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Older News Archivescom0116
NEWS   SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2014   NEWS

IRS Accused Of Sharing 2,500 Private Taxpayer Documents With White House
The Internal Revenue Service may have given thousands of confidential filings from private taxpayers to the White House to review, a lawsuit against the Treasury Department just revealed. The suit, filed against Treasury’s inspector general by Cause of Action, a legal advocacy outfit, reveals a steady stream of communication went on between the White House and the IRS — a potentially “improper” stream, the group alleged, The Daily Caller reported. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: It's time to impeach.

WHO Advises Ebola Survivors Abstain From Sex For Three Months
Men who recover from Ebola should abstain from sex for three months to minimize the risk of passing the virus on in their semen, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. Ebola, a disease that has infected and killing thousands in a vast epidemic in West Africa, normally spreads via bodily fluids such as blood, saliva and feces. Although sexual transmission of Ebola virus disease has never been documented, the virus has been detected in the survivors' semen. "Men who have recovered from Ebola virus disease should be aware that seminal fluid may be infectious for as long as three months after onset of symptoms," the WHO said in a statement. "Because of the potential to transmit the virus sexually during this time, they should maintain good personal hygiene after masturbation, and either abstain from sex (including oral sex) for three months after onset of symptoms, or use condoms if abstinence is not possible." MSNBC

Obama Dumped By Working-Class Whites: Just 27 Percent Say He’s OK
President Obama’s overall poll numbers with average Americans may have dumped in recent months to all-time lows — but the news gets even worse with working-class whites, who see him as a near-insufferable failure. Gallup finds this segment of society — the white, non-college graduate bunch — only gives Mr. Obama a 27 percent thumbs-up for job performance. White college graduates give him a slightly better nod, the poll reported. About 41 percent of this grouping say they agree with Mr. Obama’s job performance — about the same figure recorded for average America over the last few months, various polls showed. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: It's hard to believe that 41% college graduates give Obama a thumbs up.

One Of World's Largest Volcanoes Erupts In Japan
A volcano in southern Japan blasted out chunks of magma Friday in the first such eruption in 22 years, causing flight cancellations and prompting warnings to stay away from its crater. The Japan Meteorological Agency said that Mount Aso spewed out lava debris and smoke, shooting plumes of ash a kilometer (3,280 feet) into the sky. Dozens of flights from Kumamoto, the nearest city, were canceled. The observatory did not expect the eruption to increase in scale. Mount Aso, about 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) southwest of Tokyo on Kyushu island, is one of the world's largest. Earthquakes and other seismic activity stepped up in late August. CBS

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Best Buy Website Shuts Temporarily After Traffic Surge
Best Buy Co.’s (BBY) website was shut down for about an hour today, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, leaving some customers unable to make purchases.
A surge in traffic from shoppers’ mobile devices caused issues that led the retailer to shut the site temporarily to restore full performance, Amy von Walter, a spokeswoman for the Richfield, Minnesota-based company, said today in an e-mail. Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly has been working on reviving Best Buy’s sales amid steep competition from online and big-box rivals. For all retailers, mobile shopping has become increasingly important, with more than half of all online browsing on Thanksgiving Day this year -- 53 percent -- set to be done on mobile devices for the first time, according to International Business Machine Corp.’s Digital Analytics Benchmark. Bloomberg

Michael Brown’s Legacy Continues To Evolve
For some Americans on opposite sides of a national debate, Michael Brown has become a symbol, epitomizing their polarized views on who bears the blame for the toll of young black men killed by police officers. Brown was a gentle giant, in one version. A defiant troublemaker, in another. Yet as more details of the 18-year-old's life and death emerge, his legacy in the eyes of many is more nuanced, reflecting the ups and downs and challenges faced by many young Americans. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Not many young Americans - black Americans with parents who don't properly direct their children with love, discipline and religion.

