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NEWS   FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2014   NEWS

Obama: Georgia Key To Democrats Retaining Senate
In an effort to turn out Democratic voters in Georgia, President Barack Obama this week said a victory by Senate candidate Michelle Nunn will mean Democrats retain control of the Senate. But Republicans have quickly pounced on the comments and say they are further proof that Democrats running away from the president will stand with him if elected. “If Michelle Nunn wins, that means that Democrats keep control of the Senate, and that means we can keep on doing some good work. So it is critically important to make sure that folks vote,” Obama told Atlanta urban radio station V-103. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Hopefully, another Obama kiss of death statement.

Even Bankers See A Risk In Rising Wealth Gap
You know the expanding wealth gap is getting bad when bankers are warning about the risks to the economy from it. A new survey conducted for FICO by the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association found that almost two-thirds of bank risk managers in the United States and Canada believe the wealth gap “poses a growing risk to the financial system.” Of the 149 risk managers who participated in the survey, just over 62 percent said they agreed or agreed strongly with that sentiment, compared with roughly 14 percent who disagreed. Although these professionals, by definition, tend towards risk-aversion, “I do think the gap in wealth is something that is a concern and something that, collectively, all financial institutions need to take a look at,” said FICO spokesman Anthony Sprauve. It’s not just risk managers who are concerned. MSNBC

Federal Judge Tosses Tea Party Suit Seeking Permanent Protection From IRS Targeting
A federal court shot down a tea party group’s effort to permanently bar the IRS from targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny, issuing a ruling Thursday that says the tax agency has already taken enough steps to correct the problem. Judge Reggie B. Walton also refused a request by True the Vote, a Texas-based group that tries to combat election fraud, to make Lois G. Lerner and other current and former IRS employees pay a penalty for having blocked the group’s tax-exempt status and made intrusive inquiries into the group’s activities. Washington Times

Combating A New Low, White House Insists Obama Is Still ‘Relevant’
President Obama may have hit the low point of his presidency Thursday — at least to date — when his spokesman declared that Mr. Obama is still relevant. “I think the vast majority of Americans would agree that, whoever the sitting president of the United States happens to be, is relevant in a lot of important ways,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. Mr. Earnest was responding to a comment by Sen. Mark Begich, Alaska Democrat, who is running for reelection and trying his very best to distance himself from the president. Washington Times

New Google Inbox App Reads, Organizes Your Email For You
Google announced a new app Wednesday designed to help organize your email for you. The new Inbox app works with Gmail to automatically wade through the mountains of messages you get each day, pull out the most pressing details and sort them for you -- receipts and bank statements grouped together, flight details highlighted, reminders stacked at the top, always in view. Inbox doesn't replace the Gmail app on your phone, rather, it works with that app to let users see, read and deal with emails in a different way than they're used to -- that is, not simply chronologically. Google calls it "a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters." CBS

Cold Sore Virus Linked With Alzheimer's Disease
The type of virus that causes cold sores may be linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to two recent studies from Sweden. "Our results clearly show that there is a link between infections of herpes simplex virus and the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," Hugo Lövheim, the author of both studies and an associate professor of geriatric medicine at Umeå University in Sweden, said in a statement. "This also means that we have new opportunities to develop treatment forms to stop the disease." CBS

Nebraska High School OKs Guns In Senior Portraits
A Nebraska school district changed its policy to allow seniors to pose with guns for their yearbook photos, and the school's superintendent says he's just catching up with the rest of the Midwest. Students can pose with any type of prop, from rifles to basketballs, as long as what they're wearing meets the school's dress code and the photo is "tasteful and appropriate," according to the new policy introduced this week.  "We are a very rural community right in the center of Nebraska where hunting and other shooting sports are very popular," Broken Bow Public Schools Superintendent Mark Sievering said. "We have something that is known as the One Box Pheasant Hunt that is a hunt attended by people all over the nation." ABC

