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  • January 15, 2019 3:28 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from CBS News

    Virtual reality is often associated with video games. But well-known companies are now using it as a tool to train for potentially dangerous situations. Major companies like Walmart, Chipotle and Verizon are using VR to prepare employees for what they could see on the job.

    Verizon has more than 1,600 stores across the country where front-line employees help people get connected and buy the latest gadgets to do so. But the harsh reality is that those hot-ticket items make them a target for armed robberies, a dangerous scenario that could be difficult to imagine – until now.

    In one digital scenario, two gunmen strike as the store opens, taking one employee hostage and going straight for the safe. It was only a simulation, but as CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil learned firsthand at a Verizon training site outside Washington, D.C., the fear was all too real.

    "VR takes your brain elsewhere, so I am standing here in a classroom and my brain thinks I'm on a factory floor, on an airplane tarmac, in a Verizon store. So it's basically like visualization on steroids," said Derek Belch, the founder of Strivr, which builds virtual experiences as a training tool first for football teams and now for a growing number of major companies.    

    Virtual reality is often associated with video games. But well-known companies are now using it as a tool to train for potentially dangerous situations. Major companies like Walmart, Chipotle and Verizon are using VR to prepare employees for what they could see on the job.

    Verizon has more than 1,600 stores across the country where front-line employees help people get connected and buy the latest gadgets to do so. But the harsh reality is that those hot-ticket items make them a target for armed robberies, a dangerous scenario that could be difficult to imagine – until now.

    In one digital scenario, two gunmen strike as the store opens, taking one employee hostage and going straight for the safe. It was only a simulation, but as CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil learned firsthand at a Verizon training site outside Washington, D.C., the fear was all too real.

    "VR takes your brain elsewhere, so I am standing here in a classroom and my brain thinks I'm on a factory floor, on an airplane tarmac, in a Verizon store. So it's basically like visualization on steroids," said Derek Belch, the founder of Strivr, which builds virtual experiences as a training tool first for football teams and now for a growing number of major companies.    

    See Original Post

  • January 15, 2019 3:22 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Skift

    Safety and security has been a key consideration in event planning for decades, but new threats from acts of terrorism, extreme weather, and pandemics are increasing the need for diligence.

    Experts note a widening of scope surrounding security, which can at times present a complicated challenge to meeting planners as they work with event stakeholders to safeguard attendees and stay informed on emerging safety issues.

    In a world now increasingly defined by economic and political instability, the process of event design has become entangled with risk mitigation. While incidents like 2017’s Las Vegas shooting and Manchester Arena bombing are rare, the strategies of event planners have been influenced by the reality that unpredictable threats seem to have proliferated in recent years.

    “What was simply focused on numbers of passengers per flight and company drug and alcohol policies has now become much more specific and encompassing,” said Fernando Lonergan, senior director of Australia and Regional Sales and Solutions at BCD Meetings & Events, citing factors such as the political stability of potential destinations, health of bilateral government relationships of the customer’s source market with the destination, and the emergency response capabilities of third parties.

    According to Society for Incentive Travel Excellence Chief Marketing Officer Padraic Gilligan, duty of care and emergency preparedness are a given for any event, but the bar is constantly being raised.

    He cited emergency preparedness certification from industry associations like the Association of Destination Management Executives International which he said is further raising awareness of duty of care across the full business events spectrum, “so it’s not just the focus of the end-user corporation but other agents along the supply chain which need to be duty of care-aware”.

    Gilligan said more corporations are taking extra precautions such as bringing their own security details to destinations where they are staging incentive programs.

    “What was simply focused on numbers of passengers per flight and company drug and alcohol policies has now become much more specific and encompassing,” said Fernando Lonergan, senior director of Australia and Regional Sales and Solutions at BCD Meetings & Events, citing factors such as the political stability of potential destinations, health of bilateral government relationships of the customer’s source market with the destination, and the emergency response capabilities of third parties.

    According to Society for Incentive Travel Excellence Chief Marketing Officer Padraic Gilligan, duty of care and emergency preparedness are a given for any event, but the bar is constantly being raised.

