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Older News Archivescom0116

Top Jewish Leader Calls On Obama To ‘Name, Apologize For And Repudiate’ Official Who Mocked Netanyahu
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has called on President Obama to "name, apologize for, and repudiate" the anonymous official quoted in an Atlantic Magazine article describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "chickenshit," The Algemeiner reports. In a telephone call with The Algemeiner from his Los Angeles office, an incensed Rabbi Hier declared: "It is rather ironic that a senior American official is prepared to curse his friends, yet when it comes to the mortal enemies of the United States -- as the Iranians discovered during the recent nuclear negotiation -- praise is heaped on them." Jeffrey Goldberg's piece in The Atlantic extensively quoted an anonymous "senior Obama administration official" who showered Netanyahu with invective, saying, "The thing about Bibi is, he's a chickenshit." Fox News

Oregon, Alaska, D.C. Voters To Weigh Legal Marijuana In November
Voters in the U.S. capital and two West Coast states will decide in the Nov. 4 elections whether to legalize marijuana, pushing closer to the mainstream a notion that was once consigned to the political fringe. Ballot initiatives in Oregon and Alaska would set up a network of regulated pot stores, similar to those already operating in Colorado and Washington state. A measure in the District of Columbia would allow possession but not retail sales. If successful, the ballot initiatives could build momentum for legalization in other states and force candidates in the 2016 presidential election to take a stand on the issue. Reuters

Banks Need To Do Better at Serving Military Bases
Military families face unique challenges when it comes to dealing with financial institutions. Something as simple as managing a checking account gets complicated when you’re repeatedly deployed and frequently relocated. Banks and credit unions that operate on military bases need to do a better job of serving their military customers, according to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts released on Tuesday. “Safe financial products are essential for helping military families and the products that are offered by the banks and credit unions on bases are not necessarily providing that sort of protection,” said Susan Weinstock, who directs consumer banking research at Pew. MSNBC

U.S. Demands Faster Action On Air Bag Recalls
The top U.S. auto safety regulator wrote to 10 major automakers and the Japanese air bag supplier on Wednesday, urging faster action on recalls of 7.8 million vehicles for potentially defective air bags linked to at least four deaths. David Friedman, deputy administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sent letters to air bag supplier Takata Corp., along with General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., Mazda Motor Corp, Subaru, Mitsubishi and BMW. It urged them to move faster to fix faulty air bags. “While decisive measures are being taken to address the safety threat, more can and should be done as soon as possible to prevent any further tragedies from occurring as a result of these defective air bags,” Friedman wrote. He asked if they will accept replacement parts from other suppliers. Detroit News

Obama Warns Against Strict Quarantines For Ebola Workers
President Obama called for health-care workers returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa to be treated as "the heroes that they are," amid continuing confusion and public anxiety over state health measures that call for some to be confined to their homes. Obama's remarks Wednesday came as nurse Kaci Hickox threatened to challenge her quarantine in Maine and as Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered that all U.S. troops who travel to Liberia to help build Ebola treatment centers be quarantined for 21 days afterward, even though the service members will not come into direct contact with Ebola patients. Hagel's measure exceeds the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Hagel noted that the troops are not volunteers and described the measure as a "safety valve." Philadelphi Inquirer

Holder Says He Regrets Subpoena Decision On Fox Reporter
Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that his biggest regret in office is having subpoenaed Fox News reporter James Rosen in a leak investigation.
Holder, who has announced his intention to step down once a successor is confirmed, was asked what decision he wished he could do over during a “Washington Ideas Forum” organized by Atlantic magazine. “I think about the subpoena to the Fox reporter, Rosen,” he responded, saying there were things he could have done “differently.” “I think that I could have been a little more careful looking at the language that was contained in the filing that we made with the court — that he was labeled as a co-conspirator,” he added. NY Post

Dems Rush To Save Suddenly Vulnerable Incumbents
Desperate Democrats are rushing to save suddenly vulnerable House incumbents, even in states where President Barack Obama cruised to double-digit victories, amid fresh signs of Republican momentum less than a week before the midterm elections. The once friendly terrain of New York, California, Obama's native state of Hawaii and adopted state of Illinois all now pose stiff challenges to Democrats who are determined to limit their losses next Tuesday. Both parties agree the GOP will hold its House majority; the question is whether Republicans can gain enough seats to rival their post-World War II high water mark of 246. The current breakdown is 233-199 in favor of the Republicans with three vacancies. Seattle Times

