FREEDOM WATCH: NSA Can Spy on Smart Phone Data

German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds a BlackBerry Z10 smart phone: Will the company face a setback following claims the NSA can spy on its phones?The United States’ National Security Agency intelligence-gathering operation is capable of accessing user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. Top secret NSA documents that SPIEGEL has seen explicitly note that the NSA can tap into such information on Apple iPhones, BlackBerry devices and Google’s Android mobile operating system. The documents state that it is possible for the NSA to tap most sensitive data held on these smart phones, including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been. The documents also indicate that the NSA has set up specific working groups to deal with each operating system, with the goal of gaining secret access to the data held on the phones. In the internal documents, experts boast about successful access to iPhone data in instances where the NSA is able to infiltrate the computer a person uses to sync their iPhone. Mini-programs, so-called “scripts,” then enable additional access to at least 38 iPhone features. The documents suggest the intelligence specialists have also had similar success in hacking into BlackBerrys.
A 2009 NSA document states that it can “see and read SMS traffic.” It also notes there was a period in 2009 when the NSA was temporarily unable to access BlackBerry devices. After the Canadian company acquired another firm the same year, it changed the way in compresses its data. But in March 2010, the department responsible at Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency declared in a top secret document it had regained access to BlackBerry data and celebrated with the word, “champagne!” The documents also state that the NSA has succeeded in accessing the BlackBerry mail system, which is known to be very secure. This could mark a huge setback for the company, which has always claimed that its mail system is uncrackable. In response to questions from SPIEGEL, BlackBerry officials stated, “It is not for us to comment on media reports regarding alleged government surveillance of telecommunications traffic.” The company said it had not programmed a “‘back door’ pipeline to our platform.” The material viewed by SPIEGEL suggests that the spying on smart phones has not been a mass phenomenon. It has been targeted, in some cases in an individually tailored manner and without the knowledge of the smart phone companies. Spiegel Online International

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FREEDOM WATCH: California first to get electronic license plates? Easier to track?

California is the home of everything that’s new, exciting, and, well, accidentally nefarious. It’s a delight, therefore, to hear that we here in the Golden State might be the first to get electronic license plates. Yes, the young and the restless of tech will be able to have their new “TE$LA1” plate beamed directly to their car. What could be more moving? I am beaming at Ars Technica for discovering that a bill has passed the California State Senate, allowing for a pilot program to launch the scheme. If the Governor signs the bill, 0.5 percent of Californians might enjoy this perk quite soon. They can look forward to rolling down their beautiful hills and having the word “EXPIRED” suddenly appear on their backside. (The car’s, that is.) What fun it will be to see Ferraris with the word “STOLEN” — or Priuses with the word “TASTELESS.” Actually, I’m not sure that last one will be an option. Even so, the sheer instancy and convenience will fascinate many.  The suspicious (which ought, these days, to include most people) might wonder whether these license plates — which very probably will be accessed through a mobile data network — will let the powers that be know where people are, yes, all the time. The bill doesn’t seem clear about this. What is clear is that the company that operates the system will have access to everyone’s location. That company is Smart Plate Mobile, which doesn’t appear to have so much as a Web site currently. Electronic Frontier Foundation Staff Attorney Lee Tien told Ars Technica that the DMV would hopefully not have access to location information. However, we all know how porous digital walls can be. As with so many digital creations, the weak spot for people is the convenience. Someinterviewed by KCRA-TV said they’d pay extra in order to not stand in the DMV line. And so, yet more personal information might be traded to save a few minutes of boredom. CNet
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THE WARNING BEFORE THE ‘HARBINGER’ ‘Surprise attack in a single hour’ had been predicted

