Hackers at a secretive unit of the Chinese military have stolen huge amounts of data from 115 companies and organizations in the U.S. since at least 2006, a U.S. computer security firm said in a research report released online Tuesday. The details made public by Mandiant Corp. add weight to arguments that Chinese authorities are increasingly targeting foreign firms, institutions and government agencies. Beijing denies such charges and says China too is a victim of cyber attacks. Unit 61398 of China’s People’s Liberation Army “is likely government-sponsored and one of the most persistent of China’s cyber threat actors,” said Mandiant. Unit 61398 “has systematically stolen hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations,” in diverse industries and mostly in the U.S., said the report, without naming any firms. Last Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order to improve protection of the country’s critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.
Facing a charge of premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee track star and one of the world’s best-known athletes, flatly denied on Tuesday that he intended to take her life when he opened fire at a closed bathroom door at his home last week. His assertion contradicted an earlier accusation from the prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, that Mr. Pistorius committed premeditated murder when he rose from his bed, pulled on prosthetic legs, walked more than 20 feet from a bedroom and pumped four bullets into the door, three of which struck his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on the other side. If convicted of premeditated murder, Mr. Pistorius would face a mandatory life sentence, though under South African law he would be eligible for parole in 25 years at the latest. South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995.
Ten years after the landmark Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision, which ruled that criminal laws against homosexuals were unconstitutional, several state congressmen have filed bills relating to the rights of gays. Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, is one of five congressmen to file bills, his regarding the repeal of the 2005 constitutional amendment against gay marriage and repeal of a criminal statute against homosexual conduct, on the books since 1974. A sexual relationship between two consenting adults is considered a Class C misdemeanor homosexual conduct, which states that a person commits an offense if he engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same-sex. The bill also would remove language from the Health and Safety Code referring to homosexuality as “not an acceptable lifestyle.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to propose state legislation guaranteeing women the right to get a late-term abortion when their health is in danger or the fetus is not viable, according to a report in The New York Times. Current state law is more restrictive, as it only allows abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the woman’s life is at risk. That law, however, is not enforced because it is superseded by federal court rulings that allow late-term abortions to protect a woman’s health. The governor’s proposed legislation would also clarify that licensed health care practitioners, and not only physicians, can perform abortions, according to The Times. New York legalized abortion in 1970, three years before it was legalized nationally by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. lf approved, the new legislation would update the state law so that it could stand alone if Roe v. Wade was undone.
Regulators looking into the burgeoning federal program to provide subsidized phone service for the poor are finding growing cause for concern. Last year, the government spent an estimated $2.2 billion on the Lifeline program, up from $819 million four years earlier, as dozens of small companies were authorized to start providing the service. Now, inquiries in states from Alaska to Florida are raising questions about the source of that growth, according to a review of documents in federal and state investigations. Investigators say they have turned up some unorthodox tactics by companies participating in the program, such as signing up customers in hospital rooms and enrolling subscribers by mailing them unsolicited phones. In other cases they have uncovered more straightforward attempts to sign up ineligible customers, according to federal and state documents.