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Older News Archivescom0116
NEWS     WEDNESDAY, JUlY 30, 2014     NEWS

EARLY EDTION

Consumer Confidence In U.S. Jumps To Highest Since 2007
Confidence among consumers soared in July to an almost seven-year high as increased employment opportunities led to brighter views of the U.S. economy. The Conference Board’s index advanced to 90.9, the highest since October 2007, from 86.4 in June, the New York-based private research group said today. The gauge exceeded the most optimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey of 75 economists. “Employment conditions improved, gas prices are lower, equity markets remain robust, and that’s pretty much it,” said Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro Research LLC in New York. “The fact that confidence is rising at a fairly steady rate implies that employment growth is going to continue at a fairly healthy rate.” Bloomberg
VOA VIEW: What confidence?

House Panel Condemns Obama For Prisoner Swap
A House panel has voted to condemn President Barack Obama for the May swap of five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years. The Armed Services Committee voted 34-25 on Tuesday for a nonbinding, bipartisan resolution that disapproves of the exchange and faults Obama for failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance, as required by law. The resolution also expresses national security concerns about transferring the five from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Qatar. They had been held there for more than a decade. Las Vegas Sun

John Boehner: Obama Impeachment Talk A Democratic Scam
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, slammed Democrats on Tuesday for saying House Republicans want to impeach President Obama, calling it "a scam started by Democrats at the White House." "This whole talk about impeachment is coming from the president's own staff and coming from Democrats on Capitol Hill. Why? Because they're trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's election," Boehner said. "We have no plans to impeach the president. We have no future plans," he added, for emphasis. CBS
VOA VIEW: Democrats are scam artists.

Tech Companies Reel As NSA's Spying Tarnishes Reputations
U.S. technology companies are in danger of losing more business to foreign competitors if the National Security Agency’s power to spy on customers isn’t curbed, researchers with the New America Foundation said in a report today. The report, by the foundation’s Open Technology Institute, called for prohibiting the NSA from collecting data in bulk, while letting companies report more details about what information they give the government. Senate legislation introduced today would fulfill some recommendations by the institute, a Washington-based advocacy group that has been critical of NSA programs. Bloomberg

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5 Skinny Snacks That Help Improve Sleep
You’ve eaten sensibly all day, but around bedtime you get the urge to snack.  Sweets like cookies and ice cream do more than throw your diet a nasty curve, the sugar rush can leave you tossing and turning for hours. However, a well-chosen bedtime snack can be healthy, weight-friendly, and even help you get a good night’s sleep. A small banana with a tablespoon of almond butter is tasty, easy on calories, and very filling. Plus, bananas are high in potassium - a natural muscle relaxant – and almond butter is high in magnesium and calcium, nutrients known to induce sleepiness. Fox News

Senate Confirms Robert McDonald As VA Secretary
The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed Robert McDonald, a former corporate CEO and an ex-Army officer, as the next Veterans Affairs secretary. He replaces Eric Shinseki, who resigned in May amid an unfolding scandal at VA medical facilities. The vote was 97 to 0. McDonald takes over a massive bureaucracy with more than 300,000 full-time employees still reeling from allegations of delayed care and alarming mismanagement at major medical facilities. CNN

Democrats Urge No U.S. Contracts For Corporate Tax 'Deserters'
Corporations that move their tax domiciles abroad would be denied federal contracts under legislation offered on Tuesday by Democrats in the U.S. Congress, targeting tax-driven deals known as inversions. With November's congressional elections approaching, Democrats are blasting away at inversions. Few U.S. companies have done such deals, but as they become more common, they are attracting more negative publicity. "Corporations that renounce their citizenship not only invert their business operations but pervert our laws," said Democratic Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas. Reuters

'Bigger Bite': Obama Joins EU To Impose New Sanctions On Russia
President Barack Obama praised the European Union Tuesday for imposing tough new sanctions on Russia and announced additional U.S. sanctions on the country's defense, energy and financial sectors. "Because we are closely coordinating our actions with Europe, the sanctions we are announcing today will have an even bigger bite," Obama said in remarks at the White House. "Today is a reminder that the United States means what it says," he said. Obama added that Russia continues to isolate itself from the international community, "a choice that Russia and President Putin in particular has made." MSNBC

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Ebola Plane Travel Scare Has Officials On Edge
No one knows for sure just how many people Patrick Sawyer came into contact with the day he boarded a flight in Liberia, had a stopover in Ghana, changed planes in Togo, and then arrived in Nigeria, where authorities say he died days later from Ebola, one of the deadliest diseases known to man. Now health workers are scrambling to trace those who may have been exposed to Sawyer across West Africa, including flight attendants and fellow passengers. CBS

When Debt Collector Robocalls Illegally Hijack Your Cell Phone
Sixty-eight percent of cell phone owners receive at least some unwanted sales calls, according to Pew Research, with a quarter of them reporting that it happens several times a week, and 34 percent say they get calls for collection of debt they don’t owe. “Every single day across the country, people are getting hundreds of thousands of calls for debts that they don’t owe, and that’s illegal,” said attorney Billy Howard, the founder of the Consumer Protection Department at Tampa-based law firm Morgan and Morgan. “It’s a $500 minimum violation for every unwanted phone call to your cell phone, and could be worth up to $1,500 per call.”  ABC