    He cited emergency preparedness certification from industry associations like the Association of Destination Management Executives International which he said is further raising awareness of duty of care across the full business events spectrum, “so it’s not just the focus of the end-user corporation but other agents along the supply chain which need to be duty of care-aware”.

    Gilligan said more corporations are taking extra precautions such as bringing their own security details to destinations where they are staging incentive programs.

    “We are certainly seeing a change in the way our clients think about health and safety,” he said, adding that this is being reflected in increased reconnaissance of the venue space before the event, engaging with intelligence agencies, together with use of media monitoring software to identify risks, increased use of external security consultants, providing close personal protection for VIPs and requesting evacuation plans and procedures from the venue.

    MEASURES MUST ENHANCE SECURITY WITHOUT IMPACTING ON DELEGATES

    Events should be about maximizing the delegate experience, which begins with an assurance that they will be safe and secure. Ideally, they shouldn’t be aware of the measures once the event begins.

    As Gilligan pointed out, “Duty of care and emergency preparedness should run quietly and seamlessly in the background. It need not directly impinge on the program itself other than in the reassuring security briefings and communications … in advance of their travel.”

    Stricter access control and bag inspections are now commonplace and proactive events organizers are transforming these from an inconvenience to a reassurance.

    Bag checks and metal detection wanding are now commonplace at a lot of Melbourne’s events, according to Horne. But behind the scenes, the facility has enhanced its use of closed-circuit TV by applying facial recognition and artificial intelligence.

    Lonergan also advocates wider use of electronic chip technology in event lanyards. “Not only does it assist in heat mapping delegate movements within the program, it also supports delegate identification, ensuring that duty of care of the company assets are being shared with the right audience,” he explained.

    Bruce McIndoe, founder of security firm WorldAware, sees security as a shared responsibility among all in the meetings and events supply chain.

    “What will be critical to ensuring we execute comprehensive and thoughtful duty of care practices is continued collaboration and communications across the industry to pull all the various efforts on this front together,” he said.

    The security expert advocated four key requirements for event planners:
    · Perform a location and site assessment.
    · Conduct a venue and hotel selection.
    · Designate a risk management and security point of contact.
    · Review emergency planning.

    In addition, WorldAware recommends proactive training of all parties involved and the continuous monitoring of potential impacts to safety, security, and brand reputation as paramount in providing a safe, secure operating environment.

    The final requirement is good communication: “A plan only works if people are aware it exists and understand their role in executing that plan. Planners often underestimate the broader set of resources (onsite and back home) that need to have visibility into these plans,” McIndoe said.

    See Original Post

  • January 15, 2019 3:13 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The Guardian

    Outside the National Archives in Washington, a sign says “Closed.”

    “We’re sorry,” it reads. “Due to the shutdown of the federal government, the Washington DC facility is closed.”

    This museum is not alone; government-funded Smithsonian museums in New York and Washington, as well as the National Zoo, are closed due to a partial government shutdown, which kicked off on 22 December over border security issues, forcing thousands of federal workers to work without pay or take unpaid time off.

    “We can’t reopen until we have a federal budget, so it all depends on a call from the White House,” said Linda St Thomas, the chief spokesperson of the Smithsonian Institution. “When we get federal funding, we will reopen immediately.”

    All 19 museums, including the National History Museum, the African Art Museum and the Portrait Gallery, are losing out on a great number of visitors. They’re accustomed to drawing 1 million visitors a month, according to St Thomas.

    “We go by month, it depends on the weather,” she said. “I think it’s roughly 1 million visitors for all 19 museums for the month of January.”

    All special events and programs, including lectures and films scheduled at the museums has been postponed until after the shutdown or are cancelled. The highly coveted exhibits – including the Oprah Winfrey retrospective at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the presidential portrait of Barack Obama at the National Portrait Gallery – will resume after funding is restored.

    The US Botanic Garden in Washington is also open daily, “having been funded for the fiscal year”, said Devin Dotson, its head of public affairs. “We continue to welcome visitors from across the United States and around the world to explore our collection."

