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Warns U.S. Surveillance Plane
The Chinese navy issued warnings eight times as a U.S. surveillance plane on Wednesday swooped over islands that Beijing is using to extend its zone of influence. The series of man-made islands and the massive Chinese military build-up on them have alarmed the Pentagon, which is carrying out the surveillance flights in order to make clear the U.S. does not recognize China's territorial claims. The militarized islands have also alarmed America's regional allies. Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told CNN's Erin Burnett Wednesday night that the confrontation indicates there is "absolutely" a risk of the U.S. and China going to war sometime in the future. CNN
VOA VIEW: All under Obama's weak watch - China is doing what Russia has done.
Trade Agenda Clears Key Senate Hurdle
President Obama's trade agenda cleared a key Senate hurdle and advanced toward likely passage on Thursday despite opposition from most Democrats. The 62-38 vote capped a long, tense roll call on a measure that would allow Obama to negotiate trade deals that Congress can accept or reject, but not change. If opponents had garnered three more votes, they would have been able to block the legislation with a procedural move. With Republicans generally in favor of the measure, the pivotal votes came from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and a handful of others who support the trade measure. They used the showdown as leverage for a commitment that the Senate would act next month on legislation to keep the Export-Import Bank in existence. The government-backed bank guarantees loans for overseas sales by U.S. companies. Fox News
Michael Brown Memorial Installed In Ferguson
A plaque and metallic likeness of a dove have been installed in Michael Brown's memory near the spot where the unarmed, black 18-year-old was shot and killed last summer by a white Ferguson police officer. Crews installed the plaque and dove Thursday hundreds of feet apart on a sidewalk in Ferguson, Missouri, one day after the mid-street memorial for Brown was cleared. Wednesday would have been Brown's 19th birthday. The makeshift memorial had cropped up within hours of Brown's death and became what many saw as a symbol of a new civil rights movement over race and policing. Brown's death touched off protests and a "Black Lives Matter" movement that gained momentum with subsequent police killings of unarmed black men in other U.S. cities. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: Pitiful!
Hadron Collider Smashes Protons, Energy Record
The Large Hadron Collidor has broken energy records by colliding protons at 13 trillion electron volts, or TeV, nearly double the energy of its first beam after being turned back on in April for the first time in two years. The collisions are part of testing that scientists at CERN are doing before the declare "stable beams" in June and begin recording measurements as part of the physics experiments conducted using the LHC. No collisions had been conducted since 2013, as maintenance and upgrades were made to prepare for this upcoming round of experiments. Testing will ensure magnets and detectors will be properly protected by collimators which absorb stray particles during collisions. UPI
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Would ‘Relish’ Opportunity To Visit Cuba
U.S. and Cuban negotiators talked for several hours on Thursday before deciding to continue the talks Friday, perhaps an indication that the two sides are nearing the finish line on renewing diplomatic relations and opening embassies. In its Twitter feed, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said that advances had been made, and almost a dozen journalists from major media in Cuba were in Washington to cover the talks, another indication that expectations were high. The Cuban journalists attended the White House daily briefing on Thursday, and a reporter from Cuban National Television asked about the possibility of seeing President Barack Obama in Havana before 2016. Miami Herald
Split From Wolves Earlier Than Thought, DNA Shows
A new analysis of ancient wolf DNA has shed light on the murky early history of man’s best friend, suggesting that dogs split from wolves as many as 27,000 to 40,000 years ago — not 11,000 to 16,000 years ago, as earlier genome research had proposed. “Dogs may have been domesticated much earlier than is generally believed,” Love Dalen, a researcher at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm and co-author of a study describing the discovery in the journal Current Biology, said in a statement. Dalen, first author Pontus Skoglund of the Harvard Medical School and their colleagues came to their conclusion after sequencing the DNA of a male wolf that lived on Siberia’s Taimyr Peninsula. SF Gate
Congressman: ‘Someday, There Might be More People Here Illegally Than Legally’
Rep. Jared Polis (D.-Colo.) took to the House floor yesterday and called for “celebrating” President Barack Obama’s unilateral actions allowing illegal aliens to stay in the United States and also to decry that none of the bills being brought up in the House that day were about immigration reform. Polis said that without immigration reform, America should expect more illegal aliens. “Someday,” he said, “there might be more people here illegally than there are here legally.” CNS News
VOA VIEW: A very serious problem.
