Peoria, Illinois Mayor Jim Ardis is not one to be mocked.
Ardis and Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard are so bothered by a Twitter account impersonating the mayor that they’re deciding to spend a significant amount of time and money tracking down the mastermind behind the tweets.
Three Peoria residents were taken into police custody recently under suspicions that they created the account, listed as @Peoriamayor. Another two were detained at their workplaces.
One of the detainees, Michelle Pratt, told the Peoria Journal Star that police showed up at her house with a search warrant.
“They said they had a search warrant and took all the electronic devices that had Internet access,” Pratt said. “They said there had been an Internet crime that occurred at this residence. They just asked me about the Twitter account, if I knew anything about it. They brought me in like I was a criminal.”
Police Chief Settingsgaard says his department is investigating the individuals because false impersonation of public officials is a crime in Illinois. The offense is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and a year in jail.
Pratt and others claim the account, which made frequent posts about sex and drugs, was clearly satirical in nature. Settingsgaard doesn’t agree. He notes that until March, there was nothing on the account indicating it was a parody.
“I don’t agree it was obvious, and in fact it appears that someone went to great lengths to make it appear it was actually from the mayor,” he said.
Ardis did not respond to a request by the Peoria Journal Star for a comment.
While a man contemplated ending his life at the edge of a Los Angeles overpass on Thursday, stranded motorists decided they would use their free time to take selfies of themselves with the suicidal man in the background.
Police closed down both directions of the 105 Freeway once they were dispatched to the scene of the attempted suicide, so drivers were left stranded on the highway for hours while the situation was dealt with. Many were clearly frustrated, and helicopter pictures show most motorists walking around the freeway while their cars remained sedentary.
After hours, officers finally talked the suicidal man off the ledge, but during that time, frustrated motorists were able to take selfies of themselves with the man in the background and post them to social media.
KTLA’s Marcus Smith tweeted an overhead photo of a group of motorists posing for a selfie together during the three-hour ordeal.
“People taking pictures and selfies on the 105 Freeway,” tweeted Smith, along with the picture, on Thursday evening.
As the Daily Mail points out, this is not the first time that someone has taken an insensitive selfie at the wrong time. Back in December, a New York woman was caught by a New York Post photographer taking a selfie while a man attempted to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge behind her. The next morning, the woman was featured on the front page of the paper.
A transgender woman and senior engineer at Twitter was charged with raping her wife the night after she served her with divorce papers.
Dana McCallum, 32, was arrested Jan. 26 and charged with three counts of spousal rape, one count of domestic violence and one count of false imprisonment.
McCallum, whose legal name is Dana Contreras, is a prominent women’s rights advocate. She has spoken out about inequality in the tech world and written extensively about gender transition.
On Jan 29, a protective order was issued against McCallum barring her from contacting or coming within 150 feet of her wife.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges and is out of jail on $350,000 bail.
Under the conditions of her release she must attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, according to court documents.
San Francisco police say that the state of California defines rape as penial on vaginal assault, and in order for rape to have occurred it would have to meet that criteria. However they have not released any details about the suspect’s or victim’s genitalia.
McCallum’s attorney, John Runfola, says the charges are just about money.
"I'm just disgusted that, you know, this is going on," Runfola said. "Dana is an employee [at Twitter] and is about to come into a large amount of money. ... This whole thing is about money."
He claims the couple was separated, but still having sexual relations. He says the alleged rape would have happened in their small condo, where four teenagers reside.
"No one heard 'rape' or fighting or anything," he said.
One of the teens claims he heard someone say “no” through a door.
Runfola said McCallum “is about to come into a large amount of money” as a senior engineer. Twitter went public in November.
Over the past few months, first lady Michelle Obama has helped roll out a new public lunch program aimed at providing healthy, nutritious lunches to all kids in school, regardless of their financial status. The program seemed to be a positive step in the right direction, as obesity rates in young people have increased drastically in recent years, but tweets from students directly affected by the program show that it may not be going as well as Obama had hoped.
The Blaze first reported on the recent increase in rants on Twitter from students who received food as part of the White House’s public lunch program. All of the students appear to be less than pleased with the food they’ve been given for lunch, and they all seem to blame it on the first lady.
“I’ll never forgive Michelle Obama for this school lunch,” tweeted user Anthony Gallimore.
Another student tweeted a picture of what appears to be a hot dog bun filled with tomato sauce and cheese alongside three cherry tomatoes and a carton of milk with the caption, “You call this f------ ‘lunch’? @BarackObama @MichelleObama.”
