PND News

Obama uses rare constitutional maneuver on Iran sanctions bill

December 15, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"President Obama allowed an Iran sanctions bill to become law without his signature Thursday, using a rare constitutional maneuver that hasn't been used in 21 years. Obama's decision to allow the Iran Sanctions Extension Act to become law ends the latest chapter of the debate over his pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, in which world powers agreed to relax sanctions on the Iranian regime in exchange for specific commitments to curtail its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Congress passed the bill to give a future president the authority to 'snap-back' those sanctions if Iran violates the deal. House Speaker Paul Ryan [R-WI] said it would give President-elect Donald Trump 'the opportunity to evaluate our policy towards Iran independent of additional interference from the outgoing administration.' But the White House has said the president already has that authority under a separate law, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and that the new law was unnecessary but ultimately harmless." (12/15/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/15/obama-uses-rare-constitutional-maneuver-iran-sanctions-bill/95476842  

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Wheeler to step down as FCC chairman

December 15, 2016
posted by

The Hill The Hill    

"Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler will step down early next year, he announced Thursday before the FCC’s open meeting. His planned Jan. 20, 2017 departure comes on the heels of Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel not receiving confirmation to remain as an FCC Commissioner. The two departures will leave Republicans with a 2-1 majority on the FCC. Wheeler's tenure was marked by controversy in what was once a relatively sleepy agency. The FCC has become ground zero for large tech debates on high-profile items like regulation regarding cable set top boxes and net neutrality -- rules that Donald Trump's incoming administration is expected to reverse." (12/15/16)

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/310527-wheeler-to-step-down-as-fcc-chairman  

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Yahoo discloses new data breach affecting one billion accounts

December 15, 2016
posted by

Reuters    

"Yahoo Inc said on Wednesday that it has identified a new breach that occurred in August 2013 and involved data associated with more than one billion user accounts, double the number affected in a different breach disclosed in September. Yahoo said it believed the latest incident was likely distinct from the breach disclosed in September, when it said information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen in 2014. The 2014 breach was believed to be the world's biggest known cyber breach by far. The company, which is being acquired by Verizon Communication Inc for $4.83 billion, said an unauthorized third party had stolen the data in the latest breach and that it was working closely with law enforcement. The company said it has not been able to identify the intrusion associated with the theft." (12/14/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-yahoo-cyber-idUSKBN1432WZ  

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Federal Reserve raises interest rates for second time in a decade

December 15, 2016
posted by

The Washington Post Washington Post    

"The Federal Reserve raised interest rates on Wednesday afternoon for the first time in a year, and it signaled that rates could continue to rise next year more quickly than officials had expected. The increase was unanimous and modest, raising the Fed's key interest rate by a quarter point, from a range of 0.25 to 0.5 percent to a range of 0.5 to 0.75 percent. It reflects Fed officials' confidence in the strengthening of the U.S. economy and what officials see as budding signs of higher inflation." (12/14/16)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/14/federal-reserve-expected-to-announce-higher-interest-rates-today/  

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US regime to halt Saudi arms sales over Yemen war crimes

December 15, 2016
posted by

Defense News    

"The US plans to halt some arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of the high civilian death toll in the kingdom's Yemen bombing campaign. Quoting a US official, Reuters first reported that 'systemic, endemic' problems in Saudi Arabia's targeting drove the US decision, which officials acknowledged Tuesday, to halt a future weapons sale involving precision-guided munitions made by Raytheon. The contract -- to convert dumb bombs into precision-guided munitions that can more accurately hit their targets -- is valued at $350 million, according to a report in The New York Times." (12/14/16)

http://www.defensenews.com/articles/us-to-halt-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia-over-yemen-casualties  

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CO: Judge orders state’s electors to vote for Clinton

December 15, 2016
posted by

Associated Press    

"Colorado's nine electors must vote for Hillary Clinton because she won the state's popular vote, a judge ruled Tuesday, effectively stopping the state's electors from joining a longshot effort to unite with Republicans behind a compromise presidential candidate other than Donald Trump. Denver Judge Elizabeth Starrs also ruled that any electors who fail to do so can immediately be replaced when the Electoral College convenes Dec. 19. She responded to a request from Colorado's secretary of state, who was seeking a way to prevent electors from diverging from the winner of the state's popular vote." (12/13/16)

http://elections.ap.org/content/judge-orders-colorado-electors-vote-hillary-clinton  

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Russia: Facial recognition app sparks interest, controversy