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Fuel Costs Ease, US Airline Profits Soar
Profits are soaring at the biggest U.S. airlines as fuel prices drop — but don't expect fares to fall too. Heading into the busy holiday-travel period, the airlines expect even cheaper fuel, thanks to the nosedive in crude oil prices. The price of jet fuel, an airline's biggest single expense, has dropped by about one-fifth since mid-June.
Airlines are also benefiting from continued strong travel demand that allows them to push fares higher. Executives report strong bookings for holiday travel and say that Ebola headlines don't seem to be scaring away travelers. The four largest U.S. airlines sold at least 83 percent of their seats in the third quarter. A decade ago, more than a quarter of seats went empty. ABC

U.S. Mortgage Rates Fall With 30-Year At 3.92%
Mortgage rates in the U.S. declined, remaining at a 16-month low as more affordable borrowing costs fuel an increase in refinancing. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.92 percent, down from 3.97 percent last week, Freddie Mac said in a statement today. The average 15-year rate dropped to 3.08 percent from 3.18 percent, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company said. Homeowners are rushing to cut their monthly payments as rates hover at the lowest levels since June 2013. Refinancing applications jumped 23 percent in the week ended Oct. 17 to an 11-month high, the Mortgage Bankers Association said yesterday. Bloomberg

How Dick Cheney Joined The Fight Against Ebola Without Even Trying
Thomas Geisbert spent the ’90s scraping together funds to work on an Ebola cure. Occasionally, he’d get enough to test a potential vaccine in primates, but the monkeys always died. There was just never enough money. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Dick Cheney helped change that. Cheney, then the vice president, said he feared assaults by bioterrorists could be far more devastating than what happened that day, and became an advocate in the George W. Bush White House for the appropriation of billions of dollars to stop deadly pathogens. Congress agreed, funds began flowing to scientists like Geisbert and breakthroughs followed. At least seven drugs now being tested -- including some used to treat Ebola victims in the U.S. -- grew from biodefense measures first approved after Sept. 11. Bloomberg

Stocks Surge As US Companies Report Higher Profits
Stocks are rising sharply in afternoon trading, driven by big profit gains from U.S. companies. Caterpillar and 3M led the gains among industrial stocks, which rose significantly more than the rest of the market. Caterpillar rose 5 percent and 3M rose 6 percent after each company reported earnings that impressed investors. The Dow Jones industrial average shot up as much as 306 points in afternoon trading Thursday. As of 2:36 p.m. it was up 295 points, or 1.8 percent, at 16,758. Las Vegas Sun

CDC Details New Ebola Response And Prep Teams
New federal Ebola response squads — likened to public health SWAT teams — are being readied to rush to any U.S. city where a new Ebola case might be identified, officials say. Meanwhile, the government has formed a second set of teams to prepare hospitals in cities deemed most likely to see a new Ebola case, should one turn up. Three of those teams have already been sent out. Health officials this week first shared details about the two sets of health squads. The teams are "ready to go — boom — if we have another case of Ebola," said Dr. Jordan Tappero, one of the leaders of CDC's Ebola response effort. Las Vegas Sun

Survey: Harvard Law Grads Earn The Most Of Any Grad School In The Country
That fancy Ivy League degree really does pay off: A new survey finds Harvard Law grads are making more at the midpoint in their careers than any other graduate school in the U.S. A survey conducted by the online salary company PayScale examined data from 1.4 million alums from 605 universities found that Harvard Law School alums earn a median mid-career salary of $201,000. Seven of the top 10 schools for median mid-career salary were law schools, while the other three are business schools. Alumni from Stanford earned the most of any business school in the survey, at $184,600, at No. 4, while UCLA Law, at No. 5, is the top-ranked public school. UPI

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US Officials See Signs Of New Life In Iraqi Army
Iraq's fractured army has begun to regroup and stage modest, localized attacks on the Islamic State militants who routed them last spring and summer, but they are unlikely to be ready to launch a major counteroffensive for many months, senior U.S. military officials say. "We've seen them start to act like an army," one official said Thursday in a lengthy exchange with a group of Washington reporters who were invited  to U.S. Central Command headquarters for the command's most extensive briefings on operations in Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi security forces, trained for years by the U.S. prior to its departure from Iraq in 2011, have suffered sectarian divisions, a breakdown in leadership and a loss of confidence. Tampa Tribune

