Russia

Not Good: Report: Russia, China Crack Snowden Docs

   REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: POLITICS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY MEDIA EDUCATION) - RTR4NZE6

Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appears live via video during a student organized world affairs conference at the Upper Canada College private high school in Toronto, February 2, 2015. | Mark Blinch/Reuters

This result was the catalyst for my opposition to Snowden seeking asylum in a communist country…

THE DAILY BEAST

Russia and China have allegedly decrypted the top-secret cache of files stolen by whistleblower Edward Snowden, according to a report from The Sunday Times, to be published tomorrow. The info has compelled British intelligence agency MI6 to withdraw some of its agents from active operations and other Western intelligence agencies are now actively involved in rescue operations. In a July 2013 email to a former U.S. Senator, Snowden stated that, “No intel­li­gence ser­vice—not even our own—has the capac­ity to com­pro­mise the secrets I con­tinue to pro­tect. While it has not been reported in the media, one of my spe­cial­iza­tions was to teach our peo­ple at DIA how to keep such infor­ma­tion from being com­pro­mised even in the high­est threat counter-intelligence envi­ron­ments (i.e. China).” Many in the intelligence agencies at the time greeted this claim with scepticism. Now, one senior British official said Snowden had “blood on his hands,” but another said there’s yet no evidence anyone was harmed. Snowden eventually fled to Russia via Hong Kong after downloading some 1.7 million documents from U.S. government computers and leaking them to journalists out of a desire to protect “privacy and basic liberties.” The revelations of mass spying outraged populations and governments around the world, at least temporarily damaged relations, and eventually led to changes in the mass surveillance policies of the NSA and British GCHQ.

Read it at BBC News >>

10 things you need to know today: February 22, 2015

Kutluhan Cucel / Getty Images

The Week

1.Sec. Kerry threatens Russia with more sanctions
Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday said the U.S. could impose more sanctions on Russia should Moscow violate the latest truce in Ukraine and continue with its “land-grabbing” in the region. Though a delicate cease-fire aimed at ending the year-old conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists went into effect last weekend, both sides accused the other of continued aggressions. “If this failure continues, make no mistake there will be further consequences including consequences that will place added strains on Russia’s already troubled economy,” Kerry said.

Source: The Guardian

2.Turkey evacuates soldiers, remains from Syrian tomb
The Turkish Army on Saturday rescued about 40 military guards from a shrine in northern Syria that had been encircled by ISIS. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said more than 500 troops, aided by tanks and armored vehicles, retrieved the soldiers from the Tomb of Suleyman Shah, which lies within Syria but is considered part of Turkey. Turkey also temporarily relocated the tomb’s remains to prevent ISIS from obtaining or desecrating them. “The ongoing conflict and state of chaos in Syria posed serious risks to safety and security of the tomb,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Source: CNN

3.Defense Secretary says U.S. may slow Afghan withdrawal
Making an unannounced visit to Kabul on Saturday, new Defense Secretary Ash Carter suggested that the United States’ troop withdrawal from Afghanistan may be slowed to ensure that “progress sticks” in the war-torn nation. “President Obama is considering a number of options to reinforce our support for President [Ashraf] Ghani’s security strategy, including possible changes to the timeline for our drawdown of U.S. troops,” Carter said. The current schedule would wind the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan down to about 5,000 by the end of 2015, with a target of lowering that to a “normal” troop presence at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

Source: Reuters

4.Scott Walker: ‘I don’t know’ if Obama loves America, is a Christian
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R ) on Saturday declined to answer basic questions about President Obama’s faith and commitment to the nation. “I don’t know,” Walker said when The Washington Post asked him if the president is Christian. “I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about that.” In a separate interview with The Associated Press, the prospective 2016 candidate also shrugged off a question about Rudy Giuliani’s claim Obama does not love America, saying, “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.” A Walker spokesperson later clarified the governor thinks Obama is indeed Christian, and that he was simply trying to avoid answering “gotcha questions.”

Source: The Washington Post

5.Bangladesh ferry capsizes, kills at least 30
More than two dozen people died Sunday after a ferry carrying more than 100 passengers collided with a cargo ship on the Padma River. Early estimates put the death toll between 30 and 40, though that could change as rescue divers search for people trapped inside the submerged vessel.

Source: The Los Angeles Times

6.Chris Bosh out for season with blood clots in lung
Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh will miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season after developing blood clots in one of his lungs, the team announced Saturday. Bosh had been dealing with pain in his side for days before doctors discovered the clots, which can be fatal; former NBA player Jerome Kersey died Wednesday of a blood clot in his lung. “His health will be restored,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. “That’s the most important thing. That’s bigger than basketball.”