Rand Paul Hits Hillary Clinton On Jobs Remarks
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky may not be ready to announce his own presidential aspirations just yet, but he's already taking aim at a likely Democratic contender, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He told the crowd at an event for Kansas Republicans, "Hillary Clinton comes up and she says, 'Businesses don't create jobs.'"
"Anybody here think businesses don't create jobs?" he said, according to Buzzfeed, as he referenced one of Clinton's comments from the campaign trail earlier last week. CBS

Holder: Ferguson Police Need 'Wholesale Change'
Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that there was an obvious need for "wholesale change" in the Ferguson, Missouri, police department. The Justice Department is conducting a broad investigation into the practices of the police department following the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old, Michael Brown. That investigation focuses on alleged patterns of racial discrimination and on how officers in the predominantly white department use force and search and arrest suspects. Local and federal authorities are also continuing to investigate the shooting of Brown by Officer Darren Wilson for potential criminal charges. A St. Louis County grand jury is expected to decide by mid-November whether to indict Wilson. In a question-and-answer session with a newspaper columnist at the Washington Ideas Forum, Holder would not say what the reforms should be or discuss potential leadership changes at the department. ABC

Holder Says Bankers May Yet Face Prosecution For 2008
Bankers may yet face federal prosecution for their roles in the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said today. “We have ongoing investigations that may perhaps produce individual prosecutions,” Holder said, defending the Justice Department’s handling of probes that have resulted in large financial settlements but few criminal prosecutions. Holder announced his retirement last month, saying he would remain in the job until a new attorney general is nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He said he expects that process to take until the beginning of next year. Bloomberg

Vice President Joe Biden Coming To Las Vegas To Rally Voters
Underscoring the trouble Nevada Democrats are in this election cycle, Vice President Joe Biden will be in Las Vegas on Saturday to try to get Democrats to the polls.
Biden will attend a political event, but no further details about the event were released today. It will be the vice president’s second visit to the city in a month. He spoke with supporters and workers at a Mexican restaurant earlier in October to tout Democratic campaign issues, such as raising the minimum wage. His second visit, first reported by Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston, comes the same week former President Bill Clinton was in Las Vegas to rally Democrats. Democrats running in once-safe seats, such as Rep. Steven Horsford, are suddenly in a fight for their political careers ahead of Tuesday’s midterm election. Las Vegas Sun

For Turkey And U.S., At Odds Over Syria, A 60-Year Alliance Shows Signs Of Crumbling
The increasingly hostile divergence of views between Turkey and the United States over Syria is testing the durability of their 60-year alliance, to the point where some are starting to question whether the two countries still can be considered allies at all. Turkey’s refusal to allow the United States to use its bases to launch attacks against the Islamic State, quarrels over how to manage the battle raging in the Syrian border town of Kobane and the harsh tone of the anti-American rhetoric used by top Turkish officials to denounce U.S. policy have served to illuminate the vast gulf that divides the two nations as they scramble to address the menace posed by the extremists. Washington Post

Obama Administration Issues Rules To Regulate Colleges With Career-Training Programs
For-profit colleges will have to limit how much debt students amass in career-training programs or have their federal funding cut, according to rules issued Thursday by the Obama administration. The rules are the culmination of years of contentious debates over the responsibility for-profit colleges have to ensure that graduates of career programs receive “gainful employment.” While the restrictions could place 1,400 programs in jeopardy of losing federal student aid, critics say the rules still leave room for schools to abuse the system. Administration officials championed the rules in 2009 as a way to protect students from programs that could leave them drowning in debt. For-profit colleges, which get most of their revenues from federal student aid, argued that they were being unfairly targeted and the regulations would hurt low-income students. Washington Post

Shrimp In US Rife With Murky Labeling
Consumers around the nation can't be sure what kind of shrimp they're buying if they simply look at the label or menu at supermarkets, grocers and restaurants, an advocacy group says. Oceana did a DNA-based survey of shrimp sold at outlets in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; and various spots around the Gulf of Mexico. The group said it found about 30 percent of 143 shrimp products bought from 111 vendors were not what the label said. Cheap imported farm-raised shrimp is being sold as prized wild-caught Gulf shrimp, common shrimp sold as premium shrimp and shrimp of all kinds sold with no indication whatsoever about where they came from, the group said. Oceana is urging Congress and regulators to enforce proper labeling. Houston Chronicle


