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NSA Director: China Can Damage US Power Grid
The head of the NSA issued a blunt warning Thursday to lawmakers: China can shut down the United States. The grim forecast came from Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of the U.S .Cyber Command. Rogers said he believed China along with “one or two” other countries had the capability to successfully launch a cyber-attack that could shut down the electric grid in parts of the United States. Rogers reiterated that if the U.S. remains on the defensive, it would be a “losing strategy.” Fox News
VOA VIEW: Thanks to Obama lack of vigilance.

CIA Launches Major Internal Review
CIA Director John Brennan has ordered an in-depth review of the intelligence agency's organizational structure, asking the agency to "take a close and honest look at ourselves." Citing an "ever-growing number" of complex national security challenges as cause for the evaluation, Brennan announced the internal review in a letter to Central Intelligence Agency staff. The CIA released unclassified portions of the letter on Thursday. The review will come as the CIA adapts to new threats from terror groups like ISIS and the al Qaeda linked Khorasan group have added to agency's terror landscape. CNN

A Third of All Federal Student Loans Could Go Bad, Treasury Advisory Committee Warns
In June, President Obama issued an executive order allowing borrowers to cap their loan payments at 10 percent of their monthly incomes. But TBAC pointed out that “the principal and interest on the loans capitalize” during this period, “making balances larger for students and exacerbating repayment potential.” “Outstanding balances [are] declining more slowly than originally anticipated due to both increased volumes of loans in deferral and forbearance as well as longer loan tenors,” the advisory committee said. “Behind the default rate is a shadow book of potential future defaults, reflected in the volume of loans in deferment and forbearance. Those loans add 23% to the 9% that are already listed in default.” CNS News


U.S. Underlying Inflation Rising; Economy Firming Broadly
Underlying inflation pressures rose in October, even as falling gasoline prices kept overall U.S. consumer prices in check, bolstering expectations of a mid-2015 interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve. Other data on Thursday showed vigor in the economy, with home resales rising at their fastest pace in a year in October and factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region expanding in November to its highest level since December 1993. The Labor Department said on Thursday its so-called core Consumer Price Index, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.2 percent, the largest increase in five months, after nudging up 0.1 percent in September. Reuters

Freezing On East Coast? Blame A Super Typhoon And Maybe Global Warming
People on the East Coast who are digging out from feet of snow or dealing with sub-freezing temps might be forgiven for wondering: Whatever happened to global warming? The answer is that while much of the U.S. isn't feeling the warmth, it's still happening globally — and there's even the possibility that the latest East Coast cold snap is a byproduct of a warmer world. "Only a sliver of the planet's land surface is having a relatively cool year and it happens to be the eastern U.S.," says Bob Henson, a meteorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. MSNBC

Dental Plans Mistakenly Included In Obamacare Tallies: White House
The Obama administration acknowledged Thursday it mistakenly included up to 400,000 dental plans in the 7.1-million enrollment figure it touted before Obamacare’s second round, a move that nudged them above congressional budget estimates for participation in the contentious overhaul. Republican investigators on the House oversight committee calculated the health enrollment total to be 6.7 million, based on data from the Obama administration. The revelation forced the Health and Human Services Department to admit to a notable error at a time when Republicans have accused Democratic supporters of the 2010 law as less than forthcoming with the public. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Another Obama mistake.

Airbag Defect Victim Lashes Out At Takata, Honda
A U.S. Air Force lieutenant who was blinded in one eye when a defective airbag deployed in her car during a 2013 crash excoriated the company behind that airbag and the automaker that manufactured her car, telling a congressional panel that Takata and Honda had failed to protect consumers when they didn't provide sufficient warnings about a product defect. Lt. Stephanie Erdman's testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday put a human face on the problems with Takata airbags, which have been linked to dozens of injuries and at least five deaths nationwide. CBS


