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Older News Archivescom0116
NEWS     SATURDAY, AUGUST 30, 2014     NEWS

President Speaks To Americans’ Unease Over World Events
If the world seems troubled by all manner of calamities these days, President Obama does not want Americans to worry too much. After all, he said Friday: “The world’s always been messy”; it is just more apparent because of social media. And, he added, today’s geopolitical threats are far less perilous than those of the Cold War. Governing at a time of war, terrorism and disease, and frustrated on multiple fronts at once, Obama finds himself trying to buck up supporters heading into a crucial midterm election season. The succession of international crises has taken a toll on the public mood, not to mention his own poll ratings, and he seems intent on reassuring Americans the challenges are manageable. Seattle Times
VOA VIEW: According to Obama, don't believe the world problems you experience, see and hear of - all is good.

Malaysia Airlines To Cut 6,000 Staff In $1.9B Overhaul
Malaysia Airlines will cut 6,000 workers as part of a $1.9 billion overhaul announced Friday to revive its damaged brand after being hit by double passenger jet disasters. The staff reduction represents about 30 percent of its current workforce of 20,000. A search for a new CEO is underway but there is no move to change the airline's name, which some branding experts had said was necessary for a successful makeover. Khazanah Nasional, the state investment company that owns 69 percent of the airline, said the overhaul includes the establishment of a new company that will take over the existing Malaysia Airlines business and its reduced staff. Fox News

Airline Seat Reclining Sparks Another Skirmish
Inching into another passenger's knee space has some fliers itching for a fight. In the second serious airline legroom argument reported this week, a reportedly irate passenger caused a flight from Miami to Paris to divert to Boston on Wednesday. Paris resident Edmund Alexandre, 60, was charged in U.S. federal court Thursday with interfering with an airline flight crew. Interfering with flight crew members is a violation of federal law and carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. CNN

Raise Road Funding From U.S. Companies Seeking To Move Abroad
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters suggested Friday that Congress should tap more revenue for road repairs by preventing U.S. companies from moving their headquarters abroad through mergers with foreign companies. Peters embraced proposals by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, to stop the tax moves while calling Republican Terri Lynn Land’s plan to slash the federal gas tax 75 percent a “right-wing tea party proposal” that would cost the state $1 billion. “I understand Ms. Land doesn’t want to be responsible for making any tough decisions in Washington. She basically wants state legislators to do it,” Peters said. Detroit News
VOA VIEW: Democrats are pushing companies out, and thereby turning the U.S. into a consumer nation with less means of providing jobs and income.

Housing Group: 20 Years To Rebuild Gaza
An international organization involved in assessing post-conflict reconstruction says it will take 20 years for Gaza's battered and neglected housing stock to be rebuilt following the war between Hamas and Israel. The assessment by Shelter Cluster, co-chaired by the U.N. refugee agency and the Red Cross, underscores the complexities involved in an overall reconstruction program for the Gaza Strip, which some Palestinian officials have estimated could cost in excess of $6 billion. Philadlephia Inquirer

Toys ‘R’ Us Takes Extreme Measures To Prepare For Holidays
Toys ‘R’ Us says it’s ready for the holidays — but getting to this point wasn’t much fun. The struggling toy retailer said Friday it was forced to take steep markdowns on unsold inventory in order to clear its shelves for the crucial Christmas season. As a result, the company widened its second-quarter loss to $148 million, from $113 million a year earlier. Toy sellers are under assault as kids turn increasingly to tablets and mobile devices for distraction. Meanwhile, Amazon has become increasingly aggressive about slashing toy prices — forcing rivals to do the same. Toys ‘R’ Us said gross margins tanked to 37.5 percent of sales, from 38.7 percent, amid heavy discounting, even as total sales edged up 2.7 percent, to $2.44 billion. NY Post

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Coal Industry Dealt Another Setback As Oregon Blocks Export Plan
The coal industry has been dealt another blow after a state agency in Oregon denied a key permit for a controversial terminal, marking the latest salvo in an escalating fight between coal exporters and fossil-fuel loathing environmentalists on the West Coast.  The permit, for the Coyote Island Terminal in Oregon, was denied on Aug. 18 by the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL). Though opponents rejoiced, the company building the dock, which would be used to transport tons of coal down the Columbia River, cited it as a potential economic boon – and questioned whether politics were at play in the permit rejection. Fox News

