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News Wrap: Syria denies U.S. reports that it’s incinerating corpses of executed prisoners

May 16, 2017 at 6:30 PM EDT
In our news wrap Tuesday, Syria denied U.S. claims that the regime is using a crematorium to incinerate corpses in order to conceal mass executions of thousands of prisoners. Also, North Korea has become the prime suspect in a global cyber attack. A growing number of cybersecurity experts now say lines in the ransomware code are identical to ciphers used by previous hackers linked to the country.
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JOHN YANG: In the day’s other news: Syria denied U.S. claims that it’s using a crematorium to conceal mass executions of thousands of prisoners. The Foreign Ministry called it categorically false and said it’s a new Hollywood plot to justify American intervention.

The State Department accused Syria of incinerating the corpses of executed prisoners to destroy evidence that could be used in war crimes prosecutions.

North Korea has become the prime suspect in the global cyber-attack. A growing number of cyber-security experts now say the lines in the ransomware code are identical to lines in the code used by previous hackers linked to the North.

And, they say, there are other clues.

ERIC CHIEN, Symantec Researcher: It’s a bit unclear on what their ultimate motivation here is, but it does seem pretty clear that this is not the kind of thing a very professional cyber-criminal would do.

You know, guys who are involved in these types of schemes like to run just under the radar. You want to infect as many machines as possible, but still be under the radar.

JOHN YANG: The attack has infected thousands of computers and servers in about 150 countries, but the Department of Homeland Security says only a handful were in the United States.

Back in this country, Senator John Cornyn now says he’s not interested in being FBI director. The Texas Republican was interviewed for the job over the weekend. Today, in a statement, he said he’d rather stay in the Senate. Yesterday, South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy withdrew from consideration.

A new federal study finds that one in every five middle and high school students complained of being bullied in 2015. That’s despite the fact that the overall problem improved over the last decade; 21 percent of students ages 12 to 18 said they were bullied in 2015, and reports of sexual assaults on college campuses nearly tripled between 2001 and 2014, to 6,700.

Advances in reducing the number of Americans without health insurance have stalled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number last year was unchanged at 28.6 million. That ends five years of coverage gains under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

And on Wall Street, stocks had a lackluster day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost two points to close above 20979. The Nasdaq rose 20 points, and the S&P 500 slipped one point.

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