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China leaked the data of a billion users to the public, and the U.S. was unable to collect a dossier on a single rapper

6-7-2022 |

Fresh - freshly squeezed news from the international press. We prepare it 3 times a week.

Reuters: July 4 parade shooting suspect slipped past Illinois "red flag" safeguards

The man charged with killing seven people at a Chicago-area July Fourth parade slipped past the safeguards of an Illinois "red flag" law designed to prevent people deemed to have violent tendencies from getting guns, officials revealed on Tuesday.

The disclosures raised questions about the adequacy of the state's "red flag" laws even as a prosecutor lauded the system as "strong" during a news conference announcing seven first-degree murder charges against the 21-year-old suspect, Robert, E. Crimo III.

Photo: Facebook

Sergeant Chris Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said earlier in the day that Crimo had legally purchased a total of five guns, including the suspected murder weapon, despite having come to law enforcement's attention twice for behavior suggesting he might harm himself or others.

The first instance was an April 2019 emergency-911 call reporting Crimo had attempted suicide, followed in September of that year by a police visit regarding alleged threats "to kill everyone" that he had directed at family members, Covelli said.

According to Covelli, police responding to the second incident seized a collection of 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from Crimo's home in Highland Park, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where the shooting occurred on Monday. But no arrest was made as authorities at the time lacked probable cause to take him into custody, the sheriff's sergeant said.

"There were no complaints that were signed by any of the victims," Covelli explained.

Later on Tuesday came a separate statement from the Illinois State Police recounting that the agency had received a report from Highland Park Police declaring Crimo a "clear and present danger" after the alleged threats against relatives in September 2019.

At the time, however, Crimo did not possess a state "firearm owners identification (FOID)" card that could be revoked or a pending FOID application to deny. So state police involvement in the matter was closed, the agency said.

State police also said no relative or anyone else was willing "to move forward with a formal complaint" or to provide "information on threats or mental health that would have allowed law enforcement to take additional action."

Three months later, at age 19, Crimo applied for his first FOID card, under his father's sponsorship.

But because no firearm restraining order or other court action against Crimo had ever been sought, "there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application," state police said.

Crimo passed four background checks in the purchase of his guns, all of them conducted in 2020 and 2021, well after the 2019 incidents that drew police attention, according to the state police.

State police said the only offense detected in Crimo's criminal history during background checks was for unlawful possession of tobacco in 2016, and that "no mental health prohibiter reports" from healthcare providers ever surfaced.

The state police said that when officers who visited the family's home over the alleged threats Crimo made in September 2019, they asked him "if he felt like harming himself or others," and that "he responded 'no'."

"Additionally and importantly, the father claimed the knives were his and they were being stored in (his son's) closet for safekeeping," state police said. "Based upon that information, the Highland Park Police returned the knives to the father later that afternoon."

A number of U.S. politicians in both parties have urged more widespread enactment and enforcement of "red flag" laws, which typically enable courts to issue restraining orders allowing authorities to confiscate firearms from individuals, or to prevent them from buying weapons, when they are deemed to pose a significant threat to themselves or others.

But Reinhart, the state's attorney who charged Crimo on Tuesday, was at a loss to explain how Crimo could be permitted to legally obtain weapons without the alleged 2019 threat and "clear and present danger" report triggering the state's "red flag" measures.

France24: French prime minister to face baptism of fire in divided parliament

French Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne will on Wednesday lay out the government's policy priorities in her first speech in front of what promises to be a stormy parliament.

The 61-year-old will make the customary "general political declaration" to kick off the legislative session, which is being scrutinised closely given Borne's weak position at the head of a minority government.

Centrist President Emmanuel Macron suffered a setback in parliamentary elections last month that saw his allies fall short of a majority by 39 seats.

He and Borne have since failed to tempt opposition parties into a coalition.

"The prime minister is working round the clock," a cabinet minister told AFP this week. "She's meeting everyone, she's calling everyone. She's really committed to listening, so we'll manage."

Without formal allies in the 577-seat national assembly, Borne has decided not to call a confidence vote on her policy speech — something almost all past prime ministers have done after their first appearances in the lower house.

Holding a vote was "too risky" for Borne, who would have been forced to step down if she lost, explained Bruno Cautres, a researcher at the Cevipof political studies unit at Sciences Po university in Paris.

