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Posts tagged ‘San Jose’

Power Plant Attack Sparks Terror Fears in Three Other Incidents.


A recent report about the terrifying attack on a California power plant last April has raised suspicions about other troubling cases throughout the United States within the past year, Newsmax has learned.

Consider:

  • On Jan. 9, more than 7,000 gallons of methanol leaked into Elk River in Charleston, W.Va., after a spill at a chemical storage plant operated by Freedom Industries. Nearly 300,000 people were left without drinking or bathing water, some for more than a week. A federal grand jury investigation has begun into the spill, CNN reports.
  • The following week, in Manapalan, N.J., a 26-year-old man, Asaf Mohammed, was arrested after being found trapped inside a 20-inch pipe outside a storage tank at a water-treatment plant owned by United Water. The plant supplies drinking water to 40,000 customers in the township, New Jersey.com reports.
  • Within a month after the Boston Marathon bombings last April, seven Muslims — from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore — were arrested in the middle of the night at the Quabbin Reservoir, which provides drinking water to Boston and several other nearby communities, the Boston Herald reports. Three locks had been cut to gain access to the reservoir.

The incidents, two of which received scant media attention at the time, now have authorities and legislators worried about the possibility of terrorist acts’ being committed against the nation’s power grid and other utility operations.

Those attack reports follow a report by The Wall Street Journal that a sniper assault last April 16, a day after the Boston bombings, knocked out an electrical substation near San Jose, Calif. No arrests have been made in that attack.

“It does seem that we have to be awakened by a cataclysmic event before we pay attention,” retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West told John Bachman in an exclusive interview Wednesday on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV.

“We have a porous, open border,” said West, a former Florida GOP congressman. “You have some bad actors coming across, but it’s not just that dry-run attack against a power plant. There are also a couple of instances, in [West] Virginia and also in the Boston area, where water-supply plants, people were trying to infiltrate there as well.”

In an interview on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV on Wednesday, counterterrorism expert Fred Fleitz called the California assault “a trial run for a terrorist attack.”

Fleitz is a former CIA analyst and FBI agent who is now chief analyst for the global intelligence forecaster LIGNET.

“What Americans don’t realize is that we now have something called a smart-grid system, where our electric grid is linked to other grids over the Internet and by computers,” he said. “A major attack on one part of the grid could cause a devastating outage that could put tens of millions of Americans in the dark.”

The 52-minute attack in California occurred at the Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s power substation in Metcalf, a community in southern San Jose.

Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, said the assault was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”

He told The Journal that the incident may have been a dress rehearsal for a bigger attack.

The FBI said that it was “continuing to sift through the evidence” but that it did not think a terrorist group was behind the incident, The Journal reports.

The attack began at 12:58 a.m., when underground AT&T fiber-optic telecommunications cables were slashed in a vault not far from the Metcalf facility.

Other cables were also cut. At 1:31 a.m., the facility, situated near a freeway, came under sustained rifle fire. AK-47 bullet casings found later had been wiped clean of fingerprints.

The shooters were apparently aiming for the oil-filled cooling systems intended to keep the transformers from overheating, The Journal reported. Though they were riddled with bullet holes and hemorrhaged 52,000 gallons of oil, the transformers did not explode.

The attackers had left the scene by the time sheriff’s deputies arrived.

Seventeen huge power transformers had been disabled. Company officials initially declared the incident vandalism. Cameras were positioned facing inward and did not pick up images of the shooters.

Upon further investigation, it looked more like the handiwork of professionals who had done advance preparation and reconnaissance, The Journal reported.

The substation was brought back online after 27 days as other power plants increased their production of electricity to make up for the loss.

“The FBI is still not prepared to say that this was a terrorist attack, even though this power station was attacked with AK47s,” Fleitz told Malzberg.

“There was a systematic plan to cut the phone lines, the fiber-optic cables in a way that couldn’t be detected or easily repaired.”

Meanwhile, the two women and five men that Massachusetts state troopers found in the middle of the night at the Quabbin Reservoir in Boston last May after the marathon bombings said they were all chemical engineers who simply wanted to check out the facility, the Examiner reports. Three locks had been cut to gain access to the reservoir.

