Security News This Week: Oh Good, the Weaponized Police Drones Are Here – YAEL GRAUER. 29.15. 08.2 AM


Getty Images

We’re still feeling the ripple effect from the Ashley Madison hack this week. Not only is its parent company, Avid Life Media, offering a $500K CDN reward for info on the hackers, and not only are the lawsuits rolling in, but on Friday CEO Noel Bidermen stepped down. The world’s biggest online drug marketplace Agora is on hiatus following suspicious activity that its moderators think was intended to deanonymize the site.  The UN’s newly appointed privacy chief described the UK’s digital surveillance as worse than 1984. Meanwhile, a U.S. appellate court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission can regulate and fine companies for getting hacked, so long as they engaged in unfair or deceptive business practices, such as publishing a privacy policy and failing to make good on it.

But there’s more. Each week we round up the news stories that we didn’t break or cover in depth at WIRED, but which deserve your attention nonetheless. As always, click on the headlines to read the full story in each link posted, and stay safe out there!

Militarized Drones Are Now Legal In North Dakota

Police in North Dakota can now legally fly militarized drones armed with tasers, tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, or sound cannons, thanks to the passage of House Bill 1328. The bill was originally meant to require police officers to obtain a search warrant in order to use the drones for criminal evidence, and would have banned the use of all weapons on drones (not just the lethal ones), but then a lobbyist made some changes. A compliance committee is supposed to track and review police use of drones and keep it in check, but the group has no legal authority—and its members aren’t exactly unbiased. “Of the committee’s 18 members, six are from UND, which has a vested interest in promoting drone use. Three are members of local government, including the city planner and an assistant state’s attorney. And the rest are either current or former members of law enforcement and emergency services,” the Daily Beast’s Justin Glawe writes.

Article continues:

http://www.wired.com/2015/08/security-news-week-oh-good-weaponized-police-drones/

The United States Has Had More Mass Shootings Than Any Other Country – —By Samantha Michaels | Sun Aug. 23, 2015 12:05 AM EDT


We’re No. 1, according to a new study.

a katz/Shutterstock

Nearly one-third of the world’s mass shootings have occurred in the United States, a new study finds. Adam Lankford, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama, has released the first quantitative analysis of public mass shootings around the world between 1966 through 2012. Unsurprisingly, the United States came out on top—essentially in a league of its own.

Over those five decades, the United States had 90 public mass shootings, defined as shootings that killed four or more victims. Of the 170 other countries examined in the study, only four even made it to double-digits: The Philippines had 18 public mass shootings, followed by Russia with 15, Yemen with 11, and France with 10.

Mass shooters in the United States stood out from those in other countries in a few ways. Compared with attackers abroad, Americans were more than three times as likely to use multiple weapons, and they tended to target schools, factories, and office buildings. (Shooters in other countries were more likely to strike at military bases and checkpoints.) But shootings in the United States often killed fewer people than attacks overseas: On average, 6.9 victims died in each mass shooting incident on American soil, compared with 8.8 victims for each shooting in other countries. That may be because American police officers have been trained to respond more quickly to these situations and are often heavily armed, Lankford suggests.

Article continues:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/08/united-states-world-mass-shooters

 

Top GOP Lawmaker: US Must Consider Building New Nukes – By Paul D. Shinkman June 23, 2015 | 4:41 p.m. EDT


Troubling times today for the Cold War-era weapon could mean certain dangers for the near future.

A deactivated Titan II nuclear ICMB is seen in a silo at the Titan Missile Museum on May 12, 2015, in Green Valley, Ariz. After years without talk of building new nuclear weapons, the U.S. should consider the issue, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said Tuesday.

America needs to replace a rotting arsenal of nuclear weapons and counteract an increasingly boisterous Russia, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday. For these reasons, it must consider the long-taboo prospect of building new nukes.

“Can we have a national conversation about building new nuclear weapons?” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said in remarks at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. “That’s something we haven’t been able to even have a conversation about for a while, but I think we’re going to have to.”

