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Older News Archivescom0116

U.S. Justice Dept. Cites Missteps By Police During Ferguson Unrest
Police responding to race-related protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer made a series of missteps, including antagonizing crowds with attack dogs and military-style tactics, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice. The report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, is a draft summary of a document the DOJ plans to release in the coming weeks evaluating law enforcement actions. A Justice Department spokesperson said the "after-action assessment ... will convey the findings and lessons learned." The report focuses on the tactics of police from Ferguson, St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the Missouri Highway Patrol. All four agencies tried to quell the protests and riots that broke out after a white Ferguson police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, on Aug. 9, 2014. Reuters
VOA VIEW: DOJ exaggeration and unfounded incrimination.

West Nile Virus Found In New York City Mosquitoes
West Nile virus was detected in New York City's mosquitoes, the city Department of Health said. Infected mosquitoes were collected from the Glen Oaks neighborhood in Queens and along New Dorp Beach on Staten Island, the health department says. Officials say that no cases of the virus have been reported in humans this year.
The health department said it is trapping the bugs and treating water-catching basins in the affected areas. Officials are also using larvicide to prevent the growth of mosquito populations. MSNBC

Court Decisions Provided Nationwide Unity For States Split By Ideology
The Supreme Court was no less polarized this term, nor were its opinions any less divided. But its landmark decisions saving the Affordable Care Act and declaring that the Constitution provides a right for same-sex couples to marry create nationwide norms for an increasingly divided country. That’s not to say the rulings were popular, although polls show that the cases came out pretty much the way they might have if put to a national vote. But the court’s decisions in the two cases that will define the term imposed a blanket solution for states that are split by politics and ideology. Same-sex couples can marry no matter where they live. Federal benefits making health insurance affordable accrue whether a person lives in a state that is hos­pitable or hostile to President Obama’s health-care law. Washington Post
VOA VIEW: The Supreme Court's vote was nowhere close to a national vote results.

Trade Schools Have To Find Grads Jobs, Or Lose Financial Aid
Exotic dancers hired as admissions counselors. Recruiters told to seek out "impatient" individuals who have "few people in their lives who care about them." Military personnel still recovering from brain damage told to sign on the dotted line. In the two decades since trade schools started popping up on U.S. stock exchanges to maximize profits, allegations of misconduct have been rampant. On Wednesday, new rules go into effect for any school with a career-training program. Graduates have to be able to earn enough money to repay their student loans, or a school risks losing access to financial aid. In general, annual loan payments shouldn't exceed 20 percent of a graduate's discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. Houston Chronicle

Obama Aims To Change Conversation Around Health Care Law
President Barack Obama is aiming to use the momentum from a recent Supreme Court victory for his health care law to change the conversation from talk about undoing his signature domestic achievement to talk about how to improve it. Obama was headed to the Nashville, Tennessee-area on Wednesday to discuss ways to improve the Affordable Care Act, including by extending Medicaid coverage to more low-income people. Tennessee is one of the few states where a Republican governor has tried to expand coverage for the poor. Obama wants to change the conversation after the U.S. Supreme Court last week turned away a major challenge to the law that would have endangered health insurance for millions of Americans. In a 6-3 decision, the justices upheld federal financial aid to millions of low- and middle-income Americans to help pay for insurance premiums regardless of where they live. Atlanta Journal


'Top Predator' Humans Causing Catastrophic Ecosystem Shifts
Never before has a single species become the top predator on land and sea, and human dominance over the natural environment has caused shifts in world ecosystems unprecedented in the last 500 million years, researchers said on Tuesday. Human activity is leading to an international decline in the variety of plants and animals through extinction, as organisms not useful to human needs are killed off by ecosystem changes or over-exploitation, according to a new study. The biggest immediate losers will be large predators like tigers and lions while creatures domesticated by humans, including house cats, will thrive in the new world, said Jan Zalasiewicz, a professor of palaeobiology at the University of Leicester in central England, and co-author of the study. MSNCB

