1 arrested on hate crime charge after 24-year-old punched in possible 'knockout' assault
by Associated Press
NEW YORK — New York City police have arrested a man on charges of assault as a hate crime after a 24-year-old says he was punched in the face.
Police on Saturday were investigating whether it was part of a so-called "knockout" assault, in which the object is to knock out an unsuspecting person with one punch. The man says he overheard a group talking about it before he was hit.
Police say the victim told them he was walking in Brooklyn around 2:45 a.m. Friday when he was struck once. He was not seriously injured.
Amrit Marajh, 28, of Brooklyn, was arrested on charges of assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment as a hate crime because the victim is Jewish. It wasn't clear if he had a lawyer.
Three others taken into custody were released.
Police are investigating similar recent incidents, including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. At least two deaths have been linked to the attacks this year.
New York City police have deployed additional officers to city neighborhoods where at least seven attacks occurred in the past few weeks, including an assault on a 78-year-old woman.
Authorities and psychologists say the "knockout" assaults have been around for decades — or longer — and it's played mostly by impulsive teenage boys looking to impress their friends.
ACLU asks court to end NSA surveillance program that collects phone call data
by Ellen Nakashima
NEW YORK — Civil liberties advocates on Friday asked a federal court here to end the National Security Agency counterterrorism program that collects data on billions of phone calls by Americans, arguing that it violates the Constitution and was not authorized by Congress.
The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union after the publication in June of a court order to Verizon Business Network Services that showed the phone company was required to turn over to the NSA all call detail records of its customers, including the length and time of calls but not the content.
The sweeping nature of that collection, which was placed under court supervision in secret in May 2006, set off a furious public discussion over whether the agency's efforts to thwart terrorist attacks have overstepped the legal and common-sense boundaries of privacy.
The ACLU, which is a Verizon Business customer, said the NSA program violates the Constitution's guarantees of privacy and of freedom of association. In the most significant legal challenge to the NSA's collection, the ACLU also said that the program, which covers all major phone companies, exceeds the scope of its authorizing legislation. That statute, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, was passed in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“This vast dragnet is said to be authorized by Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, but nothing in the text or legislative history of that provision remotely suggests that Congress intended to empower the government to collect information on a daily basis, indefinitely, about every American's phone calls,” said Jameel Jaffer, one of two ACLU attorneys arguing the case before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III in lower Manhattan.
A Justice Department attorney countered that the program is constitutional and that Congress was fully informed when it authorized and reauthorized Section 215. Moreover, he said, the ACLU has no standing to bring the case because it cannot prove that its members have been harmed by the NSA's use of the data.
“The program is carefully calibrated for the purpose [of counterterrorism] and is not the kind of indiscriminate use of the data that the plaintiffs suggest,” said Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.
In just over two hours of arguments, Pauley showed some skepticism of the government's assertion that Congress really understood it was approving a mass call-tracking program when it reauthorized the Patriot Act in 2010 and 2011.
Delery argued that Congress was provided classified briefings and papers laying out the program's scope. He also said intelligence committees of both houses, which “stand in the shoes of the public,” were fully briefed.
Pauley noted, however, that “a veteran congressman,” Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), submitted an amicus brief in the case “in which he said he had no idea of what was happening” when he voted to reauthorize Section 215.
Delery argued that the ACLU's claims of harm are “speculative” because it had no evidence that the NSA ever reviewed any of its members' call records or that anyone was dissuaded from calling the civil liberties group because of fear their calls would be monitored.
He also said that the program was constitutional because the Supreme Court in a 1979 case, Smith v. Maryland, concluded that phone records of the sort at issue here were not protected by the Fourth Amendment. He said that the program was useful and necessary “to find connections between known and unknown terrorists” and “unless you can collect records over time” and across carriers, the NSA's analytic tools to identify those connections would not work effectively.
But Alex Abdo, another ACLU lawyer, argued that the mere fact that the organization's records were collected on a sustained basis is an invasion of privacy under the Fourth Amendment. He said that the Supreme Court in 1979 was not addressing mass collection but rather the calls of one suspect over a few days.
Jaffer also argued that if the government's view of the statute is upheld, then the door is open to the bulk collection of other types of records under other legal authorities — not just Section 215.
