The companies reportedly subjected to the National Security Agency’s “PRISM” surveillance project include , Fortune 500), , Fortune 500), ), , Fortune 500), ), , Fortune 500) and Paltalk. Wait — what was that last company?
Paltalk is a video chat, instant messaging and Internet phone service that boasts 4 million global members and has been around since 1998 — before the days of Google chat and Skype. On Friday morning there were more than 61,000 people using the company’s video chat service, according to the Paltalk website.
A user base of 4 million isn’t exactly puny, but compared to Facebook’s 1 billion users, it’s certainly small potatoes.
So why Paltalk?
Unlike other video chatting and messaging services, Paltalk is unique in that it provides chat rooms where multiple people from all over the world can communicate and stay anonymous, said Mitch Silber, the executive managing director at K2 Intelligence and former director at the New York Police Department where he oversaw terrorism investigations.
Related Story: Apps claim they can keep phone records secure
Paltalk, which is based in Jericho, N.Y., allows individuals to chat face-to-face either on a desktop computer or their mobile device direct payday lenders. The service, owned by A.V.M. Software, also allows subscribers to video chat with up to 10 people for free and hosts thousands of free chat rooms.
Some of those chat rooms have been linked to terrorists by research conducted by the Consulting Firm Flashpoint Global Services, which researches the communications of terrorist groups and cyber criminals.
“Paltalk is routinely used by internationally recognized and designated terrorist groups for communication and recruitment,” said Evan Kohlmann, a consultant for Flashpoint.
Terrorist group leaders have been known to hold open question and answer sessions on Paltalk which are advertised in advance on Al-Qaida web forums, he said.
Paltalk spokesman Philip Robertson would not comment on why the company might have been part of the PRISM program.
“We have not heard of PRISM,” Robertson said in an emailed statement. “Paltalk exercises extreme care to protect and secure users’ data, only responding to court orders as required to by law. Paltalk does not provide any government agency with direct access to its servers.”
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The last sign of life was a shaggy, white dog.
Clayton and Linda Babcock arrived home last June to find their daughter’s two-year-old Maltese, Lacey, had been dropped off without warning.
Laura Babcock, 23, was last seen in Toronto on June 26, 2012. She hasn’t been heard from in almost a year.
Her last phone call, according to phone records, was to Dellen Millard, the 27-year-old Etobicoke man charged with the murder of Ancaster resident Tim Bosma.
Toronto police are now investigating Babcock’s disappearance in connection to Millard, something his lawyer dismissed as “speculation”.
“I would almost think the dog has kept us sane,” Clayton Babcock told the Star at the family’s Toronto home. “Laura wanted to be a free spirit.”
After graduating from high school with honours and earning a degree in English and drama from the University of Toronto, Laura — a “social butterfly” — became restless under her parents’ roof.
She was crashing at friends’ houses, hanging out with girls she met through her sorority, the Babcocks said. She would float in and out of the family home. But then she missed Christmas, and her birthday in February.
Linda Babcock remembers Millard would come to the house to pick up her daughter — who started using the name Elle Ryan — for parties or to hang out.
But police never interviewed Millard in connection with their daughter’s disappearance, the Babcocks said. After the detective assigned to her file was reassigned, they weren’t sure what had happened to the case.
“All this information was in their hands,” Linda Babcock said, tearing up as she spoke about Laura. “We don’t know anything more than we’ve known since the beginning.”
Shawn Lerner, Laura’s ex-boyfriend, last saw her on June 26, 2012, when she called looking for a place to stay. Lerner put her up at a hotel in the Queen St. W. and Roncesvalles Ave. area and took her out for dinner. He wouldn’t hear from her again.
“It’s so uncharacteristic of her,” he said. “For her to just escape and hide somewhere and not tell anyone, it just doesn’t make sense.”
Lerner said Laura was bubbly, a kid at heart who worked in a toy store and loved board games.
Linda Babcock is hopeful the renewed attention to the case will help bring her daughter home. “They have to find her now business card.”
As police probe Laura’s disappearance they appear to be wrapping up the extensive ground search that followed the discovery of Bosma’s charred body.
Police confirmed for the first time on Tuesday that his remains were found at the sprawling Waterloo farm purchased by Millard in May 2011.
