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WHERE AMERICA SPEAKS OUT

     This web site has some very useful features, such as news, weather and other informational sources. There is full daily news featured below this introduction. Robert Namer gives his views on the news under the title "VOA VIEW" below most news stories. Yes, Robert Namer is the Voice of America. You should visit the "News Archives" section above for the daily news going as far back as February, 2000. Namer’s thoughts and position on issues are outlined in the above "Commentary" section for daily commentaries going as far back as July, 1998.

Older News Archivescom0116
NEWS   WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2014   NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Cross Official: 6 Months To Contain Ebola
A top Red Cross official said Wednesday that he is confident the Ebola epidemic that has killed thousands of people in West Africa can be contained within four to six months. Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a news conference in Beijing that the time frame is possible if there is “good isolation, good treatment of the cases which are confirmed,” and “safe burials” of those who die from the disease. The Ebola outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people since it emerged 10 months ago, with Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone the worst-affected countries. The Red Cross is holding its Asia-Pacific regional conference, held every four years, in the Chinese capital. Detroit News

Protesters Debate Hong Kong Officials
Student protest leaders on Tuesday debated Hong Kong officials on the future of democracy in this former British colony, the first time the two sides have confronted one another since street demonstrations erupted in late September. The meeting was broadcast live on Hong Kong television, giving residents a chance to hear the students make their case against the system. It was a reminder of how different Hong Kong remains from the rest of tightly controlled China and of the freedoms many fear could disappear if they don't stand up to Beijing. Thousands of sympathizers at occupation sites in three parts of the city cheered as the 90-minute meeting wound on, and millions of Hong Kongers elsewhere watched in rapt attention. Philadelphia Inquirer

Passenger At Newark Airport Being Tested For Ebola
A passenger arriving at Newark Airport from West Africa Tuesday was being evaluated for possible Ebola. The flier was transported to a hospital when a screening detected symptoms similar to those when exposed to the virus, according to The Star-Ledger. “During the enhanced screening process . . . an individual was identified as reporting symptoms or having a potential exposure to Ebola,” CDC spokeswoman Carol Crawford said. The patient, who had been on a United Airlines flight from Brussels, started his trip in Liberia. He was taken to a New Jersey hospital and the CDC said it would work with local officials to contact other passengers on the flight. NY Post

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

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

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

Marine Suspect Guarded By US In Philippine Camp
A U.S. Marine suspected in the gruesome killing of a transgender Filipino was flown Wednesday from his warship to the Philippine military's main camp, where he will continue to be guarded by fellow Marines, in a compromise that eased a looming irritant over his custody. The emotional case involving Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton and Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, came as the Philippines and the United States were strengthening ties with the recent signing of a defense accord that allows greater U.S. access to Philippine military camps. The accord would help Washington's bid to reassert its presence in Asia and Manila to deter what it calls China's aggressive moves to reinforce its claims in contested South China Sea territories. Seattle Times

Across US, Halloween Bumped For Football
When Halloween falls on a Friday in communities where high school football is king, it's time to reschedule the holiday. Communities from West Virginia to Texas are saying they're OK with celebrating Halloween on, well, not Halloween. Football is king in many rural areas, especially in the South, and that's a big reason. But everything from homecoming events to Bible studies can push trick-or-treat night to dates other than Oct. 31. In West Virginia, more than 50 high school football games are scheduled for Oct. 31. Rather than move the games, many communities moved Halloween. In Berkeley County in the far eastern part of the state, trick-or-treating will occur Nov. 1 because three local teams — Hedgesville, Martinsburg and Spring Mills — have home games the previous night. Tampa Tribune

Obama's Day: The Ebola Response Coordinator
President Obama meets Wednesday with his newest employee: Ron Klain, the Ebola Response Coordinator. Klain, the former chief of staff for Vice President Biden whose appointment as "Ebola czar" drew catcalls from Republicans and some medical professionals, starts work five days after the White House announced his appointment. His duties involve management of the various government agencies that are seeking to contain the Ebola virus. "He's got a responsibility for making sure that all of the government agencies that are responsible for responding to this effort are coordinated and integrated in a way that meets the high standards that the president set for his team," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. USA Today

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

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

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

Bitcoin May Be Volatile But Has Value Beyond Price Point
Bitcoin burst on the world a few years ago as a shiny new virtual currency. But lately that shine has been a bit tarnished. The value in the decentralized and unregulated digital currency has plummeted since hitting a high of more than $1,130 in December 2013. It's now priced at more than $380, a two-thirds decline in value. And even though many entities, financial companies and other businesses have embraced Bitcoin, some have shied away--including Japan, where banks cannot deal in the currency. Some high-profile crimes have also hampered Bitcoin. Earlier this year, customers lost $425 million when the Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox lost the digital currency in their accounts. Washington Post

