From the L.A. Daily News
Cyberterrorism is under attack
Divided Congress confronts rising threat
by Richard Lardner and Donna Cassata
WASHINGTON - The mysterious caller claimed to be from Microsoft and offered step-by-step instructions to repair damage from a software virus. The electric power companies weren't falling for it.
The caller, who was never traced or identified, helpfully instructed the companies to enable specific features in their computers that actually would have created a trapdoor in their networks. That vulnerability would have allowed hackers to shut down a plant and thrown thousands of customers into the dark.
The power employees hung up on the caller and ignored the advice.
The incident from February, documented by one of the government's emergency cyber- response teams, shows the persistent threat of electronic attacks and intrusions that could disrupt the country's most critical industries.
The House this coming week will consider legislation to better defend these and other corporate networks from foreign governments, cybercriminals and terrorist groups. But deep divisions over how best to handle the growing problem mean that solutions are a long way off.
Chief among the disputes is the role of the government in protecting the private sector.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups oppose requiring cybersecurity standards. Rules imposed by Washington would increase their costs without reducing their risks, they say.
Obama administration officials and security experts say companies that operate power plants, communication systems, chemical facilities and more should have to meet performance standards to prove they can withstand attacks or recover quickly from them.
The rift echoes the heated debate in Washington over the scope of government and whether new regulations hamper private businesses.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that without standards for critical industries, there will be gaps that U.S. adversaries can exploit. "That system, which is mostly in private hands, needs to all come up to a certain baseline level," she said.
The proposed formation of a system that allows U.S. intelligence agencies and the private sector to share information about hackers and the techniques they use to control the inner workings of corporate networks also is contentious.
Civil libertarians and privacy advocates worry that a bill written by the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the House intelligence committee would create a backdoor surveillance system by giving the secretive National Security Agency access to private sector data.
The agency, based at Fort Meade, Md., is in charge of gathering electronic intelligence from foreign governments but is barred from spying on Americans. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA's director, also heads the Pentagon's Cyber Command, which protects military networks.
"The question is whether this is a cybersecurity bill or an intelligence bill," said Leslie Harris, president of the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology. "There is just a fundamental debate over what role the National Security Agency should have in protecting civilian networks."
Intelligence agencies say the bill grants no new power to the NSA or the Defense Department to direct any public or private cybersecurity programs. But committee leaders said they are open to making changes to ease the privacy concerns as long as the alterations don't undermine the goals of the bill.
Businesses including Facebook and the Edison Electric Institute support the bill because it leaves it to individual companies and industries to decide how best to prevent attacks.
House Republicans last week scaled back a separate piece of legislation that would have given the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies responsibility for ensuring that critical industries met security performance standards. But those requirements were dropped from the bill during a meeting of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Rep. Jim Langevin, co-chairman of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said the bill was "gutted" because the House Republican leadership sided with business interests opposed to regulations.
"We cannot depend on the good intentions of the owners and operators of infrastructure to secure our networks," said Langevin, D-R.I.
From the Washington Times
Alternatives to Invisible Children and Kony 2012
Lisa M. Ruth
WEST PALM BEACH, Fl ., April 21, 2012 – The Kony 2012 video helped raise international awareness of the problem of forced conscription of children into the brutal Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Since the popularity of the viral video and associated campaign against Joseph Kony, international fugitive and head of the LRA, however, information has surfaced raising questions about Invisible Children, the organization behind the video.
Invisible Children may have pure intentions, but a relatively small percentage of donations go to the cause of stopping forced conscription of children. About 30 cents of every donated dollar goes to the children. Most of the funds raised are used for producing videos and paying salaries.
Invisible Children's method of fighting child solders is to fund the Ugandan army, which has been fighting Joseph Kony since 1987, when he launched his effort to overthrow the Ugandan government and instill a theocracy. However, Kony and the LRA no longer operate in Uganda. There are questions about whether the Ugandan military is serious about eradicating the LRA.
