TIME Crime

Pregnant Store Owner Gets Five Years in Puppy Arson Case

In a Wednesday, March 12, 2014 file photo, pet shop owner Gloria Lee in Las Vegas
Steve Marcus—AP Gloria Lee in Las Vegas on March 12, 2014

Gloria Eun Hye Lee used a pregnancy defense

(LAS VEGAS) — A former Las Vegas pet shop owner who was caught on surveillance video torching her business before 27 puppies and dogs were rescued last year failed to sway her sentencing judge with a courtroom announcement Wednesday that she was three months pregnant.

Clark County District Court Judge David Barker said he thought Gloria Eun Hye Lee, 36, was using her pregnancy to try to get him to hand down a lesser sentence.

He sentenced Lee to five to 14 years in state prison — nearly the maximum that prosecutor Shanon Clowers sought.

Clowers accused Lee of using her pregnancy in a manipulative bid for a “get-out-of-jail-free card.”

Lee’s attorney, Tom Pitaro, didn’t immediately respond later to messages.

Clowers noted that Lee told the court the father of her child was her husband, from whom Lee was estranged at the time of the January 2014 fire at the Prince and Princess pet shop in southwest Las Vegas, and who she once tried to blame for the crime.

Store security video showed Lee removing files in an office while co-defendant Kirk Bills poured liquid on the floor around locked kennel cages and ignited it.

Lee pleaded guilty in October to arson, insurance fraud and attempted animal cruelty charges in a plea deal that had 28 other charges against her dismissed.

Bills pleaded guilty to arson and attempted animal cruelty. He’ll be sentenced Monday. His lawyer, Roger Bailey, said he hopes for leniency and a two-to-five year sentence that, with time already served, could get Bills out of prison as early as next year.

Ceiling fire sprinklers quickly doused the flames, and none of the 27 animals was fatally injured before firefighters arrived.

But the incident sparked intense passions among animal rights advocates who picketed the courthouse for nearly every court appearance. Lee was arrested in Las Vegas shortly after the fire. Bills was arrested days later in Crown Point, Indiana.

It also touched off a weekslong ownership battle that ended when 25 rescued puppies were raffled in March 2014 for $250 apiece to benefit a foundation that runs the local Lied Animal Shelter. Two adult dogs were placed by a rescue group called A Home 4 Spot.

TIME Security

SIM Card Company Says the NSA Probably Hacked It

Mobile phone SIM card
David Gould—Getty Images

But it denies the NSA got access to billions of people's mobile communications

One of the world’s largest manufacturers of SIM cards has acknowledged evidence of security agency attacks on the company’s internal networks, but it’s denying that American and British intelligence agents were able to get access to billions of mobile phone users’ secure data.

Gemalto, a French-Dutch supplier of SIM cards, found “reasonable grounds” of an attack by U.S. National Security Agency and its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) following an internal investigation into a series of security incidents. The audits came after online publication The Intercept reported on what it said was a joint British-American operation to covertly hack Gemalto’s stash of SIM encryption keys, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

SIM cards are small encrypted devices inside cell phones that carry users’ unique identifier codes on a network. Breaking their encryption could allow intelligence agencies or hackers easier access to targets’ mobile communication.

In particular, Gemalto cited two “sophisticated intrusions” in 2010 and 2011, one of which involved sending malware-infected attachments from faked company email addresses. Gemalto acknowledged that the breaches may have enabled a third party such as the NSA to spy on internal communications from company employees, but denied the breach led to a massive loss of encryption keys. The Intercept previously reported that the NSA and GCHQ stole encryption codes as Gemalto sent them to device makers like China’s Huawei.

“The attacks against Gemalto only breached its office networks and could not have resulted in a massive theft of SIM encryption keys,” read a statement from the company.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 25

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. The U.S. wants to hack your phone because it doesn’t have the real spies it needs.

By Patrick G. Eddington at Reuters

2. Eight universities account for half of all history professors in the U.S. How did that happen?

By Joel Warner and Aaron Clauset in Slate

3. Bill Gates is investing in low-tech impact entrepreneurs in India.

By David Bank in Entrepreneur

4. “Liquid biopsy” can detect cancer from a few drops of blood.

