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WASHINGTON: Cyber warfare questioned

The Pentagon failed to disclose clandestine cyber activities in a classified report on secret military actions that goes to Congress, according to a Senate document that provides a peek at oversight concerns over the government's computer war capabilities. A brief written exchange between Senate questioners and the Pentagon's assistant secretary for special operations, Michael Vickers, underscores unresolved questions about how and when the Pentagon conducts cyber warfare. The U.S. military's use of offensive cyber warfare has only rarely been disclosed, the most well-known instance being the electronic jamming of Iraqi communications networks just before the lightning strike against Saddam Hussein's army in 2003. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said Wednesday that the cyber threat from China is significant and that the Defense Department needs to focus more on cyber warfare.

Small-plane seat belts urged

Federal safety officials are urging that aircraft owners be required to retrofit small planes with shoulder-lap seat belts, but stopped short of calling for the installation of air bags. A three-year study of small plane accidents released by the National Transportation Safety Board found several cases in which air bags prevented serious injuries or fatalities. But investigators said that as only about 7,000 planes have air bags, there haven't been enough accidents yet to judge whether they should be required on all planes. "The good news is that over 30 manufacturers have stepped up to the plate and offer air bags as standard or optional equipment," NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said.

ILLINOIS: Abolishing death penalty?

Advocates on both sides of the death penalty debate are waiting to hear whether Gov. Pat Quinn will support abolishing capital punishment in a state that had 170 people awaiting execution less than a decade ago. Lawmakers sent legislation repealing the death penalty Tuesday to the Democratic governor, who supports capital punishment but has upheld an 11-year moratorium on executions imposed by a predecessor amid a spate of wrongful convictions.


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