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Older News Archivescom0116
NEWS   THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2014   NEWS

Will GOP Party Like It’s 1946? Republicans Aim For Historic House Majority
Congressional Republicans, buoyed by the president’s unpopularity, aren’t just looking to keep control of the House this year. They want to build a historic majority, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the end of World War II. GOP leaders for months have been pushing what they call their “Drive to 245” – an ambitious plan to bring their numbers in the House to 245 seats. To get there, the party would have to win a net 11 seats. By most accounts, the odds lean against the party hitting that historic goal; the GOP would need to execute a near-flawless performance on Election Day. But political observers aren’t ruling anything out. Fox News

Airstrikes Launched Amid Intelligence Gaps
The Pentagon is grappling with significant intelligence gaps as it bombs Iraq and Syria, and it is operating under less restrictive targeting rules than those President Barack Obama imposed on the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan and Yemen, according to current and former U.S. officials. The U.S. military says its airstrikes have been discriminating and effective in disrupting an al-Qaida cell called the Khorasan Group and in halting the momentum of Islamic State militants. But independent analysts say the Islamic State group remains on the offensive in areas of Iraq and Syria, where it still controls large sections. And according to witnesses, U.S. airstrikes have at times hit empty buildings that were long ago vacated by Islamic State fighters. CNS News

For Most Americans, Spanking Is OK, Implements Are Not
Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe spanking a child is acceptable at home and a majority say corporal punishment is tolerable provided it does not involve implements such as the one a National Football League star used on his son, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found. The findings help explain where Americans stand on corporal punishment after the indictment on child abuse charges of Adrian Peterson, a top NFL running back, in a case that sparked a contentious public debate over what is acceptable. The 29-year-old Minnesota Viking allegedly left bruises and wounds on his 4-year-old son while disciplining him with the whippy end of a tree branch, called a switch, an act that Peterson has publicly admitted to. Reuters

Private Businesses Boosted Hiring In September
Small businesses, the backbone of the economy, revved up hiring in September, a new report showed on Wednesday. Private payrolls created 213,000 new positions, according to a report from ADP and Moody's Analytics. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees led the way, adding 88,000. The service sector grew by 155,000 against a 58,000 gain on goods-producing. Trade, transportation and utilities added 38,000 new jobs. Manufacturing grew by 35,000, professional and business services expanded by 29,000 and construction was up 20,000. "Job gains remain strong and steady," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, which co-develops the report. "Especially encouraging most recently is the increasingly broad base nature of those gains," he said in a press release. "Nearly all industries and companies of all sizes are adding consistently to payrolls." MSNBC

Obama Dispatches Ex-Gen. John Allen To Get Sunni Tribal Leaders In Fight Against Islamic State
U.S. officials are now engaged in a high-stakes push to convince Sunni Muslim tribal leaders in Iraq to cooperate with Baghdad and Washington in the fight against Islamic State extremists in the nation, a strategy that sources say will likely take as much as a year to come to fruition and still has major challenges to overcome. A State Department official confirmed Wednesday that retired Marine Gen. John R. Allen, whom the Obama administration has tapped to lead the international effort against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria, is currently en route to the region to begin pushing the strategy. Washington Times

Saudi Overhaul Reshapes Islam's Holiest City Mecca
As Muslims from around the world stream into Mecca for the annual hajj pilgrimage this week, they come to a city undergoing the biggest transformation in its history.
Decades ago, this was a low-built city of centuries-old neighborhoods. Over the years, it saw piecemeal renewal projects. But in the mid-2000s, the kingdom launched its most ambitious overhaul ever with a series of mega-projects that, though incomplete, have already reshaped Mecca. Old neighborhoods have been erased for hotel towers and malls built right up to the edge of the Grand Mosque. Historic sites significant for Islam have been demolished. Next to the Kaaba soars the world's third tallest skyscraper, topped by a gigantic clock, which is splashed with colored lights at night. Detroit News