December 15, 2016
posted by

Fox News    

"A facial recognition app out of Russia is raising eyebrows, both because of its abilities and the privacy concerns it sparks. The app, FindFace, involves users submitting photos -- for example, of someone they saw on the street and might like to be able to contact. Then, the app searches a Russian social network called Vkontakte to look for a match with a reported accuracy of about 70 percent among the millions of accounts. It's even performed better than Google at a competition called MegaFace. While some have praised the app for its ability to make successful matches -- law enforcement and casinos are said to be interested in the tech -- others have privacy concerns." (12/14/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2016/12/14/russian-facial-recognition-app-sparks-interest-controversy.html  

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Trump endorses Romney niece Ronna Romney McDaniel for RNC chair

December 15, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed a niece of former critic Mitt Romney to be the next chair of the Republican National Committee as he moved to put his stamp on the party leadership. The RNC named Michigan Republican Party chair Ronna Romney McDaniel as its deputy chair, and Trump said he looked forward to her taking over the party leadership. Trump’s incoming White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, will leave the RNC chairmanship when Trump takes office on Jan. 20. 'I’m excited to have a highly effective leader in Ronna McDaniel as RNC deputy chair and I look forward to her serving as the party’s chairman in 2017,' Trump said in a statement." (12/14/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/trump-endorses-romney-niece-ronna-romney-mcdaniel-for-rnc-chair  

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Mexico: Senate approves medical cannabis bill

December 14, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Mexico is one step closer to softening their once-rigid stance against cannabis by passing a medical marijuana bill. The country’s Senate on Tuesday passed a bill approving the use of medical marijuana with overwhelming support, reports the Associated Press. The measure gives the Health Department the responsibility to 'design public policies to regulate the medicinal use of this plant and its derivatives,' according to a statement from lawmakers. It was passed with 98-7 vote." (12/14/16)

http://blog.sfgate.com/smellthetruth/2016/12/14/mexico-lawmakers-approve-medical-marijuana-bill  

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Michigan: Regime again asks judge not to order Flint bottled water deliveries

December 14, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"The state of Michigan late on Tuesday asked a federal judge to dissolve an order requiring delivery of bottled water to certain Flint households, saying lead levels in the water are now lower than federal limits set out in the Safe Drinking Water Act. U.S. District Judge David Lawson has twice ordered state officials to start delivering bottled water to Flint households, unless the state can show the household has a properly installed and maintained water filter, or the resident refuses to accept water deliveries. The state has protested, saying the water deliveries are not needed, would cost the state millions of dollars and would hurt Flint's recovery efforts, which are partly based on having Flint residents run their taps more frequently to help cleanse the water distribution system." (12/14/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/14/michigan-again-asks-judge-not-order-flint-bottled-water-deliveries/95437098  

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Stein spent nearly $1 million of recount funds on consultants, staff, admin expenses

December 14, 2016
posted by

Fox News    

"Green Party nominee Jill Stein spent nearly $1 million of the funds she raised for recount efforts in three battleground states on consultants, staff, and administrative costs. Stein, who pushed for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, raised $7.3 million for the efforts and said that 'every dollar' went towards costs associated with the recount efforts. ... The staff payroll tallied $212,500 while consultants pocketed $364,000. Administrative expenses, such as travel costs, ran $353,618. In all, $930,118 was used to pay consultants, staff, and administrative costs." (12/14/16)

http://nation.foxnews.com/2016/12/14/stein-spent-nearly-1-million-recount-funds-consultants-staff-admin-expenses  

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Google releases eight National Security Letters sent by FBI between 2010 and 2015

December 14, 2016
posted by

Tech Times    

"As part of Google's commitment to transparency in relation to the government's requests to obtain user data, the company on Tuesday published eight National Security Letters (NSL) penned by the FBI, and received by Google either through litigation or legislation. The letters Google has published were sent from different FBI offices across the country, including North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, New York, and California. The letters seek broad accessibility to content tied to around 20 user accounts. Google has redacted the usernames as a privacy measure, and a spokesperson for the company has said that the targeted individuals have been notified." (12/14/16)

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/188740/20161214/google-releases-8-national-security-letters-sent-by-the-fbi-between-2010-and-2015.htm  

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Amazon makes first drone delivery

December 14, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Retail giant Amazon has made its first delivery using a drone, in the UK. The package arrived safely at its destination in Cambridge, 13 minutes after being ordered. A video showing the process details how the order was completed using an electrically powered drone flying at up to 400 ft. One sceptic questioned how much of a 'game changer' the limited trial of the service would be. As part of the testing for the Amazon Air service, the delivery took place on 7 December, although it was only revealed on 14 December. The Cambridge fulfilment centre is home to the drones, which, once the ordered package is on board, travel along an automated track to the launch area. The drones then take off and fly completely autonomously, guided by GPS to their destination." (12/14/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-38320067  

