Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ted Koppel's Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath

In this New York Times bestselling investigation, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.

It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. In fact, as a former chief scientist of the NSA reveals, China and Russia have already penetrated the grid. And a cybersecurity advisor to President Obama believes that independent actors—from “hacktivists” to terrorists—have the capability as well. “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin, “it’s a question of when.”

And yet, as Koppel makes clear, the federal government, while well prepared for natural disasters, has no plan for the aftermath of an attack on the power grid. The current Secretary of Homeland Security suggests keeping a battery-powered radio.

In the absence of a government plan, some individuals and communities have taken matters into their own hands. Among the nation’s estimated three million “preppers,” we meet one whose doomsday retreat includes a newly excavated three-acre lake, stocked with fish, and a Wyoming homesteader so self-sufficient that he crafted the thousands of adobe bricks in his house by hand. We also see the unrivaled disaster preparedness of the Mormon church, with its enormous storehouses, high-tech dairies, orchards, and proprietary trucking company – the fruits of a long tradition of anticipating the worst. But how, Koppel asks, will ordinary civilians survive?

With urgency and authority, one of our most renowned journalists examines a threat unique to our time and evaluates potential ways to prepare for a catastrophe that is all but inevitable.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chicago Police Officer #JasonVanDyke Charged with Murder in Shooting of Black Teen

A white Chicago police officer was charged Tuesday with murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of a black teenager, as the city prepares to release a squad-car video of the incident amid concerns that it will spark protests.

The state's attorney's office said in a news release that Jason Van Dyke, who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014, has been charged with first degree murder.

The judge in the case had ruled that the video, described by some as graphic and deeply disturbing, must be made public by Wednesday -- but sources told the New York Times that its release could come as early as Tuesday afternoon.

“In accordance with the judge’s ruling, the city will release the video by Nov. 25, which we hope will provide prosecutors time to expeditiously bring their investigation to a conclusion so Chicago can begin to heal,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last week, according to the newspaper.

People who have seen the video told The Associated Press that it shows McDonald armed with a small knife and walking away from officers. Van Dyke opens fire from about 15 feet and keeps shooting after the teen falls to the ground.

Police say McDonald, who was found with PCP in his system at the time of his death, was behaving erratically and was refusing to listen to police commands to drop the knife, the Chicago Tribune reports.

An autopsy says McDonald was shot at least twice in the back. Dan Herbert, a lawyer for Officer Van Dyke, said the 14-year police veteran believed the shooting was justified because he feared for his safety, the New York Times reported.

Fox 32 reported that some investigators were brought to the point of tears after seeing the video.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said state police are working with Chicago officials to ensure people remain safe following the release of the video. Rauner said the video is "very troubling" and that he expects public reaction to be "strong." But he said he hopes and believes the response will be "thoughtful and peaceful."

He declined to say whether he's deployed additional troopers to Chicago or put the Illinois National Guard on standby.

"This officer didn't uphold the law, he took the law into his own hands," Emanuel said, adding that he had not seen the video. "[He] didn't build the trust that we would want to see, and wasn't about providing safety and security, so at every point he violated what we entrusted him.”

Ministers, community leaders and others worry the images could lead to the kind of unrest seen in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after police-involved deaths. Emanuel called together a number of community leaders Monday to appeal for help in keeping the city calm. But some said after the meeting that city officials waited too long to get them involved -- more than a year after McDonald was shot.

"You had this tape for a year and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm," one of the ministers, Corey Brooks, said after the meeting.

A judge last week ordered the Police Department to release the squad car dashcam footage by Wednesday after the city refused to do so for several months, saying the investigations into the shooting weren't complete. The FBI and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office are investigating.

Ira Acree, who described the meeting with Emanuel as "very tense, very contentious," said the mayor expressed concerns about the prospect of any demonstrations getting out of control.

Another minister who attended, Jedidiah Brown, said emotions were running so high that there would be no stopping major protests once the video is released.

Earlier Monday, Emanuel's office characterized the discussion as something "we regularly do on important topics." But Acree and another minister, Marshall Hatch, said it is a rare occurrence.

"We have been trying to meet with the mayor since the beginning of the year to talk about community relations and his staff asks for a letter and says, `We'll get back to you,' but they never do," Acree said before going to City Hall for the discussion.

Hatch added: "This has the feeling of them scrambling."

Acree and Hatch said blacks in the city are upset about the shooting and because city officials and the Police Department refused for several months to release the video until ordered to do so by a judge. They said people also are angry because the officer, though stripped of his police powers, has been assigned to desk duty and not fired.

"They had the opportunity to be a good example and a model across the country on how to improve police and community relations and they missed it," Acree said.

The Police Department said placing an officer on desk duty after a shooting is standard procedure and that it is prohibited from doing anything more during the investigations.

The Chicago police also moved late Monday to discipline a second officer who had shot and killed an unarmed black woman in 2012 in another incident causing tensions between the department and minority communities. Superintendent Garry McCarthy recommended firing Officer Dante Servin for the shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, saying Servin showed "incredibly poor judgment" even though a jury had acquitted him of involuntary manslaughter and other charges last April.

Thanks to Fox News.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy died almost half a century ago--yet because of his extraordinary promise and untimely death, his star still resonates strongly. On the anniversary of his assassination, celebrated political scientist and analyst Larry J. Sabato--himself a teenager in the early 1960s and inspired by JFK and his presidency--explores the fascinating and powerful influence he has had over five decades on the media, the general public, and especially on each of his nine presidential successors.

