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A Tweet to Kurt Eichenwald, a Strobe and a Seizure. Now, an Arrest.
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WASHINGTON — When the journalist Kurt Eichenwald opened an animated image sent to him on Twitter in December, the message “You deserve a seizure for your posts” appeared in capital letters along with a blinding strobe light. Mr. Eichenwald, who has epilepsy, immediately suffered a seizure.

On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had arrested John Rayne Rivello, 29, at his home in Salisbury, Md., and accused him of sending the electronic file. The agency charged Mr. Rivello with criminal cyberstalking with the intent to kill or cause bodily harm.

The charge could carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years, according to the United States district attorney in Dallas, who is prosecuting the case.

The unusual case has shown how online tools can be deployed as weapons capable of physical harm. The F.B.I. and the Dallas police led the investigation into Mr. Rivello, and the police said he sent the strobe light knowing that it was likely to lead Mr. Eichenwald, who has publicly discussed his epilepsy, into a seizure.

Steven Lieberman, Mr. Eichenwald’s lawyer, has argued that the use of the strobe light in a GIF, or moving graphic, was akin to sending an explosive or poison in the mail.

“This electronic message was no different than a bomb sent in the mail or anthrax sent in an envelope,” said Mr. Lieberman, who is working on the case as a pro bono service. “It triggers a physical effect.” (Mr. Lieberman represents The New York Times as outside counsel, and Mr. Eichenwald was a reporter for The Times from 1986 to 2006.)

• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Civil Liberties, Twitter 
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  1. Michelle says:

    My dog had a seizure this morning and peed in my bed. She has been out of sorts all morning, almost as if she has had a stroke. She had a seizure a few weeks ago whilst we were walking on the seashore and some kind strangers had to give us a ride home. Seizures are terribly distressing and no joke. Intentionally trying to cause someone to have a seizure is a dastardly crime. Intelligent but evil.

    • Replies: @Kyle a
  2. Of course, there is always more to know, but it seems probable Rivello knew there was a chance the strobe effect would harm Eichenwald and hoped/intended the message would cause that harm.

    So much for this particular legal case. The problem is that I strongly suspect the NYT is hoping this case will form another bit of the thin edge of the wedge in a campaign against ‘Hate-tweets’ and other offensive forms of speech.

    Medicine is very often involved in honing these edges. Epilepsy affects only 4% of the population and photosensitive epilepsy is considerably rarer than that, but we may be sure there will be attempts to build on this case to ‘protect’ the whole population.

    Similarly, the entire dubious foundation of medical marijuana has been a major plank in sliding to legalization, PTSD has been defined down until female soldiers who see bombs or shells destroy buildings miles away through field glasses can ‘get’ it, and a substantial medical industry of ‘sex-changing’ was originally propped up by the genitalia of a very small number of genuine, unfortunate, intersex people.

    Category creep in medicine has done tremendous harm.

    • Agree: BenKenobi
    • Replies: @J1234
  3. Wow! What’ll they think of next.

    And apparently, according to WikiLeaks Vault 7, the CIA can deliberately crash your car by remote control, because they can now access the computer chips placed in cars sold in the US. Some believe they did this to journalist Michael Hastings:

    • Agree: Old fogey
    • Replies: @Canute
  4. Wow! What’ll they think of next.

    Not to make a joke of it, but Orwell himself would likely have a seizure if he knew it would be like this. I doubt he could’ve predicted it in his wildest nightmares!

    Diabolical stuff.

  5. Kyle a says:

    Agree 100% Michelle. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

  6. If it’s okay to punch a ‘Nazi’, why not trigger a Zionist?

    While Rivello did something that ranges from childish to vicious, did Eichenwald really suffer a seizure or did he make up that story to get the prankster? If Eichenwald really did suffer a seizure, I sympathize with his anger. But if he didn’t and whipped up some story just to catch a troll, he is a devious one himself(and of course he’s been one as a journalist).