Skin Cancer Is 'Major Public Health Problem,' Surgeon General Says
The advice normally offered by overprotective, sunscreen-wielding mothers got a boost from the U.S. Surgeon General today, as the country's lead health officials implored Americans to better protect their skin. Boris D. Lushniak, who was appointed Surgeon General in July of 2013, recently spoke at a Washington Post forum about the growing risks of skin cancer. The talk preceded today's official "Call to Action," released by Lushniak's office. Incidents of melanoma are rising -- tripling over the last 30 years -- while other types of cancers are falling. But even though Lushniak's call to action posited skin cancer as "a major public health problem that requires immediate action," he told Post reporters that doctors and health experts still aren't sure what's causing the increase. UPI

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U.S. To Seize $100 Million Of Iraqi Kurdish Oil In Tanker Off Texas
U.S. authorities were set on Tuesday to seize a cargo of crude worth more than $100 million from Iraqi Kurdistan anchored off the Texas coast after a judge approved a request from Baghdad, raising the stakes in an oil sales dispute between Iraq's central government and the autonomous region. The tanker United Kalavrvta, carrying some 1 million barrels of Iraqi Kurdish crude oil, arrived near Galveston Bay on Saturday, but has yet to unload its disputed cargo. The U.S. judge's overnight approval of the request from Baghdad on Monday deals another blow to the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) attempts to establish its own oil sales, which are seen as a crucial step in the autonomous region's push for independence. Baghdad, which is struggling to contain a Sunni Islamist insurgency that has captured swathes of central and northern Iraq, sees such oil sales as smuggling. Reuters

New Mexico Teen's Invention Aims To Stop Hot-Car Deaths
An Albuquerque teenager is doing her part to put an end to the spate of children being left in sweltering hot cars. Alissa Chavez, a high school senior, has a patent for a device she calls "The Hot Seat," a pad that is placed inside a car seat or booster seat that works with a driver's keychain or car alarm and an app on their phone. If a child is left inside the car and the temperature rises, alarms activate. "It's loud enough to grab people's attention around the vehicle, as well as remind the parent on their key fob or their cell phone," Chavez told NBC affiliate KOB.com after receiving recognition from the mayor of Albuquerque for her gadget. Chavez said she came up with the idea for her eighth grade science fair, and is now raising money for a prototype. MSNBC

As fighting In Gaza Rages On, John Kerry Battles Perception He’s A Hapless Bumbler
As Israeli forces stepped up their attacks against Hamas in Gaza Tuesday, the Obama administration is battling the growing perception among Israelis that Secretary of State John F. Kerry is a hapless bumbler in his search for a truce. After his latest round of mediation failed to achieve a cease-fire, Mr. Kerry has been portrayed in the Israeli media as a blunderer who unwittingly represented the interests of Hamas, a terrorist organization. “U.S. Secretary of State of State John Kerry ruined everything,” columnist Ari Shavit wrote in Monday’s Haaretz, Israel’s most influential liberal newspaper. “Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a ‘strategic terrorist attack.’” Washington Times

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Florida Warns Beachgoers Of Flesh-Eating Bacteria In State Waters
Crash-landing planes aren't the only hazard on Florida beaches: The state has warned that high levels of flesh-eating Vibrio bacteria have been detected in its waters, Gawker reports. The naturally-occurring bacteria, which thrives in warm, moderately salty water, causes around 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the US yearly and killed at least 11 people in Florida last year, according to Florida Today. Health officials say the bacteria is especially dangerous to people with weak immune systems and is fatal around 50% of the time when it gets into people's bloodstreams, the Broward-Palm Beach New Times reports. Fox News

Powerful TV Ad From Gun Safety Group Pressures GOP Members Of Congress
Republican senators are once again feeling pressure after Everytown for Gun Safety released an ad in an attempt to rally support for a bill that would place gun restrictions on domestic abusers. The group -- funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- is running the ad in New Hampshire, Arizona, Nevada and Washington D.C. Tuesday. The ad encourages viewers to call their respective legislatures --Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Dean Heller, R-Nev. -- to voice their support for Sen. Amy Klobuchar's, D-Minn., bill, which will have its first hearing Wednesday. UPI

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Average Price Of Electricity Climbs To All-Time Record
For the first time ever, the average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity in the United States has broken through the 14-cent mark, climbing to a record 14.3 cents in June, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Before this June, the highest the average price for a KWH had ever gone was 13.7 cents, the level it hit in June, July, August and September of last year. The 14.3-cents average price for a KWH recorded this June is about 4.4 percent higher than that previous record. CNS News