Ebola Hits New York City
The first case of Ebola arrived in New York City on Thursday. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that a doctor who recently returned from West Africa, working with Doctors Without Borders treating Ebola patients, had tested positive for the infection. "We want to state at the outset, there is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," the mayor said. "New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person's bodily fluids are not at risk." He was identified as Craig Spencer, 33, an emergency physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital after experiencing fever and other symptoms Thursday, less than a week after returning from Guinea, in West Africa. USA Today

Islamic State Militants Allegedly Used Chlorine Gas Against Iraqi Security Forces
Dizzy, vomiting and struggling to breathe, 11 Iraqi police officers were rushed to a government hospital 50 miles north of the capital last month. The diagnosis: poisoning by chlorine gas. The perpetrators, according to the officers: Islamic State extremists. The chlorine attack appears to be the first confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Islamic State on the battlefield. An Iraqi Defense Ministry official corroborated the events, and doctors said survivors’ symptoms were consistent with chlorine poisoning. Iraqi forces say two other crude chlorine attacks have occurred since the extremists seized vast tracts of Iraqi territory this summer, but details on those incidents remain sketchy. Washington Post

‘Accidentally Got On A Plane’: Workers Give All Kinds Of Reasons For Calling In Sick
If you’re going to call in sick, make sure you don’t post pictures of yourself at a concert. According to this year’s “calling in sick” report by CareerBuilder, one in four employers has caught an employee faking it because of something found on social media. And one in five bosses has fired employees for calling in with fake excuses.
Using information from a Harris poll, CareerBuilder accumulated some of the odd excuses employees have given for missing work. Some reasons are believable, such as the employee who said her legs fell asleep when she was sitting in the bathroom — she stood, fell and broke her ankle. Others are just plain unbelievable: The employee “accidentally got on a plane.” This year’s report said 28 percent of employees have called in sick sometime in the past year, even though they were feeling well. That was down from 32 percent a year earlier. Kansas City Star

Missouri Police Preparing For Grand Jury Decision
Missouri police have been brushing up on constitutional rights and stocking up on riot gear to prepare for a grand jury's decision about whether to charge a white police officer who fatally shot a black 18-year-old in suburban St. Louis. The preparations are aimed at avoiding a renewed outbreak of violence during the potentially large demonstrations that could follow an announcement of whether Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will face a criminal trial for the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown.
Police and protesters have repeatedly clashed since the shooting, which prompted a national conversation about race and police tactics. Images of officers in riot gear and armored vehicles confronting protesters have drawn widespread criticism. Indy Star

Amazon's Loss Makes Holidays A Question Mark
Amazon's trademark smile icon is becoming more of a grimace. The world's largest online retailer reported a wider third-quarter loss than analysts expected and gave a disappointing holiday forecast. Investors are increasingly irked by Amazon's strategy of investing heavily in new products and services to spur revenue growth while reporting quarter after quarter of losses or thin profit. The stock price tumbled 11 percent after the results came out Thursday. That's on top of the 22 percent decline the stock has already suffered this year. Miami Herald

China, 20 Other Countries Initiate New Asian Bank
Twenty-one Asian nations have signed on to a China-driven initiative to create a new development bank for Asia that's aimed at boosting infrastructure investment of all kinds. Beijing sees that as a way to raise its international standing, but Washington opposes the move as an unnecessary and potentially damaging rival to established institutions such as the World Bank. Members are overwhelmingly developing nations, with Singapore the only advanced economy. The others range from economic powerhouses India and China to smaller but economically dynamic nations such as Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines and Mongolia. A few are drawn from among the poorest nations including Laos, Cambodia and Oman. SF Gate

Obama Hit For Hedging On ‘Terrorist’ Attack Unlike Canadian PM
President Obama is taking heat for seeming to hedge on whether Wednesday's attack on Canada's government complex was an act of terrorism, even as Canada's prime minister declared that his country was a victim of a "terrorist." U.S. lawmakers already are noting a contrast in the way Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the U.S. president have addressed the subject. Details still are emerging about the gunman, but reports say he recently converted to Islam and desperately wanted to move to the Middle East. The attack came just one day after Canada raised its terror alert and two days after another jihadist convert, Martin Couture-Rouleau, killed a uniformed Canadian soldier in a hit-and-run in Quebec. Couture-Rouleau, who was killed by police, had recently had his passport seized to bar him from traveling to join the Islamic State, or ISIS. Fox News

