Log in, look out: Cyber chaos may grow at workweek’s start
LONDON (AP) — Employees booting up computers at work Monday could see red as they discover they’re victims of a global “ransomware” cyberattack that has created chaos in 150 countries and could wreak even greater havoc as more malicious variations appear.
As a loose global network of cybersecurity experts fought the ransomware hackers, officials and experts on Sunday urged organizations and companies to update older Microsoft operating systems immediately to ensure they aren’t vulnerable to a second, more powerful version of the software — or to future versions that can’t be stopped.
The initial attack, known as “WannaCry,” paralyzed computers that run Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies worldwide in what was believed to be the biggest online extortion scheme ever recorded.
Microsoft took aim at the U.S. government for “stockpiling” software code that was used by unknown hackers to launch the attacks. The hackers exploited software code from the National Security Agency that leaked online.
The company’s top lawyer said the government should report weaknesses they discover to software companies rather than seek to exploit them.
Clapper: US govt ‘under assault’ by Trump after Comey firing
WASHINGTON (AP) — American democracy is “under assault” on separate fronts from President Donald Trump and Russia, the former U.S. intelligence chief warned Sunday, expressing dismay over the abrupt firing of FBI director James Comey amid a probe into Moscow’s meddling in U.S. elections and possible ties with the Trump campaign.
As Trump works to fast-track Comey’s successor, lawmakers from both parties urged him to steer clear of any politicians for the job and say he must “clean up the mess that he mostly created.”
“I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally — and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system,” said James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence. “I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”
When he was asked, “Internally, from the president?” Clapper said, “Exactly.”
Clapper spoke following Trump’s sudden firing of Comey last week, which drew sharp criticism because it came amid the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Clapper said America’s founding fathers had created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “eroding.”
GOP lawmakers mark success by flipping rules from Obama era
WASHINGTON (AP) — Final score: Republicans 14, Barack Obama’s last-minute regulations, one.
Congressional Republicans anxious to show voters they can get something done are hailing their reversal of more than a dozen Obama-era regulations on guns, the internet and the environment.
Over a few months, lawmakers used an obscure legislative rule to ram through changes that will have far-reaching implications for the coal industry, broadband customers, hunters and women seeking health care at Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
The deadline for scuttling the rules that Democrat Obama imposed during his final months in office was last Thursday. The 1996 Congressional Review Act had given Republicans the power to make the changes with a simple majority, within a set time.
While the rest of Washington focused on the furor over President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Republicans were celebrating their effort to reverse the rules, arguing that it would boost the economy and make it easier for businesses to operate.
North Korea says new long-range missile can carry heavy nuke
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Monday the missile it launched over the weekend was a new type of long-range ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.
North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness, but if confirmed, the claim marks another big step forward in the country’s escalating efforts to field a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Outside experts don’t believe the North can do that yet, but each new test pushes them closer to the goal.
The launch Sunday is an immediate challenge to South Korea’s new leader, a liberal elected just five days earlier who expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea. The country’s push to boost its weapons program also makes it one of the Trump administration’s most urgent foreign policy worries.
The missile flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan, the South Korean, Japanese and U.S. militaries said. Tokyo said the flight pattern could indicate a new type of missile.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency called the missile a “new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12” that’s “capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead.” Leader Kim Jong Un was said to have witnessed the test and “hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing,” according to KCNA.
France’s new president vows to fortify EU, revamp politics
PARIS (AP) — In ceremonies marked by youthful optimism and old-world Napoleonic pomp, Emmanuel Macron swept into office Sunday as France’s new president pledging to fortify the European Union, redesign French politics and glue together his divided nation.
Macron’s presidency began with a visit to troops wounded in overseas combat — a reminder of France’s large global military presence and role in fighting extremists from Syria to Africa.
He’s expected to name a prime minister imminently, and to show his commitment to reviving European unity. Macron takes his first presidential trip Monday to Berlin to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In a lofty but lucid inaugural speech, Macron vowed to lift France out of its sense of decline and lost purpose, and seize again its place in the world.
“The time has come for France to rise up to the occasion. The division and fractures across our society must be overcome … because the world expects us to be strong, solid, clairvoyant.”
New York eyes ‘textalyzer’ to combat distracted driving
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Ben Lieberman just wanted to find out what may have caused the head-on collision that killed his 19-year-old son, Evan, on a highway north of New York City. It took a lawsuit and six months in court to get the cellphone records showing the driver of the car his son was in had been texting behind the wheel.
Lieberman doesn’t believe getting that information should be so hard.
He’s channeling his grief over the 2011 accident into a proposal that would allow police at accident scenes in New York to immediately examine drivers’ cellphones with a device to determine if they’d been tapping, swiping or clicking. It’s been called a Breathalyzer for texting.
