Cattle Protection Unit Attacks Meat Supplier With Hammer

Cattle Protection Unit Attacks Meat Supplier With Hammer

A meat supplier was violently attacked in Gurugram, near India’s capital New Delhi, after a group of so-called vigilantes suspected him of transporting beef.

Cows are revered and worshipped by Hindus, who comprise 80 percent of India’s population. In most Indian states, cow slaughter is banned as the animal is considered sacred.

Lukman Khan, 25, was driving a pick-up truck at about 9 a.m. on Aug. 1 when members of a local Cattle Protection Unit allegedly stopped him and pulled him from his vehicle.

Videos shows one man forcefully hitting the unarmed man about the leg with a hammer and others kicking him in the body and head.

Dozens of bystanders, including Haryana state police officials, were filmed watching the attack.

 

Khan was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for a skull fracture and other injuries before being discharged. The meat he was carrying in his truck was sent to a lab for testing.

“Five accused have been arrested and booked under Section 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) and Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code,” Preet Pal Singh, Gurugram’s additional commissioner of police (Crime), told Zenger News.

“One head constable and two constables have been suspended for failing to curb the violence.”

Since cow slaughtering is a sensitive issue in India, a secular nation, it often sparks strong reactions.

Fifty-two-year-old Muslim ironsmith Mohammad Akhlaq was dragged out of his home and lynched on Eid al-Adha by a Hindu mob in Noida, close to New Delhi, in 2015. It was alleged that Akhlaq was storing and consuming beef at home.

A group of Hindu men killed two Muslim cattle herders on their way to sell bulls at an animal fair in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand in 2016.

“People have the right to promote any ideology peacefully, including Hindu nationalism or to oppose cow slaughter,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, told Zenger News.

“Unfortunately, some of these groups claiming to protect cows have physically attacked, even killed, people – primarily Muslims but also Dalits. That makes them criminals and they should be prosecuted. The government should immediately prosecute all those responsible for violence, including those that are members and supporters of the ruling party.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI_Iy1FoSn4

At least 133 cow protection-related attacks have been reported nationwide since 2012, causing more than 50 deaths and 290 injuries.

The fall of the Mughal Empire in the mid-1800s and the failure of the Indian mutiny against the British sowed the seeds of Hindu-Muslim conflict in the region.

The 1947 partition, during which a million people died in sectarian violence, provoked great resentment and hostility with the creation of Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.

(Edited by Rebecca Bird and Judy Isacoff.)



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Privacy Fury Over Police Cyber Searches to Trace Beating Victims Who Refuse to Come Forward

Privacy Fury Over Police Cyber Searches to Trace Beating Victims Who Refuse to Come Forward

The normally quiet Upper East Side erupted into a street brawl between white supremacists and anti-fascists. Members of the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group with a violent history, allegedly attacked four Antifa protesters Oct. 12, 2018, during a violent clash near the Metropolitan Republican Club, where the leader of the Proud Boys had just finished giving an address.

The New York Police Department sought 12 suspects for rioting and assault. They had a complete list of all the Proud Boys on the scene because everyone had signed the register at the Metropolitan Club speech. What they lacked was the identity of the four assault victims, all presumed to be Antifa members. Disguised in black anti-surveillance garb during their counter-protest, the victims could not be identified by street camera footage. And the wounded Antifa supporters refused to come forward to press charges.

Eventually, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office used a controversial technique to further trace victims: a reverse location search warrant—also called a geo-fence warrant—which compiles the anonymous digital identity and location data from the cell phones, smart watches, laptops and tablets of all users who were in a given geolocation at a certain time.

While a reverse location search can potentially track individuals through their geolocation at the scene of a crime, privacy advocates say the system fails to differentiate between potential suspects and innocent passersby. New York state Assembly Member Dan Quart introduced a bill earlier this year to ban reverse location search warrants.

“I became very concerned because I believe it violates Fourth Amendment requirements for particularized search,” Quart said. “Reverse location search is the exact opposite. It’s a fishing expedition to get people’s data without actual probable cause. That’s just antithetical to the Fourth Amendment.”

“The digital evidence identifies not people but devices,” said Andrew Quinn, general counsel to the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association. “Any investigative technique could be abused, but what prevents abuse is for an independent magistrate to review evidence and issue the warrants.”

The use of reverse location search warrants often remains undisclosed to the public, however, attorneys in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance testified to using such a warrant during the court trial of several Proud Boys members.

In this particular case, the use of the digital reverse location warrant yielded no evidence used in the trial. Nonetheless, the Manhattan D.A. managed to nail two Proud Boys’ convictions based on video shot during the violent clashes.

