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Morning Roundup - August 18th

From the Associated Press, on the Secretary's trip to New Orleans yesterday:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday the Obama administration was honoring its pledge to cut red tape and speed the flow of rebuilding aid to the Gulf Coast, with more than $895 million in infrastructure funds set aside for Louisiana since President Barack Obama took office.

The latest pledge of money - $32 million - was announced during her second visit in five months to Southern University at New Orleans, which was virtually wiped out by Hurricane Katrina nearly four years ago. Only a few buildings have been renovated to date, and some classes and school activities are still held in trailers at a nearby campus.

The money is to replace four buildings. The school and Federal Emergency Management Agency had previously not come to terms on the level of damage caused by the Aug. 29, 2005 storm and levee breaches.

"It's really awesome," Chancellor Victor Ukpolo said.

Shortly after taking her post earlier this year, Napolitano ordered a fresh look at hurricane recovery efforts that had been marred by red tape, finger-pointing and hard feelings by officials at all levels. The review prompted, among other things, joint federal-state teams to resolve project disputes.


From USA Today, on a new set of charges for a known hacker:

Federal authorities in New Jersey on Monday charged accused TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez and two unnamed Russians with also cracking into the computer systems of Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, Hannaford Bros. and two unidentified companies.

Gonzalez, 28, of Miami, is now at the epicenter of the largest data breach criminal case in U.S. history. He was previously charged on May 2008 and August 2008 by federal authorities in eastern New York and Massachusetts, suspected of breaching data systems linked to more than 2,500 stores owned by the TJX (TJX) retail chain, parent of T.J. Maxx. TJX reported losing more than 94 million payment card transactions. Gonzalez pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

He faces the Heartland charges beyond that. "This investigation marks the continued success of law enforcement in tracking down cutting-edge hacking schemes," Ralph Marra, acting U.S. Attorney of New Jersey said in a statement.


From the Wall Street Journal, on preparing for H1N1:

With about 55 million U.S. children heading back to school in the next few weeks, concerns are growing that the H1N1 swine flu will spread even further than it already has. Identified by scientists four months ago, the virus has already turned up in nearly every corner of the world, from Argentina to Iran. It defied public-health officials' predictions of a lull in the warm summer months, proliferating in military units and children's summer camps.

More than two million people are believed to have contracted the new flu in the U.S.; 7,511 had been hospitalized and 477 had died as of Aug. 13, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. World-wide, 177,457 people have been confirmed with the disease, and 1,462 deaths had been reported as of Aug. 12, according to the World Health Organization.

A vaccine against the new flu is under development, but it is unlikely to be widely available before the flu season gets under way. That could leave many people scrambling to protect themselves and their children.

Here is what you need to know:

How dangerous is the H1N1 swine flu?


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