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U.S. Spy in Havana Exposed American Moles

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - 2 hours 2 min ago
Intelligence Officer whom President Obama singled out for prisoner exchange helped convict agents for Cuba in Washington.

Christmas celebrations planned

Ventura County Star - Local News - 2 hours 41 min ago

CAMARILLO

Christmas Eve will celebrated in park

Calvary Nexus will host a citywide Christmas Eve candlelight service Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. at Constitution Park at Carmen Drive and Paseo Camarillo. The community is invited to an outdoor service that will include music and a message about the true meaning of Christmas.

In case of rain, check the website at http://www.calvarynexus.org for service times and location. For questions or directions, contact Calvary Nexus at 384-1182 or email to info@calvarynexus.org.

MALIBU

Episcopal Church plans two services

St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church will offer two Christmas Eve services Wednesday at 28211 Pacific Coast Highway (across from Paradise Cove).

At 5 p.m., come to the family-friendly service for carols and the youth pageant. At 10:30 p.m. join in the grand celebration of the Feast of the Holy Nativity, with lessons and carols, choral music and candlelight.

The community is welcome. For more information, visit http://www.staidanschurch.org.

NEWBURY PARK

Unitarians to hold service for families

A family Christmas Eve service will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3327 Old Conejo Road.

It will include stories and songs of the season with music from the choir, additional musicians and congregational singing. For more information, call 492-8751.

SIMI VALLEY

Congregation hosts dinner and a movie

Congregation B’nai Emet of Simi Valley will have a movie and Chinese food buffet dinner Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at 9 W. Bonita Drive.

The movie will be “The Divan,” a humorous documentary in which filmmaker Pearl Gluck, who had forsaken her Orthodox upbringing, attempts to make amends with her father by acquiring a couch said to have been slept on by esteemed rabbis.

The cost is $18 per person and $10 for students 18 and younger. RSVP at 581-3723 or http://www.congregationbnaiemet.org.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE

Christmas program will feature choir

The 40-voice Chancel Choir of the United Methodist Church of Westlake Village will present “The Christmas Promise,” a Christmas program in three suites by Lloyd Larson, during the 9 and 10:30 a.m. worship services Sunday.

The three suites — “Let Every Heart Prepare,” ”Glory to the Newborn King” and “Let Earth Receive Her King” — tell the timeless story of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Familiar melodies and texts adorn this work.

Organist Ron McBain will accompany the narrated presentation on piano, with additional accompaniment by a brass quintet, flute, clarinet and percussion. Directed by Gloria Hilliard, director of music, the program will include a living Nativity tableau.

All are welcome to attend. The church is at 1049 S. Westlake Blvd. For more information, call the church office at 497-7884 or visit http//:www.umcwv.org.

Christmas celebrations planned

Ventura County Star Top Stories - 2 hours 41 min ago

CAMARILLO

Christmas Eve will celebrated in park

Calvary Nexus will host a citywide Christmas Eve candlelight service Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. at Constitution Park at Carmen Drive and Paseo Camarillo. The community is invited to an outdoor service that will include music and a message about the true meaning of Christmas.

In case of rain, check the website at http://www.calvarynexus.org for service times and location. For questions or directions, contact Calvary Nexus at 384-1182 or email to info@calvarynexus.org.

MALIBU

Episcopal Church plans two services

St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church will offer two Christmas Eve services Wednesday at 28211 Pacific Coast Highway (across from Paradise Cove).

At 5 p.m., come to the family-friendly service for carols and the youth pageant. At 10:30 p.m. join in the grand celebration of the Feast of the Holy Nativity, with lessons and carols, choral music and candlelight.

The community is welcome. For more information, visit http://www.staidanschurch.org.

NEWBURY PARK

Unitarians to hold service for families

A family Christmas Eve service will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 3327 Old Conejo Road.

It will include stories and songs of the season with music from the choir, additional musicians and congregational singing. For more information, call 492-8751.

SIMI VALLEY

Congregation hosts dinner and a movie

Congregation B’nai Emet of Simi Valley will have a movie and Chinese food buffet dinner Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at 9 W. Bonita Drive.

The movie will be “The Divan,” a humorous documentary in which filmmaker Pearl Gluck, who had forsaken her Orthodox upbringing, attempts to make amends with her father by acquiring a couch said to have been slept on by esteemed rabbis.

