TIME National Security

NSA Says Chinese Cyber Attacks Could Shut Down U.S. Infrastructure

Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee Nov. 20, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee Nov. 20, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong—Getty Images

Director says China can damage U.S. power grid

(WASHINGTON) — China and “one or two” other countries are capable of mounting cyberattacks that would shut down the electric grid and other critical systems in parts of the United States, according to Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command.

The possibility of such cyberattacks by U.S. adversaries has been widely known, but never confirmed publicly by the nation’s top cyber official.

At a hearing of the House intelligence committee, Rogers said U.S. adversaries are performing electronic “reconnaissance” on a regular basis so that they can be in a position to disrupt the industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants.

“All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of when, not if, we are going to see something dramatic,” he said.

Outside experts say the U.S. Cyber Command also has the capability to hack into and damage critical infrastructure, which in theory should amount to mutual deterrence. But Rogers, who did not address his offensive cyber tools, said the nuclear deterrence model did not necessarily apply to cyberattacks.

Only a handful of countries had nuclear capability during the Cold War, he said, and nuclear attacks could be detected and attributed in time to retaliate.

By contrast, the source of a cyberattack can easily be disguised, and the capability do significant damage is possessed not only by nation states but by criminal groups and individuals, Rogers noted.

In cyberspace, “You can literally do almost anything you want, and there is not a price to pay for it,” the NSA director said.

Roger’s remarks about critical infrastructure attacks came in response to questioning from Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan, who chairs the intelligence committee. He asked the NSA director about a private report detailing China-based intrusions into the power grid and other critical systems that appeared to be precursors to attack. What other countries, the chairman wanted to know, have the capability?

“One or two others,” the NSA director said, but he declined to name them, saying the information is classified. “We’re watching multiple nation states invest in this capability.”

Rogers said the Obama administration is seeking to establish a set of international principles governing military cyber operations, such as banning attacks on hospitals.

“We need to define what would be offensive, what’s an act of war,” he said.

The NSA’s Rogers also talked about the national security damage from the ongoing theft of intellectual property through cyberattacks.

Michigan’s Rogers opened the hearing by saying that “China’s economic cyber espionage … has grown exponentially in terms of volume and damage done to our nation’s economic future. The Chinese intelligence services that conduct these attacks have little to fear because we have no practical deterrents to that theft. This problem is not going away until that changes.”

China formally denies stealing Western intellectual property through government sponsored hacking.

U.S. networks would be better protected, the NSA’s Rogers said, if Congress would pass a long-pending bill to allow companies to share malware signatures and other threat information with one another and with the government and be protected from liability by doing so. But the disclosures of NSA spying by former agency contractor Edward Snowden have made passage of such a bill extremely difficult, lawmakers say.

TIME Mexico

Angry Mexicans Protest Over 43 Missing Students

Mexico Missing Students
A couple hold candles during a massive protest in Mexico City's main sqaure "El Zocalo," during a march in the capital city to demand authorities find 43 missing college students, in Mexico City on Nov. 20, 2014 Eduardo Verdugo—AP

"We are mad with this Mexican government and its entire structure, because it has not done anything but deceive the families"

(MEXICO CITY) — A largely peaceful march by tens of thousands demanding the return of 43 missing students ended in violence, as a small group of masked protesters battled police in Mexico City’s main square.

The march late Thursday sought the return of the students from a rural teachers’ college. Nov. 20 is usually a day reserved for the celebration of Mexico’s 1910-17 Revolution, but Mexicans were in no mood for celebrations.

Many of the marchers carried “mourning” flags with Mexico’s red and green national colors substituted by black stripes.

“The entire country is outraged,” said housewife Nora Jaime. “It is not just them,” she added, referring to the 43 young men who haven’t been seen since being attacked by police in a southern city Sept. 26. “There are thousands of disappeared, thousands of clandestine graves, thousands of mothers who don’t know where their children are.”

The march in Mexico City was largely peaceful, in contrast to recent protests that have ended with the burning of government buildings in Guerrero state, where the students disappeared. Whenever masked protesters tried to join Thursday’s march, demonstrators shouted them down with chants of “No violence!” and “Off with the masks!”

The protesters converged on the city’s main square, where families of the missing students stood on a platform in front of the National Palace holding posters of their relatives’ faces. Amid chants for President Enrique Pena Nieto to step down, family members repeated that they do not believe the government’s account that the youths were killed by a drug gang,

“We’re not tired,” said one man speaking from the platform. “On the contrary, we are mad with this Mexican government and its entire structure, because it has not done anything but deceive the families.”