At the rolling, grassy property partly covered in dense woods, a search was concluded on Tuesday, said Hamilton police Const. Debbie McGreal.
Large tents had been taken down and only two cruisers guarded the scene. Outside the front gate, a small memorial held now-withered flowers.
Police have denied earlier reports that additional remains were found at the farm over the weekend.
A spokesperson for the coroner’s office said Bosma’s body had not been released as of Tuesday afternoon. The remains will likely be absent at a funeral the family has scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Police confirmed they are looking for two outstanding suspects in Bosma’s death, after he took two men for a test drive in his 2007 Dodge Ram on May 6. It is believed he was followed by a second vehicle.
Earlier, police said they were looking for at least two suspects, but have not explained how they came to the definitive number.
Hamilton police’s lead homicide investigator, Det.-Sgt. Matt Kavanagh, told the Hamilton Spectator he does not believe the public is in any danger.
“You’ll just have to trust me on this,” he said when asked to explain.
While investigators continue their search, a legal spat has erupted between Millard’s lawyer and another high-profile law firm.
Deepak Paradkar, who is defending Millard, said a Derstine Penman associate visited his client at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre without his consent, contravening the Law Society of Upper Canada’s rules of professional conduct.
“He did not solicit their services nor did he solicit a second opinion,” Paradkar said. “The family has full confidence in my ability to represent him.”
Dirk Derstine, a partner at the firm, said they did visit Millard in jail and tried to contact Paradkar afterward.
“Our contact with Mr. Millard was above board,” Derstine said. “It was not unsolicited.”
A team of St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters are finalists in the 2013 Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, the most prestigious honor in business journalism.
Post-Dispatch reporters Tim Logan, Lisa Brown Jeremy Kohler, Tim Bryant and Steve Giegerich are finalists in the beat reporting category for “Roberts Brothers,” a package of five stories on the St. Louis real estate beat.
Among the submitted stories:
• An in-depth story that profiled the downfall of the massive real estate and broadcasting empire belonging to St. Louis developers and brothers Michael and Steve Roberts.
• An investigation into how taxpayers got stuck with the cleanup bill at the old Carondelet coke plant.
Other publications that are finalists in the Loeb’s beat reporting category are Bloomberg News, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
The Loeb awards, established in 1957, are presented by UCLA Anderson School of Management. The late Gerald Loeb, a founding partner of E.F. Hutton, established the awards to to encourage business and finance reporting that informs and protects the private investor and the general public.
The awards will be announced in New York City on June 25.
John Huey, former editor-in-chief at Time Inc., is the recipient of the Loeb’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Michael Williams, global enterprise editor at Reuters, will receive the Loeb’s 2013 Lawrence Minard Editor Award, named in memory of Laury Minard, founding editor of Forbes Global and a former Loeb Awards judge.
Google on Wednesday launched a subscription-based music service, allowing users of Android phones and tablets to listen to their favorite songs and artists for a monthly fee.
The streaming service, called All Access, is available in the U.S. for $9.99 per month after a 30-day free trial. It will be available in other countries later. For those who start the trial by June 30, the monthly fee is $7.99.
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All Access will be competing with Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora and other popular music services. Apple, the biggest seller of online music, does not have a subscription-based service.
Google Inc. announced the music service along with expansions to its game services and tools for coders at its annual software developers’ conference in San Francisco.
Google wants to not only offer access to millions of songs, but also help guide you to music you might like. You can choose one of 22 music genres and see key albums that define the genre along with recommendations from Google’s curators. You can listen to any track right away, or switch to a “radio station” format featuring songs you’ll likely want to hear. You can adjust the playlist as you go.
On the game side, Google is adding leaderboards and the ability to match players in online games to its Android operating system for smartphones and tablet computers.
The new features match those available in Apple’s Game Center for the iPhone and iPad. Google is also making it possible to save game progress online, so players can pick up games where they left off, even on other devices.
Three employees tried to demonstrate on stage how they could all join a racing game, but failed to pull off the demo due to wireless connectivity issues in the conference center fast payday loan.
The Google Play leaderboards will also be available through a browser, said Hugo Barra, vice president of product management of Android.
The developers’ conference provides Google with an opportunity to flex its technological muscle in front of a sold-out audience of engineers and entrepreneurs who develop applications and other features that can make smartphones and tablets more appealing.