Elizabeth Warren Is Smitten: ‘I Love What Bernie Sanders Is Talking About’
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has emerged as a hero among liberals across the country, said she loves what Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is talking about on the presidential campaign trail but that it’s too early to say whether she would campaign with Mr. Sanders at some point. “Bernie’s out talking about the issues that the American people want to hear about,” Ms. Warrentold the Boston Herald. With Ms. Warren out of the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, some of her supporters have latched onto Mr. Sanders‘ message of higher taxes on the wealthy, expanded Social Security, and attacks on big banks and corporations. Washington Times

Relations Between Blacks And Whites Are Worse Under Obama, Americans Say
While a majority of Americans now approve of how President Obama is handling race relations in the country, more Americans still think relations between blacks and whites have gotten worse under Mr. Obama than those who think they’ve gotten better or stayed the same, a new CNN/ORC poll said. Forty-three percent of Americans said they think relations have gotten worse, 20 percent said they think they’ve gotten better, and 36 percent said they think they’ve stayed the same. Thirty-three percent of blacks said they think relations have gotten better, 35 percent said they’ve gotten worse, and 32 percent said they’ve stayed the same. Seventeen percent of whites said they think they’ve gotten better, 47 percent said they think they’ve gotten worse, and 35 percent said they think they’ve stayed the same. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Majority Americans do not approve of Obama - relations between blacks and whites are much worse.

Obama: Greek Crisis Is A Big Problem For Europe, Less So For America
Greece's financial crisis "is an issue of substantial concern" for the whole world, President Obama said on Tuesday. That said, he added, "It is an issue primarily of concern to Europe." "For the American people, this is not something that we believe will have a major shock to the system," the president said at a White House press conference with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, "but obviously it's very painful for the Greek people and it can have a significant effect on growth rates in Europe." He added, "It's something that we take seriously, but it's not something that I think should prompt overreactions. So far I think the markets have properly factored in the risks involved." Mr. Obama noted that he's worked with European allies on this issue since Greece's serious economic problems developed about five years ago. CBS

Toyota’s Top Female Executive Resigns After Arrest In Japan
Julie Hamp, Toyota’s most senior female executive, has resigned following her arrest in Japan on suspicion of drug law violations, the automaker said Wednesday.
Hamp tendered her resignation through her attorneys on Tuesday, and Toyota Motor Corp. accepted it because of “the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders,” the company said. Hamp, a 55-year-old American who was Toyota’s newly appointed head of public relations, was arrested on June 18 on suspicion of importing oxycodone, a narcotic pain killer, into Japan. The drug is tightly controlled in the country. Toyota declined to disclose other details, noting the investigation was ongoing. Washington Post


Oklahoma To Quickly Resume Executions After Supreme Court Decision
Oklahoma is looking to resume executions as soon as August after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that a drug used in the state’s lethal injection mix was appropriate and legal, officials said on Tuesday. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed a request with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set execution dates for three death row inmates who were a part of the suit before the U.S. Supreme Court - Richard Glossip, John Grant and Benjamin Cole, all convicted murderers. Lawyers for the inmates argued the drug, a sedative named midazolam, cannot achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery, making it unsuitable for executions. "Despite the Court's unwillingness to step in on this important issue, and given the substantial risk of harm, litigation surely will continue," said Dale Baich, one of the attorneys for the inmates. Reuters

Confederate Flag Debate Sparks South Carolina Clash
A heated confrontation unfolded in the shadow of the South Carolina statehouse over the Confederate flag, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. "That flag just does not deserve to fly at all in South Carolina and we want it down," one person said. People for and against the display of the controversial banner, clashed Monday in the state's capital, Columbia. "The blood on my teeth, the blood on my hands is no comparison to the Southern blood that runs through my veins," Joe Lindler said. He was hit during the brawl and said "racism has no part" in the flag. "I'm gonna tell you one thing, I ain't sitting down; this'll just make me walk taller," he said.
Police were forced to separate the protesters. CBS
VOA VIEW: Blacks and liberals are turning the Confederate flag into a race issue.