The cost is $18 per person and $10 for students 18 and younger. RSVP at 581-3723 or http://www.congregationbnaiemet.org.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE

Christmas program will feature choir

The 40-voice Chancel Choir of the United Methodist Church of Westlake Village will present “The Christmas Promise,” a Christmas program in three suites by Lloyd Larson, during the 9 and 10:30 a.m. worship services Sunday.

The three suites — “Let Every Heart Prepare,” ”Glory to the Newborn King” and “Let Earth Receive Her King” — tell the timeless story of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. Familiar melodies and texts adorn this work.

Organist Ron McBain will accompany the narrated presentation on piano, with additional accompaniment by a brass quintet, flute, clarinet and percussion. Directed by Gloria Hilliard, director of music, the program will include a living Nativity tableau.

All are welcome to attend. The church is at 1049 S. Westlake Blvd. For more information, call the church office at 497-7884 or visit http//:www.umcwv.org.

U.S. Appeals Court Expands Gun Rights

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - 2 hours 42 min ago
A federal appeals court in Cincinnati deemed unconstitutional a federal law that kept a Michigan man who was briefly committed to a mental institution decades ago from owning a gun.

U.S. Struggles for Response to Sony Cyberattack

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - 3 hours 2 min ago
The White House is walking a fine line in its search for a response to North Korea’s apparent hack of Sony Pictures, a breach that doesn’t align with the scenarios laid out in the government’s contingency plans for cyberattacks.

How a Memo Cost Big Banks $37 Billion

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - 3 hours 2 min ago
A government lawyer’s discovery of a warning to J.P. Morgan officials about shaky mortgages jump-started the Justice Department’s probe of financial-crisis wrongdoing.

Amid Warren's Rise, a Democratic Split Is Apparent

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - 3 hours 16 min ago
A schism is emerging among Democrats over the party’s economic message, pitting those who favor policies that foster broad growth against others rallying behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s call for a focus on income inequality.

8 children stabbed to death in Australia

Ventura County Star Top Stories - 3 hours 29 min ago

Authorities in Australia are investigating the stabbing deaths of eight children, all discovered in a home Friday afternoon.

The victims range in age from 18 months to 15 years, according to a news release from Queensland state police.

The home is in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, in the country’s north.

An unidentified woman, believed to be in her 30s, was also in the house and was suffering from “serious injuries,” the release said.

Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said forensic teams were inside the home collecting evidence. According to the Associated Press, he declined to specify how the children died.

“As it stands at the moment, there’s no need for the public to be concerned about this other than the fact that it’s a tragic, tragic event,” Asnicar said.

Officials had not yet identified any suspects, but were talking to a range of people, he told AP.

Acting Chief Superintendent Russell Miller said officials believe it was an isolated incident and there was no threat to the rest of the community, AP reported.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the news was heartbreaking.

“Tonight, there will be tears and prayers for these children across our country,” Abbott said in a statement from his office.

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©2014 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Topics: t000002458,t000027866,t000149877,t000027879

How One Technology Company Managed to Hire a More Diverse Work Force

New York Times - California News - 6 hours 15 min ago
Step 1: Think about gender diversity early in your company’s formation. If you wait until the company is established, it’s too late.

Striking Oil in a Dakota Boomtown

New York Times - California News - 8 hours 15 min ago
Wanting to go beyond his usual Middle East haunts, Bryan Denton went looking for someplace exotic for his latest photo essay.

4 accused of providing alcohol to minors

Ventura County Star - Local News - 9 hours 25 min ago

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said a sting operation Thursday resulted in the arrests of four people on suspicion of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The agency and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had minors try to buy alcohol from various businesses in unincorporated areas of west Ventura County, authorities said.

Three minors tried to buy alcohol from 13 locations, authorities said, and were turned away at nine of the businesses. At four locations, they were furnished with alcohol by someone who either failed to ask for identification or looked at the identification and furnished alcohol anyway, authorities said.

A Ventura 17-year-old, a Camarillo 48-year-old, an Oxnard 24-year-old and an Oxnard 66-year-old were arrested on suspicion of furnishing alcohol to a minor, authorities said.

4 accused of providing alcohol to minors

Ventura County Star Top Stories - 9 hours 25 min ago

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said a sting operation Thursday resulted in the arrests of four people on suspicion of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The agency and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had minors try to buy alcohol from various businesses in unincorporated areas of west Ventura County, authorities said.