Stop Spy Flights, China Warns The U.S.
China has warned the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory, rejecting claims by Washington that a Chinese fighter jet made several "dangerous" and "unprofessional" passes at a U.S. Navy plane last week. The U.S. should take "concrete measures" towards ending reconnaissance operations off the coast of China if it wants to improve bilateral ties between the two countries, a spokesperson for China's Defense Ministry, Yang Yujun, said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Thursday. On August 19, a Chinese fighter jet intercepted a U.S. Navy Poseidon patrol plane in the South China Sea about 135 miles east of the Chinese island of Hainan, coming as close as 20 feet at one point, according to the Pentagon. CNN

Push-Ups Or Pot? Gov’t Spends $715K On Marijuana App
“Use of exercise to reduce young adult marijuana use there is an app for that” is the title of a University of New York/Buffalo study that received a $715,500 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The program aims to develop and study a smartphone app promoting exercise as an alternative to marijuana use. The project includes intervention for young marijuana users between the ages of 18 and 25 that consists of four intervention sessions, “as well as a smartphone application (app) that promotes exercise/physical activity (EA) as an alternative to MJ (marijuana) use,” according to the project grant description. CNS News

Some Texas National Guard Troops On Border Using Food Handouts: Lawmaker
Some of the Texas National Guard troops dispatched to the Texas-Mexico border have been relying on charities and food banks for their meals due to the way the state is paying the troops, a state representative said on Friday. "Essentially, the Guard is directing these soldiers to temporarily finance their own deployment," said Rene Oliveira, a Democratic state representative from the border city of Brownsville. Oliveira said soldiers are expected to buy their meals while deployed, then submit receipts to the Guard for reimbursement. Since many were deployed rather suddenly, some have run out of the little money they took with them and are relying on food handouts while waiting for their first reimbursement from the state. Reuters

Obama On Labor Day: Don't Take Rights For Granted
President Barack Obama is asking Americans this Labor Day to think about the rights and benefits that people often take for granted. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says he’s optimistic about the growing economy. He says decisions made now will determine whether the recovery will pick up speed. Obama says to strengthen the modern middle class, the U.S. must raise its minimum wage. He says states and businesses have raised wages already and Congress should, too. Boston Globe
VOA VIEW: Unemployment rises when government forces wage increases.

EU Leaders To Pick New Foreign Policy Chief
European Union leaders will pick the 28-nation bloc's foreign policy chief for the next five years at a summit Saturday, with Italy's top diplomat Federica Mogherini widely seen as the front-runner for the prestigious job. The decision on incumbent Catherine Ashton's successor comes as the crisis at the EU's eastern border pitting Ukraine against Russia poses one of the biggest foreign policy challenges for the bloc in decades. Ashton, whose term ends in October, has been a frequent interlocutor for U.S. secretaries of state and chairs the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. The 41-year-old center-left politician Mogherini, in turn, has been Italy's foreign minister only since February, drawing criticism that she lacks experience. Houston Chronicle

Who Is Drawn To Jihad?
People living in the margins. Youths smarting from brushes with the law. Religious converts who, despite their fervor, lack a deep understanding of bedrock teachings.
This is the profile of people drawn to extremist Islamic groups, scholars said. And while there are still many question marks about 33-year-old Douglas Authur McCain — who last weekend became the first American to die while fighting for the jihadist group Islamic State — some of this profile may be a match. Friends called him “Toothless.” Sometimes he stayed in a small, one-bedroom apartment with his mother and sister above a Spring Valley hair salon, neighbors said. One observer said he appeared to carry a handgun holstered on his hip. San Diego Union

Novel Heart Failure Drug Shows Big Promise
A new study reports one of the biggest potential advances against heart failure in more than a decade — a first-of-a-kind, experimental drug that lowered the chances of death or hospitalization by about 20 percent. Doctors say the Novartis drug — which doesn't have a name yet — seems like one of those rare, breakthrough therapies that could quickly change care for more than half of the 6 million Americans and 24 million people worldwide with heart failure. "This is a new day" for patients, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiology chief at Northwestern University in Chicago and a former American Heart Association president. Charlotte Observer

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Feds Issue Bulletin On ‘Imminent’ Attack At U.S. Border
The federal government believes a terrorist attack at the U.S.-Mexico border is imminent and has put out a bulletin on the matter, a government watchdog group reported Friday. Judicial Watch released a statement that said Islamic terrorist groups who have infiltrated the city of Ciudad Juarez aim to use car bombs to attack American interests. “High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued,” the statement read. “Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.” WashingtonTimes

