| NEWS of the Week
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
NOTE: To see full stories either click on the Daily links or on the URL provided below each article.
Oct 28, 2012
From the FBI
Cyber Security -- Focusing on Hackers and Intrusions
Early last year, hackers were discovered embedding malicious software in two million computers, opening a virtual door for criminals to rifle through users' valuable personal and financial information. Last fall, an overseas crime ring was shut down after infecting four million computers, including half a million in the U.S. In recent months, some of the biggest companies and organizations in the U.S. have been working overtime to fend off continuous intrusion attacks aimed at their networks.
The scope and enormity of the threat—not just to private industry but also to the country's heavily networked critical infrastructure—was spelled out last month in Director Robert S. Mueller's testimony to a Senate homeland security panel: “Computer intrusions and network attacks are the greatest cyber threat to our national security.”
To that end, the FBI over the past year has put in place an initiative to uncover and investigate web-based intrusion attacks and develop a cadre of specially trained computer scientists able to extract hackers' digital signatures from mountains of malicious code. Agents are cultivating cyber-oriented relationships with the technical leads at financial, business, transportation, and other critical infrastructures on their beats.
Today, investigators in the field can send their findings to specialists in the FBI Cyber Division's Cyber Watch command at Headquarters, who can look for patterns or similarities in cases. The 24/7 post also shares the information with partner intelligence and law enforcement agencies—like the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security and the National Security Agency — on the FBI-led National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force.
From the Department of Homeland Security
Inspiring the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals
Yesterday, I attended the Women in International Security conference, hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to discuss one of the most urgent and important issues facing our nation—cybersecurity. In particular, I spoke about how DHS is building a cyber-workforce comprised of highly qualified, skilled, and innovative employees who reflect the diversity of our nation, and will enable us to meet our mission today, and in the future.
At DHS, we're working to develop the next generation of leaders in cybersecurity while fostering an environment for talented staff to grow in this field. We are building strong cybersecurity career paths within the Department, and in partnership with other government agencies. We are also creating training and development opportunities to retain our most talented employees and ensure their professional development. In collaboration with the National Security Agency, we are strengthening the nation's educational infrastructure by supporting Centers of Academic Excellence across the country.
In addition, we are extending the scope of cyber education beyond the federal workplace through the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, involving students from kindergarten through post-graduate school. And we sponsor the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a program that works with academia and the private sector to identify and develop the best and brightest cyber talent to meet our nation's growing and changing security needs.
Ensuring a Safe Cyberspace Through Research and Development
The Internet is a critical and steadily-growing part of local, national and global economies, and has become a key tool in allowing the free flow of information in ways and at volumes that few could have foreseen only a few decades ago. Each of us use the Internet on a daily basis -- checking email, paying bills, shopping, and networking with friends. However, as our dependency on the Internet has increased, so too have the cybersecurity risks.
Efforts to secure cyberspace are perhaps some of the most important and pressing of our time, and were a major topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum meeting in Tianjin, China last month. There, representatives from the government, private sector, and academia discussed the importance of securing cyberspace.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) plays a critical role in supporting the Department's cybersecurity mission. S&T works with a variety of stakeholders to develop and deploy tools, capabilities, and protocols that protect consumers and industry internet users.
In fact, S&T is one of the leaders in unclassified cybersecurity research and development across the federal government. Just last week, we announced grants to 29 academic and research organizations for research and development of solutions to cyber security challenges. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and collaboration between DHS and the private sector is critical to addressing cybersecurity threats.
If you are interested in learning more about the S&T directorate, you can find us here, and you can learn more about the activities of our Cyber Security Division here.
Oct 27, 2012
Hurricane Sandy closes in on East Coast
HATTERAS ISLAND, North Carolina (Reuters) - Hurricane Sandy closed in on the United States on Saturday, where it threatens to hit the eastern third of the country with torrential rains, high winds, major flooding and power outages a week before U.S. presidential and congressional elections.
The late-season storm has been dubbed "Frankenstorm" by some weather watchers because it will combine elements of a tropical cyclone and a winter storm and is forecast to reach the U.S. coast close to Halloween.
