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November 2014

Protect and Defend Yourself From Home Invasion Robberies

Current home invasion statistics and their trend overall reveal a grim reality that characterizes home security. Home invasions, or forceful entry into private dwellings usually occurs with the intention of perpetrating crimes against the occupants in the form of forceful robbery, violence, and kidnapping among others.

Home invasions differ from burglaries in that home invasions use of force and often violence against the occupants while burglary is mere theft, which usually does not involve any violent acts.  Data from Uniform Crime Reports (UCS) and National Victimization Data Survey (NVDS) among other agencies reveals an appalling trend with regard to home invasions.

Home Invasions Statistics

Current statistics, according to the FBI, indicate that every 12 seconds, a home gets invaded. What is worth noting is that this is a worsening of previous invasion rates. Furthermore, the statistics go on to indicate that there are 6,646 break-ins each day.  For a period of one year, three and a half burglaries occur. Although the statistics show that rental properties are the main targets for burglaries, a considerable number of homes fall victim to this crime as well.  Notably, 85% of burglaries occur through the door.  Forced entry is not required when people leave their doors unlocked.  Additionally, statistics indicate that 38% of assaults and 60% of rapes occur during home invasions.  Unlike burglaries, which occur between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., home invasions tend to occur between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.. Unfortunately, a majority of burglars are never caught. Only 12.4% of burglars are caught for their crimes, while the rest, 87.6%, are never brought to account for their crimes.  The statistics for the apprehension and conviction of the perpetrators of home invasions are not great either.

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How You Can Protect Yourself from Home Invasions

The fact that home invasion incidents are on the rise is an alarming fact.  While burglaries are primarily motivated by need to steal the occupant’s possessions, home invasions have added agendas, and theft may just be a secondary goal.  In many cases, home invasions are not easy to deter using security systems, since they happen when the owners are at home, and the security system alarm is less likely to be armed and ready to detect intrusions.  In such cases, sturdy construction, especially of windows and doors, can help prevent such home invasions as they can offer greater resistance to physical force.  Additionally, security systems can play an important role in recording such events and increasing the chances of the police catching the perpetrators.  While this is important, we can all agree that it is essential to try to prevent home invasions before they happen.  Many home invasions involve the criminals kicking in the doors to gain access to the house and its occupants.  Consequently, strong doors and windows can prevent successful entry, which can result in safety of the occupants and their possession.


As the statistics discussed above indicate, home invasions are a real threat to home security. Worse still, the rate at which they occur has been on the rise, and is most likely to remain so. The risks associated with home invasions can be grave, with highly likelihood of destroying peace of mind for any homeowners for a long time, in addition to putting occupants of victimized residences at risk of brutal physical assault.

Nevertheless, homeowners can employ a number of measures to boost their home security and protect themselves from home invasions. For instance, having robust and effective home security systems can help create incident video footage that can aid in convictions for perpetrators of such acts, which are currently worryingly low.

Furthermore, security measures such as strong doors and windows can significantly reduce chances of successful entries during home invasions, which would effectively protect both the occupants and their possessions.  It is also important that you don’t let your guard down when you come home from work.  Keep the alarm armed.


Terrorists Among Us

As they have been intermittently since 9/11, Americans are again terrified about terrorism. Those who think a domestic terrorist attack is “likely” in the next few months increased by 10 percentage points from March to September, while the percentage who think the country is “less safe” than before 9/11 rose by 19 points over the past year. This change in perception occurred precisely as the Islamic State intended with the dissemination of its horrific beheading videos of two U.S. citizens in late August and early September, which 94 percent of Americans saw or heard about — the highest percentage of any news event in the last five years. Despite this spike in fear, as several U.S. officials declared soon after: “We have no credible information that [the Islamic State] is planning to attack the homeland of the United States.”

But the consequences of the Islamic State’s graphic videos were swift, significant, and, apparently, unshakeable. And that new-old fear of terrorism appears to have shifted a “war-weary” country’s attitude on taking military action.