    The estimated 2019 budget for all Smithsonian museums is $957m. The funding includes a multi-million dollar roof repair of the Hazy Center, a renovation of thew National Air and Space Museum, funding to fix the ongoing infrastructure at the National Zoo and a renovation of the west wing at the National Museum of American History.

    In the meantime, the Washington tourism board is trying to shed light on other attractions for culture-seeking visitors; like the food scene and live sport (which may or may not satisfy art aficionados).

    “While we’re disappointed the Smithsonian museums are closed, the vast majority of things for visitors to see and do throughout Washington’s neighborhoods remain open,” said Elliott L Ferguson II, president and CEO of Destination DC. “It’s a great time to find a deal in the city and explore our Michelin-rated dining scene, watch a hockey or basketball game at Capitol One Arena or catch a show at one of the city’s many venues.”

    Other museums are still open, including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Phillips Collection, the Museum of the Bible and National Law Enforcement Museum. The Newseum, a museum devoted to journalism, announced yesterday that they are offering free admission to federal employees during the shutdown.

    While the National Zoo is closed, the Smithsonian claims “essential personnel” are on site to care for the animals during the shutdown, though they remain closed to the public.

    Museum-goers remain disappointed by the closure, by what it represents to museum workers and arts administrators.

    “This administration has made it clear through budget cuts and ignorant tweets that the arts and cultural education are of little value or importance,” said Whitney Bell, a Los Angeles-based artist, writer and founder of a talk series called The Stories Of Women.

    “Hundreds of thousands of jobs furloughed and millions of Americans left without access to our most important cultural institutions, historic landmarks and influential art, and for what?” she asks.

    “A xenophobic wall that flies in the face of the melting-pot ideology this country was built on. This, like everything else Trump has done, is designed to whip up and manipulate fear to further an agenda that only protects his pitiful legacy, at the expense of the American people.”

    See Original Post

  • January 15, 2019 3:10 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from The Brussels Times

    Mehdi Nemmouche, the man accused of carrying out the attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014, visited the museum the day prior to the attack, the court where he is on trial heard.

    Four people died in the gun attack. Nemmouche was identified by security camera footage, and later arrested in Marseilles in possession of weapons, which he claimed to have found. According to the prosecution, those weapons, including a Kalashnikov from Croatia, were the same as those used in the attack.

    The second full day of the trial consisted of the prosecution setting out the case against Nemmouche and his co-accused Nacer Bendrer, accused of helping organise the attack and the flight of Nemmouche. A third man, Mounir Attallah, had charges against him dropped and will testify as a witness.

    Evidence that Nemmouche visited the museum emerges from camera footage from the previous day, which shows him entering the museum and approaching volunteer worker Alexandre Strens. They have a brief conversation, and then the man identified as Nemmouche leaves. Strens was next day one of the four victims – two museum staff and two Israeli visitors. The court also heard that three of the victim had died immediately. Strens, the fourth, died later in hospital.

    The trial resumes on Tuesday morning.

    See Original Post

  • January 15, 2019 2:55 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Mental Floss

    On August 21, 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from Paris’s Louvre Museum. It was a Monday—the museum was closed and security was minimal—and the thief had reportedly spent the weekend plotting the heist while hiding in one of the museum’s closets.

    At the time, security at the Louvre was abysmal. There were less than 150 security personnel in charge of guarding 250,000 artifacts, and none of the paintings were bolted to the walls. (The Mona Lisa, for example, hung from four measly hooks.) According to Ian Shank at Artsy, “Months before the heist, one French reporter had spent the night in a Louvre sarcophagus to expose the museum’s paltry surveillance.”

    After the painting's disappearance, France’s borders were effectively closed, with officials examining every vehicle crossing the country's eastern border. Media coverage of the heist spread across the globe, turning the little-known painting into a household name. The Paris-Journal offered 50,000 francs for the painting’s return. Soon, a tip from an art thief would cause police to turn their attention toward one of the country’s most promising young artists: Pablo Picasso.