The company, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., made a big splash at last year’s conference by staging an elaborate production to highlight the potential of Google Glass — an Internet-connected device and camera that can be worn on a person’s face like a pair of spectacles. Google co-founder Sergey Brin wowed the crowd last year by taking to the stage and then engaging in a live video chat with a group of skydivers who were in a dirigible hovering above the convention. When they jumped, the skydivers’ descent to the rooftop was shown live through the Google Glass camera.
Much of the speculation about this year’s conference, dubbed “Google I/O,” has centered on a possible upgrade to the Nexus 7, a mini-tablet that debuted at last year’s event as an alternative to the similarly sized Kindle Fire made by Amazon.com Inc. and the larger iPad. A few months after the Nexus 7 came out, Apple released the iPad Mini to counter the threat posed by Google’s entrance into the market.
So far, Google hasn’t showed off new hardware at this year’s conference. Instead, it announced that it will be selling a version of Samsung’s new flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, which runs a “clean” version of Android, without the modifications that Samsung applies to its phones.
HALIFAX—A majority of sexual assault victims have little to no confidence in the police, the courts or the criminal justice system, according to a new government survey that echoes what advocates have been saying for years.
The responses in the Justice Canada survey indicate that two-thirds of the men and women who took part had no faith in the justice system, the process of filing a complaint against their abuser and the prospect of seeing a conviction.
The majority of victims of both child and adult sexual abuse did not even bother filing a complaint with the police, fearing they would be blamed or wouldn’t be taken seriously, the document says.
More:Read the full document here.
“Survivors also often feel they are not believed and are somehow to blame,” says the report in The Victims of Crime Research Digest.
“There was a perception among some that while the survivor must cope with the traumatic experience, the accused is not punished.”
The report surveyed 207 sex abuse survivors at six sexual assault centres in mostly urban areas across Canada in 2009 and represented different demographic groups, including aboriginals in the North.
It found that the majority — including 70 per cent of the male participants — did not report the abuse to police because they feared they wouldn’t be believed or didn’t trust the justice system.
The Justice Department declined a request for an interview.
A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson sent an email instead saying the federal government has implemented measures to reduce violence, such as strengthening sentences for those who commit child sexual offences. The email did not respond to specific questions about the survey.
Frontline workers have long said there are too many deterrents in the criminal justice system that discourage sexual assault victims from coming forward with complaints.
Hilla Kerner of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter says the Justice Department findings are of no surprise.
“It’s just the same old, same old,” she said from her office.
“There is a general national failure of the criminal justice system to respond to women reporting on all forms of male violence against women — rape, battery, incest and prostitution.”
The document, which was released late in April, said 43 per cent of men and women in the sample from northern Canada had no confidence in the criminal justice system while 35 per cent of the female sample were not very confident in the court process.
Kerner said there are several failings in the justice system that result in many cases going unreported. She said police don’t do thorough enough investigations, victims are made to feel that the assault was their fault, prosecutors rarely take the cases to court and the conviction rate is low.
Her group, which receives about 1,200 calls a year, sampled a month’s worth of calls last year and saw that out of 113, only 17 women decided to file a complaint with the police. Of those, one case was tried and got a conviction.
“Whenever the Crown decides to drop charges, which is more often than not in sexual assault cases, they’re preventing this justice of holding men accountable,” she said.
“So every time women experience the failure of the criminal justice system, not only are they as individuals losing trust in getting justice from the system, other women are witnessing that too.”
The Justice report found that 55 women out of 114 reported their assault and that 22 of those went to trial, with convictions rendered in 18 of those.
The findings come as governments throughout Canada mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month and weeks after the suicide of a Halifax teenager whose family says the justice and education systems failed her at every turn.
Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, was taken off life-support last month following months of what her family said was online bullying linked to an alleged sexual assault.
Rehtaeh’s family says she was assaulted by several boys at a house party in 2011 and that digital images of the assault were passed around her school.
Her death sparked national outrage and prompted the Nova Scotia government to launch reviews of the RCMP’s original investigation into the case and the school board’s handling of the matter.
The police also reopened a criminal investigation into the alleged assault after receiving new information. Before that, the RCMP said they had concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to lay charges.
