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NEWS   THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2015   NEWS

President Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal Officially Unstoppable In Congress
President Obama's landmark Iran nuclear agreement will survive congressional review. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., has announced her support for the Iran nuclear deal, becoming the 34th Democratic senator to back the president, and giving Obama the numbers in the upper chamber to sustain his promised veto of the resolution of disapproval of the deal. “No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime. I have concluded that this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb. For these reasons, I will vote in favor of this deal. However, Congress must also reaffirm our commitment to the safety and security of Israel,” Mikulski said in a statement. ABC
VOA VIEW: Republicans must stand their ground and vote down the Iran deal - voters will deal firmly against Democrats who vote for the deal.

Carter: North Korea Has No Chance Of Victory Against The U.S.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned Tuesday that if North Korea attacks South Korea, the U.S. will respond and that North Korea would have no chance of victory.
"We need to make sure that the North Koreans always understand that any provocation with them will be dealt with and that they stand no chance of defeating us and our allies in South Korea," Carter said in a webcast where he took questions from troops stationed around the world. "It's probably the single place on the world -- in the world -- where war could erupt at the snap of our fingers," he told them. CNN

Judge Refuses To Dismiss Charges Against Officers In Freddie Gray Case
A Baltimore judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss charges against six police officers accused in the death in April of a black man who was in their custody. During a pretrial hearing, Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams denied a defense motion for the charges to be dropped against the officers in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who endured a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody on April 12 and died a week later. Defense attorneys had sought to drop the charges, which include second-degree murder, because of prosecutorial misconduct on the part of State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Williams, however, said that while he was troubled by Mosby's public comments about the case, they were not likely to prejudice a jury. Fox News
VOA VIEW: The officers have a prejudice State Attorney and Judge.

Obama’s ‘Extreme Climate-Change Agenda’ Blasted
Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, threw cold water Wednesday on President Obama’s Alaska climate-change tour, saying the president’s proposed regulatory fixes have put him on “thin ice.” “The president is on thin ice to claim his costly plan will address climate change or benefit Americans,” said the Texas Republican in a statement. Mr. Obama, who visited Alaska this week for an international climate-change conference, painted climate-driven doomsday scenarios in his remarks, warning that “if we do nothing to keep the glaciers from melting faster, and oceans from rising faster, and forests from burning faster, and storms from growing stronger, we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.” Washington Times

In Alaska, Obama Becomes 1St President To Enter The Arctic
President Barack Obama crossed the Arctic Circle on Wednesday in a first by a sitting U.S. president, telling residents in a far-flung Alaska village that their plight should be the world's wake-up call on global warming. Obama's visit to Kotzebue, a town of some 3,000 people in the Alaska Arctic, was designed to snap the country to attention by illustrating the ways warmer temperatures have already threatened entire communities and ways of life in Alaska. He said, despite progress in reducing greenhouse gases, the planet is already warming and the U.S. isn't doing enough to stop it. "I've been trying to make the rest of the country more aware of a changing climate, but you're already living it," Obama told a crowd of more than 1,000 in this rough-and-tumble town on Alaska's western coast. Philadelphia Inquirer

Clinton Foundation Looked To Fly CEO Of Sanctioned Oil Company To US
Bill Clinton’s foundation, which sought but failed to receive State Department approval for him to give speeches tied to North Korea and the Congo, also asked that the head of a Malaysian oil company doing business with Iran be let into the United States, unsealed emails reveal. The Clinton Foundation sought the go-ahead for Shamsul Azhar bin Abbas, the CEO of state-owned Petronas, to attend the foundation’s annual meeting in New York, despite the company’s Iran dealings — which ran counter to sanctions that Clinton signed as president in 1996. Amitabh Desai, a foundation employee, made the request in an August 2012 e-mail to Cheryl Mills, chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. NY Post
VOA VIEW: The Clinton foundations is a money laundering scam.

