100% Austin news, info, and entertainment, straight to your inbox at 6 a.m. every morning.
In five minutes, you're fully informed and ready to start another great day in our city.
The Chinese government may have tried to steal research related to COVID-19 from the University of Texas at Austin, the FBI told the school earlier this month.
The news came from an email sent Monday to faculty, staff and post-doctoral students from the school's interim vice president and provost, Daniel Jaffe, who wrote that the investigation was sparked by the July 24 closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston.
He warned that the FBI may be reaching out to them about relations with the consulate and "efforts by the Chinese government to illegally procure research from American universities."
"We do not know whom the FBI intends to contact or what they plan to discuss, nor have we shared anyone's information or details about ongoing research with FBI agents," Jaffe said in the email. "It's not unusual for federal law enforcement officers to ask to speak with researchers if deemed necessary to support criminal or national security investigations."
Details of Jaffe's email to members of the university were first reported by the Houston Chronicle. UT is not the only university affected.
The closure of the consulate in Houston served as the latest development in the conflict between the Trump administration and China, which spans issues ranging from trade, espionage, the expansion of 5G phone service around the globe and, now, the country's role in the coronavirus pandemic.
The administration cited the need to protect intellectual property and American private information in closing the consulate—the same issues the FBI is now investigating at U.S. higher education institutions.
The day before the closure of the consulate, the Justice Department revealed indictments for two Chinese hackers accused of stealing information from "computer systems of hundreds of victim companies, governments, non-governmental organizations, and individual dissidents, clergy, and democratic and human rights activists in the United States and abroad, including Hong Kong and China."
A press release announcing the indictment said the hackers stole for their own personal gain, in some cases, and in others acted on behalf of the Chinese government. The terabytes of data ranged from tech manufacturing to pharmaceuticals to gaming software.
Want to read more stories like this one? Start every day with a quick look at what's happening in Austin. Sign up for Austonia.com's free daily morning email.
- Austin COVID-19 projections show surge scenarios - austonia ›
- Less distancing may come at 'substantial cost' in lives, UT COVID ... ›
- COVID-19 'does spread silently' as Austin hits record high - austonia ›
- Scientists enlist UT-Austin's supercomputers in global war on COVID ... ›
- College grads see jobs revoked, deferred, canceled as they step ... ›
- UT Austin students gathered without masks get blasted on social media, university responds - austonia ›
- UT Austin debuts new hologram program amid pandemic - austonia ›
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday that Texas will opt out of further federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic effective June 26, citing the number of current job openings and concern about potentially fraudulent unemployment claims. The benefits include a $300 weekly supplement.
"The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring communities across the state," Abbott said in a statement. "According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment jobs."
TWC listed 837,273 job openings as of Monday afternoon compared to 226,849 unemployment insurance claims filed statewide between March 31 and May 1. An estimated 1 million Texans were unemployed as of March, according to latest estimates released by the state agency.
Some local business owners, including Doc's Backyard Grill owner Charles Milligan, suspect unemployment benefits are deterring Austinites from returning to work. But others agree with economists who say multiple factors are at play, including health concerns and child care availability.
We're seeing lots of posts about how nobody wants to work right now. Just wanted to share our experience.
We received over 60 resumes for a taproom bartender position we posted last week. Every applicant we've set up an interview with has shown up.
People want 𝘨𝘰𝘰𝘥 work.
— Austin Beerworks (@AustinBeerworks) May 11, 2021
Abbott also cited fraudulent unemployment claims. Between March 2020 and April 2021, TWC received 4.48 million unemployment benefit applications, 611,000 or around 14% of which were tagged as suspicious. Most of those tagged were blocked before any benefits were paid out, according to an April 29 press release.
Federal law requires the effective date of such benefits change to be at least 30 days after the U.S. Department of Labor is notified.
- Reopening Austin offices plan for one-way foot traffic, sanitizing ... ›
- Buc-ee's avoids national workers shortage with benefits - austonia ›
- Austin restaurants struggle to hire workers after pandemic year ... ›
Is it just us, or is the current Austin mask situation confusing? Are we supposed to wear a mask or not, and where? And should we wear one anyway, even if not requested or required?
Austin health orders requiring masks expire Tuesday. What then?
Take our three-question quiz, and tell us what you're thinking.