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dkf's Journal
dkf's Journal
September 19, 2013

US prosecutors encourage users to upgrade to iOS 7 for Activation Lock security feature

The Attorneys General for New York and San Francisco issued a joint statement on Thursday following the launch of iOS 7. The statement praised iOS 7's Activation Lock feature as "an important first step towards ending the global epidemic of smartphone theft."

"In the months ahead," the statement reads, "it is our hope that Activation Lock will prove to be an effective deterrent to theft, and that the widespread use of this new system will end the victimization of iPhone users, as thieves learn that the devices have no value on the secondary market. We are particularly pleased that – because Activation Lock is a feature associated with Apple's new operating system as opposed to a new device – it will be available to consumers with older phone models who download the free upgrade."

San Francisco District Attorney General George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have been calling on Apple, Google, Samsung, and others to build better security features into their devices and the operating systems that run them in order to head off smartphone theft.

Specifically, Gascón and Schneiderman have been calling for the addition of a "kill switch" on the OS or device level that would render a phone inoperable if it is stolen. Apple's Activation Lock — which requires that a user's Apple ID and password be entered before anyone can turn off Find My iPhone, erase data, or re-activate a device after it has been remotely erased — implements many of the changes the Attorneys General had been asking for.


September 19, 2013

Syrian government says civil war has reached stalemate

Exclusive: Deputy PM says neither side is strong enough to win and government will call for ceasefire at Geneva talks

The Syrian civil war has reached a stalemate and President Bashar al-Assad's government will call for a ceasefire at a long-delayed conference in Geneva on the state's future, the country's deputy prime minister has said in an interview with the Guardian.

Speaking on behalf of the government, Qadri Jamil said that neither side was strong enough to win the conflict, which has lasted two years and caused the death of more than 100,000 people. Jamil, who is in charge of country's finances, also said that the Syrian economy had suffered catastrophic losses.

"Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side," he said. "This zero balance of forces will not change for a while."

Meanwhile, he said, the Syrian economy had lost about $100bn (£62bn), equivalent to two years of normal production, during the war.

If accepted by the armed opposition, a ceasefire would have to be kept "under international observation", which could be provided by monitors or UN peace-keepers – as long as they came from neutral or friendly countries, he said.


September 19, 2013

8/9/2013: Amanda Bynes still in hospital; mother named conservator 8/30: extended for year


(CNN) -- Amanda Bynes is going to remain under medical care as legal control over her person and estate is temporarily handed to her mother, Lynn.

Bynes, 27, was placed under an involuntary psychiatric hold in late July after she was "involved in a disturbance in a residential neighborhood" in Thousand Oaks, California. According to People magazine, the hold was initially for 72 hours, but on July 25, a judge ordered Bynes to be held for an additional two weeks.

At the same time, Bynes' parents, Rick and Lynn, filed for conservatorship of their daughter, who has been exhibiting increasingly bizarre behavior in recent months.

In a hearing Friday, Judge Glen Reiser with the Superior Court of California in Ventura County granted her parents' request for conservatorship, noting that Bynes is under a "continued ... hold in a psychiatric facility."


Amanda Bynes Under Long-Term Psychiatric Hold

A judge on Friday granted doctors treating Amanda Bynes for an unspecified mental disorder authority to hold her for up to a year, according to TMZ. The hold was then transferred to Bynes’ mother and conservator, Lynn Bynes, and Amanda Bynes was then moved to UCLA medical center.

Amanda Bynes has not yet been diagnosed with a specific condition, as her mental disorder appears to be complex, but she is reportedly being treated for schizophrenia. Although the long-term hold can last as much as a year, her psychiatrists do not expect her treatment to take that long, and are hopeful that she can be released and continue to be treated at the home of her parents. In fact, according to TMZ she could be held at UCLA for as little as 60 days while her doctors figure out a sound course of treatment that will allow her to function without presenting a danger to herself or others.


Dr. Drew cited this as a case of how parents can step in when a person starts to get psychotic.
September 18, 2013

Syrian jihadi groups are now kidnapping and killing one another.