Source: ESPN

7.Study: India’s polluted air cutting short 660 million lives
More than half of India’s population may be facing a shortened life expectancy due to filthy air, according to a study published Saturday in the journal Economic & Political Weekly. Using previous research on China’s air pollution, the study found that 660 million people were breathing in unsafe levels of fine particulate matter and losing at least 3.2 years of their lives as a result. “The extent of the problem is actually much larger than what we normally understand,” Anant Sudarshan, one of the study’s co-author’s and the India director of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago, said.

Source: The New York Times

8.Sprawling storm brings fatal snow, ice to South and East
Yet another weekend storm dumped snow, sleet and, and ice across the South and East from Saturday into Sunday. At least 21 people died in Tennessee from storm-related fatalities, including hypothermia, as Gov. Bill Haslam (R) upgraded the state of emergency there to Level 2. Further north, Washington, D.C., and New York City each saw about five inches of snow, while snowed-in Boston received about another inch of powder.

Source: USA Today, CBS

9. NASCAR driver Kurt Busch loses final appeal
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch on Saturday lost the final appeal of his indefinite suspension from racing. NASCAR suspended Busch on Fridayafter a Delaware judge ruled he choked and beat his ex-girlfriend. The ruling means Busch will miss Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

Source: The Chicago Tribune

10.Academy Awards to crown best in film Sundaynight
The 87th Academy Awards will be held tonight as Hollywood’s award season culminates with its most prestigious event. Birdman and Boyhoodare expected to take home the night’s top honors. Neil Patrick Harris will host the show for the first time.

Source: ABC

10 things you need to know today: February 8, 2015

Johannes Simon

The Week

1.Russia, Ukraine to meet this week for peace talks in Minsk
The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany plan to meet in Minsk, Belarus, on Wednesday for talks aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine. “They expect that their efforts during the Minsk meeting will lead to the swift and unconditional cessation of fire by both sides,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s office said in a statement. Fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists has intensified since the failure last year of a delicate cease fire. Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande traveled to Russia to discuss a last-ditch peace plan.

Source: BBC

2.Brian Williams to take leave from NBC News
NBC News anchor Brian Williams said Saturday he would take a temporary leave from the network amid an internal investigation into his account of a 2003 helicopter mission in Iraq. “In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” he said in a statement. Williams is under investigation for allegedly embellishing a story about an attack on a helicopter convoy he was part of at the outset of the Iraq war.

Source: USA Today

3.North Korea test-fires short-range missiles
North Korea on Sunday fired five short-range missiles into the sea, according to the South Korean government. Fired near the coastal town of Wonsan, the missiles traveled about 125 miles before crashing into the water. The second such test this year, the launch dims the hopes of the two nations resuming peace talks that stalled last year.

Source: The New York Times

4.Legendary college hoops coach Dean Smith dead at 83
Dean Smith, the longtime University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach, died on Saturday at the age of 83. “We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in,” current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said in a statement. Smith coached North Carolina from 1961 to 1997, leading the team to national titles in 1982 and 1993. He retired with 879 victories, the most in college basketball history at the time.

Source: ESPN

5.Israeli PM vows to block Iranian nuclear deal
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he would do everything possible to scuttle “bad and dangerous” nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. “We will do everything to thwart a bad and dangerous deal that will cast a dark cloud on the future of the state of Israel and its security,” he said in a weekly cabinet meeting. The remarks come amid a backlash over Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress next month, which some Democrats and the White House believe could undermine the ongoing nuclear talks.

Source: CBS

6.Maryland court to hear appeal in ‘Serial’ murder case
In a case popularized by the podcast Serial, Adnan Syed will be allowed to appeal his murder conviction. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals filed its decision on Friday, and Syed’s lawyers can now move forward with the appeals process, which can include the presentation of new evidence. A former classmate who did not testify at the original trial, Asia McClain, says she can provide an alibi for Syed in the 1999 murder of his former girlfriend and high school classmate Hae Min Lee.

Source: The Washington Post

7.New England braces for more snow
A slow-moving winter storm could dump as much as two feet of snow on parts of New England over the next two days. The region is already reeling from two massive storms that left behind record snow totals. In Boston, 49 inches of snow fell over a 14-day period, smashing the previous two-week record of 40.2 inches.

