News briefs from Tribune news services
Sentencing phase of Jodi Arias' murder trial delayed till next week
Phoenix • The next phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial has been postponed until next week.
Court officials didn't provide a reason for the delay. Court will resume Wednesday.
The jury was scheduled to return to the courtroom Thursday to decide whether Arias should be eligible for the death penalty for killing her one-time boyfriend on June 4, 2008. The jury convicted Arias on Wednesday of first-degree murder.
Feds warn of possible cyberattack on electrical or water systems
Washington • The U.S. government on Thursday warned of a heightened risk of a cyberattack that could disrupt the control systems of U.S. companies providing critical services such as electricity and water.
Officials are highly concerned about "increasing hostility" against "U.S. critical infrastructure organizations," according to the warning, which was released by the Department of Homeland Security on a computer network accessible only to authorized industry and government users. "Adversary intent extends beyond intellectual property theft to include the use of cyber to disrupt ... control processes."
Senior U.S. officials have warned in recent months that foreign adversaries are probing computer systems that operate chemical, electric and water plants. But they are also increasingly concerned about the threat of a potentially destructive cyberattack.
Such attacks are rare. Last summer, more than 30,000 computers at the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco were destroyed when a virus wiped data from the hard drives. The same virus also damaged computer systems at Ras Gas, an energy company in Qatar.
DHS officials did not provide details on the nature of the latest threat, but there has been renewed concern among government and industry officials about cyber-activity out of the Middle East, particularly Iran.
Minnesota House approves gay marriage; Senate, guv OK expected
St. Paul, Minn. • Minnesota is positioned to become the 12th state to approve gay marriages following a historic vote in the state House.
The 75-59 vote Thursday was seen as pivotal for the measure, which would allow same-sex weddings beginning Aug. 1. It's a startling shift in the state, where just six months earlier voters turned back an effort to ban them in the Minnesota Constitution.
The Senate is expected to pass the bill next week, and Gov. Mark Dayton has said he'll sign it.
Eleven other states allow gay marriages including Rhode Island and Delaware, which approved laws in the past week. Minnesota would be the first state in the Midwest to pass the measure out of the Legislature. Iowa allows gay marriages because of a 2009 court ruling.
NTSB investigating helicopter crash on a downtown Honolulu street
Honolulu • The president of a helicopter company whose small chopper crash-landed on a downtown Honolulu street is praising the pilot, while the National Transportation Safety Board begins an investigation.
No one was badly hurt when the two-seater helicopter lost power and landed Wednesday afternoon. The NTSB is investigating remotely with help from local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Mauna Loa Helicopters President Benjamin Fouts says he doesn't know why the engine quit, but pilot Julia Link did a "tremendous" job. He says the company uses the aircraft for flight instruction and aerial photography.
Fouts says he leases the 1992 helicopter from registered owner HLM Aviation Services. Fouts is part owner of HLM Aviation.