Three minors tried to buy alcohol from 13 locations, authorities said, and were turned away at nine of the businesses. At four locations, they were furnished with alcohol by someone who either failed to ask for identification or looked at the identification and furnished alcohol anyway, authorities said.

A Ventura 17-year-old, a Camarillo 48-year-old, an Oxnard 24-year-old and an Oxnard 66-year-old were arrested on suspicion of furnishing alcohol to a minor, authorities said.

Companies' data security in question

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 18, 2014 - 11:33pm

ATLANTA (AP) — Companies across the globe are on high alert to tighten up network security to avoid being the next company brought to its knees by hackers like those that executed the dramatic cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The hack, which a U.S. official has said investigators believe is linked to North Korea, culminated in the cancellation of a Sony film and ultimately could cost the movie studio hundreds of millions of dollars. That the hack included terrorist threats and was focused on causing major corporate damage, rather than on stealing customer information for fraud like in the breaches at Home Depot and Target, indicates a whole new frontier has emerged in cybersecurity. Suddenly every major company could be the target of cyberextortion.

"The Sony breach is a real wake-up call even after the year of mega-breaches we've seen," says Lee Weiner, Boston security firm Rapid7's senior vice president of products and engineering. "This is a completely different type of data stolen with the aim to harm the company."

This should signal to all U.S. businesses that they need to "take cybersecurity as serious as physical security of their employees or security of their physical facilities," says Cynthia Larose, chair of the privacy and security practice at the law firm Mintz Levin in Boston.

The breach is particularly troubling in Hollywood, where secrecy is supposed to be paramount to insure that movie secrets worth millions don't get leaked.

"Movie studios have, by and large, behaved as high-security intellectual property purveyors; prints have been tightly controlled, screeners are watermarked, and bootleggers are prosecuted wherever possible," says Seth Shapiro, a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. He said that's what makes it so surprising that email leaks showed that Sony executives apparently gave out passwords in unencrypted emails and made other security blunders.

"The apparently laxity of Sony IT security — given the history of prior hacks — is unprecedented in the history of media technology," he says. Sony Corp.'s PlayStation network was hacked in 2011.

Studios are trying to tighten up procedures in the wake of the Sony attack. Warner Bros. executives earlier this week ordered a company-wide password reset and sent a five-point security checklist to employees advising them to purge their computers of any unnecessary data, in an email seen by The Associated Press. "Keep only what you need for business purposes," the message said.

Even so, some say there is little that corporations can do to prevent such a sophisticated cyberattack. The key may lie more in detection and limiting damage.

"There are very few companies that can withstand that kind of large assault," says Rich Mogull, an analyst with security firm Securosis in Phoenix. "But a lot of companies do need to improve what they're doing on security, I see it every day with companies I work with."

Companies also need to invest in identifying vulnerabilities on their networks and work quickly to address them. Jonathan Sander, strategy and research officer at data security firm Stealthbits in Hawthorne, N.J., recommends undertaking a comprehensive review to ensure outdated files, such as digital copies of old contracts and electronic conversations that occurred years ago, are no longer being stored on the corporate networks.

"There is a lot of stuff just sitting there waiting to be taken and used for the kind of thing that has happened at Sony right now," Sander says.

He says the Sony breach has been coming up in every customer meeting that Stealthbits Technologies had held since the stolen information began leaking out and making international headlines earlier this month.

"We used to have to lead people to the idea that you need to protect this kind of data," he said. "Now we walk in and they're asking, 'How can I keep my data from ending up on the Internet like Sony's did?"

Some customers have been wondering if they should reduce their reliance on email and switch over to other digital forms of communication, such as messaging systems that don't store the data. Sander doesn't believe that provides as much protection as making a telephone call to share passwords and other sensitive information.

Most importantly, companies need to focus on the ability to detect hacks quickly and limit them as fast as possible. Currently, the average amount of time it takes a company to detect a breach is 200 to 230 days, Rapid7's Weiner said. "That allows the attacker time to gain a lot of knowledge and do a lot of damage," he said.

While none of Weiner's clients have made large-scale changes to their security in reaction to the Sony attack specifically, cybersecurity is becoming a bigger focus in general. "There has been increased investment in information security and increased awareness of the risk and threats of these kind of attacks," he says. "We're starting to see information security as a boardroom issue, it's getting much more attention."

One example companies could follow is in the technology sector, where most firms have been tightening their security measures during the past 18 months in response to revelations about the digital spying tactics of the U.S. government.

Documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. government had been tapping into the computer networks of Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other technology companies in search of emails and other electronic communications that might uncover terrorist plots and other illegal activity. The U.S. government has maintained that it has never collected the kind of highly personal details stolen in the Sony Pictures breach. But tech companies being targeted by the NSA have since tried to thwart the surveillance by encrypting their internal email systems as well as the free accounts available to the general public. Both Google and Apple, the makers of the world's leading software for mobile devices, also are automatically encrypting the data stored on smartphones so the information is indecipherable to unauthorized users, including government authorities.

General Motors says it has bolstered cybersecurity in the past two years by bringing information technology in-house from outside vendors. The auto giant has a cybersecurity chief on staff to prevent hackers from getting into GM vehicle computers and has consolidated electronic data storage from 23 centers worldwide into two located near Detroit.

"I would say we have a higher level (of security) than some other companies do," says spokeswoman Jennie Ecclestone.

A key to thwarting attacks is knowing your enemy and figuring out exactly who might want to hurt your company, adds Tom Chapman, head of cyber-operations at EdgeWave Security in San Diego.

"In the past people were looking for a firewall or an individual product," for protection, says Chapman, a retired Navy intelligence officer who specialized in hunting down hackers. "Now, they're realizing there is a human element. They need to understand who might be after them. By better understanding your likely adversaries, you can better craft your defense."

___

AP Writers Mike Liedtke in San Francisco, Bernard Condon, Anne D'Innocenzio and Joe Pisani in New York, Tom Krisher in Detroit, and Ted Bridis in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

 

 

Camarillo approves funds in response to storms

Ventura County Star - Local News - December 18, 2014 - 9:17pm

During a special meeting Thursday, the Camarillo City Council unanimously approved up to $660,000 in construction improvements in response to the latest mud and debris flow in the Camarillo Springs area.

This is in addition to the original $360,000 the council approved Dec. 10 to come out of the city’s general fund for a project recommended by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a government agency that includes civil engineers.

Work will begin Friday to grade the slope above Camarillo Springs from where the mud and debris are flowing. The goal is to prevent debris from reaching the drainage system in the future. About 17,000 tons of debris is expected to be trucked away by the deadline for the work to be completed next week.

The council also agreed to extend an emergency proclamation in the city for 30 days, and is asking California Gov. Jerry Brown proclaim Camarillo in a state of emergency and request a declaration of emergency from President Barack Obama.

With the hillside stripped by the 2013 Springs Fire of vegetation that would normally hold material in place, a major rainstorm during the night on Dec. 11 and in the morning of Dec. 12 caused a significant debris flow in Camarillo Springs and damaged at least 16 homes.

Ten of those homes have been red-tagged as uninhabitable.

“The work on the NRCS project was supposed to commence on Dec. 15, but it never did and the NRCS has prepared a new project,” City Attorney Brian Pierik said.

In a staff report to the council, City Manager Bruce Feng said the new project will increase safety in the Camarillo Springs area and reduce the potential for injuries to residents, and work now will reduce the amount of public funds otherwise required for future emergency services.

Feng also said there are Camarillo Sanitary District facilities in Camarillo Springs that could be impacted and sewage services disrupted.

“Due to the limited time available based upon emergency circumstances, there is not enough time for city to bid for a contractor,” Feng said in the report.

City officials are pursuing reimbursement from the NRCS for 75 percent of the cost for the new project. They also are working with the Springs Homeowners Association and adjacent property owners with respect to the 25 percent funding balance and maintenance of the improvements.

During discussion Thursday, Public Works Director Tom Fox said the 2013 Springs Fire burned vegetation and a large amount of mud was washed away during the Oct. 31 storm. The mud was holding the rock in place.

“Enough mud was washed out that by the last storm, it was rock that came down and in a much greater volume than the mud,” Fox said.

Fox said since last week’s storm, the city has spent more than $300,000 on removal of debris, restoration of access on the streets, debris removal, drain restoration, and rebuilding the hillside.

The goal now is to trap any future debris and keep it from flowing in new directions toward other homes.

“We are not going to be able to protect against all storms. There are just some storms that no matter what we try, we may not be able to stop all debris, but our goal is to create a condition in which we can stop as much as possible and go as far as we can with the resources available,” Fox said.

“When you look at some of the damage on those homes, it’s a fantastic accomplishment that no one’s been injured. When you see a lot of incidences around the state that look similar but the outcome is much worse.”