Polling conducted shortly before and after the videos were released demonstrated that support increased for U.S. airstrikes from 52 percent to 78 percent, for deploying U.S. ground troops from 19 percent to 44 percent, and for providing arms to Syrian rebels from 25 percent to 62 percent. This is unsurprising because people exposed to threatening television news coverage are far more likely to support hawkish foreign policies.
And, as it turns out, there’s untapped militarism in America’s strategic reserves. Since the Islamic State released its highly effective provocative videos, U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized the expansion of bombing into Syria, the Pentagon has deployed 475 more troops (“advisors”) to Iraq, and Congress has approved funding to train, equip, and sustain 5,000 “appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition.” Within two weeks, the White House, Congress, and the American people were overwhelmingly enthusiastic to start an open-ended military intervention against a 30,000-strong terrorist organization — an intervention that Pentagon officials acknowledge will last “in terms of years” and Obama warned will require “a generational change.”
Contrast this unprecedented heightened fear of terrorism originating from Iraq and Syria with three brutal and malicious terroristic activities that recently occurred in the United States. Contrast this unprecedented heightened fear of terrorism originating from Iraq and Syria with three brutal and malicious terroristic activities that recently occurred in the United States.
On Sept. 18, just after 3:30 p.m. at his mobile home in Bell, Florida, Donald Spirit shot and killed his daughter and all six of her children (ages 11, 9, 8, 5, 4, and 3 months) with a .45-caliber handgun that he had illegally obtained as a felon. Spirit then called 911, informing the dispatcher of the murders he had committed and telling her, “I’ll be sitting on my steps, and when you get here I’m going to shoot myself.” He then sat on his back steps, and when sheriff’s deputies arrived, Spirit kept his word.

In the prior eight years, the Florida Department of Children and Families had conducted 18 child protective investigations into the family for abandonment, abuse, and neglect. Spirit, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, had been involved in six of the incidents and was an alleged perpetrator in an additional three of them, and a 2013 review recommended that he “have no unsupervised contact” with his grandchildren. Thirteen years earlier he had fatally shot his son in the head in what was determined to be a hunting accident, for which he received a three-year sentence for illegal possession of a firearm.
On Sept. 25, Alton Nolen was suspended from his job on a production line at a Vaughan Foods distribution center in Moore, Oklahoma. His co-worker, Traci Johnson, had filed a complaint with the human resources department concerning an altercation she had with Nolen “about him not liking white people.” After being suspended, Nolen drove to his apartment to retrieve a large-bladed knife. He returned to the distribution center at 4:15 p.m., entered the front offices, grabbed an employee, Colleen Hufford, from behind, and “immediately began cutting her across the throat with the large knife, with a back and forth sawing motion [and] severed the victim’s head from her body,” according to the criminal affidavit. (Moore later told police that Hufford was not among his three intended victims, but that she had gotten in his way.) Nolen then cut Johnson’s throat and face before an off-duty Oklahoma County reserve officer shot at Nolen three times with a rifle, hitting him once and wounding him.
In 2011, Nolen had apparently converted to Islam while serving two years in state prison for the assault and battery of an Oklahoma state police trooper, during which he shouted Arabic phrases. Moreover, though the Cleveland County district attorney said, “There was some sort of infatuation with beheadings,” he emphasized that the murder and attack “seemed to be related to his being suspended earlier in the day.” Nolen was charged with three felonies, and the district attorney announced he will seek the death penalty.
On Sept. 26 at 5:06 a.m., Brian Howard, a field technician for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) contractor, entered an air route traffic control center in Aurora, Illinois, pulling a black suitcase containing several knives, four gallons of gasoline, towels, and a lighter. After a half-hour, he posted a warning on Facebook of what he was about to do at the center. Howard said that the “immoral and unethical acts” of the U.S. government were why “terrorists and 3rd world nations hate us, because our tax dollars go to more unrest than rest. So we deserve the retribution from people who do not have the same ability for education, work and way of life.” Minutes later, Howard selectively severed data and communications cables, destroyed computer equipment, and wrapped gasoline-soaked towels around additional cables and set them on fire. When paramedics arrived, they found Howard on the ground with his wrists slit and in the process of slicing his throat. His work colleagues theorized that Howard had possibly become despondent about an impending transfer to Hawaii.
Howard’s actions were devastating to hundreds of commercial airliners that had been relying on the severely damaged facility. Pilots and air-traffic controllers could not make radio contact, and the radar locations of the affected aircraft were suddenly frozen in place on air-traffic controllers’ screens. It was only after air-traffic controllers at nearby FAA facilities relocated the planes and provided the pilots with emergency flight routing instructions that all the flights landed safely. The FAA administrator described it as “an act of sabotage where someone willfully and knowingly damaged key infrastructure for our national airspace system.” In the four days following the attack, there were 3,900 flight cancellations, with an estimated loss in economic activity of $123 million, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
It is a certainty that if any of these incidents were directly tied to the Islamic State they would have resulted in an overwhelming national outcry to do something, including the still further expansion of military objectives abroad and constraints of civil liberties at home. However, we have become fairly inoculated to such horrors, even those identical to what terrorists groups aspire to accomplish, when the perpetrators are Americans with obvious mental health illnesses and criminal backgrounds. Bizarrely, we are less afraid of the devastation of terroristic acts than we are of the motivations of the people behind such acts. Bizarrely, we are less afraid of the devastation of terroristic acts than we are of the motivations of the people behind such acts.
These three terrible crimes will not be labeled “domestic terrorism,” apparently because they do not include the three mandatory characteristics listed in the U.S. government’s Code of Federal Regulations: intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government, or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping. Yet, in many ways, such extreme violence and sabotage are worse than acts labeled “terrorism” because while terrorism has some degree of logic and strategic purpose that can be countered by well-known and widely accepted counterterrorism policies, countering random sadism and sabotage would require true and deep examination of many domestic policies and of ourselves.

