News Test

News Test

Wed 26, 2014

1. Obama warns of a total withdrawal from Afghanistan

President Obama told the Pentagon to prepare a plan for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan at the end of the year, in case Afghan President Hamid Karzai doesn’t sign a long-term security agreement. In a phone call Tuesday, Obama warned Karzai that a deal is necessary to allow a small contingent of Americans to stay behind to train and support local forces. Karzai wants to leave the decision for a successor to be elected in April, and his foot-dragging on the issue has deeply frustrated American officials. [The Telegraph]
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2. Childhood obesity drops sharply and unexpectedly
The child-obesity rate unexpectedly plunged by 43 percent in a decade among 2- to 5-year-olds, federal health authorities said Tuesday. Kids are drinking less sugary soda and consuming fewer calories, but experts said the declines weren’t enough to explain the turnaround in obesity. First Lady Michelle Obama, who is leading a push to improve kids’ eating and exercise habits, said she was “thrilled.” [The New York Times]
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3. Home-price data suggest the housing recovery is cooling
Home-price gains slowed down in December, rising at a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.8 percent, down from 0.9 percent in November. The drop, reported in the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday, was the first since June, suggesting the housing recovery could be losing steam. Other housing data released early this year supported the notion of a slowdown. [Reuters]
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4. Asiana is fined for failing crash victims’ families
The Department of Transportation on Tuesday fined Asiana Airlines $500,000 for failing to give adequate support to the families of passengers who were on Asiana Flight 214 when it crashed in San Francisco in July. It was the first fine ever under a 1997 law requiring airlines to follow a “family assistance plan” after crashes. The South Korean carrier said some of the shortcomings weren’t its fault. [CNN]
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5. ObamaCare hits the 4 million enrollment milestone
The Obama administration said Tuesday that enrollment in health insurance plans through the ObamaCare exchanges had hit 4 million. The milestone suggested that people were continuing to pick plans at accelerating rates, with 700,000 enrollments in February. It remained unclear how many had followed through and paid premiums, however. The administration’s initial target was 7 million by the time open enrollment ends March 31. [Los Angeles Times]
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6. Dingell’s wife reportedly plans to run for his seat
A day after Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest-serving House member ever, announced his retirement, party insiders said his wife, Debbie, plans to run to replace him. Debbie Dingell, 60, became an instant frontrunner for the seat, a safe one for Democrats. Her husband’s support won’t hurt. “She’s been my guide, my counsel, my friend, and my closest adviser,” Rep. Dingell, 87, said. [The Washington Post]
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7. Washington kicks out three Venezuelan diplomats
The U.S. expelled three Venezuelan diplomats on Tuesday in an apparent retaliation for the booting of three U.S. consular officials from Caracas on February 17. Venezuela’s embattled socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, accused the Americans of supporting opposition efforts to topple his government. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Maduro should focus on the “legitimate grievances” of his people, not the U.S. [The Associated Press]
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8. Pressure mounts against Arizona anti-gay bill
Delta Air Lines, Apple, American Airlines, Marriott, and other companies on Tuesday urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would allow businesses in the state to cite religious beliefs to turn away gay customers. They said the law would conflict with their policies on creating equality in the workplace, and could cause firms to leave the state. Brewer associates said she was likely to veto the bill. [Bloomberg NewsCNN]
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9. Peruvian glacier shrinks as temperatures rise
The world’s largest tropical ice sheet — Peru’s Quelccaya ice cap — is melting because of warming temperatures, according to a preview of a Dartmouth College study. “These tropical glaciers are shrinking very rapidly today,” said Meredith Kelly, one of the study’s authors. Some people believe other factors, including precipitation, are contributing to the shrinking of the ice mass. [Bloomberg Businessweek]
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10. Couple unearth record gold stash in their backyard
A Northern California couple are preparing to sell a record hoard of gold coins — dating from 1847 to 1894 — that they dug up in their backyard. The 1,427 coins have a face value of $27,980, but rare-coin dealers say they’re worth $10 million. The couple, who are keeping their identities secret, found several decaying canisters containing the loot while walking their dog on their Sierra Nevada property. [San Francisco Chronicle]

