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NEWS     TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2014     NEWS

US Often Powerless When Terror Groups, Rogue Regimes Hold Americans
Judy Gross lives just minutes away from the corridors of power in the mightiest nation in the world, but her husband is in a jail cell some 1,200 miles away and no one seems able to help. Alan Gross, who was working for a U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor as part of a U.S. government plan to increase Internet access in Cuba, was arrested in December 2009. The 65-year-old was convicted of spying and sentenced to 15 years in prison,  and although he was on a U.S.-sanctioned mission, the State Department is unable -- or as Judy Gross charges, unwilling -- to win his freedom. Fox News

Government Agencies Not Securing Your Data, Or Your Kids'
You might think that your government is vigilant when it comes to securing your personal information, or that of your children. You would be wrong. Hackers have discovered one of the biggest potential security holes of the modern era, one that can leave data exposed to any hacker willing to find it. And in at least one instance, that vulnerability has resulted in a data breach impacting almost three dozen children and their families. "We estimated over 100,000 identities could have been compromised at this point," said hacker Bryan Seely, a tech expert who told his story to CNN in an interview that will air on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" on Monday. CNN

Rubio: Obama Has 'Authority As Commander-In-Chief’ To Order Military Action In Syria, Iraq
In a recent interview with National Public Radio , Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he believes President Barack Obama has the “authority” to take military action in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or Levant (ISIL) without congressional approval. At the conclusion of the interview on Sept. 11, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep said he wanted to ask the senator two questions. “Number one, does the president already have, as he says, the authorization that he needs to order air strikes in Syria? And number two, will Congress be able to support anything he asked for as far as supporting Syrian rebels?” Inskeep asked. CNS News

A Minimum-Wage Hike Finds Hope In U.S. Heartland
President Barack Obama's push to raise the minimum wage, which has largely found success in liberal-leaning coastal states to date, could make headway in the conservative heartland in the November elections. Voters in the Republican-controlled states of Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota will consider ballot initiatives in November that would raise the minimum wage above the national rate of $7.25 per hour. Activists on both sides of the issue say the proposals stand a good chance of passing. Reuters

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Pope’s Marriage Celebrations Hint At Coming Changes For Church
The Holy Father presided over the wedding of 20 couples Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica. From a distance, the group seemed fairly typical: the couples ranged from ages 25 to 56 and were all from the Diocese of Rome. But the underlying storyline is far more telling: one bride was already a mother, some of the couples had already been living together, and others had previously been married. Popes rarely preside over public marriage ceremonies, but when they do, they tend to be linked to moments when the Church is trying to make a bigger point about the place of the family in society. Pope John Paul II performed the last public marriage ceremony in 2000 as part of the Jubilee for Families, an event that focused thematically on the gift of children and the harm of abortion. Before that, in 1994, he presided over a public wedding ceremony for the International Year of the Family, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. MSNBC

Pelosi Is Furious: ‘We Never Treated President Bush The Way They Treat President Obama’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said comparing Republican treatment of President Obama to how Democrats handled President George W. Bush is a false equivalence and that Democrats don’t bear culpability for the comparatively fewer number of bills being passed by Congress and signed into law. “Let me just say that any of this equivalence, both sides, this or that, no — we never treated President Bush the way they treat President Obama,” she said Monday on MSNBC. “It’s no use whining about it; we just have to get people out to vote” and make people aware there’s an election this year. Washington Times

This Fall Could Be A Season Of Dropping Stocks
After an easy, breezy summer, September's reputation as a historically difficult month is threatening some excitement as we head toward October. The Dow Jones industrials index lost the 17,000 level on Friday after repeatedly testing that threshold over the last four weeks. The S&P 500 spent another day below the 2,000 level. And the Russell 2000 small-cap index fell into negative territory for the year-to-date. The pressure continued on Monday as the Russell 2000 dropped back below its 200-day and 50-day moving averages, indicating a medium-term downtrend. The evidence is building that additional losses are likely in the weeks to come. CBS

Respiratory Virus, Enterovirus D68, Likely Infected Thousands But Just Tip Of Iceberg
The respiratory virus that’s been sweeping the nation and sending asthmatic children to the hospital may have only been officially reported in 97 children, but experts say that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Claudia Hoyen said the virus, called enterovirus D68, probably affected thousands of children -- and that’s just in Cleveland, where she works. The virus has been reported in 21 states, according to state health departments. At UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, about 20 children normally go to the intensive care unit each month with respiratory symptoms, said Hoyen, who heads the hospital’s pediatric infection control program. But for the last two months, the hospital’s intensive care unit has treated 80 children per month, she said. ABC