Vance’s office declined a request for comment from Zenger News, as did the New York Police Department.

“You may be innocent but you may be able to provide invaluable eyewitness evidence,” said Quinn. “Reverse location search can be an incredibly useful tool in solving a serious crime. Son of Sam was solved because they tracked a parking ticket on his car in the area of one of the crimes.”

Under Quart’s bill, proposed in April, evidence from reverse location search warrants would become inadmissible in any New York court. The bill and a companion bill in the state Senate by Sen. Zellnor Myrie are pending in the New York State Legislature. No vote has yet occurred.

In the era of a burgeoning Black Lives Matter mass protest movement, banning reverse location searches appears timely. If allowed, Quart said, it creates a “double infringement of constitutional rights.” In addition to Fourth Amendment violations, it can “target protesters and accumulate data on thousands of individuals who are peacefully assembled to exercise First Amendment rights.”   

Quart also objects to the lack of transparency. It’s unclear whose data is revealed, and how long the data will linger in official law enforcement files after an individual warrant is closed.

“The goal of the bill was really to create a first of its kind. It will outlaw the practice in New York State, blocking police and prosecutors from using reverse search warrants,” said Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, which helped author the proposed legislation. “I hope it will start a national trend because we will eventually need federal legislation to completely block the practice.”

Cahn said a reverse location search warrant “is an incredibly powerful way to monitor every single person who attends a mosque, a protest or a healthcare facility. It’s chilling and dystopian.”

“Everyone at the protest is visible,” counters Quinn. “Law enforcement is not permitted to go to the protests and take pictures to form a database. Almost all the videos of protestors are taken by the protestors themselves and posted to social media.”

“All people in the range are also having their data collected, even those who had nothing to do with it,” said Jerome Greco of the Legal Aid Society’s Digital Forensics Unit. “The problem is, you’re making innocent people possible suspects. Also, it’s not always accurate.”

In 2020, big tech companies control so much of the public’s personal information—even incidental apps, downloaded free of charge, can access and collect data for the developer to sell to the highest bidder—that constitutional privacy rights in the digital realm have become an issue.

For the past decade, Google has published a biannual report that reveals the number of government requests for user data, without differentiating the types of warrants or locale.

A Google spokesperson said that when a request comes in from a governmental agency or member of law enforcement, it is carefully vetted before any data is released. If Google perceives them as overly broad, requests are refused or challenged.

Unfortunately, much of the pushback comes at the discretion of Google and other tech companies. National communications privacy laws were last challenged in 1986. Back then, the digital world was less complex. Big tech companies played a more limited role in controlling public discourse.

“The problem is technology moves at an incredible pace, and the court system at a glacial pace,” said Greco.

That’s why legislation is so important, advocates say. 

“Dan Quart’s bill strikes the right balance,” said Greco.

(Edited by Emily Crockett and Blake French.)



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800 Americans Stranded in Venezuela

800 Americans Stranded in Venezuela

The Covid-19 pandemic in Venezuela has stranded 800 U.S. citizens — who have become political pawns between the Nicolas Maduro regime and the American government.

James Story, chargé d’affaires of the U.S .State Department for Venezuela, who dispatches from Bogotá, Colombia, denounced the Venezuelan regime for refusing to allow American citizens to return to the United States.

Ambassador Otto Reich in his official portrait at unknown time in an unknown location. (U.S. State Department)

After Story sent a message to Jorge Arreaza, minister of foreign affairs of the Venezuelan regime, to resolve the impasse, Maduro replied by proposing the use of Conviasa, his state airline, which is sanctioned by Washington, to transfer the Americans back home.

“A humanitarian cause should not be worth illegal, unilateral sanctions,” said Maduro.

But the Venezuelan strongman’s proposal has caused mistrust on the part of former U.S. government officials, exile leaders and officials linked to Juan Guaido, who declared himself acting president backed by the United States and 60 countries.

“It is odd that the situation of these American citizens had not been revealed before,” said Otto Reich, a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela, and former assistant secretary for the Western Hemisphere at the State Department.

“What Maduro is doing is typical of an outlaw, because he knows the Venezuelan state airline is sanctioned by the United States, and he wants to take advantage of a difficult situation,” Reich added.

The airline was sanctioned in February. “The illegitimate Maduro regime relies on the Venezuelan state-owned airline CONVIASA to shuttle corrupt regime officials around the world to fuel support for its anti-democratic efforts,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, when the sanctions were imposed.

Reich added the tactic used by the Venezuelan regime has previously been used by dictatorships, such as in Cuba.

