02/2/21

Child Pornography Raid Leaves 2 FBI Agents Dead

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

According to emergency radio dispatches, the incident began to unfold as law enforcement gathered at the scene before dawn.

Sometime past 6 a.m., fire rescue personnel got a report of shots being fired with multiple victims. Two minutes later, someone at the scene got on a police radio to report five shooting victims, including an agent shot in the leg.

Two FBI agents were killed being in dutie in Sunrise and ...

SUNRISE, Florida—Two FBI agents were killed Tuesday morning while serving a warrant at the home of a South Florida man suspected of possessing child pornography.

The officers killed were Special Agent Daniel Alfin, 36, and Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger, 43, the FBI said on Tuesday afternoon. They died while “executing a federal court-ordered search warrant in a crimes against children investigation in Sunrise, Florida,” the feds said.

Three other agents were wounded, including two who were transported to a hospital in stable condition. The third agent did not need hospitalization, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. The suspect also died.

It’s the FBI’s deadliest day since 1994, when two agents were killed by a gunman inside Washington, D.C. police headquarters, according to the FBI’s Wall of Honor.

Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger

CBS12

“Every day, the FBI Special Agents put themselves in harm’s way to keep American people safe,” Wray said, adding that the two agents “exemplified heroism today in defense of their country,” and that the “FBI will always honor their ultimate sacrifice and will be forever grateful for their bravery.”

FBI Agents Association President Brian O’Hare said in a statement to The Daily Beast, “These Agents were working to protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

The incident began at the Water Terrace apartment complex at around 6 a.m., a Sunrise Police spokesperson told The Daily Beast. When agents arrived, the suspect barricaded himself inside a unit.

Tiffany Walters, a 37-year-old resident at the apartment complex, told The Daily Beast she woke up around that time to a “loud bang” she initially thought was a car accident.

“After I heard sirens and eventually helicopters,” Walters said, adding that when she looked outside her window, she saw a helicopter fly away with what she believes was the FBI agent who was taken to the hospital.

By 9:04 a.m., authorities said the scene was deemed safe, but residents were still being asked to stay in their homes. Walters said at 9:15 a.m. she heard another loud bang, which she believes was associated with the suspect’s death.

“We’re still getting more information on what happened and we’ll have more to say, at a later date. We express our condolences,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a press briefing.

A review of federal court records shows Schwartzenberger, who joined the FBI in 2005, had worked on several cases involving child exploitation, sextortion, and the internet. In 2013, she was a member of the FBI’s South Florida Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force and appears to have worked on cases involving armored car heists and bank robberies, among others.

News clips show she was active in raising awareness about cybersecurity and the threat of online sex crimes. She commented to local news outlets about sextortion scams and last February gave a lecture on cyber crimes at Rockaway Middle School.

Special Agent Dan Alfin, who joined the FBI in 2009, was a member of the bureau’s Violent Crimes Against Children division.

He was involved in Operation Pacifier, which took down Playpen, one of the largest child pornography networks on the dark web. Site operators masked Playpen’s location, users, and ownership using the Tor anonymity network. FBI agents managed to unmask the site and its visitors with an unknown hacking technique, leading to 350 arrests in the U.S., 548 arrests abroad, and the rescue and identification of nearly 350 children exploited as part of the dark web ring.

Court documents show that Alfin was one of a few FBI agents responsible for monitoring Playpen after the bureau was able to sidestep the Tor anonymity network’s encryption and identify the IP addresses of individual Playpen users. Prosecutors used Alfin’s testimony about the FBI’s hack of Playpen in several cases linked to the investigation.

“It’s the same with any criminal violation: As they get smarter, we adapt, we find them,” Alfin said in a 2017 FBI news release announcing the sentencing of the site’s founder. “It’s a cat-and-mouse game, except it’s not a game. Kids are being abused, and it’s our job to stop that.”

Last year, Alfin authored the criminal affidavit against former Miami mayoral aide Rene Pedrosa, who allegedly groped a teenage boy at City Hall and exchanged lewd photos.

John Young, a 74-year-old who lived close to Schwartzenberger in Coral Springs, said he always said hello to Schwartzenberger’s husband, Jason, and their two kids in the mornings on their way to school.

Young, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 33 years, said two months ago Schwartzenberger organized a block party for a homeowner who moved away. She also showered the new neighbor who moved in with warm greetings.

“Laura was a sharp lady and very friendly,” Young told The Daily Beast as he stood outside his two-story gray-brick home, among six houses with American flags in the front. “The lady who just moved in told me Laura came over with a bottle of wine and welcomed her.”