Boy Scouts President Says Ban On Gay Leaders Cannot Stay
Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates said on Thursday the group's ban on adult gay leaders cannot be sustained, a move that could open the door to ending the policy that has caused rifts in the 105-year-old organization. Gates said at a national meeting of the group in Atlanta he does not plan to revoke the charter of Boy Scout councils that allow gay leaders, according to a text of the speech. "We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained," said Gates, who as U.S. secretary of defense helped end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that barred openly gay individuals from serving in the military. Rueters
Storms To Threaten Central US Over Memorial Day Weekend
It's that time of year again. Time to dust off the barbecue and replace coats with bathing suits. Memorial Day weekend is finally here, the unofficial start of summer.
Warm sunshine is expected on both coasts, which is great news for the beaches, but that isn't the case for the plain states, the Midwest and central parts of the country.
The East Coast will see temperatures climb throughout the weekend from Florida to New Jersey. By Monday, some spots could reach the mid- to upper-80s in the Mid-Atlantic states. New England will be a bit milder, with highs topping out in the 60s and 70s. Dry weather is on tap for much of the coast, with a bright mix of sun and clouds -- great beach weather. ABC
Jury Indicts Baltimore Police In Death Of Freddie Gray
A grand jury has brought charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered while in police custody, Baltimore City State Attorney Marilyn Mosby told a news conference on Thursday. Gray's death on April 19 set off weeks of largely peaceful protests in Baltimore punctuated by a day of rioting and arson after his funeral on April 27, when rioters threw rocks at police and set buildings and cars on fire.The grand jury's findings, including one count of second-degree depraved heart murder against officer Caesar Goodson Jr., were largely in line with the charges that Mosby announced early this month. The officers will be arraigned on July 2. Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Wrongfully expected.
Set To Strengthen Federal Role In Clean Water Regulation
The Obama administration is expected in the coming days to announce a major clean water regulation that would restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. Environmentalists have praised the new rule, calling it an important step that would lead to significantly cleaner natural bodies of water and healthier drinking water. But it has attracted fierce opposition from several business interests, including farmers, property developers, fertilizer and pesticide makers, oil and gas producers and a national association of golf course owners. Opponents contend that the rule would stifle economic growth and intrude on property owners’ rights. NY Times
Set To Defy Catholic History With Gay Marriage Vote
Prime Minister Enda Kenny is urging Ireland’s voters to support the legalization of gay marriage in a referendum that pits the power of the Catholic Church against his secular-minded government. Speaking on the eve of Friday’s nationwide vote, Kenny said Ireland could “create history” by becoming the first nation to cast a popular vote for gay marriage. Kenny said voters’ approval of a constitutional amendment to legalize gay marriage would represent an Irish civil rights breakthrough “that for generations gay people could never imagine.” “The ‘yes’ will obliterate, publicly, the remaining barriers of prejudice or the irrational fear of the ‘them' and ‘us’ in this regard,” said Kenny, a devout Catholic who nonetheless during his four years in power has pushed to reduce the church’s influence on policy and state services. Charlotte Observer
California Oil Spill's Cause Could Take Months
The operator of a broken oil pipeline that fouled a California shoreline says it could be weeks or even months before investigators are able to determine what caused the break and subsequent spill. Crews have yet to excavate the broken piece of pipeline, which under the law must be done in the presence of federal regulators and a third party, officials with Plains All American Pipeline LP said at a Thursday night news conference at the Santa Barbara County beach where the spill occurred two days earlier. "We have not even uncovered the pipe yet," said Patrick Hodgins, senior director of safety for Plains All American. The company would not yet say whether two malfunctions that occurred shortly before the spill was discovered were part of the cause. San Diego Union
President: Lack Of 'Justice' Fueling Extremism
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has led a massive crackdown on Islamists, says the fight against extremism in the region must go hand-in-hand with pursuing greater "freedom, equality and justice." El-Sissi spoke Friday at a regional World Economic Forum conference in Jordan. He says extremism increases because of "desperation, regression of values of justice." Egypt has waged a sweeping crackdown against Islamists since el-Sissi, then the army chief, led the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013 amid massive protests demanding the president's removal. Since then Egyptian security forces have killed hundreds of Islamists in street clashes and jailed thousands. Egyptian courts have handed down a series of mass death sentences that have been condemned by rights groups. Kansas City Star
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Drought Is Making Spring Allergy Season Worse