Over the last several years, it has benefitted from boosts in international aid – including additional US training and logistics personnel – which it will lose if the LRA stops operation.
Unfortunately, child soldiers are common in most conflicts in the world. The United Nations estimates that there currently are approximately 300,000 children involved in fighting conflicts around the world. A global study by the Christian Science Monitor found that 81 percent of the 109 civil wars from 1987 to 2007 employed children under the age of 15. Rebel and insurgent groups conscripted children 71 percent of the time, while government forces used children 55 percent of the time. Conflicts in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America all use child soldiers.
Any time you donate money to a nonprofit, you have a responsibility to do your homework. It is always your choice to support any nonprofit based on your own beliefs, values, and priorities. Become knowledgeable and consider all your alternatives.
For those passionate about ending the practice of using child soldiers, Save the Children, AMREF, and Doctors Without Borders are all well-regarded organizations that help improve quality of life in poor areas where leaders prey on children.
Other organizations mandated to help fight the problem of child soldiers with excellent ratings from charity ratings organizations include:
The Child Solider Relief Foundation. The Child Soldier Relief Foundation is an advocacy group that works to raise awareness about the problem of child soldiers and help the plight of former soldiers. It is involved in international research and attempts to form alliances to fight the problem of child soldiers.
Child Soldier International, previously the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, is committed to stop the recruitment of child soldiers. According to its web site, the organization “works to prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, to secure their demobilization and to ensure their rehabilitation and reintegration.”
Child Soldier Initiative is attempting to end the use of child soldiers. The group attempts to help authorities enforce existing laws against using children in conflict and to enact new laws to protect children. It also is attempting to change the culture that allows the use of child soldiers. CSI works with military, human rights and humanitarian organizations.
Other organizations indirectly help eliminate child soldiers by strengthening democracy – democratic governments are far less likely than other forms of governments to use child soldiers – and educating children. Before selecting any charity for a donation, check Charity Navigator, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, The American Institute of Philanthropy, The National Center for Charitable Statistics, and Guidestar.org for information on funding and programs,
$80K salaries for an organization with a $10 million budget are completely reasonable and in line with most nonprofits. No one need take a vow of poverty to run a charity.
Prostitution's problem is not the U.S. Secret Service
by Lisa M. Ruth
WEST PALM BEACH , Fl., April 20, 2012
Before President Obama's trip to the Summit of the America's in Cartagena, Colombia, Secret Service Agents engaged in a night of entertainment that included prostitutes.
Secret Service Agents initially were quick to point out the prostitution is legal in Cartagena, and they did nothing wrong.
One question is certainly whether we want Agents with poor judgment protecting the leader of the free world. But the second question is about prostitution.
Is it ok if it is legal? Is the fact that prostitution is illegal the only thing that makes it a problem? If prostitution was legal, would all the ugliness fade away?
Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. Since it has been in existence, society has struggled with how to deal with prostitution and the sex trade.
The Argument for Legalization
One side supports legalization to control and regulate the sex trade, arguing that legalization reduces human trafficking, which unwilling participants into the trade through coercion or threats, and criminal activities associated with prostitution by reducing prostitution to a simple business transaction between consenting adults. Advocates point to Amsterdam as a bastion of clean, safe sex, where the government monitors sex workers and even collects revenue on their actions. What could be better
Why the Legalization Argument is Wrong
The other side says that legalization not only fails to stop criminal activities currently associated with prostitution, but creates an environment where they can flourish. Additionally, prostitution is not a simple commercial matter, but one in which the seller places herself or himself in physical danger each time he or she accepts a client.
The truth is that prostitution is not Julie Roberts in “Pretty Woman.” It's ugly, brutal, sad and dangerous. It is not a light business deal where one person needs some extra cash so she decides to sell her body for a few hours to a nice customer who treats her well, and then she goes on her way to the grocery store.
If you have ever seen prostitution up close, you know it is not pretty. Not at all.
