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Across the Nation: Apple opposes order to unlock shooter iPhone

Apple opposes order to unlock shooter iPhone

Apple Inc. rejected a court order to help U.S. investigators unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in a terrorist attack in California, accusing the U.S. government of “overreach” that will set a dangerous precedent.

In a letter published on Apple’s website, Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said the Federal Bureau of Investigation was seeking a new version of Apple’s operating system that would circumvent security features and give law enforcement access to private data. Cook framed the demand as a “chilling attack” on civil liberties and warned that ultimately the government could “demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

Law enforcement authorities say they need a backdoor into private information to track terrorists like the duo who killed 14 people in San Bernardino in December; companies like Apple and Google say such a move would violate pledges to keep their customers’ data safe and hurt their businesses.

—Bloomberg News


Scalia vacancy boosts prospects for carbon-cutting plan

The Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death improves the outlook for President Barack Obama’s controversial plan to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants, just a week after the court raised doubts about its viability.

“The math changes completely,” said FBR Capital Markets analyst Benjamin Salisbury.

Scalia, one of the fiercest critics of the Environmental Protection Agency’s air-pollution regulations, voted Feb. 9 to halt enforcement of the Clean Power Plan program while it was being challenged in a lower court. The 5-4 decision signaled that a majority of the justices had “real problems” with the plan and could overturn it, Salisbury said.

The Feb. 13 death of Scalia opens the possibility of the lower court upholding the power-plant regulation and the rule surviving on a 4-4 vote of the remaining Supreme Court justices. In such ties, the ruling of the lower court prevails though no legal precedent is established.

—Bloomberg News


Reality tempers optimism in coal country

MADISON, W.Va. — The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a commodity that is hard to come by in coal country: hope.

Hope that by blocking a new federal rule cutting power-plant emissions, the court has turned the tide after years of regulations and declining production. Hope that the jobs that once brought good wages to people who desperately needed them will come back.

However, these hopes have been tempered by another, grimmer thought — that this development might be too little, too late. That it’s false hope.

For the long-suffering communities that depend on coal, last week’s Supreme Court ruling was seen as a rare victory. The justices ruled 5-4 Tuesday to freeze the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to reduce the nation’s carbon-dioxide emissions 32 percent by 2030 while legal challenges against the regulations are pending.

Those regulations, a key component of President Barack Obama’s plan to fight climate change, focus on cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants and are viewed as a possible knockout blow to a staggering industry. The high court’s surprising decision to issue a stay even before the Court of Appeals heard the case was seen by many as an indication it was hostile to the regulations.

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