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Police say teenager arrested, accused of using social media to organize Hollywood ‘bash mob’

A 16-year-old has been arrested for allegedly using social media to organize a mob of teens to attack and rob pedestrians on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, police said Wednesday.

The teen is believed to have incited a chaotic crime spree, dubbed a “bash mob,” at the busy Los Angeles intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, Officer Bruce Borihanh said. The teen’s name was withheld because he is a juvenile.

Bash mobs are like a flash mob but instead of dancing in a choreographed number in public places, a bash mob converges to steal and vandalize. Police have been trying to stay one step ahead of such mobs, and have recently issued warnings ahead of possible bash mobs.

Police say the incident came in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, when resources were deployed to protests around the city. KABC-TV reports ( reports some peaceful protesters were present at the Hollywood location.

Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese told reporters Wednesday that it was unacceptable for the criminal behavior to taint the purpose of those who were lawfully and peacefully protesting.

“In light of what the good people that were up there for lawful purpose intended to do, it really put a black eye on those days and we can’t have that,” Albanese said.  Read More



Social media a new dilemma for law enforcers


Nearly three months after a student posted on Facebook the alleged threats a Lake Station teacher wrote on classroom chalkboard, prosecutors mull criminal charges against the man.

The posting set off a maelstrom of media attention, leading the veteran Edison High School business educator to retire.

The message to a sixth-period class read, in part: “A. You are idiots!!! B. The guns are loaded!!! C. Care to try me???”

Veteran teacher Jeff Kincaid is reported to have been angered at the time by students’ conduct toward a substitute teacher during his absence.

Kincaid was placed on administrative leave March 1. Police took their findings to the office of Lake County Prosecuting Attorney Bernard Carter for review later that month.

Police are reported to have been considering a charge of intimidation, which can be filed as a felony if the offense takes place on school property. Telephone calls from The Times to Lake Station police officials were not returned.

Kincaid’s attorney, Andrew Yoder, of Merrillville, declined to comment, as did Carter’s office.

However, law enforcement professionals not directly connected to the pending case discussed how social media is changing their world.

“It brings out issues we never had to deal with in the past,” Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel told The Times in Munster, referring to social media such as Facebook, Twitter and other Internet platforms.

Gensel said his office has had to deal with whether posts on social media sites constitute threats. He said threats can lead to charges of harassment or intimidation.

Gensel said the determination can be “tricky,” depending on the threat’s specificity or directness.

“You can’t harass a hospital, but you can harass an employee,” Gensel noted as an example.

Harassment is a lesser charge, confined to a B-level misdemeanor, he said. However, intimidation can rise from an A-level misdemeanor to a D-level felony. The higher the letter, the more serious the offense.  Read More

Dollar edges higher as U.S. fiscal talks eyed; yen drops

U.S. dollar bills are displayed in Toronto in this posed photo, March 26, 2008. REUTERS-Mark Blinch
A one Euro coin is displayed in water in Munich August 20, 2012. REUTERS-Michaela Rehle

1 of 2. U.S. dollar bills are displayed in Toronto in this posed photo, March 26, 2008.

By Wanfeng Zhou

Volatility could increase as the year-end deadline on the U.S. “fiscal cliff” approaches with little progress on reaching a deal to avoid $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts that could tip the U.S. economy back into recession.

A deal in the coming days could spark a rally in currencies like the euro, the Australian and Canadian dollars as investor appetite for risk increases, while no deal may spur demand for the safe-haven U.S. dollar and Japanese yen, analysts said.

“The end of the week therefore sets up as possible volatility event for the market with some analysts expecting a 1 percent rally for risk FX if a deal looks to be done, but a possible severe selloff of 2 percent or more if it fails to materialize,” said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management in New York.

“The risks are skewed to the downside as market remains complacent about a compromise, but for now traders are betting that a deal gets done.”

Many investors opted to stay on the sidelines in thin pre-holiday trading on Monday, awaiting headlines from Washington.

The Democratic president and Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the two key negotiators, are not talking and are out of town for the Christmas holidays. Congress is in recess, and will have only a few days next week to act before January 1. Some lawmakers voiced concern that the country would go over the “cliff”.  Read More

5 social media questions 2012 will answer

The 2012 race marks the first time a new type of high-level campaign staffer — the digital director — had a seat in the top tier of the presidential campaigns as well as most major congressional races.

