Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Twitter Targets Trolls

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 10:07 AM

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Twitter announced this morning that it was finally taking a harder stand against trolls, in effect, locking out abusive users from their accounts.

The change comes in the form of two tweaks to tweeting policy: No. 1, the company is introducing a so-called "enforcement option" that allows its support team to lock abusive Twitter accounts for specific periods of time; No. 2, Twitter will be ramping up its requirements for users to confirm their phone numbers and will be asking more users to delete certain tweets.

This morning, however, Slate's Amanda Hess questioned why Twitter officials won't have an open conversation about harassment on their own platform. Instead, Hess writes, Twitter executives prefer to take questions on CNBC, participate in a Q&A with The New York Times, and most recently wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post.

In addition to its policy changes regarding filtering threats, Twitter said today that it would refine its definition of "violent language" to make it easier for the company to address abusive language.

“Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior,” wrote Twitter officials. “The updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse.”

Twitter is also testing technology to help the firm identify suspected abusive tweets to limit their reach.

"This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse, including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive," the company stated.
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Spokane Confirms First Measles Infection in 20+ Years

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 3:07 AM

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Health officials in Spokane, Wash. issued a warning late Tuesday that has more than a few parents concerned: the health district has confirmed its first documented case of measles in more than two decades. The confirmed case is an adult. Officials said they were investigating how the unvaccinated person was exposed.

Just last week, officials in the Spokane Public School District announced that 3 percent of its student body had yet to submit proof of immunization or a certificate of exemption.

While nearly all states require children to receive recommended vaccines before attending school, some, such as Idaho, make it easier than others to get exemptions. All states grant exemptions to children for medical reasons, but Idaho also allows students to skip vaccines for philosophical objections.

In December 2011, Boise Weekly chronicled what we called "Idaho's epidemic of fear," particularly pointing to northern Idaho (not far from Spokane) where there are some of the highest non-vaccination rates in the state.

"This is stupid. There's absolutely no reason for these exemption rates," Dana Williams, head nurse for the Pend Oreille School District, told BW at the time. "We're going to end up with something bad happening here. People don't realize that a child can die from a bad case of chicken pox or the mumps."


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Former AEHI Exec Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 4:46 PM

This bullet-riddled sign stood on the site of where Gillispie and Ransom had promised to build a nuclear facility in Payette County. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • This bullet-riddled sign stood on the site of where Gillispie and Ransom had promised to build a nuclear facility in Payette County.
Jennifer Ransom, the former AEHI Vice President described as a "pretty blonde" by her boss by AEHI attorneys, pleaded guilty April 21 in a Boise federal courtroom to one count of securities fraud.

In February 2011, Boise Weekly interviewed Jennifer Ransom, former vice president of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., after listening to AEHI's CEO Don Gillispie describe her as "a pretty blonde" in a federal court hearing where prosecutors alleged that the company was a shell for a "pump and dump" scheme.

"Quite frankly, Asians like a pretty blonde face to look at," said Gilliespie. "So it doesn't hurt." Gillispie referred to the numerous trips that he and Ransom had taken together, including to the Far East.

In fact, AEHI attorneys presented Ransom as a secretary with "no day-to-day responsibilities." During the hearing, AEHI attorneys referred to something called Bosco Financial LLC, through which hundreds of thousands of dollars had flowed. Ransom later told BW that "Bosco" was the name of a family dog.

A few months later, Ransom resigned from AEHI, citing "significant health-related issues."

But the 40-year-old Ransom returned to the Boise federal courthouse Tuesday to plead guilty after a grand jury indicted her on securities fraud. According to prosecutors, Ransom and Gillispie artificially increased the market price of AEHI stock. And over time, Ransom received multiple shares of AEHI stock prior to her sale of approximately 1,000,000 shares, receiving $675,326. As part of a plea agreement, Ransom agreed to forfeit $580,780.

The charge of securities fraud is punishable by up to five years in prison. Ransom's sentencing is set for July 27. 

Meanwhile, Gillispie continues to fight charges of conspiracy and securities fraud, and is still slated for a federal court trial in July.
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Power Outage, Gas Leak Keeps Boise Emergency Crews Busy

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 9:19 AM

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Emergency crews had a very busy Tuesday morning.

A number of homes were evacuated near Franklin Road in the pre-dawn hours following a report of a gas leak. Police said a driver had crashed her car into a gas line on Franklin near Hilton Street. That prompted the evacuation of nine homes as Intermountain Gas shut off the gas and repaired the line. Neighbors were let back into their homes a short time later.

The driver of the vehicle was taken to a local hospital for treatment of minor injuries. 

Meanwhile a power outage near Boise State University knocked out the lights to about 2,400 customers early Tuesday morning. Idaho Power reported that most power was restored by 7:30 a.m. The outage stretched from the Boise Bench to the area around Boise State.



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Suspect in Custody After Six Hour Standoff in Nampa

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 9:18 AM

Carlos Reyna, 26, is charged with aggravated assault and strong arm robbery. - CANYON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Canyon County Sheriff's Office
  • Carlos Reyna, 26, is charged with aggravated assault and strong arm robbery.
A six hour standoff near a Nampa elementary school ended late Monday night with a suspect taken into custody.