911-world-trade-centerIn striking alignment with two top best-sellers, “The Harbinger” and “The Isaiah 9/10 Judgment” documentary, a new book by WND Books provides startling evidence that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 were a deliberate prophetic judgment on America, and that the surprise attacks literally set in motion two of the Bible’s most critical endtime prophecies. Written by James F. Fitzgerald, creator of the historic “The Watchword Bible,” a 26-hour project contained on 10 DVDs – a 10-year project to put God’s word on video, the “9/11 Prophecy” recounts his remarkable testimony that New York City received warning of an imminent judgment 14 months earlier – that “a surprise attack in a single hour” would be a sign pointing to prophetic events described in chapter 18 of the book of Revelation.  In July 2000, Fitzgerald and his team released “The Book of Revelation” at a secular film festival at Madison Square Garden. Their 110-minute feature was the first word-for-word production of the Bible’s most famous prophetic book ever produced. It took 10 months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to complete. More than 500 scenes were created in computers to convey the fantastic biblical imagery. “Then the week before we went to the festival,” says Fitzgerald, “as I reviewed our master for any problems, the Lord suddenly spoke to me through a verse of scripture in chapter 18. It said, ‘This was the greatest city ever.’ “That verse caught my attention because here we were preparing to go to the media capital of the world in a matter of days. That also caused me to remember a book from the 1980s that had predicted the Lord’s imminent fiery destruction of New York. I hadn’t read the book and didn’t think it made sense in the way that God worked, without giving preliminary warnings and judgments, but I decided to go restudy the chapter. “What I soon discovered stunned me. In chapter 18, three different groups described the Lord’s judgment on the great city of Babylon. In each case, every one of these groups fit the description of New York City more than any other city on the planet. “I came away thinking if the Lord is ever going to judge Babylon as scripture foretold, surely He must also have to judge New York at some point in the future. It was such an amazing ‘type’ of Babylon. I knew in spite of its doing many good things, the city had been complicit in so many things that were wrong in our country and the world.” Fitzgerald then wondered when such a judgment might happen. “No sooner did I ask myself that question,” he says, “than I realized we were releasing ‘The Book of Revelation’ not just at any random time, but right at the New Millennium. Because of Y2K, the Millennium had been a time when many people were naturally concerned about what the future might hold, and here we were releasing this famous prophetic book about the end of the world and the second coming. How providential was that! “Not only that, my next thought was ‘The Book of Revelation’ was being released in New York of all places, that particular city in the whole world that most reflected Babylon.
Surely these two providences weren’t just coincidence. They were too significant.” At that moment Fitzgerald says he was reminded of Jonah’s story in the Old Testament and how the prophet was sent to warn Nineveh of judgment and went a day’s journey into the center of the city. As the author recounts, the Lord made it clear to him that He had opened a door for them at Madison Square Garden in the center of the city – just like Jonah in Nineveh – because He would speak to New York in a still small voice through His Word, warning of an impending judgment. “If that were true,” says Fitzgerald, “my next thought was that such a judgment would need to reflect chapter 18 in some way or people would never recognize it when it came for what it was. In that chapter three times it repeats that Babylon’s judgment came ‘in a single hour.’ The only thing I could see to fit that that would be a surprise attack with tall buildings falling, fire and smoke visible from sea, and many people killed in a short time. It was dreadful to contemplate.”  He then shared all this with his team.
“There is so much more I tell in the book,” the author says. “I hardly scratch the surface here. When 9/11 struck just 430 days after our premier, it proved to be an astonishing reflection of the events in chapter 18. The first building to fall collapsed in only 56 minutes – an amazing reflection of ‘in a single hour her judgment will come.’ And who would have believed it? “I carefully document a dozen other specific examples from chapter 18 in ‘The 9/11 Prophecy.’ After the attack, a number of commentators did see the connection, as well, but in our case, we didn’t recognize it after the fact. God had sent us to the city with this warning before it ever happened.” Fitzgerald also describes how the Lord confirmed their mission in three striking ways after the attack: “The first of these confirmations was absolutely staggering to me. My wife’s ancestors had owned the World Trade Center property – Ground Zero of the attack in New York – for almost one hundred years at the city’s founding. I was astonished! This was the same land on which the towers stood and also St. Paul’s Chapel that played such a key role in ‘The Harbinger,’ by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. The towers were built over a street named after my wife’s original Dutch ancestor. Half of Dey Street still remains.” Incredibly, Fitzgerald tells how these three confirmations form a pattern of exactly where, how and when the attack would strike. But as he later realized, he understood the purpose of these extraordinary confirmations for encouragement to strengthen his resolve to write “The 9/11 Prophecy” – despite the opposition he would face from various quarters for what he says in the book about 9/11 and the future of America and Islam. He believed the Lord was continuing to guide him. “When 9/11 struck in the first year of the New Millennium, with its sheer magnitude, high visibility, and shock to our nation – the world’s super power, I was convinced it must have even more significance than I’d imagined. Knowing with certainty as I did that the attack was a judgment, I quickly saw why it was also purposely connected to Revelation and the endtimes.” In the book’s prologue, Fitzgerald writes: “Not only had God’s judgment been a surprise attack and a prophetic sign as I had believed, but it had proved to be a powerful catalyst. The spectacular strike on America by just nineteen jihadists in the first year of the New Millennium had turned the course of history in a single hour. God’s judgment on 9/11 had begun the endtimes.” Describing the last third of the book, Fitzgerald says, “I devote the final nine entire chapters to showing from scripture, history and current events exactly how this audacious surprise attack initiated two famous prophecies.
I give mountains of evidence that 9/11 was God’s terrible catalyst to begin ‘the endtime generation’ that Jesus foretold on Olivet. I also know many Christians have long wondered why we don’t see the United States in the endtimes in Revelation – a nation as great and powerful as we currently are – and these chapters give the answer. Chapter 20 alone, detailing America’s hidden role in prophetic scripture, will amaze people and open many eyes. It’s worth the price of the book by itself. I also cover Islam’s role in the endtimes and the coming of a Muslim Antichrist who must be alive even now to be of age at the proper time in this generation. “By God’s grace, I’ve written these things as a witness and a ‘watchman on the wall’ that He sent to New York with His warning before 9/11. God used our production of His holy Word to warn of an event that would begin the endtime generation in history. I believe He’s given me this testimony as a platform so people can know for a fact that 9/11 was a judgment on our nation. ‘The Harbinger’ with its amazing application of Isaiah 9:10 to the events that have followed 9/11 is another witness. “And if God was moved to bring a judgment on the United States of America as severe as the attacks of 9/11 and we have not repented of what led Him to do that in the first place, what does it mean for our future? Clearly, it means we are still a nation under wrath – as hard as that is for people to really grasp or accept. All that is happening to our nation now that is so troublesome can be traced to this single fact – and it will not go away. “However, America is also the world’s sole super power. If God is preparing to bring down the ‘world’s indispensable nation’ to quote Madeline Albright, what does that mean for the rest of the globe? There will be no where else to turn. As I show in ‘The 9/11 Prophecy,’ our inevitable fall will fulfill biblical prophecy and lead to an Islamic Antichrist on the world stage in this generation. The attack by Muslim jihadists on 9/11 was the opening salvo in their battle to re-establish the Caliphate – but in our God’s great providence, it was really the beginning of the birth pangs before Jesus returns. This is a book every believer needs to read.” WND
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U.S. military leaders are staunchly opposed to President Obama’s call for military action in Syria, and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis is urging the brass to save American lives by being very vocal in letting Obama know where they stand and why. Maginnis was a career military officer, advised the Army after his retirement and is also author of the new book, “Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women Into Combat.” He told WND officers with the highest command need to be more forceful in explaining their reservations to the president, even to the point of resignation. “The idea that these men who understand war are not making quite a case, I hope behind the scenes (they are). Evidently, it’s not to the point that they’re willing to put their stars on the table,” Maginnis said. “I think at some point, and I’ve talked with some of these types of folks and they are my peers, very few will ever see the utility of putting stars on the table, even if it means the loss of a lot of American lives.” Maginnis said history offers a tough lesson on this front. He noted that the service chiefs went to the White House in the lead-up to Vietnam and discouraged President Lyndon Johnson from doing what he ultimately did. Maginnis said several of those officers later regretted not putting their careers on the line in an effort to make their case more forcefully.

