The Obama administration is considering more assertive action against Beijing to combat a persistent cyber-espionage campaign it believes Chinese hackers are waging against U.S. companies and government agencies. As The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, cybersecurity experts said the U.S. government is eyeing more pointed diplomatic and trade measures. Two former U.S. officials said the administration is preparing a new National Intelligence Estimate that, when complete, is expected to detail the cyberthreat, particularly from China, as a growing economic problem. One official said it also will cite more directly a role by the Chinese government in such espionage.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Thursday to stop Anheuser-Busch InBev’s proposed $20.1 billion purchase of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo, which would unite the ownership of popular beers like Budweiser and Corona. The government said the deal could lead to higher beer prices in this country because it would substantially reduce competition in the U.S. beer market, particularly in 26 metropolitan areas. It said the merged firm would control nearly half the beer sales in the U.S. In response, Anheuser-Busch InBev promised a court fight to preserve its deal. Americans spent at least $80 billion on beer last year. ABI’s Bud Light is the best-selling beer in the nation and Modelo’s Corona Extra is the best-selling import. The Justice Department’s lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeks to prevent the merger and to continue competition between the firms.
Police in two states and FBI agents on Thursday night were searching for a convicted murderer who was mistakenly released by Illinois authorities. Steven L. Robbins, 44, who is serving a 60-year sentence for murder in Indiana, was mistakenly released Wednesday by Illinois authorities, officials from the Indiana Department of Corrections said. Robbins was released from Indiana State Prison to appear in Cook County Circuit Court for drug charges on Tuesday, authorities said. Those charges against him were subsequently dropped. But for reasons not known Thursday, Illinois authorities released him instead of returning him to the custody of Indiana officials. Robbins is serving a 60-year sentence for murder and carrying a handgun without a license in Indiana, according to a release from the Indiana Department of Correction. His earliest projected release date was June 29, 2029. Robbins is described as a black man who stands 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 190 pounds. He has a tattoo on the right side of his neck that says “Nicole,” officials said.
Legislation to revise existing mental health laws is under consideration in at least a half-dozen states, including Colorado, Oregon and Ohio. A New York bill requiring mental health practitioners to warn the authorities about potentially dangerous patients was signed into law on Jan. 15. In Washington, President Obama has ordered “a national dialogue” on mental health, and a variety of bills addressing mental health issues are percolating on Capitol Hill. But critics say that this focus unfairly singles out people with serious mental illness, who studies indicate are involved in only about 4 percent of violent crimes and are 11 or more times as likely than the general population to be the victims of violent crime. And many proposals — they include strengthening mental health services, lowering the threshold for involuntary commitment and increasing requirements for reporting worrisome patients to the authorities — are rushed in execution and unlikely to repair a broken mental health system, some experts say.
A U.S. appeals court on Thursday rejected Apple’s request to revive its bid for a sales ban on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone, dashing the iPhone maker’s attempt to recover crucial leverage in the global patent wars. Apple had asked the full Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to revisit a decision in October by a three-judge panel of the same court. The panel rejected the Cupertino company’s request to impose a sales ban on Samsung’s Nexus smartphone ahead of a trial set for March 2014. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. A Samsung representative could not immediately be reached. The fight in appeals court comes after Apple won a $1.05 billion verdict last year against Samsung in a U.S. District Court in San Jose. The same trial judge will preside over the legal battle surrounding the Nexus phone, which involves a patent not included in the earlier trial.