Republican Party Asks Candidates To Sgn Loyalty Pledge
The loyalty pledge is aimed squarely at Donald Trump. Responding to growing pressure from party donors and officials to dissuade Donald Trump from mounting an independent campaign for president, the Republican National Committee (RNC) on Wednesday asked each of the party’s presidential candidates to sign a statement vowing not to run as a third-party candidate. With little warning, committee officials called and emailed campaign representatives requesting that they put in writing what every candidate, except for Trump, has already pledged to do. “I ______ affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” the document, on RNC letterhead, states. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.” Seattle Times

Israel Unveils 1,800-Year-Old Sarcophagus
Israel has unveiled an 1,800-year-old sarcophagus that workers found at a building site and initially tried to conceal. The Antiquities Authority called the sarcophagus, which was shown to media Thursday, "one of the most important and beautiful" ever found in Israel. The two-ton limestone coffin features a life-size carving of a human figure wearing a toga on the lid and designs around the sides, including a Medusa head. Archaeologist Gaby Mazor says the piece dates back to the 3rd century and was likely commissioned by a wealthy Roman family. Tampa Tribune

China Shows Off Rising Power In Marking WWII Defeat Of Japan
With fighter jets roaring overhead, China's leader presided Thursday over a massive parade of tanks, missiles and troops that displayed growing military might, but also pledged to reduce the army by 300,000 troops in a bid to show that his country poses no expansionist threat. The spectacle through the heart of Beijing commemorated Japan's World War II defeat seven decades ago, with helicopters zooming across the sky in an array forming the number 70, but the event also underlined President Xi Jinping's determination to make China the pre-eminent Asian power. Xi kicked off the proceedings with a speech from atop iconic Tiananmen Gate, flanked by Chinese leaders past and present along with foreign dignitaries including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Tampa Tribune

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Legionnaire's Outbreaks Par For The Course, CDC Says
Legionnaires' disease has been reported in a handful of states this summer, leading to 19 deaths and more than 100 illnesses. The unrelated cases are part of a typical pattern seen with a disease that tends to appear in warm weather and is mostly dangerous for people who already are sick or weakened. While such outbreaks have become more common in recent years, experts don't know if that's because of better reporting or surveillance, or if the disease, a type of pneumonia, is truly becoming more prevalent, said Dr. Matthew Moore, a medical epidemiologist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regardless, he said disease activity this summer is pretty much "par for the course." MSNBC

SAT Scores Slip Slightly; More Students Take Test
Student performance on the SAT college entrance exam is lagging, continuing a mostly downward trend over the last five years. The College Board says in a report that a record number of students took the exam. The nonprofit organization, which administers the exam, said in a report released Thursday that the mean score in reading was 495, down from 497 the previous year. For math, it was 511, down from 513. Writing scores dropped three points, to 484 from 487. The top score in each category is 800. The latest scores continue a decline since 2010, when the means were 500 in reading, 515 in math, and 491 in writing. A record 1.7 million students from the Class of 2015 took the exam, up from 1.67 million in the 2014 class. Houston Chronicle

Pondering Campaign, Biden Sicks Close To Obama
Exploring a presidential campaign, Vice President Joe Biden is presenting himself as a natural heir to President Barack Obama's policies, previewing his potential pitch to voters during a trip to the crucial swing state of Florida. Biden planned to outline the Obama administration's role in brokering a nuclear agreement with Iran during a meeting with Jewish leaders in South Florida on Thursday morning. It would follow a robust defense of Obama's work to address middle-class economics and college affordability during a Wednesday stop at a Miami community college. "We find ourselves on the verge right now of a potential for an economic renaissance in this country. It's not because of Barack Obama and Joe Biden," the vice president said, adding: "There's a reason for it. We are better positioned than any other nation in the world ... to be the leading economic power in the 21st century." Houston Chronicle

Clinton Emails Contained Spy Satellite Data On North Korean Nukes
One of the most serious potential breaches of national security identified so far by the intelligence community inside Hillary Rodham Clinton’s private emails involves the relaying of classified information concerning the movement of North Korean nuclear assets, which was obtained from spy satellites. Multiple intelligence sources who spoke to The Washington Times, solely on the condition of anonymity, said concerns about the movement of the North Korean information through Mrs. Clinton’s unsecured server are twofold. WashingtonTimes
VOA IEW: Oops!

Bush Tweaks Trump With New "Which Candidate Are You?" Quiz
In the latest in a series of attacks against real estate mogul Donald Trump, Jeb Bush's campaign unveiled a "Which candidate are you?" quiz Wednesday, intent on reminding voters of Trump's changing political views over the years. "Would you rather support a candidate who opposes the Iran deal or [a candidate who] thought Hillary Clinton would negotiate a good Iran deal?" the quiz queries. "Backed an assault weapons ban or was applauded by the NRA for a Six Pack of Freedom (pro-gun, pro-hunting laws)?" CBS

Needle Exchange Policy Prevented HIV
Lifting a ban on spending city money on needle exchanges for intravenous drug users prevented 120 new cases of HIV in two years in Washington, according to a new study that researchers hope can help other communities deal with a surge in addicts shooting up. “Policy change makes a difference,” says Monica Ruiz of George Washington University, lead author of the research being published Thursday in the journal AIDS and Behavior. “While this study looks at (Washington), D.C., we’re seeing the same thing in Indiana,” which recently changed its policy to make needle exchanges legal in certain public health emergencies amid the state’s largest-ever HIV outbreak. USA Today