As it merges with an Arctic air mass high over the eastern United States, forecast models show it will have all the ingredients to morph into a "super storm."
Coastal flooding posed a major threat, particularly to low-lying areas like New York City, the global financial nerve center.
That threat was described in blog posted on Weather Underground (www.weatherunderground.com) on Saturday by veteran weather forecaster Bryan Norcross as "serious as a heart attack for anybody near the rising water."
Governors in states along the U.S. East Coast declared emergencies on Friday, with officials urging residents to stock up on food, water and batteries.
3.6 million social security numbers exposed in unprecedented South Carolina cyber attack
"This is not a good day for South Carolina." That was Governor Nikki Haley's public reaction to news that a foreign hacker had infiltrated South Carolina's Department of Revenue and made off with 3.6 million social security numbers and 387,000 credit/debit card numbers. Of the compromised cards, state officials believe only 16,000 were unencrypted, though the staggering social security breach affects more than half of South Carolina's 4.6 million population. Governor Nikki Haley held a presser earlier this afternoon confirming the attack — first uncovered by WLTX Columbia. “The number of records breached requires an unprecedented, large-scale response by the Department of Revenue, the State of South Carolina and all our citizens,” said Haley before outlining steps that residents can take to discover if their information was exposed.
Millions of residents risk identity theft
Everyone who has filed a tax return in the state since 1998 is urged to call 1-866-578-5422. If you're among the unlucky millions, you'll be given a code that can be redeemed for a year of identity theft protection through Experian's ProtectMyID service. "I want this person slammed against the wall," said Haley of the perpetrator. Authorities have dismissed the possibility that the attack originated from within the United States and are focusing their search internationally. A number of law enforcement agencies have joined the effort including the FBI and US Secret Service
Use of drones in community policing 'unchartered territory'
Privacy concerns about an airborne armada of government drones recording the actions of Americans was at the forefront of a congressional hearing Thursday in Houston, but so far Texas law enforcement has had limited experience with the new technology.
U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Humble, chaired the hearing to discuss his proposed law that would ensure the unmanned aerial vehicles will not be used by government agents to illegally spy on Americans or let people stalk their neighbors.
The Texas Department of Public Safety employed drones from 2008 to 2010, but halted their use due to operational costs and federal regulations that limited both flight areas and radio frequencies to control the aircraft, said regional DPS Commander Duane Steen.
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office has still not received government approval to operate a $300,000 drone that crashed last year into a SWAT vehicle during a test flight.
"This is new technology, it's uncharted territory and we … want to make sure we're doing this the right way and the legal way," said Sheriff's Lt. Melvin Franklin, who explained the drone would be deployed in emergency situations or to search for missing persons.
Superintendent McCarthy dismantles CAPS, will replace it with something at some point
Before he began his City Council budget testimony on Wednesday, police superintendent Garry McCarthy introduced a number of top department officials who were also on hand, from first deputy superintendent Al Wysinger to department spokeswoman Melissa Stratton. But then he drew a blank.
"To her right is, uh, Ron, um . . ."
An aide leaned over to help him out: "Holt."
"Holt!" said McCarthy. "From the CAPS office."
It was a telling moment. The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy office is the one that's supposed to coordinate the department's efforts at community organizing and neighborhood crime prevention—the one whose budget has been cut from $9 million in 2000 to half that this year to nothing in 2013.
Yet McCarthy says that's all part of a new, "revitalized" approach to community policing in Chicago. He says it will put more patrol officers on the beat, empower block clubs to reclaim corners from drug dealers, and reduce gang violence—all without more police officers, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel once promised but McCarthy insists are unnecessary. The city can't afford them either, but McCarthy doesn't talk about that.
Oct 26, 2012
Hate crimes rise in Los Angeles, report says
LOS ANGELES - Two middle-age gay men beaten near the Center in Long Beach in a high-profile case, a black man in metro Los Angeles chased down and set upon by seven Latinos. These were among the 489 crimes reported as being spurred by bias or prejudice in the 2011 Hate Crimes Report, released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.