Russia to add 40 new intercontinental missiles this year

Just last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his plans to boost the former Soviet power’s nuclear arsenal with 40 new missiles. The plan follows a string of provocative comments from top Russian officials who consider a nuclear weapon the most effective method of countering what they consider NATO’s provocative actions in Eastern Europe.

“Russia obviously retains the right if needed to deploy its nuclear weapons anywhere on its national territory, including on the Crimean Peninsula,” Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Russian Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, said in early June.

Article continues:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/06/23/us-must-consider-building-new-nuclear-weapons-amid-aging-arsenal-russian-aggression-says-hasc-chairman?int=a14709

 

Meet the F-Bomb-Spewing Ex-Cop Behind the NRA’s Move to Topple California’s Gun Laws – —By Dave Gilson | Wed Jun. 10, 2015 6:00 AM EDT


“You don’t like it? Change the fuckin’ Constitution!” says Edward Peruta.

“They can call me a gadfly. They can call me whatever they want to call me.” Courtesy of Edward Peruta

“The NRA asked me to keep my mouth shut, but I’ve never run from a fuckin’ interview in my life,” Edward Peruta barks into the phone. The 66-year-old Vietnam vet, ex-cop, public-access TV host, worm farmer, legal investigator, crime scene videographer, and serial litigant has never been one to hold his tongue, and he’s not about to start now that he’s at the center of a high-profile case that could upend California’s gun laws and wind up before the Supreme Court. “I am who I am,” he says. “People know there’s usually a hurricane comin’ if they step on my rights.”

Peruta is the lead plaintiff in Peruta v. County of San Diego, a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn California’s system of issuing concealed-weapon permits. Currently, the state’s police chiefs and sheriffs may require applicants to show “good cause” for carrying a concealed gun in public. Such discretion is applied arbitrarily and violates the Second Amendment, according to Peruta and his legal team, which is backed by the National Rifle Association.

That argument swayed two judges on the 9th Circuit Court, who ruled in Peruta’s favor in February. For a moment, it seemed that California would join the 37 “shall issue” states that issue concealed-carry permits to anyone who meets basic requirements such as a background check. Then California Attorney General Kamala Harris successfully petitioned the court to reconsider the ruling en banc. Next Tuesday, an 11-judge panel in San Francisco will hear oral arguments in the case.

Article continues:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/06/edward-peruta-san-diego-concealed-carry

Life After Islamic State Massacres: The Road to Mosul (Part 2) – Vice News Published on Jun 9, 2015


A year after the Islamic State’s lightning conquest of Iraq’s second city of Mosul, the poorly-trained and equipped Kurdish peshmerga forces are the international coalition’s only reliable boots on the ground in northern Iraq.

The Pentagon’s hopes of recapturing the city by spring 2015 have been dashed by the military failures of the Iraqi Army further south, leaving the peshmerga to defend a 600-mile long frontline almost encircling Mosul, fending off constant Islamic State (IS) assaults with insufficient supplies of ammunition and modern weapons.

In summer 2014, IS conquered Iraq’s Sinjar region, home to the Yazidi Kurdish religious minority. After pushing back IS over last winter, Yazidi fighters discovered evidence of IS war crimes in ruined villages, mass graves, and reports of enslaved women.

In part two of a three-part series, VICE News follows Yazidi militia aligned with peshmerga forces as they explore the devastation that IS brought to their communities.

Watch “Pinned Down by the Islamic State: The Road to Mosul (Part 1)” – http://bit.ly/1dsBX7u

Rebranding the AK-47: A Weapon of Peace – Vice News Published on Jun 1, 2015


With sales of Kalashnikov’s firearms severely impacted by sanctions imposed by the US last summer against the Russia-based company, the gunmaker has since rebranded its firearms as “weapons of peace.”

VICE News traveled to Kalashnikov’s headquarters in Moscow to speak with its new CEO Alexey Krivoruchko about the impact of sanctions on his company. We also met with the public relations agency heading up the campaign to find out more about the rebranding of its famous assault rifles.

“Terrorists” Take Over the Stage (Extra Scene from ‘Rearming Iraq’) – Vice News Published on May 27, 2015


As violence escalates across the Middle East and North Africa, the United States remains the largest exporter of weapons to the region, and private US defense companies and contractors have opened local offices as the demand shows no sign of abating.