Consumers Beware: Misleading Labels May Hide Trans Fats
People may be consuming more trans fat than they think, as a result of misleading food labels, according to a study from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Researchers examined 4,340 top-selling packaged foods and found that 9 percent contained partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat. But of those foods, 84 percent claimed on their packaging to have "0 grams" of trans fat. The amount of trans fat in these products varied from small traces to almost 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the researchers said. CBS

U.S. Consumer Spending Falls For First Time In Six Months
American consumers have become thriftier, trimming spending as bigger wage gains fail to materialize and using every opportunity to rebuild nest eggs. The result may lower economic growth. Household purchases unexpectedly decreased 0.1 percent in July, the first drop in six months, after rising 0.4 percent the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Incomes rose at the slowest pace of the year and savings climbed to the highest level since the end of 2012. Bloomberg

US Sanctions People Aiding Iran
The United States is targeting more than 25 businesses, banks and individuals suspected of working to expand Iran's nuclear program, supporting terrorism and helping Iran evade U.S. and international sanctions. The Treasury Department's action on Friday is part of the Obama administration's effort to show it will enforce existing sanctions even as it negotiates a deal to curtail Iran's nuclear program. As a result of the action, Americans are banned from engaging in transactions with any of the designated parties and blocks all their property or interests in property under U.S. jurisdiction. Las Vegas Sun

Iran President Condemns US Sanctions 'Invasion'
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called Western sanctions an "invasion" on Saturday after Washington imposed penalties on 25 businesses, banks and individuals.
"Sanctions are an invasion of the Iranian nation. We should resist the invasion and put the invaders in their place," Rouhani told officials in remarks broadcast by state TV. "We should not allow the continuation and repetition of the invasion." On Friday the United States imposed existing sanctions on more than 25 businesses, banks and individuals suspected of working to expand Iran's nuclear program, support terrorism and help Iran evade U.S. and international sanctions. Tampa Tribune

California Lawmakers Pass First U.S. Plastic Bag Ban
Lawmakers are sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would make California the first to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. SB270 cleared the Senate on a 22-15 vote Friday. It was approved by the Assembly a day earlier. Senators who had previously opposed the bill, including incoming Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, this time supported the measure after protections were added for plastic bag manufacturers. The bill would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Total stupidity.

McDonnell Prosecutor: ‘This Is Corruption. The Real Thing’
After a month of sometimes lurid summertime spectacle, the corruption trial of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will soon be handed to the only spectators who matter: the seven men and five women who will decide the couple’s fate. Attorneys on both sides Friday made their closing arguments in a case that has generated soap-opera buzz since the state’s former first couple pinned their defense largely on a brutal self-dissection of their own failed relationship. The verdict will come down to whether the jury believes that Robert McDonnell — a former attorney general and onetime vice presidential prospect — struck a corrupt deal with a flamboyant vitamin salesman who was given immunity to testify and was described by prosecutors as a “criminal.” Washington Post

HIV Case Prompts Industry-Wide Moratorium On Porn Filming
The porn industry’s trade association has called for an indefinite industry-wide halt on adult film production after a pornographic actor tested positive for HIV. “Confirmatory tests are not yet back, but we are taking every precaution to protect performers and to determine if there’s been any threat to the performer pool,” Diane Duke, executive director of the trade group Free Speech Coalition, said in a statement on Thursday. “We take the health of our performers very seriously and felt that it was better to err on the side of caution while we determine whether anyone else may have been exposed.” Washington Post

In Quake, Barrels Became Quarter-Ton Projectiles
Napa Valley's earthquake has revived worries about a risk particular to wine country — falling wine barrels. Vintners say thousands of wine barrels fell from their racks in the Aug. 24 earthquake that hit southern Napa County. Winery heads like Richard Ward of Saintsbury vineyard say many people would have been in harm's way if the 3:20 a.m. quake had hit at another time. Winery seismic-engineering specialist Joshua Marrow says a simple change, like switching to a more stable kind of barrel rack, can help. Vintner David Duncan of Napa's Silver Oak winery says he switched to the steadier rack years ago - and says that saved him tens of thousands of dollars for each unbroken wine barrel in the quake. Miami Herald