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Politics A Family Business For Many U.S.Candidate This Year
Fighting for his political survival in a race that could swing majority control of the U.S. Senate, Arkansas Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor is leaning on a political asset no amount of campaign money can buy. His dad. David Pryor, the popular former Arkansas governor and senator, is meeting with voters across the state and has appeared in a campaign ad, touting a family brand his son hopes will lure voters in a state President Barack Obama lost by 24 points in 2012. "This is a state that should have two Republican senators given its inherent conservatism and the presidential politics," said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. But "Arkansas has really liked sending Pryors to the Senate." Reuters

US 'Communicating' With Adversaries Against ISIS But Not 'Coordinating'
Secretary of State John Kerry made clear during a roundtable with reporters in Paris that the US is open to communicating with both Iran and Syria on their shared concerns regarding the ISIS extremist group, although he insisted it’s not “coordinating” with either of them. But the administration does not appear to have a clear answer for when communicating ends and coordinating begins. Kerry said that the US isn’t planning military action with Iran, but he left the door open to other types of synchronization between the two countries. “We’re not coordinating with Iran, but as I said, we’re open to have a conversation at some point in time if there’s a way to find something constructive,” he said. ABC

Nasdaq Drops to 1-Month Low As Internet Shares Tumble
Internet stocks and small-cap shares tumbled, sending the Nasdaq Composite Index near a one-month low, as investors sold some of the bull market’s best performing shares. Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) fell 9.1 percent after a Morgan Stanley analyst said gains in the shares may slow. Facebook Inc., TripAdvisor Inc. and Twitter Inc. lost at least 3.5 percent. All 41 stocks in the Dow Jones Internet Composite Index dropped, with the gauge sliding 2.3 percent, the biggest retreat since July. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was little changed, helped by a rally in Molson Coors Brewing Co. on takeover speculation. “A lot of these companies have had good runs and this is part of a healthy correction,” Mike Balkin, portfolio manager of the $535 million William Blair Small Cap Growth Fund (WBSNX), said by phone from Chicago. Bloomberg

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At Least 19 Deaths Tied To Flawed GM Cars
Ken Feinberg, the attorney overseeing a compensation fund for victims of GM cars, has so far linked 19 deaths to a serious flaw with the automaker's ignition switches.
That's more than the 13 deaths General Motors (GM) has said were tied to the problem, which went unreported for a decade, years after company engineers discovered it. Overall, Feinberg has received 125 claims for deaths and 320 for injuries in the five weeks he has been up and running. Of those, he has found 31 eligible for compensation. Most of the remainder are still under review. Feinberg said he has denied fewer than a dozen claims. CNN

Kerry: 'We're Not Looking To Put Troops On The Ground...At This Moment, Anyway'
Asked if the United States has found any country "that is willing to put troops on the ground" in Syria and Iraq, Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, "Well, we're not looking to put boots on the ground. There are some who have offered to do so. But we are not looking for that, at this moment, anyway." President Obama has said the effort to defeat ISIS/ISIL in Iraq and Syria will not involve American "boots on the ground." Obama says other countries must step up. Schieffer asked Kerry, "Do you really think you can destroy ISIL without troops on the ground? I mean, how does that work?" "Bob, there are troops on the ground that don't belong to us. They're called Syrian," Kerry responded. CNS News

Republicans’ Syria-Rebel Aid Plan Includes Controls
House Republicans proposed granting President Barack Obama’s request to arm and equip Syrian rebels while also requiring controls including progress reports to Congress. The provision was offered today as an amendment to a must-pass bill to fund the U.S. government through Dec. 11. The approach is intended to win the support of lawmakers in both parties who want a separate vote on the Syria aid. The House will begin debate tomorrow on the spending bill, H.J.Res. 124, and plans to vote on it the following day, said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican. Bloomberg

US: NKorea Uses Detainees As Political Pawns
The U.S. says North Korea is using detained American citizens as political pawns, after a 24-year-old Californian man was sentenced to six years of hard labor there.
Matthew Miller, of Bakersfield, was convicted Sunday of entering the country illegally to commit espionage. The court said he tore up his visa on arriving in Pyongyang (pyuhng-yahng) April 10 and had wanted to experience prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea's human rights situation. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Monday that the U.S. disagreed with the sentencing. She said Miller and two other Americans should be released and returned home. Las Vegas Sun

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Ex-official Claims Clinton Allies Scrubbed Benghazi Documents In Secret Session
A former State Department official has told lawmakers that Hillary Clinton allies privately removed politically damaging documents before turning over files to the supposedly independent board investigating the Benghazi terror attack. The account from Raymond Maxwell, former head of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), was first published in The Daily Signal. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, confirmed to FoxNews.com on Monday that Maxwell told him and other lawmakers the same story when they privately interviewed him last year about the attacks and their aftermath. Chaffetz said that Maxwell claimed Clinton's chief of staff and deputy chief of staff were overseeing the document operation, which allegedly took place on a weekend in a basement office of the State Department. Fox News

