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NEWS   THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2016   NEWS

Second Amendment Backers Arm Up With Ink And Paper To Battle California's 'Gunmageddon'
Barry Bahrami went from incredulous to angry last month when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a batch of firearms control laws known collectively as “Gunmageddon.” Then, the San Diego-based CEO became determined to fight back against the laws, which take aim at so-called assault weapons, enforce ammunition background checks, mostly take effect Jan. 1 and outlaw the possession of high-capacity magazines and ban the "bullet buttons" that enable their swift replacement. "These laws are completely insane to almost anyone with a real knowledge of firearms, and I did not think Gov. Brown would sign them," Bahrami told FoxNews.com. "Many California gun owners are still unaware they will be criminals soon." Fox News

After Clinton Bounce, Polls Indicate Tightening Race In Key Battlegrounds
Hillary Clinton’s post-convention bounce may be coming back down to earth – at least in some parts of the country – as new polls show a tightening race against Donald Trump in several battleground states, especially when Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is factored in. A Monmouth University Poll released Wednesday showed Clinton holding onto just a 2-point lead in North Carolina. She leads Trump 44-42 percent in the state, while Johnson is pulling 7 percent. The poll also shows Trump with a double-digit lead among independents. North Carolina is one of several battleground states considered critical to Trump’s hopes of capturing the presidency in November. He still trails in most swing state polls, but the latest from Monmouth University marks an improvement over a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist survey showing him down by 9 points in the state. Fox News

Donald Trump: Hillary Clinton Set Up Email Server With 'Premedication'
Donald Trump intended to say Wednesday that Hillary Clinton's use of an email server during her tenure at the State Department was an act of "premeditation." But when he flubbed the line and instead suggested it was due to "premedication," he embraced that possibility as well. "Hillary Clinton created an illegal private email server -- deliberately, willfully and with total premedication -- premeditation," Trump said, correcting himself. He then added: "Could be the first way was right actually." "You know, I might like the first way better. 'Premedication,' that's a very -- premedication, I think I like it. Wow," Trump continued as the crowd cheered him on. CNN

Study: These Are The Peak Times For Divorce
There's long been evidence that there are certain times of year that are popular for divorce. But passive-aggressive Facebook drama isn't exactly quantifiable data, so a new study from the University of Washington has provided some actual numbers to support the trend. Researchers from the university plotted the number of divorce filings in Washington state between 2001 and 2015. The results show two very specific yearly peaks in March and August, a high plateau between these times and a significant drop in the fall months. Let's call it the "Cat of Sadness." CNN

Iran: Forces Will Warn Any Vessel After US Warship Incident
Iran's defense minister says his country's naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering its territorial waters after an incident this week involving a U.S. warship. The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan on Thursday as saying that "if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it's an invasion, we confront." Dehghan's comments came after four Iranian small boats sailed near the guided missile destroyer USS Nitze on Wednesday. The U.S. Navy described the incident as "unsafe and unprofessional" and said it occurred in international waters in the narrow Strait of Hormuz. Philadelphia Inquirer

Belarusian Leader Treats Action Hero Seagal To Local Melons
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has treated American action hero Steven Seagal to a harvest of carrots and watermelons at his country residence. Seagal, 64, is not new to Eastern Europe. He often visits Russia to socialize with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Lukashenko on Wednesday hosted Segal at his residence north of Minsk, the capital, and treated him in front of television cameras to traditional Belarusian food like lard. The footage from the visit showed Lukashenko peel a carrot and hand it to Seagal to try. Philadelphia Inquirer

Commercial Flights Are Too ‘Burdensome’ For Clinton
Hillary Clinton summoned the Air Force to fly her from New York to Washington, DC, seven years ago because she didn’t want to use the “burdensome” commercial shuttle, according to newly released e-mails. Exchanges from May 4, 2009, between Clinton and close aide Huma Abedin show the then- secretary of state trying to figure out how to avoid the air shuttle that runs hourly between New York and the nation’s capital. “Do you think we could get a plane for Westchester flight back tonight?” Clinton wrote in an e-mail released this week by Judicial Watch, the conservative watchdog that sued the State Department for the records. “It’s going to rain all day and I still don’t feel great, so the idea of playing a guessing game w the shuttle is really burdensome to me. What do you think? Could be any time that works for the Air Force,” Clinton told Abedin. NY Post

