Anonymous attacks Trump Towers website

The website for Trump Towers, the Manhattan skyscraper owned by real-estate mogul and Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, has been attacked by activist hacking group Anonymous, which disabled it for a time in protest at his anti-Muslim comments.

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The website for the 68-storey Trump Towers (trumptowerny杭州桑拿会所,), often used for his presidential campaign, was down on Friday after a tweet from an account associated with the anonymous hacking collective that said: “Trump Towers NY site taken down as statement against racism and hatred.杭州桑拿,trumptowerny杭州桑拿会所,/(what you see is cloudflare offline backup)”

Earlier this week a handle claiming to be “Anonymous Operations” posted a video on YouTube with the message: “The more the United States appears to be targeting Muslims, not just radical Muslims, you can be sure that ISIS will be putting that on their social media campaign.”

The post added, “Donald Trump think twice before you speak anything. You have been warned Mr. Donald Trump.”

A spokesman for Trump Towers was not available for comment.

The group’s warning to Trump came days after the outspoken billionaire proposed to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States in response to last week’s shooting spree in San Bernardino by two Muslims who the FBI said had been radicalised.

A recent poll by New York Times/CBS News showed Americans are more fearful about the likelihood of another terrorist attack than at any other time since the weeks after September 11, 2001. A gnawing sense of dread has helped lift Trump to a new high among Republicans, who will vote in primaries to choose their party’s nominee for the November 2016 presidential election.

Anonymous, a loose-knit international network of activist hackers, or “hacktivists”, is famous for launching cyber attacks on groups such as the Islamic State following the attacks in Paris last month that killed 129 people.

Thatcher’s outfits, handbags on show ahead of auction

The late Margaret Thatcher’s clothes, jewellery and of course iconic handbags, along with the former British prime minister’s personal and political mementoes are up for sale at Christie’s auction house in London next week.

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The auctioneer said 150 lots will go under the hammer on December 15 in London, with a further 200 sold by online auction between December 3 and December 16.

The items include a red leather ministerial dispatch box, an award from Thatcher’s friend and ally President Ronald Reagan, her 1951 wedding outfit and an Art Deco emerald and diamond necklace by Chaumet, valued at between $A254,000 and $A380,000 (20,000 and 180,000 pounds).

Branded “the Iron Lady” for her steely determination, Thatcher governed Britain between 1979 and 1990, transforming the country with her free-market policies.

Her practice of berating ministers and lawmakers became known as “handbagging.”

Thatcher died in April 2013, aged 87, and the collection, valued at up to 500,000 pounds, is being sold by her family.

Some felt the collection should go on public display, and British media reported that London’s Victoria and Albert Museum had turned it down.

The government’s Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, tweeted: “Shame the V&A has turned down Thatcher’s personal collection. I for one would have loved to see it!”

But the museum said it had never received a formal offer. It said that “several years ago, a general discussion took place to explore whether some pieces from the wardrobe of Baroness Thatcher might be added to the V&A’s collection.”

It said the conversations “did not develop” and “no formal offer was made for the museum to acquire the collection.”

 

 

Ex-human trafficking investigator unbowed by Thai police legal threats

General Paween Pongsirin said the lack of support from his superiors in the Thai police force meant a transfer to the deep southern provinces would put him in danger of retaliatory attacks.

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“The human trafficking cases have involved many influential figures including authority officials with power and arms, local politicians and businessmen,” he told SBS Radio’s Thai program. 

“They have syndicates that can target me anytime in the deep south area. I would become their target.”

General Paween Pongsirin said he is seeking asylum in Australia because influential figures in the Thai government, military and police, who he says are implicated in the illicit trade, want him dead.

He said he could not seek protecting from the police force because his superiors indicated that his work prosecuting military officials was frowned upon.

“My superior did not protect me, did not have any empathy for me, who worked on the cases at the front line. When I am no longer a policeman and I have to testify for the cases, who is going to protect me?

“If my truthful testimony affects any influential people, will I be safe? That is why I am seeking asylum somewhere that is safe for me somewhere in the world where I can feel safe.”

He said he received a number of warnings and threats from other members of the police force while he was carrying out his work prosecuting people over trafficking.

“During the time I worked on the cases, I was always told that it was dangerous and I should stop pursuing the cases. I was told that many supervisors were not happy that I pursued arrest warrants against some military officials.

“But I kept working as hard as I could because I thought the human trafficking issue was declared a national agenda and I just did according to the evidence I had. But in the end I am the one who is in trouble.”

He said he is upset over the falling out with Thai police over work that he believes is important.

“I am sad about it. I never thought that I would be in this situation.”

Police Major General Paween Pongsirin arrived in Melbourne a few days ago and told the ABC on Thursday that he feared for his life because influential figures in the Thai government, military and police implicated in the illicit trade want him dead.

“There are some bad police and bad military who do these kind of things,” Paween told the broadcaster. “Unfortunately, those bad police and military are the ones that have power.”

Royal Thai Police chief Jakthip Chaijinda told reporters that he did not know why Paween fled but said a legal team was checking whether his comments were defamatory.

“I don’t know the reason why he had to go and speak about this issue but he should not talk about this because it could damage the country,” said Jakthip.