After most of the protesters left the square, a small group of masked youths began battling police with rocks and sticks. Police responded with fire extinguishers to put out fires set by the youths and to force them off of the square.

Police charged across the square to drive the protesters out. At least two news photographers, including one from The Associated Press, were injured by police, who took two cameras and some lenses from the A.P. photographer.

Earlier in the day, about 200 youthful protesters, some with their faces covered by masks or bandannas, clashed with police as they tried to block a main expressway to the international airport. Protesters hurled rocks, fireworks and gasoline bombs at the police, at least one of whom was hit by the projectiles. Some passengers had to walk to the terminal, but flights were not interrupted and expressways were reopened.

Many average people, outraged by the disappearances of the students, turned out for the march despite cool weather and some light rain.

Maria Antonieta Lugo was part of a group of housewives who joined the march “because we have children of the same age” as the missing students, who ranged from their teens to their 20s. “This could happen to our children as well,” she said.

Maria Teresa Perez held up a poster with a picture of her son, Jesus Horta Perez, 45, who was kidnapped by armed men from a storefront in a Mexico City suburb in 2009 and has never been heard from again.

“They are shouting about 43, but they should be counting in the thousands, because apart from these 43, there are 33,000 disappeared,” Perez said.

Mexico officially lists 22,322 people as having gone missing since the start of the country’s drug war in 2006. And the search for the missing students has turned up other, unrelated mass graves.

The 43 students, who attended a radical rural teachers college known as Ayotzinapa, disappeared after they went to the Guerrero city of Iguala to hijack buses. Iguala police intercepted them on the mayor’s orders and turned them over to the criminal group Guerreros Unidos, a gang with ties to the mayor, prosecutors have said. Prosecutors say there is evidence the gang members killed the students and incinerated their remains.

It is that link between a local government and drug gang that disgusts many Mexicans.

“I think the reason people are here today is not just Ayotzinapa,” said one protester, Alejandro Gonzalez, who studied industrial design in Pachuca. “I think that today, more than ever … people are realizing the political structures are rotten, useless.”

TIME Japan

Japan’s Lower House Dissolved for Snap Election

Shinzo Abe
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo on Nov. 18, 2014 Shizuo Kambayashi—AP

The snap poll has puzzled many voters, as Shinzo Abe has been Prime Minister for only about two years

(TOKYO) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of Japan’s parliament Friday, paving the way for a general election next month.

The move is widely seen as an attempt by Abe to shore up support for his government after a series of finance-related scandals hit his newly named Cabinet this fall.

His ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which has been in power for most of the post-World War II era, may lose some seats but is likely to retain a solid majority with its coalition partner in the 480-seat lower house.

The election, expected to be set for Dec. 14, follows Abe’s decision this week to postpone a planned increase in the consumption tax after the economy slipped into recession. He is portraying the election as a referendum on his economic revitalization policies, known as Abenomics, and the postponing of the tax increase.

The snap poll has puzzled many voters, as Abe has been prime minister for only about two years.

Analysts say it is perhaps the best timing for Abe to get a fresh mandate to try to ward off any possibility of the mounting scandals sending his government into a downward spiral.

The opposition parties are in disarray, the public’s focus is on the economy and few voters would oppose delaying a tax increase. In the first half of next year, Abe plans to tackle contentious issues that could erode support for his government, namely legislation to expand Japan’s military role and restart nuclear power plants.

TIME abortion

Ohio ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Bill Gets Panel’s OK

The divisive measure had languished without a hearing since it was introduced more than a year ago

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — A bill that would impose some of the nation’s most stringent abortion restrictions cleared an Ohio House committee Thursday after suddenly re-surfacing in the lame duck session.

The GOP-led House Health Committee passed the so-called heartbeat bill 11-6 after several emotional hours of testimony. The divisive measure had languished without a hearing since it was introduced more than a year ago. A nearly identical bill cleared the House in 2011 but was stopped in the state Senate.

The legislation would restrict most abortions at the first detectable fetal heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

Before the vote, abortion rights advocates attacked the measure as unnecessary, dangerous and misogynist, and the American Civil Liberties Union warned it would draw an immediate, costly legal challenge if passed.

Meanwhile, passionate proponents called abortion murder and defended their right as public servants to protect human life.

Chairman Lynn Wachtmann, a Republican from Napoleon, allowed questioning to stray into witnesses’ beliefs on when life begins and whether one witness had children of his own. He then repeatedly gaveled discussion out of order.

At one point, Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Lakewood Democrat, led a collective deep breath in the packed room charged with emotion.

Women delivered heart-wrenching testimony on both sides of the debate.

One woman brought gifts for committee members from her young daughter, Isabella, conceived when the mother was raped as a 17-year-old high school student.