Russia Veers Toward Recession As Oil Prices Fall
With the price of crude oil falling, Russia will soon sink into a recession, a Bloomberg News survey of analysts indicated. The price of Brent crude oil, the benchmark used by oil traders when considering Urals, Russia's major oil export, fell below $75 Friday after a Thursday meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed not to increase production. Analysts believe a fall in the price of Urals will tip Russia into recession. The cost of Urals has averaged about $80 per barrel through the first half of November, and a lower price could spell trouble for the Russian economy. It has since fallen into the $70-80 range. UPI

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OPEC Keeps Oil Output Steady Despite Falling Prices
Reflecting its lessening oil clout, OPEC decided Thursday to keep its output target on hold and sit out falling crude prices that will likely spiral even lower as a result. Oil prices fell sharply on the news. Even though the decision was largely expected, it showed the once-powerful cartel is losing the power to push up markets to its own advantage. OPEC has traditionally relied on output cuts to regulate supply and prices. But it appeared to realize Thursday that with cheap crude in oversupply, a reduction would only cut into OPEC's share of the market without a lasting boost in prices and with others outside the cartel making up the difference. Fox News

China Overtakes Japan As World’s Second-Biggest Stock Market
China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest stock market for the first time in three years amid growing investor confidence that policy makers in Beijing will revive the economy with monetary stimulus. China’s market capitalization climbed to $4.48 trillion yesterday after a 33 percent increase this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Japan’s slipped to $4.46 trillion and has dropped 3.2 percent since the end of December. China was briefly the second-biggest market, behind the U.S., in March 2011 after an earthquake in Japan sent shares tumbling in Tokyo. Bloomberg

Activists And Walmart Employees Rally On Black Friday
Walmart workers, backed by a supporting cast of civil rights and labor activists, protested at store locations throughout the country on Black Friday. The number of protesters and their origin -- whether they were labor activists or actual Walmart employees -- was unclear, with the company and organizers giving wildly different accounts. Representatives of OURWalmart claimed Thursday 200-300 people would attend their Washington, D.C., march and demonstration, and protesters nationwide would number in the "thousands." Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said the company expected "few demonstrations" and "fewer than 1,600" protesters nationwide. UPI

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Christmas Tree Arrives At White House
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama received the annual Christmas tree delivery at the White House on Friday, heralding the start of the holiday season. Two horses pulled the nearly 20-foot (six-metre) fir tree to the front door of the White House late Friday morning as a small military band played the traditional carol "O Christmas Tree."
The first lady, along with daughters Malia and Sasha, each walking one of the family's Portuguese Water Dogs, Bo and Sunny, accepted the tree, which was grown by Chris Botek on Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Reuters

We're Kidding Ourselves On 2-Degree Global Warming Limit
A temperature rise that could cause irreversible and potentially catastrophic damage to human civilization is practically inevitable, according to rising chatter among experts in the lead up to a year of key negotiations on a new climate change global accord. World leaders have voluntarily committed to limit warming by the end of the century to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial level, a threshold beyond which, scientists argue, severe drought, rising seas and supercharged storms as well as food and water security become routine challenges. MSNBC

Behind The Scenes Of Hillary Clinton's $300,000 Speech At UCLA
Before Hillary Clinton spoke at the University of California at Los Angeles in March, her representatives had a few specifications to negotiate with school officials. A team at the Harry Walker Agency, a speaker's bureau handling Clinton's appearance, requested snacks in the green room ("diet ginger ale, crudité, hummus, and sliced fruit," they wrote in an email obtained by the Washington Post.) They described her preferred onstage refreshments (water, both hot and room temperature, and lemon wedges). They specified the type of chair Clinton should be sitting in during part of her appearance, and the type of pillows to be placed on that chair (long and rectangular, with an additional pillow backstage for added support, if needed.) They even requested that a medal being presented to Clinton be given in a box instead of being draped around her neck. CBS

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Pentagon Prepares For More Detainee Releases From Guantanamo Bay
The Pentagon is preparing to transfer more detainees from Guantanamo Bay in coming weeks despite continued Republican opposition, according to defense and congressional officials. The Wall Street Journal reports that, after five detainees were transferred last week, there will be another round in December, but defense officials refused to disclose further information on their numbers or nationalities. Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, complained at a recent hearing of an increase in notifications by the administration to lawmakers on coming transfers from the detainment facility. Fox News

Ferguson Shooting A Tragedy, U.N. Torture Panel Member Says
The events in Ferguson, Missouri, are a "tragedy," but the United Nations Committee Against Torture "has to respect the decision" of authorities not to prosecute Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown, committee member Alessio Bruni said Friday. Bruni made his comments at a news conference about the release of a committee report that criticizes racial profiling and excessive use of force by U.S. police. While the report does not specifically mention the Ferguson case, it does express concern about the militarization of U.S. police departments. CNN