Pope Urges Europe To Open Doors To Refugees
Pope Francis has called for the Europe to open its doors to refugees as he marked the anniversary of a deadly migrant shipwreck off Sicily by meeting with survivors and relatives of the victims. Around 370 people, most of them Eritrean and Syrian asylum-seekers, drowned on Oct. 3, 2013 when their smugglers' boat capsized off the island of Lampedusa. The tragedy jolted the EU and prompted Italy to beef up its sea patrols, which have rescued about 160,000 people this year. On Wednesday, a few dozen relatives of victims and survivors of the shipwreck met with Francis before heading to Lampedusa for ceremonies to commemorate the anniversary. Francis said: "I ask all the men and women of Europe to open the doors of their hearts." Philadelphia Inquirer

Ebola Outbreak Fear Drives Down Airline Stocks
Fear of an Ebola outbreak sent airline stocks plunging on Wednesday, a day after the first confirmed case in the United States. Liberian resident Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew to Dallas aboard United Airlines with stopovers in Brussels and Washington, DC, on Sept. 19, was diagnosed with the deadly virus a week later, his family said on Wednesday. News of the diagnosis sparked a sell-off of airline stocks across the board, even hitting carriers like JetBlue and Southwest that don’t fly overseas.
The drops averaged between 2 and 4 percent as many passengers canceled flights rather than risk sitting near an ­infected flier. NY Post

Oil Wealth Dividends Distributed To Most Alaskans
Most Alaskans will receive $1,884 checks Thursday as this year's share of the state's oil wealth that's distributed annually just for living here. The payout from the Alaska Permanent Fund this year is more than double the amount of the $900 dividends distributed in 2013, but short of the record payout of $2,069 in 2008. The amount of each person's check is based on a five-year average of the fund's investment earnings, which have included the recession years. Alaska wasn't hit as hard by the recession as the Lower 48, but the Permanent Fund Corp. has a diversified portfolio that was clobbered when markets plunged worldwide. The fund has since recovered. It had a balance of $29.9 billion in 2009, compared with $51.2 billion five years later. Tampa Tribune

Hong Kong Protests Continue Amid Beijing 'Chaos' Warning
Pro-democracy protesters have vowed to start occupying government buildings in Hong Kong if the city's leader does not step down by Thursday night as China appeared to harden its stance against the demonstrators and Hong Kong police warned of serious consequences. "This action will obstruct officers from carrying out their duties which could lead to serious consequences," Hong Kong police spokesman Steve Hui told reporters Thursday. "It will also allow criminals to take advantage of the situation and the public order could be undermined." Protesters have sought to block the entry to the main government headquarters since Wednesday night in a tense standoff that led to police forming a human cordon inside the compound's gates. USA Today

Bankers' Pay Is Behind Excessive Risk-Taking
Do compensation plans for bankers encourage them to take on too much risk? The answer is yes, according a report released today by the International Monetary Fund that contradicts other research on the topic. The IMF says bank executives are overly concerned with short-term progress because banks track their performance by measuring gross revenue, and that may result in hidden long-term costs. As a result, bankers may choose risky investments that can compromise the bank's solvency. Investors, however, often applaud financial services firms that take these types of risks because of the huge potential rewards that could lift banks' share prices, if those risks don't blow up. CBS

Senators Want Pentagon Probe Of Sex Abuse Intimidation Claims
Two senators are asking the Pentagon to investigate claims by female soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, that senior commanders discouraged them from reporting additional sexual assaults. The allegations emerged during the trial of a drill sergeant at the base who was convicted of sexually assaulting eight female trainees under his command. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have written Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to urge that the “troubling allegations” be investigated. “We are deeply disturbed by media reports of the testimony of a victim and witness during this court martial that they and those around them were discouraged from reporting sexual assaults by their leadership,” they wrote in a letter sent to Hagel on Tuesday. ABC

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U.S. Stocks Tumble As Russell 2000 Enters Correction
.S. stocks tumbled, with the Russell 2000 Index extending losses from a record to 10 percent, while Treasuries (USGG10YR) rallied the most in six weeks as the Federal Reserve remains on pace to end bond-buying this month amid growing signs of economic weakness in Europe. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) declined 1.3 percent at 4 p.m. in New York to the lowest since Aug. 12. The Russell 2000 dropped 1.5 percent and is 10 percent below its March record. The Dow Jones Transportation Average sank the most since February as airlines retreated after the first reported U.S. case of the Ebola virus. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.8 percent. The rate on 10-year Treasury notes sank 10 basis points to 2.39 percent. Brent crude fell to its lowest level in more than two years. Bloomberg