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Temporary FEMA Housing Units Expected To Return To Louisiana
Thousands of south Louisiana residents remain stuck in shelters, living in hotels or staying in the spare bedrooms of family and friends after flooding ravaged their homes, creating a housing crunch that may bring back temporary housing units like those that dotted the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Just don't call it a FEMA trailer. The much-maligned travel trailer that filled front yards and miles of vacant property in south Louisiana and Mississippi a decade ago became a symbol of everything that had gone wrong with the federal disaster response to the destructive 2005 hurricane. Families were crammed into tiny trailers that drew health worries after toxic levels of formaldehyde were found. Gov. John Bel Edwards stressed that he prefers a quick way to make homes habitable to get residents back inside, though he acknowledged some sort of modular housing could be needed that people can set up in their yards while repairing flood-damaged property. CNS News

Kerry: People Join Terrorist Groups When ‘They Have Trouble Finding Meaning Or Opportunity In Their Daily Lives’
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about countering “violent extremism” from groups like Boko Haram during his visit to Nigeria Tuesday, saying that  “far too many” people join groups like Boko Haram “because they have trouble finding meaning or opportunity in their daily lives.” Kerry argued that people join terrorist groups, because they are “deeply frustrated and alienated – and because they hope groups like Boko Haram will somehow give them a sense of identity, or purpose, or power.”
Kerry said that that this is observable all the world, “whether we are talking about the Lake Chad Basin or the Sahel, or a village in the Middle East or a city in Western Europe, it’s the same.” CNS News

California Bill To Repeal 'Tampon Tax' Heads To Governor
California lawmakers on Tuesday sent a bill to end state sales taxes on feminine hygiene products to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, the latest success for a nationwide bipartisan effort to end the so-called tampon tax. The bill, which would add tampons, sanitary napkins and other menstrual products to a list of necessities like food and prescription medicines that are not taxed, won unanimous support in the state Assembly on Tuesday, Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said.
"Fundamentally, this is about gender equity and leveling the field," Garcia, who represents parts of suburban Los Angeles, said in a news release. "Every month, for 40 years of our lives, we are taxed for being born women." Reuters

Bill Clinton Defends Embattled Family Foundation
Former President Bill Clinton says he's proud of people who have donated to the Clinton Foundation and the work the organization has done, as he waded into a dispute that Republicans are hoping will damage his wife's presidential campaign. "We're trying to do good things," Bill Clinton said Wednesday. "If there's something wrong with creating jobs and saving lives, I don't know what it is. The people who gave the money knew exactly what they were doing. I have nothing to say about it except that I'm really proud. I'm proud of what they've done." He also defended Hillary Clinton's contact with donors to the foundation while serving as secretary of state, saying foundation donors like Bangladeshi economist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus have no trouble reaching officials around the world. Tampa Tribune

2 Orlando Hospitals Won't Bill Nightclub Shooting Victims
The Orlando hospitals that treated dozens of people injured in the Pulse nightclub massacre are not billing survivors for out-of-pocket medical expenses. News outlets report Orlando Regional Medical Center, which treated most of the survivors of the June 12 attack, announced Wednesday that it would seek payment from other resources such as insurance plans and a victims' fund established by city officials. Florida Hospital, which treated 12 survivors, says it would not bill for any of its services. Officials say the two hospitals will write off an estimated $5.5 million or more in care. The attack killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. The gunman, Omar Mateen, was killed by police after a three-hour standoff. Tampa Tribune

Hurricane Would Soak Waterlogged South
A tropical wave that's spinning in the Caribbean is forecast to strengthen and could hit both Florida and the sodden Gulf Coast over the next few days, possibly as a hurricane, meteorologists say. The system has a 60% chance of developing into a tropical depression or named storm within the next two days, according to the National Hurricane Center. If it gets a name, it would be Hermine (Her-MEEN), the 8th named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season. After a potential hit as a hurricane in Florida, the system could then get pushed into the Gulf of Mexico, with the potential for a second landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast next week, possibly as a strong hurricane, weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman reported. USA Today