Source: The Boston Globe

8.Iran’s top cleric endorses developing nuclear agreement
Iran’s religious leader on Sunday offered his support for a potential nuclear deal with the U.S. in which both sides give ground. “I would go along with any agreement that could be made,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a statement, adding that “negotiations mean reaching a common point.” The two sides have until late March to establish the basic framework of a nuclear agreement.

Source: Reuters

9. Teen arrested in connection with weekend mall shooting
Police on Sunday arrested a 17-year-old in connection with a weekend shooting at a mall outside Pittsburgh that injured three people, two of them critically. Police said the suspect, Tarod Thornhill, is believed to have been targeting one person when he opened fire Saturday night in the Monroeville Mall. Thornhill is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment.

Source: NBC

10.The Grammy Awards ceremony is tonight
The 57th annual Grammy Awards will be held Sunday night in Los Angeles. Beyonce, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams, all of whom are up for Album of the Year, lead the pack with six nominations each.

Source: Billboard

Edward Snowden Was Allegedly Recruited To Work At Russian Spy Agency

Edward Snowden (AP Photo)

The Huffington Post

BERLIN (AP) — A close ally of Edward Snowden has told filmmakers that Russia’s intelligence agency sought to recruit the former NSA contractor, but he declined the offer.

WikiLeaks staffer Sarah Harrison says the Russian FSB intelligence security service approached Snowden while he was stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport for six weeks in 2013.

At the time, Snowden was unable to enter Russia or fly elsewhere because his passport had been canceled by U.S. authorities seeking to arrest him for leaking secret documents.

Harrison told German filmmakers in a documentary airing late Monday that the FSB asked only once, and he “didn’t give anything to the Russians at all.” The FSB did not respond to an AP request for comment.

Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum in August 2013.

10 things you need to know today: December 27, 2014

Ukrainian troops traded POWs with pro-Russia militants on Friday.

Ukrainian troops traded POWs with pro-Russia militants on Friday |(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

The Week

Ukraine exchanges POWs with militants, U.S. nears an intel-sharing agreement with South Korea and Japan, and more

1. Ukraine, rebels exchange POWs as Kiev suspends Crimea travel
The Ukrainian government agreed to trade more than 200 pro-Russian separatist prisoners of war for 150 Ukrainian servicemen on Friday. But, Kiev also announced it would halt all train and bus transportation services to Crimea, citing “deteriorating” security in the region that was annexed by Russia in March. Because Crimea’s only land link is with Ukraine, and Kiev has already banned sea and air traffic, the new suspensions will effectively create a transportation blockade to the peninsula. [Reuters]

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2. U.S. to share North Korea intel with South Korea, Japan
The United States will sign a joint intelligence-sharing pact with South Korea and Japan next week, officials said on Friday. While the U.S. already swaps intelligence with both nations, the new agreement will allow South Korea and Japan to share information on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs via America. The pact will also allow all three nations to more swiftly respond to North Korea’s attempts to manufacture nuclear warheads. [The Associated Press]

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3. Top al Shabab militant surrenders to officials in Somalia
Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, a top intelligence figure in al Qaeda-linked group al Shabab,reportedly surrendered to Somali officials on Saturday. The U.S. state department offered a $3 million reward in June 2012 for information leading to Hersi’s arrest; his surrender comes just two days after al Shabab militants attacked an African Union peacekeeping base in Somalia. [BBC News,The New York Times]

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4. Putin signs new military doctrine naming NATO as top threat
Saying a buildup of NATO forces near its borders could be used for “political and military pressure,” Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new military doctrine on Friday that points to NATO as the country’s top military threat. Unlike a 2010 version of Russia’s military doctrine, the new document gives Moscow room to use precision conventional weapons “as part of strategic deterrent measures,” although it does not outline exactly how or when the Kremlin would be able to resort to such actions. NATO said it “poses no threat to Russia or to any nation.” [The Associated Press]

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5. Saudi Arabia to try female drivers in terrorism court
Activists say that two Saudi women arrested for driving nearly a month ago will be tried in a terrorism court. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that forbids women from driving, and while it is not technically illegal for women to drive, they cannot receive driving licenses in the country, so they face fines or even arrests if caught driving by police. Activists say that Loujain al-Hathloul, 25, and Maysa al-Amoudi, 33, have had their cases transferred to the terrorism court because of comments they made on social media, not their driving infractions. [BBC News]

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6. Visa, MasterCard halt services in Crimea
Visa and MasterCard, the world’s two biggest payment networks, both announced on Friday thatthey will be stopping services in Crimea. “Visa is now prohibited from offering Visa-branded products and services to Crimea,” the company said in a statement. “We can no longer support card-issuing and merchant/ATM acquiring services.” The U.S. has been imposing sanctions since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