Millions of Americans are suffering through a miserable allergy season, and on the West Coast, the ongoing drought is making things even worse. Los Angeles native Lesley Holmes says she's been having more trouble than usual with her chronic allergies to pollen, pets and pollution. Her symptoms improve when she travels, but then return with a vengeance when she gets back home. "This year, it's been a lot worse, to where it's really affecting my daily life," she told CBS News. "It's stressful, you know, because you're like, 'I can't breathe. What am I going to do?'" CBS
One Thing Hillary Clinton Left Off Her LinkedIn Resume
Like so many job seekers, Hillary Clinton, has posted her resume to LinkedIn, the social media site that helps professionals connect and find work. She included her education (Wellesley College and Yale Law School), the books she’s published, as well as a long list of the various positions she's held throughout her career -- going all the way back to her days as a staff lawyer for the Child Defense Fund and an attorney for Rose Law Firm in Arkansas during 1970’s. She even lists her current position: “2016 Presidential Candidate.” But there's at least one thing missing from Clinton's extensive resume: Her first -- and failed -- attempt at the same job she’s seeking now. ABC
Stocks Advance Amid Mixed Economic Data, Earnings Results
U.S. stocks advanced, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index topping its record, amid better-than-forecast results from Salesforce.com Inc. and Best Buy Co. while gauges on the strength of economic growth were mixed. Best Buy and Salesforce surged at least 3.7 percent. Energy shares rallied with oil and Transocean Ltd. gained after reaching a settlement from BP Plc on issues related to the 2010 disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. CVS Health Corp. added 2.4 percent after saying it will acquire the nursing-home pharmacy Omnicare Inc. NetApp Inc. tumbled 12 percent after forecasting sales that missed analysts’ projections. Bloomberg
Says His Israeli Support On Par With Black Civil Rights
President Obama, on a campaign to repair relations with Jewish voters, says his support for Israel is as unbending as his support of civil rights for black Americans. In a interview with the Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg published Thursday, Obama linked Israel’s right to exist and the fight for civil rights, something he frequently evokes as a great American struggle. “There’s a direct line between supporting the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland and to feel safe and free of discrimination and persecution, and the right of African Americans to vote and have equal protection under the law,” Obama said. NY Post
VOA VIEW: Blacks have equal protection under the law and more.
Talks With Cuba Are Extended
Despite a wave of optimism, US and Cuban negotiators meeting in Washington on Thursday could not reach an accord on reestablishing long-fractured diplomatic ties but agreed to keep talking Friday. Representatives from both nations met all day at the State Department to resolve a checklist of issues before they could elevate their current diplomatic outposts known as “interests sections” into full-fledged embassies and exchange ambassadors for the first time in more than half a century. US and Cuban officials would not discuss the talks, but a State Department notice suggested officials would speak to reporters after Friday’s round. In recent days, diplomats on both sides had said they believed an agreement was near, while noting they still had issues to resolve. Boston Globe
Readies Air Patrols In Search For Rohingya Boat People
Attention turned Friday to the seas off Southeast Asia's west coast as naval vessels from Myanmar and Malaysia searched for stranded boat people and the U.S. military prepared air patrols to step up its involvement. Thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar and economic migrants from Bangladesh are believed to be trapped on crowded boats with little food or water — some after being pushed back by the navies of at least three countries — and the international community has warned that time to save them is running out. In the first official rescue operation since migrants started washing onto Southeast Asian shores earlier this month, four Malaysian navy ships searched the country's territorial waters for the boats. Navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar said three helicopters and three other ships were on standby. Houston Chronicle
Won’t Identify Felons Released In Georgia And Across The Nation
The government routinely releases people from immigration detention centers in Georgia and across the nation after unsuccessfully seeking to deport them. The reason: Their native countries won’t accept them back. Many have criminal convictions, ranging from minor drug offenses to violent crimes, including robbery, rape and murder. Their names, convictions and even their photos are a matter of public record in local courts and jails. But U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement won’t identify them, citing privacy reasons. ICE also does not automatically notify all victims and local law enforcement authorities before letting them go under orders that they remain in contact with the federal agency. Atlanta Journal
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Crisis Threat Does Little To Scare Bond Buyers
To hear regulators tell it, traders should be up at night worrying about a crisis in emerging-market debt. A sharp increase in U.S. interest rates could threaten financial conditions in developing economies, Federal Reserve members said in meeting minutes released Wednesday. The Financial Stability Oversight Council echoed this warning in a report released this week that said “a rise in yields in advanced economies could spark a sell-off in emerging-market bonds and destabilize markets.”
