Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 20, 2014

Harold Maass
Wanted. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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Justice Department files hacking charges against five Chinese military officials

Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday announced that the Justice Department was charging five members of the Chinese military with cyberespionage for allegedly hacking American corporate computer systems to steal secrets and pass them on to Chinese competitors. Holder said the case represented "the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking." China said the accusations were "purely ungrounded and absurd." [U.S. News & World Report]


Judge throws out Oregon's gay marriage ban

A federal judge ruled Monday that Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said the policy, defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, violated the Constitution's guarantee that all Americans will be treated equally under the law. Within an hour of McShane's ruling, 23 same-sex couples waiting inside the building had obtained marriage licenses. [The Christian Science Monitor]


U.S. considers evacuating embassy in Libya

The Pentagon is preparing to evacuate the U.S. embassy in Libya, as fierce fighting rages between forces loyal to renegade general Khalifa Haftar and Islamist militiamen. Washington is monitoring the situation in the capital city of Tripoli "minute by minute, hour by hour," a defense official told CNN on Monday. The commander of the Libyan army's special forces said Monday that he joined Haftar's supporters, hampering government efforts to regain control. [CNN, Reuters]


Abu Hamza convicted on terrorism charges

Radical Islamic cleric Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, also known as Abu Hamza, was convicted Monday on 11 terrorism charges. Mustafa, who preached incendiary sermons in the U.K., including one praising the Sept. 11 hijackers, was charged with helping set up the violent 1998 kidnappings of 16 American, British, and Australian tourists in Yemen, and trying to establish a terrorist training camp in Oregon, among other charges. He could face life in prison. [BBC News, The New York Times]


Credit Suisse pleads guilty to helping clients avoid taxes

Swiss bank Credit Suisse pleaded guilty on Monday to criminal conspiracy for helping wealthy American clients evade income taxes for decades. The financial giant  the largest to plead guilty in such a case in 20 years  agreed to pay $2.6 billion in penalties. A dozen other Swiss banks are also under investigation. [USA Today]


Thai military declares martial law

The Thai army imposed martial law on Tuesday to restore order after six months of anti-government protests and a court ruling removing embattled prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and several cabinet ministers. Army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha called on rival political factions to resolve the political crisis. He said the move was not a coup, but that martial law would remain in effect until "peace and order" were restored. [BBC News]


New Hampshire town official quits after calling Obama the "N" word

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, police commissioner Robert Copeland, who provoked an outcry by publicly using a racial epithet to refer to President Obama, has resigned, Police Commission Chairman Joe Balboni said Monday. Copeland resigned in a curt email to Balboni. He has refused to apologize, saying he was "not phobic." A hundred people attended a commission meeting last week, many demanding Copeland's resignation. [New Hampshire Union Leader]


Moscow orders Russian soldiers away from Ukraine border, again

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday ordered soldiers back to their bases after exercises near the Ukraine border. Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the same order Monday. World leaders were not impressed, saying Putin had promised to pull back before but had not done it. NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said removing Russian troops would be the first step toward deescalating Ukraine's political crisis. [Reuters]


The CIA promises not to disguise spy work as health programs

The Central Intelligence Agency has vowed never again to use an immunization project as cover for its operations, as it did three years ago in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a White House spokesperson said Monday. The deans of 12 public health schools wrote to President Obama last year to protest the CIA's bin Laden investigation in Pakistan, masked as a hepatitis vaccination campaign, saying it had a chilling effect on health programs. [The Washington Post]


NBA formally charges Sterling with harming the league

The National Basketball Association on Monday formally charged longtime Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with damaging the basketball league with racist remarks. NBA officials gave Sterling, 80, until May 27 to respond to the charge and set a June 3 hearing for the NBA Board of Governors, where the other 29 team owners could vote to remove him. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has already banned Sterling for life. [Reuters]

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