Michelin Reinvents The Wheel With Airless Tire
Drivers' hearts may not go aflutter over innovation in the tire industry as much as they get excited by a new tech gadget, but Michelin North American Chairman Pete Selleck says the company is truly reinventing the wheel. Selleck is announcing today the Tweel, the first airless tire ever to be commercially available. The company is also opening a new factory in Piedmont, South Carolina, its tenth manufacturing facility in the state and its 16th in the country. As part of ABC News' C-Suite Insider Series, Selleck talked about being on the forefront of American manufacturing and why an airless tire is so hard to make. ABC

Cheap-Oil Era Tilts Geopolitical Power To U.S.
A new age of abundant and cheap energy supplies is redrawing the world’s geopolitical landscape, weakening and potentially threatening the legitimacy of some governments while enhancing the power of others. Some changes already are evident. Surging U.S. oil production enabled America and its allies to impose tough sanctions on Iran without having to worry much about the loss of imports from the Middle Eastern nation. Russia, meanwhile, faces what President Vladimir Putin called a possibly “catastrophic” slump in prices for its oil as its economy is battered by U.S. and European sanctions over its role in Ukraine. Bloomberg

Why Obama Chose Las Vegas To Rally Public Support For Immigration Plan
A Las Vegas high school will serve as President Barack Obama’s backdrop Friday when he touts his plan to reform the country’s immigration system without the approval of Congress. Obama plans to take executive action to defer deportations for up to 5 million undocumented immigrants and extend visas for highly skilled workers. Joined by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, he’ll announce his plans to the nation in a prime-time TV address at 5 p.m. PST Thursday. On Friday, he'll head to Del Sol High School for an event to sign the executive actions. The Las Vegas trip is meant to serve as a rally for his reforms. Del Sol makes sense for political, demographic and symbolic reasons. Bloomberg

You May Be Ruining Your Back By Staring At Your Smartphone All Day
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are worried about Americans' posture. Apparently, it's being corrupted by smartphone addiction, and may result in series spinal injuries later in life. The head is heavy, roughly a dozen pounds on average, and all that weight requires the support of the neck and vertebra. The human spine, of course, is well equipped for the job when sitting or standing upright -- in other words, when we are displaying proper posture. But the burden of our dome becomes greater as our posture becomes corrupted, as we slouch or our neck and head lean ahead. In fact, as the neck leans forward 45 degrees, the relative weight of the head more than quadruples -- from 12 to 49 pounds. At 60 degrees, its relative weight is 60 pounds. UPI

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ABC, CBS, NBC Won't Carry Obama
ABC, CBS and NBC decided against covering President Barack Obama's speech on immigration live on Thursday, although the Spanish-language Univision network is delaying its telecast of the Latin Grammy Awards to show the address. The news networks CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC all planned to air Obama live. Obama is planning to speak at 8 p.m. EST to announce that he is ordering federal action on immigration, angering Republican leaders in Congress. The major broadcast networks generally carry presidential speeches on matters of national security and other important issues. But there can be a reluctance in executive suites if an anticipated address is seen as heavily political in nature. CNS News

Supreme Court Allows Gay Marriage To Proceed In South Carolina
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request to block gay marriage from proceeding in South Carolina, clearing the way for it to become the 35th U.S. state where same-sex marriage is legal. The order was another victory for gay marriage advocates after a federal judge in Montana on Wednesday struck down that state's ban on same-sex marriage.  Reuters

Jeb Bush Defends Common Core, Challenges Its Opponents
ormer Florida Governor Jeb Bush offered a staunch defense of the Common Core education standards that are controversial within the Republican Party. He defended his unpopular position that puts him at odds with many in his party, especially among grassroots conservatives. During his keynote address at his education foundation’s annual conference in Washington, DC Thursday, Bush acknowledged the rift within his party on the issue. He admitted that his opinions about standardized testing “might be in the minority some of the time,” but he defended his position, saying that testing is a “critical” component to educational achievement and accountability. The topic and the timing of Bush’s first public appearance since the midterm election is significant. Bush is contemplating a presidential run and his brother, former President George W. Bush told NBC News in November that he is thinking about it. MSNBC