In the case of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, theirs were senior staffers with significantly more input than ever before and multimillion-dollar budgets. Nearly every major Senate race had a prominent social media guru, too.

After Tuesday, the political world will start looking back to see how it worked and what might change next time.

Here are five burning questions to be answered once the votes are counted:

Was social media worth the hype?

Tweets per minute and Facebook likes are dandy, but what does it all add up to? Future campaigns need to learn whether the use of social networking — sponsored ads, advocacy campaigns, peer pressure from Facebook “friends” — helped deliver votes.

The raw statistics may take a while to nail down. But the key for campaign operatives is whether the tactics were effective and whether the right amount of effort and money was invested in social.

“We digital people have shouted from the mountaintops that we should be more important,” said Vincent Harris, digital campaign manager for Republicans Linda McMahon, Allen West and Ted Cruz. “So did we get just enough, did we get too much? Did the proper percentage of the budget go to digital this cycle? Did the digital industry get what they wished for and did they spend it well?”

Conversely, Harris wonders whether there is such a thing as overkill. “What is the point of saturation?” he said. “How many times does something need to go before someone before it breaks through? Google and Facebook don’t have answers to that. They just know they want the candidates’ money.”  Read More


Obama returns to social media to re-energized young, less enthused voters


FILE: June 2007: Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama greets a crowd of mostly young supporters at Howard University in Washington, D.C. (AP)

President Barack Obama’s campaign, needing an army of young supporters even more than it did four years ago, is out to re-energize a crucial voting bloc whose enthusiasm has flagged with the job market.

The Obama campaign is trying to reconnect with the legions of college students it recruited in 2008, seeking to register new ones and stressing issues that hit young pocketbooks—specifically, programs to keep down college-loan costs and provisions to let young adults stay on their parents’ health-care plans until the age of 26, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Young voters are critical in Obama’s tight race against Mitt Romney because other groups appear cooler to the president than they were four years ago.  Read More

Twitter Hits Back at Court, Prosecutors Over ‘Occupy’ Order

A police officer with a bullhorn addresses a large group of protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement who attempted to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 in New York. Photo: Will Stevens/AP

In the battle to prevent law enforcement from collecting data about the activities of users online for fishing expeditions, there are few tools available in the arsenal of accountholders.

Which makes it all the more important for internet companies like Twitter, Google and others to fight back on behalf of users.

That’s exactly what Twitter did when it filed a surprisingly feisty motion (.pdf) this week in New York City Criminal Court to quash a court order demanding that it hand over information to law enforcement about one of its account holders — an activist who participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests — as well as tweets that he allegedly posted to the account over a three-month period. The company stepped in with the motion after the account holder lost his own bid to quash the order.

In its motion to quash, Twitter pointed out to the judge that the order would essentially force the company to break the law by handing over data without a warrant. Twitter also took issue with the judge’s ruling that the account holder had no right to fight the order on his own behalf.

The company further dinged prosecutors by pointing out that they could have saved everyone the trouble of dealing with this in court if they had simply printed or downloaded the publicly available tweets themselves.

“To the extent the desired content is publicly available, the District Attorney could presumably have an investigator print or download it without further burdening Twitter or the Court,” Twitter wrote in its motion.

The American Civil Liberties Union applauded Twitter’s move.

“This is a big deal,” wrote Senior Staff Attorney Aden Fine. “If Internet users cannot protect their own constitutional rights, the only hope is that Internet companies do so.”  Read More

Can Social Media Ease Your Business Decisions?

Given the overwhelming flow of information, both vital and utterly trivial, available to all of us 24/7, has it become easier or harder to make business decisions? Is social media helpful or just another distraction?

The recent study by Forbes Insights and global ideas shop gyro, “The @Work State of Mind Project,” examined these questions. The results show that executives are pretty evenly divided on whether making business decisions has become easier or harder over the past few years. But those who say it has gotten easier include more of those who use social media of all sorts for business purposes. And no, this doesn’t break down along the generational lines that you, dear reader, probably expect.

(While executives were almost evenly divided on the ease/difficulty issue, they agreed by a 3-to-1 margin that they are making better decisions today. So even if the process is harder, it’s presumably worth it.)

First, let’s step back a moment. To quote from one of the study’s key findings: “Social networks are important for conducting business. About two in three respondents (67%) said that such work-related networks play a significant role in business, and 56% said that personal social networks influence their determinations. But business-related networks are clearly more important than ones more focused on personal life.”  Read More

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