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UK: Amazon makes its first drone delivery to a real customer

December 14, 2016
posted by

Albuquerque Journal    

"Amazon.com has long talked about its ambitions for using drones to deliver small parcels to its legions of customers. Now, it appears the e-commerce giant is one step closer to that goal. On Wednesday, the company said that it has made its first autonomous drone delivery -- an order for an Amazon Fire TV streaming device and a bag of popcorn -- to a shopper in the United Kingdom. Jeffrey P. Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, tweeted Wednesday morning that the box was at the customer's home 13 minutes after the order was placed." (12/14/16)

https://www.abqjournal.com/908702/amazon-makes-its-first-drone-delivery-to-a-real-customer.html  

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US Energy Department rejects Trump transition request for climate staff names

December 14, 2016
posted by

CBS News CBS News    

"The Energy Department will not release the names of employees that have worked on climate change policy, an agency spokesperson said Tuesday, pushing back on requests from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team. 'We will be forthcoming with all publicly-available information with the transition team,' spokesperson Eben Burnham-Snyder said in a statement. But, '[w]e will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.' The agency said it 'received significant feedback' from its employees, after the Trump transition team released a 74-question survey asking officials to identify those who were involved in international climate talks and who worked to advance the current administration's climate policies." [editor's note: "Pushback?" This isn't rocket science -- if you don't want your name and activities to be public information, get your mouth off the taxpayer teat and go get an honest job - TLK] (12/14/16)

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/energy-dept-rejects-trump-transition-request-for-climate-staff-names/  

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FBI looks into Congress’s claims VA lied about hospital costs

December 14, 2016
posted by

US News & World Report US News & World Report    

"The Justice Department is considering whether to investigate allegations that Veterans Affairs Department executives lied to Congress to conceal massive cost overruns at a $1.7 billion VA hospital under construction outside Denver. The FBI's Washington field office is reviewing the allegations, the Justice Department said in a letter to Congress. The letter was dated Dec. 9 and made public Tuesday. The FBI is part of the Justice Department. Lawmakers accuse VA executives of lying when they testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee in 2013 and 2014 about the cost of the hospital in suburban Aurora. The current projected price tag is nearly triple the 2014 estimate." (12/13/16)

http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2016-12-13/justice-department-considers-probe-of-va-perjury-allegations  

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YouTube blocks North Korean channel to appease US regime censors

December 14, 2016
posted by

The Washington Post Washington Post    

YouTube has blocked North Korea's state television channel, which broadcasts news on everything from nuclear tests to Kim Jong Un's outings, to avoid breaching U.S. sanctions against the regime. The action was apparently taken not because of the content in the channel but because the North Korean government could earn money from it through advertising. ... Under sanctions imposed in March, the Treasury Department designated North Korea's Propaganda and Agitation Department as engaging in censorship on behalf of authorities. The measures ban any U.S. company or person from doing business with the department." [editor's note: Yes, you read that right -- the US is using North Korea's censorship as justification for its own - TLK] (12/14/16)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/youtube-blocks-north-korean-channel-to-avoid-breaching-sanctions/2016/12/14/12938986-dfcf-4ab3-8209-b8436396f810_story.html  

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US DoT proposes rule requiring new cars to talk to each other

December 14, 2016
posted by

Chattanooga Times Free Press    

"All new cars and light trucks would be able to talk wirelessly with each other, with traffic lights and with other roadway infrastructure under a proposal released Tuesday by the Transportation Department. Officials say the technology holds the potential to dramatically reduce traffic deaths and transform driving. Vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V, enables cars to transmit their locations, speed, direction and other information ten times per second. That lets cars detect, for example, when another vehicle is about to run a red light, is braking hard, changing lanes or coming around a blind turn in time for a driver to prevent a crash. The technology has the potential to prevent or mitigate the severity of up to 80 percent of collisions that don't involve alcohol or drugs, officials said." (12/13/16)

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/national/business/story/2016/dec/13/govt-require-cars-be-able-talk-each-other/402788/  

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OH: Kasich okays 20-week abortion ban, nixes heartbeat bill

December 14, 2016
posted by

US News & World Report US News & World Report    

"Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Tuesday imposing a 20-week abortion ban while vetoing stricter provisions in a separate measure that would have barred the procedure at the first detectable fetal heartbeat. ... Kasich, an abortion-rights opponent, chose instead to sign off on a 20-week ban similar to those now in effect in 15 states and blocked from enforcement in two others. The measures are based on the assertion that fetuses can feel pain then, which opponents characterize as scientifically unsound. Ohio lawmakers rejected a Democratic amendment that would have added exceptions for rape and incest." (12/13/16)

http://www.usnews.com/news/news/articles/2016-12-13/ohio-governor-gets-20-week-abortion-ban-heartbeat-bills  