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Harry Reid Calls Mother Of Benghazi Victim ‘Crazy,’ Then Retracts It
Sen. Harry Reid, who led Democrats to a Senate majority and then back into the minority, triggered the nuclear option to change Senate rules and used a special budget tactic to get Obamacare passed, told a Nevada newspaper not to blame him for partisanship in Washington. In an extensive interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal he also called Patricia Smith, the mother of a State Department employee slain in the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, “crazy” for her speech at the GOP convention questioning Hillary Clinton’s behavior. Mr. Reid then tried to tack back that characterization and instead accused Mrs. Smith of lack of accuracy.” And Mr. Reid defended his demonstrably false attack on 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who he said didn’t pay income taxes, as true according to his own version of things. Washington Times

U.S. Paid $1.3 Billion To Iran Two Days After Cash Delivery
The Obama administration said Wednesday it paid $1.3 billion in interest to Iran in January to resolve a decades-old dispute over an undelivered military sale, two days after allowing $400 million in cash to fly to Tehran. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau says the U.S. couldn’t say more about the Jan. 19 payments because of diplomatic sensitivities. They involved 13 separate payments of $99,999,999.99 and final payment of about $10 million. There was no explanation for the Treasury Department keeping the individual transactions under $100 million. CBS

Black Students Punished More Harshly Than Whites, Complaint Alleges
Black students and students with disabilities attending public schools in Virginia’s capital city are more severely and more frequently punished than their classmates, according to a complaint filed Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The complaint brought by two students and a local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People alleges that African-American students at Richmond Public Schools and those with mental, emotional or physical disabilities are more likely than white students to be suspended or expelled. The complaint urges federal officials to investigate the school systems’ disciplinary policies and force them to make changes. CBS

Car Crash Deaths Climb Despite Better Auto Safety
Despite more safety equipment in cars, car crash deaths are rising -- and Labor Day weekend could be prove to be the deadliest since 2008, says the National Safety Council. Based on recent crash death rates, which has been on the rise since 2014, the council predicts that this Labor Day holiday period will result in 438 people being  killed during the three-day holiday weekend. The biggest increases in car crash-deaths have been in Florida, where there has been a 43%increase since 2014. Then comes Georgia (34%), Indiana (33%), California (31%), North Carolina (26%), Illinois (24%) and Kentucky (24%), according to the council. About 19,100 people have been killed on U.S. roads since January – enough to fill 382 school buses – and 2.2 million were seriously injured, the council says. USA Today

Obama Turns 87,500 Acres Of Maine Into Parkland
It takes an act of Congress to create a national park, but under a 1906 federal law, the Antiquities Act, a president can act unilaterally to establish a national monument, a power that Obama has used to build a major part of his environmental legacy. He has created two dozen national monuments, more than any previous president, ranging from small sites like the Stonewall Inn, a gay rights landmark in Manhattan, to more than 300,000 acres in the mountains east of Los Angeles. The designations prevent new mining and drilling operations, and sometimes curtail logging, grazing, road-building, hunting and recreation — limits that in some rural areas, particularly in the West, are bitterly resented by residents and business people who say their regions’ economies depend on use of the land. Advocates say the monuments can actually generate economic activity and jobs, through tourism and recreation. Atlanta Journal

Of Mosques, Donald Trump And The Waning Of White Christian America
Another mosque has jumped into view in a small Southern enclave. This time it’s Newton County. We have seen this movie before. Faced with an angry crowd, a county commission declares a moratorium or rejects a zoning request for the new congregation by other means. A lawsuit is threatened. The county attorney quietly buttonholes commissioners, letting them know that a mountain of case law, never mind the First Amendment, extends freedom of worship to people other than Baptists and Methodists. Millions of dollars in taxpayer cash are about to be wasted on lawyers. The governing officials then reverse course, or a judge does it for them. (This latter development has not yet occurred in Newton County, but it will.) There is a reason that these fights have become so commonplace that they’re very nearly a cliché. And yes, there is a strong Donald Trump connection. Atlanta Journal