Russian Navy Successfully Tests New Missile
The Russian Navy on Friday successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile for a second time in as many months, proving its reliability following a troublesome development. The Defense Ministry said the Alexander Nevsky nuclear submarine test-fired a Bulava missile from an underwater position in the Barents Sea. The missile's warheads reached designated targets at a testing range in Russia's far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. The Bulava suffered many failures during a decade of tests, raising doubts about the fate of Russia's most expensive and ambitious weapons program since the Soviet collapse. But a series of recent launches has been successful and the Navy now has three Borei-class nuclear submarines armed with the Bulava. ABC

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Black Friday's Real Deal: Gas Could Go To $2.50
The best Black Friday deal of 2014 is arguably at the gas station. The average price in America for a gallon of regular fell to $2.79 on Friday, according to AAA. That's nearly 50 cents lower than this time last year. That kind of savings adds up quickly and it's why economists and CEOs of retailers like Target (TGT) and WalMart (WMT) predict that consumers will be willing to spend more this holiday season. It's likely to go even lower soon. Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo (WFC), forecasts prices will fall below $2.70 and could go as low as $2.50. CNN

Ponzi: In Just 8 Weeks, Treasury Has Issued $1T In New Debt—To Pay Old Debt
The Daily Treasury Statement that was released Wednesday afternoon as Americans were preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving revealed that the U.S. Treasury has been forced to issue $1,040,965,000,000 in new debt since fiscal 2015 started just eight weeks ago in order to raise the money to pay off Treasury securities that were maturing and to cover new deficit spending by the government. During those eight weeks, Treasury took in $341,591,000 billion in revenues. That was a record for the period between Oct. 1 and Nov. 25. But that record $341,591,000 billion in revenues was not enough to finance ongoing government spending let alone pay off old debt that matured. CNS News

Black Friday Shopping Crowds Thin After Thanksgiving Rush
Mall crowds were relatively thin on Black Friday in a sign of what has become the new normal in U.S. holiday shopping: the mad rush is happening the night of Thanksgiving and more consumers are picking up deals online. Most major retailers now open Thursday evening and are extending holiday deals rather than limiting them to one day. The result is a quieter experience on what has traditionally been one of the busiest, and sometimes most chaotic, shopping day of the year. "It just looks like any other weekend," said Angela Olivera, a 32-year-old housewife shopping for children's clothing at the Westfarms Mall near Hartford, Connecticut. "The kind of crowds we usually see are missing and this is one of the biggest malls here. I think people are just not spending a lot." Reuters

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Boko Haram Islamists Suspected In Nigeria Mosque Attack That Kills 81
Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshipers at the central mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano, killing dozens of people on Friday, witnesses and police said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants. At least 81 people were killed in the attack, sources from two hospitals visited by Reuters said. Police earlier put the figure at 35. "These people have bombed the mosque. I am face to face with people screaming," said Chijjani Usman, a local reporter who had gone to the mosque in the old city to pray. Jerusalem Post

Pope Francis In Turkey Urges Faiths To Combat Fanaticism
Pope Francis has called for an interfaith dialogue to counter fanaticism and fundamentalism, at the start of a key visit to Turkey. In a speech in Ankara, he also called for a renewed Mid-East peace push, saying the region had "for too long been a theatre of fratricidal wars". He also urged more help for refugees from Syria and Iraq. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the visit was a "significant" step to enhance regional peace. The Pope's three-day trip - only the fourth visit by a pope to Muslim-majority Turkey - comes as Turkey hosts 1.6m refugees on its southern border, after Islamic State seized swathes of neighbouring Syria and Iraq. Jerusalem Post

Social Media Told To Simplify Terms And Conditions
Social networking firms including Facebook and Twitter are being told to make it clearer to members how they collect and use their data. A report by the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee says the firms' terms and conditions are far too long and complex. The MPs say users may not be aware of how their details can be used by websites and apps. Any reasonable person would struggle with long privacy policies, they add. The committee says reading such documents has been likened to "engaging with Shakespeare". BBC