Too Much Milk May Be Bad For Your Health
Drinking lots of milk could be bad for your health, a new study reports. Previous research has shown that the calcium in milk can help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. These benefits to bone health have led U.S. health officials to recommend milk as part of a healthy diet. But this new study found that drinking large amounts of milk did not protect men or women from bone fractures, and was linked to an overall higher risk of death during the study period. However, the researchers said the results should be viewed with caution. CBS

Majority Of Millennials Turn On Obama, Favor A GOP-Led Congress
Many Democrats who are fighting to win re-election next week were swept into office with President Obama in 2008, with the help of millennial voters. Now, more than half of likely 18-29 year-old voters want a Republican-led Congress, according to a new poll from the Harvard University Institute of Politics. It’s a marked shift for the youngest and largest generation of voters, who have supported Democrats reliably since 2004. The group now appears more in line with the rest of the country. ABC

Gold Equals 15 Barrels Of Oil In Bearish Sign For Bullion
Add the bear market for oil prices to the list of reasons that U.S. inflation is still tame and why some investors see bigger losses in gold. The U.S. crude benchmark fell to two-year low this week, signaling lower costs for American companies and making it less likely investors will look for inflation hedges, such as gold. Oil’s slump pushed the ratio between the two assets to near a 17-month high, a sign that bullion is relatively expensive, said John Stephenson, chief executive officer at Stephenson& Co. Capital Management in Toronto. Federal Reserve policy makers said after concluding a two-day meeting today that lower energy prices will hold down inflation in the near term. The central bank ended its bond-purchase program, further reducing the appeal of bullion as a hedge. Bloomberg

Hawaii Lava Flow Is Slow, Gentle Yet Unrelenting
Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, moves gradually and persistently as she deposits lava across the Big Island of Hawaii. People in the small town lying in its path say the lava will reshape the community yard-by-yard as it slides toward the ocean. "She is so gentle, but so unrelenting. She is just slow and steady," said Jamila Dandini, a retiree who stopped at a coffee shop down the road from where scientists have forecast the lava will likely cross. Atlanta Journal

Gas Is $3 A Gallon Or Less For Most Drivers
About two-thirds of the stations nationwide are now charging $3 or less for a gallon of regular, according to the Oil Price Information Service. The national average has plunged to $3.02 a gallon, according to AAA, its lowest level in nearly four years. And twenty states actually have averages below $3. In fact, most drivers are actually paying less than $3, despite what the AAA numbers suggest. That's because places with high priced gas like Hawaii, Alaska and cities like San Francisco and New York are distorting the national average. CNN

Obama: ‘Access To Affordable Health Care Isn’t A Privilege – It’s A Right’
President Barack Obama claimed that access to health care is a right saying, “We believe that access to affordable health care isn’t a privilege – it’s a right,” at a governor rally for candidate Mary Burke in Milwaukee, Wisc., on Oct. 28. “In this country, access to health insurance shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic issue – it’s an American issue,” said Obama.  “It matters to everybody. I don’t know why you’d run on a platform of making sure some folks don’t have health insurance – why would you do that?  I mean, that’s a weird thing to want – I’m going to make sure folks don’t have health insurance in this state. That doesn’t make any sense.” Wisconsin is one of the 24 states in the United States that has not expanded its Medicaid program under Obamacare. CNS News

Kerry: Extremism Exploits A ‘Beautiful Religion’
The response to Islamist extremism, which “exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion,” must include offering alternatives to young people who lack opportunities and “feel oppressed,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday. “The challenge of our generation is going to be to deal with religious radical extremism, which exploits a legitimate and beautiful religion that is being totally distorted, has nothing to do with what they purport to be pursuing, and nevertheless captures the minds of some of our young people – even in America,” Kerry told staff at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. He noted that more than 100 Americans have traveled to the region to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), while more had done so from European countries, Australia and elsewhere. CNS News


Hagel Orders 21-Day Quarantine For All Military Personnel Returning From Ebola Mission In West Africa
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered all military personnel returning from Ebola response missions in West Africa to be held in a 21-day quarantine. Hagel signed the order Wednesday morning, accepting a recommendation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Army days earlier had imposed such a policy on its own servicemembers, but the new order applies to all branches. "The fact is the military will have more Americans in Liberia than any other department," Hagel said, explaining his decision at Wednesday's "Washington Ideas Forum." He also said military families had discussed the idea, and "very much wanted a safety valve on this." The decision by Hagel further drives the divisions among the White House -- which has downplayed the need for mandatory quarantines -- and a range of other policymakers, particularly at the state level. Fox News