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Why You Should Think Twice Before Posting Back-To-School Photos
As children head back to school, the temptation to share your excitement with a first day photo on social media is understandable. But Donna Rice Hughes, the president & CEO of Enough Is Enough, a non-profit organization that seeks to maximize internet safety for children and families, is urging parents to think carefully about the information they post. First and foremost, Hughes encourages parents to double check their privacy settings, and make sure that only friends can view their posts. But, she notes, private posts can still be shared outside of the protected network. As a rule of thumb: "Don’t assume that any information will not be shared publicly." ABC

Hillary Clinton To Receive 1st Classified Briefing Of Campaign
Hillary Clinton is expected to receive her first classified briefing as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee this weekend at an FBI facility in White Plains, a New York City suburb, according to sources with knowledge of the plans. This comes one week after her main rival, Donald Trump, received his first classified briefing as the Republican Party’s nominee. Trump took two top advisers to his briefing: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former Defense Intelligence Agency director who has become an outspoken and sometimes controversial supporter of Trump. But Clinton may not take any advisers to her planned briefing Saturday at the FBI’s White Plains facility, which is a satellite office of the bureau’s New York field office, ABC News has learned. ABC

The 401(k) Is Wreaking Havoc On Retirement
The shift from pensions to 401(k) plans is making retirement inequality much worse—and education is what separates the haves from the have-nots, a new study has found. College graduates have always been able to get better jobs. What's new in recent decades is that traditional pensions have all but vanished, replaced by 401(k)-style plans. In 1980, 38 percent of private sector workers had a pension and 19 percent a 401(k). By last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the numbers had more or less reversed—just 15 percent had a pension and 43 percent a 401(k). Bloomberg

A Conflicted Trump Has A New Goal: Stick To The Script
After months of flailing attempts, Donald J. Trump has begun to recast his political message in more structured terms and wrestle with his temptation to go off script, as his campaign seeks to revive his fading candidacy and turn the focus this fall to Hillary Clinton’s honesty and integrity. Working off a script from his reshuffled team of advisers, Mr. Trump is also drastically tempering his language about the signature issue of his campaign: immigration. After winning the Republican nomination on a promise to deport all 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, he indicated on Wednesday night that he was considering allowing some to stay if they had lived in the United States for many years, lacked criminal records and paid back taxes. NY Times

Donald Trump’s Description Of Black America Is Offending Those Living In It
Dogged by suggestions that he has been running a racist campaign, Mr. Trump has been expressing concern for African-Americans more in the past week than at any other point in his presidential run and making a direct appeal for their votes. “What do you have to lose?” he has asked. But the unrelievedly dire picture he has painted of black America has left many black voters angry, dumbfounded or both. Interviews with roughly a dozen blacks here turned up no one who found any appeal in Mr. Trump’s remarks. More common was the suggestion that Mr. Trump was trying to appeal to whites who might support him. NY Times

Quake Damages Scores Of Myanmar's Heritage Bagan Temples
It was a time of conquest and conversions. Above all, it was a time of construction, on a scale never seen before. Over 250 years, from the 11th century onwards, the rulers of Bagan built more than 10,000 magnificent religious monuments. The stupas, temples and monasteries became the defining emblems of Bagan, the capital of the Pagan (pronounced PUH'-gahn) empire that ruled Myanmar from roughly 1044 to 1287. On Wednesday, scores of the monuments — of which only about 2,200 remain — were damaged in a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake. Yet much of what fell was modern material, sanctioned by Myanmar's former army rulers who had put top priority on restoring the temples with little regard for the original architectural styles. King Anawratha, who unified the country formerly known as Burma, and his successors built the temples in a frenzy, believing they would gain spiritual merit. Still, piety didn't stop them from making war or killing to gain power. Houston Chronicle