About 5 Million Graco Strollers Recalled After Fingertip Amputations
About 4.7 million Graco and Century-branded strollers are being recalled after its maker received reports of 10 full or partial fingertip amputations and one laceration, federal officials said Thursday. Eleven models of strollers have a folding hinge on the side that "can pinch a child's finger, posing a laceration or amputation hazard," officials said. Caregivers are being advised to show "extreme care when unfolding the stroller to be certain that the hinges are firmly locked before placing a child in the stroller," the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said. CNN

Nancy Pelosi Compares Obama To Lincoln: ‘Emancipation Proclamation Was An Executive order’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday compared President Obama’s planned executive action on immigration reform to President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. “Remember, President Lincoln said, ‘public sentiment is everything,’” the Democrat said at a press conference, Breitbart reported. “I wish the Republicans would at least give the public a chance to listen to what the president is trying to do. “And also does the public know the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order?” Mrs. Pelosi continued. “People have to understand how presidents have made change in our country, Congress catching up, and in the case of Ronald Reagan, improving upon what Congress has done.” Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Obama is no Lincoln.

Is Someone Spying On You Through Your Webcam?
A Russia-based website is peering into homes around the world and many are here in the U.S. Anyone can log on to see the live feeds from baby monitors or security systems, all with a map straight to your front door, reports CBS News Correspondent Charlie D'Agata. They have eyes on, everywhere. Thousands of so-called private webcams are just a couple of clicks away from anyone with an internet connection. Businesses, including a shop in Amarillo, universities including an Iowa institution, private homes and baby monitors, have all had their cameras hacked into. CBS

Why You Shouldn’t Reach For That $100 Bill On Your Windshield
Authorities in Maryland have warned the public about a potential holiday scam that involves the temptation of a $100 bill left on a car windshield. The simple scheme works like this: Drivers walk to their parked cars and, after they get in the vehicle, they notice a $100 bill in the windshield. The driver exits the car with the door open to retrieve it, only to have a thief steal the vehicle. The Baltimore County Police Department’s auto theft task force told ABC News that while it has not seen the $100 bill scam at this time, “We have seen incidents where auto thieves will bump the back of someone's car in traffic. When everyone gets out of their cars, a thief will jump in the victim's car and drive off,” a police department spokesman said. ABC

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Stressful Relationships Tied To Mental Decline
Having close personal relationships in middle age that cause stress, problems or worries, may contribute to a decline in thinking ability in older age, according to a new study. “Any relationship involves both positive and negative exchanges, especially those close relationships that are most likely to evoke ambivalent sentiments,” said lead author Jing Liao of University College London. “Negative aspects of close relationships refer to unpleasant social exchanges when the recipient finds the relationship ineffective, intrusive or over-controlling,” Liao told Reuters Health by email. Fox News

Default Forecasts Could Be Low As Fed Tries To Bust Loan Bubble
What’s worse for the U.S. economy: More bankruptcies in the near term or an overheated market that portends another credit crisis in the longer run? That’s a conundrum facing Federal Reserve officials, who’ve been trying to get banks to tighten their underwriting standards for speculative-grade loans as the market shows signs of froth. So far, the increased oversight hasn’t prevented companies including Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR) from raising money at a record pace through new high-yield, high-risk loans this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Almost one third of the loans in the past year had features cited as weak by federal examiners in an annual review. Bloomberg

Courts Hear Arguments On Arkansas' Ban On Gay Marriage
Lawyers debated Thursday whether Arkansas' constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is a political issue that should be decided by the voters. Hearings went forward in the state Supreme Court and before a federal judge. A state judge in Pulaski County ruled earlier this year that the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. People on both sides of the issue rallied on the steps of the state capitol in Little Rock before the hearing. "I call on the Arkansas Supreme Court to stand with the people and honor their vote," said Josh Duggar, an opponent of same-sex marriage. UPI

