WASHINGTON – The National Security Agency collects less than 30 percent of calling data from Americans despite the agency’s massive daily efforts to sweep up the bulk of U.S. phone records, two U.S. newspapers reported Friday.
Citing anonymous officials and sources, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal both said the NSA’s phone data collection has had a steep dropoff since 2006. According to the newspapers, the government has been unable to keep pace since then with a national surge in cellphone usage and dwindling landline use by American consumers.
NSA officials intend to press for court authorization to broaden their coverage of cellphone providers to return the government to near-total coverage of Americans’ calling data, the newspapers said.
Stolen infant found safe at gas station
A woman who pretended to be pregnant stole her half-sister’s newborn boy from a Wisconsin home and left him in a storage crate outside an Iowa gas station in frigid weather as police closed in, according to court documents filed Friday.
Federal prosecutors in Madison charged Kristen Smith of Denver with kidnapping, hours after an Iowa police chief miraculously discovered Kayden Powell, who is nearly a week old, alive and well in the plastic storage crate that morning.
Police had found a prosthetic pregnancy belly in Smith’s car along with baby clothes, a car seat and a stroller, but no sign of Kayden, according to the affidavit. That sparked a frantic search that involved scores of police officers in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa.
NATO protesters no terrorists, jury says
A jury acquitted three NATO summit protesters Friday of breaking Illinois’ rarely tested state terrorism law, a finding the defense said should dissuade Illinois or any other states from ever pressing such charges in a similar way against activists.
While jurors found them not guilty of the most ominous charges, Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly were convicted on lesser counts of arson and mob action.
Prosecutors portrayed the activists as sinister and dangerous anarchists who plotted to throw Molotov cocktails at President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters during the 2012 summit.
Leak to journalist earns prison time
A State Department expert on North Korea pleaded guilty Friday to passing classified information to a journalist, and has agreed to a 13-month sentence in a deal with prosecutors, pending a judge’s approval.
Stephen Kim, who pleaded guilty to making an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information, faced a maximum of 10 years in prison.
The case stems from a June 2009 story by Fox News journalist James Rosen. He reported that U.S. intelligence officials warned the president and senior U.S. officials that North Korea would respond to a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning nuclear tests with another nuclear test.
Smartphones may get kill switches
Legislation unveiled Friday in California would require smartphones and other mobile devices to have a “kill switch” to render them inoperable if lost or stolen – a move that could be the first of its kind in the country.
State Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and other elected and law enforcement officials said the bill, if passed, would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the anti-theft devices starting next year.
Almost one in three U.S. robberies involves phone theft, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Lost and stolen mobile devices – mostly smartphones – cost consumers more than $30 billion in 2012, the agency said in a study.
Buildings set ablaze in Bosnian protests
Anti-government protesters stormed into the Bosnian presidency and another government building in Sarajevo and set them ablaze Friday as riot police fired tear gas in a desperate attempt to stop them.
Smoke was rising from several Bosnian cities as thousands vented their fury over the Balkan nation’s almost 40 percent unemployment and its rampant corruption. It was the worst social unrest the country has seen since the 1992-95 war that killed over 100,000 people following Yugoslavia’s dissolution.
Nearly 200 people were injured throughout the country in clashes with police, medical workers reported.
Russian aide denies posting bugged call
A Russian government aide who was among the first to post a video online containing a bugged phone call between two U.S. diplomats denied Friday that he or the government played a role in leaking the recording.
Dmitry Loskutov said he was surfing a social networking website Thursday when he came across the video, in which the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, disparages the European Union.
Loskutov posted a link on Twitter which he said proved that another anonymous user had posted the video Wednesday, the day before he did.
US citizen back in North Korean camp
A U.S. citizen detained in North Korea for 15 months has been returned to a labor camp, prompting worries about his health, his sister said Friday.
Kenneth Bae, who led tour groups in North Korea, was arrested in late 2012 and sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor for unspecified hostile acts. Calls for his release on humanitarian grounds have gone unanswered. After he lost 50 pounds, he was moved last summer to a hospital from a prison work camp where he had farmed vegetables.
His sister, Terri Chung of Edmonds, Wash., said her family learned from the U.S. State Department on Friday that Bae was taken back to the labor camp on Jan. 20.
Muslims driven out of African capital
Thousands of Muslims climbed aboard trucks protected by heavily armed Chadian soldiers in a mass exodus Friday from the capital of Central African Republic. Their flight follows months of escalating attacks on anyone perceived as supporting a now-defunct Muslim rebel government blamed for scores of atrocities during its rule of this predominantly Christian country.
In The Hague, Netherlands, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced a preliminary investigation into potential war crimes or crimes against humanity in Central African Republic, saying the crisis has “gone from bad to worse” since September.