 

“Maduro’s offer to Trump to repatriate people of American nationality has a logistical complication, due to the sanctions: Conviasa cannot land in the United States. Maduro seeks this to present it as a political victory and a victory against the “blockade,” but I doubt that Washington will grant it, “said Manuel Avendaño, who has been director of the International Office of Guaido.

“It is one more example for the United States and the world to realize the catastrophe that exists in Venezuela in every sense, in addition to what we repeatedly denounce about violated human rights,” said Maria Teresa Van Der Ree, president of the organization Civil Resistance of Venezuelans Abroad (Recivex), which, since 2001, has opposed the regimes of the late Hugo Chávez and Maduro.

The United States suspended its foreign service operations in Venezuela on March 11, 2019, and has tightened oil and financial sanctions against the dictatorship in Caracas.

Story revealed the United States has made multiple offers since March, both to bring Americans home and to deal with Venezuelans trapped in the United States amid the pandemic. The State Department offered to organize direct, private flights from Caracas to the United States, or through third-party countries, such as Spain and Mexico. The Maduro government has rejected both suggestions.

Story issued a warning in March saying citizens with U.S. passports and permanent residents should prepare to stay indefinitely in Venezuela. The diplomat reported that some American citizens who tried to fly to Mexico were told they were on a government list that prohibited them from leaving the country.

Since last May, Washington suspended all its commercial and cargo flights with Venezuela “for security reasons,” so travelers have to make stops in other countries.

(Edited by Rafael Prieto and Fern Siegel)



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New York Seeks to Ban Reverse Location Searches

New York Seeks to Ban Reverse Location Searches

The normally quiet Upper East Side erupted into a street brawl between white supremacists and anti-fascists. Members of the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group with a violent history, allegedly attacked four Antifa protesters Oct. 12, 2018, during a violent clash near the Metropolitan Republican Club, where the leader of the Proud Boys had just finished giving an address.

The New York Police Department sought 12 suspects for rioting and assault. They had a complete list of all the Proud Boys on the scene because everyone had signed the register at the Metropolitan Club speech. What they lacked was the identity of the four assault victims, all presumed to be Antifa members. Disguised in black anti-surveillance garb during their counter-protest, the victims could not be identified by street camera footage. And the wounded Antifa supporters refused to come forward to press charges.

Eventually, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office used a controversial technique to further trace victims: a reverse location search warrant—also called a geo-fence warrant—which compiles the anonymous digital identity and location data from the cell phones, smart watches, laptops and tablets of all users who were in a given geolocation at a certain time.

While a reverse location search can potentially track individuals through their geolocation at the scene of a crime, privacy advocates say the system fails to differentiate between potential suspects and innocent passersby. New York state Assembly Member Dan Quart introduced a bill earlier this year to ban reverse location search warrants.

“I became very concerned because I believe it violates Fourth Amendment requirements for particularized search,” Quart said. “Reverse location search is the exact opposite. It’s a fishing expedition to get people’s data without actual probable cause. That’s just antithetical to the Fourth Amendment.”

“The digital evidence identifies not people but devices,” said Andrew Quinn, general counsel to the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association. “Any investigative technique could be abused, but what prevents abuse is for an independent magistrate to review evidence and issue the warrants.”

The use of reverse location search warrants often remains undisclosed to the public, however, attorneys in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance testified to using such a warrant during the court trial of several Proud Boys members.

In this particular case, the use of the digital reverse location warrant yielded no evidence used in the trial. Nonetheless, the Manhattan D.A. managed to nail two Proud Boys’ convictions based on video shot during the violent clashes.

Vance’s office declined a request for comment from Zenger News, as did the New York Police Department.

“You may be innocent but you may be able to provide invaluable eyewitness evidence,” said Quinn. “Reverse location search can be an incredibly useful tool in solving a serious crime. Son of Sam was solved because they tracked a parking ticket on his car in the area of one of the crimes.”

Under Quart’s bill, proposed in April, evidence from reverse location search warrants would become inadmissible in any New York court. The bill and a companion bill in the state Senate by Sen. Zellnor Myrie are pending in the New York State Legislature. No vote has yet occurred.

In the era of a burgeoning Black Lives Matter mass protest movement, banning reverse location searches appears timely. If allowed, Quart said, it creates a “double infringement of constitutional rights.” In addition to Fourth Amendment violations, it can “target protesters and accumulate data on thousands of individuals who are peacefully assembled to exercise First Amendment rights.”   

