Gunman kills 49 in Florida gay nightclub; deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history

REUTERS/Kevin Kolczynski

50 are reported dead and dozens injured after a gunman took hostages at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Police killed him and described the massacre as an act of terrorism.

"Everyone get out and keep running," the club posted on its Facebook page during the attack, which began about 2 a.m. The BBC reports that desperate relatives gathered near the club after receiving texts and call from inside but nothing since.

The shooter was named as Omar S. Mateen, a U.S. citizen from Port St. Lucie, Fla., reports WDBO, and the FBI are "leaning towards Islamic terrorism" as motive.

A clubber earlier described a situation of chaos outside as the number of casualties became apparent.

"There were just bodies everywhere," Christopher Hansen said. "In the parking lot, they were tagging them - red, yellow - so they knew who to help first and who not help first. Pants down, shirts cut off, they had to find the bullets. Just blood everywhere."

Some of the injured were reportedly brought to the Orlando Regional Medical Center in police pick-ups.

John Mina, Orlando's Police Chief, said the attack began when a police officer stationed at the club exchanged gunfire with the assailant, who managed to enter the club and initiate a hostage situation. Read the rest

Scottish Terror on Film: Darkfall

KICKSTARTER VIDEO

This week, Kodak and Kickstarter announced a joint venture to support low budget film projects that want to shoot on celluloid (that means real film, as opposed to digital). Of the four films Kodak is supporting, psychological horror movie Darkfall is the most interesting to me.

Written, produced, and directed by my long-time buddy magician R. Paul Wilson, Darkfall returns to the classic filmmaking techniques inspired by our fellow conjuror Georges Méliès—that means using magic methods and illusion secrets in place of modern CGI. Inspired by classic horror movies like Cat People, The Haunting and Halloween, Paul hopes to produce a powerful experience using psychology, audio effects, and “in-camera” trickery to terrify the audience.

Special effects and cinematic storytelling were pioneered by Méliès, whose life story was the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s film, Hugo. Méliès produced and directed over 500 films in which he invented new effects and techniques to tell fantastic stories, leaving an invaluable legacy for future filmmakers. Wilson is a huge fan and, during a visit to an exhibit of Méliès’s work in Madrid, it occurred to him to use modern conjuring methods in the same way.

Paul says, “Filmmaking has evolved at an amazing pace and so has the art of magic, but the two have grown apart, especially with the introduction of digital effects. I began to wonder what Georges Méliès would do with modern magic and the idea grew from there.”

The Darkfall story revolves around how perception can be distorted. It’s a supernatural tale with a killer twist inspired by Paul’s time working on television. Read the rest

FBI paid at least $1.3 million to hack into the San Bernardino iPhone

iPhone parts in a NY repair store, February 17, 2016.  REUTERS

The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports that the FBI payed more than $1m to get into the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone after Apple refused to create software to bypass its encryption. The Washington Post reports that a one-off $1.3m price tag was admitted, obliquely, by FBI Director James Comey by comparison with his own salary.

Federal authorities have not publicly revealed who helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, which was at the center of an extended fight between the government and Apple. The Justice Department had maintained that only Apple could help it access the phone without erasing all of its data before abruptly saying it had gotten help from an outside party and no longer needed Apple’s assistance.

According to people familiar with the issue, the FBI cracked the phone with the help of professional hackers who were paid a one-time flat fee. Law enforcement officials have said recently that the FBI has found no links to foreign terrorists on the phone, though they are still hoping that geolocation data on the device could help reveal what the attackers did during an 18-minute period after the shooting.

The FBI's attempts to compel Apple's cooperation backfired after CEO Tim Cook publicly accused the Bureau of exploiting the case to try and gain backdoor access to iPhones in general. The phone ultimately yielded no useful information.
“But it was, in my view, worth it,” the FBI director said of what it cost to access the phone’s data.
Read the rest

Another day in America, another pig's head left outside a Muslim community center

The pig's head tossed at a Philadelphia mosque today

A local CBS affiliate in Philadelphia reports that city police are investigating a pig’s head dumped outside an Islamic Center in North Philadelphia.

Islam's holy book, the Quran, forbids Muslims from eating pork.

The pig’s head showed up outside the Al-Alsqa Islamic Center early this morning.