The potential of a U.S. military strike over the past several weeks -- which mainstream forces largely welcomed, and jihadists, fearing that the United States would target them, opposed -- appears to have exacerbated tensions between the groups. Full-blown clashes broke out in the north and east of the country today, with Free Syrian Army (FSA)-affiliated groups in the city of Deir Ezzor battling with the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Meanwhile, ISIS also launched an offensive on the northern town of Azaz, which lies close to the Turkish border.

The clashes follow an ISIS announcement earlier this week declaring war against the FSA-affiliated Farouk Brigades in Aleppo, along with another moderate rebel brigade. Dubbing its operation "The Repudiation of Malignity," the jihadist group said its offensive was in response to an attack by the brigades against its headquarters in the northern city of al-Bab last week.

ISIS even appears to be picking fights with more radical brigades. The jihadist group reportedly kidnapped nine commanders from the Ahrar Souria group in the northern city of Raqqa on Sept. 12. It also killed a commander from the powerful Ahrar al-Sham militia, after the man objected to ISIS's kidnapping of Malaysian aid workers. In going after Ahrar al-Sham, ISIS is turning a former friend into an enemy: The Salafist group stood by ISIS last month when it clashed with Ahfad al-Rasoul, an FSA-affiliated rebel group, and as popular protests erupted against ISIS.

ISIS's feuding with moderate Syrian rebels seems to be sanctioned by the very top of the al Qaeda hierarchy. In an audio statement last week, al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri warned his followers in Syria to avoid cooperation with "secular groups that are allied to the West."


September 18, 2013

Al Qaeda Clash With Free Syrian Army a New Stage of Opposition Split

While the U.S. and Russia pursue a diplomatic route in Syria, a battle between the country’s moderate and extremist rebels erupted in eastern Syria. Eli Lake talks with a commander of the pro-Western opposition about a new front in the civil war.

The same day the United States and Russia announced a plan to disarm Bashar al-Assad of his chemical weapons, a fresh round of fighting erupted along the Syria-Iraq border. This time, it was rebel versus rebel—specifically, al Qaeda–linked rebels against the more moderate elements of the opposition.

Mahmoud al-Aboud, commander of the eastern front for the Free Syrian Army, told The Daily Beast on Sunday in a Skype interview that the fighting began Saturday with a car bomb. Killed in the attack, said Aboud, was the brother of Saddam al-Gamal, a local commander of Allahu Akbar Brigades, a group aligned with the FSA in al-Bukamal. After the bombing, Gamal’s men launched a counterattack with small arms fire that killed four fighters in the opposing rebel group.

The five military councils associated with the FSA have clashed with fighters from the two main al Qaeda affiliates in Syria, al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in recent months. (The two al Qaeda affiliates also have fought each other in the same period in an apparent power struggle.)


September 18, 2013

So how is it we have all these shooters trying to get medical help...

And still no results?

We know the pattern already. Shouldn't it be more obvious to mental health providers by now what they should be on the lookout for?

Don't people who fit the pattern need a consistent support team or something? It really seems like they are just shoved back out into all their problems with little relief from whatever is breaking them. And then we are shocked when it happens.

There are enough ways to kill people that simply preventing them from purchasing that AR-15 is no true solution.

September 18, 2013

Aaron Alexisí characteristics mirrored those of mass shooters

WASHINGTON — What are the factors that motivate a mass shooter?

Washington Navy Yard shooting suspect Aaron Alexis had several characteristics common among mass killers, experts say: aggression, difficulties on the job, paranoia and anger problems.

Alexis reportedly went on a rampage Monday, killing 12 people in a commando-style attack at the Navy Yard, where he was beginning work as a civilian contractor.

“He did have some of the common factors that we see in adult mass murderers,” said Kathy Seifert, a Maryland-based psychologist who’s studied mass shooters for more than 30 years.

“He had a history of aggression,” she said, noting police reports in Fort Worth, Texas, where Alexis reportedly shot through the ceiling of his apartment, nearly hitting his upstairs neighbor; in Seattle, where he shot out the tires of a construction worker’s car; and a disorderly conduct charge in DeKalb County, Ga. He wasn’t prosecuted in any of the incidents.

