January 8th, 2015
The Associated Press took down a photo of an' art piece' called "Piss Christ" from its website, after a journalist pointed out the company's hypocrisy in refusing to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking Muhammad due to its "deliberately provocative images."
Visitors look at "Piss Christ," a piece of art by U.S. artist Andres Serrano, partially destroyed by catholic activists in Avignon, April 19, 2011. The Piss Christ created in 1987, is a photography representing a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine.
The Associated Press removed a photo of an art piece called "Piss Christ" from its website Wednesday after a journalist pointed out the company's double standard. AP has refused to publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking Muhammad that led to Hebdo's murder due to its policy of not publishing "deliberately provocative images."
"It's been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images," the spokesman said.
Later that day, Timothy Carney of The Washington Examiner pointed out the double standard by noting that AP had a photo of "Piss Christ," an Andres Serrano art photo from 1989 that was offensive to many Christians and deliberately provocative. (The artist placed a crucifix in a jar, filled the jar with his own urine and took a photo of it.)
Carney included a screenshot from the AP website showing that one could still purchase a photo of Serrano's work.
Around the time Carney published, AP pulled the image of "Piss Christ." The link was replaced with a page that now says, "Oops! This image is not part of your portfolio. Please contact customer support."
In an interview with Politico after thephoto was removed, an AP spokesperson explained that AP has continued to revise and review its policies since 1989, the year that thephoto of "Piss Christ" was taken.
"It's been our policy for years that we refrain from moving deliberately provocative images. It is fair to say we have revised and reviewed our policies since 1989," the spokesperson said.
Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier and cartoonist Jean "Cabu" Cabut were murdered, along with 10 other people, in a Wednesday terrorist attack at the offices of the satirical newspaper where Hebdo worked. Hebdo was frequently accused of mocking Islam with his caricatures of Muhammad.
Serrano's work was also highly controversial. The piece was once vandalized, and the artist and gallery owners had received death threats.
Top Stories at the Christian Post
Paris Manhunt Continues as Authorities Arrest 7, Focus on Brothers With Radical Islamic Ties
ISIS Cyber Terrorists Hack US Media Outlets' Websites, Twitter Accounts; Claim to Hack FBI
January 8th, 2015
WIRED / BY KIM ZETTER
Amid all the noise the Sony hack generated over the holidays, a far more troubling cyber attack was largely lost in the chaos. Unless you follow security news closely, you likely missed it.
I’m referring to the revelation, in a German report released just before Christmas(.pdf), that hackers had struck an unnamed steel mill in Germany. They did so by manipulating and disrupting control systems to such a degree that a blast furnace could not be properly shut down, resulting in “massive”—though unspecified—damage.
This is only the second confirmed case in which a wholly digital attack caused physical destruction of equipment. The first case, of course, was Stuxnet, the sophisticated digital weapon the U.S. and Israel launched against control systems in Iran in late 2007 or early 2008 to sabotage centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plant. That attack was discovered in 2010, and since then experts have warned that it was only a matter of time before other destructive attacks would occur. Industrial control systems have been found to be rife with vulnerabilities, though they manage critical systems in the electric grid, in water treatment plants and chemical facilities and even in hospitals and financial networks. A destructive attack on systems like these could cause even more harm than at a steel plant.
It’s not clear when the attack in Germany took place. The report, issued by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (or BSI), indicates the attackers gained access to the steel mill through the plant’s business network, then successively worked their way into production networks to access systems controlling plant equipment. The attackers infiltrated the corporate network using a spear-phishing attack—sending targeted email that appears to come from a trusted source in order to trick the recipient into opening a malicious attachment or visiting a malicious web site where malware is downloaded to their computer. Once the attackers got a foothold on one system, they were able to explore the company’s networks, eventually compromising a “multitude” of systems, including industrial components on the production network.
“Failures accumulated in individual control components or entire systems,” the report notes. As a result, the plant was “unable to shut down a blast furnace in a regulated manner” which resulted in “massive damage to the system.”
According to the report, the attackers appeared to possess advanced knowledge of industrial control systems.
“The know-how of the attacker was very pronounced not only in conventional IT security but extended to detailed knowledge of applied industrial controls and production processes,” the report says.
