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Older News Archivescom0116
NEWS   WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2014   NEWS

Obama Says Embattled Dems ‘Strong Allies’ Who ‘Supported My Agenda’
President Obama won’t let embattled Senate Democrats run away from him that easily. The president, during a radio interview on Monday, claimed Democratic candidates who are avoiding him on the campaign trail nevertheless are “strong allies” who have “supported my agenda in Congress.” The comments once again provide GOP ad-makers with fodder to tie Democrats to the unpopular president. This comes after Obama declared several weeks ago “every single one” of his policies is on this year’s ballot. And like last time, Republicans quickly parroted the president’s latest remarks. “All of the Dem candidates running from Obama ‘are all folks who vote with’ & ‘have supported’ his agenda,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted, as his press shop dutifully circulated Obama’s comments. Fox News
VOA VIEW: Obama's ego is damaging Democrats.

Chicago Man To Obama: 'Don't Touch My Girlfriend'
Even the President of the United States has to deal with jealous boyfriends. Casting his ballot in Chicago on Monday, Obama stood at a voting booth next to Aia Cooper, whose fiancé, Mike Jones, decided to crack wise with the president. "Mr. President, don't touch my girlfriend," Jones quipped as he walked by the two. "I really wasn't planning on it," Obama replied, joking that Jones was "an example of a brother just embarrassing you for no reason." A clearly embarrassed Cooper apologized for her boyfriend, telling the President she knew her boyfriend was going to "say something smart," but she didn't know what. CNN

Highly-Rated D.C.-Area Hospital Turned Away Suspected Ebola Patient
The Virginia Hospital Center—which is less than seven miles from the White House and is rated one of the nation’s Top 100 hospitals—turned away a suspected Ebola patient on Friday without examining her and without explaining to the fire department that brought her to the hospital in an ambulance why they would not admit her, according to the Arlington County Fire Department. The department estimates that its ambulance waited outside the Virginia Hospital Center for 20 minutes before being directed to Inova Fairfax Hospital, Lt. Sarah-Maria Marchegiani, a spokesperson for the Arlington County Fire Department told CNSNews.com. The patient in question, it turned out, did not have Ebola. CNS News

Americans Losing Billions By Taking Less Vacation Time
Americans took the least amount of vacation time in almost four decades last year, forfeiting billions of dollars in compensation without scoring points with their bosses, according to an industry group analysis released on Tuesday. The report for the U.S. Travel Association said the average American with paid time off (PTO) used 16 of 20.9 vacation days in 2013, down from an average of 20.3 days off from 1976 to 2000. It added that 169 million days of permanently forfeited U.S. vacation time equated to $52.4 billion in lost benefits. Reuters

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White House Blames ‘Malfunction’ For Obama’s Deleted Comment About Unpaid Bills
President Obama’s spokesman blamed a “malfunction” of a recording device Tuesday for a gap in a transcript of the president’s remarks at a fundraiser that omitted his comment about failing to pay some bills. “There was a problem with the recording of the event,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, blaming a malfunction of the equipment used by an official stenographer who attended the Chicago fundraiser. Mr. Obama was talking to Democratic donors Monday night when he mentioned finding “unpaid bills” on the desk of his Chicago home. Journalists who attended the event heard, recorded and reported the remark. Washington Times

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Suspended Over Role In Porn Scandal
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday suspended one of its members over his participation in a state government pornographic email scandal that involved employees of the attorney general's office. The justices issued an order saying Justice Seamus McCaffery may not perform any judicial or administrative duties while the matter is reviewed by the Judicial Conduct Board, which investigates allegations of judicial misconduct. The main order also noted allegations about McCaffery's actions related to a traffic citation received by his wife, who is a lawyer, and referral fees she obtained while working for him as an administrative assistant. It also noted he "may have attempted to exert influence over a judicial assignment" in Philadelphia. CBS