Paween resigned from his post as deputy commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8 in November, saying an order to transfer him to Thailand’s south would expose him to revenge by members of trafficking syndicates still at large.

Suspects he was investigating for trafficking were influential in the region, he said, and could target him. His resignation raised serious questions over Thailand’s commitment to end the human trafficking and protect its officers.

Thailand’s crackdown on lucrative smuggling gangs followed the discovery in May of 36 bodies in shallow graves hidden deep in a mountain near the Thailand-Malaysia border, which sparked international outcry.

Thailand has brought a case against 88 suspected human traffickers but examination of some 500 witnesses in the case could take as long as two years.

Paween was listed as a key witness to testify against officials and other individuals facing criminal charges over their alleged involvement in trafficking.

Jakthip said there were no issues with the trafficking case and that Paween was the only police officer to raise allegations of intimidation.

– Additional reporting by Reuters

Wall St falls as oil adds to investor fear

US stocks have closed sharply lower, with the S&P 500 ending its worst week since August, as plunging crude oil prices compounded investor nervousness on expectations for the first US interest rate hike in nearly a decade.

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Oil dragged down the market as a whole, as investors worried whether a weakness in commodities signalled a broader slowdown.

Investors were also worried about declines in China’s yuan and in high-yield debt markets.

Dennis Dick, head of markets structure at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas said, the sell-off gained ground ahead of the close as investors took profits on stocks such as Amazon.Com, which had performed well this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 309.54 points, or 1.76 per cent, to 17,265.21 with every component in the index ending down. The S&P 500 lost 39.86 points, or 1.94 per cent, to 2,012.37 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 111.71 points, or 2.21 per cent, to 4,933.47.

For the week the S&P 500 fell 3.8 per cent in its worst week since August 21. The Dow fell 3.3 per cent and Nasdaq dropped 4.1 per cent for the week.

The continued plunge in oil prices added to investor uncertainty ahead of the Federal Reserve’s expected rate hike after its December 15-16 meeting.

Brent futures fell to an almost seven-year low, while US crude futures fell to just above $35 a barrel after the International Energy Agency said it expected the supply glut to worsen in 2016 as demand slowed and OPEC showed no signs of slowing production in its fight for market share.

Adding to the sombre mood, China’s yuan fell to its lowest in 4-1/2 years on concerns about the country’s slowing economy and expectations of a US rate hike.

James of Wedbush said investors were worried about high-yield markets, especially as it related to high-yield debt and energy needs after New York-based Third Avenue Management said on Thursday it was trying to liquidate a roughly $1 billion junk bond fund in the biggest failure in the US mutual fund industry since the 2008 financial crisis.

Tracking oil prices, the S&P energy index fell 3.4 per cent, leading the decliners among major S&P sectors. The index has lost 11 per cent since the beginning of the month in its worst month since September 2011.

The materials index was down 2.7 per cent, weighed down by DuPont and Dow.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,745 to 376, for a 7.30-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 2,388 issues fell and 448 advanced for a 5.33-to-1 ratio favouring decliners.

Adobe Systems was the S&P 500’s sole new 52-week high for the day. The index had 43 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 19 new highs and 187 new lows.

About 8.3 billion stocks traded on US exchanges compared with the 6.98 billion average for the last 20 sessions, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Victims angry over Pell commission delay

Victims are angry Cardinal George Pell’s postponed royal commission appearance means they have to wait even longer for the Catholic Church to be held accountable.

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Cardinal Pell was to appear before the child abuse royal commission in Melbourne next week but will now front a Ballarat sitting in February.

Stephen Woods was among victims of pedophile priests outraged by Cardinal Pell’s attempt to give his evidence via videolink from Rome next week, due to a worsened heart condition.

“Being held in February, that’s fine, but of course the victims are still waiting,” Mr Woods told reporters.

“We’ve been waiting years. Yet again the victims have to pay the price of an organisation that just does not want to be held accountable.”

The one upside for Ballarat victims is Cardinal Pell now has to give his evidence in the Victorian regional city, his health permitting, as they had wanted all along.

“It will be good to see that Ballarat will finally get some of the healing that it needs,” Mr Woods said.

“Ballarat has been the centre of incredible amounts of crimes and sex crimes against children and so Ballarat needs to be the place where Pell and the church really has its own Eureka Stockade.”

London-based David Ridsdale, a nephew and victim of Australia’s worst pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale, said the buck stopped with Cardinal Pell as Australia’s most senior Catholic figure.

“He is the man who needs to come and answer on behalf of the church, because he has made it clear the church the corporation is different to the church made up of the people that are in the parishes.

“But for some reason it’s the parishes who are being forced to bear all the responsibility for costs and for the behaviours of priests.”

Cardinal Pell has consistently said he intended to do everything possible to assist the royal commission, his office said in a statement.

It said he had to heed medical advice after a specialist cardiologist advised it was not safe for him to undertake long-haul flights in his current condition.

Cardinal Pell’s commission evidence will cover the church’s handling of child sex abuse in both the Melbourne archdiocese and the Ballarat diocese, which covers the western third of Victoria.

The former Melbourne and Sydney archbishop and Ballarat priest has already appeared twice before the royal commission about other issues, including once via videolink from Rome.