President Obama On Iran Talks: Still 'Hard Negotiations' To Be Done
President Obama said the U.S. and the P5+1 partners must still engage in "some hard negotiations" with Iran before finalizing a deal on Iran's nuclear program. “There’s still some hard negotiations to take place but ultimately it’s going to be up to the Iranians to determine whether or not they meet the requirements the international community has set forth,” Obama said today during a joint press conference with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Obama's comments came shortly after a State Department official announced the deadline to secure a deal with Iran would extend beyond today until July 7. ABC

Retailers Slam Obama’s Overtime Plan As Costing Billions
Retailers and manufacturers blasted President Barack Obama’s plan to make more Americans eligible for overtime pay, saying the move would stunt workers’ careers and cost companies billions. The National Retail Federation says Obama’s proposed rule change to greatly increase how many salaried employees can claim overtime would force companies to use more part-time and entry-level workers. Businesses also may offer fewer promotions and convert salaried employees to hourly to avoid raising their pay, the NRF said. “The proposal is going to cost billions of dollars,” said Neil Trautwein, vice president for the NRF, the industry’s largest trade group. “It’s going to limit advancement opportunities, and ultimately it will reduce employee benefits.” Bloomberg

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US Heads To World Cup Final With 2-0 Win Over Germany
Carli Lloyd remembers putting the ball on its spot and shutting out the noise of more than 51,000 anxious fans. Then she blasted that ball into the back of the net. Lloyd's penalty kick got the United States on the board, and the Americans went on to a 2-0 victory over top-ranked Germany in the semifinals of the Women's World Cup on Tuesday night. "That's exactly what I did, shut out everything around me and focused on what I needed to do," she said. Lloyd's penalty kick in the 69th minute went into the right side of the goal less than 10 minutes after Celia Sasic shot wide on a penalty kick for Germany. Kelley O'Hara came in off the bench and scored in the 85th minute, delighting the pro-American crowd. Hope Solo posted her fifth straight shutout, continuing a dominant run for the American defense. The second-ranked United States has gone 513 minutes without conceding a goal. Charlotte Observer

Clinton: Fight Obesity On Many Fronts
As a new mother, Chelsea Clinton said Tuesday that she is coming to understand the nation’s obesity epidemic on a new level. Clinton spoke in a packed ballroom at the 8th Biennial Childhood Obesity Conference, which is set to run through Thursday at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley. She holds a master’s degree in public health and, as vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, has led the organization her parents created in its focus on health programs. But the 35-year-old said it took the birth of her daughter, Charlotte, nine months ago to truly change her perspective on what it takes to raise children with healthy habits. So much of what influences kids comes from the environment that surrounds them, she said. San Diego Union

CIA Lagging In Recruiting, Promoting Minorities
The Central Intelligence Agency is falling behind in recruiting racial and ethnic minorities and promoting them to its highest ranks, according to an internal study the agency released Tuesday. Minorities make up less than 24% of the CIA workforce, and only 10.8% of its top Senior Intelligence Service. Among the most experienced employees whose ranks feed into the leadership jobs, known as GS-15s in the parlance of government pay scales, minorities make up 15.2%. Even worse, in the past seven years, the percentage of recruits who are minorities has dropped precipitously to 19.3% from a high point of 31.5% in 2008. CNN
VOA VIEW: No discrimination - minorities are not qualified and do not apply.

State Department Will Release More Hillary Clinton E-Mails At 9 P.M.
Saying that it is releasing another batch of e-mails from Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state "in further demonstration of our commitment to transparency," the State Department told journalists Tuesday that it would post some 3,000 pages worth online at 9 p.m. ET. "This is outrageous," said Jason Leopold of Vice News, the reporter who successfully sued to win release of more than 30,000 e-mails that the Democratic presidential candidate sent on a personal e-mail account using a private server while she was working as the nation's top diplomat. "There's no other reason other than to make sure people are sleeping and it just doesn't get any coverage."
Leopold broke the news of the unusual release time, which had been provided to reporters as background guidance, on his Twitter account. Bloomberg