Another recounted roadblocks she faced in ending a pregnancy after the fetus was determined to be unviable and she’d decided on an abortion in consultation with her doctors, family and rabbi.

The heartbeat bill has fiercely divided Ohio’s anti-abortion community, with some fearing a court challenge could undo other abortion restrictions already in place. It is not supported by Ohio Right to Life, the state’s largest and oldest anti-abortion group.

Supporters hope the bill would provoke a legal challenge with the potential to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion up until viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

Similar measures have been challenged in other states.

Ohio supporters of the bill say different federal court judges have different opinions, as has been the case with gay-marriage bans.

TIME North Korea

Russia Says North Korea Is Ready to Resume Nuclear Talks

(MOSCOW) — North Korea says it’s ready to resume international talks on its nuclear program, Russia’s foreign minister said Thursday as Moscow sought to raise its profile in the international standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke after meeting with Choe Ryong Hae, a special envoy for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who earlier this week gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a letter from Kim.

North Korea has wanted to resume talks for a long time, but the U.S. Japan and South Korea say it needs to honor its previous commitments first to shut down its nuclear programs.

Lavrov said Kim’s letter confirmed a desire to expand bilateral ties and “cooperate on settling the problems that still remain on the Korean Peninsula.”

He said Pyongyang is ready to restart the six-way nuclear talks involving both Koreas, as well as the United States, China, Japan and Russia. The negotiations on dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear program have broken up over Pyongyang holding nuclear and missile tests.

“Pyongyang is ready for the resumption of the six-party talks without any preconditions,” Lavrov said.

Without naming any country, Lavrov also warned against a military buildup in the region “along the bloc lines,” an apparent hint at military cooperation between Washington and Seoul.

Russia’s ties with the communist North soured after the 1991 Soviet collapse, but have improved under Putin’s watch. Moscow has previously sought to help mediate the nuclear standoff, but its diplomatic efforts have had little visible effect.

Lavrov also said Pyongyang is considering a Russian project to build a gas pipeline and a power line to South Korea via its territory.

State-controlled Russian Railways has modernized a North Korean cargo terminal and conducted a pilot project shipping Russian coal to South Korea, Lavrov said. Russia is also considering linking its Trans-Siberian railway with the Trans-Korean railway, he added.

TIME Israel

Israel to Destroy Homes of Synagogue Attackers

(JERUSALEM) — The family of two Palestinian assailants who carried out a deadly assault on a Jerusalem synagogue this week says police have ordered the demolition of their homes.

Said Abu Jamal, a cousin of the men, said their families in east Jerusalem received demolition orders from Israeli police on Thursday.

Police say Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal burst into a crowded synagogue on Tuesday morning, killing four worshippers and a Druze Arab policeman with meat cleavers and gunfire before they were shot dead.

It was the bloodiest attack in a recent wave of violence by Palestinian assailants that has killed 11 people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered authorities to destroy the homes of the attackers’ families — a punitive measure that has drawn criticism in the past.

TIME diplomacy

Kerry to Join Iran Nuclear Talks in Vienna

State Department says Kerry going to "check in" on the high-level nuclear negotiations

(PARIS) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna later Thursday to join high-level nuclear negotiations with Iran as a deadline for an agreement fast approaches.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry would be going to the Austrian capital from Paris to “check in” on the talks. It was not yet determined how long he would stay in Vienna, leaving open the possibility that he might not remain until Monday’s deadline for a deal. Kerry is to meet with the U.S. negotiating team in Vienna late Thursday before scheduling meetings with other participants.

Kerry had been expected to join the Vienna negotiations, but the timing of his arrival at the talks had been uncertain until shortly after he arrived in Paris for talks with the Saudi and French foreign ministers after two days of similar meetings in London with his British and Omani counterparts. Kerry is to hold a news conference in Paris after seeing French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and before departing for Vienna.

With Monday’s deadline for a deal looming, Kerry has embarked on a frenzy of high-stakes diplomacy in a last-minute push to secure an agreement — or at least prevent the process from collapsing after talks were already extended once.

Senior negotiators in Vienna have spent three days racing against the clock to forge a pact over the next five days that would prevent Iran from reaching the capability to produce atomic weapons.

Despite Kerry’s efforts, though, signs increasingly pointed to the Nov. 24 deadline passing without a deal and the negotiations being extended a second time.

In London on Tuesday and Wednesday, Kerry met with Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi of Oman, a key bridge between Washington and Tehran, a senior U.S. official said. Bin Alawi was in Tehran last weekend.