“That cost us 58,000 lives, and it kept us in war for over a decade,” he said. “Now we’re still in a war and have been for 11 years. Are we going to now extend that to a civil war which questionably doesn’t have any national interests at stake just because we hate to see, and rightly so, people being murdered? “Syria is not our fight,” he said. “Syria is a Turkish fight, a Jordanian fight, a Saudi Arabian fight and others, but not ours.” Maginnis said the military’s reticence could be seen in the testimony of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey this week on Capitol Hill, as he stated the military could carry out any orders from the president but made it clear there was little enthusiasm for the mission. In published statements, Dempsey has criticized Obama for saying a delay in the mission would make no difference. Dempsey also said the Syrian rebels weren’t people he wanted to do business with.

According to Maginnis, the military is also severely strapped for cash, thanks to sequestration. He agrees with Dempsey that any U.S. action will likely mean a much bigger commitment than anyone is admitting right now. “The idea that a pinprick is going to do anything other than irritate the monster called Assad is ludicrous. What we need to do if we’re serious about this is go in there and destroy his military. Otherwise, let’s not make the monster angry. The Syrians are not the Libyans, and the Syrians are not what we fought in the Balkans, and they aren’t the Taliban. They’re an organized, very capable, large military that, oh by the way, happens to have the Russians as their ally and the Iranians with all their proxy forces,” Maginnis said. As a result, Magginis asserts Obama can either wage an air campaign that accomplishes few objectives and will end up killing civilians because Assad is placing high-value targets among the people or be forced to put “boots on the ground” to achieve real results.
He believes the lack of support for this mission goes through all the ranks of the armed forces and could be a hindrance to U.S. performance if attacks are ordered. “They’ll vigorously execute whatever the mission is, whatever the plan is. That’s our tradition, and we do obey the civilian leaders. But when you have civilian leaders that ignore sage advice, it becomes pretty evident. The morale will sink, and so the effectiveness of the force will be diminished to a certain degree,” said Maginnis, who believes Congress is the last real hope of preventing this military action. “Congress had better show some courage here and step up and say we’re not going to be co-conspirators here in what is a badly planned operation that could lead us into another ground war in the Middle East and kill more Americans. And for what?” As WND reported, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., tweeted Wednesday, “I’ve been hearing a lot from members of our armed forces. The message I consistently hear: Please vote no on military action against Syria.” More