Traders aren’t listening, or else they’re not buying the argument. Instead, they’re buying debt, reaping returns of 9.2 percent this year on dollar-denominated junk bonds sold by emerging-market companies, more than twice the returns during the same period in 2014, according to a Bloomberg index. Bloomberg
Says He Deserves Media Apology Over Bridge Scandal
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he deserves an apology from the media over coverage of the George Washington Bridge scandal. The potential Republican presidential contender told CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that he's been held to a higher standard than Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. He said the politically motivated lane closures near the bridge received far more coverage than Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Three of Christie's former aides have been charged in the scheme. Christie has long denied he knew about it and no evidence has emerged to suggest he did. Las Vegas Sun
Childhood Vaccine Reduces Leukemia Risk
The Haemophilus influenzae Type b, or Hib, vaccine helps prevent the most common type of childhood cancer, in addition to its primary mission of preventing ear infections and meningitis that are caused by the Hib bacterium, according to a new study. Researchers now believe the vaccine prevents acute lymphoblastic leukemia because Hib infections can increase immune system reactions that turn relatively common "pre-leukemia" blood cells into cancer cells. This is prevented because the infections don't happen once all four doses of the vaccine have been administered to children. UPI
Emails Show Clinton's Correspondence With Adviser
Longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal had been blocked from working for Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department by skeptical White House officials. But that didn't cut his direct line to Clinton on one of the most sensitive matters of her tenure at the agency. During Clinton's years at the State Department, Blumenthal offered a flood of intelligence and advice to his former boss, sending near monthly missives about the growing unrest in Libya to the personal email account she continued to use as a government employee. The correspondence, which covered everything from warring Middle Eastern factions to political strategy, was absorbed by Clinton, who often forwarded the messages to aides with the instruction "pls print." Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: Where are the incriminating emails?
Quake Hits Napa Valley
A 4.1 magnitude earthquake struck in California's Napa Valley Thursday night, the U.S. Geological Survey confirms. The temblor struck about 9 miles north of Napa, about 14 miles northeast of Sonoma and about 42 miles west-southwest of Sacramento, the state capital, according to the agency. The closest city to where the quake struck is Yountville, about six miles away. The staff at Bistro Jeanty said the quake did not affect them too drastically. "Nothing more than just broken lassware really," maitre d Devon Smith said. "We're pretty ready and set for it here and everything that would move is held down by earthquake putty." Last August, a 6.0- magnitude temblor struck the area, known for wines and wineries. About 300 people suffered injuries and more than 1,000 buildings suffered damage in that quake. USA Today
Claim That It Takes Longer To Start A Business In The U.S. Than In Canada
“It should not take longer to start a business in America than it does in Canada or France. But that is the fact.” — Hillary Clinton, during a small business discussion, Cedar Falls, Iowa, May 19, 2015. Our antenna always goes up when a politician asserts a “fact.” Clinton made this remark in the midst of a discussion about the “perfect storm of crisis” that she said small businesses face in the United States. She made a similar point in an article she posted on LinkedIn on May 21, but with an additional country added: “It should not take longer to start a business in the U.S. than it does in Canada, Korea, or France.” This statement poses a fact-checking conundrum because, as the Clinton campaign hastened to point out, it is accurately drawn from a database at the World Bank. Washington Post
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Grapples With Ground Troops In Iraq
Pressing to send a new wave of U.S. combat troops into Iraq would have amounted to political suicide for White House hopefuls just a few years ago. But the shocking advances of ISIS over the past year -- from the gruesome beheadings of Americans to the group's success in conquering key Iraqi cities like Ramadi -- are creating a new uncertainty about whether the U.S. should re-engage in Iraq, thrusting the issue to the fore of the 2016 presidential race. The fear and alarm many Americans are feeling about ISIS is altering the political calculus for would-be GOP candidates, making a once perilous position on sending in ground troops more palatable, particularly among younger voters. CNN
Identity Theft Facts That Will Terrify You
Identity theft was the number one consumer complaint at the Federal Trade Commission last year. So far in 2015, the data breach problem that drives so many identity-related crimes has gotten worse. The massive compromises at Anthem and Premera alone put a combined 91 million records in harm's way. With more information "out there" than we can possibly know, identity theft has become the third certainty in life, right behind death and taxes. And because so many major compromises include Social Security numbers -- the skeleton key to not only your financial life, but also your health care and many other aspects of daily life -- the damage can be life-changing. CBS
To Grads: ‘Life’s Not Fair, It Never Was, It Won’t Ever Be,’ Don’t Fall
Into ‘Entitlement Trap’
As the commencement speaker for the class of 2015 at the University of Houston, Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey advised the graduates that life is “not fair” and it “won’t ever be,” and urged them to not adopt the mentality that they are “a victim” and entitled to things. “Life’s not fair, it never was, it isn’t now and it won’t ever be,” McConaughey, a Texas native, told the graduates on May 15. He also told them, “Do not fall into the trap, the entitlement trap, of feeling like you’re a victim. You are not.” McConaughey, who started his acting career in television commercials in the early 1990s, also gave the graduating students some advise on jobs and the economy. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Very valid adavice.
