- Associated Press - Monday, June 2, 2014

US accuses European hackers of multi-million-dollar theft, implanting computer viruses

WASHINGTON (AP) - A band of hackers implanted viruses on hundreds of thousands of computers around the world, secretly seized customer bank information and stole more than $100 million from businesses and consumers, the Justice Department said Monday in announcing charges against the Russian man accused of masterminding the effort.

In unveiling the criminal case, federal authorities said they disrupted European-based cyber threats that were sophisticated, lucrative and global.

In one scheme, the criminals infected computers with malicious software that captured bank account numbers and passwords, then used that information to secretly divert millions of dollars from victims’ bank accounts to themselves. In another, they locked hacking victims out of their own computers, secretly encrypted personal files on the machines and returned control to the users only when ransom payments of several hundred dollars were made.

“The criminals effectively held for ransom every private email, business plan, child’s science project, or family photograph - every single important and personal file stored on the victim’s computer,” Leslie Caldwell, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said at a news conference.

Working with officials in more than 10 other countries, the FBI and other agencies recently seized computer servers that were central to the crimes, which affected hundreds of thousands of computers.

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Obama orders big cuts in power plant pollution - but timing and impact of results uncertain

WASHINGTON (AP) - Taking aim at global warming, President Barack Obama introduced a politically charged plan Monday to order big and lasting cuts in the pollution discharged by America’s power plants. But the plan, though ambitious in scope, wouldn’t be fully realized until long after Obama’s successor took office and would generate only modest progress worldwide.

Obama’s proposal to force a 30 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions, by the year 2030 from 2005 levels, drew immediate scorn from Republicans, industry groups and even a few Democrats who are facing fraught re-election campaigns in energy-dependent states. Environmental activists were split, with some hailing the plan and others calling it insufficiently strict to prevent the worst effects of global warming.

In all likelihood, the plan marks one of the most significant steps Obama will take to shape the country he governs during his final years in office. Stymied by Congress on nearly every front, Obama has turned to actions he can take on his own, but has found limited means to effect the type of sweeping change he has envisioned in his two campaigns.

The effort would cost up to $8.8 billion annually in 2030, the EPA projected. But the actual price is impossible to predict until states decide how to reach their targets - a process that will take years.

Obama, in a conference call with public health leaders, sought to head off critics who have argued the plan will kill jobs, drive up power bills and crush the economy in regions of the U.S.

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Pentagon concluded Bergdahl left his unit, but US still sought to free him - and split Taliban

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