“The Supreme Court has admonished many times that the Congress doesn't hide elephants in mouse-holes,” he said. “I think that's what the government is proposing here.”
From the White House
Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran's Nuclear Program
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, the United States -- together with our close allies and partners -- took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear program.
Since I took office, I've made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As I've said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we've extended the hand of diplomacy. Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community. So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.
These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian President earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged. I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall. Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran's Foreign Minister. And we have pursued intensive diplomacy -- bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5-plus-1 partners -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.
Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure -- a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.
While today's announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran's nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.
These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran's most likely paths to a bomb. Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.
On our side, the United States and our friends and allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief, while continuing to apply our toughest sanctions. We will refrain from imposing new sanctions, and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions. But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously. And if Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure.
Over the next six months, we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution. We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding: Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy. But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.
In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to. The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes.
If Iran seizes this opportunity, the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community, and we can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations. This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world based on mutual respect. If, on the other hand, Iran refuses, it will face growing pressure and isolation.
Over the last few years, Congress has been a key partner in imposing sanctions on the Iranian government, and that bipartisan effort made possible the progress that was achieved today. Going forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress. However, now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions -– because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.
That international unity is on display today. The world is united in support of our determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Iran must know that security and prosperity will never come through the pursuit of nuclear weapons -- it must be reached through fully verifiable agreements that make Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons impossible.
As we go forward, the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitments to our friends and allies –- particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions.
Ultimately, only diplomacy can bring about a durable solution to the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear program. As President and Commander-in-Chief, I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. But I have a profound responsibility to try to resolve our differences peacefully, rather than rush towards conflict. Today, we have a real opportunity to achieve a comprehensive, peaceful settlement, and I believe we must test it.
The first step that we've taken today marks the most significant and tangible progress that we've made with Iran since I took office. And now we must use the months ahead to pursue a lasting and comprehensive settlement that would resolve an issue that has threatened our security -- and the security of our allies -- for decades. It won't be easy, and huge challenges remain ahead. But through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do our part on behalf of a world of greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.
Thank you very much.
From the Department of Homeland Security
TSA Provides Updates for Holiday Travel Season
WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today highlighted security procedures ahead of the busy holiday travel period to remind travelers about the steps they can take to be prepared for airport security. Over the past year, TSA has implemented a number of risk-based security measures that enhance the passenger experience at airports across the country.
TSA screens approximately 1.8 million passengers each day at more than 450 airports nationwide. According to industry forecasts, airports and airlines anticipate more than 25 million air travelers nationwide during this 12-day Thanksgiving travel period, a 1.5 percent increase over 2012.
“TSA has implemented risk-based procedures to further strengthen transportation security while improving the passenger experience whenever possible,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “We remain prepared, especially during this holiday season, to keep passengers safe as they travel.”
In order to provide the most effective security in the most efficient way possible, TSA has expanded its TSA Pre ? ™ program to additional airports and airlines nationwide. TSA Pre ? ™ is an expedited screening program that allows pre-approved airline travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes. TSA Pre ? ™ operations are available at more than 100 airports nationwide when flying on a participating carrier.
Passengers who are eligible for TSA Pre ? ™ include U.S. citizens of frequent traveler programs invited by participating airlines. Additionally, U.S. citizens who are members of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler program and Canadian citizens who are members of CBP's NEXUS program qualify to participate. Later this year TSA will launch an application program, allowing more U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to enroll in TSA Pre ? ™.
If a passenger is eligible for expedited screening, a TSA Pre ? ™ indicator will be embedded in the barcode of the boarding pass so that when scanned at the checkpoint, the passenger may be referred to a TSA Pre ? ™ lane. Many participating airlines will also print a TSA Pre ? ™ indicator directly on the boarding pass so passengers will know in advance that they have been cleared for expedited screening. Eligible passengers should utilize the TSA Pre ? ™ lane in order to receive expedited screening.
Passenger preparedness can have a significant impact on wait times at security checkpoints nationwide. To alleviate misunderstandings at the security checkpoint, TSA is reminding travelers of the following tips:
3-1-1 for liquids: Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less and all bottles must fit in 1 quart size plastic bag and placed in a bin for screening.