He thought Schwartzenberger was having a get together when he saw several cars parked in her driveway on Tuesday—then he turned on the news.

“For her to be killed serving a search warrant is a shock. It’s sickening,” he said. “I don’t understand why people say ‘defund the police.’ Law enforcement is a tough job. Now, you have a mom who’s not coming home tonight to see her kids.”

Police cars blocked the family’s cul-de-sac on Tuesday and a Coral Springs cop said, “The street is closed. Given it just happened, her family wants privacy at this time.”

According to its website, the Water Terrace apartment complex is an upscale gated community that houses a fitness center, spa, tennis courts, and a pool.

Andrew Solomon, a 31-year-old who just moved into the Water Terrace apartment complex, told The Daily Beast he woke up early for work on Tuesday morning to see “a helicopter flying over” the building. When he tried to leave, two Sunrise police officers were stopping residents, asking them to open their trunks.

Solomon said he was asleep when the shooting happened on the northwest side of the complex. Property managers sent around a “stay at home order” for all residents and he planned to leave work early to comply with the police order, he said.

“It is a real nice neighborhood [and] well kept around a pretty lake,” he added. “So it is surprising to hear something [like this] happened.”

Walters said the neighborhood, where she has lived for four years, is quiet. At first, her family thought the police presence might have been related to “folks from January 6th,” referring to the U.S. Capitol riot.

“Once I heard it was a police raid I knew it would be handled,” she said.

The FBI’s Inspection Division said the shooting is under investigation by the FBI’s Inspection Division.

02/2/21

Biden Going Agency by Agency and Undoing Trump’s Rescission Orders

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

First, Charles Payne announced that President Biden has rerouted $30 billion in the Farmers Fund under President Trump to climate change. The fund that President Trump established was to be used on agricultural trade issues if needed to protect farmers. Biden has designated it for climate change.

The Biden administration wants to use the Agriculture Department’s money to tackle climate change, support restaurants, and kickstart other programs without waiting for Congress. Go here for the report.

Long hidden in obscurity as a Depression-era financial institution, the Commodity Credit Corp. is shaping up as one of the first focal points for how the Biden administration is quickly revamping flexible programs left behind by former President Donald Trump.

Before the Trump era, the CCC was used in narrow ways to support farm income and prices, like helping cotton growers with ginning costs and purchasing cheese to boost dairy farmers. It’s also used to fund certain conservation programs, foreign market development, export credit, and commodity purchases.

It became a signature tool in the last administration, which used it to dole out billions in aid to farmers suffering from Trump’s trade wars and tariffs. It was also dipped into to provide financial relief to farmers hit by the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture, and many additional commodities. USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP 2 based on stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers.

Farm Subsidies In America with Pros, Cons, and Impact

The Biden Executive Order is here.

As for the other agencies:

President Biden on Sunday formally revoked his predecessor’s effort to rescind $27 billion in funding spread across two-dozen federal agencies, unfreezing the money for immediate expenditure.

Just days before he left office, President Trump issued a rescission request under the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. Trump had warned he would issue such a proposal when he signed the fiscal 2021 omnibus spending package in December, which narrowly averted a shutdown. His request triggered a 45-day freeze on the funds, which Biden lifted in his Sunday action.

The previous White House, which noted the rescission package was the largest ever proposed, identified the funds as “wasteful and unnecessary spending” and amounts “no longer needed for the purposes for which they were appropriated.” It focused largely on international aid efforts through the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, but the 73 targeted programs also included those related to climate research, federal student aid, and renewable energy.

The 1974 rescission law allows the president to propose to rescind funding previously approved by Congress. Lawmakers have 45 days to consider the request and if they do not act to support the rescissions during that window, the request is denied. The Office of Management and Budget can direct agencies not to spend the funding proposed for rescission for the entire 45-day period, regardless of when Congress acts. The Trump White House briefly floated a rescission in 2019 less than 45 days before the end of the fiscal year, which critics derided as illegal as it would have enabled the administration to freeze out funds from ever being spent. That followed a 2018 effort to rescind $15 billion in largely foreign aid funding, which the House approved but was narrowly rejected by the Senate.

The most recent rescission package, where funds are now unfrozen, included accounts within the following departments and agencies:

  • Agriculture
  • Commerce
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Health and Human Services
  • Homeland Security
  • Interior
  • Justice
  • Labor
  • State
  • Treasury
  • African Development Foundation
  • Commission of Fine Arts
  • Corporation for National and Community Service
  • District of Columbia
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Inter-American Foundation
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
  • National Gallery of Art
  • Peace Corps
  • Presidio Trust
  • U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • Legislative Branch

02/2/21

Twitter Being Sued for Refusing to Remove Child Pornography

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

In short, child pornography does not violate their terms of use policies. While you’re at it… check out Facebook Messenger or any of the other platforms that are encrypted.