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No Place Like Home: Senate Foes Raise Questions
Two candidates officially live with their parents. One rents a room from a contributor. Another won and lost elections in one state, then moved to another in a bid to get back into the U.S. Senate. From New Orleans to New Hampshire, Republicans and Democrats are questioning each other's residency details in Senate races that often are close but lack dominant issues. The stakes in the November elections are high: Republicans need to gain six more seats to control the 100-member chamber. ABC

S&P 500 Tops 2,000 To Finish Best Month Since February
U.S. stocks rose, finishing the biggest monthly gain since February, amid improving economic data and speculation central banks will continue to spur growth. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.3 percent to a record 2,003.37 as of 4 p.m. in New York today. The index jumped 3.8 percent this month, the best August performance since 2000. Economic reports showed consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in August, while consumer spending dropped in July for the first time in six months. Euro-area inflation slowed this month to the weakest rate since 2009, increasing pressure on the European Central Bank to add stimulus. American equity markets will be closed on Sept. 1 for the Labor Day holiday.  Bloomberg

Obama Cautions Against Using Force To Solve Crises
Faced with deepening crises in the Middle East and Ukraine, President Barack Obama is putting the brakes on the notion that American military power can solve either conflict. That stance is in keeping with Obama's long-standing aversion to military entanglements. But it comes at a time when the effectiveness of his preferred options is being challenged and there are indications that some in the administration are ready to take more robust actions. In the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Obama has relied largely on coordinated U.S. and European Union economic sanctions to try to shift Russian President Vladimir Putin (POO'-tihn)'s calculus. While the White House can claim credit for inflicting some pain on Russia's economy, Putin appears to be only getting more aggressive. Las Vegas Sun

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U.S. Says No Precise Threat To Homeland From Islamic State
The United States is not aware of any specific threat to the U.S. homeland from Islamic State militants, the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday after Britain raised its international terrorism threat level. Islamic State militants and their supporters, however, "have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. He noted that DHS took steps over the summer to strengthen security at overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. Johnson said he has spoken to UK Home Secretary Theresa May about Britain's decision to raise its terrorism alert to the second-highest level. It is the first time since mid-2011 that Britain has been placed on this high of an alert level. Reuters

FTC, Hackers Work Together To 'Zap' Robocalls
Nobody likes robocalls and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided that some cold, hard cash might motivate people to put an end to them. On Thursday, it announced the winners of its "Zapping Rachel" contest, named after the scam where an automated voice says, “Hi, this is Rachel at cardholder services." The entrants were divided into three categories: creator, attacker and detective. The first category was won by Jon Olawski, who created a "honeypot" meant to attract robocalls and use an "audio captcha filter" to figure out if the caller was human or not. The attackers tried to get around these honeypots, and the detectives attempted to use that data to create an algorithm to identify calls that might be robocalls. MSNBC

Dairy Queen Hit By Backoff Malware Breach
Dairy Queen appears to be the latest victim of a malware breach that could affect as many as 1,000 U.S. businesses. The Edina, Minnesota-based ice cream chain confirmed Thursday it had been in contact with the U.S. Secret Service about "suspicious activity" related to Backoff, a strain of malware that attacks point-of-service machines discovered last October. Dairy Queen said it was investigating the breach and did not yet know how many stores or customers had been affected. UPI

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Stocks Up On Consumer Confidence, S&P 500 Best August In 14 Years
Stocks rose on Friday, with benchmark indices posting a fourth week of gains, as investors welcomed a better-than-expected read on U.S. consumer confidence and bypassed geopolitical worries. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unofficially 18 points higher, the S&P 500 rose 6 points to post its best August in 14 years, and the Nasdaq added 22 points. "The bullish sentiment continues to build; August started out as an ugly month, but will close out with real gains, and indices possibly in record territory," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. "September may have a technical pullback, or a cooling off period," he said, referring to the market's oversold conditions. MSNBC

As Obama Exits Washington, White House Clarifies ‘No Strategy’ Remark
President Obama took off from the White House for Democratic fundraisers Friday while his spokesman tried to explain the president’s comment that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for defeating the Islamist terrorists in Syria. The whine of the rotor blades of Marine One taking off from the South Lawn could be heard in the briefing room as Press Secretary Josh Earnest insisted that the administration does have a plan for dealing with the Islamic State. Mr. Earnest suggested that some people misinterpreted what he called the president’s “now-famous statement” because they lack Mr. Obama’s sophisticated and forward-thinking grasp of Middle East policy. Washington Times