A man who works for a nonprofit inside the center told local TV news the first time Al-Asqa was threatened in this manner was right after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. They received a voicemail: “Allah… is a peace of pork [expletive]! Allah Sucks!””

Philadelphia Mayor-elect Jim Kenney said in a statement today, “The bigotry that desecrated Al-Aqsa mosque has no place in Philadelphia… I ask all Philadelphians to join me in rejecting this despicable act and supporting our Muslim neighbors.”

Just last Sunday, President Barack Obama gave a national address about terrorism, and rejected the wave of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence sweeping America. Many blame the inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump for an uptick in hate crimes like the pig's head.

Michael Nutter, the outgoing mayor of Philadelphia, had some thoughts on Donald Trump's hateful comments against Muslims. Said the mayor, “He's an asshole.”

Police Investigate Pig’s Head Found Outside Philadelphia Islamic Center [philadelphia.cbslocal.com] Read the rest

Carnage returns to Nigeria as Boko Haram terrorist attack kills 30, wounds 80 or more

nema-rescue-victim_340_3

An overnight blast blamed on the Islamic extremist terror organization Boko Haram killed 32 people and wounded 80 Tuesday at a truck stop in northeastern Nigeria.

Read the rest

Doctors were compelled by US military and CIA to harm detainees, report says

A guard walks through a cellblock inside Camp V, a prison used to house detainees at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, March 5, 2013. Photo: Reuters.

Post-9/11 detainee interrogration policies of the US Defense Department and CIA forced medical professionals to abandon the ethical obligation to "do no harm" to the humans in their care, and engage in prohibited practices such as force-feeding of hunger strikers, according to a report out this week. "Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror" [PDF Link] was produced by 19-member task force of Columbia University's Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the Open Society Foundations. The LA Times has a summary here. Read the rest

Death of a Prisoner: short documentary by Laura Poitras on Guantánamo detainee Adnan Latif

Filmmaker Laura Poitras follows the tragic return home to Yemen of a Guantánamo Bay prison detainee, Adnan Latif.

Seven steps to learning to love US torture and detention policies, via "Zero Dark Thirty"

A waterboarding scene from the film "Zero Dark Thirty."

Karen J. Greenberg, executive director of the New York University Center on Law and Security and author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First One Hundred Days, explains seven simple steps to making US torture and detention policies once again acceptable to the American public, as illustrated in "Zero Dark Thirty." Read the rest

Deaf man writes that TSA agent mocked him as “F*cking deafie,” then stole his candy, ate it

Update (June 12): The young author of the post alleging mistreatment by the TSA contacted Boing Boing to request that we delete/unpublish this blog post, explaining that he hadn't intended the story to "go viral." He then took down his account from his Tumblr (which, before this widely re-posted item, appears to have been a small personal blog read by a small number of real-world friends). Today, the TSA also published this post at the official TSA blog. Snip: "A close examination of the video during this timeframe indicates that officers working the checkpoint were professional and appropriate with all passengers." The author of the original Tumblr post told Boing Boing he wants privacy.

teaandtheatre, who is deaf, writes about an upsetting incident of "ableist" or "audist" harassment he claims to have received from the TSA, while going through a screening at the Louisville, Kentucky airport.

He explains that he was returning home from the National Association for the Deaf's biennial conference, with friends who'd attended the same event for deaf rights advocacy. He writes on Tumblr that he wrote the post as a kind of heads-up for other deaf folks, but it has gone viral outside of that community. Snip:

While I was going through the TSA, some of them started laughing in my direction. I thought it might’ve been someone behind me, but I found out otherwise.

They went through my bag (for no reason), and found a couple bags of candy I brought. I was told I wasn’t allowed to fly with that (wtf?

Read the rest

After slaying of 16 Afghan civilians, American Army sergeant held for investigation

An elderly Afghan man sits next to the covered bodies of civilians killed by an American soldier in Kandahar province, March 11, 2012. REUTERS/ Ahmad Nadeem

An American soldier is reported to have "stalked from home to home" before dawn, then methodically killed at least 16 civilians including 9 children, and 3 women. One of the dead appears to be a girl of toddler age.

The incident took place in a rural community in southern Afghanistan on Sunday morning. Eleven of the victims were members of one family. Photographs of the bodies circulating online show bullet wounds to the head, execution-style. Five or more additional civilians are reported to have been seriously injured.

