‘Anonymous’ retaliates after member arrested by FBI

WASHINGTON — The hacker group known as Anonymous on Thursday posted credit card numbers in retaliation for what it claimed was an FBI raid arresting one of its members.

The group said Barrett Brown was arrested in an FBI raid while participating in an online chat Wednesday.

Contacted by AFP, the FBI declined to comment.

But a video posted by the group, a loosely knit collective with no clearly defined leadership structure, showed the chat interrupted by what appeared to be a raid.

In retaliation, the group posted “these 13 credit cards details as teaser,” saying they were “potentially belonging” to government officials.

A Twitter posting said the offshoot of the group, called Antisec, “retaliates on Barrett Brown arrestation.”

According to a report on the website The Hacker News, Brown came to notoriety when he threatened to release the names of 75 collaborators of the Mexican Zetas cartel for kidnapping an Anonymous member.

The report also said he founded Project PM, which collects information about the intelligence industry and what it claims are threats to privacy and democratic institutions.

Maddow reveals ‘chilling’ WikiLeaks cable written by killed ambassador to Libya

On her show Thursday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained that the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya appeared to be the work of an organized jihadist group rather than the act of an angry mob.

She noted that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed along with three other Americans, wrote a diplomatic cable in 2008 regarding Libya that was later released by WikiLeaks. The cable described Derna, a city not far from Benghazi where Stevens was killed, as a hotbed of al Qaeda activity.

“One Libyan interlocutor likened young men in Derna to Bruce Willis’ character in the action picture ‘Die Hard,’ who stubbornly refused to die quietly,” Stevens wrote. “For them, resistance against coalition forces in Iraq is an important act of ‘jihad’ and a last act of defiance against the Qadhafi regime.”

Initial reports claimed the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was the result of Muslim anger over a crude anti-Islam film produced in the United States. But additional reports of the incident suggest the consulate faced an organized assault from heavily-armed militants sympathetic to al Qaeda.

“Anybody who tells you that what happened to our ambassador and our consulate was the result of a protest over an offensive movie, you should ask them why they think that,” Maddow said. “I mean, that was the first version of events we heard, that does not seem to explain what happened that night. It does not seem to be born out by the facts the more facts we get.”

Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below:

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Who made the anti-Muslim video? What L.A. County knows but is not saying.

Who made the anti-Muslim video? What L.A. County knows but is not saying.

A movie cannot shoot in L.A. County without a permit, and a permit makes public the names of the film’s writer, director, and producer. This means that answers to the question of who was behind “Innocence of Muslims,” the anti-Muslim project that sparked a wave of mob violence across the Middle…

Barney Frank slams ‘intellectually dishonest’ Log Cabin Republicans

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) on Thursday night continued his altercation with America’s largest gay and lesbian Republican organization, accusing the Log Cabin Republicans of being intellectually dishonest.

“This year in particular, we have an extraordinary gap between the two parties,” he said on Current TV. “You have this completely anti-LGBT Republican Party, with Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, they’re opposed to everything,” he said. “On the other hand, you have the Democratic platform, which is better than people thought it was going to be [and] the Democratic Convention making it very clear we are for full equality for LGBT people.”

“If someone wants to say to me, ‘Look, I’m more worried about the taxes I would pay, and I don’t believe in global warming, and I want to spend more on the military — and therefore I’m going to vote Republican, despite gay rights,’ I accept that,” the openly gay congressman told Eliot Spitzer. “But when they tell me that voting for Mitt Romney with his anti-gay platform is a way to advance gay rights, that’s misleading. That’s going to deceive people.”

Frank has been engaged in an ongoing feud with the pro-LGBT Republican group, after he said their “role model is Uncle Tom” earlier this month.

The Log Cabin Republicans responded by saying Frank was trying to “divide, distract and deceive the American people.” The group said it was “a badge of honor” to be attacked by Frank, who they described as a “partisan hack” and the Democratic Party’s “attack dog.”

But Frank refused to back down, saying the Log Cabin Republicans confused voters into thinking they could help LGBT rights by “supporting Mitt Romney and his Rick Santorum platform.”

Watch video, courtesy of Current TV, below:

Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire erupts, thousands evacuated

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala’s Volcano of Fire had its strongest eruption in a decade Thursday, prompting the evacuation of around 1,500 families, officials announced.

The eruption created massive columns of smoke that could be seen from the capital, some 75 kilometers (46 miles) away.

