Archive for January, 2014

Hackers & Blackmail: Our Future Electronic Concentration Camp

In his 2006 book No Place to Hide, journalist Robert O’Harrow, Jr. painted a troubling picture of America’s brave new world, where technology would track our every move.

Eight years later, O’Harrow’s writings have proved prophetic.  Within the scope of the last month, 110 million Americans have had their personnel data compromised courtesy of security flaws at Target.  Sources say that Target customers routinely had their driver’s license scanned after making certain purchases.  This data, along with specific credit card information, is now in the hands of Russian hackers.

“I’ll never shop at Target again,” said woman who had contacted SF.  “I felt very uncomfortable when they scanned my driver’s license at checkout.  I just thought that, being a major corporation, Target would have its act together.  Was I ever wrong.”

Today, Sen. Al Franken,  chairman of a Senate Committee on Privacy and Technology, demanded that Ford Motor Company discontinue the GPS tracking of persons who have purchased that company’s vehicles.

During recent remarks, Ford’s Vice President of Jim Farley stated, “We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”  Farley went on to say that Ford is not supplying its customers’ data to anyone, although Franken claims that evidence exists that Ford is tracking individuals who drive their company’s vehicles and is supplying the data to third parties.

Then there is the NSA showing, yet again, why this Orwellian agency is an acronym for Never Say Anything.  The British newspaper, The Guardian, just published a piece indicating that the NSA routinely vacuums over 200 million text messages each day.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.  Things are bound to get  much, much worse.  Just wait until hackers get their hands on the medical records of Americans and use them to blackmail individuals.  It is not a reach to imagine a scenario where a ransom is demanded in bitcoin.  If this ransom goes unpaid, the hackers will disclose a list of psychiatric medications or disclose an individual’s personal medical information online.

And regardless of what our politicians promise, it will only be a matter of time before state and federal government DNA databases are compromised.  Imagine what an insurance company might be willing to pay for this information prior to underwriting health and life policies.

So keep playing with all those high-tech gadgets and continue believing that those who’ve warned of the Brave New World’s electronic concentration camp are simply delusional crackpots.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.  He is set to appear on TNT’s show “Cold Justice,” on February 14.   His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, is available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014


2014 Spingola Files’ Predictions

Get your scorecard ready.  After a gathering at Spingola Files’ HQ in Wales yesterday, SF is prepared to offer its 2014 predictions.

On Crime:

  • Milwaukee homicides will remain near 100 as morale at the MPD continues to ebb.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court will prohibit the NSA from broadly vacuuming the metadata from Americans’ cellular telephone accounts.  Instead, the high court will narrow the government’s collection of such information to those individuals who reasonably pose a threat.
  • The NYPD’s controversial stop and frisk program will continue, although politically correct verbiage will be inserted about such searches.
  • Terrorists will attempt an attack at the Winter Olympics in Russia.
  • The City of Madison will appoint an academic as its next chief of police.
  • In exchange for a guilty plea and further cooperation with the government, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be spared the death penalty and occupy a cell in Florence, Colorado.

On Sports:

  • The Green Bay Packers, after their defense allows over 400 yards in a blowout loss to the San Francisco 49’ers, will show Dom Capers the door.
  • The Seattle Seahawks will upset the Denver Broncos in a snowy NYC Super Bowl.
  • With the 21st pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers will select Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson.
  • The Minnesota Vikings will name Darrell Bevel as their next head coach.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers will win 82 games, but will not make the playoffs.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks proposal to build a new arena will fall on deaf ears.

On Politics:

  • Scott Walker will win re-election as governor with 52 percent of the vote.
  • Republicans will take control of the U.S. Senate by two seats.
  • To increase Paul Ryan’s and Gov. Walker’s Presidential chances at the GOP nomination, Wisconsin will move its Presidential Primary to February 16, 2016, with Reince Priebus leading the charge.
  • In the fall, 50 million Americans will lose their health care coverage and be dumped into the Obamacare exchanges by their employers.

On Finances:

  • The stock market will see a 25 percent correction; recover slightly, but then finish down 12 percent in 2014.
  • Gold prices will increase 15 percent in 2014.
  • The price of electricity will increase as much as 25 percent in some locales due to new Obama administration EPA mandates.
  • Food prices will increase 10 percent in 2014.
  • The unemployment rate will be virtually the same at the end of 2014.
  • The Chinese will tighten their money supply in an effort to combat inflation.

SF will revisit this post and compare our scorecard with the predictions of others at this year’s end.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available in audiobook format at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014


Milwaukee’s 2013 Per Capita Murder Rate Worse than Chicago’s

The 2013 Milwaukee homicide numbers are in and they continue to defy a national trend.  While the number of murders in many large cities (i.e., New York and Chicago) ebbed, Milwaukee’s increased by 15 percent.

Statistically, a person in Milwaukee was more likely to become a victim of homicide than an individual in Chicago (see the below chart).   In 2013, the number of homicides in the Windy City fell 17 percent.

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City                           Population          Number of Homicides          Ratio

Milwaukee              598,916                  106                                        1:5650

Chicago                   2,714,856               413                                       1:6572

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“A fatal shooting on New Year’s Eve and a couple of nonfatal shootings concluded a violent year in Milwaukee,” the first sentence of an article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, “in which more people were killed by assailants than in any since 2005.”

http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/fatal-shooting-brings-2013-c-homicide-tally-to-106-b99175576z1-238380301.html

A New Year’s Day article in the New York Times praised Chicago officials for implementing strategies that reduced the number of dead human bodies at the Cook County morgue.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/us/fewer-murders-in-chicago-this-year-after-a-brutal-2012.html?_r=0

Sources within the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) point, in part, to Chief Edward Flynn’s administrative strategy, which, they claim, is purposely designed to marginalize the MPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (informally known as the Detective Bureau).

“It’s tough to find highly qualified detectives to volunteer to work homicide,” said one high-ranking source.  “Many of the really good detectives have retired or, extremely frustrated, have found a place to lay low until he’s [Flynn] gone.  And those with initiative have their knees cut out from them towards the end of their respective shifts in order keep a lid on overtime.   In the interim, the department, until recently, hadn’t offered a promotional exam for the rank of detective in years.

“Here’s a question the media should ask: why is it that, even though the numbers of some categories of crimes have declined, clearances rates have not? If deterrence — the chance of getting caught — plays a role in the criminal mindset then failing to clear crimes empowers future criminality.”

In the late 1990s, Milwaukee had 300 detectives in its ranks.  Today, the source says, the number of detectives has fallen nearly 35 percent.  This is due, in part, to a shift in administrative philosophy, which now mandates that police officers sent to certain felonies, such as robberies and burglaries, conduct the primary investigation.  In many instances, some detectives claim that, by the time the follow-up reaches their desks, inexperienced officers have inadequately processed the scene or have failed to canvass the area for potential witnesses.

As 2014 unfolds, it will be interesting to see if city officials address the rising murder rate, as well as other issues impacting overall MPD morale.  Absent any pressure from the media, though, it is likely that the status quo will remain unchanged, even as the gang invested city in the corrupt state 90 miles to Milwaukee’s south somehow manages to get a grip on its murder rate.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available in audiobook format at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014