 

 

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Thur Feb 27, 2014

1. Brewer vetoes Arizona’s anti-gay bill
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay customers on religious grounds. “I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve,” she said. Gay rights activists and politicians from both parties applauded, but the conservative Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins said Brewer was trampling on “people’s religious freedoms.” [NBC NewsThe Washington Post]
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2. Russia holds military exercises near Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent 150,000 troops near Ukraine for military exercises on Wednesday. Russia has complained that the overthrow of fugitive former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych threatened its interests. Russian media reported that Yanukovych was in Russia, asking to be protected from “extremists” back home. In Ukraine, tensions rose on Thursday as gunmen seized government buildings in the country’s autonomous Crimea region and raised a Russian flag. [The Wall Street JournalThe Associated Press]
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3. Judge calls Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional
A federal judge struck down Texas’ same-sex marriage ban on Wednesday, saying it denied gay couples marriage rights “for no legitimate reason.” Democrats and gay-rights advocates said Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling was a milestone for equality, while Republicans called Garcia an activist judge trying to reverse the will of the voters who approved the ban. However, the ruling won’t have any immediate effect because Garcia stayed the decision pending the state’s appeal. [The New York Times]
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4. Kerry compares Uganda’s anti-gay law to apartheid
Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday likened Uganda’s new anti-gay law to apartheid and anti-Semitism, stepping up already harsh criticism from the Obama administration. “You could change the focus of this legislation to black or Jewish and you could be in 1930s Germany or you could be in 1950s-1960s apartheid South Africa,” Kerry said. Since the enactment of the law, Washington has started a review of its relations with Uganda. [Reuters]
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5. Army finds 588 troops not suited for sensitive jobs
The Army removed 588 soldiers from sensitive jobs — including some sexual assault counselors — after learning they had committed infractions ranging from sexual assault to child abuse to drunken driving, military officials said Wednesday. The Army reviewed files on 20,000 soldiers, counselors, recruiters, drill sergeants, and others under orders from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to reduce rapes in the military. [The Associated Press]
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6. Anti-graft commission targets Thailand’s prime minister
Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission on Thursday called on embattled Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to answer negligence charges stemming from her handling of a subsidized rice program. The charges could, in theory, lead to her impeachment. The prime minister’s supporters responded by blocking the gates to the commission’s headquarters. The dispute comes after three months of protests demanding Yingluck’s resignation. [The Associated Press]
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7. Report questions some cases of deadly force at the border
An independent review criticized Border Patrol agents for the inappropriate use of deadly force. Investigators reviewed 67 cases that involved 19 deaths, and reported that in some cases agents might have deliberately stepped in front of oncoming cars to justify firing at their drivers. In other cases agents allegedly shot at people throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border. [Los Angeles Times]
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8. One of British soldier’s killers sentenced to life
A British court has handed down lengthy prison sentences to two radical Islamist men who drove a car into British soldier Lee Rigby and then hacked him to death last May. Michael Adebolajo, 29, was sentenced to life; Michael Adebowale, 22, was sentenced to 45 years. Neither of the defendants was in the courtroom when the terms were announced; they had been removed for shouting at the judge. [Irish Times]
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9. Kepler telescope detects 715 planets beyond the solar system
NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has spotted 715 confirmed planets, astronomers announced Wednesday. “We’ve almost doubled today the number of planets known to humanity,” NASA planetary scientist Jack Lissauer said. That’s just the beginning. The Kepler team has said it has found several thousand potential “exoplanets” outside our solar system, but scientists have not been able to confirm most of them yet. [The Washington Post]
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10. George W. Bush paintings are going on display
Paintings by former president George W. Bush will go on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas starting in April. The exhibit, The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy, will include more than two dozen portraits by Bush, along with photographs and other artifacts. Bush began painting after leaving the White House. [Houston Chronicle]

 

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Fri Feb 28, 2014

 

