December 22, 2009 in Nation/World

In brief: Obama selects cybersecurity czar

From Wire Reports
 

WASHINGTON – After months of wrangling and delays, President Barack Obama has chosen a national cybersecurity coordinator to take on the formidable task of organizing and managing the nation’s increasingly vulnerable digital networks.

Obama has tapped Howard A. Schmidt, longtime computer security executive who worked in the Bush administration and has extensive ties to the corporate world, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement was not to be made until today.

Schmidt will have regular and direct access to the president for cybersecurity issues, the official said.

U.S. government computer systems are constantly under assault, and are being attacked or scanned millions of times a day.

Hackers and cybercriminals pose an expanding threat, using increasingly sophisticated technologies to steal money or information, while nation-states probe for weaknesses in order to steal classified documents or technology or destroy the networks that run vital services.

Asian carp battle goes to high court

CHICAGO – The fight to keep invasive Asian carp from the Great Lakes reached the nation’s highest court Monday as Michigan’s attorney general sued Illinois, asking for the closure of two shipping locks near Chicago in perhaps a last-ditch effort to save the region’s $7 billion fishing industry.

Claiming Illinois officials have been too lax in defending Lake Michigan from Asian carp, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox asked the U.S. Supreme Court for immediate action in closing the O’Brien Lock and Dam in the Calumet-Sag Channel and the Chicago Controlling Works in the Illinois River – hoping to seal off the most direct route for fish entering Lake Michigan.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declined to say whether he favored closing the locks, but said: “We have to protect the ecology of the Great Lakes; we also have many, many jobs that depend on shipping, so there has to be a proper balance.”

Crowds pay tribute to Oral Roberts

TULSA, Okla. – For decades, Oral Roberts deftly used television to become one of the nation’s most recognized and influential preachers. On Monday, that same medium was used to broadcast the memorial service for the godfather of TV evangelism to tens of millions of homes across the world.

At Roberts’ namesake university in south Tulsa, about 4,000 people – some who waited hours in their cars for the doors to open – packed a campus arena to pay final tribute to the charismatic leader who rose from poverty and humble tent revivals to build a multimillion-dollar ministry so enormous that it had its own ZIP code.

Roberts died last week of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif. He was 91.

Mourners came from all backgrounds: from young people in tattered jeans and a man dressed in a camouflage hunting jacket to a young woman carrying a pricey Marc Jacobs handbag. Dignitaries included Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self.

Self summed up his former boss: “Tough in nature, real and certainly one of the most charismatic men I have met,” he said before the service began.

Judge rejects Polanski request

LOS ANGELES – Director Roman Polanski did not win his freedom Monday for a 32-year-old sex offense, but an appeals court said in a strongly worded opinion there was probable judicial and prosecutorial misconduct in his case.

The opinion criticized Polanski for fleeing to his native France in 1978 but suggested two legal options that could lead to his freedom now – file a motion to be sentenced in absentia, or drop his extradition fight, return to the United States and be sentenced in person, most likely not resulting in additional jail time.

Polanski wears an electronic monitoring device while under house arrest in Switzerland.

The court rejected the request for outright dismissal, which was raised by Polanski and the lawyer for his victim, Samantha Geimer.

But the justices said they were “deeply concerned” about probable misconduct by a now-deceased judge and a retired prosecutor who advised him.

They urged further investigation.


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