Interesting piece with Cong. Rogers and Peter Bergen on the Syrian terrorist who might be the next bin Laden.
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Good news from the Federal Courts, and more vindication for the great work done by the FBI agents who investigated Mehanna for years. It’s also not a good day to be a client of JW Carney, as today his other client–Whitey Bulger–was given two life sentences plus five years from Federal Judge Denise Casper.–AA
The U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction and 17-year prison sentence imposed on Islamic extremist Tarek Mehanna, calling terrorism “the modern-day equivalent of the bubonic plague: It is an existential threat.”
The 31-year-old former Sudbury pharmacist was found guilty last year of conspiring with al-Qaeda to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, and traveling to Yemen in a failed attempt to enlist in a terrorist training camp. Prosecutors said Mehanna was also making plans to shoot up a local shopping mall.
Mehanna argued unsuccessfully that his convictions weren’t supported by the evidence and that many of his statements interpreted as anti-American jihadist rants were protected political speech.
Appellate Justices Jeffrey R. Howard, Bruce M. Selya and O. Rogeriee Thompson found Mehanna “was fairly tried, justly convicted and lawfully sentenced.”
“We do not pretend to understand why the defendant chose to go down such a treacherous path,” they wrote. “Nevertheless, the jury found that he knowingly and intentionally made that choice, and that finding is both supported by the clear weight of the evidence and untainted by legal error.”
(CNN) — A painting by artist Francis Bacon sold for $142,405,000 on Tuesday, breaking the record as the most expensive piece of art ever auctioned, according to a statement from the auction house.
“Three Studies of Lucian Freud” was sold after six minutes of bidding in the room and on the phone at Christie’s in New York City, according to spokeswoman Elizabeth Van Bergen.
Painted in 1969, it is known as one of Bacon’s most iconic works, as it features Lucian Freud at the apex of his relationship with Bacon,
The triptych, a three-panel piece of art, features Freud sitting on a wooden chair in varied positions, the statement said.
The painting was part of a record-breaking auction that grossed $691,583,000, the highest total for an auction sale in art market history, according to Christie’s.
This report raises interesting questions about facial recognition software versus the human brain. In my time with DHS/TSA, I found that the best level of security involved and the hands and eyes of a good screening officer as opposed to technology, which I saw as complimenting rather than surpassing a physical search.–AA
(CBS News) The London police at Scotland Yard, like the police everywhere, use all kinds of technology to solve crimes, such as DNA evidence, modern forensics and fingerprints. However, they’ve also discovered that the best tool in fact may be the oldest tool: the human eyeball.
British officials have discovered that not all eyeballs are the same. They found out something they were not expecting at Scotland Yard a couple of years ago.
During the week of street rioting and looting that was the low-light of the 2011 London summer, much of the lawlessness was captured on security cameras, but unless those breaking the law could actually be identified, the images were useless as a policing tool.
Much vaunted computer facial recognition software was supposed to be able to spot the faces of known criminals in the crowd. Except, according to Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville, something else worked better.
“We had 4,000 images and we put them through the facial recognition software. It picked out one suspect,” said Neville. “I’ve got one officer here, P.C. Gary Collins, he picked out 180 suspects. So the human is 180 times better than the magic machine.”
Police Constable Gary Collins has now identified more than 600 suspects for all sorts of crimes over the years, suspects no other person or machine managed to spot. He never stops.
He told CBS News’ Mark Phillips that it becomes an “addiction” and he doesn’t always know what he’s looking for, but he knows he’s got the knack.
Collins is called a “super-recognizer” and the trick for Scotland Yard has been to identify others like him. They’re working with a psychologist, Dr. Josh Davis, to try to find other police officers who are also good at it.
Davis told Phillips that there are reasons why some people are good at it and others are not.
“There does seem to be some evidence that there might be some sort of genetic inheritance, maybe in the genes,” he said. “Face recognition ability does seem to run in families to some extent.”
Officials then take these so called super-recognizers and have them look at hundreds of photos of the unidentified suspects of various crimes. Or they look at moving security cam footage. Getting the best recognizers and the most pictures in the same place seems to work. In this one-day session, they identified 250 suspects.
“No one else in the world does it and I recommend to other police forces, use your officers in this way,” said Neville. “Make sure you’ve got the images and you show them and you track them through. Your images will be as effective as fingerprints and DNA.
The ability to identify suspects from images is now considered such an effective tool that the police are now developing tests to be able to recruit people who come from that top one or two percent of the population which is better at it than everybody else.
- The inestimable Long War Journal reports that the new deputy emir of the despicable Pakistani Taliban has directed suicide operations.
- ABC News reports that the son of Suriname’s leader is facing terrorism charge here in the United States.