Obama Says Brazil, U.S. Are ‘Natural Partners’ Around World
President Barack Obama and visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sought Tuesday to cast their nations as "natural partners" collaborating closely on critical issues like climate and regional diplomacy, glossing over recent tensions over spying that have strained relations between the U.S. and Brazil. At a joint White House news conference, Obama said the relationship the U.S. has with Brazil is a "cornerstone" of America's relations with Latin America. Rousseff said the relationship was on an "upward trajectory" and described her talks with Obama this week as fruitful. "I believe that this visit marks one more step in a new more ambitious chapter in the relations between our countries," Obama said. "We are focused on the future." Las Vegas Sun


Christie Announces 2016 White House Bid, Vows 'I Mean What I Say'
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie returned to his alma mater on Tuesday to formally announce his 2016 presidential bid, embracing his blunt-talking persona as he strives to stand out from the jam-packed field. “I mean what I say and I say what I mean, and that’s what America needs right now,” Christie said from a podium at Livingston High School, where he stood with his wife and children. At times, Christie, who delivered his remarks in front of a large American flag and without a teleprompter, sharply criticized Republicans and Democrats. “Both parties have failed our country,” he said, declaring he is “out to change the world.” Christie, a former U.S. attorney who is serving his second term as governor of the Garden State, is the 14th Republican to enter the 2016 race. Fox News

Markets Bounce On Leaked Athens Bailout Memo
European markets and U.S. stock futures barreled higher Wednesday after a leaked letter from Greece's government to eurozone officials appeared to show that Athens is ready to concede to creditor demands over new bailout terms. The memo, obtained by the Financial Times, comes as eurozone finance ministers were preparing to hold a conference call later Wednesday in Brussels to discuss a last-minute bailout proposal from Athens. Stock markets, volatile all week, raced higher on the report.
Germany's DAX index and the CAC 40 in Paris advanced around 3%. Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 stock futures were all up 1% after earlier trading flat. "As you will note, our amendments are concrete and they fully respect the robustness and credibility of the design of the overall program," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wrote in the letter, sent to Brussels late Tuesday. USA Today

Another Black Church Burns After NAACP Warns About Spected Arson Attacks
The NAACP warned black churches Tuesday to take "necessary precautions" as authorities in Southern states investigate whether several church fires over the last week were arsons. Citing a series of arsons that struck black churches across the South in the 1990s, the NAACP used a Twitter hashtag that went viral this week and tweeted Tuesday, "Almost 20 years later, we must again ask, #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches?" Hours later, another historically black church went up in flames. Tuesday's fire at Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, S.C. -- about 60 miles north of Charleston -- comes 20 years after the same congregation's church was burned to the ground by men with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Sun Sentinel
VOA VIEW: Racial tentions start again - promoted this time.

Report Shows Widespread Mistreatment By Health Workers During Childbirth
They are slapped and pinched during labor, yelled at, denied pain medicine, neglected and forced to share beds with other women who just gave birth. And that is just a partial list of the abuses and humiliations inflicted on women around the world as their babies are born. A new report based on information from 34 countries, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, finds that “many women globally experience poor treatment during childbirth, including abusive, neglectful or disrespectful care.” This kind of mistreatment can drive women away from hospitals and undermine international goals of reducing deaths during childbirth — now about 300,000 a year. Most maternal deaths are preventable: They are caused by problems that can be treated, like bleeding, infection and high blood pressure. Often, to save the woman’s life, the care must be quick and expert. NY Times

China Scrambles To Reassure Jittery Stock Traders
Chinese authorities are scrambling to reassure jittery investors after soaring stock markets plunged, threatening to set back economic reform plans. The market benchmark soared 150 percent from the start of the boom late last year in one of the world's fastest runups. It hit a peak June 12 and then reversed course and plunged 28 percent. It rebounded temporarily Tuesday before losing 5.2 percent on Wednesday. A prolonged slump could disrupt Communist Party plans to use stock markets to make China's state-dominated economy more productive. The party wants state companies to raise money through stock sales to reduce debt and hopes they will compete harder if they answer to outside shareholders. It hopes stock investing will give an aging populace more options to save for retirement to ease demand for social spending. Kansas CIty Star

