PND News

US House votes to end NSA’s illegal phone espionage activities

May 14, 2015
posted by

Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times    

"The House passed a bipartisan bill Wednesday to dial back the once-secret National Security Agency program that collects and stores Americans' telephone data. The bill passed 338 to 88, but faces a hurdle in the Senate, where GOP leaders are backing a bill to renew the NSA program either unchanged or with minor amendments." (05/13/15)

http://tinyurl.com/msft9at  

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US Senate strikes deal to put secret trade pact on “fast track”

May 14, 2015
posted by

Politico    

"Senate leaders have reached a deal to advance President Barack Obama's trade initiative after a failed vote prompted a furious round of negotiating on Wednesday. After trading offers throughout the night, party leaders agreed to vote on a fast-track trade bill that was blocked just 24 hours before by Democrats who'd wanted more assurances that their priorities would also be considered." (05/13/15)

http://tinyurl.com/lm685qm  

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US Navy plans women combat roles & extended maternity leave

May 14, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"The US navy wants more women in its ranks, and on Wednesday navy secretary Ray Mabus announced two plans he hopes will get them there: opening all combat roles to women and doubling the maternity leave for sailors and marines. 'We need more women in the navy and marine corps,' Mabus said, speaking at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. 'Not simply to have more women but because a more diverse force is a stronger force. The military at large lags behind society.' Asked about how the military is re-evaluating standards for combat roles, Mabus said the marine corps and navy are assessing whether 'the physical standards have something to do with the job or not.'" (05/13/15)

http://tinyurl.com/op8m65k  

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Study: Vitamin B3 may help prevent certain skin cancers

May 14, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"For the first time, a large study suggests that a vitamin might modestly lower the risk of the most common types of skin cancer in people with a history of these relatively harmless yet troublesome growths. In a study in Australia, people who took a specific type of vitamin B3 for a year had a 23 percent lower rate of new skin cancers compared to others who took dummy pills. In absolute terms, it meant that vitamin takers developed fewer than two of these cancers on average versus roughly 2.5 cancers for the others. The study did not involve melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Instead, it aimed at more common forms: basal and squamous cell cancers. More than 3 million cases are diagnosed each year in the United States." (05/13/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nvlbaht  

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Iran nuke deal: the real lessons from North Korea

May 14, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"Just over 20 years ago, North Korean technicians extracted 8,000 spent fuel rods from the Yongbyon nuclear reactor -- enough for five or six atomic bombs if reprocessed into weapons-grade plutonium. Designed to be a provocation, North Korea’s move focused minds in Washington: The Pentagon devised a military strike plan that would destroy the reactor and entomb the plutonium, while (it was hoped) avoiding a Chernobyl-type radioactive cloud. That’s also when the diplomacy began that led to the 1994 US-North Korea Agreed Framework. North Korea was the Iran nuclear crisis of its day, with the risk of failure and chance of war just as high as it is today, as Iran and six world powers aim to meet a June 30 deadline for a deal ensuring Iran cannot produce a bomb." (05/13/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n99g4e3  

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US: House rejects NSA bulk collection of phone data

May 14, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The US House of Representatives has voted to end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' phone records. A 338-to-88 overwhelming vote in favour of the USA Freedom Act, already backed by the White House, means Senate backing would make it law. The bill would empower the agency to search data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis. Bulk collection was revealed in 2013 by ex-security contractor Edward Snowden. Supporters of the Freedom Act, including privacy and civil rights advocates, say it protects privacy while preserving national security powers." (05/13/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32732258  

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SC: Elementary school guard sent away after 5th-grader takes his gun

May 14, 2015
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"A South Carolina school district has asked a private security guard not to return after a fifth-grader was able to pull the officer's gun out of its holster. Anderson School District 5 spokesman Kyle Newton told media outlets that the guard was sitting on a bench Monday with a student on either side at Varennes Elementary School when one of the students was able to take the gun out of the officer's holster. Authorities say the gun was not fired and was only free for about 10 seconds. The guard worked for Defender Services, a private company that helps provide security officers for schools. His name was not released." [editor's note: Did they hire the kid to replace him? - SAT] (05/13/15)

http://tinyurl.com/p2dpnj3  

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AR: Town’s vote opens fight over law cast as anti-gay

May 13, 2015
posted by

ABC News ABC News    

"A northwest Arkansas town's vote to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity could pave the way for a legal fight over a new state law criticized as anti-gay. Residents in Eureka Springs, a town known both for its 66-foot-tall Jesus statue and for being a gay-friendly tourist destination, voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to uphold the anti-discrimination ordinance. It's the most direct challenge to a state law aimed at preventing local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." (05/13/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nodusny  

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US Senate Democrats block Trans-Pacific Partnership “fast track”

May 13, 2015
posted by

Sydney Morning Herald [Australia]    