By Michael Standaert in MIT Technology Review

5. Let’s build the infrastructure to make microfinance institutions into true innovation hubs.

By Jessica Collier in Medium

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY the photo bank

The Woman Who Followed Her Identity Thief for Two Years

Photographer Jessamyn Lovell put her own identity thief under surveillance for two years—and exhibited the results for all to see.

Jessamyn Lovell, of Albuquerque, has curly brown hair cut just above the shoulder.

Perhaps once, before she bleached it a brassy orange, Erin Hart, of San Francisco, had similar hair. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Yet about five years ago, Erin Hart stole Lovell’s identity, using Lovell’s stolen ID cards to check into a San Francisco hotel. Lovell learned of the crime when the San Francisco police contacted her. Bills and citations soon started pouring in—presumably the result of Hart’s spree, though Lovell can’t definitively connect Hart to the three damaged cars rented in her name, parking tickets, and charges for petty theft and toll evasion.

MORE The One Foolproof Thing You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Now Lovell, an artist, photographer, and college instructor, has turned the tables. After an arduous and expensive process of clearing her name, Lovell hired a private investigator, tracked down the woman they believe was Hart, and over a period of two years followed her, taking grainy, surveillance-style photos of her own identity thief.

Thirty-two of the resulting images, plus other documentation of her ordeal, were displayed last fall at the San Francisco Camerawork gallery—the same gallery, in fact, from which Lovell’s wallet was stolen in 2011. (The photos and artifacts will also be published as book, “Dear Erin Hart,” by San Francisco Camerawork later this month; and will be shown publicly again, at the Colorado Photographic Art Center in Denver, from February 26 through March 28.)

It may sound like Lovell gave Hart her just deserts. But the photographer describes her motivations differently. “I did not and do not intend to punish Erin Hart through my project,” she says. “I just wanted to take my name back. And hopefully, it will make it harder for her to do what she has done, and caused her to see me as a person, not just a name on an ID.”

Lovell attempted, via Hart’s probation officer, to invite Hart to the opening, and even left a letter for her at the gallery. As far as Lovell knows, Hart never appeared. In December, Lovell heard from the probation officer that Hart may have become homeless.

MORE Here Are the Companies That Have Been Hacked — And What to Do

Lovell says she herself grew up poor and even now, as a lecturer at the University of New Mexico, “struggles to be in the middle class” while continuing to pay off the student loans she accrued getting a master’s degree in fine arts. As a result, Lovell now expresses sympathy for the economic challenges Hart faces.

“With a criminal record, she will have an even harder time finding any kind of legitimate employment,” Lovell says. “I think it’s harder to pull yourself up by your bootstraps than people want to admit.”

MORE 7 Ways to Keep Your Tax Refund Safe From Thieves

This is part of The Photo Bank, a recurring feature on Money.com dedicated to conceptually-driven photography. From images that document the broader economy to ones that explore more personal concerns like paying for college, travel, retirement, advancing your career, or even buying groceries, The Photo Bank showcases a spectrum of the best work being produced by emerging and established artists. Submissions are encouraged and should be sent to Sarina Finkelstein, Online Photo Editor for Money.com at sarina.finkelstein@timeinc.com.

Read next: I Ate Thanksgiving Dinner With My I.D. Thief for 19 Years

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Security

Report: Government Now Tracking Millions of U.S. Cars

FRANCE-TRANSPORT-TRAFFIC-HOLIDAYS
Philippe Desmazes—AFP/Getty Images Motorists drive in traffic on the A7 motorway under a bridge where a security camera is set on August 2, 2014 at the toll station of Vienne, southeastern France.

A database of vehicle movements records times, dates and in some cases, identifiable images of drivers, the Wall Street Journal reports

A license-plate tracking system originally conceived to combat drug traffickers along the U.S.-Mexican border has drastically expanded to encompass millions of vehicles across the United States, according to official documents released Tuesday.

Law enforcement officials have tapped a database of vehicle movements, including times, dates and in some cases, images of drivers snapped by roadside traffic cameras, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Drug Enforcement Agency established the program to monitor and impound cars used by drug traffickers along the US-Mexico border, but documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal suggest that the program has expanded for a range of investigations unrelated to drug trafficking cases. Sen. Patrick Leahy criticized the unpublicized expansion of the program, saying that it “raises significant privacy concerns.”