No charges were ever filed against the trespassers — even though the Massachusetts State Police unsuccessfully appealed the decision.

The names of the “chemical engineers” were never released to the public, the Boston Herald reports, and their whereabouts are currently unknown.

According to New Jersey.com, a United Water official said Mohammed was discovered by employees Jan. 17 after they “heard cries for help” inside the 20-inch pipe.

“He must have traversed through a basin and climbed up into a pipe for reasons unknown at this time,” Jim Mastrokalos, the company’s director of operations, told the news website.

The plant is surrounded by barbed wire fences, and the investigation involved determining how Mohammed gained access to the plant without detection.

Mohammed, who police said lived neared the plant, was charged with fourth-degree criminal trespass and was required to pay for the costs of rescuing him from the pipe, local news website 12 New Jersey reports.

In West Virginia, CNN reports, subpoenas have been issued requiring testimony for what one federal official confirmed was a criminal investigation into the chemical spill at the Freedom Industries storage plant.

An independent water test conducted for CNN this week found trace levels of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, in both untreated river water and tap water from two homes in Charleston.

Elizabeth Scharman, West Virginia’s poison control director, told CNN that MCHM has not been widely studied.

“We don’t know the safety info, how quickly it goes into air, its boiling point,” Scharman said.

The chemical is used to wash coal before it goes to market to reduce ash, CNN reports. Exposure can cause vomiting, dizziness, headaches, diarrhea, and irritated skin, among other symptoms.

West, the former Florida congressman, told Newsmax that these attempts were “all part of asymmetrical warfare, and if we don’t start to recognize it and put a focus on it, the enemy is always going to look for the gaps by which they can exploit you.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

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Terror Experts: Power Plant Assault ‘Very Serious’.


A possible terrorist assault on a California power station last April, which got little publicity, was a very serious breach that reveals how vulnerable the nation is, counterterrorism experts say.

“This is very serious . . . This was a trial run for a terrorist attack,” said Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst and FBI agent who is now chief analyst for the global intelligence forecaster LIGNET.

“We now have something called a smart grid system, where our electric grid is linked to other grids over the Internet and by computers, and a major attack on one part of the grid could cause a devastating outage that could put tens of millions of Americans in the dark,” Fleitz told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

Story continues below video.

Wall Street Journal report this week that a sniper attack had knocked out an electrical substation near San Jose is raising fears that the country’s power grid is vulnerable to terrorism.

Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack.

“The FBI is still not prepared to say that this was a terrorist attack even though this power station was attacked with AK47s and there was a systematic plan to cut the phone lines, the fiber-optic cables, in a way that couldn’t be detected or easily repaired,” Fleitz said.

John Guandolo, a former FBI agent, told Malzberg he is convinced the power plant incident was a planned attack.

“If this was only one individual, which it does not look like it was, they would’ve had to been moving out pretty good,” he said.

“They’ve got the telephone cables cut at the underground vault and then within about 30 minutes you’ve got a shooter open-firing on transformers and, according to the police reports, there are over 100 rounds fired from a semi-automatic rifle. So, that’s pretty serious.

“They knew what to shoot, to take it out, and they knew what lines to cut, and they did it all, so far as we can tell, without any person getting on any of the security cameras. So, I’d say it was a pretty well-executed job.”

See “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Bill Hoffmann

Federal judge appears ready to trim millions from Apple’s $1 billion jury verdict over Samsung.


SAN JOSE, Calif. – A federal judge appeared ready to trim millions from a $1.05 billion jury verdictApple Inc. won over Samsung Electronics this summer as she urged the top two smartphone companies to settle their myriad legal actions around the world.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said Thursday she would issue a series of rulings over the next several weeks resolving the many legal issues raised at the hearing Thursday. Samsung is seeking a new trial or a reduction of the verdict that resulted from a lawsuit Apple filed in 2011. Apple, on the other hand, urged the judge to add millions more to the award and permanently ban the U.S. sales of eight Samsung smartphone models a jury in August said illegally used Apple technology.

Koh gave no indication on how she would rule on the sales ban request nor by what amount she would cut from the $1 billion award. Samsung was demanding that she cut the award by more than half, but Koh gave no hint that she sided with that argument or Apple’s separate argument for an increase in the award.

