Syndicate content
Updated: 16 min 50 sec ago

How Bellingcat's Online Sleuths Solve Global Crimes Using Open Source Info

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 1:31pm
TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Crowdsourcing has created a new form of online open-source investigation, as epitomized by the group Bellingcat that was founded by my guest, Eliot Higgins, in 2014. Higgins and people affiliated with Bellingcat, while at their computers, have uncovered evidence that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad fired chemical weapons at his own people, figured out who controlled territory during the Libyan civil war, identified the Russian intelligence agents alleged to have poisoned MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia and found evidence that the 22-year-old woman alleged to have stolen Nancy Pelosi's laptop on January 6 was a neo-Nazi sympathizer who used coded neo-Nazi language in a video and in that video gave the Heil Hitler salute. Bellingcat has identified the perpetrators of hate crimes and how extremists use mainstream websites to divert people to extremist sites that sell neo-Nazi merchandise and ask for donations to

Wray Defends FBI's Intelligence Sharing Ahead Of Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 12:58pm
Amid criticism of the FBI's handling of its findings of planned violence on Jan. 6, FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his agency's methods of sharing intelligence with law enforcement on the evening before the insurrection. A situational intelligence report from the FBI's Norfolk office conveyed specific threats made online against members of Congress, maps of the tunnel system under the Capitol complex and places to meet before traveling together to Washington. But this intelligence was raw, consisting of online information that had not yet been analyzed or corroborated. Wray said in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday that the Norfolk report was communicated in less than an hour to law enforcement partners, including the U.S. Capitol Police and D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department. MPD Chief Robert Contee said last week that the report wasn't communicated with any particular sense of high alert, noting that it had arrived as an email at 7 p.m. the evening before the

The Florida Democratic Party Has A Problem: It's Broke And Disorganized

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 12:40pm
It will be a year and a half before the first votes are cast in the 2022 midterms, but volunteers are already staffing phone banks to start organizing Florida's Democratic voters. Ken Telesco is in Seattle, but he's calling Democrats in Florida. When he gets someone on the line, which is rare, he launches into his appeal, "We're a Democratic organization just calling around to make sure you are registered to vote as a Democrat." Telesco is a volunteer with Field Team 6, a group focused on a few key states, including Florida. On this day, the phone bank is targeting voters in Republican Congressman Carlos Gimenez's South Florida district. It's one of two Congressional seats in Florida formerly held by Democrats that Republicans flipped in November's election. Before they begin making calls, phone bank coordinator Gina Harris tells volunteers this effort, geared to the midterm election, is not just about the House and Senate races. She says they need Democrats to focus on down-ballot

FBI Director Testifies On Capitol Insurrection

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 12:18pm
NOEL KING, HOST: Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, is testifying before Congress about the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He's taking questions from a committee chaired by Democrat Dick Durbin. (SOUNDBITE OF HEARING) DICK DURBIN: The trauma of the tragic, harrowing day lingers on. This timeless symbol of our democracy still bears the scars of that attack. KING: Capitol Police were overrun on that day by a larger and more violent crowd than they had expected. NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales is watching today's hearing. Good morning, Claudia. CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Good morning, Noel. KING: What has Wray been saying thus far? GRISALES: He told senators on the Judiciary Committee he was appalled at the Capitol attack and that members themselves were victimized right here in these hallways. Let's take a listen. (SOUNDBITE OF HEARING) CHRISTOPHER WRAY: That siege was criminal behavior, plain and simple. And it's behavior that we, the FBI, viewed as

Japan's Myanmar Dilemma: How Hard To Push Against Military Coup Leaders?

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 12:00pm
SEOUL — The military's killing of at least 18 protesters on Sunday in Myanmar has increased pressure on foreign governments to use their influence to push for the release of the country's elected leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, from detention, and restore some measure of democratic rule. Among Asian countries, Japan is one of the most influential. How it decides to handle Myanmar's coup could have a major impact on the Biden administration's bid to put democracy and alliances at the heart of its foreign policy. Like the U.S., Japan confronts a multifaceted dilemma: if it sanctions the military in the name of a values-based foreign policy — as the U.S. has done — it may lose access to and leverage over Myanmar's military leaders. As a key foreign investor in Myanmar, it may also lose business interests. And it may lose the upper hand in geopolitical competition with China. "Japan and the U.S. have the shared goal of seeing Myanmar return to democracy," says Katsuyuki Imoto , a

AAA to close its Pittsford office; other offices remain open

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 11:42am
AAA of Western and Central New York is closing its Pittsford office, the last day of operations there is April 2. The auto club says that the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the way its members conduct business, and with in-person business not always feasible or convenient, members are taking advantage of services online. The lease at the Pittsford AAA office on Monroe Avenue is ending, and the organization said it was the right time to consider new options. No jobs are being lost as a result of the Pittsford AAA office closing; the AAA offices in Greece and Penfield will remain open. AAA did not discount the possibility of someday opening an office in Pittford in the future.