Trump Fights Back, Sues Univision For $500 Million
Univision may have fired Donald Trump, but the billionaire presidential hopeful is demanding a hefty severance package. In a press release issued Tuesday, Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and general counsel, announced Trump has filed a $500 million lawsuit against Univision Networks & Studios in New York State Supreme Court. A copy of the lawsuit claims “breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith, intentional interference with contractual relationship, defamation, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.” Trump says Doral-based Univision – the largest Spanish-language network in the U.S. – broke its contract with the Miss Universe Organization, which Trump owns, when it announced last week it would not broadcast the Miss USA pageant originally scheduled to air on July 12. Miami Herald

Obama's Approval Rating Grows Following Memorable Week
Could Barack Obama's great week mark a turning point in his poll numbers? After months of stagnant approval ratings, a new CNN/ORC poll finds that for the first time in more than two years, 50% of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the presidency. And his overall ratings are bolstered by increasingly positive reviews of his treatment of race relations and the economy. The new poll follows a week in which two Supreme Court cases boosted the president's legacy by upholding the government subsidies at the heart of Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act, and affirming same-sex couples' right to marry. All this while Obama took several opportunities to directly address the nation's racial tensions, closing out the week by singing "Amazing Grace" on national television. CNN
VOA VIEW: Foolish tainted liberal CNN poll.

First Lady Hosts Girl Scout Campout On White House Lawn
Some lucky Girl Scouts were set for the ultimate camping experience Tuesday: an overnight in tents pitched on the White House South Lawn. Until late-night rain and thunder washed out the campout. It was the first time that one of the country's most well-known expanses of manicured grass was turned into a campground, an excited Michelle Obama said as she greeted the 50 Girl Scouts who snagged coveted invitations to the outdoor sleepover. "This is something you can tell your kids and your grandkids," said Mrs. Obama, who appeared giddy with excitement as she pointed to the celebrated white building looming above rows of carefully arranged blue and white tents. "Do you understand the impact, the importance of this moment, today? It's exciting." SF Gate

Don’t Remember The Alamo? Texas Wants To Change That
It may be the most famous spot in Texas: Mission San Antonio de Valero, better known simply as The Alamo. The site where a rag-tag group of defenders, outnumbered in weapons and men, took on the Mexican Army in a pledge to fight 'till the last man standing. After a 90-minute battle, it was over. The defenders all died, but the 1836 battle is considered a turning point in the war for Texas independence. Military historian William McWhorter said it "galvanized" fighters who, a month later, defeated Mexican forces at the Battle of San Jacinto, "crying 'Remember the Alamo.'" Problem is, these days, the Alamo is decidedly unmemorable. The site, a 4.2-acre complex in the heart of downtown San Antonio, captures visitors' attention, on average, for less than eight minutes. Texas wants to change that. Fox News

Oklahoma Supreme Court Orders Removal Of 10 Commandments At State Capitol
 A monument of the 10 Commandments must be removed from the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds, the state's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The group of justices said the Oklahoma Constitution -- in Article 2, Section 5 -- bans the use of public property "for the benefit of any religious purpose." Even though the 10 Commandments monument was paid for with private funding, the court said it is on public property and benefits or supports a system of religion and is therefore unconstitutional. The 10 Commandments statue was ordered to be removed from the capitol grounds. UPI

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Jeb Bush To Release 33 Years Of Personal Tax Returns
Jeb Bush is releasing a third of a century of his personal income tax returns, a record disclosure for presidential candidates. The returns Bush planned to release late Tuesday were to include the eight years since he left office as Florida governor, a period during which he served on numerous corporate boards and saw his income rise sharply. Presidential contenders are required to file financial disclosure forms within 30 days of announcing their candidacy. But those records reflect only sources of income, transactions, assets and liabilities, and the same information for their spouses. The figures are also categorized in ranges, such as $5 million to $25 million. Las Vegas Sun