Is Your "Healthstyle" Helping Or Hurting You?
Retirees say the most important ingredient for a happy retirement is their health, yet the lifestyles of many people get in the way and reduce the odds that they'll be healthy and happy in retirement. A recent report, Health and Retirement: Planning for the Great Unknown, explored the importance that your lifestyle has on your health. Prepared by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, the report identified four groups of people who had different approaches to their health, health care and preparation for health care expenses in retirement. CBS

Afghan Opium Trade Thriving Despite - Or With Help Of - US $7 Billion Effort
Despite more than $7 billion of American counter-narcotics spending, Afghanistan’s opium trade has never been bigger, according to a U.S. government watchdog. A new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction issued today highlights the continued growth of Afghanistan’s poppy fields despite more than a decade of U.S. and international counter-narcotics efforts. Various federal agencies have spent $7.6 billion in Afghanistan over 12 years to curb the world’s largest opium industry. Despite some initial progress, the farming of opium poppies by Afghanistan’s farmers has rebounded in recent years. United Nations figures show that farmers in Afghanistan cultivated 806 square miles of opium poppy last year, a field roughly 2.5 times the size of New York City. ABC

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Eric Holder: ‘I Take Personally As A Failure’ The Inability To Pass Gun Control
If there’s one thing that Eric Holder regrets during his time as attorney general for the United States, it’s his failure to press through a Second Amendment crackdown on the heels of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead, he said. “I think the inability to pass reasonable gun safety laws after the Newtown massacre is something that weighs heavily on my mind,” Mr. Holder said during an interview with CNN. He was speaking of the White House push to pass a federal background check mandate for all commercial gun sales, as well as an outright ban on so-called assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, in the wake of the December 2012 school tragedy. Washington Times

US Secret Service Investigates Staples Security Breach
Staples may have a hard time finding an "Easy Button" in response to a data breach that the U.S. Secret Service is now investigating. Staples, which is based in Framingham, Massachusetts, confirmed late Monday that it is "investigating a potential issue involving credit card data and has contacted law enforcement." “U.S. Secret Service is assisting Staples in its investigation,” an agency spokesman told ABC News. Security blogger Brian Krebs had previously reported that there was a possible breach at Staples, following incidents at Kmart, Target and Home Depot. "We take the protection of customer information very seriously, and are working to resolve the situation," a statement from Staples Inc. read. "If Staples discovers an issue, it is important to note that customers are not responsible for any fraudulent activity on their credit cards that is reported on a timely basis." ABC

Oil At $80 A Barrel Muffles Forecasts For U.S. Shale Boom
The bear market in oil has analysts reassessing the U.S. shale boom after five years of historic growth. The U.S. benchmark price dropped to $79.78 a barrel on Oct. 16, the lowest since June 2012. At that level, one-third of U.S. shale oil production would be uneconomic, analysts for New York-based Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. led by Bob Brackett said in a report yesterday. Drillers would add fewer barrels to domestic output than the previous year for the first time since 2010, according to Macquarie Group Ltd., ITG Investment Research and PKVerleger LLC. Horizontal drilling through shale accounts for as much as 55 percent of U.S. production and just about all the growth, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Bloomberg

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American Jeffrey Fowle Released By North Korea
A Ohio dad who was detained in North Korea in May after reportedly leaving a Bible at a club for sailors has been released and is on his way home, the White House announced on Tuesday. Jeffrey Fowle, 56, was one of three U.S. citizens being held by the reclusive state. "While this is a positive decision by [North Korea}, we remain focused on the continued detention of Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller," the State Department said in a statement. Because the U.S. doesn't have official relations with North Korea, the Swedish Embassy had been working to secure Fowle's release. A military plane took Fowle out of North Korea and to an American facility on Guam. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said he was examined by a doctor and "appears to be in good health." MSNBC

All The Markets Need Is $200 Billion A Quarter From The Central Bankers
The central-bank put lives on. Policy makers deny its existence, yet investors still reckon that whenever stocks and other risk assets take a tumble, the authorities will be there with calming words or economic stimulus to ensure the losses are limited. A put option gives investors the right to sell their asset at a set price so the theory goes that central banks will ultimately provide a floor for falling asset markets to ensure they don’t take economies down with them. Last week as markets swooned again, it was St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard and Bank of England Chief Economist Andrew Haldane who did the trick. Bullard said the Fed should consider delaying the end of its bond-purchase program to halt a decline in inflation expectations, while Haldane said he’s less likely to vote for a U.K. rate increase than three months ago. Bloomberg

