Chicago police boosting presence at Jewish schools, synagogues after Molotov cocktails found

CHICAGO — Worshippers at a Lakeview East synagogue noticed broken glass on their way to Sunday morning services but didn’t think anything of it.

Later that morning, they saw charred rags and realized there had been an arson attempt on Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation, according to Rabbi David Wolkenfeld.

“This synagogue is so central to so many people in this neighborhood, and this is such a wonderful city to be Jewish, so it’s shocking to realize there can be someone so filled with hate to engage in an action like this,” Wolkenfeld said.

Chicago police confirmed that between 9 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday, someone tried to set a building in the 500 block of West Melrose aflame at two separate locations.

Three broken glass bottles with an unknown substance and charred black cloth towels were found outside, police said. No one was injured, and no buildings were damaged.

Late Sunday, police released surveillance footage of a suspect in the attempted arson. He was described as a light-skinned male wearing a hooded black jacket, black pants and black shoes and was carrying a black bag, according to a community alert issued by police.

The Jewish congregation shares a campus with the Florence G. Heller Jewish Community Center, which runs a day care center and preschool next door, Wolkenfeld said.

Chicago police will be boosting their presence at all Jewish schools, synagogues and businesses in the city, spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Sunday night.

No one was in custody Sunday night, but Guglielmi stated there was “good video evidence” and Area North detectives and the department’s arson unit were investigating.

In another instance of criminal damage reported near synagogues, police are also investigating multiple broken windows in cars parked outside synagogues in the Rogers Park district, Guglielmi said, adding that there are “different suspects” in both incidents.

“This is a sad thing to be happening, but this is a very strong community and we know to come together and support each other during hard times, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Wolkenfeld said.

— Chicago Tribune

YouTube commenter threatens to kill employees, drives to HQ with a gun, police say

A 35-year-old Utah man was arrested after authorities said he made online threats against YouTube employees and drove to the company’s San Bruno, Calif., headquarters with a gun.

Orem police on Saturday arrested David Swanson on suspicion of making terroristic threats. He was released from Utah County Jail the following day after posting $100,000 bail.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Swanson first made threats in September in response to a video about YouTubers Logan Paul and KSI. In the comments section of the video, he writes, “The only thing that comes after the death of YouTube is a funeral for all the executives that were rightfully murdered.”

Swanson commented again in December on a video called “What happens if you tell Google to kill itself?” Authorities say he made a direct threat against YouTube employees last month in a third video, writing: “Get woke go broke, and when I visit your campus in two weeks I’ll be able to shoot any employees exiting from the convenience of my car, because the First Amendment allows me a right to do so.”

Swanson admitted to police that he drove to YouTube’s Northern California headquarters with a firearm.

In April 2018, a woman wounded three YouTube employees before killing herself. The woman’s father said he had warned police she might be headed to YouTube because she “hated” the Google-owned company.

Swanson told police he was aware of last year’s shooting.

— Los Angeles Times

U.S. census vulnerable to Russian meddling, top official warns

ATLANTA — The U.S. Census Bureau is concerned the Russian government could hack into data collected in the 2020 Census, in a similar way to how it interfered in the 2016 presidential election, a top bureau official said.

“Most of the agencies of the federal government that ingest data are very concerned about interference in the process of taking the 2020 census,” said John Abowd, chief scientist at the U.S. Census bureau. “We are very concerned about this and very concerned about developing appropriate defenses,” he told a Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta conference in Amelia Island, Fla.

Government chief information officers and security staffers are meeting regularly to assess threats and make preparations for detecting them, Abowd said. The bureau is working with Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, where a team of about 20 people is focused on securing the system and gaming out possible hacks, The Washington Post reported in April.

“Everyone understands this is a game in which there is no incentive to show your hand until you are ready to attack,” Abowd said in response to a question about a possible Russian attack. “The methods we are going to use to determine if there is an attack coming are necessarily secret.”

Abowd spoke as part of a session looking at privacy issues with data collection. The Atlanta Fed’s financial markets conference, “Mapping The Financial Future,” looks at issues facing the financial industry and regulators over the next decade.

The recently released report from special counsel Robert Mueller documented efforts of the Russian government to interfere in the presidential election to promote the candidacy of Donald Trump. The report concluded the president and his associates didn’t conspire with Russia, but cited a number of cases in which he sought to undermine the Mueller probe.

— Bloomberg News

Kayla, the orca at SeaWorld Orlando, died from lung disease

ORLANDO, Fla. — Kayla, the 30-year-old killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando that unexpectedly died in January, fell victim to lung disease, the theme park company said Monday.

SeaWorld released the cause of death following an investigation into what had suddenly killed the orca. She had seemed healthy until over the course of one weekend when her condition worsened. Veterinarians who gave round-the-clock care couldn’t save her.

“We determined Kayla died of lung disease, which presented very quickly in her case,” said Dr. Chris Dold, SeaWorld’s Chief Zoological Officer in a statement Monday. “Lung disease is a common cause of illness and death seen in marine mammals in the wild, in human care and in those we rescue. It remains the leading cause of death for dolphins and whales throughout the world.”

Her death leaves SeaWorld Orlando park with five other orcas.

Kayla was born into captivity.

“As with all animals in our care, we will try to learn from Kayla’s death,” Dold said in a statement, adding SeaWorld reported her death to the National Marine Fisheries Services and planned to share data collected during her life with the scientific community.

The orcas have long been a symbol of the Orlando theme park and an important attraction to devoted SeaWorld fans.

But in recent years, as the theme park has rebounded from the “Blackfish” anti-whale captivity documentary, SeaWorld has turned to thrill rides and a busy schedule of festivals and concerts to draw in visitors.

— Orlando Sentinel