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Wednesday January 7, 2015 US News & Politics

Obama admin / DOJ pens open letter reminding schools' legal obligation to give custom help to non-English speakers. 9-10 earthquakes rock Texas in less than 24 hours, ranging from mag 1.6 to 3.6; given recent increases, fracking could be cause. Poland confirms having received extradition request from US for Roman Polanski, film-maker and fugitive pedophile (1977). NYC mayor de Blasio to end cell-phones-in-school ban enacted by predecessor Michael Bloomberg. Two dead, one doctor and the shooter, at Veteran Affairs Clinic in El Paso, Texas. A look at small business owners just elected to the new Congress (11 R's and 3 D's). President Obama eyes Hawaii community banker for Federal Reserve Board. Rising star Mia Love, UT, becomes first black Republican Congresswoman. Boehner (R-OH) re-elected Speaker of GOP-controlled House in fractious vote; worst endorsement numbers since Civil War. Growing number of students graduate early from college, thanks to Advanced Placement credits, and to lower tuition costs. US gov seizes $18 million from owners of now defunct Massachusetts compounding pharmacy, whose sale of steroids with fungal meningitis killed 64 and sickened ~750. Boston time capsule, embedded 219 years ago in Statehouse's cornerstone, contains newspapers, a medal, silver plaque, and 24 coins - one of which dates back to 1655! Quick news briefs:
FTC chairwoman: government must lay foundation for data privacy and security standards online.
Georgia: police officer among 4 dead found in apartment in apparent murder-suicide.
Bangladesh diplomat and wife must face lawsuit in US by former domestic treated like slave.
Homemade bomb explodes outside NAACP offices in Colorado Springs, CO (developing).

Tuesday January 6, 2015 US News & Politics

Hundreds gather to mourn Mario Cuomo, former NY Governor and father of current.San Fran suicide by cop: man pulls airsoft gun in front of police station; shot dead.North Dakota, 2nd-largest US oil producer, weighs tax decisions to use oil activity to fund much-needed infrastructure projects.Manhunt in NY after two police officers were killed responding to Bronx robbery. (Update: two now held for questioning.)Former VA Governor Bob McDonnell, to be sentenced on multiple corruption charges.House Speaker Boehner expected to retain Speaker spot, despite much opposition.Jodi Arias sentencing retrial resumed, after 2 weeks hiatus for holidays; closed to press.Previously pro-Obamacare Harvard faculty now fighting to reject the costlier insurance.Son arrested for murder of father, Thomas Gilbert, 70, Wainscott Capital founder.Experts claim that last year's earthquakes in Ohio were caused by fracking.Petco pulls all Chinese-made pet treats from website and stores; sickened thousands of pets, killed 1,000 dogs since 2007.China protests after Taiwan flag raised in DC on New Year's day - China considers the independent country one of its provinces.Former acting cyber security director at HHS Department sentenced to 25-year prison term for involvement in child porn ring.NYC mayor de Blasio says police officers turning back to him disrespectful "to the families" [of slain NYPD officers].Survivalist to face trial on PA police attack that killed 1 officer, led to 48-day manhunt.Florida 36th state to allow same-sex marriages; first ones in Miami.In federal court, journalist James Risen steadfast protecting confidential sources .GOP-controlled House to revive terrorism insurance program, expired last year.Widely circulated privacy-alert-notice message on Facebook is a hoax.Federal audit - drones on south border not that effective: grounded most of the time because of cost involved in flying them.

Monday January 5, 2015 US News & Politics

Gas prices fall below $50/barrel, first time since April 2009; hurts domestic producers.Long Beach: abducted 3-week-old baby found, dead, in dumpster after parents shot.US health worker, possibly exposed to Ebola in Sierra Leone, now in Nebraska for eval.Gas prices under $2 per gallon at 40% of US gas stations; national average at ~$2.20.Ferguson, MO, grand juror (shooting of Mike Brown by officer Wilson) sues prosecutor for rights to speak about the case.Meth seizures break records at US-Mexico border (63% of all seizures) during 2014.Record number of guns confiscated by TSA from passengers in 2014: many loaded, some of them even with round chambered.70yo Thomas Gilbert, founder of Wainscott Capital Partners hedge fund, found shot dead in his Manhattan apartment; son questioned.Houston PD on high alert: shot at in two separate incidents, and one police cruiser's brakes appeared intentionally cut.Abu-Dhabi-San-Francisco flight stuck on tarmac for over 12 hours, leaving passengers in the plane for 28 hours, including flight! Massachusetts judge accepts new Nike sneakers as bail (Christmas gift, ~$85).Top Democrats: Obama veto of Keystone pipeline project would likely stick.Sarah Palin responds to outcry from picture of her son stepping on dog to reach counter: "At least Trig didn't eat the dog" (reference to Obama's first book, in which he describes eating dog meat as a kid in Indonesia, where he spent part of childhood).