Obama Pitches For Votes On Black Radio
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes. It's part of a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want Obama around in person. African-American turnout will be vital to Democrats' hopes in states such as Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina that will help determine control of the Senate. And Obama remains beloved among black voters even if Democratic candidates are running away from him. Obama told the Rev. Al Sharpton in one of seven nationally syndicated interviews he's conducted the past week that his feelings are not being hurt. He says candidates have to do what they need to do to win. Obama says he will be responsible for making sure Democratic voters turn out. Las Vegas Sun

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Court Says Not So Fast With Those Red-Light Camera Tickets
Big changes could be coming to cities with red-light cameras after a Florida District Court of Appeals judge said it’s illegal for camera operators to issue citations to drivers. The program works like this: Cameras installed at traffic signals snap photos and are examined by the camera’s owner — not law enforcement — to determine whether a violation occurred. A citation is sent to the alleged violator. The driver has 60 days to appeal the ticket before it’s converted into a fine, just like any other citation issued by law enforcement officers. “The private company is the one who sends the citations in the name of the city,” said Miami lawyer Victor Yurre. “Now it will have to be the city that does it.” Fox News

Report Finds Drug War Fail
America's drug war in Afghanistan is failing badly, according to a new report from a U.S. government watchdog. Afghan farmers are growing record bumper crops of opium poppies, an unprecedented 209,000 hectares in 2013, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. This despite various U.S. agencies spending $7.6 billion to try to stop narcotics production in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the source of 80% of the world's illegal opium, the U.S. government says, yielding $3 billion in sales in 2013, up from $2 billion from the year earlier. According to the report, a big chunk of that money funds the insurgency and terrorism. CNN

Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan And GM All Affected By Defective Airbag Recall
Nearly 5 million vehicles made by a wide sampling of top automakers are being recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after airbags used were found to shoot shrapnel upon deployment. The airbags, produced by Japanese automotive supplier Takata, were installed in 4.7 million cars sold by Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan and General Motors in America between 2000 and 2004. Worldwide, 14 million vehicles contain the defective and dangerous airbags.
Thus far, Takata's airbags are responsible for at least three deaths, including Orlando resident Hien Tran. When rescuers arrived, they thought Tran had been repeatedly stabbed in the neck in a related but separate incident. UPI News

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Former U.S. Counterterror Chief: 'Imminent Threat' Remains
The former head of U.S. counterterror operations said Tuesday the "imminent threat" posed by an al Qaeda offshoot in Syria hasn't lessened after a U.S. air campaign there. Speaking to CNN's Jim Sciutto, Matt Olsen said by his analysis the threat from the Khorasan group "is still in the same place as it was before" President Barack Obama ordered airstrikes against the terror operation last month. "This group was in a position to train without any sort of interference, they were able to recruit operatives," said Olsen, who stepped down as director of the National Counterterrorism Center in July. "We saw that they were looking to test explosives. So they were in the advanced stages of plotting. They had both intent and that capability that put them nearing an execution phase of an attack." CNS News

U.S. To Funnel Travelers From Ebola-Hit Region Through Five Airports
Travelers to the United States from Ebola-stricken Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea must fly into one of five airports that have enhanced screening in place for the virus, the U.S. government said on Tuesday. The restrictions on passengers whose trips originated in those three West African countries were announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and were set to go into effect on Wednesday. The measures stop well short of the travel ban sought by some U.S. lawmakers in a bid to prevent further Ebola cases in the United States. Affected travelers will have their temperatures checked for signs of a fever that may indicate Ebola infection, among other protocols, at New York's John F. Kennedy, New Jersey's Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta, and Chicago's O'Hare international airports, officials said. Reuters