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Italy Quake Adds To Renzi Challenges As Death Toll At Least 120
A powerful earthquake hit central Italy in the middle of the night, killing at least 120 people, in the latest challenge to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as he tries to speed up the country’s economy and overhaul its political system. The quake struck at 3:36 a.m. Wednesday, destroying small mountain towns in the regions of Lazio, Umbria and Marche and burying victims in the rubble of collapsed buildings, the Civil Protection agency said on Wednesday. The death toll continued to climb throughout the day as rescuers searched for survivors and bodies amid the debris. Bloomberg

Mormon Sensibilities In Nevada Bristle At The Thought Of Backing Trump
Mormons in Nevada want a reason to like Donald Trump. Or at least the Republican ones — who make up the overwhelming majority of the Mormon community here — do. Some are already all-in for Trump. But for others, a year of campaign-trail attacks on women, religions, and ethnic groups from what they see as a prideful, harsh-tongued, thrice-married businessman from New York has left many members of the Mormon community here in Nevada searching — earnestly, and somewhat desperately — for a reason to support him before November. In Nevada, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comprise a small but reliable voting bloc that has exercised outsize influence in Republican caucuses, turns out to the polls at higher rates than other demographic groups, and often mobilizes grassroots-style on behalf of conservative causes. Las Vegas Sun

Jackpot: Scientists Find Earth-Like Planet At Star Next Door
After scanning the vast reaches of the cosmos for Earth-like planets where life might exist, astronomers have found one right next door. A planet that is rocky like Earth and only slightly bigger has been discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri , the nearest star to our solar system, scientists reported Wednesday. It is probably in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold Goldilocks Zone where liquid water — a key to life — is possible, if the planet has an atmosphere. And it is a mere 4.22 light-years from Earth, or nearly 25 trillion miles. It is easily the closest potentially habitable planet ever detected outside our solar system — and one that could be reachable by tiny, unmanned space probes before the end of the century, in time for some people alive today to witness it. Las Vegas Sun

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News On Interest Rates, Brexit Expected At Fed Conference
The annual Federal Reserve economic policy symposium that starts Thursday in Jackson Hole, Wyo., offers an opportunity for Fed Chair Janet Yellen to signal her intentions on interest rates but also for economic experts from around the world to examine the impact of Brexit. "The Jackson Hole event has previously been a platform for the Federal Reserve to provide more clarity to the markets and warn about upcoming policy changes, something the market is currently in desperate need of," Craig Erlam, a market analyst for Canadian-based foreign exchange company OANDA, said in a Monday note. Participants will be looking to Yellen, who missed last year's symposium, to discuss the central bank's Sept. 14 decision on interest rates in her Friday speech. UPI

VA Bans Confederate Flags From National Cemetery Flagpoles
The Department of Veterans Affairs will no longer allow Confederate flag imagery to be flown on flagpoles at national cemeteries on Memorial Day or Confederate Memorial Day. The policy change follows debate in the House earlier this year over continued display of Confederate imagery on federal lands. It also further reduces the number of flag images that can be displayed on federal land after the National Park Service made similar policy changes last year. The Veterans Affairs decision comes a few months after an amendment barring the display of flag imagery in VA cemeteries was added to the House's fiscal 2017 Military Construction-VA spending bill (HR 4974), but later removed from the conference report (HR 2577) behind closed doors. UPI

Bold Moves, Tepid Gains: Have Central Banks Met Their Limit?
The world's key central banks have worked themselves into contortions to try to rev up economic growth, raise inflation and coax consumers and businesses to borrow and spend more. They've pumped trillions into financial systems and driven interest rates about as low as they can go — even below zero in Europe and Japan. Yet after several years, the results are ... meh. As central bankers meet this week at an annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the global landscape remains bleak. Growth is sluggish. Inflation barely registers. Businesses won't invest. And consumers remain mostly hunkered down eight years after a financial crisis that jolted central banks to take radical steps in the first place. Far from stepping up spending, many people and businesses have instead been saving money despite essentially zero interest. Economists warn that the easy-money policies are losing effectiveness over time — and might even make things worse. Houston Chronicle

