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News Wrap: Hackers in Iran Likely Responsible for Cyber Attacks in Persian Gulf

October 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed today that U.S. diplomats will not retreat from dangerous parts of the world. She spoke amid the ongoing questions about the attack in Libya that killed four Americans.

After meeting with the Italian foreign minister, Clinton defended the administration’s changing statements about the attack.

SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: To this day, to this day, we do not have a complete picture. We do not have all the answers. No one in this administration has ever claimed otherwise. Every one of us has made clear that we are providing the best information we have at that time.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Clinton also defended U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who initially said the attack started with a protest against an anti-Islamic video.

U.S. authorities now believe computer hackers based in Iran carried out cyber-attacks on Persian Gulf oil and gas companies over the summer. The attacks crippled 30,000 computers at major companies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday of a possible cyber-Pearl Harbor. He promised decisive action to meet any threat.

Russia insisted today that a Syrian airliner was carrying legal cargo when it was forced to land in Turkey this week. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the shipment consisted of Russian radar parts, but no weapons. Turkish descriptions have ranged from ammunition to missile parts that the Syrian government meant to use against rebels.

An outbreak of fungal meningitis has now spread to dozen U.S. states. The Centers for Disease Control reported today that 184 cases have been confirmed as a result of tainted steroid injections. Fourteen people have died.

For an update, I’m joined by Denise Grady of The New York Times.

Ms. Grady, it was just almost a week ago or a little longer that we only had a dozen cases. How is it that we have got so many cases discovered so quickly?

DENISE GRADY, The New York Times: People are starting to have symptoms.

There is an incubation period for this disease. And more and more people seem to be starting to have symptoms. And the doctors are on the alert for it. All the people who have had the shots — or most of them, anyway — have been notified that they may be at risk and they should be on the lookout for symptoms.

So they are coming in. And doctors say it’s a good thing, because they want to get to them as early as possible because they think that the sooner they can start them on the anti-fungal drugs, the better the chance they have of saving their lives. This type of meningitis can cause strokes and it can be devastating.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Do the victims have anything in common? What do we know about them? It seems that they’re — it’s a larger cross-section than we expected.

DENISE GRADY: Well, they think there are about 14,000 people who have been exposed. What — Tennessee is kind of out ahead of the rest of the country in that they have had more cases than any other state. And their health department is really looking at it very hard.

And what they’re thinking at this point is that of the three lots of medicine that got shipped out, one of them seems to be particularly bad. And most of the people who were sick had that particular lot.

HARI SREENIVASAN: So we know that the company shut down and they voluntarily turned over their license. But who’s looking at how to prevent this in the future? Are there particular government agencies? Are there particular state agencies that are going after these guys?

DENISE GRADY: The Food and Drug Administration and the state board of pharmacy and the state health departments are all looking into this and now there are a number of people in Congress who are talking about having hearings and investigations to try to figure out why these compounding pharmacies seem to be in this kind of gray area where it’s just not clear that anybody’s paying attention to what they’re doing.

HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Denise Grady from The New York Times, thanks so much.

DENISE GRADY: Thank you.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In Pakistan today, police said they have arrested a number of suspects in Tuesday’s shooting of a 14-year-old activist by the Taliban. Malala Yousafzai has been an outspoken critic of Taliban atrocities and a promoter of girls education.

The country’s prime minister visited the girl’s family today at a military hospital near Islamabad. He called the shooting an attack on Pakistan’s core values.

PRIME MINISTER RAJA PERVEZ ASHRAF, Pakistan: We pledge that we will not allow the future of our children to be endangered by the militant mind-set. We pledge that the enemies of Pakistan will never be allowed to succeed.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, a military official said Yousafzai is in satisfactory condition after having a bullet removed from her neck. She’s being kept unconscious and on a ventilator for now.

This year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature voiced hope today that a fellow Chinese laureate will get out of prison. Mo Yan was honored with the literature award yesterday. At a news conference today, he said he hopes that dissident Liu Xiaobo regains his freedom very soon. Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 after being sentenced to 11 years in prison for advocating an end to China’s one-party rule.

The space shuttle Endeavour has begun a final slow-motion journey across Los Angeles to its new home at the California Science Center. The retired shuttle left Los Angeles International Airport shortly after midnight, crawling along on a giant carrier. Crowds gathered along the way, hoping to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. At two miles an hour, Endeavour will need two days to make the 12-mile trip. In advance, crews raised utility lines and cut down 400 trees to make way for the five-story-tall spaceship and its 78-foot wingspan.

Wall Street has closed out a tough week, its worst since June. The Dow Jones industrial average managed a gain of just two points today to close at 13,328. The Nasdaq fell five points to close at 3,044. For the week, the Dow lost 2 percent; the Nasdaq fell nearly 3 percent.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.