Putin: State Will Support Sanctions-Hit Sectors
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the state will offer support to sectors of the economy that have been hit by international sanctions, but says the country in general is unconcerned about the sanctions' consequences. Putin said Thursday the sanctions, imposed by the United States, the European Union and others over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict, violate basic principles of the World Trade Organization and obstruct international economics. Putin, who was speaking to a major investment forum, added "we regard this calmly." The ruble has fallen sharply as the sanctions have taken hold and Russian companies are severely restricted from borrowing on Western capital markets. Houston Chronicle

Patient, Showing Signs Of Ebola Virus, Isolated In Hawaii Hospital
A patient at a Honolulu hospital is in isolation after showing possible symptoms of Ebola, KITV is reporting. But health officials said that the person, whose name has not been released, has not been tested for the virus, according to KHON. Dr. Melissa Vay of the Hawaii Department of Health told KHON that the patient could have any number of illnesses other than Ebola like flu, malaria and typhoid. Health department officials said that if the patient would be tested for Ebola, any tests would have to be sent to the mainland for analysis, according to KGMB. Atlanta Journal

Satellite Shows North Korea Has Upgraded Launch Station
Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates that North Korea has completed a yearlong project to upgrade its main satellite launching station, which is widely believed to be a test site for its intercontinental ballistic missile program, a United States research institute said on Wednesday. Construction has been underway at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri in northwestern North Korea since late last year. It includes modifying the gantry tower and launchpad there, which analysts said would give North Korea a facility to launch a longer-range rocket that can carry a heavier payload. North Korea successfully launched its Unha-3 space launch vehicle from the Sohae facility in December 2012, putting a small satellite into orbit. The launch increased fears that the country was inching toward acquiring the ability to build an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead. NY Times

US Sharply Criticizes New Israeli Construction
The White House says that if Israel were to move forward with a controversial housing development in east Jerusalem, it would distance Israel from, quote, "even its closest allies." The sharp criticism came just hours after President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House. The two leaders did not mention the new construction project during their remarks to reporters. White House spokesman Josh Earnest says that the 2,500-unit project would only draw "condemnation" from the international community. He says it would also call into question Israel's commitment to peaceful negotiations with Palestinians. Las Vegas Sun

Should Pregnant Women Avoid Tuna Fish? FDA, Consumer Reports Disagree
A long standing point of contention between the FDA and Consumer Reports involving tuna is back in the spotlight. The FDA recently released an updated draft of its advice for pregnant women's recommended fish consumption, which suggests 8-12 ounces of lower-mercury fish per week. But Consumer Reports takes issue with the draft advice for adding a minimum amount of fish -- 8 ounces -- and for not ruling out tuna fish altogether.... Newsday

Growing Evidence That Obama’s Decision To Wait On Immigration Is Hurting Democrats
Less than a month after President Obama announced he would delay using his executive authority to reform immigration laws, there is evidence that the decision is doing exactly what he hoped to avoid: hurting Democrats. Activists in key states say it is increasingly difficult to register would-be Latino voters who would vote for Democrats because of unhappiness over the decision. Poll numbers for Obama and Democrats have also dropped farther among Hispanics than the population at large. One group has even launched a campaign against four Democratic senators who backed a GOP proposal to bar Obama from taking any executive action on immigration. Washington Post

Are There Signs Of Thaw Between China And The Exiled Dalai Lama On Tibet?
The Dalai Lama Thursday said that informal talks with the Chinese are continuing over his possible return to his homeland of Tibet — if only for a visit — and cautiously praised Chinese President Xi Jinping as a realist. The Dalai Lama, 79, sat down for a brief interview in his temple in the north Indian town of Dharmsala before a celebration of the 25 th anniversary his Nobel Peace Prize, after a month of media speculation of a thaw between the exiled leader and the Chinese government. The two sides have sparred for years over the future of Tibet; the Dalai Lama argues for autonomy for the Himalayan region he fled in 1959 while the Chinese accuse him of being a separatist. Just this week, another gathering of Nobel winners was canceled in South Africa after that country denied giving the Dalai Lama a visa, reportedly under pressure from China. Washington Post

