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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: blogs

Commenter in lawsuit identifies herself

A woman who claims to have posted a comment on a Spokesman-Review blog that triggered a defamation lawsuit has revealed her identity.

Linda Cook said her suggestion to ask Kootenai County Republican Party chairwoman Tina Jacobson about alleged missing money in the Kootenai County GOP coffers, which Cook posted under the moniker “almostinnocentbystander,” was based on information she’d heard from a board member.

“At the time that I said it, I was convinced that it was not false, and it certainly wasn’t said with malice,” said Cook, who’s active in Kootenai County politics and was an aide to the late Idaho Congressman Helen Chenoweth-Hage.

Read the rest of my story here.

Judge orders SR to help ID commenter

The Spokesman-Review must provide information that could identify an anonymous reader who typed a disparaging online comment about the chairwoman of the Kootenai County Republican Party in February, an Idaho judge ruled Tuesday.

The attorney for the chairwoman, Tina Jacobson (pictured), subpoenaed information about the identities of three Huckleberries Online readers who commented under assumed names below a photograph featuring Jacobson.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Join the discussion about the ruling at Dave Oliveria's Huckleberries blog.

Past coverage:

June 1: Idaho judge considers anonymous comments lawsuit

Happy 3rd birthday, Sirens & Gavels!

Grab the party hats and get your game face on - Saturday is Sirens & Gavels' 3rd birthday.

Some of you may already be planning epic celebrations, but for those of you I caught off guard, I apologize.

The idea behind this blog was simple - a devil-worshipping sex offender called me upset that a commenter said he was not a true member of the Church of Satan. I'd already written an adequate article about the man, and his phone call certanly didn't warant a follow up. But it was too remarkable to ignore.

Since then, this blog has become a hub for crime and court news in the Inland Northwest and anything else that might pique my interest. Regular readers should expect to see original content each weekday, links to nearly all crime and courts stories on spokesman.com, and weird news from around the world on Friday mornings.

Your praise and criticism is needed and appreciated. I am best reached at meghannc@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5534.

Here's to a great future for Sirens.  Be sure to 'like' the blog on Facebook to show you're a true fan.

Also, follow me on Twitter. #hipster

Related coverage:

March 7: Woman stalked by aggressive turkey

Arrest in ‘This Guy Has My MacBook’

By SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The images began arriving in Joshua Kaufman's inbox. The grainy photos are low-lit and intimate: a man curled up on a couch, sound asleep; the same man propped up against pillows on a bed, shirtless.

 Who was this stranger sitting with Kaufman's stolen laptop?

 The Oakland resident collected the images and took them to police, who did not help him. So he went online, publishing the pictures on Twitter and in a blog titled “This Guy Has My MacBook.”

 “People who followed me on Twitter retweeted it. It got picked up by social media and the press. It went super viral,” he said. On the same day that he posted his website on Twitter, police came calling.

Police on Tuesday arrested a 27-year-old cab driver, Muthanna Aldebashi. On Wednesday, Kaufman picked up his laptop from the police.

Kaufman said he was “surprised and amazed” when he began receiving images of the man using his laptop.

Kaufman's case is the latest example of people, not police, using technological tools to help find their own stolen property such as cars, cell phones and digital cameras.

Kaufman had just moved to a new apartment in Oakland when a burglar broke in, taking the laptop, a bag, an electronic book reader, and a bottle of gin on March 21. He activated theft-tracking software he had installed, which began sending photos taken by the computer's built-in camera of the unauthorized user three days later.

“I wasn't sure if it would work because I never tested it before,” he said. Most of the images “were honestly really boring photos — people staring into the screen. But some were definitely more humorous.”

Among them was a screenshot of the man logging onto his Gmail account, which showed an email that appeared to include the name of a business, Kaufman said. A quick Internet search revealed it was a cab company in nearby Berkeley, which Kaufman assumed was the man's workplace.

Kaufman submitted the information to police, but said they were unwilling to help and didn't respond to numerous follow-up emails.

“I know a stolen computer is small in the larger scheme but it would be nice to feel like you actually cared,” he tweeted three days after the break-in.

Kaufman said he turned to the Internet because he became “frustrated and thought I should try and get some attention from the media.” He posted some of the photos (two are pictured), including captions such as “I really don't want to know what this guy is doing with my MacBook” for the image of the shirtless man in bed.

Kaufman said he received a call from Oakland police spokeswoman Holly Joshi on the day he included a link to his blog. Joshi said she first heard about the case after receiving calls from media outlets Tuesday.

“From that point on, they seemed to be on my side completely,” he said of police. “They were apologetic, and they continually told me that they would be doing something about it immediately.”

Joshi blamed the large volume of theft reports Oakland police receive — about 2,400 a month for three theft investigators — and human oversight for the department's failure to follow up on Kaufman's leads.

“It was filed away,” Joshi said. “It had leads, so it shouldn't have been filed away.”

Police arranged a cab ride from Aldebashi and nabbed him when they recognized his face, according to Kaufman. Aldebashi was being held in an Oakland jail on $20,000 bail, according to the Alameda County sheriff's office.

The laptop's return was the culmination of a one-man crusade of online sleuthing, social networking and moments of voyeuristic creepiness aided by the software called Hidden.

The software — part LoJack, part nanny cam — is equipped with location positioning software. A representative for the product's London-based developer, Flipcode Ltd., did not immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Many portable electronics, including some digital cameras, are now equipped with wireless Internet capability and automatic geographic tagging on any photo taken — a helpful tool when trying to see where a thief has been hanging out. It's a step beyond the LoJack system invented two decades earlier that emitted a signal from a stolen vehicle.

Joshi said investigators did not know whether Aldebashi burglarized Kaufman's apartment, noting that stolen merchandise often changes hands. Aldebashi was scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

Happy 2nd birthday, Sirens & Gavels!

Two years ago today, this blog was born.  

It started with a post about a devil-worshiping sex offender upset that a commenter said he was not a true member of the Church of Satan.

Since then, this blog has become a hub for crime and court news in the Inland Northwest. I also like to throw in interesting Associated Press stories on Friday mornings or if national events of local interest occur.

I enjoy hunting for fun - and not-so-fun - items to put on here and am proud to say readership keeps growing. Your praise and criticism is needed and appreciated. I am best reached at meghannc@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5534.

Here's to a great future for Sirens. (Let's hope the 'terrible twos' thing is just a phase humans go through.)  Be sure to 'like' the blog on Facebook to show you're a true fan.

By the way, I recently received an email from a woman who identifies herself as the devil-worshiping sex offender's ex-wife. Let's just say she agrees with law enforcement's decision to classify him as a sex offender likely to reoffend.

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