“This type of eruption is stronger than normal and hasn’t been seen in recent years. That’s why we have declared an orange alert” in the area around the volcano, in western Guatemala, Gustavo Chigna, of the Vulcanology Institute, told local media.

He added that the strong explosion had buried in ash several villages near the 3,763-meter (12,345-foot) tall volcano. Rumblings were heard for several kilometers (miles) around.

Alejandro Maldonado, the head of Guatemala’s disaster prevention agency, said 1,500 families had been moved out of their homes and taken to temporary housing.

The agency said in a statement that ash had spread up to 12 kilometers (seven miles) to the west and northwest of the volcano.

Cornel West: Obama very much part of a system that has failed the poor

Princeton professor Cornel West said Thursday that President Barack Obama had not done enough to help the poor, but he was still a better choice than Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“I mean, we would say that the mendacity and mediocrity of Romney is such that it’s fairly clear that Obama will win,” he said on Democracy Now. “The problem is, is that Obama himself, though better than Romney, is still very much part of a system that has failed poor and working people.”

Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday showed that 46.2 million people, roughly one in six Americans, were living in poverty. The data also showed that income for middle-class families had declined, while the top 10 percent of households saw their incomes rise.

“It’s fairly clear capitalism is not working for poor and working people in America,” West said. “And we have to bear witness to that. We have to tell that truth. Of course we’re very sensitive when it comes to the fear of a right-wing takeover of the White House with Romney, would be catastrophic.”

“But as I have also noted, so far, Obama has been disastrous. So the question is, how do we acknowledge that this suffering is real, keep track of not just the statistics, but the precious humanity of the folk who are catching hell?”

West and TV host Tavis Smiley are hoping to make the poor in America a campaign issue with their new Poverty Tour 2.0.

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by Democracy Now, below:

Reporter: Romney surrounded by Bush neocons

Washington Post reporter Nia Malika Henderson on Thursday noted that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had selected neoconservatives from the Bush administration to be his foreign policy advisers.

“He is surrounded by neocons from the Bush administration, people that Colin Powell called ‘too far to the right’ in terms of what he believed was the right course for American policy,” she said on MSNBC.

More than 70 percent of Romney’s foreign policy advisers worked for the Bush administration, according to The Nation. One of Romney’s closest foreign policy advisers, Dan Senor, is the former spokesman for the American government in Iraq.

Eight of Romney’s foreign policy advisers also participated in the Project for a New American Century, a neoconservative think tank that influenced Bush’s military and foreign policies.

“Part of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy is that he wants to expand the military by 100,000 troops, bring up the level of support up to 4 percent of the GDP and that plays really well in a state like Virginia where there is a big military population,” Henderson said. “But I think it does go up against the fact that Americans are weary of war at this point. We already experienced a time where we did have two large land wars going on at the same time and we saw what that did to the economy.”

“So he is very much going up against a different reality in terms of what Americans what, but then again he has these neocons who are surrounding him that were part of the push to war with Iraq.”

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Reddit rises as Web’s best conversation hub

Reddit rises as Web's best conversation

Near the end of August, President Obama’s campaign trail swung through a curious community. He stood before the digital crowds of Reddit.com and called out, “Hi, I’m Barack Obama, president of the United States. Ask me anything.” If this call for questions had rung out over Facebook or Twitter, it…

What ‘rogues and vagabonds’ have to do with Pennsylvania voter ID law

What 'rogues and vagabonds' have to do with Pennsylvania voter ID law

An 1869 ruling used by a Pennsylvania state judge in August to uphold a tough new voter ID law is providing some new and startling historical context to deliberations by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, as it mulls whether to block the controversial law before the Nov. 6 presidential election. Looking…

Rep. Lee: Beyond shameful that 16 million children are living in poverty

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus, on Thursday called for Congress to declare a “war on poverty.”

“It is beyond shameful that over 45 million Americans, including over 16 million children, are living in poverty in the wealthiest nation in the world,” she said on the House floor.

Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday showed that 46.2 million people, roughly one in six Americans, were living in poverty. The data also showed that income for middle-class families had declined, while the top 10 percent of households saw their incomes rise.

“Now is not the time to turn our backs on struggling families just to preserve or even expand tax giveaways to millionaires and billionaires,” Lee added. “We must come together to wage a war on poverty and end the war on the poor, which have already been devastated by multiple rounds of budget cuts that are hurting families across this country.”