The 70-page lawsuit is found here.

Twittergate: Massive child porn rings revealed on Twitter ...

NYP:

Twitter refused to take down widely shared pornographic images and videos of a teenage sex trafficking victim because an investigation “didn’t find a violation” of the company’s “policies,” a scathing lawsuit alleges.

The federal suit, filed Wednesday by the victim and his mother in the Northern District of California, alleges Twitter made money off the clips, which showed a 13-year-old engaged in sex acts and are a form of child sexual abuse material, or child porn, the suit states.

The teen — who is now 17 and lives in Florida — is identified only as John Doe and was between 13 and 14 years old when sex traffickers, posing as a 16-year-old female classmate, started chatting with him on Snapchat, the suit alleges.

Doe and the traffickers allegedly exchanged nude photos before the conversation turned to blackmail: If the teen didn’t share more sexually graphic photos and videos, the explicit material he’d already sent would be shared with his “parents, coach, pastor” and others, the suit states.

Doe, acting under duress, initially complied and sent videos of himself performing sex acts and was also told to include another child in his videos, which he did, the suit claims.

Eventually, Doe blocked the traffickers and they stopped harassing him, but at some point in 2019, the videos surfaced on Twitter under two accounts that were known to share child sexual abuse material, court papers allege.

Over the next month, the videos would be reported to Twitter at least three times — first on Dec. 25, 2019 — but the tech giant failed to do anything about it until a federal law enforcement officer got involved, the suit states.

Doe became aware of the tweets in January 2020 because they’d been viewed widely by his classmates, which subjected him to “teasing, harassment, vicious bullying” and led him to become “suicidal,” court records show.

While Doe’s parents contacted the school and made police reports, he filed a complaint with Twitter, saying there were two tweets depicting child pornography of himself and they needed to be removed because they were illegal, harmful, and were in violation of the site’s policies.

A support agent followed up and asked for a copy of Doe’s ID so they could prove it was him and after the teen complied, there was no response for a week, the family claims.

Around the same time, Doe’s mother filed two complaints to Twitter reporting the same material and for a week, she also received no response, the suit states.

Finally, on Jan. 28, Twitter replied to Doe and said they wouldn’t be taking down the material, which had already racked up over 167,000 views and 2,223 retweets, the suit states.

“Thanks for reaching out. We’ve reviewed the content, and didn’t find a violation of our policies, so no action will be taken at this time,” the response reads, according to the lawsuit.

“If you believe there’s a potential copyright infringement, please start a new report. If the content is hosted on a third-party website, you’ll need to contact that website’s support team to report it. Your safety is the most important thing, and if you believe you are in danger, we encourage you to contact your local authorities.”

In his response, published in the complaint, Doe appeared shocked.

“What do you mean you don’t see a problem? We both are minors right now and were minors at the time these videos were taken. We both were 13 years of age. We were baited, harassed, and threatened to take these videos that are now being posted without our permission. We did not authorize these videos AT ALL and they need to be taken down,” the teen wrote back to Twitter.

He even included his case number from a local law enforcement agency, but still, the tech giant allegedly ignored him and refused to do anything about the illegal child sexual abuse material — as it continued to rack up more and more views.

Two days later, Doe’s mom was connected with an agent from the Department of Homeland Security through a mutual contact who successfully had the videos removed on Jan. 30, the suit states.

“Only after this take-down demand from a federal agent did Twitter suspend the user accounts that were distributing the CSAM and report the CSAM to the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children,” states the suit, filed by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and two law firms.

“This is directly in contrast to what their automated reply message and User Agreement state they will do to protect children.”

The disturbing lawsuit goes on to allege Twitter knowingly hosts creeps who use the platform to exchange child porn material and profits from it by including ads interspersed between tweets advertising or requesting the material.

Early Thursday, Twitter declined to comment to The Post but later in the day, reversed course and sent a statement by email.

“Twitter has zero-tolerance for any material that features or promotes child sexual exploitation. We aggressively fight online child sexual abuse and have heavily invested in technology and tools to enforce our policy, a Twitter spokesperson wrote.

“Our dedicated teams work to stay ahead of bad-faith actors and to ensure we’re doing everything we can to remove content, facilitate investigations, and protect minors from harm — both on and offline.”