"It is not the first time US soldiers have intentionally killed Afghan civilians but the death toll is unprecedented for a single soldier."

Quentin Sommerville, BBC correspondent in Kabul, tweeted a series of observations this morning as news spread:

A tiny girl in a red and green dress, is she 2 or 3 years old? There's a single gunshot in the middle of her temple. She almost looks asleep.

The killer in Kandahar is described as a "conventional US soldier" by ISAF sources, i.e., not Special Forces. Reuters and locals saying more than one solider involved, but ISAF insisting that this was an "individual acting alone".

From ex-US diplomat,"If you're an Afghan, you've seen a Florida pastor try to burn a Koran, then Marines urinate on dead Taliban soldiers, then burning of the Koran, and now this...

Read the rest

Still more proof NYPD spying program focused on Muslims who were not suspected of any crimes

The AP has published more documents today which offer further evidence that the The New York Police Department "kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims." The NYPD monitored these people based solely on their religion. Read the rest

DARPA's headless Cheetah robot can run faster than you

Developed by Boston Dynamics (previously), Cheetah can run 18 MPH, needs neither to see nor scent you to know where you are hiding (because you're screaming), but is fortunately not aware that it is on a treadmill. Read the rest

North Carolina town still protesting CIA rendition program, ten years later

Moms, priests, and peace-minded activists in a small North Carolina town haven't forgotten that a local aviation contractor was a key player in the CIA's “torture taxi” business. “I don’t want to live in a country that acts this way,” said Julia Elsee, 87, protesting at the Johnston County Airport. Read the rest

TSA defends cupcake confiscation

('Shoop-Illustration: Xeni Jardin)

On the TSA blog, a defense of the recent confiscation of a cupcake at Las Vegas International airport over concerns the tasty morsel was a terrorist threat. Cory blogged about the incident on Boing Boing, and pointed to a parody song about it here. The internet loves cupcakes and hates the TSA, so predictably, this one went very viral.

The federal agency's explanation for the incident focuses on the fact that the traveler's cupcake was transported in a jar:

I wanted to make it clear that this wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake. If you’re not familiar with it, we have a policy directly related to the UK liquid bomb plot of 2006 called 3-1-1 that limits the amount of liquids, gels and aerosols you can bring in your carry-on luggage. Icing falls under the “gel” category. As you can see from the picture, unlike a thin layer of icing that resides on the top of most cupcakes, this cupcake had a thick layer of icing inside a jar.

In general, cakes and pies are allowed in carry-on luggage, however, the officer in this case used their discretion on whether or not to allow the newfangled modern take on a cupcake per 3-1-1 guidelines. They chose not to let it go.

Read the rest here. It all makes perfect sense now.

Update: Rebecca Hains, the woman whose cupcake-in-a-jar is the tasty center of this international terror emergency, is not impressed with the agency's response. Read the rest

Five human heads found at Acapulco, Mexico primary school, in presumed drug cartel mass killing

Photo: A relative reacts after his arrival at a crime scene where a man was shot dead in Acapulco two days ago. According to local media, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a DVD and music salesman. The next day, the charred and headless remains of five people were found in the same city. And today, five disembodied heads, presumably the same victims, were discovered near a primary school nearby. [REUTERS]

In the Mexican city of Acapulco, where violence related to drug cartels has been escalating in recent weeks, police today found five decomposing human heads outside the Benito Juarez primary school [Google Maps link]. Armed men placed a wooden box outside the school early Tuesday, with a white cloth sack inside containing the severed heads and four handwritten cards inside threatening local officials and drug traffickers. The earliest reports appeared at the Milenio news website.

Prensa Latina reports that teachers in Acapulco schools have increasingly become the target of extortion demands, prompting the closure of schools and causing many teachers and children to stay away in fear. Just 200 feet from where the gruesome discovery was made today, a group of Mexican federal troops are stationed. More from news.com.au:

The discovery occurred in full view of young students and pedestrians, sparking fear in the area. Soldiers and police removed the remains and cordoned off the location.

Yesterday in the same city - a major port and tourist resort on Mexico's Pacific coast - police found five decapitated bodies: three badly burned inside a pickup truck, and two others outside the vehicle.

Read the rest