- The Washington Times reports that members of the US Senate are calling for the resignation of the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.
- Fox News is reporting that DHS is considering changing a rule that prohibits Libyans from receiving flight training in the United States (far too soon, I think).
Good to see Chris Marinello is involved here. –AA
The State Department is calling for greater transparency from Germany in returning Nazi-confiscated artworks discovered in a Munich apartment to their rightful owners, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The U.S. plans to ask Germany to publish the full list of more than 1,400 recovered works and will push the country to change its 30-year statute of limitations, which could make it difficult for heirs to the original owners to reclaim the works, a U.S. official told the newspaper.
More than 1,400 artworks — some by modern masters such as Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso — were found in 2012 stacked in the Munich apartment of an elderly man. For families whose treasures were stolen by Germany’s Nazi regime, the discovery has raised hopes — but also stirred frustration.
Citing an ongoing tax probe into the apartment’s resident, German authorities have not revealed many details about the vast majority of the paintings, drawings, engravings, woodcuts and prints they have found. At a news conference Tuesday, officials described only a fraction of the spectacular find, including — tantalizingly — previously unknown paintings by Matisse, Chagall and German artist Otto Dix.
The reported push for greater transparency from the U.S. comes as legal experts say restrictive German property laws could prevent the works from being returned to earlier owners, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Under current German law, there is no basis for what the Nazis termed “degenerate art” to be returned to their rightful owners. Lawyers filing restitution claims must be able to provide evidence that the artworks were acquired under duress, according to the report.
German daily Die Welt ran a front-page editorial on Wednesday calling for the German Parliament to revoke the statute of limitations involving looted art and declare all the sales contracts involving such works null and void, the Journal reported.
If “the greatest theft in the history of art would, as far as possible, be completely revoked, it would be a late return to justice,” the commentary said.
On Wednesday, a lawyer for the family of the late Parisian art dealer Paul Rosenberg said he was “in the process of submitting a claim” for one of the most spectacular works, a Matisse painting of a seated woman.
“I fully expect when they get my claim letter they will invite me to Munich” to negotiate its return, Chris Marinello, director of the London-based Art Recovery International, told The Associated Press.
Rosenberg lost hundreds of artworks when the Nazis invaded France in 1940. His relatives, including granddaughter Anne Sinclair — the French journalist and ex-wife of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss Kahn — have sought for decades to retrieve them.
The Munich trove was found in early 2012 at the home of a man whom German officials didn’t name but who has been identified in media reports as 80-year-old Cornelius Gurlitt. His father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, was an art dealer who acted for the Nazis in the 1930s to sell art considered “degenerate” by the regime — including Impressionist and modern masterpieces — outside of Germany in return for cash.
Some of the works were seized from museums, while others were stolen or bought for a pittance from Jewish collectors who were forced to sell.
Gerhard Finckh, director of the Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal, western Germany, called for an inventory of the Gurlitt trove to be published online quickly so museums can find out whether their stolen works are among them.
“If our works are among the discovered art, we will do everything to get them back,” said Finckh, whose museum lost pieces by Dix, Paul Klee, Vassily Kandinsky and many others.
Jewish groups also have called for the works to be made public immediately.
Spokesman Steffen Seibert said Wednesday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government favored releasing information about works that “may have been confiscated from people persecuted by the Nazis.” But he gave no details or timeframe for that to happen.
That leaves people seeking the return of artworks with no quick path to restitution.
Imke Gielen, a Berlin lawyer specializing in restitution claims, said prospective claimants should approach the Bavarian prosecutors with queries about specific works. She said it was vital to prove ownership of the artwork until Jan. 30, 1933, the day the Nazis seized power. Any art lost after that is presumed to have been sold under pressure or seized, boosting the chances of restitution.
Others will turn to the Art Loss Register, which maintains a database of several hundred thousand works of stolen or missing art.
The organization’s team of art sleuths, historians and legal experts was busy Wednesday trying to match works on its database with the items found in Germany. Julian Radcliffe, the register’s chairman, says it has already found one match — not the Matisse — but won’t say what artwork it is.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
On July 11, Arifa Bibi, a young mother of two, was stoned to death in Pakistan. Her only “crime” was possessing a cellphone. In response to Bibi’s killing, and others like it, a movement is building. More than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on the UN to eradicate this inhumane punishment. As Arifa’s story shows, stoning is as prevalent today as it has ever been. Understanding why and how this practice occurs is crucial to tackling it. Here are the answers to common questions about stoning. You can learn more about the fight to eradicate stoning by visiting Women Living Under Muslim Laws.
Stoning (also known as lapidation) is a form of execution. It is a method by which a group throws stones at a person until they are dead.