Gifts: While wrapped gifts are allowed, security officers may need to unwrap a gift to resolve an alarm. TSA recommends passengers wrap gifts after their flight or ship them ahead of time to avoid the possibility of having to open them during the screening process. Small snow globes are allowed in carry-on luggage when packed in a passenger's plastic 3-1-1 bag.
Food: Food items such as pies and cakes are permitted, but may require further inspection. If travelers are not sure if a food item is considered a liquid or gel, it is best to pack the item in checked baggage or ship it to a destination in advance. For more detailed information, visit: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/traveling-food-or-gifts
Children 12 and under and adults 75 and older: TSA has modified the screening procedures for children 12 and under and adults 75 and older.
Check for prohibited items: Travelers can use the “Can I bring my...” app on www.tsa.gov or www.tsa.gov/mobile to check what items are allowed/not allowed in carry-on and checked luggage. Smartphone users can easily download the “My TSA” app to quickly find helpful information about TSA policies and procedures.
Prepare for security: Have a U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID and boarding pass out and remove liquids and large electronics, including laptops, from carry-on baggage. Remember to remove shoes, outerwear, and bulky jewelry and empty pockets. Place valuable items in a carry-on bag.
TSA's Wounded Warrior Screening program: This program allows expedited screening and curb to gate service for this trusted group of citizens. Wounded warriors or their care coordinators can contact TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 with details of the itinerary once flight arrangements are made with the airline. In addition, at airport checkpoints nationwide, U.S. service personnel in uniform with proper identification, whether traveling on official orders or not, are not required to remove their shoes or boots unless they alarm the technology.
More Travel Tips: Check out TSA's helpful Traveler Information site for more useful information to help ease the traveling public through security checkpoints. Additional holiday travel tips are available: http://blog.tsa.gov/2013/11/tsa-2013-holiday-travel-tips.html
For further questions about TSA procedures and upcoming travel, or to provide feedback or voice concerns, please call the TSA Contact Center (TCC) at 1-866-289-9673. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 1-855-787-2227, 72 hours prior to traveling with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in the wake of September 11, 2001, to strengthen the security of the nation's transportation systems and ensure the freedom of movement for people and commerce. Today, TSA secures the nation's airports and screens all commercial airline passengers and baggage. TSA uses a risk-based strategy and works closely with transportation, law enforcement and intelligence communities to set the standard for excellence in transportation security. TSA's workforce comprises approximately 50,000 frontline officers who screen approximately 1.8 million travelers each day at more than 450 airports nationwide. For more information about TSA, please visit our website at tsa.gov.
Training First Responders for Active Shooter Response
by John Cohen -- Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis and Counterterrorism Coordinator
Today, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) joined the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento first responder community for a demonstration of the pilot Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) virtual training platform—a system designed to train first responders across multiple agencies, disciplines, and jurisdictions in real time on complex emergency response scenarios. EDGE allows multiple individuals across the first responder community to. Simply by logging into the secure EDGE system from a computer, responders can train on a simulated virtual emergency. Today's demonstration involved an active shooter scenario, and participants from Sacramento law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire, unified command and dispatch joined in today's training and demonstration.
The EDGE virtual training platform is a new technology representing one of countless partnership and training efforts between DHS our Federal, State, local and private sector partners—enhancing preparedness efforts for our first responders and ensuring that our nation is more safe and secure. DHS offers a broad set of tools to help law enforcement and private sector partners prepare for active shooter scenarios. The DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate Office of Infrastructure Protection and FEMA provide active shooter trainings across the nation . Additionally, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice have expanded access to federal training on active shooter situations for law enforcement and first responders with additional outreach, new online resources, improved training curricula, and exercises with law enforcement at all FBI field offices.
As a part of the Administration's comprehensive efforts to prevent gun violence, DHS in partnership with the FBI and the Departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services, has already taken significant steps to improve preparedness. In January, DHS officials joined FBI and state and local law enforcement officials from around the nation to solicit input regarding prevention and response efforts. This input informed the Administration's work to create model emergency planning guidance for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education, which were released in June. The White House progress report and emergency management planning guides are available here. Our efforts are ongoing and we are always working to incorporate new information and mitigate potential threats.