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7. Egypt reportedly bans Exodus: Gods and Kings film
Citing historical falsehoods and a pro-Zionist view, Gaber Asfour, Egypt’s culture minister, reportedly said that Exodus: Gods and Kings will be banned from being shown in the country. Morocco has also reportedly banned the film, which stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses. The film has reportedly already grossed $46 million in the U.S., along with another $62 million in 39 international markets, since its release in mid-December. [The New York Times, Variety]

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8. West Virginia quarterback retires because of concussions
Saying “it would be dangerous for me to be out there,” West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett announced on Friday that he will sit out of Monday’s Liberty Bowl against Texas A&M because of concussions. Trickett said he has sustained five concussions over the last 14 months, and he indicated that West Virginia’s medical staff was not immediately made aware of all of the injuries. “That was on me,” Trickett said of not reporting the concussions. “If they would have known, they probably would have been more cautious about it, but I was trying to push through it.” [The Associated Press]

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9. Legendary jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco dies at age 91
Legendary jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco died at age 91 on Wednesday in a Panama City hospital, his family confirmed on Friday. DeFranco’s wife Joyce said he had been suffering poor health for several years. DeFranco collaborated with musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. He had been named a Living Jazz Legend at at Kennedy Center ceremony, and was recognized 16 times as the top jazz clarinetist in the world. [The Associated Press]

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10. Humans’ skeletons became more fragile with switch to farming
Two new studies suggest that our ancestors’ transition to farming from hunting and gatheringcaused humans’ skeletons to become much weaker. One study found that about 12,000 years ago, when humans began to incorporate agriculture into their communities, their networks of spongy bone at joints became less dense. In the second study, scientists noted that the farmers they studied continued to eat the same diets as their hunter-gatherer ancestors, but they walked much less and led relatively sedentary lifestyles. [The Washington Post]

10 things you need to know today: November 13, 2014

A convoy of pro-Russian tanks rumbles towards Donetsk, Ukraine. 

A convoy of pro-Russian tanks rumbles towards Donetsk, Ukraine. (AP Photo/ Mstyslav Chernov)

The Week

Russian tanks return to Ukraine, Europe’s Philae probe lands on a comet, and more

1. Russia invades Ukraine… again
Russian tanks and troops entered Ukraine near strongholds of pro-Moscow separatists, NATO officials said Wednesday. Russia, which had been accused before of invading, denied it was intervening in the conflict. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow was resuming the Cold-War-era tactic of flying bomber patrols near U.S. territorial waters due to NATO’s “anti-Russia inclinations.” [The New York Times, Los Angeles Times]

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2. Philae makes first landing on a comet in history
A European Space Agency probe from the mothership Rosetta made the first landing on a comet ever on Wednesday. The 220-pound Philae lander’s two harpoons, designed to anchor it to the surface of the comet, failed to deploy, but scientists said Philae will still be able to take samples that could unlock how planets and life formed. [National Geographic]

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3. Courts rule in favor of same-sex marriage in Kansas and South Carolina
Gay-marriage advocates added to a string of victories on Wednesday when the Supreme Courtended a stay that had prevented Kansas from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Earlier the same day a federal judge in Charleston struck down South Carolina’s gay-marriage ban as unconstitutional. [Los Angeles Times]

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4. New Orleans watchdog says sex crimes were not investigated
Five New Orleans police detectives charged with investigating sex crimes failed to look into the vast majority of cases assigned to them over three years, according to a city inspector general report released Wednesday. Out of 1,290 sex crime calls, the detectives dismissed 840 as “miscellaneous” and did nothing. [The New York Times]

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5. Minor earthquake hits Kansas and Oklahoma
A 4.8-magnitude earthquake rattled parts of Kansas and Oklahoma on Wednesday. It was the strongest temblor since a series of minor quakes began over a year ago. Wednesday’s earthquake came a day after a 2.6-magnitude quake in southern Kansas. The only damage reported from Wednesday’s quake: Trees fell and damaged one house’s foundation. [The Christian Science Monitor]

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6. NOAA confirms cyberattack by China
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday that four of its websites were attacked by Chinese hackers. NOAA, which oversees the National Weather Service, said hackers struck a few weeks ago. An internal report warned in July that NOAA had grave technology security problems. [NBC News]

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7. Turkish nationalists rough up U.S. sailors
A group of young Turkish ultranationalists assaulted three U.S. sailors on shore leave in Istanbul early Wednesday. The attackers shouted anti-American slogans, such as “Yankee, go home,” threw red paint at them, and called them murderers. The sailors escaped. The U.S. Navy called the attack “appalling.” [The Huffington Post]

