AP News in Brief at 4:58 a.m. EST

Print
Email
|

Associated Press

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 6:02 AM

Claims of cyberstealing by China prompt administration to develop more aggressive responses

WASHINGTON (AP) — Evidence of an unrelenting campaign of cyberstealing linked to the Chinese government is prompting the Obama administration to develop more aggressive responses to the theft of U.S. government data and corporate trade secrets.

A report being released Wednesday considers fines and other trade actions against China or any other country guilty of cyber-espionage. Officials familiar with the administration's plans spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the threatened action.

The Chinese government denies being involved in the cyberattacks cited in a cybersecurity firm's analysis of breaches that compromised more than 140 companies. On Wednesday, China's Defense Ministry called the report deeply flawed.

Mandiant, a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm, released a torrent of details Monday that tied a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai to years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies. Mandiant concluded that the breaches can be linked to the People's Liberation Army's Unit 61398.

Military experts believe the unit is part of the People's Liberation Army's cybercommand, which is under the direct authority of the General Staff Department, China's version of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As such, its activities would be likely to be authorized at the highest levels of China's military.

___

Police say testosterone, needles found in Oscar Pistorius' bedroom

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Police say they found two boxes of testosterone and needles in the bedroom of Oscar Pistorius, the Olympian who has been charged with murder in the shooting of his girlfriend.

Detective Hilton Botha made the revelation Wednesday in testimony at the bail hearing for the athlete charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The discovery raises the possibility that the double-amputee Olympian and Paralympian might have been using performance-enhancing substances.

Pistorius became the first Paralympian runner to compete at the Olympic Games in London last year.

Pistorius, 26, has insisted he shot the 29-year-old Steenkamp by mistake, fearing there was an intruder in his gated and guarded luxury complex in the capital, Pretoria.

___

Cadaver dogs search rubble after huge gas blast, ensuing fire levels Kansas City restaurant

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Firefighters with cadaver dogs were searching early Wednesday through the rubble of a popular restaurant flattened by a natural gas explosion and massive fire that sent black smoke high over Kansas City's upscale Country Club Plaza shopping and dining district.

Authorities said 14 people were known to have been injured — at least three critically — by the blast and gas-fed fire that destroyed JJ's restaurant around 6 p.m. Tuesday. The flames, spectacularly reflected in the glass facade of an office building under construction across the street, died down only after crews were able to shut off the gas around 8 p.m.

Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said late Tuesday the search with trained dogs was standard given the size of the conflagration and the fact that there was no immediate, reliable count of people who were inside the intimate, one-story restaurant at the time.

"I would always fear there are fatalities in a scene like this," Berardi said.

Only after the search was complete — which wasn't expected until later Wednesday morning — would the site be released to investigators looking for the cause, Berardi said.

___

20-year-old man goes on shooting rampage on busy Calif. freeway; 3 killed, 2 injured

TUSTIN, Calif. (AP) — The early morning commute was just getting under way on suburban Orange County's network of freeways when Melvin Lee Edwards pulled up to a stop sign near a busy off-ramp.

It was just after 5 a.m. and Edwards, 69, was on his way to work when, police say, a fleeing murder suspect forced him out of his BMW at gunpoint, marched him across the street and shot him three times from behind as horrified commuters watched.

The shooting was the second of three murders in a trail of carnage early Tuesday that spanned 25 miles — but lasted just an hour. The shooter, 20-year-old Ali Syed, killed a woman in the home he shared with his parents, killed two drivers during carjackings, injured two others and shot up cars on a busy freeway interchange before committing suicide as police closed in, authorities said.

Syed, an unemployed part-time community college student, had no known motive and acted alone, said Tustin police Chief Scott Jordan. The first victim, a woman in her twenties, has not been identified and was not related to Syed, he said.

The violence began at 4:45 a.m., when deputies responded to a call from Ladera Ranch, a sleepy inland town about 55 miles southeast of Los Angeles. They found the woman shot multiple times.

___

Analysis: Obama's options on tackling climate include appliances, power plants

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is talking about climate change like it was 2009.

The president, who rarely uttered the words "climate change" or "global warming" during the second half of his first term and during the re-election campaign, has re-inserted it boldly back into his lexicon. In his latest State of the Union address before Congress, Obama sounded like he did in his first, urging lawmakers to limit gases blamed for global warming "for the sake of our children and our future." Those words followed his inaugural address, in which he said, "We will respond to the threat of climate change."

The difference between then and now is that Obama knows Congress is unlikely to agree. He said that if Congress won't act, he will through executive action. The question is: What will he do?

In his toolbox are things as small as requiring appliances to be more efficient and as big as controlling the largest single source of heat-trapping emissions: the carbon pollution from the nation's coal-fired power plants. How boldly will he act in the face of inevitable pushback from industries and the costs of any new regulations to the fragile economy?

Environmentalists already are pressing Obama to kill the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast as a first public test of his commitment to climate change.