VICE News traveled to this year’s International Defense Exhibition and Conference in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi to examine the competition between arms manufacturers vying for a greater portion of the lucrative market.

From Abu Dhabi we traveled to Iraq, where US weapons have fallen into the hands of non-state actors such as the so-called Islamic State militant group, Kurdish Peshmerga, and militias aligned with the Iraqi government. Rather than block sales, the US government and others actively promote them — ensuring there will be enough arms to fuel the region’s wars and revolts for years to come.

In this extra scene, we catch a glimpse of the opening ceremony at IDEX and speak with a Saudi CEO from Automotive Development Company about the arms race in the Middle East.

Rearming Iraq: The New Arms Race in the Middle East – Vice News Published on May 19, 2015


As violence escalates across the Middle East and North Africa, the United States remains the largest exporter of weapons to the region, and private US defense companies and contractors have opened local offices as the demand shows no sign of abating.

VICE News traveled to this year’s International Defense Exhibition and Conference in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi to examine the competition between arms manufacturers vying for a greater portion of the lucrative market.

From Abu Dhabi we traveled to Iraq, where US weapons have fallen into the hands of non-state actors such as the so-called Islamic State militant group, Kurdish Peshmerga, and militias aligned with the Iraqi government. Rather than block sales, the US government and others actively promote them — ensuring there will be enough arms to fuel the region’s wars and revolts for years to come.

In House bill, arms makers wrote their own rules – By Austin Wright and Leigh Munsil 5/12/15 5:08 AM EDT


Contractor group brags that measures ‘in some cases were word-for-word adaptations.’

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10:  House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) holds a media availability to discuss his proposed legislation to provide defensive lethal assistance for Ukraine in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill February 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. Despite steep opposition from the Obama Administration, Thornberry said that arming the Ukranian military against Russian aggression would send a clear message of support for Kiev.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In his bill set to pass this week to overhaul how the Pentagon buys weapons, the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee relied heavily on those with most at stake: the nation’s arms makers.

Defense contractors played a major role in crafting the proposal by Rep. Mac Thornberry designed to reform the Pentagon acquisition system, according to a POLITICO comparison of the legislation and industry proposals.

Some of the provisions in the Texas Republican’s bill could end up boosting company profits — at the expense of taxpayers.

For example, the bill would weaken the power of the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, an independent watchdog who answers directly to the secretary of defense and often uncovers flaws in big-ticket weapon systems. That was a provision proposed by the Aerospace Industries Association, which represents the nation’s leading defense and aerospace firms.

The legislation would encourage the defense secretary make sure contracting officials use the the standard of lowest price when choosing winning bids only in “appropriate circumstances” — potentially giving officials wide latitude to bypass a less expensive solution. That provision can be traced back to the National Defense Industrial Association, another influential trade group funded by Pentagon contractors. Thornberry’s staff also received input from major defense contractors like Boeing and Raytheon and trade groups like the Professional Services Council and the Information Technology Industry Council.

Some industry players aren’t bashful about the extent to which they shaped the bill.

Article continues:

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/in-house-bill-arms-dealers-wrote-their-own-rules-117842.html?hp=t2_r

Should the US Send Lethal Aid to Ukraine? – Vice News Published on Mar 27, 2015


This week, the United States delivered a shipment 10 Humvees to the Ukrainian government — the first installment of a $75 million aid package of non-lethal equipment that is meant to assist the fight against Russia-backed rebels in the country’s east.

But despite the overwhelming adoption of a resolution in the US House of Representatives urging President Barack Obama to provide Ukraine with lethal arms, his administration has yet to send such materiel. Debate on this issue centers on whether outfitting the country with lethal aid will serve only to escalate the conflict and trigger a regional arms race between the government and eastern separatists. A question that has received less attention is whether Ukraine’s army is even capable of effectively using the weapons it wants.

VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky visited rebel-held areas and the capital of Kiev to explore whether it would be wise for the US to arm Ukraine’s poorly trained military with advanced weaponry.