Teams Investigate Failure Of Unmanned Rocket Off Virginia Coast
Teams of investigators were out at daybreak Wednesday examining damage to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility after an unmanned rocket exploded shortly after launch on the Virginia coast, NASA spokeswoman Rachel Kraft told CNN via email. NASA is warning people in the area not to touch debris if they find any. The Antares rocket, built by NASA contractor Orbital Sciences Corp., and its Cygnus cargo spacecraft "suffered a catastrophic failure" shortly after liftoff Tuesday evening, the company said. The crash caused a huge fire and scattered debris over a large area. CNN

Scientists Generate Human Stomach Tissue Using Stem Cells
The race to treat and cure the vast range of diseases affecting the human stomach, from cancer to diabetes, has received a boost, thanks to researchers at Cincinnati Children's. In a study published this week in the journal Nature, scientists say they were able to successfully construct miniature human stomachs using stem cells.
Lab-built organs, researchers say, can help medical researchers better observe organ-specific malfunctions and potentially test remedies with more predictive and reliable results. The mini stomachs, created in the Cincinnati lab, are the first examples of three-dimensional human stomach tissue created from pluripotent stem cells -- stem cells that can be programmed to form any type of human cell. UPI

Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'I'm Proud To Be Gay'
Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly confirmed he is gay in an opinion piece published Thursday advocating for human rights and equality. In the essay published by Businessweek, Cook says he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, citing the quote "Life's most persistent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" "While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either, until now," writes Cook. "So let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me." Cook says he's been privately open with others about being gay, but felt compelled to come out to help others. "I don't consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I've benefited from the sacrifice of others," writes Cook. "So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it's worth the trade-off with my own privacy." USA Today

‘Dead Voter’ Cases To Go Unprosecuted
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis won’t be prosecuting two cases of possible voter fraud referred by the Registrar of Voters over the summer, including one in which 14 mail-in ballots were cast in the name of an aspiring opera singer who died in 1998. The registrar’s office referred the cases after a U-T Watchdog review of county records found 26 ballots cast in the names of 10 deceased San Diego County citizens. In most of the cases, the registrar’s office found that data-entry errors were to blame for ballots attributed to dead voters. But Registrar Michael Vu sent the two most troubling cases to Dumanis for further investigation. San Diego Union

Sweden Recognizes Palestinian State
Sweden's new government on Thursday recognized a Palestinian state at a time of increased tensions between Arabs and Jews over Israel's plans to build about 1,000 housing units in east Jerusalem. The EU member country joined only two other Western European countries — Malta and Cyprus — that have officially recognized a Palestinian state. Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said the Scandinavian country had decided on the move because the criteria of international law required for such recognition had been fulfilled. "There is a territory, a people and government," she told reporters in Stockholm. Wallstrom said she hopes Sweden's "excellent cooperation (with Israel) would continue" nevertheless and that the decision would be met in Jerusalem "in a constructive way." Charlotte Observer

As Fed Ends Bond Buys, Yellen To Expand Influence
When the Federal Reserve announced the end of its landmark bond buying program Wednesday, it also signaled the start of something else: The Janet Yellen era.
Officially, Yellen has been Fed chair since February. But the phase-out of the bond-buying stimulus program Yellen inherited from her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, truly marks her inauguration. She can now begin to fully stamp her influence on the central bank. With the job market showing steady gains, Yellen must now grapple with the fateful decision of when to raise short-term interest rates, which the Fed has kept at record lows since 2008 to help the economy. Kansas City Star

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Costly U.S. Nuclear Arms Revamp, Tight Cash Call For Tough Choices
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel grabbed a ladder extending through the sleek black hull of the USS Tennessee at a Navy submarine base here and disappeared down the hatch for a close look at one of the Pentagon's most daunting budget issues. Inside the vessel, 24 tubes for launching nuclear ballistic missiles sliced through the submarine's decks, with the crew's bunks and Spartan living quarters packed in around them. The Tennessee and 13 other Ohio-class submarines are critical elements of the U.S. nuclear deterrent but the oldest has been in service for 33 years and the end of the fleet's useful life of 42 years is in sight. Reuters

Obama Meets With Health Care Workers Fighting Ebola
President Barack Obama repeated his message that America needs to support those treating the Ebola outbreak in Africa, saying “the world owes them a debt of gratitude” — even as authorities in Maine weighed whether to enforce a quarantine on a nurse there. "What we need right now is these shock troops that are out there leading globally. And we can't discourage that, we need to encourage it, and applaud it," Obama said Wednesday at the White House, flanked by about a dozen workers who had either just come back from Africa or were preparing to go. The president was introduced by Dr. Kent Brantly, Medical Director of Samaritan's Purse Ebola Consolidated Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. MSNBC