1. Armed men seize Ukraine airports
Several hundred pro-Russia gunmen in unmarked military uniforms took over the entrances to two airports in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, stoking fears of a separatist rebellion. Ukraine’s interior minister, part of the pro-Europe government that has just taken over, said the men were Russian troops launching “an armed invasion and occupation.” Moscow, which has military bases in Crimea, denied any involvement. [The New York TimesReuters]
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2. FDA revamps nutrition labels
First Lady Michelle Obama announced Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration is changing nutrition labels on 700,000 food products to more accurately tell Americans whether what they are eating is good for them. The changes will be the first major revamping of food labels in 20 years. Mrs. Obama, whose “Let’s Move” campaign aims to combat obesity, said the labels would help grocery shoppers quickly and easily select healthy food. [The Christian Science Monitor]
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3. Huge chunk of the U.S. faces another big winter storm
Another major snowstorm is expected to roll into the northern Rockies and central Plains beginning Friday. The system — the latest in a series of massive winter storms — is expected to shift toward the East on Sunday and Monday, threatening Chicago and New York, ultimately affecting areas with 100 million people. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said this winter’s unusually harsh weather might be causing signs of weakness in the economy. [AccuweatherReuters]
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4. Judge tells Kentucky to respect out-of-state gay marriages
A federal judge has ordered Kentucky to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who wed legallyin other states. U.S. District Judge John Heyburn ruled Thursday that the state constitution and laws banning the recognition of these unions are “void and unenforceable” because they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. [USA Today]
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5. Yanukovych turns up in Russia
Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych resurfaced in Russia on Thursday, insisting that he is still the legitimate ruler of his country. Yanukovych requested — and apparently received — Moscow’s protection after fleeing Kiev on Saturday. He said opposition leaders had backed out of a deal to share power. The interim government has accused him of ordering the killings of civilian protesters. [The Washington Post]
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6. British spies intercept Yahoo users’ nude pictures
Britain’s signals intelligence division has stolen hundreds of millions of Yahoo users’ webcam videos, including a trove of nude and sexually explicit images, Britain’s Guardian reported Thursday. If the information is confirmed, Yahoo said, it would constitute “a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy.” About 1.8 million users’ video communications were intercepted in one six-month period in 2008. [The Associated Press]
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7. North Korea responds to U.S. drills with Scud tests
North Korea fired short-range Scud missiles into the sea on Thursday. It was the first time the isolated communist regime had fired that kind of weapon since 2009. Security experts interpreted the move as a protest against annual joint military exercises the U.S. and South Korea began on Monday. North Korea called the drills a rehearsal for an invasion, but South Korea didn’t expect tensions to escalate over the exercises. [CNN]
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8. Cemetery settles lawsuit over allegedly desecrated graves
The owners of Eden Memorial Park in Los Angeles agreed to pay $80.5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing their cemetery of dumping human remains from hundreds of graves. The settlement was tentatively authorized on Thursday, although the final approval isn’t due until May. Cemetery owner Service Corporation International said it had done nothing wrong. The Houston company settled a similar suit in Florida for $100 million in 2003. [The Associated Press]
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9. Children of older men face risks of psychiatric disorders
Older fathers are more likely than younger ones to have children with psychiatric problems, according to a study published this week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. Kids whose dads are 45 or older, for example, are three times more likely to be on the autism spectrum and 24 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder, compared with those whose fathers are aged 20 to 24. Older men’s sperm might be more prone to genetic mutations. [CNN]
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10. Studio starts work on a Minecraft movie
Warner Bros. has obtained movie rights to the wildly popular video game Minecraft, the game’s creator, Swedish programmer Markus Persson, tweeted Thursday. The game’s publisher, Mojang, has sold 35 million copies for game consoles and mobile devices since 2009, as well as 14 million copies for PC. As with The Lego Movie, the filmmakers will have to come up with a plot from scratch, as Minecraft players create their own action. [The Hollywood Reporter]

 