A veteran Toronto police officer found guilty of assaulting his then-girlfriend, a prominent defence lawyer, and damaging her condo will be given a conditional discharge after 18 months of probation, a judge ruled Tuesday morning.
Const. Jason Peacock, 40, will also have to pay $4,300 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.
“He is a good man who, but for his involvement with Ms Wells (the complainant), led not only an unblemished but exemplary life,” said Justice Michael Epstein, noting that Peacock is attending counselling and been demoted from sergeant to constable.
He remains suspended from the Toronto Police force with pay, facing seven charges of failure to comply with a court order, one charge of criminal harassment against Wells and one charge of witness intimidation. Those charges, laid last year, were not taken into account in the sentencing hearing.
A friend of Kathryn Wells read out a victim impact statement to the court on her behalf, describing the events that occurred early Christmas Eve morning in 2010 as a “nightmare.”
Wells had repeatedly asked Peacock to leave her condo but he refused, she had testified.
He swore at her, shook her hard by the shoulders, punched holes in her walls, smashed drinking glasses and overturned her marble-topped kitchen island.
“It was not the first time Jason had taken out his rage on me but it was the worst . . . there was a period where I thought he was going to kill me,” Wells wrote in the statement.
The statement described her feelings of shame and humiliation in the aftermath of the assault, and the impact of that on her family and job payday loans.
“Being completely put down, screamed at, lied to and manipulated brought my self-esteem to an all-time low,” she wrote. “Jason crushed me and I was supposedly the girl he loved.”
The statement also expressed her continued outrage at Peacock’s legal fees being covered by the police union, despite the case pertaining to off-duty domestic assault charges.
“The Toronto Police Association automatically assumed I was a liar and paid for Jason’s legal fees,” she wrote.
Peacock refused to comment Tuesday on whether the union paid his legal fees.
When given an opportunity to address the court, he took a deep breath and said: “This has been an incredibly difficult process.”
“I respect the court’s decision,” Wells told the Star after the hearing. “I think the bigger issue here is the attitude of the union towards domestic violence going forward . . . If the Toronto Police Association is genuinely concerned for victims, and a ‘strong advocate against domestic violence,’ I would think Mr. McCormack (the union president) would have no hesitation in assuring the public that going forward, the Toronto Police Association will not fund the defences of police officers charged with off-duty domestic violence.”
McCormack says the union does not comment publicly on “who we fund or don’t fund. It’s an association matter.”
When Joffrey Lupul looks at Nazem Kadri, he sees a bit of himself in a Maple Leafs teammate.
Lupul is 29, Kadri 22. But they’ve bonded in part because both were picked seventh overall in their NHL drafts. Both, too, were considered by some to be early-career busts. And both saw those critics take aim at easygoing off-ice demeanours that could make surfer dudes seem uptight in comparison.
“(Kadri) comes to the rink, always smiling, just a really relaxed guy. That was what people thought of me when I was younger,” Lupul was saying on Friday. “Sometimes the coach will mistake that for kind of a lazy attitude once in a while … (But) once the game starts, he flips a switch, and he’s a really intense guy. It’s kind of cool to see.”
It’s been cool for Leaf fans to see Kadri so hot. A lightning rod of criticism for coaches and columnists since he was drafted in 2009, on Thursday he became just the third Leaf in the last 23 seasons to register three or more points on two consecutive days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His three assists in Wednesday’s win over the Lightning combined with his two goals and an assist in Thursday’s shootout loss in Buffalo put him in the rare company of Mats Sundin and Doug Gilmour. The outburst also vaulted him into eighth among NHL points leaders before Friday night’s games.
While no end of discussion over the previous few seasons has centred on the long list of things Kadri needed to learn, it’s become obvious that he also has much to teach. He’s currently schooling the likes of Phil Kessel, for instance, in how to lead the Maple Leafs in scoring while also contributing to the cause beyond the points chart.
Whether or not Kessel will heed the lesson is another matter. Kessel, who often brings his laid-back off-ice persona onto the playing surface, has shown middling interest in on-ice activities that don’t result in goals or assists.
Currently second on the club in points, Kessel has been the top Leaf scorer for the previous three seasons. In those years, when the club met hard times, they cowered. When they met hard teams, they turtled. It couldn’t have helped that Kessel, their most talented player, was also their least committed.
