The Obama administration has unveiled a new strategy to help protect American companies from economic espionage and thefts of trade secrets, an issue linked to intensified concerns about cyber espionage. Trade secret theft and intensifying cyber attacks targeting U.S. industrial and technological sectors are closely intertwined. President Obama says they threaten the U.S. economy and national security. U.S. companies are estimated to have lost at least $300 billion last year according to a recent congressional committee report. High level meetings at the White House and across the government led to Wednesday’s announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder and other officials of a dramatic escalation against economic espionage. The new strategy aims to increase U.S. engagement and coordination with countries where there are high levels of trade secret thefts; step up information sharing with private companies; and intensify law enforcement and intelligence efforts. Domestic legislation would be reviewed to improve enforcement, and a public awareness campaign would be intensified about the effects of trade secret theft.
The Obama administration is considering whether to weigh in on a Supreme Court case challenging California’s gay marriage ban. The administration has until Feb. 28 — a week from now — to decide whether to file a “friend of the court” brief with the Supreme Court. The high court is expected to decide by late June whether to uphold or strike down Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in California.he Proposition 8 ballot initiative was approved by California voters in 2008 and overturned a state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage. Twenty-nine other states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, while nine states and Washington, D.C., recognize same-sex marriage. If the administration gets involved, it is likely to oppose the ban. While the Justice Department would formally make the filing, the president himself is almost certain to make the ultimate decision on whether to file.
Lance Armstrong has refused, once again, to meet with the United States Anti-Doping Agency and give testimony under oath about the doping practices that fueled most of his career as a cyclist. After extending a previous deadline by two weeks, the antidoping agency had set Wednesday as a final date for Armstrong to come completely clean with the agency about his doping past before it would forge ahead without him into its broad investigation into doping in cycling.The agency, which handles all the doping cases of American athletes, had hoped Armstrong would shed light on which coaches, doctors or top officials in the sport helped him dope and cover up the longstanding doping program on his Tour de France-winning teams. In turn, Armstrong was looking to exchange that information for a shorter ban from Olympic sports, said several people who have discussed the matter with him. Right now, he is serving a lifetime ban. Those people did not want their names published for fear of retribution from Armstrong, who has said that a shorter ban is not his goal.
A week before Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan is set to leave New York for Rome, where his name is being floated as a candidate for pope, he was questioned in Manhattan for three hours on Wednesday behind closed doors in a legal deposition concerning the sexual abuse of children by priests. The lawyers deposing Cardinal Dolan represent hundreds of people who say they were sexually molested by priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which he led for seven years before his appointment as archbishop of New York in 2009. The lawyers want to know when Cardinal Dolan, as archbishop of Milwaukee, learned of allegations against certain priests, and how quickly he made those allegations public. Cardinal Dolan is one of two American cardinals who are being deposed in sexual abuse lawsuits this week, and who plan to travel to Rome next week in advance of the proceedings to elect the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, who announced last week that he was resigning Feb. 28.The other American is Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles. He is expected to be deposed on Saturday in Los Angeles, and he has been under fire since the court-ordered release last month of 12,000 pages of internal church files revealing his role in shielding accused priests from the law.
Federal agents armed with search warrants on Wednesday swarmed the New Braunfels, Texas headquarters of The Scooter Store, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of power wheelchairs and scooters. Authorities wouldn’t comment on the reason for the raid, but a source familiar with the investigation said officials were looking for details of how The Scooter Store bills for its equipment. The Scooter Store recently has drawn scrutiny for receiving millions in Medicare overpayments from 2009 to 2011. Earlier this month, the company underwent another round of layoffs. That came after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said reimbursements for power chairs, scooters and other equipment will be sharply lower starting July 1. The Justice Department last week obtained search warrants for at least three Scooter Store locations in New Braunfels, according to people familiar with the matter. A search warrant also was executed at a San Antonio information management services company that stores Scooter Store records. The search warrants were filed under seal.