U.S. Senator Asks Internet Providers To Commit To No 'Fast Lanes'
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on Thursday pressed large Internet providers to pledge that they will not strike deals that may help some websites load faster than others or give similar "fast lanes" to affiliated services. As regulators work on new so-called "net neutrality" rules, Leahy wrote to chiefs of AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Time Warner Cable Inc and Charter Communications Inc. In his letters, similar to one sent to Comcast Corp on Monday, Leahy asked the leading Internet service providers (ISPs) to formally commit to no so-called "paid prioritization" deals in which content companies could pay Internet providers to ensure smooth and fast delivery of their traffic. Reuters

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Lawmakers Seek To End Benefits To Former Nazis
Legislation to stop suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. Social Security benefits will be introduced soon, the latest response to an Associated Press investigation that revealed millions of dollars have been paid to former Nazis who were forced out of the United States. Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, will release details of the bill Friday. The legislation will be offered in mid-November, when Congress returns to session following the midterm elections. Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Bob Casey, D-Pa., said they will propose a similar bill in the Senate. The Social Security Administration on Thursday issued its most emphatic statement on the subject, declaring “We don’t believe these individuals should be getting these benefits.” The agency, the statement added, is “available and ready to provide technical assistance to proposals” to end the payments. Detroit News

Lewinsky Mistreated By Officials
When one-time White House intern Monica Lewinsky broke her silence with a major speech this week, one subject brought her nearly to tears. Speaking at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia, Lewinsky's voice cracked as she recalled the moment in January 1998 when she was first confronted by FBI agents and lawyers working for Kenneth W. Starr's Office of Independent Counsel, who threatened her and her mother with criminal prosecution if she did not agree to wear a wire against President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky, now 41, has long felt she was mistreated by authorities in the 12-hour marathon session, which began as a sting at the food court at the Pentagon City mall and then moved to a hotel room at the mall's adjoining Ritz-Carlton hotel. Philadelphia Inquirer

Al Qaeda Leader Pleads For American ISIS Hostage
A senior al Qaeda jihadist is begging ISIS to spare the life of American hostage Peter Kassig, saying Kassig served as an aid worker in Syria and treated jihadi fighters — including himself. Kassig, 26, is the next Western prisoner slated for execution. Abu Omar Aqidi, a leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian group linked to al Qaeda, tweeted his support for Kassig. Kassig removed shrapnel from his wound and helped treat other jihadists in Syria so he does not deserve to die, Aqidi wrote. NY Post

Cloning Whistle-Blower: Little Change In S. Korea
The whistle-blower who exposed breakthrough cloning research as a devastating fake says South Korea is still dominated by the values that allowed science fraudster Hwang Woo-suk to become an almost untouchable national hero. In an interview with The Associated Press after almost a decade of silence, Ryu Young-joon, one of Hwang's former researchers, said the cost of telling the truth still weighs on him but he doesn't regret his decision to out Hwang as a false prophet. The revelations in 2005 rocked South Korea which had celebrated Hwang's research as a historic achievement, focused unfavorable international attention on the country and diminished the reputation of its scientific establishment. The memory of the scandal is still painful today and Hwang, though convicted of embezzlement and violating bioethical laws, discredited and relegated to the scientific backwater of pet cloning, retains a loyal following among sections of the public and media. Seattle Times

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Green Coffee Bean Extract Study Recalled: What It Means For Consumers
Dr. Mehmet Oz promoted green coffee bean extract as a “magic weight-loss cure,” but last week two authors of the study Oz cited in a government hearing retracted their research. In the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy the authors stated that they were unable to assure the validity of the data.
For consumers, it’s a reminder that any supplement should be approved by one’s personal physician before use, Dr. Holly Lofton assistant professor, weigh management program at New York University Langone Medical Center, told FoxNews.com. In Lofton’s practice, she asks patients to bring in a supplement they’re curious about and she then researches through a medical database to validate the information presented. Then, she reviews the patient’s current medication list to check for possible interactions. Fox News

