BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Authorities say three security guards at a Louisiana bar have been accused of using their positions to illegally detain a sound technician and search his vehicle.
The victim told Baton Rouge police he was working for a band that was performing Oct. 13. Authorities say he was sitting in his truck when he was approached by 25-year-old Devin Scarborough, 25-year-old Nicholas Fetty and 28-year-old Kevin Marshall Jr.
The Advocate reports the victim said they opened the driver’s side door, pulled him out and handcuffed him. He says they took his wallet and searched his truck without his permission. Authorities say cellphone video shows the security guards detaining the victim.
The security guards were recently arrested and charged with simple battery along with another offense. It’s unclear if they have lawyers.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com
VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a woman tried to sneak more than $1,800 worth of electronics through a Florida Walmart’s self-checkout by switching the items’ price tags with those from clearance items.
Treasure Coast Newspapers reports that 25-year-old Cheyenne Amber West was arrested Monday and charged with felony grand theft and felony shoplifting.
An arrest report says a loss-prevention officer at the Vero Beach Walmart told a deputy he saw West and another woman select a computer, video game controllers and other merchandise from the electronics department. The report says West covered the bar codes with stickers removed from less expensive items that rang up to just $3.70.
West was free on $3,000 bail. Jail records didn’t list an attorney.
The woman who was with West wasn’t arrested.
Information from: The (Fort Pierce, Fla.) Tribune, http://www.stluciecounty.com
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Ever so cautiously, North Korea is going online.
Doctors can consult via live video conferencing. People text each other on their smart phones. In the wallets of the privileged are cards for e-shopping and online banking. And this is all done on a tightly sealed intranet of the sort a medium-sized company might use for its employees.
With the possible exception of Eritrea, North Korea is still the least Internet-friendly country on Earth. Access to the global Internet for most is unimaginable, and hardly anyone has a personal computer or an email address that isn’t shared.
But for Kim Jong Un, the country’s first leader to come of age with the Internet, the idea of a more wired North Korea also comes with the potential for great benefits — and for new forms of social and political control. Pyongyang’s solution is a two-tiered system where the trusted elite can surf the Internet with relative freedom while the masses are kept inside the national intranet, painstakingly sealed off from the outside world, meticulously surveilled and built in no small part on pilfered software.
The sprawling, glassy Sci-Tech Complex houses North Korea’s biggest e-library, with more than 3,000 terminals. Pak Sung Jin, a postgraduate in chemistry, came to work on an essay.
Unlike most North Koreans, Pak has some experience with the Internet, though on a supervised, need-only basis. If Pak needs anything from the Internet, accredited university officials will find it for him.
Today, he is relying on the Internet’s North Korean alter ego, the national intranet, a unique way to exert control through not just blocking but complete separation.
Pak is on the walled-off network North Koreans call “Kwangmyong,” which means brightness or light. Using the “Naenara” browser — the name means “my country” but it’s a modified version of FireFox — Pak visits a restaurant page, his university website, and cooking and online shopping sites. There are about 168 sites on Kwangmyong, an official said, spread across separate networks for government agencies, schools and libraries, and companies.
Like most North Korean computers, the desktops at the Sci-Tech Complex run on the “Red Star” operating system, which was developed from Linux open-source coding. Leaked versions of Red Star also reveal some rather sinister, and for most users invisible, features.
Any attempt to change its core functions or disable virus checkers results in an automatic reboot cycle. Files downloaded from USBs are watermarked so that authorities can identify and trace criminal or subversive activity. And a trace viewer takes regular screenshots of what is being displayed.
Nat Kretchun, deputy director of the Open Technology Fund, said the kinds of censorship and surveillance software in North Korea reveal a new information control strategy. Before, information was primarily controlled through a resource-intensive human network. But the advent of the Internet poked holes in that strategy, so North Korean officials learned to adapt by using the online devices themselves as yet another tool for surveillance.
“In North Korea cell phones and intranet-enabled devices are on balance pro-surveillance and control,” said Kretchun, who has been studying North Korea’s relationship to the Internet for years.
The most common online experience for North Koreans isn’t on a laptop or desktop. It’s on a smart phone.
There are an estimated 2.5-3 million mobile phones in North Korea, a country of 25 million. Mobile phone use has blossomed over the past five years with the introduction of 3G services, thanks in large part to two foreign investors — Loxley Pacific of Thailand and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology.
Like the walled-off intranet, North Korea’s phones deny access to the outside world. North Koreans can surf the domestic Intranet or snap selfies, and have hundreds of ring tones to choose from and can snap selfies. But they cannot receive or place calls to numbers outside that network — the rest of the world, in other words.
North Korea undoubtedly imports and rebrands some of its IT products. But over the past few months, two companies have generated quite a stir among Apple fans with products billed to be wholly domestic: the “Jindallae (Azalea) III” mobile phone and the “Ryonghung iPad.” The gadgets’ similarity to Apple products, and the flat-out appropriation of the “iPad” name, isn’t especially surprising, as Kim Jong Un is known to like Apple products.
