In our news wrap Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice charged that hackers working with China have targeted U.S. firms researching a vaccine for COVID-19. Two Chinese nationals were indicted as part of a broader scheme that also involved stealing weapon designs and drug information. Also, the European Union approved a $2.1 trillion plan to help member states through the pandemic recession.
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In the day's other news: The U.S. Justice Department charged that hackers working with China have targeted U.S. firms doing research on a COVID-19 vaccine.
Two Chinese nationals were indicted as part of a broader scheme going back 10 years. They're also accused of stealing weapon designs, drug information and even Chinese dissidents.
China has now taken its place, alongside Russia, Iran and North Korea, in that shameful club of nations that provide a safe haven for cyber-criminals, in exchange for those criminals being on call for the benefit of the state.
These are the first criminal charges involving attempts to steal COVID vaccine data, but they are mainly symbolic. The Chinese suspects remain at large, and federal officials concede they are not likely to be arrested.
The European Union approved a plan today worth $2.1 trillion to help member states through the pandemic recession. After a marathon four-day meeting in Germany, the bloc's strongest nations agreed to share the debt. Weaker states will get grants that do not have to be repaid. The package must still be ratified by all 27 E.U. members.
In Ohio, the speaker of the Statehouse, Republican Larry Householder, and four of his associates have been arrested in a $60 million bribery scheme. Federal prosecutors say that an unnamed company paid them to push through a billion-dollar bailout for two nuclear power plants. The bailout added new fees to every electricity bill in the state.
President Trump's threat to send federal agents to Chicago and other cities is still reverberating tonight. He says big cities with Democratic mayors have let protests turn violent. And acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf vowed today that — quote — "We will not retreat."
But New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will fight back, if it comes to that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, D-N.Y.:
This president blusters and bluffs and says he's going to do things, and they never materialize on a regular basis. So, first, we should not overrate his statements. They are so often not true.
Second, if he tried to do it, it would only create more problems, it would backfire, it wouldn't make us safer, and we would immediately take action in court to stop it.
Federal agents are already in Portland, Oregon. And, last night, they fired tear gas at protesters who pulled down fencing at the federal courthouse.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a defense policy bill that would drop Confederate names from military bases. President Trump has threatened to veto over that provision.
The president is also trying to block the 2020 census from counting people who are in the U.S. illegally. He signed a memorandum today that says they should be excluded. The U.S. Supreme Court already blocked efforts to add a citizenship question to the census. Opponents of today's move say that they will go to court again.
The Democratic presidential nominee-to-be, Joe Biden, has rolled out another big piece of his economic recovery plan. He called today for spending $775 billion over 10 years on elderly care, preschool programs, and other priorities.
He said that it would create three million jobs, and that President Trump has no plan of his own.
Former Vice President Joe Biden:
For all his bluster about his expertise on the economy, he is unable to explain how he will actually help working families hit the hardest. You know, he's quit on you, and he's quit on this country.
The former vice president is also warning of swift retaliation against any nation that tries to meddle in the 2020 election.
In Britain, a committee of Parliament reports that the government largely ignored possible Russian interference in the Brexit referendum. It says that officials refused to investigate the allegations. The 2016 vote approved the breakup with the European Union. The report acknowledges that it is — quote — "difficult, if not impossible" to prove that Russian meddling influenced the outcome.
And on Wall Street, investors focused on hopes for more economic recovery — recovery aid from Congress. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 159 points to close at 26840. The Nasdaq fell 86 points, but the S&P 500 added five points.