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by Congresswoman Lee, below:

U.S. embassies attacked in Yemen and Egypt amid film protests

SANAA — Demonstrators stormed the US embassy in Yemen on Thursday, leading to clashes in which four people were killed, while protesters stoned Washington’s mission in Cairo as anger spread over a US-produced film mocking Islam.

A security official said 34 people were also wounded in the clashes “that lasted from morning until late in the evening,” and that eight were in serious condition.

Witnesses said police fired live rounds tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters while troops deployed on rooftops of buildings around the mission in Sanaa.

Earlier in the day police used water cannon and fired warning shots to expel protesters who breached the perimeter wall.

One demonstrator was shot dead outside the compound as police battled to prevent any new incursion, with three others killed in successive clashes.

The protests came as US and Libyan officials said they were probing a mob attack on the consulate in Benghazi that killed the ambassador and three other US officials on Tuesday, amid growing speculation it was the work of jihadist militants rather than just demonstrators.

As Libya announced it made arrests, US Attorney General Eric Holder told an Arab forum in Qatar, “the FBI has opened an investigation” into the deaths and the attack on the consulate.

Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi apologised to his US counterpart Barack Obama and the American people for the acts of a “mob” and ordered a probe.

“Those who are behind (the attack) are a mob that are not aware of the far-reaching plots of Zionist forces, especially those who made a film insulting the Prophet,” said Hadi.

Some protesters said they saw three vehicles being torched by some of the demonstrators after they gained access to the compound through an unguarded security gate.

After being evicted from the complex on their first assault, protesters retreated about 100 metres (yards) from the gate, gathering near a checkpoint where they chanted anti-Jewish slogans.

Chanting “O, messenger of Allah… O, Mohammed,” the protesters then launched a second bid to access the compound, prompting police to fire on the crowd, witnesses said, and clashes continued until late in the evening.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned the violence and urged Yemeni authorities to boost security at EU diplomatic missions in Sanaa.

“We have urged the Yemeni authorities to reinforce security of EU missions in Sanaa and to take the necessary measures to protect diplomats,” Ashton added.

Violence also rocked the Egyptian capital Cairo, where police fired tear gas to disperse protests outside the embassy by stone- and bottle-throwing demonstrators.

A total of 224 people were injured, the Egyptian health ministry said.

On Tuesday night, protesters stormed the Cairo embassy compound, tearing down the Stars and Stripes and replacing it with a black Islamic flag.

— ‘Chaos’ looms —


Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi condemned the offence caused by the movie but warned against resorting to violence.

“We Egyptians reject any kind of assault or insult against our prophet. I condemn and oppose all who… insult our Prophet,” he said on state television.

“(But) it is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad,” Morsi said. “I call on everyone to take that into consideration, not to violate Egyptian law… not to assault embassies.”

Amid the mounting protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Middle East was at risk of descending into “chaos.”

“We are afraid that the region may descend into chaos, which is essentially what is happening already,” he said from his summer residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

He also urged the new governments that rose to power in the Arab Spring uprisings to accept greater responsibility for security.

The low-budget movie in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the film, stressing that the US government had nothing to do with it.

“To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage,” Clinton said.

“The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message.”

But she reiterated: “There is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence.”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said all embassy staff in Yemen were safe and accounted for as White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted Washington was doing everything possible to protect its diplomats.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, condemned both the release of the amateur movie mocking Islam and the deadly attacks against US missions.

The Afghan government, meanwhile, ordered an indefinite ban on YouTube to prevent access to the film, officials in Kabul said.

Libya’s new Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur told AFP in an exclusive interview that there had been a “big advance” in the investigation into the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif said that arrests had been made but declined to elaborate on the number of people in custody or their backgrounds “so as not to hamper the smooth running of the investigation.”

The Vatican condemned the Benghazi attack calling it an “organised” operation by “terrorist organisations.”

Protests were also held in Iraq and Iran as anger over the US-produced movie “Innocence of Muslims” that initially erupted among Sunni Muslims spread to the two Shiite-majority countries.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded the United States to punish those behind the film.

“If the American politicians are honest that they had no role, then they must punish those who committed this heinous crime and their financial backers in proportion to this great crime,” he said, according to his official website.

In Kuwait about 500 demonstrators gathered near the US embassy waving black Al-Qaeda flags and chanting: “Obama, we are all Osama” bin Laden.