People become prostitutes as a last resort. It places them in danger every day, is traumatic, and forces them to engage in unwanted sex many times throughout the day. No one grows up hoping to become a prostitute, and no parents secretly pray that their sons or daughters will pass middle school so they can hit the streets and sell their bodies.
The overwhelming number of prostitutes are poor, addicted to drugs, and have suffered from sexual abuse as children, often entering the sex trade after running away from an abuser at home. A 2011 study of prostitution in five countries found that 76% of women become prostitutes before the age of 18, and the average age to start prostitution is 13.5 years old. The same study found that 92% of prostitutes surveyed wanted to leave the sex trade immediately if they could find an alternative. Counselors at facilities that help former prostitutes believe the number of prostitutes abused as children is close to 100%.
Legalized Prostitution Does Not Eliminate Child Trafficking
The idea that legalizing prostitution eliminates illegal trafficking and prostituting minors is factually wrong. Authorities in every jurisdiction where prostitution is legal or decriminalized, including Amsterdam, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and the Czech Republic, report that the number of people forced into prostitution and the number of child prostitutes increased after legalization.
In Amsterdam, after prostitution was legalized, child prostitution increased 300%. Legalization provides a veil of acceptability to prostitution, making it easier for pimps and traffickers to operate. They will meet demand, whether it is for underage children or certain ethnic populations, regardless of the law.
Prostitution is not a regular job. It is an occupation where a person puts herself at constant risk. It also carries a stigma, even in countries where prostitution is legal. In Germany, where prostitution is legal, the trade union ver.di expanded membership to include sex workers. his would give the workers health care, legal aid, paid holidays and a five-day work week. Of the estimated 400,000 sex workers, only 100 joined the union. Follow-up studies found that prostitutes were “too humiliated” to admit they were sex workers.
A Career of Violence
Violence is a major part the daily life of a sex worker. More than 62% of prostitutes in countries where it is legal reported being raped, and 73% had experienced physical violence. Violence includes assault – being slapped, punched and kicked – beatings with instruments, threatened with weapons, strangulation, kidnappings, being forced to provide oral sex, rape, and forcible anal sex. Sex workers who work indoors report coercion from pimps and brothel owners to meet the needs of clients. This includes forcing prostitutes to have sex without using condoms, having sex with more men in a day than women on the street, and having sex with brothel owners or friends.
Lynn and Rick Fred, the parents of a young woman who was a prostitute in Canada and who was murdered by a customer, strongly oppose legalizing prostitution. They point out, “To think the best we can do for these women is giving them a safe place to sell their bodies is a joke. There is no such thing as a “clean safe place” to be abused in. For a man to think he can buy a woman's body is insane and should show us the attitudes that women have to fight against in society. Marnie did not choose prostitution; her addictions did, and any man who bought her body for their sexual pleasure should go to jail for exploiting her desperation.”
Even high price call girls don't run out the door in the morning, condoms in hand, eager to start their day as a prostitute. Karen, an expensive call-girl in the UK, became involved in prostitution after she lost her job, was bullied in the workplace, and found she had MS which made other work difficult. She also had been sexually assaulted when she was in her 20s. She says 2/3 of prostitutes she knows have faced violence, and the worst part of being a prostitute is the complete lack of control over the situation. You have no power. She says her clients are “creepy,” and that prostitutes “don't have clients they like having sex with.” She says prostitution is damaging and dangerous, and she would get out if she had any other choices.
Prostitution makes people commodities, bought and sold for the pleasure of another, at an incredibly high price for the victim.
Legalizing prostitution does not put an end to child prostitution or forced trafficking or violence. It allows all three to thrive, with authorities turning a blind eye because legalization makes the sex trade acceptable.