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March 1, 2014

1. Putin appeals to Russian Senate to use military force in Ukraine
Coming hours after U.S. President Barack Obama warned Russia against military intervention, President Vladimir Putin asked Russia’s parliament for permission to send troops into Ukraine this morning. The request follows Friday’s takeover of disputed peninsula Crimea by Moscow-aligned forces. [The New York TimesTime]
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2. Taliban-linked militants ambush polio vaccination team in Pakistan
Militants killed 12 members of a Pakistan-backed security escort today. The team was providing cover for a UNICEF polio vaccination operation. Taliban-backed attackers detonated a roadside bomb and opened fire on the convoy. The Pakistani Taliban had just announced a month-long ceasefire aimed at reopening talks with government officials. [ReutersBBC]
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3. World Bank suspends $90 million loan to Uganda
Uganda’s tough anti-gay law prompted the World Bank to freeze a planned $90 million loan to the country on Friday. Although Uganda relies on donor aid for developing sectors such as health care, government officials downplayed the loan suspension, saying the country will continue to develop with or without Western aid. [Al Jazeera]
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4. Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox files for bankruptcy
Tokyo-based exchange Mt. Gox announced on Friday that it was filing for bankruptcy protection, following a security breach that allowed hackers to defraud the company’s customers of more than 700,000 coins. The company admitted such a software flaw existed several weeks ago. “There were weaknesses in the system,” exchange executive Mark Karpeles said. “I’m truly sorry to have caused inconvenience.” [The New York Times]
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5. California’s weather woes turn from drought to flash floods
After suffering through a months-long drought, Californians faced a different problem this week: Rain. Two winter storms knocked out power to thousands of San Francisco-area residents on Friday. Meanwhile, mudslides became the main concern in the foothills of Azusa and Glendora, which lostvegetation coverage in the Colby fire. Despite the downpours, “I don’t think it’ll bring us up to where we should be,” Bob Benjamin of the National Weather Service said. [The New York TimesLos Angeles Times]
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6. Authorities save 382 babies in Chinese trafficking sting
Chinese police rescued 382 abducted babies from four internet-based trafficking rings, authorities announced on Friday. Fueled by China’s one-child law, trafficking rings thrive in the country by selling kidnapped babies through fake adoption websites. Police arrested 1,094 suspects in the six-month operation, some of whom could face death sentences in a country with harsh trafficking punishments. [The Associated Press]
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7. New Mexico nuclear waste dump employees exposed to radiation
Officials at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant disclosed on Wednesday that workers were exposed to low levels of radiation in a safety breach earlier this month. While employees at the facility appear to be unharmed, the accident prompts questions about the plant’s safety procedures. Housing Cold War-era radioactive materials, the plant’s accident could cause a setback in the development of similar waste storage facilities. [NPR]
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8. Scientists discover “microbial Pompeii” in ancient teeth
Researchers studying ancient calcified plaque found DNA belonging to millions of tiny organisms, according to findings first published in the journal Nature Genetics. The associated bacteria could paint a picture of what our ancestors ate, which diseases they fought, and even what antibiotics they resisted. “This is a game changer,” lead study author Christina Warinner said. [Los Angeles Times]
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9. United reports 22,500 canceled flights in first two months of 2014
The No. 2 airliner in the world, United Continental canceled four times as many flights in the first two months of 2014 as compared to last year. The company said the higher number of cancelations was due mostly to bad weather. Other airlines have reported weather-based cancelations, too, but with hubs in Chicago and Newark, United has been particularly hard-hit this winter. [CNN]
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10. Chu wins ninth-straight Jeopardy! episode
Christened the “Jeopardy Villain” by show purists, Arthur Chu, 30, used his unconventional but effective tactics to take a ninth-straight victory on Friday. The insurance compliance worker and voice-over actor has caused a stir with his game-theory tactics — not to mention his prolific tweets as each episode airs. “There were two choices — retreat behind a rock and wait for the trolling to blow over, or consciously engage the trolls … and own my image as a nerdy, rumpled ‘Jeopardy! jerk,'” Chu toldJeopardy! legend Ken Jennings. “The latter has turned out to be a lot of fun.” [ABC News]

 

