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School Shootings Are Technologically Obsolete

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COMMENT: In past programs, we have covered school shootings, one of the most high profile forms of mayhem in our benighted society. (We began our coverage with Miscellaneous Archive Show M 55–Part 1, Part 2.) With the growth of high-tech, they have now become technologically obsolete.

School terrorism may become increas­ingly pop­u­lar as anony­mous com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies and anony­mous pay­ment sys­tems like Bit­coin con­tinue to roll out. The psychological effect of having children terrorized in this manner should not be underestimated. It will drive people into the arms of fascism, as they cry out for “someone to do SOMETHING!”

“Tele­phone Bomb Threats Prompt Numer­ous School Evac­u­a­tions and Lock­downs in Va., N.J.” by Moriah Balin­git and T. Rees ShapiroThe Wash­ing­ton Post; 3/4/2016.

 Police in North­ern Vir­ginia and New Jer­sey are inves­ti­gat­ing bomb threats that were called in to dozens of schools Fri­day morn­ing, threats that prompted evac­u­a­tions and lockdowns.

Many of the schools received the threats via auto­mated phone calls — known as robo­calls — a method that has become increas­ingly com­mon for school bomb threats nation­wide and one that is dif­fi­cult to track. A rash of robo­calls led to evac­u­a­tions and lock­downs of 13 schools in three states in Jan­u­ary, none of which were found to be cred­i­ble..

At least seven schools in North­ern Vir­ginia received bomb threats Fri­day morn­ing, prompt­ing some to evac­u­ate and oth­ers to lock down. Falls Church City’s lone high school, George Mason High, was evac­u­ated after it received what school offi­cials described as an “auto­mated bomb threat” by phone shortly before noon.

Fair­fax County Police are inves­ti­gat­ing bomb threats that were called in to three pub­lic schools and one pri­vate school between 11:22 a.m. and noon, but author­i­ties declined to say whether those threats were from robo­calls. Police deter­mined them not to be cred­i­ble and Fair­fax County Pub­lic Schools offi­cials decided to con­tinue class nor­mally at the three high schools that received threats.

“Police are inves­ti­gat­ing and have deter­mined the threats are not cred­i­ble, and are intended only to dis­rupt school oper­a­tions,” said Mary Shaw, a school sys­tem spokes­woman. “We do not believe any FCPS stu­dents are at risk and we are con­tin­u­ing with nor­mal school oper­a­tions at all of our schools for the remain­der of the day.”

Bomb threats also were called into schools in a dozen dis­tricts in New Jer­sey at around 11 a.m. Fri­day, dis­rupt­ing school for thou­sands of stu­dents, accord­ing to a report in The Record.. The prob­lem has become so severe that the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has decided to host a sym­po­sium to dis­cuss how to han­dle such threats. It was the sec­ond time in a week that robo­call bomb threats shut down mul­ti­ple schools in New Jersey.

Robo­calls are becom­ing an increas­ingly com­mon method of deliv­ery for school bomb threats, said Amy Klinger, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor at Ash­land Uni­ver­sity in Ohio and a co-founder of the Educator’s School Safety Net­work, a national non-profit school safety organization.

Klinger said that Internet-based orga­ni­za­tions charged the equiv­a­lent of $50 in bit­coins to cre­ate a bomb scare using auto­mated phone calls, which account for 13 per­cent of all threats, accord­ing to her school secu­rity research.

“Schools are really caught in this dilemma of what do we do? Do we ignore it? But you can’t,” Klinger said, not­ing that some schools receive mul­ti­ple threats in a sin­gle day and evac­u­ate their build­ings for each occur­rence, cre­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant delays dur­ing the aca­d­e­mic day. “That’s a really dan­ger­ous prece­dent to say we’re just going to stop respond­ing. So it’s really kind of a Catch 22 that schools have found them­selves in. We need to respond but every time we do it just gen­er­ates more threats.”

Klinger, in a recent school secu­rity report, wrote that bomb threats against schools have increased sig­nif­i­cantly in recent years. So far dur­ing the 2015–2016 school year, Klinger found that a total of 745 bomb threats had been made against schools, a 143 per­cent increase com­pared to the same time period dur­ing the 2012–2013 school year.

In Jan­u­ary, schools nation­wide received 206 bomb threats, the high­est num­ber ever recorded, Klinger found. Her research also deter­mined that threats were made indis­crim­i­nately, with 48 of the 50 states in the coun­try record­ing school-based bomb threats.

“It’s not going away,” Klinger said. “The only option is to empower schools to be able to han­dle these things.”