Gov. Patrick: Mass Prepared For Ebola
Gov. Deval Patrick is reassuring Massachusetts residents after the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. was being treated in Texas. Patrick said Wednesday there is a ‘‘very, very low risk’’ of the disease in Massachusetts. The Texas patient was visiting from Liberia. Ebola has ravaged West Africa. The state Public Health Department issued an advisory Wednesday saying Massachusetts is well prepared to handle an incidence of Ebola in the unlikely event that a case occurs here. The advisory says the public can be confident that local hospitals have the expertise, preparedness and capacity to handle a case of Ebola, calling the infectious disease controls in Massachusetts and the United States ‘‘world class.’’ Boston Globe

Mitt Romney And 2016: Could It Be True?
A presidential defeat isn’t an easy thing to bounce back from. And Mitt Romney did it twice. So it was understandable that after he lost the presidential race in 2012, he was adamant about closing the door to the possibility of a third campaign. But recently, speculation is whirling that Romney may not be so adamant anymore. When asked if he was running in a New York Times interview published earlier this week, Romney said : “I have nothing to add to the story. We’ve got a lot of people looking at the race,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.” That response, which set off the firestorm of speculation about a possible candidacy, is vastly different from the one he issued just nine months ago: “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no,” he told The New York Times last January at the premiere of “Mitt,” the documentary about his 2012 candidacy. “People are always gracious and say, ‘Oh, you should run again.’ I’m not running again.” ABC

Hedge Funds Hit With Right Hook On Fannie-Freddie Ruling
The collapse of securities tied to Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac punished some of Wall Street’s best known money managers, with star investor Bruce Berkowitz’s main mutual fund losing more than $600 million. The value of the $8 billion Fairholme Fund’s stakes in preferred and common shares of the U.S. mortgage-finance firms slid to less than $550 million today, from $1.2 billion at yesterday’s close, based on holdings disclosed as of May 31. Berkowitz’s Fairholme Capital Management LLC lost a legal bid yesterday to force the bailed-out companies to share profits with private stockholders. Investors had sued the U.S. for breach of contract over allegedly promised dividends and liquidation preferences. Bloomberg

U.S. Had Plans To Invade Cuba In 1976
The United States developed plans to attack Cuba in 1976 following its military intervention in Angola, recently declassified documents indicate. The research of documents at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Mich., declassified at the request of the research group National Security Archive, says then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other officials convened to work out plans to retaliate against Cuba, should it deploy its army to other African countries.
The top-secret plan to "smash Cuba," as Kissinger phrased it, included military assaults on ports and military installations in Cuba and the deployment of U.S. Marines to the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The documents suggest Kissinger feared the United States would show weakness by not engaging militarily with Cuba. UPI

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GM Looks To New Vehicles, China To Boost Profit
General Motors CEO Mary Barra told investors on Wednesday that GM plans a raft of new models and a big push to sell more cars in China to drive profits in coming years, as the biggest U.S. automaker tries to shift the spotlight from a mishandled recall of older small cars. Barra needed to reassure investors that GM has a strong plan going forward. The stock has dropped about 18 percent this year. It rose 1.7 percent in afternoon trading. GM recalled 2.6 million small cars worldwide earlier this year to fix faulty ignition switches that are now blamed for at least 23 deaths nationwide. Barra said suppliers have built all the replacement switches, but only about 1.2 million small cars have had the repairs so far. GM has admitted knowing about the problem for a decade, but only recalled the cars this year. The switches can cause the engine to stall, deactivating the air bags. Charlotte Observer

Applications For US Jobless Benefits Drop To 287K
The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 287,000, as the total number of Americans collecting benefits dropped to its lowest level in more than eight years. The Labor Department says the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,250 to 294,750. Overall, 2.3 million people are receiving jobless aid. That's the fewest since June 2006, which predates the start of the Great Recession by 18 months. The steady decline in people applying for benefits began at the end of April. San Diego Union