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March 2, 2014

1. Ukrainian PM: Nation ‘on the brink of national disaster’
One day after the Russian parliament unanimously voted to deploy armed forces to Crimea, Ukraine mobilized its full military, warning that it would respond with force to an increased incursion. Saying the nation was “on the brink of disaster,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called on the international community for help, saying, “This is not a threat, this is actually a declaration of war to my country.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has maintained Russia has a right to protect its citizens living in Ukraine from the violence that has engulfed that nation since late last year. [Reuters]
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2. Pakistani military bombs Taliban hideout
Pakistani warplanes on Saturday bombed the hideout of a militant leader, Mullah Tamanchey, reportedly killing five insurgents. Tamanchey is believed to have orchestrated an attack on a polio vaccination operation that killed 12 members of a Pakistani security escort Saturday. The strike came hours after the Pakistani Taliban agreed to a one-month cease-fire to pursue negotiations with the government. [NBC]
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3. U.S., Britain, Canada, France pull out of G8 prep talks
As Russia and Ukraine moved closer to war over the weekend, the United States, Britain, Canada, and France announced they would no longer take part in upcoming G8 preparatory talks, which are to be held in Sochi, Russia. “Ukraine’s sovereign territory must be respected and the Ukrainian people must be free to determine their own future,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. On Saturday, President Obama held a 90-minute phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin to express his “deep concern” with the escalating situation, and urged him to pull back his troops. [Calgary HeraldBBCPolitico]
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4. China blames separatist terrorists for deadly knife attacks
Chinese authorities are pursuing five assailants who slashed to death dozens of people at a train station in southern China on Saturday, an attack the government blamed on Xinjiang separatists. Police fatally shot four black-clad attackers — bringing the total body count to 33 — and captured one more, though another five escaped. [The Guardian]
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5. Supreme Court to hear case on executing mentally ill
The Supreme Court on Monday will revisit the question of whether states can execute mentally retarded convicts when it hears the case of Freddie Lee Hall, who was sentenced to death for killing a 21-year-old pregnant woman. The high court in 2002 ruled that states could not execute people with severe mental impairments, though it did not at the time offer a specific definition of what constituted mental retardation. [USA Today]
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6. 86th Academy Awards to be held Sunday night
The 86th Oscars will be held Sunday night in Los Angeles. 12 Years a Slave is the early favorite to bring home the night’s top honors. The awards show kicks off at 8:30 p.m. EST. [Associated Press]
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7. 51 killed in Nigerian bombings
Twin explosions ripped through a crowded marketplace in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri on Saturday, killing at least 51 people, according to the International Red Cross. Officials suspect the armed militant group Boko Haram, which has been blamed for more than 300 deaths this month alone, is responsible for the latest attack. [Al Jazeera America]
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8. LeBron James switches to clear face mask
At the behest of the NBA, Miami Heat star LeBron James on Saturday wore a clear protective mask instead of the black carbon-fiber one he donned earlier in the week. “It’s not a league rule, but it’s a league request,” said James, who is wearing the mask to protect his recently broken nose. “I didn’t agree with their reasons, but I’ll do it.” [Fox Sports]
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9. Will, Jaden Smith named worst actors at Razzies
Father-son movie duo Will and Jaden Smith shared the screen in the colossal flop After Earth last year, and they now share another ignominious distinction: worst actors of the year. Jaden won worst actor, Will won worst supporting actor, and the two won for worst screen combo at the annual Razzie Awards on Saturday, which spotlight Hollywood’s worst performances of the year. [Associated Press]
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10. Massive crowd-sourced Pokemon game ends in victory
After some 390 hours of gameplay, participants in the online, crowd-controlled project Twitch Plays Pokemon finally beat the classic Game Boy game Pokemon Red. The experiment allowed all users to submit endless streams of commands, and then democratically determined, often with disastrous results, which course of action to take. [CNET]

 

 