White House Slaps Sanctions On Russia Over Navalny Poisoning

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 10:42am
The Biden administration, signaling a tougher stance on Russia than under the Trump White House, announced Tuesday new sanctions targeting seven senior Kremlin officials in response to last year's poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Senior administration officials, speaking to reporters on a conference call, said the sanctions also include export controls on 14 parties — nine Russian, three German and one Swiss, and one government research institute. The names of the sanctioned officials and entities will be announced Tuesday afternoon, the officials said. They said the moves were being coordinated with the European Union. "We're in many ways catching up to the EU and U.K.," one of the U.S. officials said, noting that European officials announced some of their sanctions in October and are adding to those sanctions on Tuesday. In Tuesday's conference call, officials also announced that a U.S. intelligence assessment had concluded with "high confidence that officers of Russia

2 Americans Accused Of Helping Carlos Ghosn Escape Are Extradited To Japan

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 10:25am
Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET An American father and son who allegedly helped former Nissan Motors Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan have been extradited to Tokyo, where they face up to three years in prison if convicted. Ghosn, an internationally wanted fugitive, fled Japan in a daring December 2019 escape as he awaited trial on financial misconduct charges. He apparently passed undetected through airport security before entering a private jet. Ghosn ultimately arrived in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan . Ghosn is a citizen of Lebanon, France and Brazil. Japanese authorities believe U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son Peter were paid at least $1.3 million to help Ghosn flee. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed to NPR Tuesday that the two men were extradited. According to Reuters, they were met by authorities Tuesday at Tokyo's Narita airport, where they were escorted via bus to a detention center. The two men had been held

Vernon Jordan, Civil Rights Activist And Power Broker, Dies At 85

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 10:25am
Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET Vernon Jordan, the civil rights lawyer who built a career as a power broker in politics and business, has died at age 85. Jordan "passed away peacefully last evening surrounded by loved ones," his daughter, Vickee Jordan, said in a statement sent to NPR. "We appreciate all of the outpouring of love and affection." A native of Atlanta, Jordan attended DePauw University before earning his law degree at Howard University. Soon after graduating, he devoted himself to ending discrimination against Black Americans in the fight for equal rights. In 1992-93, he chaired President Bill Clinton's transition team, and for decades he remained a friend and adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Jordan played an important role in desegregating education in the South, particularly at the college level. In the early 1960s, he became the Georgia field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he famously helped escort Charlayne Hunter through

Coming up on Connections: Tuesday, March 2

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 9:54am
First hour: Rochester as a climate refuge city Second hour: Discussing how farmers and CSAs have been impacted by the pandemic

How The Military Helped Bring Back The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 9:50am
The red-cockaded woodpecker has been listed as endangered for more than half a century, but that could soon change. In the final months of the Trump administration, federal wildlife officials started a process to downgrade its status to "threatened." Conservation groups say science doesn't support the move, and that it could undermine gains made in part with the help of unusual public-private partnerships that have taken decades of work and millions of dollars. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the bird's population is stable now, and that legally its status should be changed. "It no longer meets that definition of endangered species, you know, that it is threatened by extinction basically," said Kristi Young, deputy manager for the service's Division of Conservation and Classification. "That's because the conditions have really improved." Young helped develop the proposal to downlist the woodpecker. One thing both sides agree on: For a bird that once threatened some of the

Advocates and opponents are skeptical of Cuomo’s marijuana plan

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 9:41am
In February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the legalization of marijuana sales is overdue and needs to get done as part of the state’s budget process, largely because the state needs the revenue in order to bridge its budget gap. The Cuomo Administration projects that legalizing sales would create more than 60,000 new jobs, $3.5 billion in economic activity and add about $350 million in tax revenue. “It is a controversial topic,” said Cuomo. “It's controversial and a difficult vote. I believe that if we don’t get it done by the budget, then we’re not gonna get it done.” But Mary Kruger, leader of marijuana advocacy group Roc NORML, does not like that idea because Cuomo would be able to shape the bill. So far, she is unimpressed with the measure and said the time for compromise has passed. “We aren’t fighting for legalization by any means necessary,” said Kruger. “We are fighting for legalization that has justice, equity and reinvestment, and that’s not what Gov. Cuomo is trying to do. “He’s