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

TIME foreign affairs

How French Intelligence Missed the Charlie Hebdo Terrorists

FRANCE-ATTACKS-MEDIA-POLICE
FRANCOIS LO PRESTI—AFP/Getty Images Members of the GIPN and RAID, French police special forces, walk in Corcy, northern France, on January 8, 2015 as they carry out searches as part of an investigation into a deadly attack the day before by armed gunmen on the Paris offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

John Mueller and Mark Stewart are the authors of the forthcoming Chasing Ghosts: The Costly Quest to Counter Terrorists in the United States.

Terrorism's very high cost combined with its very low probability make stopping terrorists as difficult as finding a needle in a hastack

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Paris, French police and intelligence agencies are being asked to explain why known militants—including one who had visited an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen several years ago—were not subject to intense surveillance before they launched last week’s terrorist attack at the offices of a French satirical weekly.

The answer is fairly simple, if less than satisfying: it costs a lot of money to do so. A perhaps somewhat high estimate is that the full-scale surveillance of an individual for a year costs some $8 million. The costs of watching even 125 people in that way would add up to $1 billion—a sum that is one-third of the entire FBI counterterrorism budget.

French police believe that, among prisoners alone, 200 would “merit attention” and 95 would be “dangerous” once released.

Nor is malpractice evident in the fact that the surveillance of some terrorist suspects is relaxed over time. Very often, would-be terrorists lose their enthusiasm for the enterprise. As terrorism specialist John Horgan has pointed out, walking away from terrorism is a common phenomenon. It is not that they necessarily abandon their radical views, but that they abandon violence as a means of expressing them.

Policing agencies must therefore pick and choose carefully. At any one time there could easily be thousands of plausible candidates for scrutiny, and many of them may well seem to be more threatening those who actually committed terrorist mayhem in Paris.

Under the influence of what might be called “the 9/11 Commission Syndrome,” in which all terrorism leads are supposed to be followed up on, government agencies chase more than 5,000 “threats” in the United States every day. The vast majority of this activity leads, of course, to nothing, and the massive enterprise is often called “ghostchasing” in the FBI, an agency that may have pursued well over 10 million leads since 2001.

The enterprise leads to only a very small number of productive investigations—there are only 100 or so arrests on terrorism charges in the United States each year, and most of these are of would-be terrorists who are either trivial or at most aspirational. However, in addition, there will be a considerable number—thousands or even tens of thousands—who are deemed suspicious enough to watch. At that point, budgetary considerations must necessarily come into play. Investigators can afford to give only a few the full surveillance treatment.

When something like the French tragedy happens, policing and intelligence agencies are urged to work even harder to ferret out potential terrorists in our midst—in other words, to heap even more hay onto the haystack. That is certainly an understandable reaction, but it almost never comes associated with even the barest elements of a rounded analysis. This should begin not with the perennial question “Are we safer?” but rather with one almost never asked: “How safe are we?”

On average, one or two people have perished per year since 2001 at the hands of Islamic terrorists in the United States and in France, less than that in Canada and Australia, a bit more in the United Kingdom. Under present circumstances, then, the likelihood a citizen in those countries will be killed by a terrorist is one in millions. Whatever the fears of French police and however wrenching the last week has been, terrorism in their country, looked at rather coldly, has not resulted in many deaths.

The question then becomes, as risk analyst Howard Kunreuther put it shortly after 9/11, “How much should we be willing to pay for a small reduction in probabilities that are already extremely low?”

In seeking to answer that key question, it should be kept in mind that terrorism often exacts considerable political, economic, emotional, and psychic damage that may not be inflicted by other hazards, natural and unnatural. Moreover, it is worth considering that terrorism in the developed world might suddenly increase in frequency and intensity. However, this would be a sharp reversal of current patterns, and the terrorist surge would have to be massive to change the basic calculus.

As with crime, perfect safety is impossible, a rather obvious point that is nonetheless often neglected. Funds directed at a hazard that kills few might sometimes be more productively directed at one that kills many.

John Mueller is a political scientist at Ohio State University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Mark Stewart is an engineer and risk analyst at the University of Newcastle in Australia. They are the authors of Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security and of the forthcoming Chasing Ghosts: The Costly Quest to Counter Terrorists in the United States.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY privacy

Security Flaws Let Hackers Listen in on Calls

German researchers say the network that allows cellphone carriers to direct calls to one another is full of security holes.