We treat “terrorism” in the common vernacular differently because it is ascribed to foreigners who are unlike us, whereas similarly savage behavior conducted by fellow Americans is a reflection of us. That terroristic acts conducted by Americans occur so frequently within the United States and receive such little public scrutiny or policymakers’ attention suggests that this sorely needed self-scrutiny will never occur.

America’s 500th Drone Strike

The most consistent and era-defining tactic of America’s post-9/11 counterterrorism strategies has been the targeted killing of suspected terrorists and militants outside of defined battlefields. As one senior Bush administration official explained in October 2001, “The president has given the [CIA] the green light to do whatever is necessary. Lethal operations that were unthinkable pre-September 11 are now underway.” Shortly thereafter, a former CIA official told the New Yorker, “There are five hundred guys out there you have to kill.” It is quaint to recall that such a position was considered extremist and even morally unthinkable. Today, these strikes are broadly popular with the public and totally uncontroversial in Washington, both within the executive branch and on Capitol Hill. Therefore, it is easy to forget that this tactic, envisioned to be rare and used exclusively for senior al-Qaeda leaders thirteen years ago, has become a completely accepted and routine foreign policy activity.

Thus, just as you probably missed the tenth anniversary—November 3, 2012—of what I labeled the Third War, it’s unlikely you will hear or read that the United States just launched its 500th non-battlefield targeted killing.

As of today, the United States has now conducted 500 targeted killings (approximately 98 percent of them with drones), which have killed an estimated 3,674 people, including 473 civilians. Fifty of these were authorized by President George W. Bush, 450 and counting by President Obama. Noticeably, these targeted killings have not diminished the size of the targeted groups according to the State Department’s own numbers.

Drone strikes statistics_11.21.14 smaller

N. Korea Fires up Plutonium Processing Plant

Satellite imagery shows Pyongyang is firing up facility for processing weapons-grade plutonium, says US-Korea institute.

north korea plutonium

New satellite imagery suggests North Korea may be firing up a facility for processing weapons-grade plutonium, as the authorities threatened a fresh nuclear test in response to UN condemnation of its rights record.

The images show steam rising from a re-processing plant at the country’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex – a sign consistent with maintenance and testing prior to commencing operations, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on its closely followed 38 North website.

The facility is used to reprocess spent fuel from the five-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon that is North Korea’s main source of weapons grade plutonium.

The latest satellite pictures indicate the reactor has been shut down for 10 weeks – longer than required for routine maintenance.

While warning it was still early to reach a definitive conclusion, the institute said evidence suggested the shutdown may have allowed the removal of “a limited number” of fuel rods for possible re-processing.

The images also showed truck activity near the vehicle door to the building that receives the spent fuel at the reprocessing complex, it said.

Fresh threats

The new analysis coincided with fresh threats from Pyongyang to carry out a new underground nuclear test following the UN adoption of a landmark resolution that condemns North Korean rights abuses.

Passed by 111 votes to 19, with 55 abstentions, the resolution also asked the UN Security Council to refer the North Korean leadership to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible charges of crimes against

In a statement carried Thursday by the North’s official KCNA news agency, a foreign ministry spokesman rejected the resolution as a “fraud” and accused the United States of leading efforts to humiliate Pyongyang in front of the international community.