    Still, considering all the real violence and havoc caused by Progs and pro-globalist thugs during and after the election, I find it hilarious that FBI took this issue. Did FBI try to hunt down the guy who punched Spencer? Or all those thugs who destroyed Berkeley to prevent free speech? Or all those thugs who attacked a professor for engaging with Charles Murray at Middlebury?
    I guess Jewish feelings matter more than those of whites and gentiles.

    PS. Rivello acted like a clown jerk, but he acted the role of troll.
    What is far more disturbing is that the Western Media have gone totally unhinged about Trump, with some papers and magazines even suggesting that he should be assassinated. And deep state has cooked up hysterical lies about Russia while covering up all sorts of BS under Obama & Hillary.

    And NYT. What a piece of rag that paper has become.

    One thing for sure, if some prog Jew had sent a triggering image to some ‘far right’ figure, this never would have been an issue.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes, lavoisier
    • Replies: @Jack Cade
  7. Olorin says:

    If he has such an easily triggered epileptic condition, and since he knew it could be triggered by rapid shifts in luminosity, or particular animated rhythms, why didn’t he disable/block receipt of GIFs/animated content?

    If he has such an easily triggered epileptic condition, why is he using these devices in the first place without some sort of protection on his end? Never mind “malicious” (if indeed it was) activity–video display screens are subject to all sorts of hiccupy activity–as any person with ocular migraines or Meniere’s can attest.

    (Mr. Lieberman represents The New York Times as outside counsel, and Mr. Eichenwald was a reporter for The Times from 1986 to 2006.)

    Ah, now we wake up and smell the latkes.

    Sounds to me like (((The Old Grey Nightmare))) finding another way to mess with the First Amendment. And maybe try to end all those dank and sometimes animated memes that helped abort HERself’s elevation to power in November.

  8. Dwright says:

    Knowing a bit about this agitator’s history, I’ll bet he made up the seizure part. He genuinely is a dick. I believe Tucker Carlson had him on. Watch and see if you agree.

    • Replies: @Anonym
  9. Daniel H says:

    I suspect that Eichenwald is malingering. Just a lot of bullshit. He better have proof, more than his own say so, that he had a seizure. And I have no idea what proof can be offered.

  10. El Dato says:

    Gif-sending mofo deserves to see some time inside, this was a dick move and his ass should be dragged over the coals appropriately. Not different from “knockout game” and for me that’s listed under “gulag for 10 years”

    Now, from the technical standpoint, it should be feasible to implement a filter algorithm in soft or hardware to get rid of any flashy stuff before it hits the video buffer. Industry probably fscking itself with copyright, patents and general disinterest again.

    Also, reminds me of this little fiction:

  11. Renoman says:

    When he saw the image why didn’t he simply look away? If he knew he was prone to seizures he would know better than to do this. I smell shit.

  12. mp says:

    This electronic message was no different than a bomb sent in the mail or anthrax sent in an envelope…

    Something like this could easily kill six million. Or six billion. Or whatever it’s up to now. I think the perp should be sentenced to writing a book report on Eli Wiesel’s tattoos, or hung by the neck in Nuremberg for crimes against humanity. God help us if the Moslem jihad finds out about this horrible new electronic weapon.

  13. Agent76 says:

    Mar 6, 2017 Dismantling the Administrative State

    The Time for Regulatory Reform in Congress – Senator Lee addresses The Antonin Scalia Law School’s Center for the Study of the Administrative State

  14. J1234 says:
    @Jack Highlands

    Yeah, I think the strobe email was criminally malicious in this context, and the case should be pursued as such. Whether the victim was actually impacted by it or not is another question, but I guess that doesn’t matter because how can one prove or disprove such a thing?

    However, the courts, if they’re ethical, will go to great lengths to distinguish between “expression” and “weapon”, and acknowledge in no uncertain terms that it is an extremely rare and anomalous scenario when an email can be “weaponized” as a means of physical assault (as opposed to a computer virus.) But that’s if the courts are ethical, and that’s a big “if.”

