps Spotify “analyze potential harmful content in multiple languages and countries.”

Kinzen has previously received funding from tech giant Meta and Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). IFCN partners with Meta to “fact-check” posts on its platforms.

Kinzen also works with “content moderation service providers engaged by large technology companies,” consults with “public policy makers seeking to better understand and respond to harmful content,” and has previously partnered with other fact-checkers to detect “climate misinformation in audio.”

Kinzen’s technology works by using machine learning models to detect and flag “harmful language, language, claims, narratives, and policy violations” within the audio transcriptions it has generated.

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Hacker Sentenced to Probation, No Prison Time, for Data Breach Affecting 100 Million People

A former tech worker from Seattle who was convicted of multiple charges related to the massive hack of Capital One bank and other firms back in 2019 has been sentenced to five years of probation after pleading mental illness.

Paige A. Thompson, 37, used a tool to scan Amazon Web Services (AWS) accounts to identify those which were misconfigured. She then used these misconfigured accounts to hack into networks of over 30 entities and download data, obtaining the personal information of over 100 million people. The data breach forced Capital One to reach a tentative $190 million settlement with affected customers. Capital One was fined $80 million by the Treasury Department for failing to protect data.

Thompson also planted cryptocurrency mining software on the hacked servers, collecting the income generated from such mining. Arrested in July 2019, she was found guilty by a federal jury in June 2022 following a seven-day trial.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik sentenced Thompson to time served plus five years of probation, including location and computer monitoring.

During the sentencing, Lasnik noted that time in prison would be “particularly difficult” for Thompson due to her being transgender and having mental health issues.

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said that he was “disappointed” with the court’s decision and insisted that this is not what “justice looks like.”

“Ms. Thompson’s hacking and theft of information of 100 million people did more than $250 million in damage to companies and individuals. Her cybercrimes created anxiety for millions of people who are justifiably concerned about their private information. This conduct deserves a more significant sanction,” Brown said.

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