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On the eve of a critical Capitol Hill discussion on Syria and two days before his address to the nation, President Obama has offered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a way out of any U.S. bombing campaign.  Informed Middle Eastern intelligence officials tell WND the U.S. passed a message to Assad through Russia offering a deal that would ensure against U.S. military action if the Syrian leader agrees to the following terms:
  • Serious political reforms that will result in free and fair presidential elections.
  • Assad will not be allowed to run in future presidential elections and agrees to step down from power.
  • An international committee will supervise control of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
  • The international community, with U.S. participation, will help rebuild the Syrian army and security services to guarantee participation from all factions of the population. The model for this reorganization is the so-called Dayton plan that has been overseeing the restructuring of the Palestinian Authority security organizations and militias.
The Middle Eastern security officials told WND that Russia has already objected to the term that bars Assad from running in future presidential elections. The security officials further stated the U.S. believes Assad will likely reject the deal. The officials said Russian, North Korean and Iranian experts continue to prepare Syria’s military and missile arsenal for the possibility of war, including the contingency of firing missiles at Israel, Jordan and Turkey. As WND first reported, Iranian and North Korean experts are directing an operations room for the Syrian army ahead of a possible showdown with Western powers, according to informed Middle Eastern security officials. The Iranians and North Koreans, based inside Syria, are focusing their efforts on ensuring the viability of Syria’s air defense systems while maintaining the embattled country’s vast missile arsenal, the officials said. The officials said Iran has gone so far as to pledge soldiers to Syria if such mercenaries are needed in a confrontation. Russian military experts are also participating in the preparation efforts by advising the Syrian army, but Moscow has not met the expectations of Assad’s regime regarding the extent of their involvement, the officials said. The Middle Eastern security officials further told WND they have information Iran failed to convince the Hamas command in the Gaza Strip to fire rockets into the Jewish state in the event of a Western attack on Syria. The officials believe that if a Western attack against Damascus is surgical and is carried out without the goal of regime change, the Syrians may not retaliate against Israel. WND
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WAR DRUMS: Kerry Tells Assad Turn in Chemical Weapons within One Week

US secretary of State John Kerry
US secretary of state John Kerry has given an ultimatum to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to avoid a military strike by turning over his entire chemical weapons arsenal to the international community within the next week. At a joint press conference with UK foreign secretary William Hague, Kerry said that America was not going to war but would launch an “unbelievably small and limited effort” to punish the Assad regime for the 21 August chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and to deter it from doing it again. “If you want to send Assad a congratulatory message, you would support non-intervention,” he said although he was sympathetic to fears of the American public who do not want to see troops coming home in body bags. “But that’s not what we are talking about,” he stressed. “Military effort will be targeted and short-term.” Kerry added that the only thing Assad’s government could do to stop an attack was to turn over all his chemical weapons to the international community within the next week. “But he is not about to do it and it cannot be done,” Kerry added.  He said that the evidence gathered about the chemical attack blaming the Assad regime was “real evidence I could take into a courtroom”. “I’ve personally tried people who have gone away for long prison sentences or for life for less evidence than we have for this,” he said. “[Assad offers only] words that are contradicted by facts.” Kerry also quoted the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in stressing that the UK and America were “real and true friends”. The special relationship between the two countries was as relevant today as it has been in the past, he said. International Business Times
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Some see biblical visions of doom in Syria trouble

Gary Cristofaro
The deadly violence percolating half a world away in Syria and the warnings of a possible U.S. attack have some people not only looking ahead to what might happen in the coming days — but also looking backward into ancient, apocalyptic prophecies in the pages of the Old Testament. In recent weeks, some dire prophecies have turned up on websites, in book stores, as the subject of Bible studies and in sermons by some Christians and others who see a link between the old passages and modern-day events in Egypt, Libya and Syria. “Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city, and will become a fallen ruin,” reads Isaiah 17, a passage some Christians say they believe details a horrific event that leaves the city uninhabitable and leads to worldwide tribulation and the second coming of Christ.
Damascus is the Syrian capital and one of the world’s oldest cities. Another passage in Isaiah 19 deals with civil war in Egypt and the rise of a “fierce king.” Talk of those prophecies has intensified as President Barack Obama considers a U.S. military strike on Syria in response to what Washington says is evidence that the Syrian leadership used chemical weapons against its own people. In turn, Syria vows to retaliate against neighboring Israel if the U.S. strikes. “The prophecies are not new to our group because we do (Bible) studies every Friday night. We have looked at that prophecy, but one of the things I try not to do is make a big assumption. That can be dangerous,” said Pastor Gary Cristofaro of the First Assembly of God in Melbourne. “We try to find balance by immersing ourselves in prophecy rather than being affected by it.”  “The situation in Syria as it relates to scripture could be something that we’re witnessing, but we should be cautious. What prophecy really is about is the faithfulness of God’s word.” More
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