Quart also objects to the lack of transparency. It’s unclear whose data is revealed, and how long the data will linger in official law enforcement files after an individual warrant is closed.

“The goal of the bill was really to create a first of its kind. It will outlaw the practice in New York State, blocking police and prosecutors from using reverse search warrants,” said Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, which helped author the proposed legislation. “I hope it will start a national trend because we will eventually need federal legislation to completely block the practice.”

Cahn said a reverse location search warrant “is an incredibly powerful way to monitor every single person who attends a mosque, a protest or a healthcare facility. It’s chilling and dystopian.”

“Everyone at the protest is visible,” counters Quinn. “Law enforcement is not permitted to go to the protests and take pictures to form a database. Almost all the videos of protestors are taken by the protestors themselves and posted to social media.”

“All people in the range are also having their data collected, even those who had nothing to do with it,” said Jerome Greco of the Legal Aid Society’s Digital Forensics Unit. “The problem is, you’re making innocent people possible suspects. Also, it’s not always accurate.”

In 2020, big tech companies control so much of the public’s personal information—even incidental apps, downloaded free of charge, can access and collect data for the developer to sell to the highest bidder—that constitutional privacy rights in the digital realm have become an issue.

For the past decade, Google has published a biannual report that reveals the number of government requests for user data, without differentiating the types of warrants or locale.

A Google spokesperson said that when a request comes in from a governmental agency or member of law enforcement, it is carefully vetted before any data is released. If Google perceives them as overly broad, requests are refused or challenged.

Unfortunately, much of the pushback comes at the discretion of Google and other tech companies. National communications privacy laws were last challenged in 1986. Back then, the digital world was less complex. Big tech companies played a more limited role in controlling public discourse.

“The problem is technology moves at an incredible pace, and the court system at a glacial pace,” said Greco.

That’s why legislation is so important, advocates say. 

“Dan Quart’s bill strikes the right balance,” said Greco.

(Edited by Emily Crockett and Blake French.)



The post New York Seeks to Ban Reverse Location Searches appeared first on Zenger News.

‘More subtle, more pernicious, more complex’: Justice Department Warns About China Election Efforts

‘More subtle, more pernicious, more complex’: Justice Department Warns About China Election Efforts

Americans may fall prey to China’s attempts to influence U.S. policy without even knowing it.

China’s efforts can be harder to detect than other U.S. adversaries attempts to disrupt American politics, a top U.S. Department of Justice official said Wednesday.

“Beijing’s methods are not always as blatant” as they used to be, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said. “The [People’s Republic of China] tactics are more subtle, more pernicious, more complex.”

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen official portrait. (U.S. Department of Justice photo)

“Beijing, for example, works relentlessly to co-opt seemingly independent middle men who can influence members of Congress on a host of policies,” he said at a virtual event hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

In general, malign foreign influence can take the form of disguised propaganda, pressuring people in power and hacking email accounts or phones.

The reliance on internet-based communication has created significant vulnerabilities for influence operations to be carried out and for their reach to be maximized, Rosen said.

“The internet, social media allow foreign actors to reach unprecedented numbers of Americans covertly, inexpensively and directly, without necessarily having to go through the traditional media, without even having to set foot on U.S. soil,” he said.

The Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency used this tactic to interfere in the 2016 election by sowing discord online, according to a 2018 indictment.

Before the U.S. shut down China’s consulate in Houston, it was the forefront of covert foreign influence, John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said earlier this month. Demers declined to give more details about the covert influence, indicating that the information was classified.

Other top national security officials have also warned about foreign influence efforts in the American political process by China, Russia and Iran.

China has “been expanding its influence efforts” in the U.S. ahead of the 2020 presidential election, William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in an Aug. 7 statement.

“China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection,” Evanina said.

 

Evanina did not allege China was attempting to hack the vote but said the country is working “to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China.”

Iran is also seeking to undermine Trump and divide Americans before the 2020 elections because of the Trump administration’s pressure on Iran over its nuclear weapons program, he said.

Russia remains a threat, Evanina said, and is trying to “denigrate” Biden and “boost President Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television.”

(Edited by Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)

 



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India Goes Wild for Kamala’s Family Roots

India Goes Wild for Kamala’s Family Roots

Residents in Sen. Kamala Harris’ ancestral village haven’t seen her in years, but they are praying for her victory by sacrificing coconuts in Hindu temples. Others are pasting up posters or cheering the vice-presidential hopeful on social media.

In Tamil Naidu, she would win overwhelmingly among her landsmen.

Residents see her as America’s first Indian-American nominated for national office, not so much as the first African-American or the latest woman to be nominated for the vice presidency.