Food Makers On Fast Path To U.S. Store Shelves, Threatening Big Producers
Small U.S. food manufacturers once toiled for decades to develop a critical mass of fans for their products. Now, an increasing number of privately-held players are going from garage to grocery store in fewer than five years thanks to an erosion of barriers to entry within the food industry. The trend is visible everywhere from gluten-free and organic foods to more traditional fare, according to interviews with half a dozen startups, as well as retailers and industry consultants. Contract manufacturers have made it easier for small companies to produce goods inexpensively, while the reach of digital advertising allows them to target consumers without big marketing budgets, industry experts said. Reuters
Batch Of Hillary Clinton's Emails On Libya Made Public
A batch of Hillary Clinton's personal emails made public on Thursday morning offers a glimpse into her team's initial exchange of information in the wake of the Benghazi attacks as well as her relationship with longtime confidante Sidney Blumenthal, who sent her at least two dozen memos regarding Libya during her tenure as Secretary of State. The State Department plans to release about 850 pages of the emails, which had been handed over to the congressional panel investigating the Benghazi attacks. But on Thursday, the New York Times released about a third of that batch of correspondence, which Clinton exchanged using a private server rather than a government email account. MSNBC
Jindal On 2016 Field: ‘The More The Better’
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who recently announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, said Thursday he thinks “the more, the better” when it comes to the 2016 GOP field. Mr. Jindal was asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” about the recently announced format for the Fox News presidential debate in August and the notion of limiting the number of debates. The August debate will feature the top 10 GOP candidates according to recent public polling, which could leave Mr. Jindal on the outside looking in. “A lot of Republican leaders like to complain or moan about how many candidates we have running,” Mr. Jindal said. “I think the more the better.” Washington Times
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Sanctions Two Companies Linked To Iran's Plane Purchases
The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on two firms based in Iraq and in the United Arab Emirates for helping Iran purchase second-hand civilian aircraft.
The US\ Treasury said the sanctions applied to Iraq-based Al-Naser Airlines as well as UAE-based Sky Blue Bird Aviation for providing support to Iranian airline Mahan Air. The sanctions came after a senior Israeli official took a swipe at the United States over Iran's purchase of used commercial planes in the past three months, which he said took place even after Israeli intelligence flagged the pending sales to the Obama administration. A long-standing ban on the export of aircraft spare parts to Iran was eased under an interim nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers in late 2013 but the sanctions regime continues to restrict sales of planes. Jerusalem Post
'I Don't Think We're Losing' Fight With ISIS
US President Barack Obama said the fall of the Iraqi city of Ramadi to Islamic State militants was a "tactical setback" but in an interview released on Thursday he said that "I don't think we're losing" the fight against the group. "There's no doubt that in the Sunni areas, we're going to have to ramp up not just training, but also commitment, and we better get Sunni tribes more activated than they currently have been," Obama said in the interview, conducted on Tuesday with The Atlantic. "I think Prime Minister Abadi is sincere and committed to an inclusive Iraqi state, and I will continue to order our military to provide the Iraqi security forces all assistance that they need in order to secure their country, and I'll provide diplomatic and economic assistance that's necessary for them to stabilize," Obama told the magazine. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: Obama is right for a change - "I don't think."