"She made the right decision, but she didn't really have a choice." 

But the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party, one of the big gainers in June's parliamentary polls, announced that it would immediately call for a censure motion on Tuesday which would also bring Borne down if she lost.

Analysts see it as highly unlikely to pass, with other opposition parties from the far-right National Rally and the rightwing Republicans ruling out backing LFI.

Borne's immediate priorities are expected to be pushing through laws with wide support such as one to help low-income families cope with the cost-of-living crisis and another to release extra funding for the struggling health service.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was hopeful the government could count on support from the right-wing Republicans party for bills to tackle immigration and crime, saying the cabinet's "hand was outstretched".

"If we put forward bills filled with common sense and with the spirit of compromise we have today, will this outstretched hand be taken by our adversaries?" he told BFM television.

"Nobody would understand" if opposition parties systematically blocked the government, he said.

Without a formal coalition, intense negotiations with opposition parties will be required each time the government wants to pass legislation.

Borne will also be constantly vulnerable to a censure motion called by opponents, making French politics unpredictable and unstable for the foreseeable future.

Photo: Reuters

Only two months since he was re-elected to a historic second term, Macron has diminished capacity to push through reforms, with plans to raise the retirement age to 65 and reform welfare on ice for the moment.

The French media has speculated in recent days about his state of mind, with some reports suggesting he is yet to mentally rebound from the parliamentary setback.

Le Point, a right-wing weekly, said he had lost his "energy, his nerve and his lucidity", while the left-wing l'Obs reported he was suffering from "physical exhaustion."

"Emmanuel Macron is no longer attractive," senior rightwing Republicans figure Bruno Retailleau told the CNews channel on Tuesday.

CNN: Nearly one billion people in China had their personal data leaked

A massive online database apparently containing the personal information of up to one billion Chinese citizens was left unsecured and publicly accessible for more than a year -- until an anonymous user in a hacker forum offered to sell the data and brought it to wider attention last week.

The leak could be one of the biggest ever recorded in history, cybersecurity experts say, highlighting the risks of collecting and storing vast amounts of sensitive personal data online -- especially in a country where authorities have broad and unchecked access to such data.

The vast trove of Chinese personal data had been publicly accessible via what appeared to be an unsecured backdoor link -- a shortcut web address that offers unrestricted access to anyone with knowledge of it -- since at least April 2021, according to LeakIX, a site that detects and indexes exposed databases online.

Access to the database, which did not require a password, was shut down after an anonymous user advertised the more than 23 terabytes (TB) of data for sale for 10 bitcoin -- roughly $200,000 -- in a post on a hacker forum last Thursday.

The user claimed the database was collated by the Shanghai police and contained sensitive information on one billion Chinese nationals, including their names, addresses, mobile numbers, national ID numbers, ages and birthplaces, as well as billions of records of phone calls made to police to report on civil disputes and crimes.

A sample of 750,000 data entries from the three main indexes of the database was included in the seller's post. CNN verified the authenticity of more than two dozen entries from the sample provided by the seller, but was unable to access the original database.

The Shanghai government and police department did not respond to CNN's repeated written requests for comment.

The seller also claimed the unsecured database had been hosted by Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. When reached by CNN for comment on Monday, Alibaba said "we are looking into this" and would communicate any updates. On Wednesday, Alibaba said it declined to comment.

But experts CNN spoke with said it was the owner of the data who was at fault, not the company hosting it.

"As it stands today, I believe this would be the largest leak of public information yet -- certainly in terms of the breadth of the impact in China, we're talking about most of the population here," said Troy Hunt, a Microsoft regional director based in Australia.

China is home to 1.4 billion people, which means the data breach could potentially affect more than 70% of the population.

"It's a little bit of a case where the genie is not going to be able to go back in the bottle. Once the data is out there in the form it appears to be now, there's no going back," said Hunt.

It is unclear how many people have accessed or downloaded the database during the 14 months or more it was left publicly available online. Two Western cybersecurity experts who spoke to CNN were both aware of the existence of the database before it was thrust into the public spotlight last week, suggesting it could be easily discovered by people who knew where to look.

A CNN analysis of the database sample found police records of cases spanning nearly two decades from 2001 to 2019. While the majority of the entries are civil disputes, there are also records of criminal cases ranging from fraud to rape.