US Creating Programs To Counter Extremists
The Justice Department is launching a series of pilot programs in cities around the country to deal with American extremists intent on joining the fighting in countries like Syria and Iraq, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday. The programs are designed in part to detect American extremists who are looking to join terror organizations, including the Islamic State militant group, and will bring together religious leaders, prosecutors and community representatives. "Today, few threats are more urgent than the threat posed by violent extremism. And with the emergence of groups like ISIL, and the knowledge that some Americans are attempting to travel to countries like Syria and Iraq to take part in ongoing conflicts, the Justice Department is responding appropriately," Holder said in a video message Monday, using an acronym for the Islamic State group. Las Vegas Sun

U.S. Prepares Major Offensive Against Ebola
The United States will enlarge efforts to control West Africa's outbreak of the Ebola virus, which has killed over 2,400 people thus far. President Barack Obama will visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta Tuesday to announce a plan for increased U.S. efforts, which could include the involvement of the U.S. military. The president is expected to ask Congress to approve his request for an additional $88 million to fund them. "There's a lot that we've been putting toward this, but it is not sufficient," Lisa Monaco, White House counter-terrorism adviser, said, "So the president has directed a more scaled-up response and that's what you're going to hear more about on Tuesday." Obama also plans to seek international commitments of funding, materials and health workers when he attends the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations next week. UPI

U.S. Troops In Ukraine For Military Exercises
About 1,300 troops from 15 NATO countries, including about 200 U.S. troops, are in Ukraine to participate in a military exercise. The 10-day exercise, called Rapid Trident, also involves an unspecified number of Ukrainian troops, and begins Tuesday in Lviv, near Ukraine's border with Poland and about 600 miles from Donetsk, where pro-Russian separatists are engaged in fighting the Ukrainian army. The activity was planned for July, but postponed because of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Rapid Trident is a peacekeeping exercise with convoy operations, patrolling and dealing with improvised explosive devices. Live ammunition will not be used, said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren. UPI

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Ray Rice Isn't Alone: 1 in 5 Men Admits Hitting Wives, Girlfriends
Close to one in five men admits he has hit, slapped, kicked or otherwise attacked a wife or girlfriend, researchers say. It’s a rare look at domestic violence not from the point of view of the victim, but from the aggressor’s side. The data is a decade old but it comes from face-to-face interviews with men and might suggest the true number of men who have physically abused intimate partners is even higher, the University of Michigan researchers say. And it’s of great interest after the release of video in which football player Ray Rice punches his wife, who was his fiancée at the time, in an elevator. MSNBC

Online Ammo Retailers Targeted In Lawsuit By Anti-Gun Violence Group
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is filing a lawsuit against online retailers that allegedly sold ammunition to James Holmes, the suspect accused of the Aurora theater killings. “The lawsuit alleges that the websites negligently supplied Holmes with the arsenal he used to kill 12 people and wound at least 58 others by failing to use any screening mechanism to determine his identity or intent for the products,” the Brady Center said in a media release, Fox-affiliated KDVR reported. Washington Times

Obama Awards Medals Of Honor To Soldiers Who Served In Vietnam
President Obama on Monday awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration, to two soldiers who served in Vietnam, including one who was killed in action. Army Specialist Four Donald Sloat was killed in action at age 20 while conducting a patrol in Vietnam. On Jan. 17, 1969, a soldier triggered a hand grenade trap placed in his squad's path. He picked up the grenade to throw it away, but realizing the detonation was imminent, he shielded the blast with his own body and is credited saving the lives of three soldiers. Sloat's brother, William Sloat of Enid, Oklahoma, accepted the medal on his behalf. CBS

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Without Iran, World Leaders Tackle ISIS
Thirty nations sent delegates to Paris on Monday to discuss military coordination against Islamic State, but Iranians were not among them. Those in attendance, including China, Russia, and the Arab League, agreed that “urgent” military action is required against the terrorist organization in northern Iraq. But no agreement was reached on how to claw back territory from Islamic State held in eastern Syria, where the United States has vowed to deny the group safe haven. The first mission, said Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is to retake Mosul, the country’s second largest city. Jerusalem Post

Israeli Arabs Overwhelmingly Deny Support For Islamic State
Israel officially outlawed the Islamic State earlier this month and in numerous conversations with The Jerusalem Post, Israeli-Arabs overwhelmingly rejected the notion that any more than a few individuals support the terrorist group. Over the last few weeks, the Israeli media has reported about Israeli Arab individuals who have left to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and about the appearance of the group’s flag in public, but there appears to be no phenomenon within Arab society supporting the al-Qaida offshoot. Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center – The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, told the Post in an interview on Monday that “Israeli Arabs are against the Islamic State” and that Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch in Israel, spoke out against the group. Jerusalem Post

