LAUSD plans to add 1,000 new campus aides for security at elementary schools
by Mariecar Mendoza
LAUSD MEMO :
To view an LAUSD memo about campus aides, click here
The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to make more than 1,000 new hires to bolster security at hundreds of campuses in a move some critics have called "security on the cheap."
More than 400 LAUSD elementary school campuses are slated to receive 1,087 campus aides - a minimum of two on each campus - as early as March 1, LAUSD school board president Monica Garcia told the Daily News on Friday.
The $4.2 million plan comes a month after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that killed 20 first-graders and six adults.
"Another two people on each campus can help us maintain a safe environment that can ease the minds of our employees, parents and students," Garcia said. "This way we can focus on reading and writing, teaching and learning."
But Scott Folsom, a Mount Washington Elementary School Parent Teacher Association member and state PTA board member, said it's "all smoke and mirrors."
"What they're doing is security on the cheap," he said. "I fear that we will end up having a person with a roll of yellow stickers and a sign-up sheet."
The campus aides will be unarmed but equipped with two-way radios and vests "for high visibility," according to a memo dated Jan. 23 from Senior Deputy Superintendent Michelle King.
Required safety training for these aides will be conducted online and will cover child abuse awareness training; employee duties during an emergency; mediating student conflicts; responding to threats on campus; how to conduct metal detector searches; and what to do if there is a school lockdown, according to the memo.
The aides will work three-hour shifts.
"It shows to me, as far as I'm concerned, a lack of commitment to the challenge at hand. I'm very much aware what happened in Connecticut and a person like that can't do anything to prevent what happened there," Folsom said of the campus aides.
"If we are really concerned about security on campus, which I think we should be, we should at least have trained uniformed, full-time people. They don't have to be armed policemen, but they need to be real security guards."
There are already 1,028 campus aides at middle and high schools but the plan is to create the extra campus aide positions for the elementary school campuses without aides.
School officials plan to fill many of those positions with former LAUSD employees who have been laid off.
"We are reaching out to over 1,000 separated employees to possibly reinstate them to fill many of these positions," the memo stated.
It is uncertain how long the program will run.
"Safety is a priority every single day and I'm so glad that the superintendent has figured out this small but significant strategy," Garcia said.
The campus aides will supplement the dozens of LAPD officers who have been patrolling K-8 school campuses district-wide since Jan. 7.
Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith, who recently visited Main Street Elementary School downtown Thursday, said the department plans to continue its patrols for the foreseeable future regardless of the added campus aides.
"We watch kids eating lunch, walk kids to class and talk to them every day," Smith said.
"It's good for our cops to get to know these kids and we think it's great to have the kids feel comfortable with our cops," he said.
"We're really glad that, for the first time in a very long time, that we are able to address a need and not have to shut another program somewhere else down," Garcia said.
While the campus aides won't add teachers cut by the district's budget woes, Garcia said school officials agree that extra security has been a high priority and may be a sign of more positive additions for LAUSD.
"This is the beginning of an increase in staff," she said. "We know we have more to do in terms of restoration (of school programs and staff), but we're optimistic this is the step in the right direction."
Folsom isn't convinced.
"This is just filling in squares in a spreadsheet," he said, "to make it look like there's more security."
Anonymous threatens Justice Department over hacktivist death
by Ben Brumfield
(CNN) -- In anger over the recent death of an Internet activist who faced federal charges, hackers claiming to be from the group Anonymous threatened early Saturday to release sensitive information about the U.S. Department of Justice.
They claimed to have one such file on multiple servers ready for immediate release.
The hackers apparently hijacked the website of the U.S. government agency responsible for federal sentencing guidelines, where they posted a message demanding the United States reform its justice system or face incriminating leaks to select news outlets.
The lengthy, eloquently written letter was signed "Anonymous."
The suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz on January 11 triggered the posting of the hackers' message to the web address of the United States Sentencing Commission, they said.
His death, which they blamed on the justice system, "crossed a line," the letter said.
How Aaron Swartz helped build the Internet
A YouTube video accompanied the message, and made use of images from Cold War nuclear scenarios and games of strategy. The letter contained nuclear metaphors to refer to chunks of embarrassing information.
The hackers said they have obtained "enough fissile material for multiple warheads," which it would launch against the justice department and "its associated executive branches."
'Anonymous' threatens Westboro Baptist
It gave the "warheads" the names of U.S. Supreme Court justices, such as Thomas.Warhead1 after justice Clarence Thomas or Ginsburg.Warhead1 after justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Anonymous accused the FBI of infiltrating its ranks and claimed the federal government is applying "highly disproportionate sentencing" to ruin the lives of some of its members.
Swartz, 26, was facing federal computer fraud charges and could have served 35 years in prison. Anonymous said he "was killed," because he "faced an impossible choice."