It seems North Korean coders have also lifted some ideas from Apple.
Outside experts believe a program similar to what Apple uses in its OS X and iOS is the basis of the booby-trap that thwarts attempts to disable security functions in Red Star. It’s now a staple on North Korean phones. And by 2014, all mobile phone operating systems had been updated to include the watermarking system to reject apps or media that don’t carry a government signature of approval. It’s the same mechanism Apple uses to block unauthorized applications from the App Store, but in North Korea’s case serves to control access to information.
As in all of North Korea, Kim Jong Un is ever present. So it’s perhaps fitting that one of the most popular apps is a role playing game based on a locally created hit anime series, called “Boy General.” It costs $1.80.
Talmadge has been the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief since 2013 and has traveled to the North more than 40 times. Follow him on Twitter at EricTalmadge and Instagram @erictalmadge.
NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T’s pending acquisition of Time Warner, an $85 billion media deal that could shake up how Americans watch TV, is being held up by the government. That’s raising red flags for some who worry that the White House is trying to put pressure on CNN, the news network owned by Time Warner.
The Justice Department told AT&T that it wanted the telecom company to sell its DirecTV satellite unit or Time Warner’s Turner, which houses CNN, TBS and TNT, to get the deal approved, said a person familiar with the situation, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
According to a Justice Department official, AT&T has offered to divest CNN. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said the department rejected that offer as insufficient to resolve its concerns, which it did not specify.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement, “I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so.” An AT&T spokesman did not respond to other questions, although one company executive told an investor conference Wednesday that timing of the deal is “uncertain.”
The deal’s holdup has raised suspicions of political retaliation — even from people who oppose the deal entirely. As a candidate, Donald Trump vowed to block the deal because it concentrated too much “power in the hands of too few.” As president, Trump has often blasted CNN for its coverage of him and his administration, disparaging it and its reporters as “fake news.”
“While there are plenty of good reasons to oppose AT&T’s Time Warner takeover, punishing CNN for trying to hold this administration accountable isn’t one of them,” Free Press’ president, Craig Aaron, said in a statement. The consumer group opposes the deal and media consolidation in general.
Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, tweeted that “Presidential power must be used wisely and fairly. I don’t know the details here but this is worth investigating.”
“Are we really going to make the (Justice Department) use antitrust law to force the sale of a cable channel because the President doesn’t like its news coverage?” tweeted Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission. “You can dislike consolidation but still find this extremely disturbing if true.”
In an email provided by a DOJ spokeswoman, White House spokesman Raj Shah said that Trump “did not speak with the attorney general about this matter,” and that “no White House official was authorized to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter.” In a separate statement, DOJ’s new antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, said he has “never been instructed by the White House on this or any other transaction under review by the antitrust division.”
Time Warner shares dropped 6.5 percent to $$88.50 Wednesday. AT&T stock closed up 1.1 percent at $33.44.
If AT&T and DOJ cannot agree to conditions, the government can sue to block the deal. The Justice official said no decision on the deal has been reached yet and that conversations continue.
AT&T had previously targeted the end of the year for closing the deal, and Wall Street analysts had widely expected the deal to go through. Obama-era regulators in 2011 approved a similar media merger, cable company Comcast’s purchase of NBCUniversal, after Comcast agreed to a slew of business requirements.
Delrahim has said he prefers “structural” changes to a deal, like selling off assets, rather than having the government monitor a company’s promises to abide by certain conditions, as was done with Comcast. Requiring AT&T to sell either Turner or DirecTV would be in line with Delrahim’s thinking.
AT&T hopes to benefit from marrying all of Time Warner’s assets to its own. It would then supply its video — HBO, CNN, TBS and the Warner Bros. movie studio — while providing access to the internet for millions of Americans.
Consumer groups, some TV networks and some conservative groups have criticized the deal, saying it would hurt consumers by allowing AT&T to discriminate against TV networks it doesn’t own or raise prices on other cable and satellite TV companies for its programming. Several Democratic lawmakers have also pushed back against the combination.
Forcing a sale of CNN could harm the news network, if a buyer doesn’t have the same deep pockets as AT&T and Time Warner to support newsgathering.
Being forced to sell off Turner is probably a “nonstarter” for AT&T, New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin said. He said the company has “very good” prospects of winning in court against the Justice Department. “It’s difficult to imagine an antitrust argument that will be compelling” from the government, he said.
AT&T has long noted that “vertical mergers” — when one company buys another that isn’t a direct competitor — are typically approved.
In an emailed statement, the Justice Department said that it “is committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts. Beyond that, the Department does not comment on any pending investigation.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has threatened to sue the NFL over a proposed contract extension for Commissioner Roger Goodell, a dispute apparently sparked by star running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension over alleged domestic violence, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Jones told the six owners on the compensation committee he had hired high-profile attorney David Boies and was prepared to sue if the group voted to extend Goodell’s deal, the person told the AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no one has been authorized to reveal details.