“This aggression by the US is leaving us unable to further refrain from staging a new nuclear test,” the spokesman said.

“Our military deterrence will be beefed up limitlessly to guard against US military intervention and attempts for armed invasion,” he added.

South Korea said its military was on stand-by and a defence ministry spokesman warned that Seoul would “not tolerate any provocation” from the North.

He added that South Korean and US agencies were both keeping a close watch on Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities.

North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, most recently in February 2013.

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Reign: Most Sophisticated “Spyware” Yet

A leading computer security company says it has discovered one of the most sophisticated pieces of malicious software ever seen.

Symantec says the bug, named Regin, was probably created by a western government and has been used for six years against a range of targets around the world.

Once installed on a computer, it can do things like capture screenshots, steal passwords or recover deleted files.

Experts say computers in Russia, Saudi Arabia and Ireland have been hit most.

It has been used to spy on government organisations, businesses and private individuals, they say.

Researchers say the sophistication of the software indicates that it is a cyber-espionage tool developed by a nation state.

They also said it likely took months, if not years, to develop and its creators have gone to great lengths to cover its tracks.

Sian John, a security strategist at Symantec, said: “It looks like it comes from a Western organisation. It’s the level of skill and expertise, the length of time over which it was developed.”

Symantec has drawn parallels with Stuxnet, a computer worm thought to have been developed by the US and Israel to target Iran’s nuclear program.

That was designed to damage equipment, whereas Regin’s purpose appears to be to collect information.

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Turkish President: Men and Women Cannot be Equal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday took issue with gender equality, saying that women and men cannot be equal because they have different “natures and bodies.”


“You cannot make women and men equal; this is against nature,” Erdoğan said while addressing a meeting of an association promoting women rights in Ankara. “You cannot subject a pregnant woman to the same working conditions as a man. You cannot make a mother who has to breastfeed her child equal to a man. You cannot make women do everything men do like the communist regimes did… This is against her delicate nature.”

The president then went on to explain that Islam exalts women as “mothers” and said that when he was a child he used to kiss his mother’s feet, referring to a hadith of Prophet Muhammad that says “Heaven lies at the foot of your mother.”

“My mother would be shy, but I used to say, ‘Mother, don’t pull your feet away, because the scent of heaven is there.’ Sometimes, she would cry [when I would say that],” Erdoğan said.

He also slammed feminists, saying they “don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”

“But those who do understand are enough for us. We’ll continue down this path with them,” he said.

Participant forced out of conference hall

A conference attendee was forcefully taken from the hall when she interrupted a speech by Family and Social Policies Minister Ayşenur İslam and said she wanted to ask a question.

The participant raised her hand while İslam was delivering her speech, but the minister said she would take her question afterward. When the participant insisted, security guards grabbed her, covered her mouth and took her out of the conference hall.

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The worlds first firearm – The Chinese fire lances

They’ve been in existence for more than a thousand years and have affected warfare — and society in general — in ways almost no other weapon can match. Guns nearly made technical expertise an afterthought on the battlefield, changed the faces of armies and prompted an era of combat at reduced cost.

It all started in China, where gunpowder was first created. In the ninth century, alchemists blended charcoal, saltpeter and sulfur into a powder called huo yao, which was used to treat skin infections . Armies quickly learned the powder could be used in bombs, mines and other weapons . Gunpowder was transported to Europe in the 13th century, likely over the Silk Road trade routes through central Asia. Rival nations refined gunpowder recipes in the ensuing centuries before arriving at the optimum mixture: approximately 75 percent saltpeter, 15 percent charcoal and 10 percent sulfur .

Historians typically recognize Chinese fire lances, which were invented in the 10th century, as the first guns. These bamboo or metal tubes projected flames and shrapnel at their targets. Cannons appeared in Italy around 1320, where they were modified as European nations waged many wars. By the 16th century, European firearms had become far more advanced — and far more deadly — than their counterparts in the East.

Though cannons boomed on the battlefield, the conservative military resisted the change that guns and other new technology represented . They had practical reasons to shun guns, too: Gunpowder was expensive, the operator was as likely to injure himself as his target and the weapons were so inaccurate that aiming them was pointless.