TIME portfolio

Drone Country: See America From Above

Affordable drones are giving us a new—perhaps temporary—vantage on the world

When a drone looks at a thing, that thing has a way of looking like a target. People become silhouettes at a shooting range. Buildings look vulnerable, their roofs helplessly exposed and defenseless. Most colors disappear, and the remaining blacks, whites and greys evacuate the scene of all human meaning. What we see becomes data: body counts, damage reports, strategic value.

In these photos, shot as part of an ongoing series, Belgian photographer Tomas van Houtryve looks at America through the eyes of a drone, a small quadcopter he bought online and equipped with a high-resolution camera. “A drone seems particularly appropriate because it’s increasingly how America views the rest of the world,” he says. “I wanted to turn things around. What do we look like from a drone’s-eye view? Suspicious? Prosperous? Free and happy?” Every age brings with it new technology for looking at the world. Van Houtryve has embraced the technology of ours.

Drones are becoming an increasingly common sight in our domestic airspace. Pilots have started spotting them from airliners: the FAA reports up to 40 cases a month in which drones are seen exceeding the legal ceiling of 400 feet. As they get cheaper, more popular and more ­plentiful—one online community for enthusiasts, DIY Drones, has over 60,000 members—they are bringing with them a host of unanswered questions, and the White House is scrambling to bring regulatory order to the aerial chaos. In December, the Federal Aviation Administration delayed its long-awaited guidelines on drone flights, initially due next year, until 2017. The questions are about safety, but also about privacy: we’re a lot more comfortable looking through drones than suffering their all-seeing, all-judging gaze.

From this godlike point of view, teenagers playing lacrosse on a field look like lunar shadows of themselves. A housing development in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., takes on an abstract geometric beauty. Everything every­where looks silent and calm, still and waiting. Even scenes of economic and ecological chaos take on their own serene perfection. In California’s Central Valley, van Houtryve found order in rows of houseboats moored in a reservoir. Rings on the shoreline show how profoundly the water level has been reduced by months of drought.

Carl CostasTomas van Houtryve photographs Lake Oroville

That same order is echoed by rows of RVs parked near an Amazon fulfillment center near Reno, Nev. (coincidentally, Amazon is where van Houtryve bought his drone). Migrant workers flock there in RVs for the extra jobs that materialize during the holiday season and then, like the water in that California reservoir, evaporate into thin air. In a strange way, the pitilessness in the drone’s stare inspires its opposite in human eyes: empathy.

Tomas van Houtryve is a Paris-based photographer, artist and writer. His reporting on this story was supported in part by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.

Lev Grossman is TIME’s book critic and its lead technology writer. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling novels The Magicians and The Magician King.

Myles Little, who edited this photo essay, is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 17

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. America needs a national service year: “Citizenship is like a muscle that can atrophy from too little use; if we want to strengthen it, we need to exercise it.”

By Stan McChrystal in the Washington Post

2. It’s time to pay college athletes.

By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Jacobin

3. So-called ‘conversion therapy’ to change someone’s sexual orientation is discredited, dangerous and should be classified as torture.

By Samantha Ames in The Advocate

4. Wikipedia searches are the next frontier on monitoring and predicting disease outbreaks.

By Nicholas Generous, Geoffrey Fairchild, Alina Deshpande, Sara Y. Del Valle and Reid Priedhorsky at PLOS Computational Biology

5. Many kids lack an adult connection to spur success in school and life. A program linking them to retired adults with much to offer can solve that problem.

By Michael Eisner and Marc Freedman in the Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Security

Report: Feds Using Airplanes to Target Criminal Suspects’ Cell-Phone Data

Cessna taxiing
Wellsie82—Moment Open/Getty Images

Devices on planes said to simulate cell towers and trick phones into reporting data

The Justice Department is using equipment on board aircraft that simulates cell towers to collect data from criminal suspects’ cell phones, according to a report Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the operations, reports that a program operating under the U.S. Marshals Service is said to use small aircraft flying from five different airports around the country. Devices aboard those planes called “dirtboxes” essentially trick the suspects’ cellphones into thinking they’re connecting to legitimate cell towers from big wireless carriers like Verizon or AT&T, allowing the feds to scoop up personal data and location information about those targeted.

However, the report details those devices could be gathering data from “tens of thousands” of Americans in a single flight, meaning nonsuspects are likely to be included in the data roundup. The new report could shed some light on earlier reports of mysterious “phony” cell towers that security researchers have found around the country.

Read more at the Wall Street Journal

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