Legalizing Prostitution Exacerbates the Problem
The only proven way to stop prostitution is to criminalize the demand. In Sweden, where it is a crime to buy sex services, there is a very small problem with prostitution. In Stockholm, a city of close to 900,000 people, there are fewer than 130 active prostitutes. Less than 500 foreign women are trafficked into Sweden annually to participate in the sex trade. That compares to 5,000 active prostitutes in Oslo, and more than 15,000 foreigners trafficked into Finland each year.
Legalizing prostitution does not regulate or control the sex trade. It does not eliminate forced trafficking or child prostitution or un-registered businesses. It does not make prostitution pretty or fun.
The sex trade is a violent industry that puts workers – the true victims – in constant danger, and legalizing prostitution only puts the most marginalized, youngest and weakest parts of our population even more at risk.
Why would anyone say that is a good thing?
From Google News
Task force to consider 'stand your ground' after Trayvon Martin death
(CNN) -- Florida authorities have picked 17 people to tackle a heated question brought on by the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin: whether the state's "stand your ground law" should be changed.
The task force, whose membership was announced Thursday, will hear impassioned arguments and testimony from residents at public meetings across the state. Its first meeting is set for May 1 in Tallahassee.
"We're not walking into this with any preconceived notions," Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference. If there are "logical changes to be made," he said, the task force "will provide those."
It will pass along recommendations to the governor and the Legislature.
The group will review Florida Statute Chapter 776, which deals with justifiable use of force, including the stand your ground provision.
The law allows people to use deadly force when they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury. Critics and defenders of the law have argued over just what it allows, when it applies and whether it achieves its intended effect.
George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer, fatally shot Martin on February 26. He has said the killing was in self-defense.
New Zimmerman judge 'no soft touch'
It is unclear how the stand your ground law may ultimately play out in his case. But the debate over the law's intent and its effect has already triggered a nationwide uproar.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who is leading the Task Force on Citizens Safety and Protection, said the "highly qualified" group includes people from "many different points of view" who are "racially, regionally and professionally diverse."
The task force includes a retired judge, attorneys experienced in both prosecution and defense and members of neighborhood watch programs. Two state representatives are on the task force, one of them the author of the stand your ground bill in the House, Carroll said. The list of 17 members also shows two state senators.
There are no representatives from the National Rifle Association on the task force, Carroll said in response to a question. But the task force will hear from people on various sides of the issue at public events throughout the state.
She said the government did not reach out to people to join the task force, but rather considered people who had contacted officials and said they wanted to be a part of it.
"We're going to engage the entire state of Florida to tell us the pros and cons, how they feel about these laws," said the Rev. R.B. Holmes Jr., who is serving as vice chairman.
Officials announced a new website, flgov.com/citizensafety, which will offer updates and give residents resources to share their views.
Florida's crime rate is at a 40-year low, and "I want to keep it that way," Scott said. "If there's laws that are impacting that, where people don't feel comfortable, I want to know about it."
The list of 17 task force members includes a sheriff, a former Florida Supreme Court justice and a leader of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Both Carroll and Holmes are African-American.
Trayvon Martin was African-American; Zimmerman is Latino. Questions of whether race played a role in the incident have been prominent in the uproar over the case.
Officials hope the task force will complete its work by the time of the state's next legislative session, so changes could be made then, she said.
A member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Michael Yaki of San Francisco, said last week he will ask that agency to investigate such laws.
Austin data buff gives civilians tools to help fight crime in their communities
by Jazmine Ulloa
In his fight against crime, Jack Darby doesn't sport a cape. The creator of krimelabb.com
wields a keyboard.
An information technology analyst with more than 20 years of experience, Darby has worked for six technology consulting startups in Austin, modeling and converting data and forecasting trends. He is a numbers buff.
So in the 1990s, when his home in the Cherrywood neighborhood of East Austin was broken into twice on consecutive days — leaving him feeling powerless, he said — Darby fought back by crunching data.
He started by tracking crime trends in Cherrywood, where he has lived for more than 30 years, and in January 2007 decided to expanded his digging through police records to create an electronic compendium of crime statistics. He said he soon realized it wouldn't be too hard to cull data for the entire city.