Police protecting suspected anti-Islam filmmaker in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES — The man suspected of producing a crude film lampooning the Prophet Mohammed has been placed under police protection after protests erupted around the world, a force spokesman said Thursday.

Journalists gathered outside the home of a 55-year-old Coptic Christian, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, in the city’s southern suburbs, after reports he had directed the movie that triggered protests in the Muslim world.

There was no sign at the house of Nakoula, who is thought to have uploaded a trailer for the movie to the YouTube video-sharing site under the pseudonym “Sam Bacile,” but police said he had asked for protections.

“We did receive the call and we did respond. We’re providing public safety and we will continue to do so,” said Steve Whitman, a spokesman for the county sheriff in Cerritos, 24 miles (40 kilometers) south of Los Angeles.

Little is known about Nakoula, who was sentenced to 21 months in prison in 2010 for bank fraud. His family refused to speak to reporters at his home.

If he is the figure who has been posing as Sam Bacile, then he told two US media outlets that he was Israeli-American and Jewish, but an associate has now confirmed to AFP that he is a Christian American and not Israeli.

A 14-minute package of excerpts from the movie he is thought to have produced — “Innocence of the Muslims” — was uploaded onto the Internet in July. In it, an actor playing Mohammed is portrayed as a drunken and predatory bisexual.

The film is marked by amateur acting, laughable fake beards and shoddy production values was apparently shot in English, but a version of the trailer was dubbed into Egyptian Arabic and caused great offense in the Arab world.

Egyptian Islamist television networks broadcast the clip, triggering a riot in which a mob stormed the grounds of the American embassy and tore down the US flag. Similar unrest erupted in Yemen on Thursday.

An attack on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, was at first thought to be linked to the protests, but investigators now suspect an extremist plot.

Actors who appeared in the film have come forward to denounce “Bacile”, alleging they were misled about the content and that references to Islam and the Prophet Mohammed were dubbed over their voices in post production.

Fed’s bond-buying plan sparks strong financial rally

WASHINGTON — US stocks soared Thursday after the Federal Reserve announced a new “QE3” bond-buying program focused on boosting jobs and pulling the housing market back to life.

After trading flat before the Fed’s announcement, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 206.51 points (1.55 percent) at 13,539.86.

The S&P 500-stock index added 23.43 (1.63 percent) to 1,459.99, while the tech-rich Nasdaq gained 41.52 (1.33 percent) to 3,155.83.

The Federal Reserve announced a new program of purchasing $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed bonds aiming at dragging down long-term interest rates.

It also pledged to keep its current ultra-low benchmark interest rate in place through mid-2015, and said it would continue its monetary easing efforts until it saw substantial improvement in the jobs market.

“Despite the fact that additional Fed easing was largely baked into financial asset prices recently, markets cheered the news,” said Paul Edelstein, an economist at IHS Global Insight.

“US equity markets added roughly one percent following the statement. Counter-intuitively, however, bond prices fell, sending yields higher.”

“It’s unusual for the market to rally like that on news that’s expected, but I think it was the nature of the Federal Reserve announcement, the aggressive size of the quantitative easing that was announced,” said Chris Low of FTN Financial.

“Also the fact that it was open-ended, which changes the range of future possibilities, all of that together was very, very stimulative for the stock market.”

Banks were big beneficiaries, with Bank of America up 4.8 percent and JPMorgan Chase 3.7 percent, Citigroup 4.2 percent and Wells Fargo 3.6 percent.

Housing shares took a big jump from the news, with builder Hovnanian up 3.3 percent, Comstock up 6.2 percent, Lennar 1.7 percent and Standard Pacific 3.7 percent.

Mining shares followed gold and other minerals higher, with Freeport McMoran jumping 4.3 percent, Newmont Mining up 5.2 percent and Barrick Gold, 4.8 percent.

Apple shares meanwhile pushed up 2.0 percent to its highest closing price ever, $682.98, after launching the ultra-sleek iPhone 5 to positive reviews.

Bond prices were mixed after having jumped ahead of the Fed decision. The yield on the 10-year Treasury was flat at 1.76 percent, while the 30-year yield rose to 2.97 percent from 2.93 percent on Wednesday. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

Romney: Middle East ‘needs’ U.S. leadership

FAIRFAX, Virginia — Republican nominee Mitt Romney paid tribute Thursday to four American diplomats killed in Libya, and while he steered clear of President Barack Obama’s handling of the crisis he said US power was vital in the Middle East.

