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Video below of Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, 1971. (more…)
The Associated Press and the SITE Intel Group, an organization that tracks the online activity of terrorist groups, both reported on Tuesday that the Islamic State has posted a video of the execution barely two weeks after the group formerly known as ISIS published a similar clip of American photojournalist James Foley suffering the same fate.
“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State,” a masked militant believed to be the same who executed Foley addresses the president in the latest video.
Kneeling in an orange jump suit, Sotloff is seen in the clip reading a statement to the president as Foley did before him.
“Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life?” Sotloff asks.
"As your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike necks of your people," the masked man says before killing Sotloff. Another captured civilian — David Cawthorne Haines of the UK — will be the next murdered unless "this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State" ends, militants warn in the video.
The White House could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the latest video, “A Second Message to America,” but press secretary Joshua Earnest said during a briefing on Tuesday that the administration’s “thoughts and prayers” are with Sotloff’s family. Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, said she was “sickened” by the news, and British Prime Minister David Cameron called it an "absolutely disgusting, despicable act."
A 31-year-old freelance journalist who has written for Time magazine and the Christian Science Monitor, among others, Sotloff was kidnapped near Aleppo, Syria in August 2013. According to a profile published in the New York Times last month, Sotloff’s family tried desperately during the last year to keep his abduction quiet due to fears that the publicity would endanger him further, but changed course recently after the Islamic State warned that he’d be among the next executed lest the United State end its campaign against the militants.
Upon release of the Foley video last month, the Islamic State demanded that US President Barack Obama cease attacks on the group or else risk Sotloff becoming the next casualty of the group’s violent campaign in Iraq and Syria.
Sotloff’s fate, a militant warned Pres. Obama last month, “depends on your next decision.” In response, Sotloff’s mother posted a minute-and-a-half-long video plea asking Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to release her son.
“You, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you please to release my child. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life,” Shirley Sotloff pleaded.
The US has since ramped up its attacks on the Islamic State, and international efforts are expected to be discussed by NATO member state’s during this week’s summit in Wales. During Tuesday’s State Dept. briefing, Psaki said that Pres. Obama has so far authorized at least 100 air strikes in Iraq against the Islamic State.
Sixty foreign leaders and dozens of diplomats and defense officials from around the globe will convene at the event this week and are expected to approve a plan that calls for assembling a 4,000-strong “spearhead” force to counter “Russia's aggressive behavior,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday, in the wake of the release of satellite images purported to show the advancement of at least 1,000 Russian troops and artillery into eastern Ukraine.
But on the eve of the first major NATO meeting since 2012, a coalition composed of seven former United States intelligence officers is asking the alliance to recall the 2003 invasion of Iraq before authorizing any military action.
According to the group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, the evidence produced by NATO from the Ukrainian-Russian border is on par with the “same dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the US-led attack on Iraq.”
“We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now,” reads an excerpt from the memo signed by the VIPS steering group — a coalition composed of former National Security Agency analyst William Binney, retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern, retired US Army Colonel Ann Wright and others — published online over the weekend and addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Photos can be worth a thousand words; they can also deceive. We have considerable experience collecting, analyzing and reporting on all kinds of satellite and other imagery, as well as other kinds of intelligence. Suffice it to say that the images released by NATO on August 28 provide a very flimsy basis on which to charge Russia with invading Ukraine,” the group added.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, begged to differ, however. Upon release of the satellite images last week, the UN group held an emergency meeting on Thursday, the likes of which Power said marked the twenty-fourth time the Security Council hosted a meeting “to try to rein in Russia’s aggressive acts in Ukraine.”
“Every single one of those sessions has sent a straight-forward, unified message: Russia, stop this conflict. Russia is not listening,” Power added. “We said it when Russia flagrantly violated international law in occupying Crimea. We said it after the shocking downing of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, which took the lives of innocent men, women, children and infants from 11 countries. And we say it today, as Russia’s soldiers, tanks, air defense and artillery support and fight alongside separatists as they open a new front in a crisis manufactured in and fueled by Russia.”
Power’s sentiments were countered by Russia’s UN representative, Vitaly Churkin, who said, “Russian volunteers in eastern parts of Ukraine” are involved in the conflict, but not the Kremlin.
Despite insistence from the State Dept., all-but-one member of the Security Council and NATO, however, VIPS wrote in their statement to Chancellor Merkel that evidence alleged to show actual encroachment into Ukraine by the Russian military lacks substance.
“If the photos that NATO and the US have released represent the best available ‘proof’ of an invasion from Russia, our suspicions increase that a major effort is under way to fortify arguments for the NATO summit to approve actions that Russia is sure to regard as provocative,” reads part of their open letter to Merkel.