Kansas Court Says Democrats Need Not Provide Nominee For U.S. Senate Race
A three-judge panel in Topeka ruled Wednesday that Kansas Democrats need not nominate a candidate for the 2014 Senate race. The ruling is expected to help independent Senate candidate Greg Orman’s campaign against incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Chad Taylor, the Democrat nominated for the seat in August, dropped from the race Sept. 3. The Kansas Supreme Court later ruled the withdrawal followed state rules. But David Orel of Kansas City, Kan., then sued the state’s Democrats, arguing Kansas law required the party to nominate a replacement for the ballot. Kansas City Star

Tropical Storm Simon Forms In The Pacific
Tropical Storm Simon has formed in the Pacific off Mexico's southwestern coast. The storm's maximum sustained winds early Thursday are near 40 mph (65 kph) with some strengthening expected over the next two days. The storm is centered about 135 miles (215 kilometers) west-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is moving west-northwest near 10 mph (17 kph) on a track that will gradually take the storm away from Mexico's coast. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Simon is expected to produce rainfall amounts of 3 to 5 inches through Friday in western Mexico and is also generating swells on the coast that could cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Miami Herald

Romney's In Demand As Republicans' Future Unclear
Almost two years after his Election Day drubbing, Mitt Romney is the Republican man in demand. The twice-defeated White House contender is campaigning across seven states this week, covering nearly 6,000 miles in five days to raise money and energy for Republican midterm candidates from Georgia to Colorado. Romney has repeatedly insisted he's not running for president again, and his closest aides laugh off a possible 2016 bid. But top GOP strategists and donors suggest his continued high profile in Republican politics highlights the party's murky future and a crowded 2016 field that is both flawed and without a clear front-runner "There's a vacuum," said John Jordan, a major Republican donor based in Callifornia. "When there's 10 people in a possible presidential field, it's difficult for anyone to look presidential. None of these figures is overly compelling." SF Gate

NASA Images Reveal Shocking Scale Of Aral Sea Disaster
A series of NASA satellite images has revealed the shocking decline of water levels in the Aral Sea, a massive environmental disaster dubbed “the quiet Chernobyl.”
NASA’s Terra satellite began capturing the images in 2000, when the vast central Asian lake known as the Aral Sea was already a fraction of its 1960 size (as shown by the black line in the images). “It shows the power of long-term satellite observation from space,” a NASA spokesman told FoxNews.com, noting that the Terra satellite will have been in space for 15 years in December. The victim of a Soviet era water diversion project in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world, but now holds less than 10% of its original water volume. Fox News

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns
Julia Pierson, the first female director of the Secret Service, resigned her post Wednesday after a fence jumper gained access to the White House on Sept. 19 and a subsequent congressional inquiry uncovered other security lapses. Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson announced the resignation in a statement. He also announced that the DHS would take over an internal inquiry of the Secret Service and that he would appoint of a new panel to review security at the White House.
Joseph Clancy, formerly a special agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division of the Secret Service, was named Interim Director, Johnson said in his statement. CNN
VOA VIEW: Good-bye!

Dallas Ebola Patient Identified
Thomas Eric Duncan is the man being treated at a Dallas, Texas, hospital for Ebola, his half-brother, Wilfred Smallwood, told CNN's Danielle Garcia. Duncan is the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. After the man's diagnosis, the Obama administration is recirculating its guidance about how to respond to the virus, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday. "In light of this incident," Earnest said, "the administration has taken the step of recirculating our guidance to law enforcement agencies that are responsible for securing the border, to those agencies that represent individuals who staff the airline industry and to medical professionals all across the country, to make sure people are aware there is an important protocol that should be implemented if an individual presents with symptoms that are consistent with Ebola." CNN

Holder Resigning With 26% Approval Rating; Higher Than Sebelius, Shinseki
Although President Obama praised him for doing “a superb job” as attorney general, Eric Holder will be ending his tumultuous tenure at the Justice Department with a 26 percent favorability rating among the American people, according to a YouGov poll released Monday. With the announcement of Holder’s resignation, President Obama said: “Through it all he's shown a deep and abiding fidelity to one of our cherished ideals as a people and that is equal justice under the law,” adding that “it’s a pretty good track record.” However, 37 percent of survey respondents gave an unfavorable rating to the first African American attorney general. CNS News