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EPA: “Data gaps” block verdict on fracking, drinking water

December 14, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and natural gas poses a risk to drinking water in some circumstances, but a lack of information precludes a definitive statement on how severe the risk is, the Environmental Protection Agency says in a new report that raises more questions than answers. The report removes a finding from a draft issued last year indicating that fracking has not caused 'widespread, systemic' harm to drinking water in the United States. Industry groups hailed the draft EPA study as proof that fracking is safe, while environmentalists seized on the report's identification of cases where fracking-related activities polluted drinking water. The final report, completed at a cost of $29 million over six years, takes pains to avoid conclusions." (12/13/16)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/EPA-Data-gaps-block-verdict-on-fracking-10792940.php  

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Trump’s trade talk makes US firms fear China retribution

December 14, 2016
posted by

Reuters    

"U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's challenges to China on trade and Taiwan are rattling American companies who have long benefited from stable relations between the two countries but now fear retaliation by Beijing if Trump were to act. Trump jarred Chinese officials on Sunday by saying the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of 'one China.' Beijing expressed 'serious concern' about Trump’s remarks. Four U.S. industry sources who follow China policy closely said they were unsettled by any suggestion of abandoning the 'one China' policy, which they said had served the business community well for several decades." (12/13/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-china-companies-idUSKBN1412Q7  

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NY: College student arrested with fireworks and weapons at Trump Tower

December 14, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"A 19-year-old Baruch College student was reportedly arrested Monday night after he attempted to enter Trump Tower in New York with fireworks, the New York Post reported Tuesday. He was charged with two counts of criminal possession in the fourth degree and unlawful possession of fireworks, police told The Post. Alexander Wang allegedly walked into President-elect Donald Trump’s titular tower at 6:35 p.m. ET and Secret Service agents found a large knife, firecrackers, a water gun and handcuffs after searching his backpack. The Post reported that one of the fireworks was a M100, which the ATF says can cause 'severe damage to face, arms, and body,' as well as a garrote, a length of wire or cord that can be used to strangle a person." (12/13/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/college-student-arrested-with-fireworks-and-weapons-at-trump-tower  

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Scientists discover an exoplanet with clouds of jewels

December 14, 2016
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"For the first time ever, scientists have observed weather patterns on a gas giant outside of our solar system, a team of British researchers announced Monday. Researchers at the University of Warwick observed cloud formation and weather patterns on the massive exoplanet HAT-P-7b from 1,040 light-years away, thanks to data from NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope. And what they found startled them. Scientists knew from previous studies that HAT-P-7b, which is 40 percent larger than Jupiter and 500 times more massive than the Earth, moves in a tight orbit around its star, completing a full revolution in just 2.2 days. Because of that proximity, the exoplanet is tidally locked, with one side of the permanently facing the star, much like Earth's moon is tidally locked to Earth." (12/13/16)

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/1213/Scientists-discover-an-exoplanet-with-clouds-of-jewels  

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UK: Overdue library book returned after 120 years

December 13, 2016
posted by

Aol News    

"When it comes to returning library books, the phrase better late than never comes to mind for this story out England. A woman in the United Kingdom recently returned a book to the library at a school in southwestern England. The only problem: the book was more than a century overdue. Alice Gillett found the book, 'The Microscope and its Revelations' while she was going through her late husband's book collection. She saw that the book was borrowed from Hereford Cathedral School. Gillett's grandfather, Arthur Boycott, attended the school between 1886 and 1894, according to the school's website. Boycott went on to be a successful pathologist and naturalist and even has his photo on display in the National Portrait Gallery in London." (12/12/16)

http://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/12/12/overdue-library-book-is-returned-after-120-years/21626297  

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SpaceX pushes first crewed launch of Dragon capsule to 2018

December 13, 2016
posted by

TechCrunch    

"SpaceX had intended to launch its first Dragon capsule with a human crew on board in 2017, as part of a NASA mission. The planned launch has been pushed back to 2018, however, representing a delay of around half a year. SpaceX has pushed back the timing for the momentous mission as it revamps its fueling procedures for Falcon 9 rockets following a launchpad explosion this September. ... Still on track for 2017 is an uncrewed demo launch, not targeting Q4 with the updated timeline. Dragon’s being designed with reuse of up to 10 missions possible, SpaceX notes, and other testing happening for crewed missions during 2017 include testing of spacesuits, parachutes, the crew access arm and more." (12/12/16)

https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/12/spacex-pushes-first-crewed-launch-of-dragon-capsule-to-2018/  

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