O Say Can You Breathe? Fireworks Pollute Air
July Fourth fireworks fill the skies across the nation with more than sparkling bursts of color. They spew pollution, too. A study of 315 locations around the country found that the holiday explosions temporarily boosted the levels of airborne microscopic particles that can pose a health risk. At 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on July 4, levels of those particles were more than twice normal, on average, researchers found. But they tapered off overnight and fell back to normal by noon on July 5. Smaller studies have also linked fireworks to particle pollution.  Dian Seidel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who reported the results recently in the journal Atmospheric Environment said the study did not look for any resulting effects on health. Newsday

Bush Releases 33 Years Of Returns, Most Ever
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has earned nearly $28 million since leaving the Florida governor's mansion and has paid an average federal income tax rate of 36 percent in the last three decades, according to tax returns released by his campaign Tuesday. Bush posted the tax returns on a website that outlines his work history since 1981, including most of the time that has passed since he left office in 2007. In those recent years, Bush has served on many corporate boards and has seen his income rise sharply. "Today, I'm releasing 33 years of tax returns - more than any presidential candidate in history," Bush wrote on the website. From 2007 to 2013, he reported nearly $28 million in total income. His primary occupation was as a consultant, although he also made nearly $10 million giving speeches from 2007 through the end of last year. Philadelphia Inquirer

Obama Aides Knew Hillary Was Using Private Email In 2009
Top aides in the Obama White House knew Hillary Rodham Clinton had a private e-mail account as secretary of state, according to newly revealed correspondence that shows administration officials requested her personal address at the beginning of her tenure. As early as June 2009, Obama’s top political adviser, David Axelrod, asked for Clinton’s private address, which he received. Clinton also gave her home e-mail account to Obama’s then-chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. The revelations come from about 3,000 pages of Clinton e-mails — out of some 55,000 — released by the State Department Tuesday. It’s unclear whether top Obama officials knew Clinton had a home-brew server out of her Chappaqua home. NY Post
VOA VIEW: All knew of the national security breach.

Rand Paul 1st Major-Party Candidate To Court Pot Donors
Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul is courting donors from the marijuana business in a groundbreaking event in Denver. The Kentucky senator is holding a fundraiser Tuesday at the Cannabis Business Summit. Paul becomes the first major-party presidential candidate to publicly court donations from the pot industry. Though legal weed business owners have been active political donors for years, presidential candidates have shied away from holding fundraisers made up entirely of marijuana-related business owners. Paul has joined Democrats in the Senate to sponsor a bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana for medical reasons. The senator also backs a federal drug-sentencing overhaul. Tickets to the pot fundraiser start at $2,700. Tampa Tribune

US, Cuba To Announce Plan To Open Embassies
President Barack Obama will announce Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba have reached an agreement to open embassies in Havana and Washington, a senior administration official said. The announcement marks a major step in ending hostilities between the longtime foes. The U.S. and Cuba have been negotiating the reestablishment of embassies following the Dec. 17 announcement that they would move to restore ties. For Obama, ending Washington's half-century freeze with Cuba is seen as a major element of his foreign policy legacy. He has long touted the value of engagement and argued that the U.S. embargo on the communist island just 90 miles south of Florida was ineffective. Newsday

Cuba eliminates mother-to-child transmission of HIV, syphilis
Cuba has become the first country in the world to be validated by the World Health Organization for eliminating mother-to-child transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and syphilis. WHO launched an effort in 2007 to eliminate congenital syphilis and in 2011 launched a plan to eliminate new HIV infections in children, leading to declines in both. Until now, however, no country had effectively eliminated transmission of either virus from mothers to children during birth.Women with HIV have a 15 to 45 percent chance of transmitting HIV to their children during pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding, however if antiretroviral drugs are given to both mothers and children the risk drops to a little more than 1 percent. In the case of syphilis, diagnosis and treatment during pregnancy eliminates the chance of transmission. UPI

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US 'Continuously' Briefing Israel From Iran Talks
American diplomats currently negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program in Austria have been in constant communication with their Israeli counterparts. A senior United States official told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Wendy Sherman, US President Barack Obama's chief negotiator with Iran, "spoke in a secure call with [Israeli National Security Advisor] Yossi Cohen last week." "And experts have remained in continuous communication," the official continued. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon have criticized the emerging deal with Iran in recent days. Jerusalem Post