Sunday December 4, 2015 US News & Politics

Edward Brooke, 1st African-American ever elected to Senate (a Republican, in 1966), dies of natural causes at 95 in his FL home.Nebraska: possibly Ebola-exposed US health worker, currently symptomless, to be monitored over the coming three weeks.Obamacare - some doctors no longer taking Medicaid (gov-funded for poor) patients; since 2015 reimbursements have dropped by 46%, money lost for each visit. Some states are able/willing to pay the difference. RI doctors top the list with a 67% drop.4 main factors contribute to dropping crime rates across the US: long prison sentences, improved policing in communities, heroin costs at historic low, and an aging population, less likely to commit crimes. Mexican army presence helps near south border.Federal increase in gas taxes considered to replace current legislation (expires in May); federal gas tax currently at 18.4 cents/gallon, and at 24.4 cents/gallon for diesel fuel.One of first to be tried under Wisconsin's "revenge porn" law, man faces charges for having posted online nude pics of his ex.Gas prices now up in 5 states with new gas taxes: Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida.At officer Wenjian Liu wake, executed with his colleague by Mike Brown protester, NYPD doesn't turn back on mayor de Blasio.Back from 2-week vacation in Hawaii, Obama to begin multistate trip next week to promote his new economic initiatives.4.9 magnitude earthquake shakes parts of Idaho Saturday evening; no injuries or major damage reported anywhere in the state.Quick news briefs:
Investigation into oil leak in Lake Michigan from southwestern Michigan nuclear plant.
Harlem: 23-day-old boy found unconscious, bleeding from forehead wound, died.
Midwest and eastern US brace for Arctic blast, as far south as Louisiana.
NYC: Rikers Island inmate hangs himself, not placed on suicide watch despite clear signs.

Saturday January 3, 2015 US News & Politics

Tuesday: groundbreaking event for the California high-speed train project, controversial because of government land seizures and environmental lawsuits.Cleveland county sheriff office now takes over investigation of Tamir Rice shooting by police (12yo black kid shot while playing with toy gun without orange barrel end).Bipartisan Senators question FBI's claim that it doesn't need a warrant to gather data from citizens by using decoy cell phone tower.Beef and agriculture industry up in arms as US gov mulls healthful diet recommendations now also based on environmental impact.Argentina Supreme Court: American truther should be sent back to the US to face charges for the 2002 murder of his wife.Facebook-posted photos of Sarah Palin son stepping on dog to reach kitchen countertop causes online stir (unfazed lab seems fine).Obama admin: sanctions on 10 North Korean officials for the Sony hack, though no proven link between them & the hack.US seeks life imprisonment for London imam convicted of terrorism charges.Oprah Winfrey, suggesting that protesters from #BlackLivesMatter lack leadership, faces major backlash on Twitter.Limerick University: mindless chatter four times more effective at improving children communication skills than bedtime story.Fed prosecutors seek death penalty for Nov. 2013 shooting of LAX security screener.Friday: 35+ car pileup on snowy section of I-93 in NH; multiple injuries, none serious.Quick news briefs:
New, 114th Congress will include more women and minority than ever before.
Drought-stricken California starts fast creation of desalination plants (turn salty water into drinking water).
NY: Libyan man to face terrorism charges this week dies in US custody of illness complications.
Harry Reid released from hospital after fitness accident at home.
Arkansas: poet Miller Williams dies at 84; he read a poem at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1997.
Real Bada-Bing club (used in Sopranos) broken into once again, robbed of $30,000.
7-year-old girl survives plane crash in Kentucky; the pilot and three other passengers died.
Body found of American missing in the central Mexican state of Morelos; fatal head injury from fall.
Houston man killed from stray bullet while watching fireworks has been ruled a homicide.
Funeral held today for Wenjian Liu, the second NYPD officer shot in patrol by Mike Brown protester.
NYPD Commissioner Bratton urges officers not to antagonize mayor by turning back to him this time.
New law: California starts to issue driver's license without checking immigration status.
Boston Marathon jury selection begins Monday, despite defense request to postpone or relocate trial.