In the 15th century, the invention of the lock — the firing mechanism on the gun — made for the creation of the first reliable handguns. The first was the French arquebus, a short-barreled firearm held at the shoulder and small enough to be handled by one man. A gunpowder-soaked cord burned at both ends until it touched a pan of flash powder, which sent a half-ounce ball soaring toward its enemy. Still, they were cumbersome weapons that could only be fired once every two minutes. Even with advances in gun craftsmanship, archers continued to outnumber marksmen on many battlefields for centuries .

Guns slowly replaced old-guard weapons, because they were more economical, rather than more lethal. Lifelong devotion was required to become a highly skilled (and highly paid) swordsman or archer, but a few weeks or months of training could turn a lower-class soldier into a skilled gunner. “Guns de-horsed the aristocrats,” says professor Cathal Nolan, military historian at Boston University .

Besides increasing the field of soldiers, guns have had far-reaching influence on the nature of armed combat, from the distances at which dueling armies engage one another to the types of wounds soldiers incur. Only the horse — which dominated battlefields for millennia — has proven more important than the gun, says Nolan. “Until we got to atomics — to weapons that obliterate entire armies and countries — all war centered on gun and gunpowder tactics.”

New appeal on concealed gun law change

Anti-gun violence group still wants to intervene in weapons case

By Kristina Davis10:05 A.M.NOV. 26, 2014Updated10:53 A.M.

SAN DIEGO — A national anti-gun violence group is asking a larger panel of federal appeals court judges to reconsider letting it intervene in that case that would loosen restrictions on Californians carrying concealed weapons.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, as well as state Attorney General Kamala Harris, had asked to officially join the case so they could argue against a February U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals order that found San Diego County’s concealed gun carrying policies were unconstitutional.

Sheriff Bill Gore, who oversees the county’s issuing of such permits, decided earlier this year that he would abide by the ruling, in effect eliminating any official opposition.

In a split 2-1 decision by the court two weeks ago, the Brady Center and the Attorney General’s Office were told that they did not have standing to join the case as opposition, and that they had waited too late to try to intervene.

The Brady Center now wants a larger panel of judges to reconsider.

“California’s gun laws are strong, sensible and effective at reducing crime, and Brady will continue to fight to defend their constitutionality,” Jonathan Lowy, the Center’s Legal Action Project director, said in a statement Wednesday.

It is not yet known if the attorney general will also ask for reconsideration.

The case stems from a 2008 lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department by independent journalist Edward Peruta and other citizens who wanted concealed weapons permits but were denied.

State law holds that an applicant must be law-abiding and have “good cause” for a permit.

The Sheriff’s department, as well as many others throughout the state, has for years narrowly defined “good cause” to mean someone who faces a specific threat, such as someone being stalked or someone who frequently carries valuables or cash, like a diamond dealer.

The 9th Circuit, in a 2-1 split decision, ruled in February that wanting to carry a concealed gun for self-defense is good cause enough.

After the February ruling, Gore began accepting applications for permits under the new, less restrictive guidelines, but has stopped short of issuing permits until all appeals are exhausted. About 1,600 people have applied. Applicants must still be law-abiding and pass a shooting test, firearms safety class and background check.

More narcotics are coming into California jails

Sheriffs across California say they have seen an increase in drug smuggling in their jails since the 2011 passage of a law that sends lower-level felons to county lock-ups to serve their time instead of state prison.

So-called “flash incarcerations” are one of the ways deputies say the drugs are coming in.


Under state Assembly Bill 109, felons defined as non-serious, non-sexual and non-violent offenders serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prisons. Inmates already in prison when the law passed finished their sentence there but are monitored upon release by county probation officers — not parole agents — and are sent to county jail if they violate parole. A provision of the law, the so-called “flash incarceration,” allows local probation officers to send the parolee to the county jail for 10 days without a judge’s order or a court hearing. The provision was intended to give probation officers a tool to keep offenders straight without sending them back to overcrowded state prisons.


Prior to AB109, all felons served their time in prison and were monitored by state parole agents upon their release. If they violated their parole, they would return to prison for up to a year in custody. The returning parolees contributed significantly to an overcrowding problem so severe that the state was ordered to reduce the population by a federal judicial panel.


Sheriff’s officials say former inmates are using the “flash incarcerations” as a way to bring drugs into the county jails. The parolee can hide drugs inside their bodies, commit a minor infraction to get arrested or self-surrender on a violation to get arrested and then recover the drugs once inside. In many cases, they will only serve 10 days — or sometimes less if the jail is crowded — before getting out again. Deputies believe the offenders are often ordered to bring in drugs in by gang leaders.

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