Now, his website offers information about almost 2 million arrest and incident reports, mug shots and adjudicated case files through software that allows residents to track crimes that occur near their homes.
The programming is complex, but even users with the most basic computer skills can list, chart and map crime statistics more than 20 different ways — such as by ZIP code, address or offense — over days, weeks, months or years.
Such searches are free. The idea, Darby said, is to help neighbors identify what crime is happening in their areas, so they are better equipped to report it and work with authorities to deter it.
"My core value is: Working together, let's make Austin the safest city in the nation," said Darby, 61. He said the mission is audacious but he hopes his website encourages community policing.
Darby said his database is a modest version of Compstat, a widely copied program pioneered by the New York Police Department in the 1990s that uses crime-mapping software to pinpoint problem areas and manage law enforcement strategies.
The Austin Police Department routinely updates its statistics through such a program, but with his own online system, Darby said he can offer organizations and residents tailored data sets within very specific boundaries.
So far, he has two paying clients, one of which is the Downtown Austin Alliance. That organization frequently uses krimelabb.com to monitor trends and determine which areas need the most safety resources, said Bill Brice, its program director for security and maintenance.
Krimelabb.com "provides us with current, timely, useful data on what is happening downtown," Brice said.
Darby is soft-spoken and humble when it comes to discussing his efforts, but his monumental collection of statistics has won him recognition from Austin leaders and police officials, who earlier this month invited him to present his findings from a five-year crime study to the Austin Public Safety Commission.
Austin Police Department Chief of Staff David Carter called Darby's website a significant online resource for neighborhood crime watchers.
Assistant Chief Sean Mannix said, "People like Jack Darby who take the time to get involved are a direct asset to the Police Department and the community.
"We always encourage the community to be our eyes and ears," Mannix said.
Next, Darby said, he is looking to build a network of professionals who can use his data for research and problem solving. He already has some ideas, such as cataloging the locations, times and types of offenses captured by the so-called HALO (High Activity Location Observation) security cameras installed downtown.
A bigger project he has just taken on, he said, tracks crimes and incidents in the vicinity of Austin school district campuses to establish whether there is a relationship between crime and low-performing schools.
"There is always a big temptation to catch the bad guys," Darby said. But he added: The goal is to help residents find solutions to prevent crime in the first place.
Policies on wearing body armor vary across Top of Utah
OGDEN — Ogden patrol officers were not required to wear protective body armor vests when they responded to a fierce Jan. 4 gun battle that left one lawman dead and five others wounded.
At the time of the shootout, police department policy only required officers to purchase vests through a federal grant reimbursement program but did not state anything about wearing them, said Ogden Police Chief Mike Ashment.
The policy was changed in January after the shooting to require all uniform, crime reduction, community policing and traffic officers to wear body armor, Ashment said.
The new policy is necessary for the police department's continued participation in the Bulletproof Vest Partnership grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Through the program, the Ogden Police Department receives up to 50 percent of the cost of each vest. The cost of body armor can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
According to the website www.bodyarmor.com, this is how body armor works:
When a bullet strikes a body armor panel, fibers absorb and disperse the energy of the impact across a generalized area. Most concealable body armor is made of a number of layers, the website says. These layers assist in the energy dispersion process and help to reduce the effects of blunt trauma caused by the force of the projectile.
Extensive studies have been done nationwide regarding the use of body armor among police.
The Police Executive Research Forum found that 99 percent of law enforcement agencies responding to a 2009 survey provided officers with body armor.
The survey also determined 59 percent of the agencies require officers to wear armor and about 45 percent of the agencies that mandate body armor be worn have a written policy on the issue.
Most law enforcement agencies do not issue for everyday wear body armor that protects against rifle or armor-piercing bullets, but most agencies at a minimum use armor that protects against 9 mm and .40-caliber bullets, the survey determined.