Oman is not party to the negotiations among Iran, the U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia, the European Union and Germany. But it is unique among the Gulf Arab states for the close ties it maintains with Iran, having hosted high-level nuclear talks earlier this month and served as the site of secret U.S.-Iranian gatherings dating back to 2012. Those earlier discussions laid the groundwork for an interim nuclear agreement reached a year ago, which the so-called P5+1 countries now hope to cement with a comprehensive accord in Vienna.

In Washington on Wednesday, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be Kerry’s deputy at the State Department said he believed it would be difficult to meet the deadline.

“It’s not impossible,” said Tony Blinken, currently Obama’s deputy national security adviser. “It depends entirely on whether Iran is willing to take steps it must take to convince us, to convince our partners that its program would be for entirely peaceful purposes. As we speak, we’re not there.”

Peter Wittig, Germany’s ambassador to the U.S., wouldn’t rule out an extension and said a nuclear deal could lead to better relations between Iran and world powers on regional crises in Syria and Lebanon.

“If these negotiations fail, there won’t be any winners,” Wittig told reporters in Washington.

Kerry’s meetings with Fabius and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal are considered critical because French objections last year delayed the adoption of an interim agreement by several weeks, and Saudi Arabia remains deeply concerned about the potential for its archrival Iran to win concessions from the West.

The Obama administration also is trying to satisfy the concerns of Republican and many Democratic lawmakers at home.

Republican senators sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday urging the administration against trying to circumvent Congress in any deal with Iran. “Unless the White House genuinely engages with Congress, we see no way that any agreement consisting of your administration’s current proposals to Iran will endure,” said the letter, which was signed by all 45 Senate Republicans.

In a twist, many in Congress who previously opposed further extensions of talks with Iran now see that route as a preferable to an agreement that doesn’t do enough to cut off possible Iranian pathways toward a nuclear bomb.

Republicans in particular want more time so they can attempt to pass new sanctions legislation that would pressure Iran into greater concessions. Their plan is to bring up a package of conditional penalties after January, when they take the Senate majority, according to GOP Senate aides who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

Some Democrats are on board with that effort, though Obama has threatened to veto any new sanctions threatening the diplomacy.

Even Israel, which has been among the most hostile to the West’s diplomatic overtures toward Tehran, is suggesting it is amenable to an extension. The option would allow time for a better agreement to be negotiated through additional economic sanctions on Iran, a senior Israeli official said.

___

Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Lara Jakes in Washington and Tia Goldenberg in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

TIME Crime

Records Reveal Divide on Ferguson Police Tactics

Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on August 13, 2014.
Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on August 13, 2014. Jeff Roberson—AP

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) — Newly released emails, sent to and from Missouri’s top public-safety officials, show that the state police captain placed in charge of security in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s death was both vilified and praised for attempting to replace authorities’ militarized approach with one more sympathetic to protesters.

The emails, obtained by The Associated Press through an open-records request, also show that police tried to find a way to protect members of the clergy who were in the protest crowds, and that some officers objected to an order to take their meal breaks in public.

The messages offer a small window into the inner workings of Missouri law-enforcement agencies as they tried to quell the tensions that arose following the fatal shooting of the black 18-year-old by white police officer Darren Wilson. The records also illustrate one of the many challenges authorities could face if new protests develop — how to walk a fine line between providing public empathy and security.

There is no specific date for a grand jury decision to be announced on whether to charge Wilson. But anticipation has been mounting because St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch has said previously that he expects a decision by mid-to-late November.

As early as Labor Day weekend, police were already discussing the need to develop a well-coordinated plan for a potential surge in protests when the grand jury decision is announced.

Brown, who was unarmed, was shot after some sort of confrontation with Wilson, who had ordered Brown and a friend to quit walking down the center of a street. Wilson has told authorities that he realized after initially encountering Brown that he matched the description of a suspect in a convenience store robbery that occurred just minutes earlier, according to reports in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that cited unnamed sources.

The shooting stirred long-simmering racial tensions in the predominantly black St. Louis suburb where the police force is composed almost entirely of white officers. After a night of riots and looting, police in subsequent days approached protesters in armored vehicles and used tear gas after some demonstrators threw rocks or Molotov cocktails.

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol, who is black, was put in charge by Gov. Jay Nixon to try to restore calm. He talked and marched with protesters, posed with them for photos and spoke to loud applause at a rally where he apologized to Brown’s family and described his relationship with his own son who wears sagging pants and has tattoos.

Johnson and his supervisors received numerous emails and phone calls complimenting his demeanor from law officers across Missouri and the country.

“Your agency and Captain Johnson are making Troopers all over the country proud,” Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Col. Matt Langer wrote to Missouri State Highway Patrol Col. Ron Replogle.