Nampa Police were summoned to the area around Central Elementary School at 5:30 p.m. April 20. When law enforcement arrived on the scene, they learned that 26-year-old Carlos Reyna of Nampa had barricaded himself in a home on 16th Avenue South. Police said they had reason to believe that Reyna was armed with a shotgun.

Police later confirmed that a woman said Reyna had robbed her on the sidewalk just before 5:30 p.m.

This morning's Idaho Press-Tribune reports that just before midnight, the Nampa SWAT Team was able to take Reyna into custody. Reyna faces a string of charges including aggravated assault, strong arm robbery and outstanding warrants for domestic battery and drug charges.
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Video: ISU Trespassing Suspect Leaves the U.S.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 9:15 AM

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Idaho State University officials notified students Monday that a man suspected of repeatedly breaking into residence halls and touching some students has left the U.S.

A series of incidents began in early March when Sulton Sameer Bamoallem, an ISU freshman, was taken into custody after being discovered in a residence hall. And after being released from custody, Pocatello Police reported that they had arrested the same man two hours later for trespassing at another university building.

And now, KIDK-TV is reporting that Bamoallem was released into the custody of his family and has returned to his native Saudi Arabia. Court records indicate that charges of battery had been dismissed on April 17 and Bamoallem received a suspended jail sentence for other charges.

An ISU student who told KIDK-TV that Bamoallem had entered her dorm room said, "He's gone; he's out of the country; he's not my problem anymore."

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Idaho Theme Park's Facebook Page Hacked

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 9:12 AM

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Fans of Silverwood Theme Park knew something was up when they started seeing bizarre, and often inappropriate, posts on the northern Idaho amusement park's Facebook page.

"15 Horrible Methods of Capital Punishment," said one post. "Badass Exotic Animals You Wish You Owned," said another. "And "Best Boob Tatoos" read a third.

The odd Facebook posts continued through much of this past weekend; and in short order, Silverwood officials knew that their page had been hacked. That prompted them to create a new Facebook page to explain the situation to its visitors.

"We are so sorry for the confusion with the hacked account! All account admins had been deleted so we have no way of stopping the posts," wrote Silverwood officials on the second Facebook page.

And now, this morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Silverwood has grabbed back control of its original Facebook page and deleted the hacked posts, but only after getting flooded with complaints, mostly from parents who were upset of what had been flowing into their children's news feeds.

"It is quite unfortunate as we have gained a significant amount of loyal followers based on worthwhile organic postings and engagement which took much effort," Mark Robitaille, Silverood director of marketing told the Press. "Silverwood is committed to being family-friendly and is in no way associated with these posts."
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Blue Bell Ice Cream Expands Recall to All of its Ice Cream Products

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 9:10 AM

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Blue Bell, makers of gourmet ice cream, announced Monday that it would recall all of its products. The announcement came as the Texas-based creamery found Listeria in yet another product after finding the bacteria in some of its frozen treats in early March.

In April, health officials confirmed that three people made ill by Listeria in 2014 had died in a Kansas hospital where Blue Bell frozen treats had been served.  

The recalled Blue Bell products had been distributed to grocery and convenience stores in 23 U.S. states and some international retailers.

In a written statement late Monday, Blue Bell said it was voluntarily recalling all products, including “ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.”

“We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” Paul Kruse, Blue Bell CEO and president said in the statement. “We are heartbroken about this situation and apologize to all of our loyal Blue Bell fans and customers. ... We want enjoying our ice cream to be a source of joy and pleasure, never a cause for concern, so we are committed to getting this right.”




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Monday, April 20, 2015

UPDATE: Toddler Drowns in Kuna Canal

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 3:39 PM

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UPDATE: April 21, 2015

Investigators confirmed that the victim of an April 20 drowning, an 18-month-old boy, had been among a group of young children playing near a Kuna canal. When a family member noticed that the child was missing, they began a search. A short time later, the toddler was discovered in the water and was not breathing.

A family member began CPR and a call to 911 was logged at 1:15 p.m. The child died a short time later at St. Luke's Meridian Medical Center.

ORIGINAL POST: April 20, 2015

Ada County Sheriff's deputies have the unfortunate task of investigating the death of a toddler who fell into a canal Monday afternoon.

Law enforcement was summoned to the 7500 block of Ten Mile Road in Kuna just after 1 p.m. That's where an 18-month-old boy had fallen into a canal. Emergency responders rushed the child to a local hospital, but officials announced a short time later that the boy had died.

The incident remains under investigation.
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Federal Vouchers Secured to Help Idaho's Homeless Vets

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 1:53 PM

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Federal officials announced Monday that they were awarding so-called VASH—or Veterans Affairs Supporting Housing—vouchers in order to help homeless veterans find affordable housing.

Idaho agencies were awarded an additional 31 VASH vouchers, bringing the statewide VASH total to 271 veterans and their families. The Boise City Housing Authority was awarded 11 of the VASH vouchers to be used by the Boise VA Medical Center, bringing that authority's VASH total to 176. Grantees in Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, Pocatello and Twin Falls also received appropriations for vouchers to serve veterans.

Since 2008, more than 69,000 vouchers have been awarded and over 88,000 homeless vets nationwide have been served through the VASH program which provides rental assistance and other support services.

“Our nation has a sacred responsibility to support the brave men and women who served with honor, courage and distinction,” said HUD Secretary Julian Castro at an announcement today in Seattle. “These vouchers will help thousands of veterans start a new chapter in their lives and build for the future.  
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