Man charged with making death threats over Trump editorials

Chain said he would continue threatening the Globe until it stops its “treasonous and seditious” attacks on Trump. (Los Angeles Daily News/AP)
Updated 31 August 2018
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Man charged with making death threats over Trump editorials

  • Several times, Chain called Globe employees the “enemy of the people,” a characterization of journalists that Trump has used repeatedly

LOS ANGELES: A Los Angeles man upset about The Boston Globe’s coordinated editorial response to President Donald Trump’s attacks on the news media was arrested Thursday on charges he threatened to kill the newspaper’s journalists, who he called an “enemy of the people,” federal prosecutors said.
Robert Chain’s phone calls to the Boston newsroom started immediately after the Globe appealed to newspapers across the country to condemn what it called a “dirty war against the free press,” prosecutors said. He is accused of making 14 calls between Aug. 10 and Aug. 22.
On Aug. 16, the day scores of editorials were published , Chain, 68, of the Encino section of Los Angeles, told a Globe staffer that he was going to shoot employees in the head at 4 o’clock, according to court documents. That threat from a blocked phone number prompted a police response and increased security at the newspaper’s offices.
Chain said he would continue threatening the Globe until it stops its “treasonous and seditious” attacks on Trump, according to a court complaint.
Several times, he called Globe employees the “enemy of the people,” a characterization of journalists that Trump has used repeatedly, including in a tweet on Thursday before the charges were announced.
Newsrooms have received threats for years and rarely do they result in charges. However, sensitivity has been heightened since a gunman with a long-running grudge against the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, killed five employees there in June.
Federal officials pledged to continue to go after anyone who puts others in fear of their lives.
“In a time of increasing political polarization, and amid the increasing incidence of mass shootings, members of the public must police their own political rhetoric. Or we will,” Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling said.
Federal prosecutors asked that Chain be detained because of the seriousness of the threats combined with the fact that more than 20 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were seized from his house. Some guns were in plain sight, such as a shotgun by the front door, while others were hidden, Assistant US Attorney Matt Rosenbaum said.
Rosenbaum acknowledged there was no evidence Chain, who is retired from the international sales and trade business, had planned to go to Boston. A federal magistrate rejected claims that Chain, who has no criminal record, was a flight risk or a danger that required him to be held behind bars.
Magistrate Judge Paul Abrams said Chain could be freed after he and his wife, who is a lawyer, signed papers guaranteeing to pay $50,000 if he violates any terms of his release, which include surrendering his passport and any other guns.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to keep him in custody for a night,” Abrams said in rejecting a prosecutor’s request to stay his order so they could appeal to have him held.
Chain, who repeatedly pulled at his long, dark hair that was dyed magenta at the ends, thanked the judge in a deep gravely voice.
Chain was ordered to appear in a Boston courtroom by Sept. 24 to answer to charges of making threatening communications in interstate commerce, which calls for up to five years in prison.
Chain’s wife, Betty, wouldn’t comment before or after the court appearance.
Jane Bowman, a spokeswoman for the Globe, said the newspaper is grateful for law enforcement’s efforts to protect its staffers and track down the source of the threats.
“While it was unsettling for many of our staffers to be threatened in such a way, nobody — really, nobody — let it get in the way of the important work of this institution,” she said in an email.
A neighbor who lived across the street from Chain and only knew him as “Rob” said he had a bombastic personality and could frequently be heard yelling while watching television.
Tim McGowan said he knew nothing of Chain’s political leanings and assumed he was an old hippie because he wore his hair in a “man bun” and frequently walked around in just shorts.
McGowan said he couldn’t imagine Chain following through with violence, “but I could see him making the threats because he’s such a loudmouth.”
McGowan said he was startled awake by three loud bangs at 6 a.m. Thursday. When he looked outside, he saw about 30 heavily armed officers and a tank-like vehicle. Chain eventually emerged from the house in handcuffs, wearing only boxer shorts.
In 2013, Chain said he hadn’t worked in more than 20 years and suffered from “continuing health issues,” according to court documents filed in a civil case against him over unpaid student loans. Chain said at the time that he had a heart attack in 2005 and was receiving Social Security benefits.


Instagram co-founders resigning: report

Instagram founders Mike Krieger (L) and Kevin Systrom attend the 16th annual Webby Awards in New York May, 21 2012. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 min 8 sec ago
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Instagram co-founders resigning: report

  • Systrom and Krieger did not give a reason for their departure

SAN FRANCISCO: Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are leaving the smartphone photo-sharing service bought by Facebook six years ago for a billion dollars, the New York Times reported late Monday citing unnamed sources.
Systrom and Krieger have resigned from their posts as chief executive and chief technology officer respectively, not giving reasons and saying they planned to take time off, according to the Times. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment. Instagram in June announced it passed a billion active users, and unveiled a new long-form video feature in a bid to attract “creators” like those on YouTube. It became the fourth Facebook platform to eclipse the billion-user mark, including the namesake social network with more than two billion users, and the messaging applications WhatsApp and Messenger.
Facebook acquired Instagram in April 2012 for a combination of cash and stock worth some $1 billion at the time. Instagram has been a hit with young Internet users, an audience that Facebook is keen to keep in its fold. The departures come as Facebook grapples with the worst crisis in its history, vilified for not more zealously guarding information users share at the leading online social network.
Many see Facebook as being the main vehicle for spreading false information in recent years, and of being used by nefarious interests out to sway the results of the elections such as the one that put President Donald Trump in the White House.
The Cambridge Analytica public relations disaster, in which Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by the British consultancy firm, came on top of widespread criticism of the social network’s propensity to spread and accentuate large amounts of completely false information.
Facebook is facing multiple inquiries from US and British regulators about the Cambridge Analytica user data scandal, and its boss Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by the European Parliament and the US Congress earlier this year.
WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum earlier this year left Facebook, which bought the smartphone messaging service for $19 billion.
Koum said in a post on his Facebook page that he was taking time off to pursue interests such as collecting air-cooled Porsches, working on cars and playing ultimate Frisbee.
US media reports indicated that a disagreement with Facebook over the privacy of user data may have also been a factor in Koum’s decision to quit his position as a high-ranking executive and likely leave his seat on the board at the leading online social network.