    Picasso, who had moved to Paris a decade earlier, lived with a gaggle of Bohemians dubbed la bande de Picasso. Among this crew was the poet and writer Guillaume Apollinaire, whose former secretary was Honore-Joseph Géry Pieret, a Belgian man of questionable morals. Shortly after the Mona Lisa was stolen, Pieret—lured by the possibility of a cash reward—stepped into the Paris-Journal's office and claimed that he had lifted art from the Louvre before and had given the works to "friends."

    Pieret was telling the truth. In 1907, he had stolen at least two Iberian sculptures made in the 3rd or 4th century BCE and sold them to Picasso, who paid him 50 francs per piece. (Picasso used these artifacts to inspire his work Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. [PDF]) That wasn't all. According to Nick Mafi at The Daily Beast, Pieret also stole a similar piece from the Louvre in 1911 and placed it on Apollinaire’s mantel.

    The police read about Pieret's exploits with great interest. They believed that the people who were in possession of these sculptures might also have the Mona Lisa. And they didn’t have much trouble piecing together who, exactly, the thief's friends were.

    Realizing that they were in deep trouble, Picasso and Apollinaire packed the Iberian sculptures into a suitcase and ran off in the middle of the night with plans of throwing the artworks into the river Seine. But when the two artists reached the water, they could not will themselves to dump the statues. Instead, Apollinaire visited the Paris-Journal the next morning, deposited the statues, and demanded that the newspaper give him anonymity. The newspaper agreed ... until the authorities stepped in.

    Within days of Apollinaire's visit to the newspaper, the police had detained him. In early September, Picasso was ordered to appear before a magistrate. When asked if he knew Apollinaire, the terrified painter lied. “I have never seen this man,” he replied.

    Recalling the events, Picasso said, “I saw Guillaume’s expression changed. The blood ebbed from his face. I am still ashamed.” As the proceedings continued, Picasso wept.

    Although both men were indeed in possession of stolen art, the judge determined that the situation had nothing to do with the Mona Lisa’s disappearance and decided to throw the case out. Two years later, both men would be cleared of any possible connection to the crime when police discovered the painting had been stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian artist who had been working at the Louvre.

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  • January 15, 2019 2:47 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Management

    ​Following the spike in terrorism activity and related convictions over the past two decades, a new national security challenge is rapidly approaching: the release of dozens of terrorists from prisons around the world. Sentencing those involved in extremist activity is notoriously challenging. It often relies on unrelated criminal convictions or the charge of providing material support to a terrorist organization, which results in sentences of 13 years on average. This means that those convicted in the years following 9/11 are approaching their release date.​

    In the United States, about 25 Americans charged with terror crimes are expected to be released by 2021, and that number will jump to 72 in 2025. At least 80 terrorists will be released by the end of the year in the United Kingdom, and the first man to be convicted in connection with 9/11—a Moroccan man living in Germany—was released from prison in 2018. ​

    “If you go to jail, it doesn’t mean you’re not a terrorist when you come out,” said Michael McGarrity, assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, during a session at GSX 2018. ​

    While the soon-to-be-released prisoners may be monitored, there is currently no way to track those convicted of terror-related crimes—legislation establishing a national database has continually stalled. And, according to Jennifer Hesterman, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and vice president of business resiliency and education services at Watermark Risk Management International, LLC, there are no effective deradicalization programs within the prison system.

    ​The people arrested in al Qaeda plots after 9/11 are coming out of prison in the next couple years, and they have not been rehabbed. It’s a concern to me,” Hesterman said during another GSX 2018 session. “They are coming back out and we can’t keep track of them; we don’t have the resources. We’re not actively trying to work with them and train them to go the right direction.”

    A lot has changed in the terrorism landscape over the past decade, and both Hesterman and McGarrity said counterterrorism efforts are struggling to keep up with the rapid evolution of recruitment, detection, and communication techniques between terror organizations and potential extremists around the world. While McGarrity said extremist recidivism rates tend to be low following a prison stint, it is challenging to detect and act on concerns about further radicalization.