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March 3, 2014

1. Russia seizes Crimea region in Ukraine
Russian troops took over Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula on Sunday without firing a shot. The interim Ukrainian government mobilized its armed forces and called up reservists. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the Ukrainian opposition’s ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was a “seizure of power” that would end in “new blood.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to fly to Kiev on Tuesday to support Ukraine. [CNNThe New York Times]
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2. 12 Years a Slave wins the Oscar for best picture
12 Years a Slave won the Oscar for Best Picture on Sunday night. The film’s British director, Steve McQueen, dedicated the award to “all the people who have endured slavery.” The film also won two other Academy Awards: John Ridley for adapted screenplay and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o for Best Supporting Actress. The biggest winner of the evening was space thriller Gravity, which won seven Oscars, including Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón. [Los Angeles Times]
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3. Ukraine turmoil hits stocks hard
Global stocks plunged on Monday as investors reacted to the threat of war in Ukraine. Russia was hit hardest, with the Moscow stock market dropping by 9 percent after President Vladimir Putin sent troops and tanks to Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Gold surged to a four-month high as investors sought safe assets. “The events over the weekend are a wake-up call for the market,” said David Thebault of Global Equities in Paris. [Reuters]
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4. Pistorius’ murder trial begins
Oscar Pistorius, the first athlete to race in the Olympics on prosthetic legs, pleaded not guilty on Monday at the start of his trial for the killing of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp. Pistorius, 27, shot Steenkamp four times at his Pretoria, South Africa, home on Valentine’s Day 2013. He said he thought she was an intruder. Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Pistorius was “willing and ready to fire and kill” after a loud argument. [BBC NewsUSA Today]
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5. Keystone pipeline protesters arrested at the White House
Police arrested dozens of people who were protesting the Keystone XL oil pipeline project on Sunday outside the White House. The demonstrators, most of them college-aged, used plastic ties to link themselves to fences around the White House and called on President Obama not to approve the project. “If the Democratic Party wants to keep our vote,” one student said, “they better make sure President Obama rejects that pipeline.” [Reuters]
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6. De Blasio attends gay-friendly St. Patrick’s Day event
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio marched Sunday in a gay-friendly St. Pat’s for All parade in Queens. De Blasio said he still respected Police Commissioner William Bratton’s decision to attend the traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Manhattan on March 17, even though it excludes gays. Organizers of Boston’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade, scheduled for March 16, struck a tentative agreement to lift a 20-year ban on gay groups. [New York Post]
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7. Yet another brutal winter blast hits the East
The latest in a rapid-fire series of harsh winter storms slammed the East Coast early Monday after blanketing the central U.S. with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. Washington, D.C., was expected to get nine inches of snow, forcing the House of Representatives and the Senate to postpone Monday business. The weather, which has affected 90 million people, is “a real mess,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Bruce Sullivan. [Reuters]
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8. Suicide attack kills 11 in Islamabad court complex
At least 11 people, including a judge, were killed Monday in a suicide attack on a court complex in Islamabad on Monday. Authorities said two or three gunmen opened fire and threw grenades, and two suicide bombers detonated themselves. It was one of the deadliest assaults in the Pakistani capital in years. Over the weekend, the Pakistani Taliban and government had agreed to a monthlong cease fire to restart peace talks. [The HinduBBC News]
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9. Disney ends funding to Boy Scouts over anti-gay policies
The Walt Disney Co. is cutting off its funding to Boy Scouts of America troops in 2015 over the organization’s ban on gay leaders. A Boy Scouts spokesman said Sunday that the organization was “disappointed” and that the move “will impact our ability to serve kids.” Disney typically donates to individual troops, not the national organization. A Disney spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. [The Associated Press]
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10. Henley wins the Honda Classic after McIlroy squanders lead
Russell Henley came from behind to win the Honda Classic in Florida on Sunday, defeating Rory McIlroy, Russell Knox, and Ryan Palmer in a four-man playoff. McIlroy went into the final round of the golf tournament three strokes ahead, only to lose after holding the lead for 54 holes. The playoff lasted just one hole — Henley won with a birdie as the other three shot pars. Tiger Woods withdrew earlier in the day with back spasms. [Palm Beach Post]

 

 

 