___

Giant 3D virtual reality system takes scientists on fantastic voyages through space, anatomy

CHICAGO (AP) — Take a walk through a human brain? Fly over the surface of Mars? Computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago are pushing science fiction closer to reality with a wraparound virtual world where a researcher wearing 3D glasses can do all that and more.

In the system, known as CAVE2, an 8-foot-high screen encircles the viewer 320 degrees. A panorama of images springs from 72 stereoscopic liquid crystal display panels, conveying a dizzying sense of being able to touch what's not really there.

As far back as 1950, sci-fi author Ray Bradbury imagined a children's nursery that could make bedtime stories disturbingly real. "Star Trek" fans might remember the holodeck as the virtual playground where the fictional Enterprise crew relaxed in fantasy worlds.

The Illinois computer scientists have more serious matters in mind when they hand visitors 3D glasses and a controller called a "wand." Scientists in many fields today share a common challenge: How to truly understand overwhelming amounts of data. Jason Leigh, co-inventor of the CAVE2 virtual reality system, believes this technology answers that challenge.

"In the next five years, we anticipate using the CAVE to look at really large-scale data to help scientists make sense of that information. CAVEs are essentially fantastic lenses for bringing data into focus," Leigh said.

___

Greeks going unpaid as jobs vanish, president warns of "societal explosion"

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Looking out across a room full of reporters gathered to welcome French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday, Greece's President Karolos Papoulias gave a stark warning about the state of the country after three harsh years of government spending cuts, joblessness and tax hikes.

"We are faced with a societal explosion if any more pressure is put on society," he said.

Not only are Greece's 1.35 million unemployed unable to make ends meet, but a growing number of those still employed are struggling to feed, heat and clothe themselves — and pay the increasingly hefty taxes the government is relying on to turn the economy around.

Greece's largest union, the GSEE, has called a general strike Wednesday to protest a new series of austerity measures. It warns that the labor force — which includes a large public sector — has been too badly weakened to help the battered country recover.

Since it was priced out of the international debt markets in 2010, Greece has relied on emergency loans from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund. To continue receiving these loans, Athens has had to agree to harsh spending cuts and tax hikes to try and lower public debt. These measures, however, have also put the brakes on Greece's economy.

___

Police family targeted by fugitive ex-LAPD officer recalls 6-day ordeal under heavy guard

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Christopher Dorner's threats to kill officers and the families of those linked to his 2008 firing from the department was backed up with deep research that included surveillance of possible victims, officials said Tuesday.

Chief Charlie Beck told reporters Tuesday that the former Los Angeles police officer "did a lot of homework." Authorities believe he even conducted surveillance near the homes of those who were threatened.

Many officers lived in fear after the threats in Dorner's 11,000-word manifesto were found on Facebook on Feb. 6.

Titled "Last Resort," it led the police to place about 50 officers and their families under protection.

Dorner was spotted circling the neighborhood of Sgt. Emada Tingirides, who feared for the lives of her six children. Her husband, Capt. Phil Tingirides, 54, headed the three-person disciplinary panel that unanimously decided Dorner should be fired for making a false report.

___

Teachers make move to improve student focus by ditching desk chairs in favor of yoga balls

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — In 11 years of teaching, ditching students' desk chairs in favor of yoga balls is one of the best decisions Robbi Giuliano thinks she ever made.

Replacing stationary seats with inflatable bouncers has raised productivity in her fifth-graders at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School, making students better able to focus on lessons while improving their balance and core strength, she said.

"I have more attentive children," Giuliano said. "I'm able to get a lot done with them because they're sitting on yoga balls."

The giant rubber spheres, also called stability balls, come in different sizes, colors and degrees of firmness. By making the sitter work to stay balanced, the balls force muscle engagement and increased blood flow, leading to more alertness.

The exercise gear is part a larger effort to modernize schools based on research linking physical activity with better learning, said John Kilbourne, a professor of movement science at Grand View State University in Allendale, Mich.

___

After a round with Obama, Tiger Woods tries to win a match that matters

MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — Tiger Woods should not expect his next match to be as easy as his last one.

For starters, President Barack Obama was his partner three days ago at The Floridian, which is not to suggest the president had to carry the 14-time major champion. Secondly, Woods won't be competing against a Houston businessman (Jim Crane) and outgoing U.S. Trade Representative (Ron Kirk), but Charles Howell III, who gave Woods fits as a teenager in the 1996 U.S. Amateur.

Woods is a three-time winner of the Match Play Championship who has a 33-9 record in this tournament alone.

And even he knows it won't be easy.

"The whole idea is just to beat one guy at a time," Woods said. "That's the thing. There are times where I've played well in matches and I've lost, and other times where I've played poorly and advanced. It's pot luck in these 18-hole sprints like this. As I said, it's imperative to get off to a quick start and get up on your opponent early. It's just so hard to come back in 18-hole matches, and hopefully, I can do that conceivably for all six."

Print
Email
|