US checking arms claims
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday the US effort to determine whether Syria has used chemical weapons is a “serious business” that cannot be decided in a rush just because several countries believe evidence supports that conclusion. “Suspicions are one thing, evidence is another,” Hagel told reporters as he wrapped up a visit to Cairo that included talks about Syria and other regional issues. Hagel rejected suggestions the US was undermining its credibility by saying it was continuing to assess the issue, even as France, Britain and Israel have concluded evidence suggests chemical arms have been used in Syria’s conflict.
Twitter security in question
A hijacked Associated Press (AP) Twitter account that rattled markets with false word of an attack on the White House put the security of social media in the crosshairs on Wednesday. The stock market rebounded from the nosedive triggered on Tuesday by the bogus tweet and the AP posted a message on Twitter that its account “which was suspended after being hacked, has been secured and is back up.” The AP Twitter page indicated more than 1.8 million followers as of early evening in San Francisco. However, questions remained as to whether security was tight enough on Twitter and other popular social networks in an age when people increasingly turn to posts from friends or strangers for reliable news and information. Twitter was firm that evaluating and improving defenses at the service remains an ongoing priority and that the hijacking of the AP account didn’t prompt any immediate moves to toughen security.
State recognizes vigilantes
The southwestern state of Guerrero has officially recognized vigilante groups that emerged this year to defend communities against violent drug gangs. Hundreds of men covered their faces, put up checkpoints and took up machetes and rifles in a rural, mountainous region near Acapulco in January in response to a wave of murders, kidnappings and extortion. The movement began in the municipality of Ayutla de los Libres and then spread elsewhere, as state and federal authorities tolerated their presence in towns where local police have failed to rein in gangs. Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre said that under the accord reached on Tuesday, the self-defense groups would work under a legal framework, but would not “participate in political events, put up checkpoints and wear masks.” One of the vigilante movement’s leaders, Crisoforo Garcia Rodriguez, said the new force would depend on the state government and would receive salaries, equipment and training.