Fed Ends Extraordinary Stimulus As Economy Mends
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday finally put to rest the extraordinary measures it has deployed in the more than five years since it first used them to spur economic growth and recovery from the Great Recession. By closing out a monthly “quantitative easing” program under which it has purchased $4.5 trillion worth of Treasury bonds and mortgage bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Fed officials signaled that they believe the economy is returning to normal after more than five years of convalescence from the worst recession and financial crisis since the 1930s. Washington Times

Christie To Heckler: 'Sit Down And Shut Up'
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has told a heckler critical of his handling of Superstorm Sandy recovery to "Sit down and shut up" on the second anniversary of the storm. A man began heckling Christie about the pace of storm recovery and interrupted the governor's speech Wednesday in Belmar on several occasions. After trying to brush the man off, Christie yelled back the man didn't know what he was talking about and was just showing off for the news cameras. When heckler Jim Keady continued, Christie told him: "Sit down and shut up." Keady founded a group called Finish The Job, which is critical of the pace of rebuilding assistance in New Jersey. Newsday

Solid Third-Quarter US Economic Growth Is Expected
It's taken years, but the U.S. economy may finally be reaching a sustainable cruising speed. Many economists predict that overall growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, reached a healthy 3 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, according to a survey by data firm FactSet. The Commerce Department will release its first estimate of GDP growth in the third quarter at 8:30 a.m. EDT Thursday. If the expectations prove accurate, it would be the fourth quarter in the past five in which the economy has reached at least a 3 percent growth rate. Tampa Tribune

In Florida, Another 200K Obamacare Enrollees Are Projected For 2015
About 206,000 additional Floridians are projected to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act when enrollment opens Nov.15, and insurers are hoping the young and healthy will be among their new customers. The projection, compiled by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation from information supplied by insurers, would raise total enrollment in Florida to roughly 1,070,000 people. Mariana Mendoza is likely to be among the newly insured. Mendoza, 35, hasn’t had health insurance since she left a corporate job in 2011 to start her own graphic design business. Since then, she said, she hasn’t suffered anything worse than an occasional cold. Now she’s planning to sign up for coverage on the healthcare exchange. “I just want to be able to go to the doctor in case something comes up,” said Mendoza, a lifelong Miami resident. Miami Herald

If Ebola Batters US, We Are Not Ready
The U.S. health care apparatus is so unprepared and short on resources to deal with the deadly Ebola virus that even small clusters of cases could overwhelm parts of the system, according to an Associated Press review of readiness at hospitals and other components of the emergency medical network. Experts broadly agree that a widespread outbreak across the country is extremely unlikely, but they also concur that it is impossible to predict with certainty, since previous Ebola epidemics have been confined to remote areas of Africa. And Ebola is not the only possible danger that causes concern; experts say other deadly infectious diseases — ranging from airborne viruses such as SARS, to an unforeseen new strain of the flu, to more exotic plagues like Lassa fever — could crash the health care system. SF Gate

Russia Denies Pressuring U.S. Diplomats
Russia has denied claims raised in a report by ABC News that U.S. diplomats in Russia faced "Cold War-era harassment." "Clearly orchestrated by the U.S. Department of State, the info leak by the ABC television claiming that the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Russia has been receiving threats and has become a target of 'psychological pressure' is unfounded and far from reality," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The State Department's Office of the Inspector General, however, did not find the allegations unfounded. Rather, it reported in 2013 that "Across Mission Russia, employees face intensified pressure by the Russian security services at a level not seen since the days of the Cold War." That pressure has included slashed tires, a cyberattack on a personal email account, and home invasions, according to ABC. UPI

Abbas To Israel: Make Peace With Us And 57 Other Nations Will Follow
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said that if Israel "makes peace" with the Palestinian Authority, the rest of the Middle East will immediately begin relations with Israel, during an interview with Channel 10 on Wednesday. "I say to the people of Israel: If you will make peace with us, we will come, along with 57 other Arab and Muslim countries that will immediately begin to recognize Israel and normalize relations." He responded to increasing violence in the past week, where two people, including an infant, were killed by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem, and the calls from Hamas encouraging a third intifada. Jerusalem Post