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8. New York prosecutor directs $35 million to testing rape kits
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced Wednesday that he would dedicate $35 million for helping U.S. prosecutors clear a backlog by testing tens of thousands of rape kits. Vance was flanked by Law & Order actress Mariska Hargitay, whose Joyful Heart Foundation will put up some of the money. [New York Daily News]

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9. Stranded window washers saved at World Trade Center tower
Emergency crews rescued two window washers from scaffolding dangling at the 68th floor of the 104-floor One World Trade Center building in New York City on Wednesday. The rescuers cut through three layers of glass to get to the men and pull them to safety. The men were taken to a hospital to be treated for mild hypothermia. [CNN]

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10. Kershaw and Kluber win Cy Young Awards
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw won his second straight National League Cy Young Award in a unanimous vote on Wednesday. Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians narrowly beat the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, who won the pitching prize in 2010, to win in the American League. [Fox News]

 

10 things you need to know today: November 6, 2014

The midterms were...

The midterms were… (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Week

Republicans lay out their legislative agenda, Obama assesses the damage, and more

1. Republicans lay out their legislative agenda
A day after retaking the Senate and adding to their majority in the House, the GOP leadership is letting Americans in on their plan for the next two years. Chief among their priorities is balancing the budget, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and revising or repealing the Affordable Care Act. Republican lawmakers are also expected to use their new-found control of the Senate to work towards large-scale revisions to the tax code. [The New York Times]

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2. Obama assesses the midterms
President Obama on Wednesday assessed his party’s resounding defeat in the midterm elections, saying the clear message from voters was that Washington needs to scrap the dysfunction and finally “get stuff done.” Obama said he would work with Republicans on issues where there is broad bipartisan agreement, and take executive action when he is compelled to act alone. “Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I’ll take some actions Congress won’t like.” [Time]

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3. Judge overturns Missouri’s same-sex marriage ban
St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison struck down Missouri’s ban on gay marriage. In June, St. Louis officials handed out four marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of the state’s 10-year-old constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage. The move was designed to set up a show down in the courts over the ban in the hopes of overturning it. Missouri’s attorney general, Chris Koster, announced that he would not appeal the ruling because he wanted Missouri’s future to “be one of inclusion, not exclusion.” [CBS]

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4. Russia snubs 2016 nuclear arms summit
Russian officials have decided to skip a 2016 nuclear security summit being held in Chicago, according to the U.S. State Department. Russia will instead attend a symposium hosted by the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency. The move comes at a time when the relationship between Washington and Moscow has been severely strained thanks to the crisis in Ukraine. In March, both Russia and the United State attended the last nuclear summit, which took place in The Hague. [Reuters]

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5. Deadly attack in Jerusalem fuels tension
Two people were killed in Jerusalem when a driver rammed into a line of commuters waiting for a train. The authorities killed the assailant but not before he got out of his car and assaulted a group of bystanders with a metal bar. The attack was the latest deadly incident in a city that has seen mounting tension over the past few months. [Time]

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6. Kerry pushes for deal with Iranians over their nuclear program
Secretary of State John Kerry said that he is hoping to finalize a deal with Iran over its nuclear capacity before a Nov. 24 deadline for negotiations. “I want to get this done,” said Kerry, who added that Iran has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. The U.S. and five other countries have been in talks with Iran for months to convince the rogue nation to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions. [The Washington Post]

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7. Spanish nurse who contracted Ebola is released from hospital
Teresa Romero Ramos, the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa, left the hospital after a month of treatment. The Spanish nurse was still weak, but called her recovery a “miracle” from God. Doctors said Ramos is no longer contagious and that they learned several lessons about treating Ebola patients from her case. [CNN]

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8. Tesla beats third quarter expectations
Tesla, the manufacturer behind the all-electric Model S car, reported a modest, third-quarter profit of $3 million. The company delivered a record-setting 7,785 sedans, which boosted its sales to $932 million. Analysts had expected the company to report lower revenues. [Forbes]

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9. Van Gogh painting sells for $61.8 million
Vincent van Gogh’s “Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies” fetched $61.8 million at auction — almost $12 million more than its estimated value. The painting, which van Gogh created at his doctor’s house just a few months before his death, was purchased by a private collector from Asia. The still life was one of the few canvases van Gogh was able to sell before he passed away in 1890. [BBC]

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10. Public outcry prompts Starbucks to bring back Eggnog Latte
Starbucks is bringing back its seasonal — and apparently very popular — Eggnog Latte after an outpouring on social media. The company had decided to take it off the menu to streamline its offerings but decided that was the wrong move. “We made a mistake,” says spokeswoman Linda Mills. “We are very sorry.” [USA Today]

10 things you need to know today: September 28, 2014

Hong Kong police fire tear gas and pepper spray into a crowd of demonstrators

Hong Kong police fire tear gas and pepper spray into a crowd of demonstrators Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

The Week

Hong Kong police disperse protesters with tear gas, Russia calls for another “reset” with the U.S., and more.