“Overall, these levels of protection offered to officers have been sufficient against most handgun threats, but not against threats from high-caliber weapons or rifles,” the survey states.
The FBI's Uniform Crime Report indicates that, from 2001 to 2010, the most recent time frame of available data, of 541 officers killed during the commission of felonies, 348 were wearing body armor.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police, based in Washington, D.C., has been pushing for law enforcement agencies to require all officers to wear body armor, said John Firman, research center director for the association.
As part of its campaign, IACP's Police Chief Magazine regularly features articles from police officers whose lives have been saved by vests.
“There is no good reason to not wear vests,” Firman said.
In addition to Ogden, several other Top of Utah police department's have mandatory body armor policies, while other agencies make it optional.
Ashment's explanation of the Ogden Police Department's body armor policy comes amid this month's release to the Standard-Examiner of dash-cam video from the patrol cars of officers responding to the Jan. 4 shootout at the home of Matthew David Stewart, 3268 Jackson Ave.
The shootout occurred as Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force agents were executing a search warrant for a suspected marijuana grow operation.
Stewart was wounded, and Ogden police officer Jared Francom, assigned to the task force, was killed in the firefight. Five other officers were wounded.
Repeated phone calls to the strike force seeking information about the agency's body armor policy and whether the wounded officers were wearing protective vests weren't returned.
However, a dash-cam video obtained by the Standard-Examiner shows Ogden officer Michael Rounkles, wounded while trying to help fellow officers, was wearing body armor.
In other videos, Ogden police are seen arriving at the scene and then hurriedly removing protective vests from the trunk of a squad car.
The policemen planned to use the vests to line a patrol vehicle to protect themselves as they attempted to rescue wounded officers, Ashment said. The rescue plan was aborted when the officers learned the injured were out of harm's way, he said.
Ashment declined to comment further on the dash-cam video the Standard-Examiner received through a state public records request.
“Our whole objective is to present in court what are the facts,” he said.
Roy Police Chief Gregory G. Whinham said he is also constrained from talking about the shootout because of Stewart's pending trial on aggravated murder and other charges.
“It will be very clear (about the details of the shootout) when people see what really happened,” he said. “We get judged for our silence. It's hard sometimes.”
Weber County Attorney Dee Smith also declined to discuss the videos. “Any statements we make will be made in court,” he said.
The Roy Police Department has had a policy “forever” requiring all uniformed officers to wear protective vests, Whinham said.
In addition, the department's plain-clothes detectives and administrative staff have easy access to vests. Whinham regularly wears body armor when responding to potentially dangerous crime scenes.
The vests can be uncomfortable but are invaluable in saving lives, Whinham said.
“We complain when it's cold and when it's hot,” he said. “In the summer, they are a tough deal.”
The South Ogden Police Department has a written policy that states officers in the field should wear body armor.
However, Marci Edwards, spokeswoman for the department, said in an email to the Standard-Examiner that officers are required to wear vests daily.
“Vests are issued to all sworn personnel because they have been shown to be effective in reducing deaths and serious injuries,” she said.
“Regardless of personal preference or potential discomfort, these vests are life-saving tools.”
The current policy of the Weber County Sheriff's Office states that deputies should wear body armor, said Lt. Mark Lowther. However, that policy is expected to be amended in the next six months making the use of the vests mandatory, he said.
Harrisville Police Chief Max Jackson said his department issues body armor to officers but leaves it up to them to wear it or not.
“Once you mandate, it doesn't give you any wiggle room whatsoever,” Jackson said, adding most of his officers wear body armor voluntarily.
“For instance, if an officer had to go into a ... pond to pull someone out and they took off their armor, they would be violating policy.”
Pleasant View Police Chief Scott Jackson has taken a different stance, requiring patrol officers to wear body armor for safety reasons, a move that allows the department to remain eligible for federal grants.
The Davis County Sheriff's Office and Syracuse Police Department both have mandatory body armor policies.