U.S., Iraq Planning Offensive By Iraqi Forces To Reclaim Territory From Islamic State
The United States and Iraq are drawing up a campaign plan for offensive operations by Iraqi ground forces to gradually reclaim towns and cities that have been occupied by the Islamic State, according to a senior administration official. The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces­ do not overextend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants. It may also include U.S. advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the White House. Washington Post

At Berlin Wall, Kerry Warns Against Cold War Redux
Surrounded by relics of the Cold War, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his German counterpart warned Wednesday against a return to the bitter divide between east and west over the current crisis in Ukraine. Under gloomy skies and a steady rain, Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall. They emphasized that the West does not seek confrontation with Russia and implored Moscow to move quickly to fulfill the terms of an agreement to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine between the government and pro-Russian separatists. Ukraine accuses Moscow of aiding the separatists, a charge that Moscow denies. Houston Chronicle

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

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

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

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

McDonald's CEO Outlines Changes As Sales Slide
After posting yet another disappointing quarter, McDonald's CEO Don Thompson said Tuesday the company hasn't been keeping up with the times and that changes are in store for its U.S. restaurants. Thompson said that starting in January McDonald's will "simplify" its menu to make room for restaurants to offer options that are best-suited for their regions. To offer greater customization, he also said the company planned to expand its "Create Your Taste" offering that lets people pick the buns and toppings they want on burgers by tapping a touchscreen. The program is currently being offered in Southern California, and McDonald's has said it will roll it out nationally in Australia. Atlanta Journal

States Ease Laws That Protected Poor Borrowers
Lenders have come under fire in Washington in recent years. Yet one corner of the financial industry — lending to people with poor credit scores — has found sympathetic audiences in many state capitals. Over the last two years, lawmakers in at least eight states have voted to increase the fees or the interest rates that lenders can charge on certain personal loans used by millions of borrowers with subpar credit. The overhaul of the state lending laws comes after a lobbying push by the consumer loan industry and a wave of campaign donations to state lawmakers. In North Carolina, for example, lenders and their lobbyists overcame unusually dogged opposition from military commanders, who two years earlier had warned that raising rates on loans could harm their troops. NY Times

J&J To Spend Up To $200M On Ebola Vaccine Program
Johnson & Johnson will start safety testing in early January on a vaccine combination that could protect people from a strain of the deadly Ebola virus. The health care products maker says it has committed up to $200 million to speed up and expand production of a vaccine program being developed by its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. J&J is developing the vaccine with the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic. It involves a regimen in which two vaccines are delivered two months apart. The combination provided complete protection in animals against a virus strain similar to the one causing the current outbreak in West Africa that has killed thousands of people. The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company says it will also determine whether its vaccine protects against the version causing the outbreak. San Diego Union

Tropical Depression Headed For Campeche In Mexico
A tropical depression is headed toward the Mexican state of Campeche and is likely to strengthen to a tropical storm. The depression's maximum sustained winds early Wednesday are near 35 mph (55 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says strengthening is forecast and the depression is expected to become a tropical storm before moving inland. A tropical storm warning is in effect in Mexico from Celestun to Frontera. The depression is centered about 120 miles (195 kilometers) west-southwest of Campeche and has been nearly stationary over the last few hours but should begin moving east again later in the morning. Charlotte Observer

US Says Head Of Gulf Cartel In Custody
U.S. authorities announced Tuesday they have arrested the head of the Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico's most violent drug trafficking rings. Juan Francisco Saenz-Tamez made his initial court appearance in Beaumont on Tuesday, said U.S. Attorney John M. Bales. A federal grand jury indicted Saenz-Tamez in September 2013 on three drug and money laundering counts. Saenz-Tamez, 23, from the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, was arrested by federal agents on Oct. 9 while shopping in the South Texas city of Edinburg. If convicted, Saenz-Tamez faces up to life in prison. Kansas City Star

20 Years After The First Summit Of The Americas, Clinton To Bring Regional Leaders To Miami
In December 1994, President Bill Clinton brought together 34 of the hemisphere’s presidents and leaders to the first Summit of the Americas in Miami. It was the first such summit in 27 years. Two decades later, Clinton will host another hemispheric conference in South Florida. On Tuesday, Clinton will unveil the “Future of the Americas,” a Dec. 11 event at the University of Miami that will focus on the next 20 years in the region. Among the invitees are Carlos Slim, the world’s second-richest man and the founder of the Carlos Slim Foundation; Inter American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno; and Cisneros Group Chairman Gustavo Cisneros. The meeting aims to create a space where leaders can talk about energy, infrastructure, the environment, healthcare, vocational training, agriculture and chronic disease, among other topics. Miami Herald

Warming Earth Heading For Hottest Year On Record
Earth is on pace to tie or even break the mark for the hottest year on record, federal meteorologists say. That's because global heat records have kept falling in 2014, with September the latest example. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that last month the globe averaged 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit (15.72 degrees Celsius). That was the hottest September in 135 years of record keeping. It was the fourth monthly record set this year, along with May, June and August. SF Gate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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