Latest White House Fence Jumper Has Mental Health Problems, Father Says
A man who jumped the White House fence Wednesday night suffers from mental health problems, and has been arrested in a previous White House security breach, according to his father. Dominic Adesanya, 23, of Bel Air, Maryland, barely made it onto the lawn before he was subdued as he fought off two police dogs, the Secret Service said. "Dog got him," a Secret Service spokesman said. Adesanya has been charged with two counts of felony assault on a police officer for attacking the K-9 dogs, four counts of resisting and unlawful entry, and one count of making threats, said Brian Leary, a Secret Service spokesman. CNN

Turkish President: 200 Iraqi Peshmerga Will Join Syrian Kurds' Fight For Kobani
A deal has been reached for 200 Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces to pass through Turkey to help Syrian Kurdish fighters in the besieged town of Kobani, just over the border in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday. The Syrian Kurdish fighters had originally declined the deployment of Peshmerga troops, but Erdogan told reporters in Riga, Latvia, that he'd learned Wednesday that an agreement for the reinforcement force had been reached. However, an aide to the minister for Peshmerga in Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government told CNN that talks are ongoing. CNN

WH Insists: Don't Read Anything Into Purchase Order For Up To 34M Green Cards
Reporters tried again on Wednesday to find out if a DHS purchase order for millions of green cards signals the magnitude of President Obama's intention to unilaterally grant legal status to illegal aliens after the midterm election. The purchase order requests "an estimated 4 million cards annually" and up to 34 million total. "What we're talking about here is an order from the Department of Homeland Security to a contractor, related to ongoing operations at the Department of Homeland Security. They're responsible for issuing green cards," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told Fox News's Ed Henry. CNS News

HHS: Obamacare Can Help Bullied Children
October is "Bullying Prevention Awareness Month," and the Health and Human Services Department wants Americans to know that Obamacare can help -- but only if people sign up. "Nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9-12, for example, report they have experienced bullying," said an Oct. 22 blog posted on the HHS website.
"What families and communities may not know is that the Affordable Care Act can help children and their families directly. For example, with the expansion of health insurance coverage, more children have access to screening by their health care providers for involvement in bullying. This is because most health insurers are required to cover pediatric well-child visits that include this important service recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics." CNS News

Justice Dept. 'Exasperated' By Local Probe Of Missouri Teen Shooting
U.S. Justice Department officials on Thursday criticized local authorities' investigation of the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, saying the case had been handled in a "selective" and "inappropriate" manner. The department's criticism comes after the official St. Louis County autopsy of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, was leaked to media on Wednesday. The autopsy report, obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and published on its website, suggested Brown sustained a gunshot wound to the hand from close range and came as a grand jury considered whether Wilson should face charges. Reuters

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GOP Changes Tune On Cutting Social Security With Elections On The Line
Cutting federal health and retirement spending has long been at the top of the GOP agenda. But with Republicans in striking distance of winning the Senate, they are suddenly blasting the idea of trimming Social Security benefits. The latest attack came in Georgia, where the National Republican Campaign Committee posted an ad last week accusing Rep. John Barrow (D) of “leaving Georgia seniors behind” by supporting “a plan that would raise the retirement age to 69 while cutting Social Security benefits.” Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit group founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, has run similar ads against North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D), Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.). Crossroads accused Hagan of supporting a “controversial plan” that “raises the retirement age.” Washington Post

Pesky, Effective? Campaign Signs Spread Like Weeds
Lawn signs touting local and statewide candidates are in full bloom along highways, street corners and other public spaces. It's the sign of the season. And despite legal restrictions, the markers can sprout invasively. Campaigns hope voters see them as a signal of the community's support for the candidate or issue. But repeat exposure can rub some the wrong way. "They just mushroom," said Elizabeth Lessner, a central Ohio restaurateur. "It used to be they put one sign on the corner and now there's 50." Lessner is one of the Columbus Sign Ninjas, a group that sprang up in the perennial battleground state to take down campaign clutter from public spaces. Houston Chronicle