French Burkini Bans Face Legal Challenge As Tension Mounts
France's highest administrative authority is studying whether local bans on full-body burkini swimsuits are legal, amid growing concerns in the country and abroad about police forcing Muslim women to disrobe. Images of uniformed police appearing to require a woman to take off her tunic, and media accounts of similar incidents, have elicited shock and anger online this week. Some fear that burkini bans in several French towns are worsening religious tensions. The bans, based on a strict application of secularism policies, have exposed division within the government. Prime Minister Manuel Valls told BFM television Thursday that burkinis represent "the enslavement of women" and reiterated his support for mayors who have banned them. Charlotte Observer

County Double Their Push For Local Candidates
After a quiet summer, the two major parties are boosting their San Diego ground game ahead of the Nov. 8 general election. Both local parties opened field offices in the last week, forming a network of outposts across the county where they can coordinate volunteers, phone supporters, and divvy up addresses as they head door-to-door to talk to voters. The parties are used to elections where voters show up to their precinct to support their favorite presidential candidate and participate in down-ballot races while they’re there. But as Labor Day weekend approaches, marking the unofficial start of the fall campaign, county Democrats and Republicans are working in a new dynamic where nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are polling at historically high unfavorable levels and might not have the luster to drive voter turnout. San Diego Union

Boko Haram Violence Sparks 'Children's Crisis,' UN Says
Boko Haram's seven-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than 2.6 million in Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad, where the extremists have extended attacks in recent years. An additional 2.2 million people, over half of them children, are feared to be trapped in areas under the control of Boko Haram, the U.N. said. The agency said it has received just 13 percent of the $308 million needed to help families affected by violence in the region. The countries surrounding Lake Chad are all contributing to a multinational force to combat Boko Haram, making recent gains against the insurgents who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group last year. Miami Herald

Trump, Aiming To Widen Support, Makes Pitch To Hispanics
Visiting a battleground state he can't afford to lose, Donald Trump promised Hispanics "a much better life" Wednesday in a Florida speech that continued his recent effort to soften his tone and broaden his support 11 weeks before the presidential election. And, in an interview, he suggested he would "work with" some of the immigrants in the United States illegally, stopping short of proposing a legal path to remaining in the country but suggesting a startling about-face from his previous hard-line mass deportation proposal. Yet the Republican presidential candidate also repeated his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out immigrants, underscoring the tricky balancing act he faces in retaining backing from conservatives while beckoning to moderates for their votes. SF Gate

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Netanyahu Admits He Can't Fire Bennet, Liberman Due To 'Israel's System Of Gov't'
Prime Minister Benjaminm Netanyahu on Wednesday said it would be "very difficult to fire" coalition partners due to "Israel's system of government" after addressing repeated criticisms from two top ministers concerning his handling of 2014's Operation Protective Edge, according to Channel 2. Netanyahu made the remarks at a press conference on Wednesday in response to repeated attacks over the last two years leveled by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, key allies in the ruling collation, saying that their dismissal would lead to a collapse in the current government. "With a system of government like ours, the government could fall," Netanyahu told members of the press, adding "This is not a presidential system, I can't fire them." Jerusalem Post

Victims Of Attacks In Israel Lose US Appeal Vs Lebanese Bank
A US court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by victims of Hezbollah rocket attacks in Israel who sought to hold Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL liable for financing Hezbollah through its New York account with American Express Bank. By a 3-0 vote, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said it lacked jurisdiction over the Lebanese bank because customary international law immunized corporations from liability from claims under the federal Alien Tort Statute (ATS). Jerusalem Post

Margaret Thatcher Held Secret Saudi Arms Talks, Archives Show
Margaret Thatcher held secret talks with Saudi rulers in 1985, leading up to the UK's largest arms deal, newly released official documents show. The then prime minister met King Fahd five months before the first instalment of the £40bn Al-Yamamah deal was agreed to sell Tornados and other aircraft. At the time, officials said the meeting focused on peace in the Middle East. But Foreign Office papers indicate the visit was actually intended to "smoke out" the Saudis over arms contracts.
Newly declassified documents from the mid-1980s give a fresh insight into the Thatcher government's immense efforts to sell British Tornados and other aircraft to Saudi Arabia. The Al-Yamamah arms deal, first agreed in September 1985, has been worth at least £40bn to defence giant BAE Systems and their partners, securing thousands of jobs. BBC

