Monthly Archives: June 2013

900th anniversary exhibition on the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

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gozonews.com | Jun 6, 2013

The Minister for Education, Evarist Bartolo, will on Friday morning, be officially inaugurating the exhibition ‘TUITIO FIDEI ET OBSEQUIUM PAUPERUM – the Sovereign Military Order of Malta 1113-2013,’ that has been mounted by the National Library of Malta, under the auspices of Malta Libraries, to commemorate the 900th anniversary from the foundation of the Order of St John.

The exhibition, which will be opened at 10.00am, will showcase a number of manuscripts taken from the Order’s Archives, some of which date back to just under a thousand years. The exhibition will shed light on the three phases of the Order – the epoch prior to the Knights’ arrival on the Maltese Islands, their time here, and the period after their departure, coming up to the present day. Some items of clothing directly relating to the Order will also form part of the exhibition.

To commemorate this anniversary, the National Library of Malta will also be launching two new publications.

The first of these will be a booklet relating to the Archives of the Order, in both Maltese and English, which will provide information on the Archives from its origin to the present day. It should be noted that the greater part of this Archive is in fact preserved at the National Library.

The other publication, also in Maltese and English, will offer photographs and informational snippets about each of the 28 Grand Masters who ruled Malta between 1530 and 1798. This publication should prove useful to students of Maltese history, providing an introductory guide to these historical figures which will surely serve to whet the appetite for more detailed knowledge about the lives and achievements of our islands’ rulers.

These publications will also be available from the National Library.

The exhibition will be open to the public, free of charge, from Monday to Friday during the National Library’s opening hours, until the 2nd of August.

Santa Monica shooting: At least six killed, three injured, minutes after President Obama’s motorcade passed by

shooting-fire
A gunman may have set this house on fire on Friday before heading to Santa Monica College, where he continued his shooting rampage.

The shootings took place just before noon, approximately half an hour after President Obama’s motorcade passed through the area.

A second man described by police as a “person of interest” was taken in for questioning, but no further details were released.

The California college has been placed on lockdown, and the reportedly wounded suspect was found in the school’s library and is now in custody. The Secret Service said that the shooting did not impact the President’s travel schedule.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Jun 7, 2013

By David Knowles

Nine people have been shot, at least six fatally, near Santa Monica College on Friday.

According to unconfirmed reports, the shootings began during a domestic dispute at a home at 2036 Yorkshire Ave. Neighbors described hearing multiple gunshots coming from the home and saw smoke pouring from windows.

A man dressed in all black and carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon left the home where neighbors said a Lebanese family lived, shot a woman in a black Infinity, and got into the passenger side of a purple Mazda and ordered the driver to head in the direction of the Santa Monica College campus.

Related

Santa Monica College shooting prompts Obama motorcade rerouting

The gunman, who witnesses said was dressed in “swat gear,” including a ballistic vest, and was carrying multiple rounds of ammunition, then got out of the car and began firing at passing vehicles, including a city bus and a police car.

The suspect then fled police and ran onto the Santa Monica College campus where he shot one woman, and fired at several students at the school’s library.

“Everyone threw themselves on the floor, screams,” student Marta Fagerstroem, who was on the bus, told NBC4. “The bus driver, she panicked. She couldn’t drive away. She was able to, after a while.”

The college was quickly put on lockdown, and the suspect was shot and killed by police at the library.

Students at the college were in the midst of taking their final exams when shots rang out at the library.

“We didn’t know what was happening until all the students at the entrance of the library started running down towards the bottom of the library,” Santa Monica College student Sam Luster told KABC-TV.

After police entered the building, students were told to crawl on their hands and knees out of the library and several people reported seeing the body of a man dressed in all black lying on the ground. Multiple sources reported that police shot and killed the gunman.

A second man described by police as a “person of interest” was taken in for questioning, but no further details were released.