Romney sparked a furor late Tuesday and Wednesday when he offered quick and blunt criticism of steps the Obama administration took to try and tamp down a rapidly escalating protest in Cairo, Egypt, amid swirling regional violence that ended up claiming the life of the US ambassador to Libya.

“I know that we have heavy hearts across America today,” Romney said while campaigning in swing state Virginia, near the US capital.

“We’ve lost four of our diplomats across the world, we’re thinking about their families and those that they’ve left behind.”

But while calling the deaths “a tragedy,” Romney did not repeat some of his earlier accusations that the Obama administration was apologizing for American values and sympathizing with the protesters.

Instead he shifted to one of his broader themes on the campaign trail, that the United States under Obama is no longer projecting the military might and strength it did in the past.

“As we watch the world today, sometimes it seems that we’re at the mercy of events instead of shaping events, and a strong America is essential to shape events,” Romney told about 2,700 supporters in a suburban park.

“The world needs American leadership. The Middle East needs American leadership and I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and will keep us admired throughout the world.”

Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, hammered Obama for trimming the military budget by nearly half a trillion dollars over the next decade, given that defense spending will increase at a slower rate than it did under the last Republican president, George W. Bush.

The White House hopeful also sought to blame the president for another half trillion in automatic defense cuts that will kick in next January if Congress does not act, though both Republicans and Democrats agreed to that reduction.

The moves will cut into what Romney described as the Pentagon’s decades-old “capacity to be engaged in two conflicts at once.”

Romney told the crowd he had prepared to hold a moment of silence for US ambassador Chris Stevens and the three others killed in an attack Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya, but opted to carry on with his speech when a protester interrupted him several times before being escorted away.

The Republican instead seized on poor economic news, including a report that median income has declined by $4,300, to say four years of Obama’s policies “have not worked.”

The multimillionaire former businessman, who has endured criticism that he is out of touch with everyday voters, then mentioned something he rarely discusses on the campaign trail: the rich-poor gap.

Obama’s presidency has “led to a larger and larger gap between the wealthier and the rest of America,” Romney said.

The Romney campaign, which is trailing Obama slightly in the polls, has repeatedly said the November 6 election will be a referendum on the president’s economic record.

Beef producer sues ABC News over ‘pink slime’ label

WASHINGTON — A major US beef producer sued ABC News Thursday, claiming the network launched a “disinformation campaign” by calling its ground beef products “pink slime.”

The company, Beef Products, Inc., filed suit for defamation against ABC and its team of journalists including Diane Sawyer, anchor for the flagship ABC World News, and correspondent Jim Avila.

The lawsuit seeks damages for “defamation, product and food disparagement, tortious interference with business relationships, and other wrongs” allegedly committed by ABC News.

It says the broadcaster produced “nearly 200 false and disparaging statements regarding BPI and its product, ‘lean, finely-textured beef’… in a month-long vicious, concerted disinformation campaign against BPI, companies that produced a safe, nutritious beef.”

South Dakota-based BPI said it is a group of family-owned companies which together produce the largest amount of the product, LFTB, made from a process that gets more meat from each animal includes beef trimmings and other cuts of beef to make ground beef.

“BPI was an American success story,” the complaint said. “BPI was able to produce a lean beef that lowered the fat content of ground beef, lowered the cost of ground beef for consumers, and decreased the number of cattle slaughtered for lean beef production. BPI made a safe and nutritious product that was good for consumers, the beef industry and the environment.”

It said that on March 7, the fortunes of BPI were reversed by “a disinformation campaign against BPI and LFTB” which “manufactured a baseless consumer backlash against BPI and LFTB.”

It said ABC “knowingly misled the public into believing that LFTB was not beef at all, but rather was an unhealthy ‘pink slime’ ‘hidden’ in ground beef… based on knowing or reckless misstatements of facts.”

On the ABC News website, senior vice president Jeffrey Schneider was quoted as saying the lawsuit was “without merit.

“We will contest it vigorously,” he was quoted as saying.

In April, Pennsylvania-based AFA Foods said it was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following media coverage of the same issue.

The product in question includes leftover bits of slaughtered cattle mixed in a centrifuge, then treated with a cloud of ammonia in a USDA-approved process intended to deter e.coli contamination.

Pink slime got its unflattering nickname from microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein, who as a USDA food inspector investigating a food bacteria outbreak in 2002 toured a Beef Products plant and recoiled at what he found.