More students were just as quick to post pictures of their lackluster lunches and lay all of the blame on Michelle Obama. Just last week, reports claimed that more than 1 million students had turned down the public lunch program because they felt the food was subpar. Still, she said from the beginning that they were working on making sure the healthy food still tasted good.
"Because of this act ... 32 million children get more of the nutrition they need to learn and grow and be successful and I do hope it's delicious — we're working on that, yes, indeed," said Obama in a statement last year.
Clearly, many students are not happy with Michelle Obama’s new public lunch program, and it will be interesting to see how long it can last the way it’s going now.
The U.S. government was behind the development of a text-messaging network in Cuba that was intended to spread unrest among the nation’s youth. A new Associated Press story indicates that the U.S. Agency for International Development modeled the network after Twitter and named it ZunZuneo, the Cuban slang for a hummingbird’s tweet.
According to documents cited in the story, the network was intended to fly below the radar of Cuba’s strict Internet usage restrictions. The Miami Herald reported last year that “Cuba’s Internet remains one of the least free in the world.” In order to evade Cuban regulators, the USAID sought to build a subscriber base by promoting “non-controversial content” such as sports scores and hurricane updates. Once a sufficient number of subscribers was reached, operators of ZunZuneo would introduce political content.
The content would be aimed at creating mass gatherings, or “smart mobs,” charged with a message of political change. One USAID document said the goal was to encourage citizens to “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”
USAID spokesman Matt Herrick told the AP that the agency was proud of the program.
“USAID is a development agency, not an intelligence agency, and we work all over the world to help people exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms and give them access to tools to improve their lives and connect with the outside world,” he said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said several aspects of the program were troubling.
“There is the risk to young, unsuspecting Cuban cellphone users who had no idea this was a U.S. government-funded activity,” he said. “There is the clandestine nature of the program that was not disclosed to the appropriations subcommittee with oversight responsibility. And there is the disturbing fact that it apparently activated shortly after Alan Gross, a USAID subcontractor who was sent to Cuba to help provide citizens access to the Internet, was arrested.”
The nature of the program is sure to spark more controversy, but it is unclear what lawmakers will do with the information. Herrick noted the program was reviewed by investigators last year, and it was found to be consistent with U.S. law.
ZunZuneo no longer operates in Cuba.
USAID said the program simply ended when it ran out of money in 2012. Internet service is still restricted in Cuba. Cuban users of the network told the AP it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared. By late 2012, anyone who tried to access the network’s website was redirected to a children’s site.
“The moment when ZunZuneo disappeared was like a vacuum,” said one user. “In the end, we never learned what happened. We never learned where it came from.”
11Parents Outraged By Anonymous Twitter Posting Photos Of Teens Passing Out Drunk, Stripping (Video)
New York parents in Nassau and Suffolk County are upset over an anonymous Twitter account which posts photos of underage kids drinking, doing drugs, and stripping at Long Island house parties.
The account @LIPartyStories has more than 26,000 followers. It tweets pictures teens passing out in the street and sleeping on toilets, boys peeing in houseplants and girls peeing in sinks.
“Kids do stupid things,” Port Washington parent Peter Winick told CBS New York. “We've probably all done stupid things, now you've got social media to be able to publish to the world how dumb you are forever.”
The account says people send them photos and they only post them.
“These kids are literally taking their life in their hands, clearly they don’t know that,” said Marg Lee, of the anti-teen drinking organization DEDICATEDD. “Often times when a kid drinks too much his or her friends will leave them and the kid will die from alcohol poisoning.”
She says teens aren't thinking about the fact that colleges and businesses can see these images.
“Once it’s out in cyberspace there’s no taking it back,” Lee said. “If an employer is going to be looking for someone to represent their company you’re not going to want somebody that’s been all over the web.”
Suffolk County authorities know about the account, but say it will only be used as part of a larger investigation if a complaint is filed.
A Russian official used Twitter to publicly taunt President Barack Obama and attack the White House's newly imposed economic sanctions against him, according to ABC News. Russia’s deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, asked via his Twitter account on Monday if “some prankster” had come up with the list of targets for the sanctions.
Another tweet from Rogozin publicly addressed the president and suggested that the administration had not thought through the severity of the sanctions. It read, “Comrade @BarackObama, what should do [sic] those who have neither accounts nor property abroad? Or U didn't think about it?”
The New York Post reports that the taunts came following the Obama administration’s decision to level the economic sanctions as punishment for the Russian-backed referendum that officially separated Crimea from Ukraine on Sunday. One U.S. official referred to the sanctions as “the most extensive sanctions imposed on Russia since the Cold War.”
Vladislav Surkov, a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, also had sanctions imposed against him but shrugged off the impact in a quote to a Russian newspaper.