PLO Submits Resolution To UNSC To ‘End Occupation'
PLO ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour told the Security Council on Wednesday that, at the request of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, he would present a draft resolution that “contain[s] elements of parameters [of withdrawal] with a time frame to end the occupation.” Jordan called the emergency session to discuss the Middle East and the “question of Palestine,” following a letter from the Palestinians addressed to the Security Council and the UN secretary-general, to meet and discuss the plans to build over the Green Line approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week. “Israel is still insisting that they are not occupiers in complete contradiction with [the] resolution of the Security Council,” Mansour said in his address. “They are not listening or abiding by your will, and as long as they continue not to listen, peace will not move forward.” Jerusalem Post

Egypt Demolishes Sinai Homes For Gaza Border Buffer
Egypt has begun demolishing homes along its border with the Gaza Strip as part of a planned 500m buffer zone that is intended to prevent weapons smuggling. Residents living along the border with the Palestinian territory have been given 48 hours - and promised compensation - to leave their homes. The buffer will include water-filled trenches to prevent tunnelling. Egyptian media accuses Gaza's Hamas administration of aiding militants in Sinai. Hamas denies the charge. Last week, more than 30 Egyptian soldiers were killed in a militant bomb attack on an army post in Sinai. After the bombing, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi passed a law authorising the military to protect state facilities - including power plants, main roads and bridges. BBC

Islamic State Crisis: Syria Rebel Forces Boost Kobane Defence
A group of Syrian Arab rebels has arrived in Kobane to help defend the northern border town against Islamic State (IS) militants, sources inside the town have told the BBC. Between 50 and 200 Free Syrian Army rebels entered the town overnight. The news came as about 150 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters arrived in Turkey on their way to the town. Syrian Kurds have been under siege in Kobane for six weeks, aided by US-led coalition air strikes. The US said it launched eight air strikes near the town on Tuesday and Wednesday, destroying five IS fighting positions and six IS vehicles. BBC

FBI Demands New Powers To Hack Into Computers And Carry Out Surveillance
he FBI is attempting to persuade an obscure regulatory body in Washington to change its rules of engagement in order to seize significant new powers to hack into and carry out surveillance of computers throughout the US and around the world. Civil liberties groups warn that the proposed rule change amounts to a power grab by the agency that would ride roughshod over strict limits to searches and seizures laid out under the fourth amendment of the US constitution, as well as violate first amendment privacy rights. They have protested that the FBI is seeking to transform its cyber capabilities with minimal public debate and with no congressional oversight. Guardian

Rupert Murdoch Urges Media Firms To Unite To Fight Amazon And Netflix
The media industry needs its own competitor to online streaming giants Amazon and Netflix, Rupert Murdoch told a technology conference on Wednesday. “As an industry, we need a competitor - a serious competitor - to Netflix and Amazon,” Murdoch told the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D conference in Laguna Beach, California. 21st Century Fox, which he chairs, is one of the partners in Hulu, a Netflix rival to Netflix, alongside Disney and NBCUniversal. The relationship has been a fraught one. Jason Kilar, Hulu’s CEO, left abruptly last year. His new video startup, Vessel, is backed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Guardian

I am Africa's First White Democratic Leader, Says Zambian Vice-President
Zambia installed a white leader on Wednesday when a Cambridge-educated economist became acting president of the country after the death of the incumbent. Guy Scott, previously vice-president, was promoted to the top job after the demise of Michael Sata on Tuesday. Mr Scott, 70, became the first white leader of an African country since FW de Klerk stepped down as president of South Africa in 1994 – and the first white head of a democratic government in Africa "since the Venetians".
Mr Scott, who will serve for 90 days until a new election is held, told the Telegraph that his sudden promotion was "a bit of a shock to the system", but added: "I'm very proud to be entrusted with it." Telegraph

Signs Of Ebola Decline In Liberia Offer ‘Glimmer Of Hope’ – UN
The spread of Ebola in Liberia may be slowing, as demonstrated in the decline in burials and sickbed occupancy rates, as well as a plateau in lab-reported new cases in the West African country hardest hit by the virus, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today, while cautioning against drawing premature conclusions. “It appears the trend is real in Liberia,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO Assistant Director-General in charge of operational response, told a press conference from the agency’s Geneva headquarters. “There may be a slowing of Ebola there.” But, Dr. Aylward urged caution in interpreting the recent data saying that conclusions should not be drawn that Ebola is under control in Liberia, underscoring that while officials are “seeing glimmers of hope”, they need to study what’s behind the trend. UN News

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