The report doesn’t name the plant or indicate when the breach first occurred or how long the hackers were in the network before the destruction occurred. It’s also unclear if the attackers intended to cause the physical destruction or if this was simply collateral damage. The incident underscores, however, what experts have been warning about in the wake of Stuxnet: although that nation-state digital weapon had been expertly designed to avoid collateral damage, not all intrusions into critical infrastructure are likely to be as careful or as well-designed as Stuxnet, so damage may occur even when the hackers never intend it.
The report also illustrates the need for strict separation between business and production networks to keep hackers from leaping from one network to another and remotely accessing critical systems over the internet. Although a network can only be considered truly air-gapped if it’s not connected to the internet and is not connected to other systems that are connected to the internet, many companies believe that a software firewall separating the business and production network is sufficient to stop hackers from making that leap. But experts warn that a software firewall can be misconfigured or contain security holes that allow hackers to break through or bypass them nonetheless. It’s not known how the German network was configured.
Wired editor Lee Simmons provided translation assistance for this story.
January 8th, 2015
New twist in all-out assault on religious freedom....
By Bob Unruh
The city of Houston, which created a firestorm of controversy by issuing subpoenas for copies of pastors’ sermons in a case over a transgender “rights” ordinance, now contends the pastors have no right to a jury trial and wants a hand-picked “special master” to review the evidence.
The dispute centers on tens of thousands of signatures collected on petitions to overturn the city’s “equal rights” ordinance adopted under the direction of lesbian mayor Annise Parker. Church members and pastors were outraged, and collected the signatures to reverse the decision.
The city, however, simply determined that thousands of pages of signatures were invalid. In response, the lawsuit was filed to force the city to follow its charter regarding petition signatures and challenged ordinances.
Parker subpoenaed five pastors, demanding copies of any sermons related to her and “gay” issues, a move that was ridiculed by commentators such as Rush Limbaugh, America’s top-rated radio host, who described the mayor’s actions as “vile.”
“I think what that mayor in Houston has done may be one of the most vile, filthy, blatant violations of the Constitution that I have seen,” Limbaugh said on his national broadcast. “And I, for the life of me, cannot figure out why law authorities are not pursuing this. I cannot understand it.”
A short time later, the city withdrew subpeonas, but now it has submitted several motions in the case, including one asking the state district court to deprive the pastors of a jury decision, leaving it only to a judge.
The city claims that since the pastors want an “election,” it is therefore an “election dispute,” and the state does not grant the right to a jury trial for election disputes.
The plaintiffs pointed out they submitted a timely demand for a jury trial and paid the fee, and therefore are entitled to a jury decision under the Texas Constitution.
“An election contest is a contest of an election which has already taken place. No election has occurred in this case. Calling plaintiffs’ lawsuit an ‘election contest’ does not make it an election contest,” they argued. “An election contest has a very precise and narrow definition in the Texas Election Code, and, as one might anticipate, requires that an actual election has transpired.”
They continued: “If the plaintiffs prevail on their claims, then not only is the mayor’s so-called Equal Rights Ordinance temporarily suspended, but the Houston City Council will be required to immediately convene and reconsider whether to repeal the ERO in its entirety. Council’s failure to do so then triggers a duty on behalf of the city to order an election and allow the registered voters of Houston [to] vote on whether the ERO should be repealed or not.”
The city also told the court it wanted a ruling that a special master would be appointed to hear evidence, keeping it out of the hands of a jury or a judge.
“Given the complex and technical nature of the issues presented in this lawsuit, and the difficulty of applying the various legal requirements to plaintiffs deficient but voluminous referendum petition, defendants ask this court to appoint a special master.”
The moves were too much for the plaintiffs fighting for citizen input in the city’s decisions
Steve Riggle, one of the pastors targeted by the city’s subpoenas, issued a statement to city council members.
“I have just been informed that the legal team representing the city of Houston in the legal action regarding the referendum on Mayor Parker’s ERO is asking the judge to deny the citizens of Houston the right to a jury trial. In addition to taking away the constitutional voting rights of over 1 million people in Houston, the mayor is now attempting to take away our constitutional right to a jury trial. You are implicated in her decision since you officially represent the city of Houston,” he told council members.
“I respectfully request a direct answer from you as to your position on this … DO YOU SUPPORT THE MAYOR IN HER ATTEMPT TO TAKE AWAY THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO A JURY TRIAL? YES OR NO … I am asking you to make a public statement regarding your position at the council meeting tomorrow.