California Startup Unveils Gun Technology For Cops
A Silicon Valley startup has developed technology to let dispatchers know when a police officer's weapon has been fired. The latest product by Yardarm Technologies would notify dispatchers in real time when an officer's gun is taken out of its holster and when it's fired. It can also track where the gun is located and in what direction it was fired. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak, whose agency is among two testing the technology, said it will allow the sheriff's office to see whether deputies are in trouble and unable to ask for assistance. "That's the worst nightmare for any police officer in the field," he said. The system will not include a remote disabling mechanism. Yardarm was pursuing that technology and demonstrated it at a conference in Las Vegas last year, but it has since abandoned that effort, according to the Capitola, California,-based company's marketing vice president, Jim Schaff. Atlanta Journal

Official Cites 'Epidemic Of Fear' In US
The likelihood of a significant outbreak of Ebola in the U.S. is remote, in the view of a top Health and Human Services official who is assuring lawmakers that government agencies are preparing for any contingency. The comments on Ebola from Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response, came in prepared testimony for a hearing Friday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Lurie's statement was written before news broke late Thursday of a fourth Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S. — a doctor in New York City who had treated patients in Guinea. Charlotte Observer

Australia Says Missing Plane Hunt Will Take Months
Australian officials say the hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in a remote patch of the Indian Ocean is progressing well but is likely to take many months because of huge area involved. An Australian search coordinator, Peter Foley, said Friday there is optimism with two ships using high-tech sonar devices to search for the Boeing 777, which disappeared in March while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. He said weather is improving and they hope to cover as much area as possible. Foley said that given the size of the search area, "we are in for the long haul. It will take many months." Despite a massive air and sea search, not a single piece of debris from the plane has been found. San Diego Union

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Perez: 'We Suck' On Minimum Wage; 'Christie Has His Head In The Sand'
Labor Secretary Tom Perez criticized Chris Christie and like-minded Republicans who oppose an increase to the minimum wage. "Chris Christie's got his head in the sand if he's getting tired about the minimum wage," Perez said at a Washington event hosted by Bloomberg News. Perez targeted Christie specifically in response to comments the Republican governor of New Jersey made Oct. 21 at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event. "I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am," Christie said Tuesday. "I don't think there's a mother or father who's sitting around a kitchen table in America tonight saying, 'You know honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all our dreams would be realized.' Is that what parents aspire to for their children?" UPI News

Across Party Lines, Congress Seeks More Details On Iran Talks
The Obama administration plans “deep congressional engagement” on any prospective agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Berlin on Thursday, responding to reports President Barack Obama seeks to freeze out the legislature from deliberations. “We anticipate hearings, a significant amount of back and forth,” Kerry said. “We certainly will be briefing as we go forward in the next weeks. And we look forward to serious and deep congressional engagement in this effort.” That comes as welcome news to aides on both sides and in both houses on Capitol Hill, where members are expressing concern that they have been sidelined from the process. Jerusalem Post

Islamic State Crisis: US-Led Syria Strikes 'Kill 553'
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 464 IS fighters, 57 other militants and 32 civilians have died. Meanwhile, the US has carried out more air strikes against IS positions near the besieged town of Kobane. Kurdish sources told BBC Arabic that IS had retaken a strategically important hilltop 4km west of the town.
Kurdish forces fighting IS in Kobane took Tal Shair nine days ago. Reports also suggest IS fighters have been shelling Kurdish positions and attacking the town centre. BBC

Israel's Netanyahu Accuses Abbas Over Jerusalem Car Attack
Mr Netanyahu said Mahmoud Abbas had provided encouragement for incidents such as the killing of the three-month-old by a Palestinian driver. The man drove his car into a crowd at a tram stop, injuring eight others. He died hours after being shot by police. A spokesman said the incident was being treated as a "terrorist attack". "The driver... is a resident of [the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of] Silwan and has a terrorist background. He served time in jail for terror activity," Micky Rosenfeld was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying. BBC