1. Hong Kong police bombard demonstrators with tear gas
After days of pro-democracy protests outside government headquarters, Hong Kong police on Sunday bombarded protesters with tear gas and pepper spray in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The escalation came after police blocked entrance points to the main demonstration site, leading protesters to spill onto a six-lane highway and block traffic. Thousands of demonstrators camped outside the government complex through the weekend as part of the Occupy Central movement, which is protesting restrictions China imposed on the first ever election to choose Hong Kong’s leader. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]

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2. Russia calls for ‘reset 2.0′ with Washington
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday said it was time for a second “reset” moment between Moscow and Washington. “The current U.S. administration is destroying today much of the cooperation structure that it created itself along with us,” he said. “Most likely, something more will come up — a reset no.2 or a reset 2.0.” Lavrov was referring to the Obama administration’s infamous “reset” with Russia, in which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Moscow with a big red button that, due to a translating error, said “overload” and not “reset.” [Reuters]

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3. Police seeking two suspects in shooting of Missouri cop
A manhunt is on for two suspects accused of shooting a police officer Saturday night in Ferguson, Missouri. The two men ran when an officer approached them outside a closed community center, and during the chase one of the men turned and fired a handgun, striking the officer in the arm, according to police. Ferguson has been rocked by extreme racial unrest since August when a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. [CBS]

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4. Ex-congressman James Traficant dead at 73
Former Rep. James Traficant died on Saturday after sustaining injuries in a tractor accident on an Ohio farm. He was 73. The ex-Democratic lawmaker was helping his daughter move a tractor last week when the vehicle tipped over and landed on top of him. The eccentric politician — known widely for punctuating speeches on the House floor by exclaiming “Beam me up!” — was expelled from Congress in 2002 after being convicted of federal corruption charges. [The New York Times,Politico]

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5. Catalonia calls for secession vote
The leader of Spain’s Catalonia region on Saturday defied the central government and called for an independence vote. “Like all the nations of the world, Catalonia has the right to decide its political future,” President Artur Mas said. The Spanish government said it would hold an emergency session to challenge the referendum before Spain’s Constitutional Court. [The Associated Press]

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6. George Clooney, Amal Alamuddin wed in Venice
George Clooney is Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor no more, as the actor on Saturday married British human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. Technically, Saturday’s lavish ceremony, held at the seven-star Aman Canal Grande Hotel, was symbolic. The civil ceremony is to take place Sunday at the historical Palazzo Cavalli. [USA Today, CNN]

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7. Dozens feared dead in Japanese volcano eruption
At least 30 people are believed to have been killed following the eruption on Saturday of a volcano in central Japan, according to rescue workers. Mount Ontake erupted Saturday just before noon, spewing ash and rocks on climbers who were hiking the popular mountain. About 250 people were initially trapped on the hillside following the eruption, and another 45 were reportedly missing. [The Associated Press, BBC]

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8. Air France pilots end strike
After a two-week stalemate, Air France pilots on Sunday agreed to end a strike over cost-cutting proposals. A union spokesperson said no final deal had been reached, but that pilots would return to the job so negotiations could “continue in a calmer climate.” The strike grounded half of the airline’s flights at an estimated cost of about $25 million a day. [USA Today, BBC]

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9. Kenyan man sets marathon world record
Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto set a new world record marathon time on Sunday, finishing Berlin’s race in an astonishing two hours, two minutes, and 57 seconds. The 30-year-old Kimetto, who last year won marathons in Tokyo and Boston, is the first runner to finish the 26.2 mile race in under two hours and three minutes. “I felt good from the start and in the last few miles I felt I could do it and break the record,” he said after the race. [NBC, BBC]

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10. Baseball’s regular season ends today
It’s Game 162 across Major League Baseball today, as the regular season comes to a close. The outcome of a few games could shake up the playoff seeding or force one-game tiebreakers to settle divisional and wild card races. Yet for the first time in two decades, neither the Yankees nor Red Sox will play October baseball. Speaking of those two clubs, Yankee legend Derek Jeter, who is retiring, will fittingly play the final game of his career in Boston. [MLB.com, ESPN]

10 things you need to know today: August 28, 2014

Incursion? What incursion?