House Lawmakers Launch Fresh Efforts To Overhaul Nation's Gun Laws

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 9:40am
Congressional lawmakers are launching a fresh push for significant gun control legislation, introducing two bills aimed at sweeping overhauls of the nation's gun laws. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by California Rep. Mike Thompson, who leads the congressional task force on gun violence prevention, reintroduced legislation Tuesday to require background checks for all gun purchasers. The legislation was first introduced in the House in January 2019, after a wave of youth-led activism that followed the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., rallied Democrats around gun control. It passed in the House in February 2019 , making it the first significant piece of gun legislation to be approved by the House in 25 years. But, it stalled in the Senate. "Time and time again, we have seen that the American people want universal background checks, in fact public polling shows that the majority of people, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, support this,"

Connections: Author Bruce Levine on the legacy of Thaddeus Stevens

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 8:59am
When it comes to racial justice in the United States, historian Bruce Levine argues that there is one historical figure that is often left out of the conversation. His new book aims to be the definitive biography of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. Stevens is best known as a Radical Republican who thought Abraham Lincoln was moving too slowly on emancipation and civil rights. Levine joins us to set the record straight about a historical figure who he says has been long misunderstood. Our guest: Bruce Levine, author of “Thaddeus Stevens: Civil War Revolutionary, Fighter for Racial Justice”

Dr. Seuss Enterprises Will Shelve 6 Books, Citing 'Hurtful' Portrayals

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 8:41am
Dr. Seuss Enterprises will cease publishing six of the author's books — including And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo — saying they "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong." The books have been criticized for how they depict Asian and Black people. The decision to stop publishing and licensing the books follows a review by a panel of educators and other experts, according to Dr. Seuss Enterprises , the company that controls the author's books and characters. The other four titles that will be permanently shelved are McElligot's Pool , On Beyond Zebra! , Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer . The company says the decision was made last year, in an effort to support "all children and families with messages of hope, inspiration, inclusion, and friendship." First published in 1937, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street is the book that propelled Theodor Seuss Geisel's career to new heights, as he pivoted from working in advertising

Sen. Coons Has Questions For FBI's Wray About White Supremacist Threat

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 7:26am
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

News Brief: Insurrection Hearing, Ga. Election Bill, One Medical Probe

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 5:44am
FBI's director will testify before Senate panel about the insurrection. Georgia House passes bill that would limit absentee and early voting. House panel investigates health care provider One Medical.

One Medical's Coronavirus Vaccine Practices Spark Congressional Investigation

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 5:06am
The consequences are deepening for concierge health care provider One Medical following an NPR investigation that found the company administered COVID-19 vaccinations to those with connections to leadership, as well as ineligible patients. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis is launching its own investigation into the San Francisco-based company's practices, NPR has learned. The probe has plunged the publicly traded company, whose business model depends on patients paying a $199 annual fee for VIP health care services, into damage control mode. "Despite being warned that the company's lax oversight of vaccine eligibility rules was allowing ineligible patients to jump the line, One Medical has reportedly failed to properly implement an effective protocol to verify eligibility and instructed staff not to police eligibility," wrote subcommittee chairman James Clyburn in a letter sent to One Medical late Monday night. Clyburn cited multiple news reports, including NPR's

India's Farmer Protests: Why Are They So Angry?

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 5:06am
NASHIK, India – In a dusty lot outside a wholesale market in western India, farmer Ambadas Sanap leans on the lip of his flatbed truck, surrounded by crates of green peppers and tomatoes. If he could get away from all this for just one day, he says, he'd travel to the capital to protest. He wants his voice to be heard. But Sanap, 44, cannot afford to take time off from laboring in his fields or hawking his produce at this sprawling government-run wholesale yard. He's got nine family members to feed. He just sold a full crate of tomatoes for 40 rupees (about $.55 USD). The most he'll gross in a month is the equivalent of about $300. After expenses, he's lucky to break even. Sanap is one of the approximately 800 million Indians whose primary source of livelihood is agriculture. Tens of thousands of them have amassed in New Delhi for more than three months, protesting moves by the Indian government to deregulate wholesale trading. They see those technical changes as a betrayal of

High Noon For The Future Of The Voting Rights Act At The Supreme Court

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 5:06am
The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a major voting rights case that could give state legislatures a green light to change voting laws, making it more difficult for some to vote. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 — a law that today is widely viewed as the most successful civil rights law in the nation's history. But in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted a key provision: no longer would state and local governments with a history of racial discrimination in voting have to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department before making changes in voting procedures. Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts essentially said that times had changed and that the law, in treating some states differently from others, was unconstitutional. Besides, he said, another provision of the law still bars discrimination in voting nationwide. That provision, known as Section 2, would be sufficient to police discriminatory voting procedures, he noted. Now, eight years later,