 

“In India, people who put up posters for Harris are breaking coconuts in temples,” said Harris’s uncle, Balachandran Gopalan. A New Delhi-based academic, Gopalan explained that breaking coconuts is a form of ritualistic worship for Hindus, especially those from south India. “I have also done the same,” he added. When his niece was sworn in to the U.S. Senate in 2017 by Joe Biden, he attended the ceremony.

Colorful posters wishing Harris victory are on display throughout her grandfather’s ancestral village, Painganadu Thusalendrapuram, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

The poster went viral after Harris’s niece, Meena Harris, posted it on Twitter. “This is from Tamil Nadu, where our Indian family is from,” she wrote. “It says: ‘PV Gopalan’s granddaughter is victorious.’”

Today Harris has few living relatives in her home state besides an aunt, Dr. Sarala Gopalan, who lives in Chennai, the state’s capital. Still, the candidate’s campaign is eager for Harris to be seen as Indian American. In her Democratic National Convention speech, she spoke about her chithis (“aunts” in Tamil). While Americans had to google what it meant, the Tamil-speaking world was elated to hear a word in their mother tongue from the vice presidential nominee.

The villagers Zenger interviewed in Painganadu Thusalendrapuram—including those who were hanging posters—knew of the candidate more from the American news than from any living connection. But for the 2020 elections, the Democratic Party is going all-out to win the Indian vote and is using Kamala Harris’s roots as its calling card.

The Asian Indian population in the U.S. increased from 396,000 in 1980 to over 2.7 million in 2010, according to the website Statista. The group is one of the fastest-growing ethnicities in America, and with high levels of education and financial status, Asian Indians are gaining political clout. In matters of American foreign policy, India has become an important player, both as a venue for American business interests and as a strategic counterweight to China’s strength. As a result, there have been clear attempts to woo Indians’ support from Democrats and Republicans.

During the 2016 general elections, the Hindu American Foundation and the Republican Hindu Coalition threw their weight behind the Trump campaign. In return, Trump repeatedly promised Indians in general and Hindus in particular his support should he become president.

Mimicking Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s 2014 campaign slogan “Ab ki baar Modi Sarkar” (“This time a Modi government”), a 2016 video of Donald Trump proclaiming Ab ki baar Trump Sarkar went viral with Indians in the U.S. and in India.

Harris—the first Indian-American and African-American woman to run for vice president—has often spoken of how her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, had a strong influence on her.

“Shyamala was an exceptional woman,” said Balachandran Gopalan. “She was a hard taskmaster and pushed her children to give their best. No wonder Kamala keeps talking about the influence her mother had on her life.”

Harris opened her vice-presidential nomination acceptance speech by remembering her mother and regretting that she was not there to see her success. “My mother taught me that service to others gives life purpose and meaning,” she said.

Her mother studied for a master’s in nutrition and endocrinology at University of California—Berkeley starting in 1958. She completed her Ph.D. before venturing into breast cancer research.

“She went to study science in the U.S. at a time when very few American women were studying science, forget unmarried Indian women,” said Gopalan. “My father had no objection to her going for higher studies as long as she could get a scholarship and fund her studies.”

Shyamala Gopalan Harris joined the civil rights movement in Berkeley in the 1960s and met Donald J. Harris, a Jamaican graduate student, at a protest. They married in 1963. After their divorce in the 1970s, Kamala Harris would visit Chennai frequently with her mother and sister.

In a YouTube video with Mindy Kaling late last year, Harris revealed that her grandfather was “mischievous,” making her French toast when his strictly vegetarian wife was out of town. “People have these stereotypes,” said Harris. “My grandfather was very progressive.”

In her bestseller “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” the Democratic candidate wrote at length about her family in India and how she was close to them: “They lived many thousands of miles away, and we rarely saw one another. Still, through many long-distance calls, our periodic trips to India, and letters and cards written back and forth, our sense of family—of closeness and comfort and trust—was able to penetrate the distance.”

“Kamala would visit India with her mother very often, almost every year when both my parents were alive,” said Gopalan.

Harris’s grandfather died in 1998; his wife Rajam in 2009. But Gopalan has kept in touch with his niece and has closely followed her political career. Her vice-presidential nomination was no surprise to him. “I have been following the news analyses in the U.S. media and election polls and trends,” he said. “She has a good chance unless Trump comes up with a U.S.-made vaccine for Covid-19 before September or something equally dramatic.”

For Gopalan—like the residents of his ancestral village—his niece has already won.

(Edited by Siddharthya Roy and Anne Denbok.)



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