Netanyahu's Clandestine Trip To Hospital Fuels Talk Of Succession
The Zionist Union submitted a bill Monday night that would require Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to appoint a vice prime minister so it would be clear who would replace him if he is unable to function. Netanyahu gave Interior Minister Silvan Shalom the title of vice premier, which has no legal significance. He declined requests by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Transportation Minister Israel Katz for the title of vice prime minister that would make them prime minister if Netanyahu would be incapacitated. Zionist Union faction head Merav Michaeli submitted the bill following a report on Channel 2 that Netanyahu recently underwent two medical procedures in which he was put to sleep. Michaeli submitted a similar bill in the previous Knesset. Jerusalem Post

Egypt's Sisi Vows Tougher Laws After Prosecutor's Killing
Egypt's president has vowed to enact legal reforms so death sentences can be enforced more swiftly, a day after the assassination of the public prosecutor. At the funeral of Hisham Barakat, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi complained that the hand of justice was shackled by the law. He promised to unveil changes within days to allow death sentences to be implemented as soon as possible. Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members, including ousted President Mohammed Morsi, have been sentenced to death. As public prosecutor, Mr Barakat referred thousands to trial after the military overthrew Mr Morsi in 2013 and launched a crackdown on the Islamist movement. BBC

Virgin Atlantic Airline To Cut 500 Jobs
Virgin Atlantic is cutting about 500 managerial and support jobs just months after the airline announced a return to profit. The carrier, owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, said the aim was to create a simpler, more efficient structure with few management layers. The cuts will be made through re-deployment and redundancies. In March, Virgin Atlantic said it made a £14.4m pre-tax profit for 2014, after three years of losses. The airline, based at Crawley, West Sussex, has not yet disclosed the locations of the job losses. BBC

Islamic State Threatens To Topple Hamas In Gaza Strip In Video Statement
Islamic State insurgents have threatened to turn the Gaza Strip into another of their Middle East fiefdoms, accusing Hamas, the organisation that rules the Palestinian territory, of being insufficiently stringent about religious enforcement. The video statement, issued from an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, was a rare public challenge to Hamas, which has been cracking down on jihadis in Gaza who oppose its truces with Israel and reconciliation with the US-backed rival Palestinian faction Fatah. “We will uproot the state of the Jews [Israel] and you and Fatah, and all of the secularists are nothing and you will be overrun by our creeping multitudes,” said a masked Islamic State member in the message addressed to the “tyrants of Hamas”. Guardian

Tunisia Gunman Trained In Libya At Same Time As Bardo Museum Attackers
Tunisian authorities have said the gunman who killed 38 tourists in Sousse on Friday was trained at the same Libyan jihadist camp as the two suicide gunmen who attacked the Bardo museum in Tunis in March. The Libyan link was disclosed by a senior security official, Rafik Chelli, who told Associated Press that Seifeddine Rezgui, who carried out Friday’s beach hotel attack, trained at an Islamic State base near the western town of Sabratha in January. “Investigations show Saif Rezgui was in contact with terrorists in Libya and that he is likely to have trained in a Libyan camp,” he said. Guardian

Despite Gains, 2.4 Billion People Worldwide Still Lack Basic Sanitation
United Nations agencies tracking access to water and sanitation targets against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) warned today that the lack of progress on sanitation threatens to undermine the child survival and health benefits from gains in access to safe drinking water. According to the Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment, released today by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every three, or 2.4 billion people on the planet, are still without sanitation facilities – including 946 million people who defecate in the open. UN News

Ban Urges Global Community To Help Syria End ‘Cataclysmic Conflict’
The international community should be ashamed that three years since the adoption of the Geneva Communiqué on Syria, the Middle Eastern country’s “cataclysmic conflict” continues unabated, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today. In a statement released by his spokesperson’s office this afternoon, the Secretary-General lamented the lack of movement by global actors towards resolving the four year-long civil war in which more than 200,000 Syrians have been killed and millions more displaced. UN News

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