Incursion? What incursion? (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

The Week

Ukraine accuses Russia of a new military incursion, a mother pleads with ISIS for her son’s release, and more

1. Ukraine says Russia is sending more troops over the border
Ukraine accused Russia of sending a fresh wave of troops over its eastern border on Wednesday, dimming hopes that a meeting between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin a day earlier would lead to a cease-fire. A rebel leader said thousands of Russians were fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists, but Russia denies its soldiers are involved. Ukraine said it had detained a Russian soldier who confessed his unit was helping rebels open a new front near Crimea, which Moscow annexed in March. [Reuters, BBC News]

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2. Journalist’s mother pleads with ISIS for his release
The mother of kidnapped American journalist Steven Sotloff released a video on Wednesday in which she pleaded directly to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to release her son. Sotloff was shown in the ISIS video of the beheading of journalist James Foley in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. In her video, which aired on the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya network, Shirley Sotloff asks the ISIS leader “to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.” [The Christian Science Monitor]

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3. Apple loses bid to ban sales of old Samsung phones
A judge on Wednesday denied Apple’s request for an injunction to stop Samsung from selling older-model smartphones that contain components infringing on Apple patents. The case was based on a $119.6 million jury verdict Apple won against Samsung in May. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, however, ruled that Apple would not “suffer irreparable harm” if Samsung continued to sell the devices, which include the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2, and Galaxy S3. [CNET]

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4. CBO predicts a $506 billion deficit
The federal government should finish its fiscal year in September with a deficit of $506 billion, according to a projection released Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office. The figure is slightly higher than April’s estimate of $492 billion, due to lower-than-expected corporate income tax receipts. It is still significantly lower than the previous fiscal year’s deficit of $680 billion. The deficit has fallen for five straight years, from 9.8 percent of GDP in 2009 to 2.9 percent this year. [The New York Times]

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5. Judge effectively decriminalizes polygamy in Utah
A federal judge struck down a key part of Utah’s bigamy law, effectively legalizing polygamy in the state. U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups on Wednesday ruled that a provision in the law making it a felony to cohabit with someone out of wedlock was unconstitutional, although it’s still illegal to have more than one active marriage license. The law was challenged by Kody Brown and his four wives — the stars of the TLC show Sister Wives. The state plans to appeal. [The Salt Lake Tribune]

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6. Michael Egan drops sex-abuse lawsuit against X-Men director Bryan Singer
Michael Egan, 31, on Wednesday withdrew his lawsuit accusing X-Men director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing him when he was a teenager. Courts had already dismissed three other lawsuits Egan filed accusing other entertainment executives of abusing him when he was an aspiring teen actor. Singer had asked that the lawsuit against him be dismissed, calling it a “sick, twisted shakedown.” Egan’s two original lawyers last month asked to be withdrawn from the case. [NBC News]

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7. Jury acquits Texas man accused of shooting driver who killed his sons
A Texas jury on Wednesday acquitted a man, David Barajas, who was accused in the shooting death of the drunken driver who crashed into his pickup, killing his 12- and 11-year-old sons. Prosecutors said Barajas ran to his home 100 yards from the crash site, got a pistol, and came back to shoot the driver, 20-year-old Jose Banda. Defense attorneys said there was no evidence linking Barajas to the shooting. Barajas said he was praying for Banda’s family. “They lost a son, too,” he said. [The Associated Press]

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8. Tsarnaev sister accused of making a bomb threat
A sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was arrested in New York City on Wednesday for allegedly threatening a Harlem woman. Ailina Tsarnaev, 23, was charged with aggravated harassment. She allegedly threatened the woman in a phone call, saying, “I have people that can go over there and put a bomb on you.” Police officials did not immediately provide any other details in the case. Ailina Tsarnaev reportedly lives with another sister, Bella, in North Bergen, N.J. [The Boston Globe]

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9. Cops crew member killed covering a robbery
A crew member with the Spike TV show Cops was shot and killed during filming as officers disrupted a robbery at an Omaha fast-food restaurant, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Wednesday. The suspect, Cortez Washington, fired an Airsoft pellet gun at officers, who mistook the toy for a real weapon and returned fire. Police kept firing as Washington, mortally wounded, stumbled outside. That was when a bullet struck sound-mixer Bryce Dion through a gap in his bullet-proof vest, killing him. [Entertainment Weekly]

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10. USC suspends star Josh Shaw over phony tale of heroism
University of Southern California cornerback Josh Shaw admitted Wednesday that he had lied when he said he sprained both ankles jumping from a balcony to save his young nephew from drowning. Shaw, a senior and team co-captain, said he really just fell from the balcony. “I was wrong not to tell the truth,” he said. The university, calling Shaw’s tale of heroism a “complete fabrication,” suspended him indefinitely from the football team’s activities. [NBC News]

10 things you need to know today: August 12, 2014

Fans pay tribute.