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March 4, 2014

1. Senators consider sanctions against Russia’s Ukraine intervention
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday began considering whether to impose sanctions against Russia for sending thousands of soldiers into Ukraine’s Crimea region following the ouster of the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych. Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said the intervention was “a clear violation of international law.” Russia’s United Nations ambassador said Russia sent the soldiers at Yanukovych’s request. [ReutersCNN]
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2. Obama unveils his new budget
President Obama is rolling out his 2015 budget on Tuesday. The White House says Obama is proposing closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and giving 13.5 million others tax breaks, including an expanded income tax credit for people without children and bigger child- and dependent-care tax credits for families. The shift follows the populist tone of Obama’s State of the Union address and the Democrats’ midterm election year pitch to voters. [TIME]
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3. Snow and ice shut down Washington, D.C.
A deadly winter storm struck the mid-Atlantic coast with snow and ice on Monday. A Virginia man was killed when he drove off an embankment in the snow. Early Tuesday, temperatures dipped below zero in parts of northern Virginia, the coldest March temperatures for the area in decades. Government offices shut down in Washington, D.C., on Monday, and were scheduled to open late on Tuesday, as crews tried to clear four inches of snow. [The Washington PostReuters]
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4. Bin Laden son-in-law goes on trial
Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, son-in-law of the late Osama bin Laden. Abu Ghaith is the highest ranking bin Laden aide ever prosecuted in a U.S. civilian court since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “Abu Ghaith held a key position in Al Qaeda, comparable to the consigliere in a mob family or propaganda minister in a totalitarian regime,” said George Venizelos, director of the FBI’s New York office. [The New York Times]
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5. Many soldiers have suicidal tendencies before enlisting
Most U.S. soldiers with suicidal tendencies already had them when they enlisted, according to research released online Monday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The papers found that one in 10 soldiers had “intermittent explosive disorder” — a rate five times that of the general population. The studies sought to bring together the results of five years of research into the doubling of suicide rates in the military from 2004 to 2009. [The New York Times]
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6. Gates returns to the top of Forbes‘ list of billionaires
Bill Gates is once again the richest man in the world. The Microsoft co-founder saw his fortune rise by $9 billion to $76 billion, edging out Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, who had held the top spot on the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people for four years. This year’s list, released Monday, included record tallies of 172 women billionaires and 152 from China. [ForbesInternational Business Times]
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7. Report finds that national parks stimulate local economies
The National Park Service released a report Monday saying that the U.S.’s national parks brought $14.7 billion in spending to nearby communities in 2012. The report said that the money brings 243,000 jobs to towns and rural communities within 60 miles of the entrance to a park, and contributed $26.8 billion to the national economy. “Our parks are economic engines for local communities,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. [NBC News]
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8. Nets keep Collins around for another 10 days
The Brooklyn Nets reportedly signed Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player ever, to a second 10-day contract starting Wednesday. After that the team will have to decide whether to keep Collins for the rest of the season. Collins, who came out after finishing last season for the Washington Wizards, said he would let his agent deal with the contract. “He’ll do his job and I’ll do my job, which is basketball,” he said. [Daily News]
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9. James has a record night for the Heat
LeBron James scored a career-high 61 points Monday night as his team, the Miami Heat, trounced the Charlotte Bobcats. It was the most any player had scored for the Heat in the team’s 26-year history. James, an All-Star forward, made 22 of 33 shots from the field, including eight of 10 three-pointers. He said he was in such a groove he felt he couldn’t miss. “It felt,” James said, “like I had a golf ball, throwing it into the ocean.” [Sun-Sentinel]
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10. Ellen DeGeneres sets a Twitter record with an Oscar selfie
Ellen DeGeneres smashed Twitter records with a selfie she posted from Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony. The photo, taken by American Hustle star Bradley Cooper, featured DeGeneres surrounded by A-list movie stars, including Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lawrence, and Oscar-winning newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. The pic got 2.7 million retweets, smashing a record set by President Obama, whose reelection-night pic got 778,000 retweets. [Los Angeles Times]

 