UCLA Medical Center said that one shooting vicitim died Friday afternoon. One more person was listed in serious condition, and four others had been hospitalized. All of the victims admitted to the hospital were women.

A young mother who was riding on the bus was grazed in the temple by one of the gunman’s bullets, but was alert and responsive as she was taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance.

Responding to a fire at the home where the incident began, fire officials said they discovered two dead bodies and that both victims had apparently been shot inside the burning house.

Neighbors said that the Lebanese family who lived at the address had recently gone through a bitter divorce and the mother had moved out and assumed custody of at least one of her two sons.

According to witnesses, the shootings took place just before noon, approximately half an hour after President Obama’s motorcade passed through the area. The Secret Service said the incident did not affect the President’s fundraising visit to Los Angeles, but his limousine was re-routed.

Several schools in the area were put on lockdown for several hours, and Santa Monica College cancelled final exams.

7 dead in Santa Monica College shooting, gunman may have had help

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SWAT team: Sheriff’s deputies gather near Santa Monica College. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times /June 7, 2013)

latimes.com | Jun 7, 2013

By Rosanna Xia, Kate Mather and Andrew Blankstein

Seven people — including the gunman — are dead after a shooting rampage that ended at Santa Monica College, police said.

Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks described a violent shooting rampage that appears to have begun in the 2000 block of Yorkshire Avenue just before noon.

Two people were found dead on Yorkshire Avenue and a home was on fire, authorities said.

Santa Monica shooting: At least six killed, three injured, minutes after President Obama’s motorcade passed by

The gunman then moved west along Pico Boulevard, firing at cars, including a bus and a police vehicle.

One person died at Cloverfield and Pico boulevards; two died at 19th Street and Pico Boulevard. Another woman died at the hospital.

Seabrooks said the gunman may not have acted alone.  A second “person of interest” is in custody.

“We are not convinced 100% that the suspect who was killed operated in solo or a lone capacity,” Seabrooks said.

The suspect fled onto Santa Monica College, where he was pursued by police. He shot a woman on campus and ran into the library, where he continued to fire rounds from an assault rifle.

Authorities shot and killed the gunman on campus. He has not yet been identified, but police described him as being 25 to 30 years old.

They have detained a second man, who has not been identified. He is considered a person of interest.

Santa Monica College and all schools in the city were placed on lockdown.

The shooting rampage sent Santa Monica into chaos — just as President Obama was attending a fundraiser a few miles away.

Many college students were on campus studying — or taking finals.

Stephen Bell and his classmates were preparing for the final tap performance when two women ran into their Santa Monica College classroom, next to the campus library.

They just saw a woman get shot in the library, they said.

“When she said that word — shot! — we immediately shut the door, laid down on the floor and shut the lights,” Bell said.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, Columbine High School,” he said. “First thing that crossed my mind.”

Joey Letteri, the tap instructor, was running a few minutes late and was walking to class from his office upstairs. When he got to class, the door was shut and the lights were off.

“I thought it was a surprise and that the class got a cake for me or something,” he said, shaking his head at the innocent thought that had crossed his mind at the time.

Letteri led the class through a meditation and told them to stay quiet. They tried to calm the two female students down. One couldn’t stop throwing up, Letteri said, and the other was crying and shaking.

Finally, a SWAT team arrived. Letteri told them to slide their badges under the door. Each person in the classroom had to come out individually with their hands up, he said, and they were searched before they were all escorted off campus. Officers took the two witnesses from the library aside.

NSA secretly collecting phone records, locations of millions of Verizon customers daily

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Under the terms of the order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data and the time and duration of all calls.

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

Guardian | Jun 5, 2013

by Glenn Greenwald

Read the Verizon court order in full here
Obama administration justifies surveillance

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

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The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government’s domestic spying powers.

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.

The Guardian approached the National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice for comment in advance of publication on Wednesday. All declined. The agencies were also offered the opportunity to raise specific security concerns regarding the publication of the court order.