“It’s a big honor for me,” he said. "I don’t have accounts abroad. The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing."
Putin was not targeted by the measures.
Those who are, though, will have their U.S. assets frozen and won’t be allowed to engage in deals converting money to U.S. dollars. That move will essentially take them out of the international banking system. Visa restrictions have also been put in place, barring them from traveling to the United States. The sanctions affect 21 Russian, Crimean and Ukranian officials.
Many believe the pressure will do little to curb Russia’s policies or avert Crimea’s bid to join the Russian Federation. The Russian stock market actually surged amid the news that so few officials were sanctioned.
In the United States, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., attacked the “timidity” of the sanctions and called for providing military assistance to Ukraine.
Separate courts in Saudi Arabia this week sentenced two men to time in prison for posting messages on Twitter, reports CNN. Both men remain unnamed.
On Sunday, one of the men was sentenced to eight years in jail for insulting Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and inciting protests via Twitter and other social media sites.
Another man, who was already serving three years in prison, was convicted on similar charges and sentenced to an additional 10 years, according to Reuters, who quoted a release from Saudi news agency SPA.
“[He was] convicted of entering an Internet site hostile to the state that encourages fighting and promotes deviant thought,” Saudi justice ministry spokesman Fahd Al-Bakran said. "The accused had sent invitations via Twitter to participate in protests and gatherings against the Kingdom.”
The convictions and stiff penalties raise ongoing concerns over violations of human rights in the country.
Both sentences come close on the heels of new, harsh anti-terror laws, as well as the recent declaration by Saudi Arabia of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Many fear that such a declaration coupled with the country’s new laws could be abused and will lead to efforts by the Saudi government to quash all forms of dissent. The two recent convictions and the subsequent statement from the justice ministry reinforce those fears.
Adam Coogle, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, wrote in a statement in February that the new laws create “a veneer of legality for ongoing human rights abuses by Saudi criminal justice authorities.”
"The terrorism law," he wrote, "is a vague, catch-all document that can — and probably will — be used to prosecute or jail anyone who criticizes the Saudi government and to violate their due process rights along the way."
Dwight Bashir, deputy director for policy and research with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, agrees.
"It reinforces longstanding concerns that the Saudis will spare no expense to crush dissent and punish non-conforming views, even if the views are protected by internationally-recognized human rights," Bashir told CNN.
State Rep. Pat Garofalo, Republican, created a stir on Twitter Sunday after he sent out a tweet about NBA basketball players that some considered racist.
“Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow,” he wrote. “Nobody would notice a difference w/possible exception of increase in street crime.”
When asked to comment on the tweet, Garofalo said he was talking about the NBA’s high arrest rate. He also noted that the major pro league is the only one in which testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.
Garofalo added that he had no intention beyond that, except to note that many athletes are above the law.
Within two hours of the tweet, it was retweeted more than 600 times. Many took jabs at Garofalo’s own profession.
“There’s more criminals in your profession than the NBA buddy,” one tweet read.
Patrick Balfour discovered that the footlong turkey sandwich he ordered at a Subway in Sudbury, Ontario was seasoned with an extra little crunch, and no, it wasn’t an added vegetable – it was a cockroach.
He has spent the past year trying to get Subway to acknowledge the disgusting discovery. When he first found the roach in his sandwich 11 months ago, he immediately threw the sandwich away without, unfortunately, documenting it first.
“I was [disgusted] and got rid of the sub as soon as possible,” he wrote in an email. “I never thought it would drag on this long or that I’d ever need a photo of a dead cockroach.”
After making his stomach-turning discovery, he directed several tweets @SubwayOntario. When the company finally responded, it was to ask him for his contact information, which Balfour supplied.
However, the company failed to contact him within 10 days, prompting Balfour to again reach out to them. And, yet again, Subway responded with the same message.
When @SubwayCanada launched a new advertising initiative on Twitter, Balfour decided to use the platform to try to get in touch with the company anew. He spent $90 to have an ad posted on the social media network.
“I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to tell a story that they should want to hear,” he has said. “I don’t want money, I don’t want subs. All I know is that the way they currently use social media is not doing them any favors.”
The fact that Subway has a Twitter but refuses to engage with customers through it is, Balfour said, “like having a phone line and when someone calls to ask a question you tell them they have to ask in person.”
Subway Canada has yet to comment on the situation.
The rest of the Twitter community, however, hasn’t been quite as quiet. Ever since Balfour promoted his tweet, it’s been retweeted dozens of times and multiple people have shared their own Subway horror stories. Someone even created the parody Twitter account @SubwayCockorach.
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