Republicans Craft 2015 Plan To Force Obama's Hand On Keystone
Republicans plan to put approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline on a fast track early next year if they win a U.S. Senate majority in November, finally forcing President Barack Obama to make a tough call on the controversial plan. The $10 billion Keystone project to connect Canadian oil sands with U.S. refineries will top the list of Republican energy priorities if they gain control of the Senate after the November 4 midterm elections. It could come as a stand-alone measure or attached to must-pass legislation such as a government spending or transportation bill, according to senators and congressional aides. Reuters

Ex-President Carter Says He Would've Beaten Reagan If He Was 'More Manly' Against Iran
Jimmy Carter, the former US president, told American television on Wednesday that he would’ve beaten his eventual successor, Ronald Reagan, if he had been “more manly” and bombed Iran. To mark the occasion of his 90th birthday, Carter told CNBC that his administration could have secured another term in office if he had responded more forcefully to the Iran hostage crisis. Shortly after the rise of Khomeini in November 1979, young Islamist Iranian students overran the US embassy in Tehran, where they held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Carter, who was president at the time, severed ties with the Islamic Republic. Jerusalem Post

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4 Ways To Never Pay ATM Fees Ever Again
If you've been feeling like your bank is nickle and diming you, you're wrong. You should be counting in five-dollar bills. But you can avoid costly bank ATM fees with a little strategy. According to a new Bankrate survey, the average ATM withdrawal fee is $4.35, up 5 percent from last year. That's up from $1.97 in 2008, and 89 cents in 1989. Banks say they're trying to claw back the fixed costs of maintaining their ATM networks while the number of customers generating out of network fees has gone down. But as long as you pay attention, you don't to have to be the one helping them with your own paycheck. MSNBC

New York Times To Cut 100 Newsroom Jobs
The New York Times plans to eliminate about 100 newsroom jobs through buyouts and eventually layoffs if people don’t leave voluntarily, the newspaper announced Wednesday. NYT Opinion, a new mobile app dedicated to opinion content, will also shut down due to a lack of subscribers, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the newspaper’s publisher, and Mark Thompson, its chief executive, said in a note to staff. “The job losses are necessary to control our costs and to allow us to continue to invest in the digital future of The New York Times, but we know that they will be painful both for the individuals affected and for their colleagues,” the note said. Washington Times

Who's The Most Dangerous Celebrity To Search For Online?
If you're thinking of Googling Jimmy Kimmel, beware. Computer security firm McAfee says the talk show host is the most dangerous celebrity to search for online. The company said Tuesday that a search for Kimmel carries a 19 percent chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for spyware, viruses or malware. Cyber-criminals can use the malicious software to steal passwords or other personal data. McAfee has used its own site ratings to make the determination for the past eight years. Kimmel joked about the dubious honor on his show, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Tuesday night. He said he can't believe a kid who played the clarinet and carried a briefcase to junior high school grew up to be the most dangerous celebrity of 2014. CBS

Taliban Claims Responsibility For Double Suicide Attacks In Response To U.S.-Afghan Security Agreement
The Taliban claimed responsibility for two suicide attacks targeting Afghan soldiers a day after the U.S. and Afghanistan signed a Bilateral Security Agreement. "By signing the agreement, the status of the Kabul administration, in particular the status of soldiers and police is clear," the Taliban said in a statement. "They are working for the interests of others, and their killing is important." According to Kabul police spokesman Hashmatullah Stanikzai, both attacks on Wednesday targeted buses, killing and wounding Afghan soldiers. In the first attack on Wednesday, a suicide bomber boarded a full bus in the Katre Char neighborhood and detonated his explosive vest, killing seven soldiers and wounding 15 others, including civilians. UPI

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Netanyahu To Obama: Israel Committed To Two States, But It Will Require 'Outside-The-Box Thinking'
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to a two-state solution in a brief statement he made alongside US President Barack Obama before their meeting in the White House on Wednesday. “I remain committed to the vision of peace of two states for two peoples, based on mutual recognition and rock solid security arrangements,” Netanyahu said.  At the same time he indicated that the path to two states might be different than the one tried for the last 20 years, saying he believes “we should make use of the new opportunities [in the Middle East], think outside of the box, and see how we can include the Arab countries to advance this very hopeful agenda.” Jerusalem Post