“As a citizen of Houston for over 30 years and a community leader, I feel our city has suffered enough national embarrassment over this issue when what we have asked for all along is to simply let the people decide. It seems as if the city didn’t learn anything from the national outrage over the subpoenas issued to pastors in our community by Mayor Parker and City Attorney David Feldman. What will happen when our city and the nation finds out that now the mayor will not allow this trial on her actions to subvert the right of the people to vote to be decided by a jury? There comes a time when all of you who serve on this elected council need to stand up and let your voice be heard that you will no longer allow this mayor to subvert the right of the people in pursuing her personal agenda. THAT TIME IS NOW!”
A hearing was scheduled Friday regarding the city’s demands.
WND broke the story about the city’s subpoenas to the “Houston 5″ pastors for copies of their sermons and other communications with their congregations regarding homosexual rights.
The pastors later called for an investigation of city hall’s actions in the dispute, which also included negating an apparently valid petition effort against the ordinance.
“There is a growing call for the attorney general of Texas to investigate this,” said Riggle senior pastor of Grace Community Church, at the time.
Parker, a lesbian, has described the fight over the ordinance as “personal,” according to a report.
The dispute arose early last year when the city adopted a “nondiscrimination” ordinance recognizing transgender rights in the city over the opposition of many groups. Critics then organized and collected some 55,000 signatures to force either a repeal or a vote.
The city secretary stopped counting at about 19,000, affirming that the threshold of some 17,000 signatures had been met. But the city attorney stepped in and imposed several requirements, which opponents said were not in the city charter, and threw out most of the signatures. In response, opponents filed suit. The city then issued the subpoenas as part of the discovery process leading up to a January trial.
January 8th, 2015
January 7th, 2015
- Strange fireball was spotted by commuter Ken Roberts as he drove home
- American Meteor Society received 1,500 fireball sightings in the past week
- UFO experts say the bright orb flying in the opposite direction is 'peculiar'
- Sighting has sparked speculation that it may be a UFO or aircraft crashing
- Fireball may have also been a meteorite breaking apart in the atmosphere
A mysterious glowing orb has been filmed breaking away from an unidentified meteorite-like object as it streaked across the sky above California.
The unusual object can be seen moving through the sky leaving a long tail behind that is characteristic of space debris or a meteorite burning up in the atmosphere.
But after a few seconds a second round object separates from the main fireball and moves off in the opposite direction.
UFO hunters have claimed the bright orb may have been some sort of escape pod from a crashing ship.
However, others have said it is more likely to have been a meteorite breaking apart in the atmosphere.
There have been several sightings of meteorite fireballs in the US over the past week, with many reports coming from California.
WHAT IS THE MYSTERY ORB
There have been some suggestions that this may be ameteorite passing through Earth's atmosphere - especially considering the Quadrantids meteorite shower is currently at its peak.
However, most experts think it is travelling too slow to be a meteorite - they usually travel much faster.
It could also be a man-made spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere but, as Ben Biggs of All About Space points out, if it was a large spacecraft then we'd probably know about it.
California is also near Nevada, home of the top secret base Area 51, so it could be some sort of military project.
The predominant theory at the moment, though, is that it is simply a hoax - all the more likely as there are no other videos of the event.
If it had been real, it is likely that it would have been seen and captured on video by many people, not just one.
The past couple of days have also seen astronomers enjoying the peak of the annual Quadrantids meteor shower.
The fireball was spotted by Ken Roberts while he was driving home from work in southern California.
He said: 'I was driving home after work when this UFO or whatever you call it caught my eye.
'I pulled over in front of somebody's house to film it. I would have got a better shot but I didn't want to jump these people's fence.
'Anyway I don't know what the hell to make of it. Couldn't have been a plane cause there was no noise. And I never heard a crash after either.
'The Orb thing flew straight up into the sky and disappeared.'
He posted the video on YouTube on Monday evening but did not say when or where the footage had been filmed, other than the general area of California.
‘I think it could be something re-entering and bits coming off it,’ said Ben Biggs, editor of All About Space magazine.
‘However, if it was a big spacecraft then we’d probably know about it.
‘Could it be a meteorite? It’s a bit slow to be one as they normally travel much faster through the atmosphere, although we are at the peak of the Quadrantids meteor shower.
‘It could also simply be some clever photoshop, especially considering there don’t seem to be any other videos of the event which would surely have been seen by many people.
'Also, California is right next to Nevada, home of the top secret base inside Area 51. There's always a chance that this is some military project gone awry'.......