WASHINGTONExperts: Hackers could use state systems as back door

As the Obama administration raced to meet its self-imposed deadline for online health insurance markets, security experts working for the government worried that state computer systems could become a back door for hackers.

Documents provided to The Associated Press show that more than two-thirds of state systems that were supposed to tap into federal computers to verify sensitive personal information for coverage were initially rated as “high risk” for security problems.

Back-door attacks have been in the news, since the hackers who stole millions of customers’ credit and debit card numbers from Target are believed to have gained access through a contractor’s network.

The administration says the documents offer only a partial and “outdated” snapshot of an improving situation, and the security problems cited were either resolved or are being addressed through specific actions.

However, the issues detailed in documents and emails provided by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reveal broader concerns than the federal Health and Human Services department has previously acknowledged.

WASHINGTONHolder: State AGs can refuse to defend gay-marriage bans

State attorneys general are not obligated to defend laws in their states banning same-sex marriage if the laws discriminate in a way forbidden by the Constitution, Attorney General Eric Holder told his state counterparts Tuesday.

He didn’t push his audience to refuse to defend same-sex marriage bans, and said any decision to do so must not be made lightly. But he said it’s imperative to uphold the values “that all are created equal and entitled to equal opportunity.”

“Any decisions — at any level — not to defend individual laws must be exceedingly rare,” Holder said at a meeting of the top law enforcers’ national association.

PHOENIXGovernor under pressure on controversial rights bill

Gov. Jan Brewer returned to Arizona on Tuesday and faced a pressing decision about a bill on her desk that has prompted a national debate over religious and gay rights.

The Republican governor has been in Washington the last five days for a governor’s conference, and she is returning to a political climate that is much different from just a week ago.

The Arizona Legislature passed a bill last week allowing businesses whose owners cite sincerely held religious beliefs to deny service to gays. It allows any business, church or person to cite the law as a defense in any action brought by the government or individual claiming discrimination.

The legislation has caused a national uproar. The chorus of opposition has grown each day, with the business community, the state’s Super Bowl Committee and both Republican U.S. senators calling for a veto. Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was the latest prominent voice to weigh in and urge Brewer to veto the bill.

Brewer will likely spend the next day or more pondering Senate Bill 1062 before deciding whether to sign or veto the legislation.

MEXICO CITYMexico puts off extradition of drug kingpin to America

Mexico made clear Tuesday it is determined to keep drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in its highest-security prison for the foreseeable future, putting off U.S. extradition.

The move that could bolster President Enrique Pena Nieto’s nationalist credentials but also shine a spotlight on the country’s woeful judicial system.

— From news service reports