Islamic State Talks: Iraq 'Regrets' Iran Absence
Iraq's foreign minister has criticised the decision not to invite neighbouring Iran to an international summit on the threat from Islamic State militants. Ibrahim al-Jaafari said the decision was "regrettable". Thirty countries pledged to join a US-led coalition against IS in Paris. The US denied a claim by the Iranian supreme leader that it had asked Iran for its military co-operation in the fight against IS, and said it would not co-operate with either Iran or Syria. BBC

Brain May 'Compensate' For Alzheimer's Damage
The human brain may be able to compensate for some of the early changes seen in Alzheimer's disease, research in Nature Neuroscience shows. The study suggests some people recruit extra nerve power to help maintain their ability to think. Scientists hope the findings could shed light on why only some people with early signs of the condition go on to develop severe memory decline.  But experts warn much more research is needed to understand these processes. The study, led by researchers at the University of California, involved 71 adults with no signs of mental decline. BBC

David Cameron Makes Emotional Plea To Scotland As Independence Vote Looms
David Cameron has spelled out to the people of Scotland the stark costs of a "painful divorce" from the rest of the United Kingdom as a poll showed nearly two-thirds of voters in England objected to the idea of sharing the pound. In an emotional but at times hard-edged speech on his last visit to Scotland before the independence referendum, the prime minister warned that a yes vote on Thursday would end the UK "for good, for ever" and would deprive the Scottish people of a shared currency and pooled pension arrangements. A Guardian/ICM poll shows that 63% of voters in England and Wales objected to the post-independence currency union sought by Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister. Most people in Scotland, previous polls have shown, want a deal on sterling. Guardian

Google: US Government Demands For User Data Have Risen 250% Since 2009
Government demands for information on Google’s users have risen 150% since the tech giant first started publishing their numbers, the company said on Monday. In the US the number of requests leapt 250%. According to Google’s latest transparency report, in the first half of 2014, the number of government demands rose 15% compared to the second half of last year, and a 150% increase since Google first began publishing this data in 2009. In the US those increases are 19% and 250% respectively. Guardian

Army’s New Laser Cannon Blasts Drones Out Of The Sky, Even In Fog
Boeing is building a laser cannon for the U.S. Army, and the new weapon has now proved it will be as capable at sea as on land. The High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD)—basically a high-energy laser mounted on top of a big truck—was successfully used to blast some UAV drones and 60mm mortars out of the Florida sky earlier this year, Boeing announced Thursday. This test was done in a windy and foggy environment, an essential step to proving the technology is useful for naval deployment. The HEL MD used a 10-kilowatt laser—a much less powerful version of what it will eventually fire—to “successfully engage” more than 150 targets at Eglin Air Force Base, a Department of Defense weapons testing facility on the Florida Panhandle. In other words, it disabled or destroyed them. Wired

Minecraft Creator Explains Controversial $2.5 Billion Sale To Microsoft
Markus “Notch” Persson has a message for Minecraft fans. “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.” On Monday morning, tech giant Microsoft announced that it has acquired Persson’s indie gaming company, Mojang, maker of Minecraft, the hit game that lets you build your own virtual worlds, and Persson took to his blog to explain his part in this highly contentious move. Rumors of such a deal first emerged last week, leaving many of Minecraft’s loyal fans wondering why Persson, who has been a vocal critic of Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR, would sell to a corporate giant like Microsoft. Basically, Persson is tired. Since it launched in 2009, Persson said on his blog, Minecraft’s explosive growth and the public spotlight that came with it had become overwhelming. Wired

Record Number Of Women Makes History At UN Security Council
The United Nations Security Council has long been a bastion for men selected to represent their countries on what many consider to be the Organization’s most powerful body. But now, women ambassadors are filling over a third of the Council’s 15 seats, making history at the venerable institution and sending out a strong message about women’s empowerment. “It’s a little strange that it’s taken us this long,” said Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg. “I think that it is important to have women representing their countries in the organ of the United Nations which is dealing with international peace and security.” UN News

UN Refugee Chief, Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, Warn Of Mounting Crisis In Mediterranean
Urging European countries to take action to alleviate the harsh and often deadly conditions migrants face on the high seas, the head of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie today warned about the mounting crisis in the Mediterranean. “We all need to wake up to the scale of this crisis,” stressed Ms. Jolie, a UNHCR Special Envoy, during a visit on Sunday to the naval rescue headquarters in Malta. “There is a direct link between the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere and the rise in deaths at sea in the Mediterranean. We have to understand what drives people to take the fearful step of risking their children's lives on crowded, unsafe vessels; it is the overwhelming desire to find refuge.” UN News

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