Obama Administration Avoids The Term ‘Invasion’; 'A Continuation,' Obama Says
Ukraine’s U.N. envoy Oleksandr Pavlichenko says Russia’s military action -- sending tanks and troops across the border -- amounted to an “invasion,” although the Obama administration has not used that term. “Do you consider today's escalation in Ukraine an invasion?” President Obama was asked during a press conference on Thursday. “I consider the actions that we’ve seen in the last week a continuation of what's been taking place for months now,” he replied. At the State Department, a reporter observed that spokeswoman Jen Psaki had referred to Russia’s “direct intervention” and “incursion,” and asked her, “Why haven’t you referred to it as an invasion?” CNS News
VOA VIEW: Obama is weak and poor excuse for a leader.

Chelsea Clinton Quits As NBC News Reporter
Chelsea Clinton said Friday she is quitting her job as a reporter at NBC News, citing increased work at the Clinton Foundation and the imminent birth of her first child.
Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton's daughter had been working at the network since 2011, sporadically doing feature stories on people or organizations doing public-spirited work. Politico magazine reported earlier this year that NBC was paying her $600,000 a year. "I loved watching the 'Making a Difference' stories about remarkable people and organizations making a profound difference in our country and our world," Clinton said in a statement posted on her Facebook page. "I am grateful NBC gave me the opportunity to continue this important legacy." SF Gate

Electrical Brain Stimulation May Boost Memory
Scientists have found that sending electrical currents through the scalp to a specific network of brain structures can enhance people's memories, for up to a day. In a small study of healthy young adults, researchers used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to fire up certain networks involved in memory. That, in turn, boosted participants' performance on memory tests -- an improvement apparent 24 hours after the brain stimulation. During TMS, an electromagnetic coil is placed on the scalp to create electrical currents that stimulate brain cells. In the United States, the procedure is approved for hard-to-treat cases of depression that don't improve with standard treatments. CBS

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Reclining Your Airplane Seat
Who knew reclining your seat on an airplane would become such a heated issue? But all of a sudden, it has. In the past week, two U.S. planes made emergency landings after passengers fought over reclining their seats, including one on which a man used a gadget called a “knee defender” to block the seat in front of him from moving back. The contraption is banned on most airlines. While it’s every passenger’s right to lean back, here are some tips so you don’t infuriate your neighbor – or the plane crew. ABC

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Ukraine Seeks To Join NATO, Prime Minister Says
Ukraine will seek NATO membership, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said Friday. His announcement came after accusations by Ukraine, NATO and the United Nations that Russia is a participant in the separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen referred Friday to a "serious escalation of Russian aggression" in claiming Russia is attempting to "destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation." He spoke at a special NATO meeting convened to discuss the Ukraine situation. UPI News

Gaza Operation Could Present Opening For Diplomatic Breakthrough, Netanyahu Says
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Channel 10 on Friday that Operation Protective Edge “might have” presented an opportunity for a diplomatic breakthrough in the region, although it was incumbent on the Palestinian Authority to "give Hamas a divorce." “Today there might be a new set of circumstances that enable us to act in a way that on the one hand we could advance our security interests and also launch a responsible diplomatic process on the basis of this new reality,” Netanyahu said. Jerusalem Post

Britain Raises Terrorism Threat Level To 'Severe' In Response To Iraq, Syria
Britain raised its international terrorism threat level to the second highest level of "severe" on Friday in response to possible attacks being planned in Syria and Iraq, Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May said. "That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent," May said in a statement. "The increase in the threat level is related to developments in Syria and Iraq where terrorist groups are planning attacks against the West. Some of those plots are likely to involve foreign fighters who have traveled there from the UK and Europe to take part in those conflicts." Jerusalem Post

Ebola: Experimental Drug ZMapp Is '100% Effective' In Animal Trials
The only clinical trial data on the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp shows it is 100% effective in monkey studies, even in later stages of the infection. The researchers, publishing their data in Nature, said it was a "very important step forward". Yet the limited supplies will not help the 20,000 people predicted to be infected during the outbreak in West Africa. And two out of seven people given the drug, have later died from the disease. BBC