Seifert said common characteristics of the mass killers she’d studied included aggression, mental health issues, difficulties on the job, difficulty getting along with people, anger issues and emotional outbursts.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/09/17/202446/alexis-problems-mirrored-those.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_term=news#.Ujj8X-i9KSM#storylink=cpy

September 18, 2013

Major Belgian telco targeted by a foreign state, Brussels says

Belgium’s largest telecom, Belgacom, was hacked for at least a few years, according to national newspaper De Standaard.

The paper wrote on Monday that “everything suggests” (Google Translate) that the culprit was the National Security Agency (NSA). De Standaard reports that after an internal security check in June 2013, technicians found an “unknown virus” that had been installed across a “few dozen computers," and that the malware seemed to be targeting traffic on Belgacom International Carrier Services (BICS), a subsidiary that works primarily with other telcos in the Middle East and Africa.

How long was the malware present on majority-state-owned Belgacom’s systems? "We have no idea,” Belgacom CEO Didier Bellens told reporters (Google Translate) in Brussels on Monday.

However, Belgacom itself and the Belgian government are being a bit more cagey about who they suspect. "If this hypothesis of cyber-espionage is confirmed, the government will firmly condemn this intrusion and violation of a public company's integrity," Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo wrote in a statement (Google Translate). "The goal of intrusion wasn't sabotage, but collection of strategic data."

"The inquiry has shown that the hacking was only possible by an intruder with significant financial and logistic means," the Belgian state prosecutor told Reuters, declining to name a specific country. "This fact, combined with the technical complexity of the hacking and the scale on which it occurred, points towards international state-sponsored cyber espionage."

Belgacom isn't pointing fingers either. “We cannot comment on this, it is up to the Federal Prosecutor’s investigation to bring clarity on this,” the telecom firm wrote.


September 17, 2013

Graham readying use of force authorization against Iranian regime

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday he's working on legislation that would give the president the green light to attack Iran if negotiations over the country's alleged nuclear weapons program stall.

Graham, one of the GOP's most prominent hawks, told reporters on Tuesday that he's worried the administration's failure to get congressional approval for a strike against Syria has emboldened Iran. He said he'll be working with Democrats and Republicans on legislation that would encourage diplomacy, threaten more sanctions and authorize military action as a last resort.

“I do believe without the threat of credible military force by us, the Iranians are going to just slow-walk,” Graham said. “So I'm trying to create the dynamic that there is bipartisan support for continued diplomacy, sanctions and the use of force as a last resort.”

Graham said Iran has been pursuing its weapons program while the Obama administration – and the rest of the world – has been focused on Syria. He said U.S. policymakers should urgently refocus their attention.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/middle-east-north-africa/322835-graham-preparing-use-of-force-authorization-against-iran#ixzz2fCEaOg7S

September 17, 2013

Secret court declassifies opinion providing rationale for metadata sharing

Secret court declassifies opinion providing rationale for metadata sharing
FISC relies on a 1970s-era case that established "third-party doctrine."

by Cyrus Farivar - Sept 17 2013, 12:00pm HST

For the first time, the United States’ most secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), has published its legal rationale as to why the telecom metadata sharing program under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is legitimate. The 46-page opinion was authored August 29, 2013, but was not published on the FISC’s website until Tuesday.

The opinion was only now published due to FISC judge Reggie Walton, who ordered the government to conduct a declassification review of such decisions and related orders in the wake of the leaks provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. As a result, this August 2013 order and two others have now been declassified. Walton's declassification order was made at the request of Judge Claire Eagan, who herself authored those opinions.

In her opinion (PDF), Judge Eagan wrote that because terrorists use phones (or in legal-speak: “telephonic systems”) and some of those phones traverse the United States’ phone network, metadata is therefore considered the business records of the telecoms involved.

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case, known as Smith v. Maryland, that when someone calls a telephone number, that number has been disclosed to a third party (the phone company). Therefore, the Supreme Court held, it is not private (because it was disclosed through the act of making the call), and the government can have easy access to those call records—this is the origin of the "third-party doctrine." So, Judge Eagan concluded, if the handover of one person's phone records in one instance is legal, so too is the wholesale handover of phone metadata en masse.

"It's just showing that [the Department of Justice] is continuing its pattern of if you give them an inch they'll take a mile," Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars. "They've relied so heavily on [the Smith decision] that if Smith were narrowed [by a future court], then they would have to redo the analysis of this and a lot of the other bulk collection programs."


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