Camarillo approves funds in response to storms

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 18, 2014 - 9:17pm

During a special meeting Thursday, the Camarillo City Council unanimously approved up to $660,000 in construction improvements in response to the latest mud and debris flow in the Camarillo Springs area.

This is in addition to the original $360,000 the council approved Dec. 10 to come out of the city’s general fund for a project recommended by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a government agency that includes civil engineers.

Work will begin Friday to grade the slope above Camarillo Springs from where the mud and debris are flowing. The goal is to prevent debris from reaching the drainage system in the future. About 17,000 tons of debris is expected to be trucked away by the deadline for the work to be completed next week.

The council also agreed to extend an emergency proclamation in the city for 30 days, and is asking California Gov. Jerry Brown proclaim Camarillo in a state of emergency and request a declaration of emergency from President Barack Obama.

With the hillside stripped by the 2013 Springs Fire of vegetation that would normally hold material in place, a major rainstorm during the night on Dec. 11 and in the morning of Dec. 12 caused a significant debris flow in Camarillo Springs and damaged at least 16 homes.

Ten of those homes have been red-tagged as uninhabitable.

“The work on the NRCS project was supposed to commence on Dec. 15, but it never did and the NRCS has prepared a new project,” City Attorney Brian Pierik said.

In a staff report to the council, City Manager Bruce Feng said the new project will increase safety in the Camarillo Springs area and reduce the potential for injuries to residents, and work now will reduce the amount of public funds otherwise required for future emergency services.

Feng also said there are Camarillo Sanitary District facilities in Camarillo Springs that could be impacted and sewage services disrupted.

“Due to the limited time available based upon emergency circumstances, there is not enough time for city to bid for a contractor,” Feng said in the report.

City officials are pursuing reimbursement from the NRCS for 75 percent of the cost for the new project. They also are working with the Springs Homeowners Association and adjacent property owners with respect to the 25 percent funding balance and maintenance of the improvements.

During discussion Thursday, Public Works Director Tom Fox said the 2013 Springs Fire burned vegetation and a large amount of mud was washed away during the Oct. 31 storm. The mud was holding the rock in place.

“Enough mud was washed out that by the last storm, it was rock that came down and in a much greater volume than the mud,” Fox said.

Fox said since last week’s storm, the city has spent more than $300,000 on removal of debris, restoration of access on the streets, debris removal, drain restoration, and rebuilding the hillside.

The goal now is to trap any future debris and keep it from flowing in new directions toward other homes.

“We are not going to be able to protect against all storms. There are just some storms that no matter what we try, we may not be able to stop all debris, but our goal is to create a condition in which we can stop as much as possible and go as far as we can with the resources available,” Fox said.

“When you look at some of the damage on those homes, it’s a fantastic accomplishment that no one’s been injured. When you see a lot of incidences around the state that look similar but the outcome is much worse.”

Obama Spells Out College-Ranking Framework

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 9:08pm
The Obama administration will spell out an ambitious college-rating plan on Friday that introduces new metrics to judge the nation’s roughly 5,000 colleges and universities.

California: Arson Ruled in Downtown Los Angeles Fire

New York Times - California News - December 18, 2014 - 9:00pm
A fire that reduced an unfinished apartment building to a block-long mountain of blackened wood was purposely set, the Fire Department said.

California: Oakland Bans Bullhooks

New York Times - California News - December 18, 2014 - 9:00pm
The circus will stop coming to Oakland in a few years after a tool used by elephant handlers was banned there.

DUI checkpoints planned in Simi Valley, Oxnard

Ventura County Star Top Stories - December 18, 2014 - 8:20pm

Police planned extra efforts this weekend looking for people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Oxnard and Simi Valley, authorities said.

Police in Oxnard will set up multiple checkpoints looking for people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs from 8 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. Officers also will check drivers for valid licenses, authorities said.

Anti-DUI patrols will be deployed in Simi Valley from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. starting Saturday and Sunday nights in areas where DUI arrests and DUI-related traffic collisions are frequent, authorities said.

Funding for both efforts is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 

Panel Finds Deep Flaws at Secret Service

Wall Street Journal U.S. News - December 18, 2014 - 8:01pm
The Secret Service needs more training, staff and a leader from outside its ranks to run an organization that has been stretched beyond its limits and become too insular, according to a panel of outside experts.
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