Last year’s Leafs, in particular, offered nothing more than a Kessel-esque shoulder shrug in the face of late-season adversity. But this year’s squad is showing more of propensity to deliver a Kadri-esque shoulder check to the chest of hated rivals. The mix of skill and killer instinct is appealing.
“(Kadri) wants to win, and he’s willing to block shots and play the body and also make plays offensively,” Leafs goaltender Ben Scrivens said Friday no fax payday loans. “You see some of the hits he’s laid out this year, first with the Marlies and now with the Leafs—he’s a true competitor.”
There’s nothing but effort stopping Kessel from raising his proverbial competition level. And there’d be no better time to make a change than now. This truncated season, after all, could go a long way toward determining his future in Toronto; he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2014.
But he’s been abysmal against the Bruins, a measuring stick of success for the Leafs. In 20 games with his former team since he became a Leaf, Kessel is a minus-20 with three goals and six assists. In Toronto’s two losses to the Bruins this season, he has accounted for zero goals and zero assists. In his past 10 games against the black and yellow, he has one goal.
Maybe Kessel will never be passionate. Still, if he showed even a smidgen of Kadri’s moment-seizing joie de vivre, he’d be better (and richer) for it.
The Bruins, to be fair, have been a nasty nemesis to every Leaf of late. Last year, they outscored the Leafs 36-10 in six games. Toronto hasn’t beaten them in nearly two calendar years.
This year, though, the Leafs like to talk about how much better and deeper and mentally stronger they’ve become. These two games against the Bruins — the second goes Monday in Boston — offer a perfect moment to underline those sentiments with an empirical statement.
Said Lupul of the Bruins: “It’s a team we’ve got to start challenging a little bit if we want to take that next step into that level of teams, into the Bostons and Pittsburghs of the world, instead of the Winnipegs and the Islanders.”
Kessel knows the context of these matchups. He knows his acquisition in 2009 cost the Leafs the draft picks that became young stars Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, and that the Bruins won the Cup a season later. He knows Boston will eternally shower him with chants of “Thank You Kessel!” He should also know that Kadri has been buried under a far more daunting pile of negative hype and shaken it off to impressive ends.
“He’s just kind of risen above it and not let it bother him, and continued his growth,” Lupul said of Kadri’s early struggle. “(But) it could have ruined him.”
The owner of a “monster” home being built in Brampton has filed an appeal with the Ontario Superior Court after the city revoked his building permit due to an “error.”
“I’m preparing all the evidence to show who’s mistake it is,” Ahmed Elbasiouni said Friday. He said he filed his appeal on Wednesday in Brampton court, adding, “I want justice to clarify whose mistake it is.” He said he has “signed and stamped” documents that make clear who was at fault when the building permit was issued in August.
In an email a Brampton official said that because the matter is before the courts staff is unable to comment.
The 6,600 square foot structure, which rises a full storey above any of the bungalows and side splits that surround it, has become a lightning rod in Brampton and throughout the GTA.
When the size of the structure and pictures were first revealed in media reports two months ago, residents expressed outrage about the structure being built in an established neighbourhood with homes less than half the size payday loans.
The City of Brampton had placed a stop work order in January on the construction until it could be determined if the partially-built structure was in compliance with zoning bylaws.
Then last month, to avoid any future construction of monster homes in established neighbourhoods Brampton council passed a temporary bylaw that is now in effect. It limits the size of any new home construction to an extra 15 per cent of the square footage of the existing home.
Then, at the end of February the city announced it had revoked Elbasiouni’s permit and gave him four options, including an appeal of the decision to the Superior Court or voluntary demolition of the structure.
The city said it was allowed to revoke the permit because it was issued in “error” as a result of a “technical discrepency”. A report explaining the situation was to be presented to council and the public, but it has yet to be issued.
For the second year, the Post-Dispatch is celebrating the region’s best employers — companies and organizations that give their employees the best opportunities and support.
Our call for nominations already has exceeded last year’s results, with each nominated employer being contacted by our partner, WorkplaceDynamics, a survey company that works with dozens of other newspapers nationwide.
To allow more employers to participate in Top Workplaces 2013, we will continue collecting nominations through a new extended deadline of April 5.
Some winners even made WorkplaceDynamics’ national list of top employers.
To nominate your employer (must have at least 50 employees), go to stltoday.com/nominate.
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