ISIS: We've Got The Weapons U.S. Meant To Kill Us With
A new ISIS video purports to show weapons airdropped by U.S. forces intended for Kurdish fighters in the hands of the very militants the munitions were meant to destroy. The U.S. on Sunday said it had dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies for the first time to Kurdish fighters defending the Syrian town of Kobani from ISIS. A day later, U.S. officials said one of the six airstrikes it carried out near Kobani intentionally struck a bundle of supplies to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. ISIS propaganda material in the past has shown fighters flaunting what appear to be U.S.-made weapons, tanks and Humvees seized from retreating Iraqi forces. MSNBC

Snowden: Bombing Shows Limits Of Mass Surveillance
National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden says the Boston Marathon bombings are an example of how threats can be missed even under blanket surveillance.
Snowden, who leaked millions of documents to journalists, talked to Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig on Monday online from Russia, where he is in exile. The Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/1pxrnMh ) reports that Snowden referenced the suspected marathon bombers, saying "we knew who these guys were" but "we didn't follow up or watch these guys." Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv) is awaiting trial for April 2013 explosions that killed three people. His brother, Tamerlan, was killed in a shootout with police. In 2011, Russian intelligence told the FBI that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a follower of radical Islam, and U.S. officials added their mother to a federal terrorism database. Las Vegas Sun

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Russia Prepares Militarization Of Arctic
Russia has begun a large-scale militarization of the Arctic Ocean region, with a military command structure planned by 2017. It comes after recent discoveries of oil and natural gas reserves under the ocean floor, and the possibility a potential Northern Sea Route -- an alternative to the Suez Canal -- could soon be established as global climate change causes melting of Arctic ice. Former Soviet bases are being reactivated, a 6,000-soldier permanent military force will be established in the northwest Russia's Murmansk region, and radar and guidance systems are planned in the area, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported. UPI News

Netanyahu To Warn Coalition Partners: Loyalty Or Elections
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet with the heads of the parties inside his governing coalition Wednesday and threaten them that if they continue insubordination he will initiate early elections, sources close to Netanyahu said Tuesday. Netanyahu will meet with Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid, Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Liberman, Bayit Yehudi's Naftali Bennett, and Hatnua's Tzipi Livni to try to reach compromises on legislation and other key issues that could keep the coalition together for at least another year. "The last thing the people of Israel need now is an election," Netanyahu said at a birthday celebration at the Prime Minister's Office. Jerusalem Post

Syria Bombardment From All Sides
More bombs have been dropped on Syria in the last 36 hours than at any point since the battle for Aleppo last year, independent monitors say. The United States continued targeting Islamic State assets in the northern city of Kobani on Tuesday, as embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad dropped at least 210 bombs across the east, north and west of the country. The US enemy in Syria is targeted: Islamic State, and other branches or spinoffs of the al Qaeda terrorist franchise. The US has conducted over 150 strikes targeting Islamic State around the city of Kobani, a strategic Kurdish refuge town bordering Turkey, since its campaign began last month. But from the other side of this multifaceted war, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Assad's air raids against rebel fighters included barrel bombs, carrying shrapnel and without any precision or positioning mechanism. Jerusalem Post

Islamic State: Fresh Fighting In Key Syrian Town Of Kobane
Fierce fighting has erupted in the north of the Syrian town of Kobane, after two days of relative calm. The clashes began when Islamic State (IS) militants launched an offensive "on all fronts" against Kurdish fighters on Monday, activists said. Meanwhile, the US-led anti-IS coalition said it carried out six air strikes around Kobane on Sunday and Monday. Kobane, on the Turkish border, has been been under assault from IS for weeks, with most civilians forced to leave. The new fighting came as Turkey said it would allow Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to cross into Syria to fight IS. The BBC's Kasra Naji on the Turkish border says the decision is a major boost for the defenders' morale, and soon for their fighting capability. BBC

Microsoft Boss Satya Nadella Gets $84M Pay Package
Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has been given a pay package worth $84.3m (£52m), making him one of the top earners in the tech industry. The total pay package is largely made up of share awards, and most of the payments will be made over several years. News of the package comes less than a month after Mr Nadella advised women not to ask for a pay rise but to have "faith in the system". He later apologised for the remark. In a regulatory filing, Microsoft said the promotion of Mr Nadella had meant it had a chief executive without a major equity stake in the firm for the first time. Its previous chief executives, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, both had multi-billion dollar holdings in the company. BBC