“Klinger said that Internet-based orga­ni­za­tions charged the equiv­a­lent of $50 in bit­coins to cre­ate a bomb scare using auto­mated phone calls, which account for 13 per­cent of all threats, accord­ing to her school secu­rity research.“
At $50 a bomb threat, it’s almost kind of amaz­ing that the trend isn’t grow­ing even faster than it already is:


Klinger, in a recent school secu­rity report, wrote that bomb threats against schools have increased sig­nif­i­cantly in recent years. So far dur­ing the 2015–2016 school year, Klinger found that a total of 745 bomb threats had been made against schools, a 143 per­cent increase com­pared to the same time period dur­ing the 2012–2013 school year.

In Jan­u­ary, schools nation­wide received 206 bomb threats, the high­est num­ber ever recorded, Klinger found. Her research also deter­mined that threats were made indis­crim­i­nately, with 48 of the 50 states in the coun­try record­ing school-based bomb threats.

 

Discussion

One comment for “School Shootings Are Technologically Obsolete”

  1. The Simon Wiesenthal Central called for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to created a task force to investigate bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers following a fourth wave of threats in 10 states on Monday:

    The Huffington Post

    Jewish Human Rights Group Calls For Special Probe Into Anti-Semitic Bomb Threats
    The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make this a bigger priority.

    By Matt Ferner
    02/21/2017 08:56 pm ET

    A leading Jewish human rights organization called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create a special task force to investigate the bomb threats targeting Jewish Community Centers around the nation.

    In a letter sent Monday, Rabbi Marvin Hier and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, dean and associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote of their “growing alarm” over the waves of threats since January. They urged Sessions to establish a task force “with the assignment of identifying and capturing the culprit or culprits who are now terrorizing American Jewry.”

    At least 11 JCCs in 10 states received threatening phone calls on Monday. It was the fourth series of such messages since the start of the new year, raising the total number of incidents to about 70 aimed at almost 60 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province.

    Anti-Semitic hate crimes comprise the largest portion of religiously motivated attacks in the United States. The rabbis, pointing to a “supercharged anti-Semitism” spreading on the internet and social media, wrote that they are “deeply worried” that the bomb threats could “inspire more dangerous targeting” of the Jewish community.

    The series of bomb threats against the JCCs is “unprecedented,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    “I’ve been working at SPLC since 1999. I’ve never seen a string of attacks like this that are targeting the same kind of institution in the same kind of way. This is new,” Beirich said.

    It remains unclear who is making the threats, if it’s one person or a group, but they have rattled communities around the U.S.

    President Donald Trump, after making several statements that were criticized for being dismissive of concerns over rising anti-Semitism, finally said Tuesday that the JCC threats are “horrible, and it’s going to stop and has to stop.”

    The FBI and the Department of Justice have said they are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with the threats.”

    “At least 11 JCCs in 10 states received threatening phone calls on Monday. It was the fourth series of such messages since the start of the new year, raising the total number of incidents to about 70 aimed at almost 60 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province.”

    70 bomb threats aimed at Jewish Community centers this year alone certainly seems like the kind of situation that could justify a special Justice Department task force. But, of course, there’s the obvious question of whether or not Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration has any real interest in investigating crimes that are almost certainly perpetrated by Trump’s base. Although given that Trump claimed that acts of anti-Semitism were false flags done by his political opponents during his bizarre rant about how he was the least anti-Semitic and racist person you will ever see – a statement that probably filled the white supremacists doing it with glee and only encouraged them to do it more – it seems like he should want to see a successful investigation that discovers the culprits and, in turn, discovers they’ll all Trump opponents trying to gin up anti-Trump sentiments.

    So we’ll see if there really is a significant task force assembled that actually unmasks the perpetrators. But it’s also going to be important to keep in mind that in our current technological environment, where robo-call-bomb-threat-for-hire services exist and create effectively unsolvable crimes, it’s entirely possible that the perpetrators of the current wave of bomb threats can’t be caught. Unless the perpetrators somehow screws up (which they clearly haven’t done so far):

    The Huffington Post

    Here’s One Of The Bomb Threats Jewish Centers Across The Country Are Hearing
    Calls like this have come in waves, and there’s no sign they’ll be stopping.

    By Andy Campbell
    02/03/2017 03:06 pm ET | Updated Feb 04, 2017

    This hoax has become all too real.

    One or more people are calling in bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the country. The calls have come in waves: Centers in multiple states received at least 16 threats on on Jan. 9, more than two dozen on Jan. 18, and on Tuesday, another handful of centers were evacuated after similar calls.

    Police haven’t found any evidence that the threats are serious, but the sheer volume of them has left Jewish leaders and local authorities facing a difficult and terrifying dilemma.

    On one hand, the Jewish Community Center Association – which oversees most of the centers affected – doesn’t want to cause panic by sounding the alarm over a hoax. On the other hand, local police are exhausting their resources searching buildings for bombs that don’t exist, the FBI hasn’t yet identified any suspects and Jewish leaders are undergoing trainings to prepare for the next wave of threats.

    The FBI won’t comment on the investigation it launched on Jan. 18 after the second wave of threatening calls. It’s unclear how close agents are to narrowing in on a suspect or how long Jewish centers can expect to grapple with an unknown enemy.