    “Never before have we seen so many individuals inspired and willing to take direct actions,” McGarrity said. “We’ve arrested more subjects over the past two years—many times we have to arrest them on nonterrorism charges, whatever it is to take that person off the street before they commit an attack. We’ve consistently arrested 100-plus people a year since 2015. We have seen how the message has evolved. ISIS encourages and empowers them to take action on their own, ​and anyone is a worthy target.”

    The top terror threat to the United States continues to be homegrown violent extremists—those who are recruited and radicalized online. 

    “Radicalization is online—there are far too many subjects in the U.S. being radicalized online in their basements,” McGarrity noted. “These aren’t tough people who went to training camps. They were radicalized online, socially awkward, and are not meeting mentors or other operatives.”

    Hesterman outlined the methods used to radicalize individuals and described the people who tend to fall prey to such efforts. There are two types of lone actors, she said—one that is well-adapted to society and makes the choice to leave society, and another is not well adapted, and society leaves them.

    “I’ve seen cult of jihad up close and personal, and it’s powerful,” Hesterman said. “They know how to hook people, target the message to the audience. They’ll use rap music for teenagers or target the message to professors. They have people all day online looking for disgruntled people they can seek out. They isolate them—don’t tell anyone we’re having this discussion—then they encourage them. This is a long process, but the people in the violent ideology business, they are patient.”

    It can be exceedingly difficult to identify potential homegrown extremists due to the nature of online-only radicalization and encrypted communications platforms. Additionally, there’s no one demographic that is especially susceptible to radicalization—previous homegrown extremists have tended to be male and 19 to 25 years old, but that number is trending lower. Hesterman showed instances of extremists who target children through English-language workbooks that use jihadist beliefs as examples, and McGarrity pointed out several occasions in which teenagers attempted to plan jihadist-inspired attacks.

    McGarrity also noted that teenagers can be especially susceptible to jihadist influence due to the violent aspect of it—and that can make it difficult to know what role the ideology plays in their radicalization.

    “Teens are more attracted to violence than propaganda,” McGarrity explained. “Ideology can be a source of inspiration, but they are motivated to act in violence. We had one subject who said the reason why he wanted to kill others was that he was inspired by ISIS, Hezbollah, and the white supremacy movement. Is that someone who’s really a stalwart educated in the ideology that he’s following, or someone looking to commit violence?”

    However, violence isn’t the only threat. Both McGarrity and Hesterman emphasized the role that nonviolent extremists can play in the radicalization and terrorism landscapes.

    “We’re struggling with this area—radical preaching, writing, or think tanks,” Hesterman noted. “What we do is give them platforms because we think it will let off steam if a group is going to boil over—we think that’s a vent—but they’re still able to get their message out. A group crosses a line when they do not further peace or harmony in society. If that line is crossed, they are recruiting. This is hard, because there are legitimate groups that cross that line.”

    McGarrity agreed, noting that the threat of so-called “keyboard warriors” who never set foot on a battlefield cannot be discounted. Samir Khan, a Pakistani American living in North Carolina, was recruited to become the editor and publisher of the English-language Inspire magazine, writing articles such as “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” out of his parents’ basement.

    To combat the ever-evolving threat, McGarrity said it is more important than ever for the FBI to work with state and local law enforcement officials, as well as the private sector. 

    “The bystander is one of the most important tools in our fight against terror attacks,” McGarrity said. “The human intelligence community is important. We get about 15,000 tips a year and rely on partnerships with state and local law enforcement to sound the alarm.”

    Joint terrorism task forces—the approximately 150 groups across the country that combine intelligence officials and counterterrorism specialists to fight radicalization in their communities—are key to community cooperation, McGarrity said. “If we did it alone, we would not be successful,” he said.

    When it comes to the private sector, the FBI wants to provide learning in targeted sectors to understand the threats they may be able to identify. “The CSO is not who needs that training,” McGarrity noted. “We need to work with people on front lines. The more we can tell them about threats and what to look for, we get better leads. From the retail and transportation sectors, leads have been incredible—we get thousands.”