US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rise Despite Obama's New Climate Change Push
America’s energy-related carbon pollution rose 2.5% last year despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to fight climate change, according to new federal data. The rise in emissions from burning coal, oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels was one of the steepest on record in the last 25 years, according to the Energy Information Administration’s Monthly Energy Review. The increase in carbon pollution is a setback for Obama, who has been heavily promoting his progress in cutting America’s greenhouse gas emissions. Obama told 120 world leaders at the United Nations climate summit last month that America had done more under his watch to fight climate change than any other country. Guardian

Clinton Campaigns In Kentucky As Democrats Bring Out The Big Guns
Just a fortnight to go now until Americans cast their ballots in the crucial midterm elections. Or until around 39% of eligible voters cast their ballots, that is. Midterms are not known for heavy turnout. It’s more of an exclusive affair. Just the fancy people. Here is the state of the race: Gut check for Mitch: A poll released Monday evening by the estimable SurveyUSA shows would-be Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell with an eeny-weeny one-point lead in his race against Democratic trinomial Alison Lundergan Grimes. And look who’s in Kentucky today to help her: Guardian

Beware, Playing Lots Of Chess Will Shrink Your Brain!
The newspapers love using neuroscience findings to make us feel bad about our less salubrious habits. Earlier this year they had a field day with a study that purported to show time spent watching online porn shrinks the brain. Even more recently, we were warned about multi-tasking with our digital devices: “Multi-tasking makes your brain smaller,” exclaimed the Daily Mail. Similar claims have been made for video gaming and junk food. The message is usually the same – you already knew porn/junk food/gaming etc was bad, well now scientists tell us it ACTUALLY SHRINKS YOUR BRAIN, as if this is the final definitive proof for the evilness of the deeds in question. What none of these news reports tell you is that brain shrinkage can be a good thing. Indeed, it’s a mistake to think that bigger means better when it comes to brain power (this is “Myth 21? in my new book Great Myths of the Brain). Wired

Google Acquires Cloud Database Company Firebase
Google announced today that it is acquiring cloud hosted database company Firebase. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Google will continue to offer Firebase’s services as part of its Google Cloud Platform line. “If you’re a developer who has built an app on top of Firebase, nothing will change for you and you can continue to use Firebase as you normally would,” Firebase co-founder and CEO James Tamplin wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition. Firebase could make life much easier for developers working on real-time applications, such as chat apps or business collaboration tools. Typically, applications like this run code in the browser, or on your smart phone, that communicates with a web server that, in turn, reaches back to a database server. Firebase, which launched two years ago, now claims to have 110,000 developers using its service, is part of a growing number of companies that are trying to cut the backend server out of that equation. Wired

‘Clock Is Ticking’ For Gaza; Pledges For Aid, Reconstruction Must Be Honoured
On the heels of last week’s visit to Gaza, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council today that promises made at a recent donor conference on rebuilding the war-ravaged enclave must “quickly materialize” into concrete assistance on the ground, especially as winter approaches. “Nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed in Gaza. I saw mile after mile of wholesale destruction,” Mr. Ban recalled as he briefed the 15-member body on his first visit to Gaza since this past summer’s conflict. UN News

As Ebola Response Accelerates, UN Health Agency Prepares For Arrival Of Trial Vaccines
Amid positive developments in the global fight against Ebola, including a growing response to the Secretary-General’s appeals for the more funding to tackle the outbreak, the United Nations health agency today announced the expected delivery of Ebola candidate vaccines, as the UN system continues to ramps up efforts to quell the spread of the deadly virus. World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman, Fadéla Chaib, told a press briefing in Geneva earlier today that the agency is expecting the arrival of a Canadian shipment of Ebola candidate vaccines to arrive in Geneva on 22 October where they would be kept refrigerated at the city’s Cantonal Hospital. UN News

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