The court order expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI’s request for its customers’ records, or the court order itself.

“We decline comment,” said Ed McFadden, a Washington-based Verizon spokesman.

The order, signed by Judge Roger Vinson, compels Verizon to produce to the NSA electronic copies of “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications between the United States and abroad” or “wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls”.

The order directs Verizon to “continue production on an ongoing daily basis thereafter for the duration of this order”. It specifies that the records to be produced include “session identifying information”, such as “originating and terminating number”, the duration of each call, telephone calling card numbers, trunk identifiers, International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, and “comprehensive communication routing information”.

The information is classed as “metadata”, or transactional information, rather than communications, and so does not require individual warrants to access. The document also specifies that such “metadata” is not limited to the aforementioned items. A 2005 court ruling judged that cell site location data – the nearest cell tower a phone was connected to – was also transactional data, and so could potentially fall under the scope of the order.

While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number, its collection would allow the NSA to build easily a comprehensive picture of who any individual contacted, how and when, and possibly from where, retrospectively.

It is not known whether Verizon is the only cell-phone provider to be targeted with such an order, although previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks. It is also unclear from the leaked document whether the three-month order was a one-off, or the latest in a series of similar orders.

The court order appears to explain the numerous cryptic public warnings by two US senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, about the scope of the Obama administration’s surveillance activities.

For roughly two years, the two Democrats have been stridently advising the public that the US government is relying on “secret legal interpretations” to claim surveillance powers so broad that the American public would be “stunned” to learn of the kind of domestic spying being conducted.

Because those activities are classified, the senators, both members of the Senate intelligence committee, have been prevented from specifying which domestic surveillance programs they find so alarming. But the information they have been able to disclose in their public warnings perfectly tracks both the specific law cited by the April 25 court order as well as the vast scope of record-gathering it authorized.

Julian Sanchez, a surveillance expert with the Cato Institute, explained: “We’ve certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of ‘relevance’ to collect large numbers of records at once — everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target — but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretence of constraint or particularized suspicion.” The April order requested by the FBI and NSA does precisely that.

The law on which the order explicitly relies is the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act, 50 USC section 1861. That is the provision which Wyden and Udall have repeatedly cited when warning the public of what they believe is the Obama administration’s extreme interpretation of the law to engage in excessive domestic surveillance.

In a letter to attorney general Eric Holder last year, they argued that “there is now a significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what the government secretly claims the law allows.”

“We believe,” they wrote, “that most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted” the “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.

Privacy advocates have long warned that allowing the government to collect and store unlimited “metadata” is a highly invasive form of surveillance of citizens’ communications activities. Those records enable the government to know the identity of every person with whom an individual communicates electronically, how long they spoke, and their location at the time of the communication.

Such metadata is what the US government has long attempted to obtain in order to discover an individual’s network of associations and communication patterns. The request for the bulk collection of all Verizon domestic telephone records indicates that the agency is continuing some version of the data-mining program begun by the Bush administration in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.

The NSA, as part of a program secretly authorized by President Bush on 4 October 2001, implemented a bulk collection program of domestic telephone, internet and email records. A furore erupted in 2006 when USA Today reported that the NSA had “been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth” and was “using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity.” Until now, there has been no indication that the Obama administration implemented a similar program.

These recent events reflect how profoundly the NSA’s mission has transformed from an agency exclusively devoted to foreign intelligence gathering, into one that focuses increasingly on domestic communications. A 30-year employee of the NSA, William Binney, resigned from the agency shortly after 9/11 in protest at the agency’s focus on domestic activities.

In the mid-1970s, Congress, for the first time, investigated the surveillance activities of the US government. Back then, the mandate of the NSA was that it would never direct its surveillance apparatus domestically.

At the conclusion of that investigation, Frank Church, the Democratic senator from Idaho who chaired the investigative committee, warned: “The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.”

Additional reporting by Ewen MacAskill and Spencer Ackerman