His family has issued a statement saying that federal charges filed over allegations that he stole millions of online documents contributed to Swartz's decision to take his own life. The files were mostly scholarly papers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Swartz's suicide has inspired a flurry of online tributes and mobilized Anonymous, the loosely defined collective of so-called "hacktivists" who oppose attempts to limit Internet freedoms. Both Swartz and Anonymous have been stark proponents of open access to information and open-source programming.
A review of a cached version of the USSC.gov website showed the Anonymous message on its homepage since at least 1:40 a.m. ET. Efforts to get to the website were unsuccessful by some by 6 a.m. E.T.
Anonymous also posted an editable version of the website, inviting users to deface it as they pleased. Multiple pages -- not only the home page -- appeared to allow users to alter them.
The "warhead" names appeared as links, most leading to 404 error messages of pages not found, but some leading to pages of raw programming code.
CNN has left multiple messages with the USSC requesting a response to the hack.
The hackers said they chose the sentencing commission's website because of its influence on the doling out of sentences they consider to be unfair.
Starting Today, It's Illegal to Unlock Your Cellphone
by JOANNA STERN
You likely have a cellphone that you bought from a carrier, like AT&T, Verizon or Sprint, and that phone only works on that carrier's cellular and data network -- unless you "unlock" it.
That is a software process that allows the phone to work on other carriers if you put in a new SIM card or want to take the phone to another carrier for service.
If that sounds complicated to you and like something you wouldn't bother with, then today's news won't matter to you. But if that's something you've done before or have thought about doing, then you should know that starting today it is illegal to unlock a subsidized phone or tablet that's bought through a U.S. carrier.
Why now? Starting today, the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress are no longer allowing phone unlocking as an exemption under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
You can read the full docket here but, in short, it is illegal to unlock a phone from a carrier unless you have that carrier's permission to do so. If you're wondering what this has to do with copyright, it turns out not much.
"It wasn't a good ruling," Rebecca Jeschke, a digital rights analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told ABC News. "You should be able to unlock your phone. This law was meant to combat copyright infringement, not to prevent people to do what they want to do with the device they bought."
Of course, the carriers prefer the new rule because it ties your phone to their network. U.S. cellular carriers sell phones at a subsidized or discounted rate with a contract. You pay the network for service on a monthly basis and they give you the phone for a cheaper price than it actually is worth.
When it was legal, people may have unlocked their phone to resell it when they upgraded to a newer model or to use it with an overseas carrier and take advantage of local rates when they traveled abroad.
If your phone has already been unlocked, you are grandfathered in and won't face any legal issues. But what could happen if you unlocked your phone now that it's illegal?
"Violations of the DMCA [unlocking your phone] may be punished with a civil suit or, if the violation was done for commercial gain, it may be prosecuted as a criminal act," Brad Shear, a Washington, D.C.-area attorney and blogger who is an expert on social media and technology law, told ABC News. "A carrier may sue for actual damages or for statutory damages."
The worst-case scenario for an individual or civil offense could be as much as a $2,500 fine. As for those planning to profit off of the act or a criminal offense -- such as a cellphone reseller -- the fine could be as high as $500,000 and include prison time.
"I don't see carriers going aggressively after people, but bottom line is that I would not recommend violating this provision of the law," Shear said.
Jeschke said that the EFF hasn't heard of anybody who faced legal action during an earlier period when it was illegal to unlock phones in the U.S. before a prior rule change made it legal several years ago.
In 2015, there will be another rule making over the exemptions and, according to Jeschke, the question of the legality or illegality of unlocking a phone will likely be revisited.
Until then, your best bet is to buy an unlocked phone.
"It's unfortunate that the copyright office walked back this exemption to the DMCA, but the carriers are already shipping unlocked devices like the iPhone 5, so the impact on average consumers won't be too bad," said Nilay Patel, a former patent attorney and managing editor of The Verge.
Apple offers an unlocked iPhone 5 for $649.00 and the Nexus 4 is available for $299.99 right from Google and T-Mobile.
Or, if you're really upset with the latest rule change, you can sign a "We the People" petition on the White House's website that calls for the Librarian of Congress to "rescind this decision, and failing that, champion a bill that makes unlocking permanently legal."
Richmond, Virginia Police Study Tour for Lebanese Internal Security Forces
The U.S. Department of State is sponsoring seven members of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces (ISF) for a study tour of community policing practices in Richmond, Virginia, January 28 to February 1. The participants will learn the Richmond Police Department's successful community policing principles for carrying out law enforcement and public safety responsibilities - practices that participants will apply in their own communities in Lebanon.
The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, through its partnerships with U.S. federal, state, and local police agencies, sponsors study tours and hands-on training opportunities for international partner countries from around the world. The Bureau has provided training in community policing to the Lebanese Internal Security Forces since 2010. This study tour aims to provide the ISF with a better understanding of U.S. community policing methods to aid in the formalization of a new Community Policing Pilot Police Station in Beirut.