Fans pay tribute. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

The Week

1. Robin Williams dies at the age of 63
Robin Williams, the actor who gave us Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society,and Good Will Hunting, has died. Though the investigation is ongoing, the Marin County Sheriff’s Department said the coroner “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.” The Oscar-winning actor had been battling severe depression, according to one of his representatives. [Fox]

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2. Iraq nominates new prime minister, ignites impasse with Maliki
Iraqi officials on Monday nominated a new prime minister to replace embattled Nouri al-Maliki, who has been blamed for deepening sectarian divides across the country. Maliki vowed to fight the nomination of Haider al-Abadi through the courts and even by force, sparking fears that his threats could destabilize the country or even lead to a coup. President Barack Obama has publicly backed Abadi’s nomination and made Maliki’s replacement a prerequisite for further American military aid in Iraq’s fight against the militant group ISIS. [The New York Times]

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3. Iraqi and Kurdish forces rescue about 20 Yazidis stranded in the desert
About 20 Yazidis were rescued from Mount Sinjar after Iraqi and Kurdish forces swooped in on a helicopter to airlift the people out. The mission also dropped off much-needed supplies, including diapers, food, and water, to the thousands of families who were left behind. The dramatic rescue comes as the Yazidis, a small Kurdish minority, have been targeted by the militant group ISIS. [CNN]

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4. FBI launches investigation of Michael Brown shooting in St. Louis
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown was a civil rights violation. Brown, who is black, was on his way home from a convenience store when he was shot by a police officer in the suburbs of St. Louis. He was shot multiple times; the officer said Brown got into a physical altercation with him and pushed him into his squad car while Brown’s friend said they were unarmed and had their hands up. [New York Daily News]

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5. NATO warns Russia’s humanitarian mission to Ukraine could be a prelude to invasion
Early Tuesday, Russia said it is sending a convoy of about 280 trucks carrying food, medicine, and other supplies to the Ukrainian city of Luhansk, controlled by pro-Russia separatists and under siege by Ukrainian troops. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday warnedthat there is “a high probability” that Russia will stage a military intervention in Ukraine, saying that as Ukraine closes in on the major separatist-held cities, Russia’s state-run media has increasingly warned about the humanitarian crisis.

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6. Talks resume as Israeli-Palestinian truce holds
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are in Egypt in the hopes the two sides will soon be able to reach a lasting cease-fire agreement. The two entities are currently in the middle of another 72-hour cease-fire designed to give both sides some breathing room to come up with a more long-term solution. It’s not clear how much progress has been made. Hamas is demanding an end to the Gaza blockade, while Israel wants Hamas to fully disarm. [ABC]

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7. Drugmaker runs out of Ebola treatment
Mapp Biopharmaceutical of San Diego says it has exhausted its supply of a revolutionary newEbola treatment credited with saving lives during the latest outbreak. Known as ZMapp, the last of the medication was sent to Liberia to treat doctors who have contracted the deadly disease. The announcement came amid heated debate as to the ethics of whom should receive the drug when hundreds are dying and there is such a limited supply. [The Washington Post]

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8. California school district shelves controversial sex ed book
After getting complaints from 2,200 parents and residents, the Fremont school district has decided hold off using a controversial health textbook that discussed everything from sexual bondage to vibrators and sex games. The superintendent has asked that the book remain on hold until the matter is fully investigated. The book was supposed to be given to ninth-graders. [Los Angeles Times]

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9. Barneys settles over racial profiling allegations
Barneys has decided to settle over allegations that it racially profiled at its store in New York City. After a nine-month investigation, the retailer will pay a $525,000 fine and implement new policies designed to spot employees who profile. Last year, two black customers reported that the store had falsely accused them of credit card fraud. [NPR]

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10. Doctors in Mexico remove a 150-pound tumor
It took four hours, but surgeons in Mexico were able to remove a 150-pound tumor. The patient, 51-year-old Mercedes Talamantes, said that the tumor began growing in her ovaries five years ago, but that she had been housebound for only the last two. About a month ago, her daughter convinced her to see a doctor about the growth. [ABC]