Hillary Clinton: Hamas Uses Human Shields Because ‘Gaza Is Pretty Small’
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained that Hamas hides their military weapons among civilians due mainly to geography, not religious extremism or hatred of the state of Israel. In an interview with Fusion TV, Clinton said “Hamas puts its missiles, its rockets in civilian areas; part of it is because Gaza is pretty small and it’s densely populated.” At no time does Clinton mention the official charter of Hamas, a terrorist organization, which denies the right of Israel to exist and asks all Muslims to help “obliterate” it: But, it seems Sec. Clinton believes geographical limitations trump deeply-held religious hatred, in terms of motivations for terrorism. CNS News

Obama Thanks Muslims For ‘Building The Very Fabric Of Our Nation’
President Obama and his wife sent out a joint statement to Muslims in America for the Eid-al-Fitr holiday, thanking them for their contributions in “building the fabric” of the country. The statement, as posted on the White House website, reads in part: “As Muslims throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Eid-al-Fitr, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to them and their families. … [The holiday] celebrates the common values that unite us in our humanity and reinforces the obligations that people of all faiths have to each other, especially those impacted by poverty, conflict and disease.” The Obamas then express appreciation to the Muslim community for helping forge America. Washington Times

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Israel Intensifies Gaza Attacks After Netanyahu Warning
More than 100 Palestinians are said to have been killed as Israel intensified its bombardment of Gaza and a ceasefire proposal was rebuffed by Hamas. Gaza's only power plant was hit as Israel carried out air strikes targeting sites linked to Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza. Israel intercepted rockets over central and southern parts of the country. Later, Hamas turned down a ceasefire proposal from a senior Palestinian in the West Bank. The proposal by Yasser Abed Rabbo of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) came in the aftermath of a deadly series of air strikes overnight and on Tuesday morning. BBC

Twitter Reports A Loss But Growing Number Of Users
Social networking service Twitter reported a loss of $145m (£86m) during the second-quarter period from March to June. That is more than triple the loss the company reported during the same period a year ago. Twitter said it had 271 million monthly users - up 24% from a year ago - allaying investor fears that the service is not growing fast enough. Shares in the firm soared over 35% in after-hours trading. "Our strong financial and operating results for the second quarter show the continued momentum of our business," said chief executive Dick Costolo in a statement, noting Twitter's strong user figures during the World Cup. BBC

GOP To Deny Bulk Of Obama Request For Increased Funds For Migrant Crisis
Republicans in the House of Representatives are planning to deny the White House the vast bulk of its request for resources to manage the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally into the US. Instead, Republicans have coalesced around a plan to provide President Barack Obama’s administration with a significantly slimmed-down package designed to help agencies cope with the thousands of Central American children arriving at the border over the summer. Guardian

Chinese Hackers Steal Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Data
A Chinese hacking group has been accused of stealing data from Israel’s billion-dollar Iron Dome missile system. The state-sponsored Comment Crew hacking group, thought to operate out of China, was responsible for attacks from 2011 onwards on three Israeli defence technology companies Elisra Group, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (Rads) all involved with the Iron Dome project. Guardian

Driverless Cars Heading Onto British Roads In 2015
Driverless cars will start appearing on British roads next year, ministers will announce on Wednesday. The Government wants to change the rules to allow companies to start running trials of cars that do not need a human driver on UK streets, industry sources said. It means the first computer-controlled vehicles will be seen on quiet British streets by January next year. Ministers will update the law to ensure that driverless cars can take to the streets – a move which will require a change in the Highway Code. Telegraph

Morning Sickness May Mean Healthier, Intelligent Baby
Mothers who suffer morning sickness may have a healthier pregnancy with a lower chance of miscarrying, according to a study that also suggests the baby may also be more intelligent. An analysis of research studies has found a host of benefits associated with vomiting and nausea in pregnancy. It is thought that the sickness may be triggered by higher levels of hormones indicating a healthier pregnancy. The Duchess of Cambridge suffered a severe form of morning sickness while pregnant with Prince George, called hyperemesis gravidarum which requires treatment in hospital. Telegrpah

Citing Humanitarian Impact, Ban Warns Against Further Escalation In Gaza Conflict
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly urged all sides to avoid any further escalation in the Gaza conflict, warning of the devastating humanitarian impact on civilians in the enclave who have already suffered immensely since the crisis started. The United Nations chief made the appeal in a statement issued last night by his spokesperson, after leaflets were reportedly dropped by the Israeli Defence Forces in the northern Gaza Strip warning tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes and evacuate to Gaza City. “If true, this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza strip who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days,” said the statement. UN News

Ban Lauds Nicaragua's 'Forward-Looking' Energy Policy During Day-Long Visit
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed Nicaragua's “forward-looking” energy policy as he arrived on an official visit to discuss how the United Nations and the Central American nation can work together in promoting peace and sustainable development. “Renewable energy is important to promoting sustainable development – this is the golden thread in achieving sustainable development in the social, economic and environmental areas,” Mr. Ban noted in remarks at a press encounter with President Daniel Ortega in the capital, Managua. “The United Nations is working very hard with Member States to promote sustainable development and also to achieve a climate change agreement by next year,” he added. UN News

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