Dec. 5, 2013
A Florida-based animal rights organization filed a lawsuit against Stony Brook University on behalf of two chimpanzees being used for research by the Department of Anatomical Sciences. The Nonhuman Rights Project filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in an attempt to grant “legal personhood” for the chimpanzees—Hercules and Leo—and to demand their release to a primate sanctuary.
Judge W. Gerard Asher of the Suffolk County Supreme Court denied the petition without a hearing. The Nonhuman Rights Project is planning to appeal the decision, however. The organization also filed lawsuits on behalf of two other chimpanzees in New York: one owned by a couple living in Niagara Falls and another kept in a trailer lot in Gloversville.
Dec. 19, 2013
Target Corporation confirmed that a security breach compromised data from the credit and debit card accounts of about 40 million customers. According to the company, the cyber attack occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. Brian Krebs, a computer security blogger and former reporter for The Washington Post, originally broke news of the breach on Dec. 18.
Target later said that encrypted PIN data may have also been affected by the breach. On Jan. 10, Target also acknowledged unauthorized access to personal information unrelated to credit cards—phone numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses—from about 70 million customers. The Secret Service is currently investigating the case.
Jan. 6, 2014
The United States Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the new chairperson of the Federal Reserve System by a vote of 56‒26. Yellen, who has served as the vice chair of the Federal Reserve since 2010, will be the first woman to hold the position. President Barack Obama nominated Yellen for confirmation on Oct. 9, 2013.
In her hearing before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on Nov. 14, Yellen defended the Federal Reserve’s policies on stimulating the economy during the current economic recession. She will succeed the incumbent chair of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, whose term ends on Jan. 31.
Jan. 10, 2014
The United States Department of State issued a travel alert for those who plan to attend the Olympics scheduled for February in Sochi, Russia. The travel alert refers to terrorist activity in the North Caucasus region, including two suicide bombings in December 2013 that killed more than 30 people overall in the city of Volgograd, about 600 miles northeast of Sochi.
In response to concerns about security for the Sochi Olympics, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach issued a statement on Dec. 30 stating that “everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games.”
The travel alert also mentions risks affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travelers due to a Russian law banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.”
Jan. 16, 2014
A select committee of the New Jersey Assembly launched its investigation of a scandal affecting the administration of Gov. Chris Christie. The scandal began when two toll lanes at the Fort Lee entrance of the George Washington Bridge were closed between Sept. 9 and Sept. 13, 2013.
Emails published by several news outlets on Jan. 8. suggest that several of Gov. Christie’s aides and Port Authority appointees ordered the lane closure as retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s 2013 re-election campaign. In a Jan. 9 press conference, Governor Christie denied taking part in the scheme, stating that he was “embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on [his] team.” The governor’s office and re-election committee were subpoenaed as part of the investigation.