IMF 'Confident' Lagarde Can Continue Despite Investigation
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed confidence in its leader Christine Lagarde, despite her being investigated for negligence in France. Ms Lagarde, 58, has been questioned about her role in awarding compensation to businessman Bernard Tapie in 2008. She denies any wrongdoing. Ms Lagarde was France's minister of finance at the time of the award. In a statement, the IMF executive board said it was confident Ms Lagarde could continue to lead the organisation. BBC

New Orleans Experiencing Economic Growth Despite Widening Wealth Gap
On Friday, to commemorate the day nine years ago when the floodwalls broke, releasing water that would eventually kill nearly 1,000 people and submerge 80% of the city, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu helped lay wreaths at a memorial site where nearly 100 unclaimed or unidentified victims of Hurricane Katrina are interred. Then he got back to work. Work, in this case, involves demonstrating yet again how his city is on the upswing, nine years after Katrina. Landrieu won his office promising a new New Orleans and, midway through his second term, he has plenty of evidence to back that up: a new 1,500-acre new biomedical district; thriving neighborhood corridors touting sleek new cocktail bars, boutique restaurants and upscale restaurants; an added streetcar line; a prodigious state film industry that last year produced more movies than California and a housing boom that has sent property values skyrocketing. Guardian

California To Introduce New Measures To Limit Police Drone Use
California is poised to introduce tough new controls on police deployment of drones for surveillance, as the debate around the acceptable uses of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) gathers pace. Bill AB1327 has passed all stages in the California legislature and now awaits the signature of governor Jerry Brown. Should Brown give it the green light, as expected, it would send a powerful message across America about the limits of drone surveillance from the technology capital of the country. Guardian

Vladimir Putin: Don't Mess With Nuclear-Armed Russia
Vladimir Putin raised the spectre of nuclear war with the West on Friday as he defied international condemnation over his decision to send thousands of Russian troops and heavy armour into Ukraine. Accused by Europe and Nato of launching a full-scale invasion of eastern Ukraine, the Russian leader boasted to a group of Russian youngsters that "It's best not to mess with us." In language not seen since the height of the Cold War, he told his audience: "Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers." Telegraph

Islamic State Seeks Use Bubonic Plague As A Weapon Of War
ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq have carried out research into the production of biological weapons, compiling a manual of how to make a device and sharing a religious edict that sanctions the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians. The computer seized from a Tunisian chemistry student contained a 19-page manual to learn how to turn the bubonic plague into a weapon of war. The text boasts that biological and chemical weapons are a highly effective means of targeting enemy populations, according to the Arab television channel al-Aan, which obtained the computer from a Syria rebel group. Telegraph

Bitcoin’s Earliest Adopter Is Cryonically Freezing His Body To See The Future
Some bitcoin enthusiasts have used their cryptocurrency to travel around the world. Others have spent it on a trip to space. But the very earliest user of bitcoin (after its inventor Satoshi Nakamoto himself) has now spent his crypto coins on the most ambitious mission yet: to visit the future. Hal Finney, the renowned cryptographer, coder, and bitcoin pioneer, died Thursday morning at the age of 58 after five years battling ALS. He will be remembered for a remarkable career that included working as the number-two developer on the groundbreaking encryption software PGP in the early 1990s, creating one of the first “remailers” that presaged the anonymity software Tor, and—more than a decade later—becoming one of the first programmers to work on bitcoin’s open source code; in 2009, he received the very first bitcoin transaction from Satoshi Nakamoto. Wired

UN Report Shows Rising Civilian Deaths, Ongoing Rights Abuses
Intense fighting, including the use of heavy weaponry by both sides, in densely populated areas of eastern Ukraine, has increased the loss of civilian life, with an average of around 36 people being killed every day, says a new report issued today by the United Nations human rights office. The report, produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and covers the period from 16 July to 17 August, expresses dismay at the killing and wounding of civilians who are trapped in urban areas or attempting to flee the fighting in eastern Ukraine using “safe” corridors established by the Government. UN News

Number Of Syrian Refugees Tops 3 Million As Insecurity Grows – UN Agency
Three million Syrians will have registered as refugees outside of their country today, the UN refugee agency reported, amid accounts of increasingly horrifying conditions inside their homeland – cities where populations are surrounded, people are going hungry and civilians are being targeted or indiscriminately killed. A news release issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that a further 6.5 million people are displaced within Syria, bringing to almost half of all Syrians who have been forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives. One in every eight Syrians has fled across the border, fully a million people more than a year ago. Over half of those uprooted are children. UN News

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