After three straight years of dramatic declines, reported hate crimes rose in Los Angeles for the first time last year, although they remained well below the average for the past 20 years, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations.
Reported hate crimes last year jumped 14.5 percent from 427 to 489, which is still the second lowest number since before 1990.
Although experts say only a handful of potential hate crimes are reported as such, those that are paint "a vivid picture of hatred," said Kathy Feng, president of the commission. "This is surprising after (hate crimes) fell dramatically for three years,"
Robin Toma, executive director of the Commission on Human Relations, said of the uptick. "This is also counter to a 4 percent drop in the state."
After firing entire police force, NJ city adds new, unarmed officers
Dozens of unarmed, uniformed civilians will be trained to collect evidence, respond to radio calls for nonviolent crimes
CAMDEN, N.J. — Next year, when a new county police force starts patrolling Camden, replacing an embattled city department, residents will see many new faces beyond the armed officers.
Dozens of unarmed, uniformed civilians—without arrest powers—will be trained to collect evidence at crime scenes, respond to radio calls for nonviolent crimes, and relieve officers so they can complete reports once a scene is safe. In some cases, a civilian police aide may be the only person in uniform that victims will encounter. A handful of aides will assist in domestic violence investigations.
Some police aides will work out of the public eye and for the first time will monitor the city's matrix of 81 cameras throughout the city. Other civilians will be trained to work as crime analysts and intelligence analysts or to handle support and administrative functions.
The civilians' greater role in the new force will extend the reach of staff and free up officers to police streets, cutting costs, said Joe Cordero, a former East Orange police director and architect of the new force.
Oct 25, 2012
A Miscarriage of Justice
Celebrity trials can turn into media lynchings. Last year a Connecticut jury convicted Michael Skakel of killing his neighbor Martha Moxley twenty-seven years ago, even though the prosecution had no fingerprints, no DNA, and no witnesses. The author, a former New York City prosecutor, argues that his cousin's indictment was triggered by an inflamed media, and that an innocent man is now in prison.
by Robert F. Kennedy
The tragedy of Martha Moxley's death, twenty-seven years ago, has been compounded by the conviction of an innocent man.
I know Michael Skakel, my first cousin, as well as one person can know another. He helped me to get sober, in 1983. We attended hundreds of alcoholism-recovery meetings together. In that context and others we have shared our deepest feelings. For fifteen years we skied, fished, hiked, and traveled together, often with my wife and children. During that time I sometimes spent as many as two or three weekends a month in his company. Like nearly everyone else who knows him well, I love Michael. If he were guilty, I would have testified against him. He is not.
Until I recently visited him in prison, the two of us had been estranged for several years. Beginning in 1998, stress from the public focus on Michael as a murder suspect began to affect his personality. He lashed out at the Kennedy family, which he believed was partly responsible for his predicament, and refused to speak to me. On the two days I attended his court proceedings last year, in Norwalk, Connecticut, he was cold and distant. Many people asked me why I would publicly defend him—a cause unlikely to enhance my own credibility. I support him not out of misguided family loyalty but because I am certain he is innocent.
Oct 23, 2012
Louisiana woman says 3 racist men set her on fire
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A 20-year-old black woman said she was set on fire by three men who wrote the initials KKK and a racial slur on her car in northeastern Louisiana, police said Monday.
Officers found Sharmeka Moffitt with burns on more than half of her body when they responded to her 911 call Sunday night, said Louisiana State Police spokeswoman Lt. Julie Lewis.
The FBI is investigating the attack as a possible hate crime, but no arrests had been made as of late Monday, Lewis said. She said Moffitt was in critical condition at a hospital and that some of her injuries were third-degree burns.
Moffitt told police the men doused her in a flammable liquid and set her on fire at a park in Winnsboro, a town in Franklin Parish. Lewis said she extinguished the fire using water from a spigot before a police officer arrived.
Officers found the letters KKK — an apparent reference to the Ku Klux Klan — and a racial slur smeared in a paste-like substance on the hood of her car, Lewis said.