Stoning still happens today. There are 15 countries in which stoning is either practiced or authorized by law, even if it has never been practiced. In Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria (in one-third of the country’s states), Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, stoning is a legal punishment. However, out of these countries, only in Iran, Pakistan and Somalia have stonings actually occurred, and all instances in Pakistan have occurred outside the legal system.
By comparison, three of the remaining five countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Mali) do not condone stoning in national legislation, but sentences and executions have been carried out by non-state actors. In the Aceh region of Indonesia and Malaysia, stoning is sanctioned regionally but banned nationally.
Stoning is used as a punishment for adultery, or zina. It is a method used to control the sexuality and bodies of both men and women, but women are more often the victims.
That’s about all I have to say about that.
From the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk):
The £1billion hoard of paintings found in the squalid Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt contained previously unknown works by Matisse, Marc Chagall and Otto Dix, investigators have revealed.
Customs officials found an astonishing treasure trove of modernist paintings at the residence of Gurlitt, 80, and promptly confiscated it.
The 1,500 works – some of them priceless – were said to have been lost to the flames when Allied aircraft bombed Dresden in 1945.
Remarkable: A painting from Henry Matisse called Sitzende Frau (Sitting Woman) – one of the previously unknown works found at Gurlitt’s flat – is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg
Never-before-seen: A painting of Otto Dix called Selbstportrait Rauchend (Selfportrait Smoking)
Treasure trove: An allegorical scene painting by Marc Chagall that has never been seen by the art world emerged from Gurlitt’s collection
Siegfried Klöble, the head of the Munich customs office, revealed in a press conference on Tuesday that the previously unknown works included a self-portrait of Dix, thought to date to 1919, a portrait of a woman by Matisse and an allegorical work by Chagall.
The collection also contained works by Picasso, Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Max Beckmann, Max Liebermann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Carl Spitzweg, he added.
Klöble stated that it was highly unlikely that Gurlitt was hiding any other paintings.
Gurlitt vanished after the paintings were confiscated, with police suspecting that he has access to almost unlimited funds.
As well as selling The Lion Tamer, he sold off many of the paintings – works that wouldn’t attract headlines – before the intervention of German customs officials.
Important find: Another painting from Otto Dix found in Gurlitt’s flat by customs officials
French painter Gustav Courbet’s Village Girl With Goat and Germany’s Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Melancholy Girl
Significant: Max Liebermann’s Zwei Reiter am Strande (Two riders on the beach) had been kept in Gurlitt’s apartment
A reproduction of a painting by Italian painter Canaletto presented during the news conference on Tuesday
A work found in Gurlitt’s Munich flat by German painter Franz Marc displayed to journalists during Tuesday’s press conference
Holding place: Cornelius Gurlitt, lived off the collection and as a consequence he has managed to survive his entire life without any official bank account, pension or insurance. Pictured: The Munich apartment where officials discovered the hidden paintings
Gurlitt was a man of mystery in many aspects of his life.
The son of art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, he did not have an official bank account, pension or insurance – he simply lived off the extensive collection, selling them when his money dipped.
He never held down a job and was not registered with the authorities – mandatory in Germany – and was not known to the tax authorities or social services.
Collector: Hildebrandt Gurlitt amassed more than 1,500 masterpieces and ordered them to be destroyed in 1945
The paintings thought to have been destroyed in the war were found hidden behind tins of rotting food in a shabby flat.
They had been taken from their owners, many of them Jewish, by the Nazis, who regarded the Impressionist, Cubist and Modernist pieces as ‘degenerate’.
The story of their recovery begins one evening in September 2010 aboard a German Intercity Express train from Zurich in Switzerland to Munich.
Customs officials were carrying out a routine check on passengers – many wealthy Germans deposit money illegally in Switzerland to evade high tax rates at home – and asked for the papers of a white-haired man.
He proffered an Austrian passport in the name of Rolf Nikolaus Cornelius Gurlitt, born December 28, 1933, in Hamburg – currently residing in Salzburg.
‘He appeared nervous,’ said customs officials.
He said he had travelled to Switzerland for ‘business’ at the Galerie Kornfeld in Bern.
He then he pulled out an envelope with 9,000 euros in 500 euro notes inside – 1,000 euros under the legal limit which must declared to officials when crossing borders in Europe.
Gurlitt was allowed to go on his way, but the officials remained suspicious.
Extensive checks soon disclosed that he did not live in Salzburg but in Schwabing, and he was not registered with the authorities.
‘He was a man who didn’t exist,’ one official told Germany’s Focus magazine, which broke the story.
Control: Hitler only liked classical art and held exhibitions of modern ‘dissident’ pieces to show German people what not to like. Many of those paintings that appeared in those shows have been found in Gurlitt’s collection