Top Senator Demands Explanation From Whisper After User Tracking Revelations
The chair of the Senate commerce committee has said revelations about how the “anonymous” social media app Whisper is tracking its users raise “serious questions” over privacy and demanded an explanation from the company. Senator Jay Rockefeller wrote to the chief executive of Whisper to ask for a detailed, in-person briefing for his committee staff. He emphasised his concern over the location tracking of supposedly anonymous users of the app and demanded documents from Whisper. Guardian

US Decides Against Military Tribunals For Non-Guantánamo Detainees
The Obama administration has decided against charging detainees held outside Guantánamo Bay in its controversial military commissions, ending a year-long debate that has simmered among its national-security lawyers. The debate had been prompted by concerns about the continued viability of detentions of non-Afghans held by the US at Bagram airfield in Afghanistan. During the 13-year war, the US has held battlefield detainees at Bagram without charge. But the impending end of formal US combat at the end of 2014 prompted administration lawyers to question whether they were obligated to release the non-Afghans. For nearly a year, the chief prosecutor of the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay, Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, has examined bringing charges in the war-crimes tribunals against at least one Bagram detainee. Guradian

North Korea Shuts Its Borders To Foreigners Over Ebola Fears
North Korea will bar entry to foreigners on tourist trips from Friday because of worries over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. "We have just received official news from our partners in the DPRK that, as of tomorrow, tourists from any country, regardless of where they have recently visited, will not be permitted to enter," said Gareth Johnson of Young Pioneer Tours, a travel company based in China that runs tours in North Korea. DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. At least 4,877 people have died in the world's worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, with nearly 10,000 cases recorded by Oct 19. Is thought, however, that the true toll could be three times as high. Telegraph

US Considers Air Strikes Against Isil Oil Pipelines
America is considering whether to bomb Isil's oil pipelines in Syria and choke one of the movement's biggest sources of revenue, a senior US official said on Thursday. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) is believed to raise about $1m (£600,000) a day from oilfields under its control in the deserts of eastern Syria. Oil wells in the Jafra field have already been destroyed by air strikes, but the US is now weighing whether to expand its target list to include pipelines. Julieta Valls Noyes, the US deputy assistant secretary for European affairs, said that cutting off Isil's funding was “one of the paramount concerns”, adding: “The financing of this barbaric organisation allows it to continue its operations. What we have to do is degrade its abilities and ultimately to destroy it.” Telegraph

Facebook And Yahoo FindAa New Way To Save The Web’s Lost Email Addresses
When Yahoo proposed a plan to reuse mothballed email addresses, a lot of people didn’t like it. WIRED’s Mat Honan called it a “very bad idea,” and with good reason. The problem is that email addresses are used for password recovery on sites across the web. Let’s say that, a decade ago, I signed up for Facebook using bob@yahoo.com as my email address, and that became a way of recovering my Facebook password. If I then stopped using Yahoo, a scammer could wait until bob@yahoo.com became available and then simply take over my Facebook account. Wired

Primary Focus Must Stopping Spread Of Ebola Virus In Hard-Hit West Africa – UN
As the international community mobilizes on all fronts to combat the unfolding Ebola outbreak, the primary emphasis must continue to be on stopping the transmission of the virus within Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three hardest-hit countries, United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) experts said today. Reporting on the outcome of the third meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which wrapped up yesterday in Geneva, the experts stressed that focusing on the countries at the epicentre of the outbreak, including through reinforcing high-quality exit screening procedures at airports, “is the most important step for preventing international spread.” UN News

UN Panel Pays Out Over $1 Billion In Reparations For Iraq's Invasion Of Kuwait
The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), which settles the damage claims of those who suffered losses in the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, today made $1.06 billion available to the Government of Kuwait. With today's payment, the total amount in compensation received by the Government of Kuwait now amounts to $47.8 billion, leaving approximately $4.6 billion remaining to be paid. The Geneva-based UNCC's Governing Council has identified six categories of claims: four are for individuals' claims, one for corporations and one for governments and international organizations, which also includes claims for environmental damage. UN News

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