Apple filed a second lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that Samsung’s newer products are unfairly using Apple’s technology. That’s set for trial in 2014. In addition, the two companies are locked in legal battles in several other countries.

“I think it’s time for global peace,” Koh said at an end of a nearly four-hour hearing in San Jose.

Lawyers for each company responded by casting aspersions on the other side.

Apple lawyer Harold McElhinny claimed that Samsung “wilfully” made a business decision to copy Apple’s iPad and iPhone, and he called the jury’s $1.05 billion award a “slap in the wrist.” McElhinny said Apple intended to keep on fighting Samsung in court until it changed its business ways.

In turn, Samsung lawyer Charles Verhoeven responded that Apple was attempting to “compete through the courthouse instead of the marketplace.” He said Apple wants to tie up Samsung in courts around the world rather than competing with it head-on.

In the third quarter of 2012, Samsung sold 55 million smartphones to Apple’s 23.6 million sales worldwide, representing 32.5 per cent of the market for Samsung compared with Apple’s 14 per cent.

Earlier in the hearing, Koh appeared ready to rework some of the jury’s damage calculations. The jurors filled out a verdict form listing the amount of damages Samsung owed Apple for 26 separate products. For instance, the jurors said Samsung owed Apple nearly $58 million for sales of its Prevail smartphone found to have used Apple’s “tap-and-zoom” technology. But the type of patent violation the jury found doesn’t lend itself to that big of an award for the product, Koh said, musing that it appeared that Apple could recover perhaps $8 million over the Prevail dispute.

That was just one of 26 line items Koh is reviewing when it comes to considering the jury’s $1.05 billion verdict.

She is also considering Samsung’s demand for the verdict to be completely wiped out and for a new trial to be held. Samsung raises a host of legal issues in arguing it was deprived of a fair trial in a courthouse a dozen miles from Apple’s Cupertino, California, headquarters. One of it arguments is that jury foreman Velvin Hogan committed misconduct when he didn’t divulge he had been sued by his former employer, Seagate Technology, in 1993. Samsung is a large investor in Seagate.

Koh showed no indication of what she thought of the argument, and most legal experts said Samsung had no chance of prevailing on that issue because it happened more than 20 years ago and Hogan wasn’t specifically asked about it.

“The connection here is tenuous,” said Christopher V. Carani, a Chicago patent attorney who has closely followed the case. “I would be surprised if Judge Koh accepted this argument and scrapped the jury’s entire finding.”

Koh’s decision will help shape the ultimate result of the case, but this bitter legal battle is expected to land before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Washington, D.C.-based court that decides patent disputes, if not the U.S. Supreme Court.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Paul Elias, The Associated Press | Associated Press

Apple reveals iPad Mini for $329 and up.


SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Apple Inc. on Tuesday revealed a smaller version of its hit iPad tablet computer that will start at $329 and comes with a screen that’s about two-thirds the size of the full-size model.

Apple starts taking orders for the new model on Friday Oct. 26 and will ship the Wi-Fi-only models on Nov. 2, said marketing chief Phil Schiller at an event in San Jose, Calif. Later, the company will add models capable of accessing “LTE” wireless data networks.

The iPad mini weighs 0.68 pounds, half as much as the full-size iPad, and is as thin as a pencil, Schiller said.

The screen resolution is 1024 by 768 pixels, the same as the iPad 2 and a quarter of the resolution of the third-generation iPad.

“It’s not just a shrunken down iPad, it’s an entirely new design,” Schiller said.

Company watchers have for a year been expecting the company to release a smaller iPad to counter cheaper tablets like Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle Fire. However, most were expecting it to cost between $250 and $300. At $329, it’s twice the price of the basic Kindle Fire.

In a surprise, Apple also said it’s upgrading its full-size iPad tablet just six months after launching a new model, doubling the speed of the processor. Previously, the company has updated the iPad once a year.

The fourth-generation iPad will have a better camera and work on more “LTE” wireless data networks around the world. Apple is also replacing the 30-pin dock connector with the new, smaller “Lightning” connector introduced with the iPhone 5 a month ago.