Italy Suspends Fluad Flu Vaccine From Novartis After Deaths Vaccination
Italy has suspended the use of two batches of a flu vaccine made by Swiss firm Novartis after four people died shortly after receiving the drug. Italy's pharmaceutical watchdog Aifa said the suspension of Fluad was a precautionary measure - and tests were being conducted to establish whether there was a link. Those who died were two women and two men aged between 67 and 87. Novartis said "no causal relationship to the vaccine has been established". Fluad is a flu vaccine given to the elderly, which was approved in 1997. In a statement, Aifa said: "At this point, it is not clear if there is a causal relationship or a link to the vaccination. BBC

UN Torture Report Condemns Sleep Deprivation Among US Detainees
The US military has retained the power to inflict prolonged sleep deprivation on detainees, despite moves by the Obama administration to eliminate interrogation techniques that amount to torture and ill-treatment, the United Nations warned on Friday. In a review of the human rights record of the US, the first of its kind since 2006, the world body’s committee against torture has slammed the country for its ongoing violations of international treaties. The review’s many complaints address indefinite detention without trial; force-feeding of Guantanamo prisoners; the holding of asylum seekers in prison-like facilities; widespread use of solitary confinement; excessive use of force and brutality by police; shootings of unarmed black individuals; and cruel and inhumane executions. Guaridian

US Launches 15 Air Strikes As Syria Minister Says Isis Campaign Will Not Work
The US military and its allies hit Islamic State (Isis) forces with 15 air strikes in Iraq and Syria during a three-day period, US Central Command said on Friday.
Thirteen attacks have been carried out in Iraq since Wednesday, while two more targeted Isis fighters in Syria. Syria’s foreign minister, meanwhile, said US-led air strikes had failed to weaken Isis in Syria. Walid al-Moualem added that the jihadist group would not be tackled unless Turkey was forced to tighten border controls. The US-led air strikes in Syria hit an Isis fighting position and staging area near Kobani, as well as a tactical unit near Aleppo, Central Command said. Guardian

How To Sync Your Baby With Your IPhone
The Internet of Things has seen everything from our watches, heating thermostats and smoke alarms connected to our smartphones via Bluetooth. But a Surrey-based company now wants to connect your baby, too. The Pacifi is a Bluetooth-enabled dummy which can record your baby's temperature throughout the day via a sensor in the teat and beam the data back to your smartphone. From a special app you can then monitor for warning signs that they are getting ill. You can even set up automatic alerts to warn you if the temperature rises above a certain point, and share all of that data with your doctor at the tap of a button. Telegraph

Warning To Parents That Toddlers Are 'Superspreaders' Of Flu
Parents are being warned that toddlers are “baby faced superspreaders” of flu as new figures show just one in four has been vaccinated. The Chief Medical Officer has issued a plea to parents to get young children protected as hospitals struggle to hope with rising pressures - even while flu levels are low. Professor Dame Sally Davies said that preventing flu in toddlers was particularly important because they can suffer the illness most severely – and are “superspreaders” liable to come into contact with families and lots of other children. Official statistics show children under five are the age group most likely to be admitted to hospital with flu – five times more likely than among pensioners. Telegraph

Deadly Boko Haram Attack Forces Thousands To Flee Nigeria For Niger – UN
A Boko Haram attack earlier this week on the northern Nigerian town of Dammassak left 50 people dead and forced at least 3,000 to flee to neighbouring Niger’s Diffa region, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) reported today. “Our teams in Diffa say that people are still arriving in Niger from Nigeria as a result of the attack,” said Adrian Edwards, a UNHCR spokesman based in Geneva. The town of Dammasak, which lies just a few kilometres from the Niger border, was reportedly captured by Boko Haram on November 24. UNHCR field staff has reported that while most refugees wait for boats to cross the Komadougou Yobé River separating the two countries, others have been trying to swim across to safety. UN News

UN Refugee Agency Welcomes Adoption Of Civil Registration Declaration In Asia-Pacific
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) welcomed the adoption today of an Asia-Pacific ministerial declaration proclaiming a shared vision of civil registration for all people by 2024. In a briefing to reporters earlier today in Geneva, Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the agency, said that the declaration also applies to refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless people. The adoption of the declaration comes on the final day of a week-long ministerial conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Asia and the Pacific held in Bangkok. The conference was organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UNHCR and other development partners. UN News

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