"Senate Democrats staged a last- minute rebellion against one of President Barack Obama's top legislative priorities by blocking a test vote on a trade measure that didn't include companion measures they sought. The vote, 52-45, effectively delays fast-track legislation Mr Obama wants to expedite approval of trade accords. The move saw Democrats 'throw their own president under the bus,' according to one Republican senator. Supporters needed 60 votes to overcome a threatened Democratic filibuster and advance the bill to a vote by the full chamber. Mr Obama had sought the trade promotion authority legislation, largely backed by Republicans, to help him close a 12-nation deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership and submit it to Congress for approval without amendments." [editor's note: Curiously, this account doesn't mention one big issue -- that the terms of the deal remain secret - TLK] (05/13/15)

http://tinyurl.com/o89jdbq  

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NC: Store owner still fighting IRS after feds seized his $107k account

May 13, 2015
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"When federal agents stormed into Lyndon McLellan's North Carolina convenience store last October without warning and accused him of trying to put one over on the government, the small business owner wasn't sure what was happening. 'They asked me if I knew what "structuring" was and then they showed me some cash deposits I made in a 24-hour period,' he told FoxNews.com. The IRS agents apparently were suspicious because of deposits McLellan had made of just under $10,000. Banks are required to report transactions over $10,000; making multiple deposits of less than $10,000 to evade that requirement is known as 'structuring.' Under this pretense, enforcement agents accused McLellan of the con and seized all $107,000 from his bank account. " (05/12/15)

http://tinyurl.com/pjsp5v9  

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Christie attacks Obama over “severe over-regulation”

May 13, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"Possible Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie on Tuesday said the policies of President Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve had widened the gulf between rich and poor. Christie, who is governor of New Jersey, said Obama’s monetary and regulatory policies have stymied economic growth by allowing financial assets to grow substantially in value while wages have stagnated. 'Under this president, we have a roaring financial markets economy for the wealthy and a weak real economy for the middle class,' Christie said, criticizing the U.S. central bank’s 'easy money' policies." (05/12/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nbsl26j  

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Asia tops biggest global school rankings

May 13, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The biggest global school rankings have been published, with Asian countries in the top five spots and African countries at the bottom. Singapore heads the table, followed by Hong Kong, with Ghana at the bottom. The UK is in 20th place, among higher achieving European countries, with the US in 28th. The OECD economic think tank says the comparisons (based on test scores in 76 countries) show the link between education and economic growth." (05/12/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32608772  

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UT: Some LGBT residents critical of anti-discrimination law

May 13, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"A Mormon church-backed anti-discrimination law that protects gay and transgender people and religious rights took effect Tuesday amid skepticism from some LGBT residents over whether it lives up to its promises. Gay rights groups pushed for an anti-discrimination law for years and finally succeeded during the 2015 legislative session with a deal that won the crucial backing of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The law makes it illegal to base employment and housing decisions on sexual orientation or gender identity. It was hailed as landmark legislation. LGBT residents say the law is a positive step, but they worry it still allows discrimination because religious organizations and their affiliates (such as schools and hospitals) are exempt." (05/12/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qfx58l3  

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FDA rethinking ban on blood donations by MSMs

May 13, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"Men who have had sex with other men will be allowed to donate blood under some conditions if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalizes 'draft guidance' published on Tuesday. Men who have had sex with another man (MSMs) even once since 1977 are banned from donating blood in the United States as they are recognized to be at a higher risk of contracting HIV. MSMs are not restricted to homosexual men. If approved, the ban on blood donations would be lifted for those who have not had sex with another man in prior 12 months." (05/12/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ne5mcs6  

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Poverty summit: Shifting from whether to help poor to how?

May 13, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"A poverty summit on Tuesday offered a hint at how currents of thought may be shifting since the era of welfare reform and a tough-on-crime crackdown in the 1990s. The summit by itself doesn’t signal that liberals and conservatives are poised to converge imminently around a 21st century answer to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. But at least some prominent conservatives (including presidential candidate and Sen. Rand Paul) are talking about how to get fewer people in prisons and embracing the phrase 'safety net.' And some prominent liberals are pairing their ideas for government assistance with assertions that poverty is about culture as well as money." (05/12/15)

http://tinyurl.com/oayrf5s  

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Study: Sea levels rising at faster clip as polar melt accelerates

May 12, 2015
posted by

The Washington Post Washington Post    

"Global sea levels are climbing at a faster rate than previously thought, according to a new analysis that underscores scientists' concerns about the impact of melting glaciers and ice sheets near the Earth's poles. The new research published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change shows that the rate of sea-level rise appears to have accelerated over the past 15 years, a period in which scientists elsewhere documented a surprisingly rapidly retreat of some of Earth's great ice masses, from Greenland to West Antarctica. The findings appear to contradict earlier studies suggesting that the rate of sea-level rise had actually slowed slightly in recent years." (05/11/15)

http://tinyurl.com/q4m5qfc  

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IL: Obama presidential library to be built in Chicago