A recent Gallup poll gave JFK the highest job approval rating of any of those successors, and millions remain captivated by his one thousand days in the White House. For all of them, and for those who feel he would not be judged so highly if he hadn't died tragically in office, The Kennedy Half-Century will be particularly revealing. Sabato reexamines JFK's assassination using heretofore unseen information to which he has had unique access, then documents the extraordinary effect the assassination has had on Americans of every modern generation through the most extensive survey ever undertaken on the public's view of a historical figure. The full and fascinating results, gathered by the accomplished pollsters Peter Hart and Geoff Garin, paint a compelling portrait of the country a half-century after the epochal killing. Just as significantly, Sabato shows how JFK's presidency has strongly influenced the policies and decisions--often in surprising ways--of every president since.

Among the hundreds of books devoted to JFK, The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, stands apart for its rich insight and original perspective. Anyone who reads it will appreciate in new ways the profound impact JFK's short presidency has had on our national psyche.

Friday, November 20, 2015

All Six N.C. Wyeth Paintings Recovered by FBI to be Displayed at @PtldMuseumofArt

The FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine, and the Portland Police Department are proud to announce the successful recovery of the remaining two N.C. Wyeth paintings that were stolen from a Portland, Maine businessman in 2013. The paintings are identified as “The Encounter on Freshwater Cliff” and “Go Dutton, and That Right Speedily.” To date, no reward money has been requested and no additional arrests have been made. However, the FBI’s investigation into the theft remains active and ongoing.

The FBI recovered both of the paintings on Friday, October 9, 2015, when a third party surrendered them to retired FBI agent Jim Siracusa in the greater Boston area. That individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, directed Mr. Siracusa to turn the artwork over to the FBI, which for months has been aggressively working towards its successful recovery.

Both paintings were found in good condition inside cardboard boxes and in their original frames.

The four other paintings that were stolen were recovered by the FBI in Los Angeles last December.

The criminal investigation into the robbery was initiated in June 2013 after the Portland Police Department requested the FBI’s assistance in investigating the theft of six N.C. Wyeth paintings. It is believed to be one of the most significant thefts in the history of the state of Maine.

In November 2014, after a lengthy investigation, the FBI in Portland requested assistance from the FBI in Los Angeles after it obtained information indicating the stolen paintings had been transported to that area. In December, the FBI’s Los Angeles Division recovered four of the paintings at a pawnshop in Beverly Hills. To date, three individuals, Lawrence Estrella, Oscar Leroy Roberts, and Dean Coroniti, have been charged in connection with this investigation.

Estrella, 65, of Worcester, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property on February 20, 2015. He was sentenced in the United States District Court in Portland, Maine to 92 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. According to court records, Estrella transported four of the six stolen paintings to California in an effort to sell them. Law enforcement officers in California located his vehicle in the parking lot of a hotel in North Hollywood. Estrella’s room at the hotel was searched and a firearm was located, but no paintings were found.

Roberts, 37, of North Hollywood, California, the man who used the stolen paintings to secure a loan from the Beverly Hills pawn shop, pleaded guilty on February 2, 2015 and was sentenced on April 29, 2015 to serve 28 months in federal prison.

Coroniti, 55, also of North Hollywood (and formerly of Boston) also pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property on March 19, 2015. He is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

At the owner’s request, the recovered artwork will remain in possession of the Portland Museum of Art for visitors to enjoy. For more information about the upcoming exhibit, call 207-775-6148 or visit

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

'Fugitive of the Week' Arrested by U.S. Marshals

“Fugitive of the Week,” Leela Cable (aka: Nina Ouelette), 19, was arrested by members of the U.S. Marshals Florida/Caribbean Fugitive Task Force at a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. bus station. Cable was featured as the “Fugitive of the Week” on October 7, 2015.

Ms. Cable was wanted on an arrest warrant issued out of the Hillsborough County (NH) Superior Court for failing to appear on a charge of first degree assault by stabbing. Cable was indicted after an investigation conducted by the Manchester Police Department into a stabbing that occurred on June 9th, 2014. During this incident, Cable is alleged to have stabbed the victim multiple times with a piece of glass, resulting in serious bodily injuries.

The “Fugitive of the Week” was broadcasted on WTPL-FM, WMUR-TV, The Union Leader, The Nashua Telegraph, The Patch, Foster’s Daily Democrat, Manchester Information, The Manchester Ink Link and prominently featured on the internet. This program has been a remarkably successful tool that has resulted in the location and arrest of numerous fugitives since its implementation in 2007. It was based on this feature that the U.S. Marshals received numerous tips, which pointed investigators to both Florida and the Manchester, NH area. All of these leads were followed up on and we were able to determine that Cable was likely in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area of Florida. Recently, the NH Joint Fugitive Task Force sent all of the information on Cable to our counterparts in the Florida/Caribbean Fugitive Task Force. This investigation resulted in the arrest of Leela Cable by the U.S. Marshals in Fort Lauderdale without incident. After her arrest, Leela Cable was brought to the Broward County Jail, where she will be processed and held as a fugitive from justice on the outstanding Hillsborough County (NH) arrest warrant. Cable will be held without bail pending her return to Manchester to face these very serious charges.

U.S. Marshal David Cargill, Jr. says, “I am very proud of the work that the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force does on a daily basis.” Marshal Cargill continues, “This case is a great example of how the Marshals task forces around the country work seamlessly together to track down dangerous fugitives like Leela Cable.”

Gun Owner Fights Off Four Armed Home Intruders

A group of four people attempted to break into a home in San Antonio, Texas by removing an air conditioning unit from a window and crawling inside. The homeowner responded to the break-in by retrieving a gun and firing at the intruders, striking and killing one, and causing the others to flee. A knife and a bag, containing a gun and burglary tools, was found next to the body of the deceased intruder.

Police captured the three intruders, who fled the gunfire, a short distance from the home.


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