    Hesterman said that deradicalization—which is especially important now that extremists are leaving prisons and coming back from the front lines in Iraq and Syria—has a long way to go.

    “If we tell people their ideology is wrong, we have to tell them what is right, and how to replace that,” she said. “We have to offer an alternative, and that’s hard for us. That’s a huge dilemma. It’s hard for us to argue with them because they have taken the bait. If they think their beliefs or way of life are under attack, they lash out.”

    Both McGarrity and Hesterman argued that, despite the shrinking numbers of ISIS in Syria and Iraq and the seemingly low profile of al Qaeda groups, the terror threat remains critical. And the impending release of radicalized individuals from prison is a stark reminder of that.

    ​“The war on terror is not ending any time soon,” Hesterman concluded. “We’ve been able to dislodge ISIS in geographical areas, but the battlefield is the mind, and ideology is the glue holding this together. Terrorism isn’t geographically somewhere—it’s a battle of ideas. We’re part of the environment and problem, and what we do impacts this situation. Humility is a powerful tool in this fight.”​

    See Original Post

  • January 03, 2019 5:39 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)
    Most of IFCPP's certifications have a 3-year term. Please contact us right away to find out your certification status. We are offering HALF OFF of re-certifications through January 31. 

    Each level of certification supersedes the previous level, so re-certification is required for the highest level only. 

    CIPS & CISS - Regularly $65, now $32.50
    CIPM & CIPM II - Regularly $95, now $47.50

    Re-certification for CIPS, CISS, CIPM, and CIPM II designations can be attained by completion of this questionnaire, according to a system of professional development and continuing education points. We are now offering Continuing Education Units via our online Learning Management System to help our members more easily attain re-certification. 

    Re-certification is also available for CIPS & CIPM by re-taking the courses online.

    Please contact us with any questions and to find out your certification status.


  • January 03, 2019 3:37 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from PBS News Hour

    Human feces, overflowing garbage, illegal off-roading and other damaging behavior in fragile areas were beginning to overwhelm some of the West’s iconic national parks on Monday, as a partial government shutdown left the areas open to visitors but with little staff on duty.

    “It’s a free-for-all,” Dakota Snider, 24, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley, said by telephone Monday, as Yosemite National Park officials announced closings of some minimally supervised campgrounds and public areas within the park that are overwhelmed.

    “It’s so heartbreaking. There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules then I’ve seen in my four years living here,” Snider said.

    The 10th day of the partial federal government shutdown, which has forced furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal government employees, has left many parks without most of the rangers and others who staff campgrounds and otherwise keep parks running.

    Unlike shutdowns in some previous administrations, the Trump administration was leaving parks open to visitors despite the staff furloughs, said John Garder, senior budget director of the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association.

    “We’re afraid that we’re going to start seeing significant damage to the natural resources in parks and potentially to historic and other cultural artifacts,” Garder said. “We’re concerned there’ll be impacts to visitors’ safety.”

    “It’s really a nightmare scenario,” Garder said.

    Spokespeople with the Interior Department did not immediately return emails seeking comment on Monday.

    National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum had said as the shutdown took hold that “national parks will remain as accessible as possible while still following all applicable laws and procedures.”

    In practice, that meant on Monday that many park toilets were closed or filled to overflowing, despite holiday crowds.

    Campers at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California’s deserts were reporting squabbles as different families laid claims to sites, with no rangers on hand to adjudicate, said Ethan Feltges, who operates the Coyote Corner gift shop outside Joshua Tree.

    Feltges and other business owners around Joshua Tree had stepped into the gap as much as possible, hauling trailers into the park to empty overflowing trash bins and sweeping and stocking restrooms that were still open, Feltges said.

    Feltges himself had set up a portable toilet at his store to help the visitors still streaming in and out of the park. He was spending his days standing outside his store, offering tips about the park in place of the rangers who normally would be present.

    “The whole community has come together,” Feltges said, also by phone. “Everyone loves the park. And there’s a lot of businesses that actually need the park.”