HSI-led probe dismantles gang-run drug ring and nets record gun seizure
SAN DIEGO – Federal and local law enforcement officials Tuesday announced the results of a long-term probe that dismantled a drug and gun trafficking ring involving members of 13 different Southern California gangs, resulting in one of San Diego County's largest single-day weapons seizures.
Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and detectives from the San Diego Police Department arrested more than three dozen people, mostly gang members or gang associates, and seized a cache of 60 weapons during the two-year investigation dubbed "Crystal Palace." That number includes 33 guns found in a single day during searches of homes and storage bins in Spring Valley, Lomita Village and Mira Mesa earlier this month.
According to federal indictments and search warrant affidavits unsealed Tuesday, 37 defendants are accused of trafficking in guns, methamphetamine, heroin, Ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine.
"Through a collaborative effort with local law enforcement, we've succeeded in dismantling a dangerous gang-operated criminal enterprise in the heart of San Diego," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "Promoting public safety is at the core of our mission and we remain committed to using our expertise and resources to protect our communities so that law-abiding residents will have a safe place to live and work."
Michigan roadway shootings prompt school lockdowns
Five schools kept children off playgrounds and nervous commuters changed their routes Monday as authorities searched for a suspect in more than 20 random, unsolved shootings
WIXOM, Mich. — Five schools kept children off playgrounds and nervous commuters changed their routes Monday as authorities searched for a suspect in more than 20 random, unsolved shootings in southeastern Michigan.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard urged the public to be vigilant, saying wide eyes probably were more critical than changing a daily routine.
"If you see something, say something. We'd rather check out 10 false things than miss one real," Bouchard told The Associated Press. "This is not going to slow us down. We're going to find this person."
No one has been hurt, and no shootings have occurred since Thursday. But a task force with officers from nine departments raised the number to 22 shootings after getting fresh reports in the region, more than 30 miles northwest of Detroit.
The shootings have happened in four counties. Most involve cars near Interstate 96, though authorities said one occurred while a man was taking out his trash. In another incident, a woman said the rear window on her car was shattered. Ten of the 22 shootings were in Wixom in Oakland County.
Oct 22, 2012
Someone is shooting at motorists in Michigan; police hunt for suspect
WIXOM, Mich. -- Police are teaming up to track down a suspect in 16 shootings near the Interstate 96 corridor outside of Detroit, NBC station WDIV reported.
A newly formed task force met for more than three hours behind closed doors Friday evening to pore over dozens of tips that could lead to a suspect, WDIV reported. "Know that we are coming for you," Wixom Public Safety Director Clarence Goodlein told WDIV. "It's only a matter of time. We're coming for you."
Shootings in the past week were reported on roads in Wixom, Commerce Township, Lyon Township, Howell and Webberville, in western Oakland County and Ingham County, WDIV reported.
In many cases, drivers reported seeing a gunman traveling toward them in the opposite direction, firing shots at their vehicle, the station reported. No one has been injured, but in a few cases bullets have come very close to drivers, WDIV said.
Jordan Foils ‘Major Terrorist Plot'
Eleven men have been arrested by Jordanian intelligence services which accuses them of planning a “major terrorist plot,” attacking shopping centers, residential buildings and foreigners, including diplomats.
Jordan's state-run news agency, Petra, reported today that the plan was uncovered months ago during its early stages as the accused terrorists carried out surveillance on potential targets and armed themselves with explosives, guns and mortars.
The men were described as “terrorists associated with the ideology of Al Qaeda.” Photos posted on the agency's website showed four of the men with the bushy beards often associated with Salafism, an ultra-conservative brand of Islam.
The plot, it was reported, was dubbed “9/11 (2),” and would start with an attack on diplomats in hotels. Then two shopping malls would be bombed, followed by other attacks using TNT and “new types of explosives to be used for the first time.” Some of the weapons allegedly came from Syria and the accused were said to have consulted with al Qaeda explosives experts over the internet. Suicide bombers and car bombs would also be used.