The price of the new full-size model stays the same as the previous version, starting at $499 for a Wi-Fi-only version with 16 gigabytes of memory.

___

Svensson contributed from New York.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE and PETER SVENSSON | Associated Press

Apple’s $1B patent verdict could corner market.


  • ADDITION FOR CLARIFICATION ON WHERE RULING WAS MADE - Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S III, right, and Apple's iPhone 4S are displayed at a mobile phone shop in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. After a year of scorched-earth litigation, a jury decided Friday that Samsung ripped off the innovative technology used by Apple to create its revolutionary iPhone and iPad. The jury in San Jose, Calif., ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion. An appeal is expected. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)Associated Press/Ahn Young-joon – ADDITION FOR CLARIFICATION ON WHERE RULING WAS MADE – Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S III, right, and Apple’s iPhone 4S are displayed at a mobile phone shop in Seoul, South Korea, …more 

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  • ADDITION FOR CLARIFICATION ON WHERE RULING WAS MADE - Banners advertising Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S III, left, and Apple's iPhone 4S are displayed at a mobile phone shop in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. After a year of scorched-earth litigation, a jury in San Jose, Calif., decided Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 that Samsung ripped off the innovative technology used by Apple to create its revolutionary iPhone and iPad. The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion. An appeal is expected. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)ADDITION FOR CLARIFICATION ON WHERE …

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — It was the $1 billion question Saturday: What does Apple Inc.’s victory in an epic patent dispute over its fiercest rival mean for the U.S. smartphone industry?

Analysts from Wall Street to Hong Kong debated whether a jury’s decision that Samsung Electronics Co. ripped off Apple technology would help Apple corner the U.S. smartphone market over Android rivals, or amount to one more step in a protracted legal battle over smartphone technology.

Many analysts said the decision could spell danger for competitors who, like Samsung, use Google Inc.‘s Android operating system to power their cellphones.

“I am sure this is going to put a damper on Android’s growth,” New York-based Isi Group analyst Brian Marshall said, “It hurts the franchise.”

The Silicon Valley jury found that some of Samsung’s products illegally copied features and designs exclusive to Apple’s iPhone and iPad. The verdict was narrowly tailored to only Samsung, which sold more than 22 million smartphones and tablets that Apple claimed used its technology, including the “bounce-back” feature when a user scrolls to an end image, and the ability to zoom text with a tap of a finger.

But most other Apple competitors have used the Android system to produce similar technology, which could limit the features offered on all non-Apple phones, analysts said.

“The other makers are now scrambling” to find alternatives, said Rob Enderle, a leading technology analyst based in San Jose.

Seo Won-seok, a Seoul-based analyst at Korea Investment said that the popular zooming and bounce-back functions the jury said Samsung stole from Apple will be hard to replicate.

The companies could opt to pay Apple licensing fees for access to the technology or develop smarter technology to create similar features that don’t violate the patent — at a cost likely to be passed onto consumers.

Apple lawyers are planning to ask that the two dozen Samsung devices found to have infringed its patents be barred from the U.S. market. Most of those devices are “legacy” products with almost nonexistent new sales in the United States. Apple lawyers will also ask that the judge triple the damage award to $3 billion since the jury found Samsung “willfully” copied Apple’s patents.

A loss to the Android-based market would represent a big hit for Google as well. Google relies on Android devices to drive mobile traffic to its search engine, which in turn generates increased advertising revenue. Android is becoming increasingly more important to Google’s bottom line because Apple is phasing out reliance on Google services such as YouTube and mapping as built-in features on the iPhone and iPad.

Some experts cautioned that the decision might not be final, noting the California lawsuit is one of nine similar legal actions across the globe between the two leading smartphone makers.

Samsung has vowed to appeal the verdict all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that Apple’s patents for such “obvious” things as rounded rectangle were wrongly granted. A Sept. 20 hearing is scheduled.

The $1 billion represents about 1.5 percent of Samsung’s annual revenue. Jerome Schaufield, a technology professor at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute said the verdict wouldn’t upend a multibillion-dollar global industry.

“Samsung is powerful,” Schaufield said. “The company will regroup and go on.”

Samsung engineers have already been designing around the disputed patent since last year.