But other current and retired law enforcement officers sharply criticized the highway patrol, asserting that Johnson’s apology and actions implied Wilson was guilty of a crime without the benefit of a trial.

“The actions of Cpt. Johnson have infuriated me,” retired patrol officer Mike Watson wrote to Replogle. “He has single handedly destroyed the reputation of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.”

The emails show that patrol officers occasionally took personal steps to try to ease tensions or problems.

Johnson, for example, received an email from a woman who lived in the apartment complex near where Brown was shot. She complained that she was having difficulty going back and forth to her job because of protests and police blockades. Johnson told her the problem would be corrected within that week.

One officer, acknowledging he was going outside the chain of command, pleaded in an email to supervisors to tell rank-and-file officers that clergy intermingling among protesters were trying to help and should be treated accordingly. He suggested pastors could wear brightly colored T-shirts with the word “CLERGY” on front and back. Replogle, the highway patrol’s top officer, responded by offering to pay for the shirts himself, if necessary.

At other times, officers appeared to bristle at some of the expectations for interacting with residents.

In late August, a lieutenant for the highway patrol sent an email to officers in the St. Louis region detailing their shifts for patrolling Ferguson, with a requirement “to be seen by the public.”

“When eating meals, troopers must patronize the businesses in the area and not congregate at the Ferguson Police Department,” the lieutenant wrote.

Another officer redistributed the email with a note atop, stating: “The Patrol cannot force you to eat lunch with your own money,” and thanking those who attended a lunch hosted by the wives’ of Ferguson police officers.

TIME celebrities

Multiple Fractures for Bono in NYC Bicycle Accident

Bono
Bono arrives at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 2, 2014 Chris Pizzello—Invision/AP

U2 says it will have to reschedule its planned weeklong appearance on NBC's Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

(NEW YORK) — An injury to U2 singer Bono after what was described by the group as a “cycling spill” left him with multiple fractures that required him to undergo two surgeries, a doctor said Wednesday.

Bono was in a “high-energy bicycle accident” when he was trying to avoid another cyclist on Sunday, orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. Dean Lorich said in a statement from NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Hospital for Special Surgery.

Bono arrived at the Manhattan hospital and underwent multiple X-rays and tests that showed he had a facial fracture involving his left eye socket, his left shoulder blade fractured in three places and a left elbow fracture that went through the skin and left the bone in six pieces.

Lorich said Bono underwent a five-hour surgery that included washing his elbow out, moving a trapped nerve and inserting three plates and 18 screws on Sunday night. Bono had another surgery to repair a fracture to his left little finger on Monday.

Lorich said Bono will need therapy but a full recovery is expected.

On Sunday, U2 guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen posted that “Bono has injured his arm in a cycling spill in Central Park.” They said the band would have to reschedule its planned weeklong appearance on NBC’s “Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon.

TIME remembrance

Motown Singer Jimmy Ruffin Dies at Age 78

Jimmy Ruffin
American soul singer Jimmy Ruffin in London, 1973 Michael Putland—Getty Images

"Jimmy Ruffin was a rare type of man who left his mark on the music industry"

(NEW YORK) — Jimmy Ruffin, the Motown singer whose hits include “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” and “Hold on to My Love,” died Monday in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 78.

Philicia Ruffin and Jimmy Lee Ruffin Jr., the late singer’s children, confirmed Wednesday that Ruffin had died. There were no details about the cause of death.

Ruffin was the older brother of Temptations lead singer David Ruffin, who died in 1991 at age 50.

“Jimmy Ruffin was a rare type of man who left his mark on the music industry. My family in its entirety is extremely upset over his death. He will truly be missed,” a statement from Philicia Ruffin and the Ruffinfamily said. “We will treasure the many fond and wonderful memories we all have of him.”

Jimmy Lee Ruffin was born on May 7, 1936, in Collinsville, Mississippi. He was signed to Berry Gordy’s Motown Records, and had a string of hits in the 1960s, including “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” which became a Top 10 pop hit.

He had continued success with songs such as “I’ve Passed This Way Before” and “Gonna Give Her All the Love I’ve Got,” but Ruffin marked a comeback in 1980 with his second Top 10 hit, “Hold on to My Love.” The song was produced by Robin Gibb, the Bee Gees member who died in 2012.

Ruffin worked with his brother David in the 1970s on the album, “I Am My Brother’s Keeper.”

Ruffin also lived in England for many years.

Funeral arrangements are pending, the family said.

“We appreciate all of the love and prayers from our family, friends, his colleagues and his adoring fans,” the statement said.

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