Jones also has expressed disapproval with the structure and compensation in the contract extension, another person familiar with the proposed lawsuit says. That person also spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason.
The actions of Jones were first reported by The New York Times.
All 32 owners voted in May to extend Goodell’s contract and authorized the compensation committee to work out the details. Goodell suspended Elliott in August after a yearlong NFL investigation. Prosecutors in Ohio declined to pursue the domestic violence case.
Jones, who is not on the compensation committee but is one of the most powerful owners in the league, has expressed frustration over the NFL’s pursuit of criminal matters with its own investigators.
Asked on his radio show last week if he wanted Goodell to remain commissioner, Jones avoided a direct answer and said Elliott was a “victim of an overcorrection” because of the NFL’s mishandling of former Baltimore running back Ray Rice’s domestic case involving his then-fiancee.
Goodell’s initial suspension of two games was sharply criticized because of a video showing Rice dragging an unconscious Janay Palmer from an elevator. Another video later surfaced of Rice punching Palmer in the face, and he was suspended indefinitely. The suspension was lifted by an arbitrator, but Rice never signed with another team.
“I can show you many positive things that this commissioner, Roger, has done, is doing and I can show you some of the things that he wants to take back,” Jones said on his radio show Oct. 31.
“This is a very example of it. I’m sure he’d like to take back his initial Ray Rice stance and a few others. He’s in the process of having tried to correct that and in doing so, Zeke is a victim of an overcorrection.”
The NFL hired former New York prosecutor Lisa Friel to help shape the stronger policy on domestic violence that came out of the Rice incident. The updated policy included the league’s ability to investigate cases on its own regardless of law enforcement’s involvement.
Prosecutors in Elliott’s case cited conflicting evidence when deciding not to pursue the case. The NFL’s probe continued for a year after that decision. Jones said his running back has been treated unfairly, and Elliott has denied the allegations of his ex-girlfriend under oath.
“I am very troubled by the swings that we’ve had,” Jones said on his radio program. “His swing of judgment has been unbelievable from the Ray Rice thing all the way up to one or two games, all the way to the six-game suspension when you’ve truly got a debate. In our legal system it has to be stronger than that for somebody who has done it.”
Goodell’s decision to suspend Elliott prompted weeks of twists and turns in courtrooms from Texas to Louisiana to New York. A three-judge panel in New York has a hearing Thursday to consider another injunction to stop the suspension. Elliott, on his third legal reprieve, has played all eight games for the Cowboys.
“We make the commissioner in the NFL the most powerful person that I know of as to the organization and it’s constituency, so it’s a big deal not only when we’re hiring, but when we extend him,” Jones said after a game in Washington two weekends ago. “So there’s a lot of consideration to it, and it shouldn’t surprise anybody.”
AP Pro Football Writer Schuyler Dixon in Frisco, Texas, contributed to this report.
More AP NFL: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP—NFL
DENVER (AP) — The Air Force Academy said Wednesday it would not discuss what led a student to allegedly stage a hate crime, but a researcher said those who commit hoaxes are sometimes trying to bolster their reputations or want to deflect attention from trouble they are in.
The academy said this week that an African-American student acknowledged writing anti-black slurs in a dormitory in September and that an investigation confirmed the student was responsible.
The epithets prompted academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria to sternly warn students that racists were not welcome at the school, and he invoked some of the racial tensions that have been gripping the country. A video of the speech has been widely viewed online.
Silveria stood by his comments Tuesday after the slurs were revealed to be a hoax, saying the need for a culture of respect can never be overemphasized.
Academy spokesman Meade Warthen said he could not discuss what may have motivated the student, citing privacy laws.
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said hate-crime hoaxes are often meant to attract or divert attention or they can be a political statement.
The slurs were found at a prep school on the Air Force Academy grounds outside Colorado Springs. The prep school helps potential academy cadets meet the academy’s entrance requirements.
The student, whose name was not released, has left the school, but officials will not say whether the student was expelled or withdrew.
Many hate-crime hoaxes occur in school settings, Levin said.
“I think that schools and universities are perceived as places that are more embracing to victims of such a tragedy (as a hate crime),” he said. “A place where the culture is to rally around victims of prejudice, such as universities, would be a reason.”
Hate-crime hoaxes seem to be on the rise, but the number is tiny compared with actual hate crimes, he said.
The FBI said 5,850 hate crimes were reported to law enforcement in 2015, an average of 16 a day. Levin estimated that no more than three hoaxes a month occur nationwide.
He worries that hoaxes will discourage real victims from coming forward for fear of being attacked or doubted.
“Most hate crimes are not reported to begin with, so that’s why this is a worrisome development,” Levin said.
The Air Force Academy announcement was the second time this week that a hate crime was exposed as a hoax. Police in Manhattan, Kansas, said Monday that a black man acknowledged putting racist graffiti on his own car as a Halloween prank.
That followed a string of incidents at Kansas State University in Manhattan since May. A noose was left in a tree, white supremacist fliers were found on campus and an anti-gay slur was written outside the student union.
Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/dan%20elliott .