Hopefuls Head To Oklahoma To Likely Promote Fossil Fuels
A dozen Republican presidential hopefuls convene in Oklahoma City this weekend to attend the Southern Republican Leadership Conference where they are likely to discuss a theme that has not been a top issue thus far in the campaign: energy. The title of the conference is "Energizing America," an appropriate theme for the state that is one of the largest producers of fossil fuels in the country. With an oil spill off the coast of California, GOP candidates - or likely candidates - are likely to focus their energy remarks on oil and gas production. In the little that has been said about energy, Republicans have focused on carbon-based energy, including pushing for the completion of the XL Keystone pipeline and expansion of domestic oil production. MSNBC
Demands Obama Prove He’s Halted Deportation Amnesty
Texas asked a federal judge Wednesday to consider imposing a fine on the Obama administration lawyers who misled the court over President Obama’s amnesty, filing papers saying the Justice Department is still trying to hide details of how Homeland Security botched the rollout of the program. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the lawsuit trying to stop Mr. Obama’s amnesty, also said the misleading and other errors — including approving 2,000 amnesty applications even after Judge Andrew S. Hanen issued an injunction — cry out for the court to babysit the administration, including making them prove that the illegal immigrants really are sending back their wrongly-issued works permits. Washington Times
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Syrian Forces Trapped Civilians, UN Says
The United Nations says it has received reports that Syrian forces in Palmyra prevented civilians from leaving, ahead of its fall to Islamic State militants. The UN, though not present in Palmyra, cited "credible sources". It said it was "deeply concerned" about the plight of civilians remaining in Palmyra, amid reports of summary executions. IS has also overrun the World Heritage site adjacent to the modern city, raising concerns about its future. The militants have previously demolished ancient sites that pre-date Islam. UN cultural organisation Unesco says its destruction would be "an enormous loss to humanity", but no damage has been reported there yet. BBC
Varoufakis 'Taped Confidential EU Meeting'
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has caused a fresh furore after telling a newspaper he taped a private meeting of his eurozone counterparts. Mr Varoufakis told the New York Times he could not release the recording due to confidentiality rules. It follows controversy over his negotiating style at debt talks. Greece's government says it will not be able to repay €1.5bn (£1.09bn) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 5 June without a deal within days. Speaking to the NYT, Mr Varoufakis denied his fellow finance ministers had called him names at a meeting in Riga in April. BBC
Used Patriot Act To Obtain 'Large Collections' Of Americans' Data, DoJ
As lawmakers and security agencies braced for a potential loss of the heart of the Patriot Act, a long-delayed Justice Department report showed that the FBI uses the surveillance authorities it provides for “large collections” of Americans’ internet records. Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the FBI to collect business records, such as medical, educational and tax information or other “tangible things” relevant to an ongoing counter–terrorism or espionage investigation. Since 2006, the NSA had also secretly used it to collect US phone data in bulk. After Edward Snowden’s leaks allowed the Guardian to reveal the phone-records bulk collection in June 2013, deep political opposition coalesced around the bulk program – eclipsing the FBI’s acquisition of other data, which has long been an issue only for civil libertarians. Guardian
Oil Cleanup Continues As Governor Declares State Of Emergency
More than 6,000 gallons of oil has been raked, skimmed and vacuumed from a spill that stretched across nine miles of California coast, just a fraction of the sticky, stinking goo that escaped from a broken pipeline, officials said. Up to 105,000 gallons may have leaked from the ruptured pipeline on Tuesday, and up to 21,000 gallons reached the sea off the Santa Barbara coast, according to estimates. The environmental impact still is being assessed, but so far there is no evidence of widespread harm to birds and sea life. Federal regulators investigated as workers in protective suits shoveled the black sludge off beaches and boats towed booms into place to corral the two slicks. Guardian
Chief Appoints Expert Panel To Address Humanitarian Funding Shortfalls
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed a high-level United Nations panel to address the yawning gap between resources and financing for the world’s ever-pressing humanitarian efforts. In a statement released by his spokesperson’s office earlier today, the Secretary-General observed that over the last decade, the demand for humanitarian aid had risen “dramatically” amid an uptick in water scarcity, food insecurity, demographic shifts, rapid urbanization and climate change. UN News
Tanzania, UNICEF Dishing Working To Halt Cholera Outbreak Among Burundian
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is rushing critical relief supplies to Tanzania’s north-western border with Burundi amid a devastating cholera outbreak affecting tens of thousands of refugees there. In a press release issued earlier today, UNICEF confirmed it had dispatched cholera treatment supplies, as well as water, sanitation, health and nutrition items to stem the spread of cholera among 50,000 Burundian refugees living rough along the shores of Lake Tanganyika. UN News
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