“We should never count out Samsung’s flexibility and nimbleness,” said Mark Newman, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein. “This is merely an embarrassment and annoyance to the company that they will have to find ways around.”

The dispute centers on Apple’s dissatisfaction with Google’s entry into the phone market when the search company released its Android operating system and announced any company could use it free of cost.

Google entered the market while its then-CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board, infuriating Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who considered Android to be a blatant rip-off of the iPhone’s innovations. Apple filed its patent infringement lawsuit in April 2011, engaging the country’s highest-paid patent lawyers to demand $2.5 billion.

The verdict didn’t faze some iPhone users, who said that they already know Apple phones are superior.

The rivals are “modeling phones based on what they see with the iPhone,” said David Green of Wareham, Mass., finishing a call on his iPhone while waiting to catch a train.

He switched to Apple from a BlackBerry about a year ago, after becoming disenchanted with the reliability and technological features of non-Apple smartphones.

“When I got the iPhone, it worked so well that I told my friends, ‘Now I have a REAL smartphone,'” Green said.

___

Associated Press writers Youkyung Lee in Seoul, South Korea, and Mark Jewell in Boston contributed to this report.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By PAUL ELIAS | Associated Press

Buying Home Beats Renting After Just 3 Years in Much of US.


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Is it better to buy a home or rent? An analysis released today by real estate information provider Zillow.com finds that in most of the U.S., buying becomes a better deal than renting after only three years of residence.

In many metro areas, the advantage comes much sooner.

In Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa, for example, owning beats renting after 1.6 years, the study finds. Zillow determined the breakeven horizon—the point at which owning becomes more financially advantageous than renting the same home–for more than 200 metro areas and 7,500 cities around the U.S.

Unlike a simple purchase price-to-rent ratio, the breakeven horizon takes into account such other data as taxes, tax deductions, down payments, utilities, appreciation, maintenance, opportunity costs, and fluctuations in the rental market.

“People traditionally have looked at the price-to-rent ratio,” Zillow senior economist Svenja Gudell tells ABC News. “But that’s not comparing apples and apples. Our calculation takes into account all costs, plus tax deductions and inflation. It would be very hard for the average consumer to crunch these numbers.”

The shortest breakeven horizons occur in markets such as Florida’s, where home values fell farthest during the recession. The ownership advantage there kicks in after less than two years. In other markets, however, where values have held, the advantage comes far later. In San Jose, Calif., for example, the time is a little over eight years. San Jose had the longest breakeven horizon of any of the 30 largest metro areas Zillow studied.

Within metros, the study found big variations between one city and the next. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, a homeowner breaks even after 8.8 years; while in similarly-priced home in Menlo Park, the time required is a bit over 14 years.

Metros with the longest horizons (besides San Jose) include Oak Harbor, Wash., and Santa Cruz, Calif. Those with the shortest include Memphis and Fernley, Nev.

Gudell says it would be a mistake to conclude that buying always is the better option. Everything depends, she says, on the metro area and the length of stay. For lots of folks who occupy their home a year and a half, renting remains, she says, “a solid option.” In the right metro, it even can pay off for persons staying as long as five or six years.

The table of metro areas is on the next page.

30 Metro Areas/ Breakeven Horizon (Years)

Miami-Fort-Lauderdale, Tampa     1.6
Detroit                                  1.7
Phoenix                                  1.7
Orlando, Fla.                 1.7
Las Vegas                                  1.7
Riverside, Calif.                  2.0
Dallas-Ft. Worth    2.1
Pittsburgh                   2.1
Cincinnati                  2.1
Cleveland                                  2.4
Columbus                   2.4
Atlanta                                  2.5
St. Louis                                  2.5
Denver                                  2.5
Minneapolis-St. Paul     2.7
Charlotte, N.C.                  2.7
Chicago                                  2.8
Baltimore                                  2.8
Philadelphia                 3.0
Sacramento, Calif.                  3.1
Washington                  3.5
Portland, Ore.                  3.5
San Diego                                  3.6
Seattle                                  4.0
Los Angeles                  4.3
Boston                                  4.3
New York                                  5.1
San Francisco                  5.9
San Jose, Calif.                  8.3

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By ALAN FARNHAM | Good Morning America

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