Islamic State Crisis: Abadi Opposes Arab Strikes In Iraq
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has told the BBC he "totally" opposes Arab nations joining air strikes against Islamic State in his country. In an interview, he said Western air power had "filled many gaps" in Iraq's fight against the jihadist group. Several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, have joined the international coalition against IS. Their aircraft have carried out strikes in Syria, but only those from the US, UK and France have hit targets in Iraq. On Wednesday evening, France said it would send a further three fighter jets and a warship to the Gulf to support the fight against IS. BBC

Iranian Filmmakers Launch Campaign Urging Nuclear Deal
The directors - including Abbas Kiarostami and Asghar Farhadi, who won Iran's first Oscar in 2012 - say "there is no deal that is worse than no deal". International sanctions have hurt the Iranian people without harming their country's nuclear programme, they add. The initiative comes as a 24 November deadline for negotiations approaches. Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said there had been "steps forward" at the talks with the P5+1 - the US, UK, China, France, Russia and Germany - but that they had not been "significant". Negotiators are seeking to build on last year's interim agreement that saw Iran curb uranium enrichment in return for partial sanctions relief. BBC

Argentina President Claims US Plotting To Oust Her
Argentinian opposition politicians have accused the country’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of being “completely out of touch with reality” after she gave a rambling televised address in which she claimed the US may be behind a plot to overthrow her government and possibly even assassinate her. “If something should happen to me, don’t look to the Middle East, look to the North,” Fernández said during the address on Tuesday night, in which she alluded to an alleged plot against her by local bankers and businessmen “with foreign help”. Guardian

'We See Ourselves As The Vanguard': The Police Force Using Drones To Fight Crime
The video begins with a suspect in a red car screeching to a halt outside an abandoned farmhouse with two police vehicles, sirens blazing, in hot pursuit. The suspect makes off on foot, waving a large handgun in front of him. Then something unusual happens. Out of the back of a police car, officers grab a gadget about the size of a suitcase, assemble it within seconds and then launch it buzzing into the air. It hovers directly over the suspect, streaming images of the man from a high-definition camera down to a mobile computer screen. “I have a visual of the suspect,” an officer says into his radio device. “Positive ID of a gun in his right hand – proceed with caution.” Guardian

New Quadcopters Arrive Just As US Eases Its Ban On Camera Drones
Just in time for new US rules allowing drones for movie-making, a Toronto startup is launching a campaign to send swarms of lightweight cameras into the skies. The PlexiDrone is a small quadcopter with a snap-in socket for lifting a variety of prosumer devices skyward, from point-and-shoots to GoPros. DreamQii, the company behind the PlexiDrone, boasts that the aircraft’s design lets users capture 360 degrees of footage without propellers or landing gear getting in the way. Pilots can control multiple drones using a smartphone or tablet along with a custom Bluetooth hub to shoot from multiple points-of-view simultaneously. To get off the ground, the company is hoping to raise $100,000 on Indiegogo in a campaign launched Wednesday. Wired

UN, Liberia Assessing Food Security Impact Of Ebola Outbreak, Planning Response
The Liberian Government, along with key United Nations agencies, is set to carry out a rapid field assessment on food security and livelihoods in the wake of the Ebola outbreak, as the top UN envoy on curbing the spread of the virus in West Africa arrived today in the Liberian capital, Monrovia. The assessment, performed by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), is part of efforts to mitigate food insecurity in communities in 15 counties in the country. UN News

Syria: Ban Strongly Condemns Deadly Bomb Attacks In Homs
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemns in the strongest terms today’s bomb attacks in Homs, which reportedly killed dozens of schoolchildren, as “an act of the utmost depravity.” Initial media reports indicate that at least 39 people were killed, of whom 30 are schoolchildren between the ages of six and nine. “The Secretary-General reiterates his call on all warring sides in this brutal and bloody conflict to stop the indiscriminate use of any weapons immediately,” his spokesperson said in a statement which extended condolences to the bereaved families. Mr. Ban appealed appeals to all Syrian, regional and international actors “to redouble their efforts to bring this horrific conflict to an end and help reach a long-overdue political solution,” according to the statement. UN News

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