On her part, Merkel said over the weekend that evidence continues to suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin is behind attacks on Ukraine, Bloomberg reported, and that the European Union plans on soon introducing a new round of sanctions against Moscow in response.
“It’s become ever clearer that, from the beginning, this hasn’t been about a conflict within Ukraine, but a conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” Merkel said Monday during an event in Berlin.
Both Merkel and Obama have said the conflict in eastern Ukraine must be resolved by diplomatic means and not a military response. With intelligence suggesting that Russia continues to move troops across the border, however, Rasmussen, the NATO secretary-general, said the alliance must be ready to respond to any activity in the region at a “very, very short notice,” and that “several thousand troops” could be deployed within “very few days” to counter future advancements from the Kremlin.
Mikhail Popov, the deputy secretary of Russia’s national security council, countered that the alliance’s plan is "evidence of the desire of US and NATO leaders to continue their policy of aggravating tensions with Russia,” according to The Telegraph, and defense officials in Moscow added that a new expanded military doctrine is being drafted in response.
In addition to Binney, McGovern and Wright, the VIPS steering group consists of retired National Intelligence Council official David MacMichael, retired deputy national intelligence officer for Middle East, Elizabeth Murray, retired US Army Judge Advocate Todd Pierce and a former FBI special agent, Coleen Rowley.
Diana Krall's incredible cover of Tom Waits' Temptation is without compare.
Actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Kristin Dunst are reportedly among the dozens of Hollywood celebrities whose nude or semi-nude photos materialized Sunday on the 4chan online forum.
Although the authenticity of every photo could not be confirmed, a representative for Oscar-winner Lawrence said that her photos were stolen, calling the hacking "a flagrant violation of privacy.”
“The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”
The FBI said it was "aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter."
"Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time," spokeswoman Laura Eimiller wrote in a statement.
The FBI has previously investigated leaks of nude celebrity images, including those of actress Scarlett Johansson.
A vulnerability in Apple iCloud may have allowed a hacker to access photos in protected celebrity accounts. Apple Inc. spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said the company was investigating whether any iCloud accounts had been violated.
"We take user privacy very seriously and are actively investigating this report," she said.
Meanwhile, the person who claims to have led the photo hack-and-dump operation said he had to move to a new location to avoid authorities. While the person remained anonymous, other 4chan posters called him “original guy.”
“Guys, just to let you know I didn't do this by myself,” he wrote. “There are several other people who were in on it and I needed to count on to make this happened (sic).
“This is the result of several months of long and hard work by all involved. We appreciate your donations and applaud your excitement.
“I will soon be moving to another location from which I will continue to post.”
He then asked supporters for bitcoin donations in the thread posted just after midnight on Monday. Supporters are believed to have shared the images on AnonIB before they were reposted on 4chan on Sunday.
On Reddit, one 27-year-old software engineer from Georgia became the lead suspect to some after he tried to capitalize on the leak scandal in order to score his own bitcoin donations.
Brian Hamade posted a screenshot of his computer to prove he had the leaked photos in a folder. In the process, he accidentally exposed his hard drive and network drive.
Redditors then sifted through Hamade’s previous Reddit posts, recognizing the hard drive and PC name. Some outed Hamade as original 4chan leaker.
Hamade told BuzzFeed of his botched scheme, denying he was responsible for the leaked images.
“I am not behind this. It was so stupid — I saw a lot of people posting the actual leaks and bitcoin addresses and I’ve read a lot about bitcoin and how they are valuable and I thought, oh cool I’ll get free bitcoins,” he said.
“I am just an idiot who tried to pull one over on 4chan and lost big time and stupidly left this identifying information. They took my proof and back traced it — it isn’t remotely true. I am not a hacker. I have no idea how the hell someone could hack into all those accounts,” he said.
Hamade said he has been hassled over email and phone by 4chan users ever since his name was first attached to the leak scandal.
“It’s been a nightmare and I haven’t slept in 34 hours, now. 4chan users are harassing me with non-stop phone calls and emails. They email me constantly, emailing saying they’ll hack my personal websites and keep calling my phone, calling me a fag and then hanging up. They also said they’ll hack my mom’s site, so I took it down,” he said.
Hamade said he is searching for the original leaker to clear his own name. He believes it’s possible that the original leaker of the photos and the person who hacked into the iCloud photo accounts could be separate people.
“The real guy is on 4chan posting intermittently. He’s most likely the one behind it, but it does seem the photos passed around to multiple people before being leaked, so it may just be someone who has them and didn’t hack to get them. They seem to have amassed a huge collection trading picture for picture and it’s possible that whoever they sold it to started leaking the pictures yesterday — at least that’s what it seems like,” he said.
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