"There could be domestic violence, child abuse, all sorts of things in there, that to me is a lot more worrying," said Hunt, the Microsoft regional director.

"Might this lead to extortion? We often see extortion of individuals after data leaks, examples where hackers can even try to ransom individuals."

The Chinese government has recently stepped up efforts to improve protection of online user data privacy. Last year, the country passed its first Personal Information Protection Law, laying out ground rules on how personal data should be collected, used and stored. But experts have raised concerns that while the law can regulate technology companies, it could be challenging to enforce when applied to the Chinese state.

Politico: Boris Johnson scrambles to save himself

Despite losing his Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid within minutes of each other, after both resigned Tuesday evening, Johnson won’t budge, according to his allies. In total, 10 people in Johnson’s administration quit, including two unpaid trade envoys.

Officials in both the Sunak and Javid camps insisted that their resignations, which came less than 10 minutes apart, were not coordinated. An official in Sunak’s team said the first he had learned of Javid’s resignation was seeing his resignation letter published online.

Javid quit with a blast at Johnson’s integrity, saying he could no longer serve in his government in “good conscience.” Sunak wrote that he believed the government should be “conducted properly, competently and seriously” and that those standards were “worth fighting for.” He stressed that their approaches to the economy were “fundamentally too different.”

Tory party vice chairman Bim Afolami later effectively resigned live on air.

Afolami told the talkTV news channel that he no longer supported the prime minister and that he believed both the Tory party and the country felt the same.

When the program host reminded Afolami that he is a government minister, he responded that he is “probably not after having said that” and confirmed he is planning to quit.

Even later on Tuesday night, Alex Chalk, the solicitor general, quit with a letter saying that under Johnson, “public confidence in the ability of Number 10 to uphold the standards of candor expected of a British government has irretrievably broken down.”

The turbulence marks an escalation of a crisis that has engulfed Johnson’s government for months. A string of revelations, first about coronavirus lockdown-busting parties attended by key figures at the top of British politics including Johnson himself, and later concerning the government’s poor handling of successive allegations of abusive behavior by Conservative MPs, have shaken the prime minister’s grip on power.

Compounded by a poor performance in two recent by-elections, many senior Conservatives report a consensus that Johnson’s time in power is coming to an end.

But the vagaries of the British political system, particularly in the hands of a prime minister who critics agree would need to be dragged out of power kicking and screaming, make it likely Johnson will cling on for a while yet.

There is no immediate mechanism to remove him.

Convention dictates that a prime minister do the gentlemanly thing and bow out voluntarily once they lose the confidence of their party.

Johnson narrowly survived a vote of confidence in his leadership in June and under current Conservative Party rules, he is immune from another challenge until 12 months have passed.

Anti-Johnson rebels are working to get themselves elected onto the executive of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers — which oversees the rules — in order to scrap this rule and trigger an earlier confidence vote. A senior Tory source said the executive of the committee will meet this Wednesday to fix the date for the elections — widely expected to be July 13.

The prime minister also faces a probe by the privileges committee — a group of MPs that has been tasked to examine whether he misled the House of Commons with his statements on lockdown-breaking parties in No. 10 Downing Street.

The results of that investigation are expected in the autumn and could trigger his resignation.

Another more unlikely way for Johnson to be ousted is by losing a no-confidence vote in the Commons, a scenario which would require enough Conservative MPs to side with opposition parties to force him out by a simple majority.

Finally, his position could become politically untenable if he faced a mass Cabinet resignation, with more members of his top team quitting en masse.

The prime minister also appeared to be bleeding support from Conservative party members and voters.

A snap poll by YouGov found that 69 percent of voters thought he should resign, up 11 points on a month ago, and that 54 percent of people who voted Tory in 2019 shared that view.

But all signs Tuesday were that the prime minister was staying put, with a defiant reshuffle of his top team designed to shore up his position. Nadhim Zahawi was made chancellor — the U.K. finance minister and second most senior figure in government — and Steve Barclay became health secretary, where he will oversee the NHS.

The prime minister could count on the public backing of a handful of his most loyal allies. Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, tweeted that she was “100 percent” behind him and that he “consistently gets all the big decisions right.”

Picked and squeezed for you: Irina Iakovleva