May 12, 2015
posted by

Chicago Sun-Times    

"President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle on Tuesday said they wanted to locate their Obama library and museum in Chicago -- with an announcement on their foundation website declaring 'Sweet Home Chicago.' ... Their decision gives Chicago a permanent, public institution housing the legacy of the Obama presidency and the Barack Obama Foundation. The Obama Center will be a massive building and job creating project on the South Side that could spark an economic renewal in the surrounding communities. The decision on whether the Obama project will be at Jackson Park or Washington Park -- both near the U. of Chicago main Hyde Park complex -- will come, the foundation said, 'in the coming months.'" (05/12/15)

http://tinyurl.com/oq4fdhb  

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White House conditionally OKs Arctic drilling by Shell

May 12, 2015
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"The White House on Monday issued approval for Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. to begin offshore drilling for oil in the Arctic this summer, pending the approval of several remaining drilling permits. The decision comes three years after the government originally issued the same permission to Shell. That permission was temporarily revoked after Shell’s first attempt." (05/11/15)

http://tinyurl.com/ofan3cn  

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John Oliver calls for universal maternity leave

May 12, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"As most of the country was busy celebrating Mother’s Day, the political satirist and stand-up comedian John Oliver used his popular show Last Week Tonight to call attention to an issue facing many new mothers in the United States: a lack of paid maternity leave. 'Just us and Papua New Guinea,' Mr. Oliver pointed out, fail to provide paid leave for mothers immediately after giving birth. And among wealthy nations, the United States stands alone as the only country without a nationwide paid leave policy for new mothers. But if the United States were to provide paid maternity leave, what would that entail? Who would pay for it and how?" (05/11/15)

http://tinyurl.com/n9b37yo  

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NC: Demonstrators ask McCrory to stop new abortion bill

May 12, 2015
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Abortion-rights advocates returned to the Executive Mansion on Monday to urge North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to veto a bill, should it reach his desk, that would extend the waiting period for the procedure from 24 to 72 hours. Representatives of Planned Parenthood Action Fund in North Carolina, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and other groups held a news conference across the street from the governor's house, close to where they demonstrated two years ago about an abortion-related bill that McCrory ultimately signed." (05/11/15)

http://tinyurl.com/oa9u6eh  

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Big banksters to plead guilty to Forex rigging

May 12, 2015
posted by

Reuters Reuters    

"The parent companies or main banking units of as many as five major banks, rather than their smaller subsidiaries, are expected to plead guilty to U.S. criminal charges over manipulation of foreign exchange rates, people familiar with the matter said. A handful of banks will likely resolve forex-rigging investigations by the U.S. Justice Department as soon as this week: JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup; British banks Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays; and Swiss bank UBS. It would be unprecedented for parent companies or main banking units, rather than smaller subsidiaries, of so many major banks, to plead guilty to criminal charges in a coordinated action, the people said." (05/11/15)

http://tinyurl.com/nt6rfnj  

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Obama admin: Health insurers must offer free [sic] contraceptives

May 12, 2015
posted by

Fox News Fox News    

"The Obama administration made clear Monday health insurers will have to pay for the cost of contraceptives on everything from IUDs to the patch as part of the Affordable Care Act. The department of Health and Human Services said insurers must cover at least one birth control option under each of the 18 methods of contraception without copays. Reports by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group, found many insurers were not providing a no-cost birth control alternative to every type of contraceptive as written in the law." (05/11/15)

http://tinyurl.com/psu9v6d  

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Hersh: US version of Bin Laden raid “full of lies”

May 11, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"The charges are explosive -- and cut against a heroic narrative that defined, in part, arguably the greatest foreign policy success of President Barack Obama's first term in office. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Seymour Hersh, the US raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was not a secret, risky US action, but a joint operation between the US and Pakistani military intelligence. The allegation has many in the US (and Pakistan) crying foul, and pointing to what they see as insufficient attribution and questionable conclusions throughout Hersh's lengthy piece." (05/11/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32698016  

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Poland: Presidential election “will go to run-off”

May 11, 2015
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Conservative challenger Andrzej Duda will face President Bronislaw Komorowski in a run-off in Poland's presidential election, an exit poll suggests. The poll said no candidate would get the 50% needed to win outright. It gave Mr Duda more than than 34% of the vote and Mr Komorowski just over 32%. Mr Komorowski is hoping to win a second term in office. Opinion polls before the election had put him comfortably in the lead. Mr Komorowski, 62, took office five years ago after his predecessor, Lech Kaczynski, died in a plane crash." (05/10/15)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32679820  

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Did a telescope reveal a “hole” in space?

May 10, 2015
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"A fascinating picture captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) shows what looks like to be a big, dark hole, a black spot over an otherwise starry photo. Shot with a 2.2-meter MPG/ESO telescope, the remarkably sharp image depicts a dark spot named LDN1774, with tentacle-like arms reaching out from the spot's center. As the observatory notes in a press release, this is no hole. Instead, the dark spot is made up of thick, opaque dust that blocks the stars." (05/10/15)

http://tinyurl.com/qfmtdpc  

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