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March 5

1. Envoys seek a peace deal for Ukraine
Diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., Britain, and France are meeting in Paris on Wednesday for emergency talks on resolving the crisis in Ukraine. “Today the Ukrainian future will be decided,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia said. Russia sent troops into Ukraine’s Crimea region on Saturday after president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. Tensions rose when Russia carried out a pre-planned missile test Tuesday. [The Associated PressReuters]
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2. D.C. council decriminalizes marijuana
The City Council in Washington, D.C., voted to decriminalize marijuana possession. Currently, pot possession can result in six months in jail and fines up to $1,000. If Mayor Vincent Gray signs the new measure, as expected, anyone caught with up to an ounce of marijuana would pay just a $25 civil fine, a penalty similar to a parking ticket. The move came after several states eased their marijuana laws. [TIME]
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3. GOP slams Obama’s budget proposal
As soon as President Obama unveiled his 2015 budget on Tuesday, Republicans began harshly criticizing it. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the $3.9 trillion spending blueprint Obama’s “most irresponsible budget yet,” saying it had too much spending, borrowing, and taxation. “It would hurt our economy and cost jobs,” Boehner said. The budget increases spending on roads and early education while cutting tax breaks for the rich. [Reuters]
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4. Moody’s downgrades Chicago’s credit rating
Moody’s downgraded Chicago’s creditworthiness on Tuesday, saying the city was endangering its financial security with “massive and growing” pension obligations. The credit-rating agency made the change because the city, which has put off dealing with the issue for years, now faces a doubling in its pension promises to $1.07 billion next year. Chicago also must cope with a nearly $20 billion funding hole for police, firefighter, and city worker pensions. [CNN]
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5. Abbott and Davis win Texas gubernatorial primaries
Texas’ closely watched governor’s race gets underway in earnest on Wednesday, following Tuesday’s primary victories for Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) and state Sen. Wendy Davis (D). Abbott beat four GOP rivals with 90 percent of the vote, and Davis defeated her lone opponent with 80 percent. George P. Bush, son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, launched his political career by winning the GOP primary for Texas Land Commissioner. [Austin American-StatesmanThe Huffington Post]
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6. Scientists find high-protein diets can be deadly
People who eat a lot of meat and cheese in middle age are four times more likely to die of cancer than those with low-protein diets, according to a new study by U.S. and Italian researchers. A risk factor like that would be roughly as dangerous as smoking. The researchers said, however, that once people grow older than 65 they might benefit from eating more protein as their muscles weaken. [The Washington Post]
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7. Judge decides against forcing parents to pay teen’s tuition
A New Jersey judge on Tuesday turned down 18-year-old honor student Rachel Canning’s request to make her parents pay for her private high-school and then college tuition, along with $650 in weekly child support. Her parents, Elizabeth and Sean Canning, kicked her out of the house when she turned 18 for failing to follow their rules. An independent investigator told the court the cheerleader and lacrosse player is “spoiled.” [Daily News]
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8. Yosemite bears go back to natural food
Black bears at Yosemite National Park are kicking the habit of pilfering food from humans. The bears gorged on human food starting in 1923, when the park started feeding the herbivores to lure them away from places frequented by tourists. From 1974 to 1985, human food still made up a third of the bears’ diet, but thanks largely to bear-proof food-lockers and campground patrols, the proportion has dropped to 13 percent, about where it was in 1919. [Los Angeles Times]
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9. RadioShack closes 1,100 stores
RadioShack CEO Joe Magnacca announced Tuesday that the electronics chain was shutting 1,100 stores, 20 percent of its U.S. footprint. Magnacca said the company, which lost $400 million last year, was “broken.” The company was once the go-to store for electronics parts and stereos, but has failed to keep up in the digital age. The chain promised an upgrade in a Super Bowl ad in which an employee says, “The ’80s called. They want their store back.” [The Washington Post]
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10. Chipotle warns of looming guacpocalypse
Chipotle is warning its shareholders that weather disruptions “associated with global climate change” could drive up prices for some of its ingredients, possibly forcing the burrito chain to occasionally stop serving guacamole and certain salsas. Chipotle goes through 97,000 pounds of avocado a day to make guacamole. Scientists say rising temperatures could reduce California’s avocado production by 40 percent over three decades. [Think Progress]

 

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