Friday January 2, 2015 US News & Politics

Quick news briefs:
Harry Reid, exiting Senate Majority Leader, breaks ribs and facial bones while exercising at home.
Two WV police shot & wounded at traffic stop; two bodies found in trunk when man turns himself in.
Florida 23-year-old decapitates mother over nagging to move boxes to the attic.
New York, New Jersey, and Illinois are top exodus states; top recipient states? Oregon, South Carolina and North Carolina. Top reasons are cost of living and jobs.NYC: man arrested for assaulting officers during protests against police brutality; Wenjian Liu funeral, second slain NYPD officer, is scheduled for tomorrow.Texas father and son on a multistate crime spree kills NC couple, sets their house on fire and steals their truck; both ultimately arrested after fires shot in standoff with police.California lawyer who inherited money from client is accused of using "undue influence", and told to pay non-profits amount originally allotted for charities.Hundreds of new state laws to start the new year, quick overview from USA Today.Former NY Governor Mario Cuomo (1983 to 1994) dies at 82, as son Andrew Cuomo begins second term, also as NY governor.Minnesota judge: Norway violated state's equal-pay law by paying former female employee at Norwegian Consulate $30k less than male counterpart; country's government fined "double her lost wages" ($170,594), plus $100,000 for "emotional distress".Watchdog group: FEMA spends over $177 million covering claims that should have been covered by private insurances; audit confirms, and discovers that the federal agency will be liable for $1 billion in future disaster for failing to review fine prints.Quick news briefs:
Arizona: Cochise County Sheriff's helicopter crashes, killing pilot and mechanic on board.
21 people arrested for making threats to police in NYC since 2 NYPD were killed in their car.
Georgia police chief accidentally shoots and seriously injures wife; placed on admin leave.
Chatham, Massachusetts police cruiser kills student lying on unlit road at dawn.
Federal judge allows gay weddings to proceed in Florida.

Thursday January 1, 2015 US News & Politics

Fearing abductions and identity theft, US hospitals abandon tradition of announcing first baby of the year (or limit that info).Second man arrested in shooting of LAPD patrol car, in joint FBI operation; facing maximum sentence of life in prison.131 NYC pedestrians died in 2014 traffic accidents, lowest in 100 years, since mayor adopts Swedish-inspired "Vision Zero Plan" to eliminate all traffic deaths (lower driving speeds, stronger enforcement...)Insight: siblings raised the same way and in the same home illustrate the US wealth gap; growing trend creates deep issues; accepting the idea of a rich stranger is much easier than that of a successful sibling (click for cases).NYT spills ink in editorials defending mayor de Blasio against NYPD, closing like this: "1. Don't violate the Constitution. 2. Don't kill unarmed people. 3. Do your jobs. The police are sworn public servants, and refusing to work violates their oath to serve and protect".NYC to name streets after the 2 NYPD officers executed by Mike Brown protester.With GOP majority, Senate will get a chance to force audit of the Fed, previously blocked by Harry Reid (former Senate Maj. Leader).Mike Brown supporters storm St. Louis PD headquarters to "reclaim" it for the people.A funny and/or enraging look at abuses of emotional support animal laws, like dragging along a smelly pig on a plane.A look at NYPD arrests drop since mayor de Blasio support for Mike Brown protesters, one of whom then killed two officers.Maryland, most recent state to abolish the death penalty, to commute sentences of last 4 death-row inmates to life imprisonment.US cancer deaths have fallen 21% since 1991, due to lower smoking rates and better cancer prevention / detection / treatment.Arizona Supreme Court allows lawsuit challenging state's medicaid expansion to proceed, setback for Gov. Jan Brewer.Growing number of prisoners exonerated thanks to DNA testing and modern forensics face ordeal once released; often, NO monetary compensation. States like Colorado have recently passed "compensation laws". Long-term incarceration also means that these innocents know nothing of modern technologies; Wyoming takes 18 months to prepares those and other to-be-released prisoners for the world of freedom. Heinous crimes, like rape, bring violence or abuse from the public, since state / federal government isn't required to widely publicize these men and women's innocence. Flip side? The danger that these compensation laws might be abused, effectively rewarding guilty prisoners freed on technicalities (e.g., chain of custody issues).Quick news briefs:
Mag 5.1 earthquake in Pacific, off Northern California coast; no injuries or damage reported.
San-Francisco-to-Minneapolis flighted diverted to Salt Lake after woman goes into labor.
Boston Marathon bomber denied change of trial time or place; jury selection begins Monday.
Las Vegas PD helicopter crashes in neighborhood street, only injuring the 2 police officers in it.
US Supreme Court to start making all documents filed available online.
Likely to run in 2016, Jeb Bush discontinues paid activities that would create conflicts of interests.
Animal rights group suing PA ice cream shop to release 18-year-caged, attraction bear.
NYC reinstates smoking ban in parks, challenged by a group of smokers.
Hasbro to replace Play-Doh part that complaining parents say looks like a penis.
Improving economy helps Obama's approval ratings - nearly half of Americans positive.

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