    Some visitors have strung Christmas lights in the twisting Joshua trees, many of which are hundreds of years old, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    Most visitors were being respectful of the desert wilderness and park facilities, Joshua Tree’s superintendent, David Smith, said in a statement.

    But some are seizing on the shortage of park staffers to off-road illegally and otherwise damage the park, as well as relieving themselves in the open, a park statement said. Joshua Tree said it would begin closing some campgrounds for all but day use.

    At Yosemite, Snider, the local resident, said crowds of visitors were driving into the park to take advantage of free admission, with only a few park rangers working and a limited number of restrooms open.

    Visitors were allowing their dogs to run off-leash in an area rich with bears and other wildlife, and scattering bags of garbage along the roads, Snider said.

    “You’re looking at Yosemite Falls and in front of you is plastic bottles and trash bags,” he said.

    See Original Post


  • January 03, 2019 3:34 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from the AP

    A man accused of shooting dead four people at a Jewish museum in Belgium in 2014 after fighting alongside extremists in Syria appeared in court Thursday amid high security, as preparations began for his trial next month.

    French national Mehdi Nemmouche, 33, is accused of “terrorist murder” for gunning down the four with a handgun and an assault rifle in the Brussels Jewish museum in May 2014. His alleged accomplice, Nacer Bendrer, 30, also appeared in court.

    Nemmouche has said he was involved but did not carry out the killings.

    The slaying was one of the first in Europe involving so-called foreign fighters — often young, radicalized people who trained or fought with the Islamic State group or other extremists — who returned home to commit atrocities like the November 2015 Paris attacks and the Brussels suicide bombings four months later.

    Nemmouche’s lawyer Sebastien Courtoy said his client “is here to proclaim his innocence.”

    Asked whether Nemmouche would testify, Courtoy said that “if circumstances require it, he will speak. He’s not mute.”

    Security camera video from the May 24, 2014 killing shows a shooter wearing a baseball cap coolly gun down two people at the museum entrance, then pull out an assault rifle to spray the others from a doorway.

    It was over in 82 seconds and the killer strode away. An Israeli couple visiting the city and two museum workers were killed.

    Nemmouche, who is believed to have fought alongside Islamic State members in Syria, was captured in France almost a week later. He had been under surveillance by French and Belgian security services. French authorities also identified him as one of the jihadists who kept four French journalists hostage until they were freed in April 2014 in Syria.

    The trial is expected to start on Jan. 10, although defense lawyers have requested a two-week delay to examine extra evidence submitted by prosecutors. It is expected to last six to seven weeks.

    See Original Post

  • January 03, 2019 3:29 PM | Office IFCPP (Administrator)

    Reposted from Security Today

    The massive spam campaign that sent bomb threats to hundreds of thousands of users across the U.S. and Canada in December, and caused evacuations of buildings across several cities, was carried out by the same group of spammers responsible for the recent wave of extortion scams, two cybersecurity firms said.

    "Multiple IPs involved in sending these bomb threats also sent various types of sextortion email that we say in the previous campaign," Jaeson Schultz of Cisco Talos told ZDNet. 

    The bomb threats sent last Thursday tried to scare users by threatening to detonate a bomb at their workplace if the victim didn't pay $20,000 worth of Bitcoin within a few hours.

    The spammers behind the campaign stopped sending bomb threats on Friday, most likely after they realized the campaign would not yield any results, especially after the FBI, police and media told everyone to ignore the threats and not pay the ransom.

    The firms believe this is why the wave of sextortion emails happened. When one campaign failed, they moved on to another one. 

    "The attackers have returned to their empty threats of harming the individual recipient," Schultz said. "This time, they threaten to throw acid on the victim."

    A copy of an email carrying the latest threat said that a person had "set me the order of empty acid in your visage," and that the recipient needed to pay for the threatener to be "inactive." 

    In October, another Cisco Talos report revealed that the group behind this week's bomb threats, at that time operating just using the "sextortion scheme" made $146,380 in just three days.

    See Original Post

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