“You think people are already looking at phones and it just doesn’t happen,” said Lieberman, who is partnering with the Israel-based tech company Cellebrite to develop the plug-in device that’s been nicknamed the “textalyzer.”
The idea already faces obstacles from constitutional and privacy advocates who are quick to note that police need the owner’s consent and a warrant to get cellphone records. They’re also concerned such technology would be used to access all of the personal information people may have on their cellphones.
More states allow sunscreen at schools without doctor’s OK
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Susan Grenon makes sure her son is lathered with sunscreen before he leaves for school in the morning, but the fair-skinned 10-year-old can’t bring a bottle to reapply it without a doctor’s note.
Many school systems categorize sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication requiring special paperwork, but several states have been pushing to loosen restrictions to make it easier for kids to protect themselves from skin cancer.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed a bill into law this month allowing students to use sunscreen at school without notes from a doctor and parent. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, enacted a similar measure late last month, following Utah in March. Oregon, Texas and New York have also freed students to use sunscreen in recent years. California did it back in 2002.
Backed by the personal care products industry, such proposals also have wide and bipartisan support from health experts and state lawmakers. Legislation is moving forward this spring in Rhode Island and Louisiana. In Florida, it’s waiting for the governor’s signature. The main opposition has come from school nurses voicing caution about children bringing in lotions that can cause allergic reactions.
Grenon, who lives in Smithfield, Rhode Island, said her concerns for her son grew after a doctor excised two basal cell carcinomas from her face in February, and another one three years ago. Grenon said she is paying the price for never using sunscreen while growing up as a military kid in sunny climates such as Hawaii and Nevada.
Sad Mother’s Day for family of slain Ohio nurse’s aide
KIRKERSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — The family of a 48-year-old mom of five children is in mourning this Mother’s Day weekend, after her slaying at the Ohio nursing home where she was a nurse’s aide.
The Columbus Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/2qFMaJ7 ) that Cindy Krantz is being remembered as a kind person who loved her kids. She, nurse Marlina Medrano, 46, and Kirkersville Police Chief Steven Eric DiSario, 36, were killed in the Friday attack.
Suspect Thomas Hartless, 43, was found dead inside the nursing home in Kirkersville, a village of some 500 residents, about 25 miles (39 kilometers) east of Columbus.
Authorities said Sunday they didn’t immediately have any new information to release. They have said they are looking into the relationship between Hartless and Medrano, who had obtained civil protection orders against him in connection with domestic violence cases.
In the nearby city of Pataskala, Krantz’s family said she liked to help others.
Jeter’s No 2 retired by Yanks; Monument Park plaque unveiled
NEW YORK (AP) — Derek Jeter held a microphone and spoke without notes to the crowd that filled sold-out Yankee Stadium. His No. 2, the last of the single digit pinstripes, had been retired and a plaque in his honor dedicated that will be placed in Monument Park alongside tributes to Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and the rest of the team’s greats.
“I say this very humbly,” he told the fans, “there isn’t a person or player I would trade places with that’s playing now or ever.”
Three years removed from a big league career that spanned 1995-2014, Jeter personally picked Mother’s Day for his tribute. His grandmother, parents, sister, nephew and pregnant wife joined him for the ceremony, and he laughed when he saw the plaque, which reads “DEREK SANDERSON JETER/’THE CAPTAIN’/”MR. NOVEMBER'” and goes on to call him “THE CORNERSTONE OF FIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS” AND “A LEADER ON THE FIELD AND IN THE CLUBHOUSE, SETTING AN EXAMPLE FOR HIS TEAMMATES WITH HIS UNCOMPROMISING DESIRE FOR TEAM SUCCESS.”
Jeter said he thought about the plaques of teammates Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte.
“When Bernie got his, he had the big mole. When Jorge had his, he had the big ears. Andy had the big nose. So I was happy with mine,” Jeter said.
Schools brace for impact if Congress cuts Medicaid spending
For school districts still getting their financial footing after the Great Recession, the Medicaid changes being advanced as part of the health care overhaul are sounding familiar alarms.
Administrators say programming and services even beyond those that receive funding from the state-federal health care program could be at risk should Congress follow through with plans to change the way Medicaid is distributed. They say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base.
“If they have less Medicaid money, something’s going to go away,” said Randy Liepa, superintendent of the Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency, which works with 33 school districts in the Detroit area. The agency covers about 21,000 children with special needs who are on Medicaid and it helps districts recoup about $30 million annually in reimbursements.
Districts would have to look at nonmandated positions and programs if forced to bear more of the costs for services for poor and disabled students required by federal law, said Thomas Gentzel, executive director of the National School Boards Association.
The Senate is up next in efforts to do away with President Barack Obama’s health law, and school leaders are watching to see whether the changes advanced by the House survive. The House bill would transform the open-ended federal entitlement, which reimburses schools a percentage of the cost of the eligible services they provide to poor and disabled students, to one where reimbursements will come in a fixed, per-person amount.