    But there are clues hidden in the chaos. The Huffington Post reached out to experts to break down the anatomy of a bomb threat and understand why it’s so difficult to track down a suspect.

    What do the bomb threats sound like?

    We don’t know how many people are behind the threatening calls or whether they are part of a coordinated effort, but the Jewish Telegraphic Agency obtained a recording of a call made during the Jan. 18 wave that matches the description of others around the country.

    In the recording, a voice says: “It’s a C-4 bomb with a lot of shrapnel, surrounded by a bag (inaudible). In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to be blown off from the shrapnel. There’s a lot of shrapnel. There’s going to be a bloodbath that’s going to take place in a short time. I think I told you enough. I must go.”

    Previously, officials said that at least some of the calls featured a voice disguised by a pitch-changing program that sounds female and could be a recording (or “robocall”).

    Kent Gibson, a freelance forensic audio analyst who works with authorities in the Los Angeles area, was able to elaborate.

    After a quick analysis of the recording, Gibson said the caller was likely male, possibly with an accent from Brooklyn or the surrounding New York area, and used a downloadable application to disguise his or her voice. It’s unclear whether the call was recorded or made live.

    “It’s interesting that this person never mentions the name of an establishment – you could use that recording anywhere,” Gibson said. “If somebody had a beef with a particular center, they would probably say, ‘I’m gonna blow up this center on this date.’”

    Gibson’s analysis hasn’t been verified by police, but it provides a window into an otherwise opaque investigation.

    What different things do investigators consider?

    After a bomb threat, investigators first identify whether the threat is credible, according to Tod Burke, a professor of Criminal Justice at Radford University and a former Maryland police officer.

    None of the calls made to Jewish community centers have been deemed “credible” so far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lower on the FBI’s priority list, he said. Investigating a serial hoaxer is a balancing act.

    “If you put it on the shelf, you’re allowing it to keep going and encouraging people to continue with their anti-Semitic rants … and threats,” he said. “But the longer this goes on, the more problematic it becomes because you’re also using resources to investigate.”

    Just like the JCCA, Burke also worries about copycats and the idea that a suspect can use panic to garner more attention.

    How do authorities find a suspect?

    It’s difficult, but far from impossible, to identify an anonymous caller. Cell phones and internet-connected calls can make it harder to track a phone number, so good old fashioned police work is still your best bet, Burke said.

    Authorities will be looking at the length of each call and what time zone it likely came from, and will dig for clues like accents or background noise. They’ll seek out disgruntled employees or other motives for the crime. They can also delay an arrest to surveil a suspect and see if they’re working with anyone else.

    Some suspects are just easier to nail down than others.

    Late last year, a man named Norman Lamar Truss allegedly sent an email to a news station claiming that bombs would go off in county courthouses surrounding Houston. The Precinct 1 Constable’s Office immediately used Truss’ IP address to track him down, noting that “the criminals weren’t too bright” for using email. Truss was eventually charged with marijuana possession and may yet be charged with terroristic threats, an office spokesman told HuffPost.

    It’s hard to imagine that authorities aren’t close to arresting someone for the bomb threats, given how many calls were made. But callers like these can slip through the cracks.

    Police have yet to identify a suspect who was sending threatening letters to U.S. mosques late last year, for example, even after the Los Angeles Police Department said it was “days away” from tracking down a culprit in December. The LAPD didn’t immediately return calls for comment on Friday.

    “It’s difficult, but far from impossible, to identify an anonymous caller. Cell phones and internet-connected calls can make it harder to track a phone number, so good old fashioned police work is still your best bet, Burke said.”

    Yep, it’s not impossible to identify an anonymous caller. Maybe they’ll leave enough clues that allow investigators to piece things together:


    Late last year, a man named Norman Lamar Truss allegedly sent an email to a news station claiming that bombs would go off in county courthouses surrounding Houston. The Precinct 1 Constable’s Office immediately used Truss’ IP address to track him down, noting that “the criminals weren’t too bright” for using email. Truss was eventually charged with marijuana possession and may yet be charged with terroristic threats, an office spokesman told HuffPost.

    Or maybe they won’t:


    Police have yet to identify a suspect who was sending threatening letters to U.S. mosques late last year, for example, even after the Los Angeles Police Department said it was “days away” from tracking down a culprit in December. The LAPD didn’t immediately return calls for comment on Friday.

    So given the possibility that the individual(s) behind the current wave of threats aren’t going to suddenly make a mistake they haven’t made yet (they’ve gotten away with 70 threats so far without getting caught), we probably shouldn’t be surprised if this crime is never solved and not just due to the fact that the Attorney General appears to harbor white nationalist sympathies. Both politics and technology could be getting in the way of solving this, which also means we probably shouldn’t be surprised if it continues. Indefinitely.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 22, 2017, 4:04 pm

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