US Criticises EU Tax Probes Ahead Of Apple Ruling
The US Treasury Department has warned the European Commission about taking action against US companies over tax avoidance allegations. The commission is investigating tax deals granted to US companies for setting up headquarters in Europe. Next month the EU is expected to deliver its decision on Apple. The company could be hit with a multi-billion pound bill for unpaid taxes. The commission said there was "no bias against US companies" in the probes. In a report published on Wednesday, the US regulator said action by Brussels would make it into a "supra-national tax authority" overriding the tax codes of its member states. BBC

University Of Mississippi Bans Confederate 'Anthem' Dixie
Dixie, a song often considered to be the unofficial Confederate anthem, will no longer be played at the University of Mississippi – bucking a tradition of performing the song at university events. The school’s marching band, the Pride of the South, will no longer play the song or any variations at athletic events, Mississippi Today reported on Friday. “Because the Pride of the South is such a large part of our overall experience and tradition, the Athletics Department asked them to create a new and modern pregame show that does not include ‘Dixie’ and is more inclusive for all fans,” the school’s athletics department said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. Guardian

Mainstream Media Is Failing Audience By Colluding With Trump, Says Vice founder
Mainstream media companies have opened the door for digital upstarts because their obsession with ratings led them to fail their audiences by colluding with controversial politicians, according to the billionaire journalist behind the Vice website. Shane Smith, the site’s founder, said that traditional media companies have failed to connect with young audiences or cover the issues they were interested in, and even accused some of tacitly “colluding” with notorious politicians to drive ratings. “The secret or our success can be traced to the day we changed our content. The business grew and the audience exploded and we made more money,” he said, giving the annual MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh international TV festival. Guardian

WikiLeaks Exposing Data Of Sick Children And Abuse Victims, Investigation Finds
WikiLeaks has exposed sensitive data about innocent people, including rape victims and sick children, an investigation has found. The whistleblowing website has published medical files, names, addresses and credit card numbers of hundreds of people alongside huge releases of documents in the last year, the Associated Press found. The releases included exposing the names of two teenage rape victims and in one case, the identity of a Saudi man arrested for being gay, which has led to the death penalty in the Arab state. Telegraph

Japan Condemns 'Unforgivable' Act After North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile From Submarine
North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine early on Wednesday morning, with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, accusing Pyongyang of carrying out an "unforgivable act" that posed a threat to regional stability. The missile, fired shortly after 5:30 am local time from off the North Korean coastal city of Sinpo, flew a distance of around 500 km and entered Japan's air defence identification zone before falling into the Sea of Japan. "It is the first time that an SLBM has fallen inside Japan's air defence identification zone", Mr Abe told reporters in Tokyo. "It is a grave threat to Japan's security and an unforgivable threat to regional stability and peace". Telegraph

Rising Youth Unemployment And High Number Of ‘Working Poor’ Threaten Global Goal To End Poverty
With global youth unemployment expected to rise in 2016 for the first time in three years and the equally disturbing high levels of young people who work but still live in poverty, the United Nations labour agency today called for greater efforts to achieve sustainable economic growth and decent work. Releasing its World Employment and Social Outlook 2016: Trends for Youth, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that the global youth unemployment rate is expected to reach 13.1 per cent in 2016 and remain at that level through to 2017 (up from 12.9 per cent in 2015). As a result, the number of unemployed youth is set to rise by half a million this year to reach 71 million – the first such increase in three years. UN News

UN Chief Submits Report Related To Use Of Chemical Weapons In Syria To The Security Council
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today submitted a joint UN-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) report to the Security Council outlining in-depth investigation into, as well as the findings, assessments and conclusions of, nine selected cases related to incidents involving the use of chemicals weapons in Syria. According to a statement issued today by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, the UN chief is looking forward to the Council’s consideration of the report. The report will be available publicly shortly thereafter, the statement added. The methods of work and the investigation of the specific cases are described in the report’s annexes. UN News

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