    • Replies: @Daniel Chieh
  15. Canute says:
    @Seamus Padraig

    Some believe? I think at this stage, such a portfolio of convenient automobile accidents, choking mishaps, slipping of the tops of roofs, or suicides like the case of Terrance Yeakey, cutting himself 17 times with a razor blade, slashing his own throat twice while failing to hit his jugular and finally crawling for a mile and a half before delivering the coup de grace to himself by dropping a .38 slug down through his head from above…….has pretty much taken the doubt out of the agency’s ability for eliminate problems at will. I think we’ve reached the point that anyone who dies while investigating a buried story – was intentionally murdered by operatives within the deep state. The burden of proof is no longer on the shoulders of the dead body, much less those who are courageous enough to investigate.

    • Agree: Delinquent Snail
  16. I doubt the seizure actually happened in the first place.

  17. Ragno says:

    As I strongly doubt that email triggered anything worse than a mild headache if that – my only concern is what sort of insidious get-Whitey legislsation gets piggybacked onto the back of this ‘case’ .

    Otherwise, commenter Priss Factor has nicely summarized my own take on this “atrocity”.

  18. Carl says:

    Sending a gif is not a crime. You’ve all lost your tiny minds and are now trapped in Eichenwald’s own psychotic episode.

  19. We wanted cyberpunk, we got #shittyfuture

  20. whorefinder says: • Website

    Rivello, however, has a very good defense: he can claim Eichewald is lying and never suffered an epileptic attack.

    Here’s the back story: previous articles/tweets about/from Eichenwald have indicated that he keeps his Twitter settings in such a way that videos/gifs do not automatically load when he opens them. Eichenwald does this specifically because he knows he has epilepsy and that random gifs/videos might set him off, even if the sender thought they were harmless.

    So it’d be weird if Kurt happened to change the settings to allow autoplay and thus an epileptic attack, especially as he’s been such an anti-Trumper and a lot of Pro-Trumpers have insulted him verbally on Twitter. So, already, Kurt’s tale of a targeted attack that worked sounds fishy.

    But why would Eichenwald lie about it?

    Well, Eichenwald has a pattern of running into problems and using his epilepsy as an excuse. A few years ago, Kurt bought thousands of dollars of child porn , ostensibly as part of an investigation, but never informed the NY Times (his boss at the time) that he did so. When investigators found his check for child porn, he claimed that he “couldn’t remember” paying for it, saying that his epilepsy caused him memory loss. Yeah….you often forget spending thousands for child porn. (The NY Times fired him shortly after):

    In this instance, just before his alleged epileptic attack, Eichenwald had thoroughly embarrassed himself that night on Tucker Carlson, refusing to give Tucker straight, basic answers as to why he’d accused President Trump of being in a mental hospital and about “secret messages” Kurt was allegedly getting from the CIA. The interview is so ludicrous that Carlson actually became openly concerned for Eichenwald’s mental health:

    Then, that evening, this “epileptic” event happened while Eichenwald was being razzed and hooted about the interview over Twitter.

    It could be that Eichenwald’s epilepsy is his go-to excuse when he’s subject to major scrutiny/public embarrassment, using it as a convenient excuse to cover up his malfeasance. Rivello should demand Eichenwald’s medical records of that evening and any and all proof that the attack actually occurred.

    • Replies: @Jack Highlands
  21. Vendetta says:

    His name is not Kurt Eichenwald. From now on he is to be referred to as AIDS Costanza.

    P.S. Jew Goldstein did nothing wrong

  22. Anonym says:

    I’ll consider Eichenwald’s story when he opens his Tucker Carlson Falsehoods binder.

  23. Tiny Duck says:

    I hope this Rivello jerk gets a huge fine and jail time. What an evil piece of crap.
    Of course what can you expect from an alt right racist anti-Semite?