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sraeli Official: Erdogan Rhetoric Befits Tehran Or Damascus, Not A NATO Capital
Israel's “barbaric” attack on al-Aksa is an attack on Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday in remarks immediately slammed by Israel as “malicious and extremist” rhetoric not befitting the leader of a NATO country. According to a report Thursday in Today's Zaman, Erdogan, during a speech in Algeria to Turkish and Algerian businessmen, said "Israel's barbaric attack on al-Aksa Mosque is tantamount to an attack on Turkey and Algeria because al-Aksa Mosque belongs to all of us." Erdogan is well known for his strident and extreme anti-Israel rhetoric. Jerusalem Post

Russia Warns US Not To Arm Ukraine Forces Against Pro-Russian Rebels
Russia has warned the United States against supplying arms to Ukrainian forces fighting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, hours before US vice-president Joe Biden was due to arrive in Kiev on Thursday. Ukraine accused Vladimir Putin of treating its territory like a “playing field“, trying to unleash a full-scale war that would pose a broader threat to Nato countries. Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in Moscow that a US official’s suggestion Washington should consider sending arms to Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels have been fighting government forces since April, sent a “very serious signal“. Guardian

Arizona Sues General Motors Over Faulty Ignition Switch That Led To Global Recall
In the first lawsuit brought by a state against General Motors Co over recalls relating to a defective ignition switch, Arizona has accused the company of putting the public at risk by concealing safety issues and delaying the recalls. The suit, filed on Wednesday, seeks civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation and encompasses hundreds of thousands of vehicles, suggesting a total potential penalty against GM of billions of dollars if courts rule in the state’s favor. A GM spokesman said in a statement Thursday that the lawsuit “misrepresents the facts, the performance of our vehicles and our work to ensure the safety of our customers.” Guardian

Iran nuclear talks: Kerry says talks focused on a deal
US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that extending the deadline for a deal on Iran's nuclear programme is not being discussed. Negotiations in Vienna will instead focus on "driving towards" the outline of an agreement, he said. World powers want Iran to show it is not building nuclear weapons, in exchange for a lifting of sanctions. Diplomats are bracing for tough negotiation at the six-nation talks, with a Monday deadline for a deal. "In the current situation it will be very difficult to get a deal unless there is a new spirit," Russian chief negotiator Sergei Ryabkov told Russian media. "The talks are being held in a tense atmosphere." BBC

Women Bosses 'More Depressed' Than Male Counterparts
Women are more likely than men to display symptoms of depression when in a position of authority at work, according to US scientists. In men, authority, such as the ability to hire and fire people, decreases depressive symptoms, the study said. The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, looked at 2,800 middle-aged men and women. One expert said the study showed the need for more women in authority and more varied female role models. Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin interviewed 1,300 male and 1,500 female graduates from Wisconsin high schools over the phone in 1993 and 2004, when they were aged about 54 and 64. BBC

Iraq: UN Envoy Sees Inclusive Political Process As Critical To Resolving Crisis
As Iraq struggles to deal with the increasing security threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as well as with dire financial and humanitarian conditions, the United Nations envoy to the country has cited an inclusive political process as vital to finding comprehensive solutions. In an interview with UN Radio, Nickolay Mladenov, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), said that there is “general agreement,” not just in the UN but in Iraq as well, that the security element of dealing with ISIL is one part of the solution, but is not the comprehensive solution to the problems facing the country. “What also needs to happen is a political process, and a political process that allows for the various communities of Iraq to come back together,” Mr. Mladenov stressed. UN News

Security Council Adopts fFrst-Ever Resolution On ‘Invaluable Role’ Of UN Police Operations
The United Nations Security Council today adopted the first-ever resolution focusing on the world body’s policing operations, stressing their invaluable contribution to peacekeeping, civilian protection and the rule of law, and pledging to give clear mandates as well as appropriate resources to UN police-related work. Today’s unanimously adopted resolution stresses the importance of close cooperation and coordination between the UN Police Components and other elements of peacekeeping operations and special political missions. It also “urges police-contributing countries to continue to contribute professional police personnel with the necessary skills equipment and experience to implement mission mandates.” UN News

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