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US relies heavily on allies in Latin America, admiral says at Duke

Security-wise, the biggest challenge the U.S. faces in Central and South America, and in the Caribbean, lies in keeping an eye on the smuggling networks that operate there and have connections to other parts of the word, the U.S. Navy admiral in charge of the region says.

To track them, the country likely would need to add to its reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering abilities in the region, as maintaining situational awareness is very challenging with the ones it has there now, Adm. Kurt Tidd said in a talk at Duke University this week. The good news is that the U.S. has capable allies in Latin America and good relations with them, he said.

It s incumbent on us to find ways to partner, Tidd said during his appearance Monday at the Sanford School of Public Policy. Because, ultimately, the security challenges we face, no single country, not least of which the United States, has the capacity to deal with the security challenges exclusively on our own. We have to work together as a team. Tidd was the latest in the series of current or recent national-security figures the Sanford School and other units at Duke have brought to campus as part of the university s American Grand Strategy program on foreign relations and military affairs.

The admiral, the current head of the Pentagon s Southern Command, shared the stage with his one-time boss, retired Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. Joining them as moderator was Duke professor Peter Feaver, who worked with Tidd on the White House National Security Council staff of former President George W. Bush. The timing of the event was fraught, coming as it did in the early days of a new federal administration whose head, President Donald Trump, advocates a tougher line on immigration and trade. Duke s advance publicity for it had said Tidd would speak to those initiatives and how they intersect with the U.S. security challenges in Latin America. But Feaver s questioning steered the conversation away from them, likely because they d be sensitive ground for anyone working for Trump. Nor did audience members press them when Feaver opened the floor for questions.

The concern over smuggling comes because the region has what Tidd called transnational threat networks with broad geographic reach. Some are concerned mainly with profiting from crime; ideology motivates others. The worry is to those of the criminal bent, money talks. Either way, they are occupying that same gray space, but the bottom line is that there are people engaged in illicit activities who have said clearly, For the right amount of money, I ll move anything, or anyone, Tidd said. That gives us pause. Beyond reconnaissance needs, Tidd said his headquarters has to deal with the fact that most of the Navy s combat ships are needed elsewhere. It leans heavily on U.S. Coast Guard patrols in the Caribbean, and could find a use for things like the Navy s littoral combat ships, a much-criticized program whose fate is being debated in Washington.

For the watchdog work needed in the area, we don t need billion-dollar Aegis cruisers, said Tidd, who captained a destroyer earlier in his career. If I can put a helicopter on it and I can put a Coast Guard boarding team on it, I ve got the opportunity to go out and conduct the interdiction. And it s just [that] we don t have enough of those platforms. Dempsey, now a Duke research fellow, added that he thinks the U.S. and its allies likely would be safer if they had not U.S.-only standing naval task forces operating in the Gulf of Guinea, off the west coast of Africa, and in the Caribbean. The retired Joint chiefs chairman also noted Trump s proposed 2018 federal budget tickets the Coast Guard for a significant cut. Media accounts indicate that it could lose about $1.3 billion if Congress went along.

The Coast Guard is indispensable wherever they are, and particularly in the Southern Command, Dempsey said.

Lawsuit claims hackers stole customer data at 1000 Arby’s stores

ATLANTA Georgia-based Arby s restaurant chain failed to prevent hackers from stealing customer information at hundreds of its stores, a Connecticut couple said in a new federal lawsuit. Since early February, eight credit unions and banks from Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Montana have filed seven other federal lawsuits. All make similar allegations about what the credit unions describe as a massive data breach. Arby s said in a statement Monday that it s not commenting on the pending litigation, but we believe the claims are without merit and intend to vigorously defend against them.

From late October through Jan. 19, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of credit and debit cards issued by financial institutions, including Plaintiff, were compromised due to Arby s severely inadequate security practices, North Alabama Educators Credit Union states in its lawsuit filed last month.

Arby s actions and omissions left highly sensitive Payment Card Data of the Plaintiff s customers exposed and accessible for hackers to steal for nearly three months, the Alabama credit union maintains. In the latest lawsuit, Jacqueline and Joseph Weiss of Glastonbury, Conn., say computer hackers used data-looting malware to penetrate systems at about 1,000 Arby s restaurants during the breach. In December 2016, the couple discovered thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges on the Visa card they d used at an Arby s in Connecticut, they say in their lawsuit filed last week.

The Weiesses lawsuit asserts that a credit union organization alerted its members that at least 355,000 credit and debit cards were compromised by the Arby s breach. By installing malware at the Point Of Sale or cash register, hackers were able to steal payment card data from remote locations as a card was swiped for payment, Indiana-based Midwest America Federal Credit Union claimed in a February lawsuit. Arby s knew the danger of not safeguarding its POS network as various high profile data breaches have occurred in the same way, including data breaches of Target, Home Depot and, most recently, Wendy s, the Indiana credit union maintains in its lawsuit.

Lawyers for the Weisse s say the threat isn t over.

There is a strong probability that entire batches of stolen information have yet to be dumped on the black market, they state, meaning Arby s customers could be at risk of fraud and identity theft for years into the future.

It s not clear whether a criminal investigation has been opened in the Arby s breach. The FBI s policy is not to confirm or deny whether a matter is being investigated, FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett said Monday.

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Judge says Pulse lawsuit may be tossed out of federal court

Mike Schneider, Associated Press

Updated 3:08 pm, Sunday, March 26, 2017
  • Judge Says Pulse Lawsuit May Be Tossed Out Of Federal Court

Photo: Joe Burbank, AP

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FILE – In a Monday, July 11, 2016 file photo, visitors continue to flock to the Pulse nightclub to their pay their respects, in Orlando,, Fla. Forty-nine people were shot and killed at the club, June 12. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra said says a lawsuit brought by victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre against the gunman’s employer and wife may be tossed out of federal court. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) A judge says a lawsuit brought by victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre against the gunman’s employer and wife may be tossed out of federal court.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra[3] last week issued an order raising questions about whether federal court was the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit. The judge gave the plaintiffs 10 days to file a revised lawsuit or he said he would dismiss the complaint.

Attorneys for the Pulse victims didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Sunday.

Almost five dozen victims and families of the deceased filed the lawsuit last week in federal court in South Florida against security firm G4S and the wife of Omar Mateen[4], claiming they could have stopped the gunman before the attack last June but didn’t.

Forty-nine people died in the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history, and dozens more were injured.

The lawsuit was seeking an undisclosed amount of money.

The complaint said that G4S bosses knew Mateen was mentally unstable yet continued to employee him as a security guard and didn’t seek to have his firearms license revoked, even after he was investigated by the FBI in 2013 for telling co-workers he had connections to terrorists and a mass shooter. He later told his bosses he had made that up to get his co-workers to stop teasing him about being Muslim and the FBI determined he was not a threat.

A spokeswoman for G4S last week said the lawsuit was without merit and that the company would vigorously defend itself. A company spokeswoman on Sunday didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiry.

The lawsuit also said that Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman[5], knew her husband was going to carry out the killings ahead of time yet did nothing. Salman currently is in jail awaiting trial in a separate criminal case. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of aiding and abetting her husband, and obstruction of justice.

The federal judge said cases should be brought to federal court because of “diversity jurisdiction” only if the lawsuits are between residents of different states, U.S. residents and residents of a foreign nation or residents of different states in which other parties may be subjects of foreign countries.

Although G4S is a British company, its principal place of business is in Florida, the judge said. He added that Salman was a Florida resident, as were many of the Pulse victims and their families, raising question about whether federal court is the proper venue.

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