    I cannot wait until the democrats come back into power and we can regulate these POS internet trolls

  24. @J1234

    Have the courts recently given you any evidence to believe that they are ethical?

    • Replies: @J1234
  25. @whorefinder

    Never paid any attention to Eichenwald before this; not sure if I ever heard of him before. Now he’s blowing up on Twitter – he’s a real piece of work, that one.

    Makes me wonder if he even has epilepsy and if he does, whether he has a mixture of fake and real seizures. Psychogenic seizures, AKA non-epileptic seizures, are quite common, in patients with and without epilepsy.

    If so, this behavior of monetizing malingering would be highly congruent with his ‘Episcopalianism.’

  26. OutWest says:

    The strobe light is a common form of assault. The bicyclists hereabouts are notorious for their vicious strobes.

  27. The further this case with Eichenwald goes and the more I learn about his lack of integrity, the more I hope the prosecution fails. The man arrested, John Rivello, is an ex-Marine who is said to have PTSD, which is ironic in light of what I wrote above about PTSD: it is indeed a poster-child diagnosis for medical ‘category creep’. Which is not to say Rivello does not have PTSD; I have no idea what the magnitude of the traumatic events he experienced was.

    Anyway, wesearcher is now raising mony for Rivello’s defense and there is a good explanation of the background of the case on the website:

    (Something like ‘AriGoldstein’ or ‘JewGoldstein’ was, perhaps unfortunately, Rivello’s twitter handle.)

  28. J1234 says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    Have the courts recently given you any evidence to believe that they are ethical?

    No, but I can still dream.

  29. Jack Cade says:
    @Priss Factor

    It seems to me that 1) The Interwebs are full of such gifs-I encounter them randomly all the time; and 2) IF one is predisposed to have a serious seizure, or any seizure, isn’t there way to disable this aspect of GIFs? and if so why didn’t he employ this for his safety? Yeah, the guy that sent was intentionally being a jerk,(and well the recipient too, but that’s not at issue) but what about the mitigation stuff lawyers are always on about?

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  30. @Jack Cade

    I don’t think Eichenwald had a seizure. I think he just seized on this prank to get an ‘anti-Semite’.
    If someone without any political affiliation sent him a Gif like this, I don’t he would have bothered, and neither would the US government. So, all this fuss is political. Also, would the FBI have gotten involved if an anti-white person sent a white nationalist(with epilepsy) a Gif like this? No way. And, keep in mind that much of the Prog community and many Jews celebrated the sucker-punching of Richard Spencer. So, they have no moral credibility.

    That said, what Rivello did was real a**hole-like. And as the saying goes, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. It’s true that the media and establishment overlook the vileness committed by blacks, Jews, homos, and antifa scum. But what Rivello did was contemptible. It’s one thing to attack someone’s political views or tribal affiliations. But to exploit someone’s medical problem… that’s beneath contempt. It is just an act of sadism. Also, it’s not like Rivello didn’t know Eichewald was epileptic. He sent the Gif with the specific goal of giving him a seizure.

    I hear he might 10 yrs in prison. Now, that is ridiculous, but no side should be pulling something this low and dirty.

  31. 1. looked this shit up when it (allegedly) first happened, lots of iffy shit there…
    2. given what a scumbag ‘journalist’ he is, given VERY fishy incidents surrounding his ‘investigation’ of some child porn/ prostitute, i have ZERO reason to believe he actually had a seizure…
    3. besides him not being a trustworthy source for anything, reading up on seizures said almost always a YOUNG person up to 20s, AND goes away with aging most of the time…
    4. further, IF that slimeball IS susceptible to still having seizures, then he needs to go in a dark closet and stay off the roads… i dont want to be driving near this dingleberry when a row of trees with the sun behind triggers a fit…
    in short, i think he is a lying scumbag who would say anything to make his case…

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