Police, Firefighter Survivors Wait Years For Death Benefit
It's been almost five years since a brush fire pickup lunged forward and crushed volunteer firefighter Leonard Murray, killing him. But the Indiana man's family continues to wait for an answer from the federal government about whether they will or won't get a one-time death benefit meant to help the survivors of fallen public safety officers. Hundreds of families have waited for a year — and sometimes several years — for action from the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Programs set up in 1976 to help out families of police, firefighters and other emergency workers who die in the line of duty or after severely stressful events on the job. USA Today

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Malware Targeting Android Smartphones On The Rise
Malicious software targeting smartphones with the Android operating system is becoming more common, with some handsets already infected when they're bought. A report by German security firm G DATA found that the samples containing such malware had increased by 25 percent in the second quarter compared with the first three months of the year. The company's 10th such report, released Wednesday, found that analysts could identify a new strain of malware every 14 seconds. It says some phones by manufacturers such as Huawei and Xiaomi contain modified apps designed to spy on users or display advertising. CBS

Australian Leader Causes Offense By Comparing IS With Nazis
Australia's prime minister angered some Jewish leaders on Thursday by suggesting that the Islamic State movement was worse than Nazis during World War II. It is the third time this year that gaffe-prone Prime Minister Tony Abbott has riled Jewish Australians with Nazi analogies. Abbott used an interview with Sydney Radio 2GB on Thursday to credit Nazis with a sense of shame for atrocities they committed. "The Nazis did terrible evil, but they had a sufficient sense of shame to try to hide it," Abbott said. "These people boast about their evil, this is the extraordinary thing," Abbot said of Islamic State fighters. Atlanta Journal

Moynihan: Banks Went Wrong When They ‘Lost The Purpose’
Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan said banking took a wrong turn leading up to the financial crisis when it lost sight of what should have been its first and foremost focus – giving customers products they actually want and need. “The danger in banking, and where it got messed up ... is we lost the purpose – which was people said, ‘We’ll just make money,’” Moynihan said during a talk he gave Wednesday night at Christ Church Charlotte. “It’s always about customers. ... Are you doing things to add value to your customer base, which inherently adds value to society?” The CEO of the Charlotte-based lender shared those views during the roughly hourlong discussion at the Episcopal church on Providence Road, which invited him to take part in an ongoing speaker series Christ Church Charlotte organizes. Charlotte Observer

Clinton Goes Under Water; Trump Polarization Grows (POLL)
Negative views of Hillary Clinton have jumped to nearly their highest on record in ABC News/Washington Post polls, while Donald Trump’s personal popularity has grown more polarized along racial and ethnic lines. Clinton’s favorability has burbled back under water: 45 percent of Americans now see her favorably, down 7 percentage points since midsummer, while 53 percent rate her unfavorably, up 8. Her unfavorable score is a single point from its highest in ABC/Post polls dating back 23 years; that came in April 2008, in the midst of her last presidential campaign. ABC
VOA VIEW: Clinton ratings are lower than reported.

U.S. Stocks Advance After Two-Day Selloff
U.S. stocks advanced, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index posted one of its steepest drops this year, amid a respite from a global equities selloff. After pacing the rout yesterday, technology shares led the climb as Apple Inc. and Intel Corp. rose more than 1.7 percent. H&R Block Inc. jumped 6.8 percent after announcing a stock buyback plan. McDonald’s Corp. and Home Depot Inc. added at least 1.7 percent. Airlines rallied as crude pulled back, while energy companies fell for a second day.
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.5 percent to 1,922.73 at 12:23 p.m. in New York, after earlier climbing as much as 1.3 percent. The gauge fell 3.8 percent over the previous two sessions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 113.89 points, or 0.7 percent, to 16,172.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.7 percent. Bloomberg

US Muslims Hope New Billboards Reclaim Islam’s Message
Dozens of billboards with Muslim themes are sprouting nationwide, proclaiming what organizers say is the true message of Islam and its prophet, Muhammad: peace and justice, not extremism and violent jihad. The New York-based Islamic Circle of North America has erected 100 new billboards over the summer that feature statements such as: “Muhammad believed in peace, social justice, women’s rights” and “Muhammad always taught love, not hate; peace, not violence.” Also listed are a website and a phone number people can call for more information. They are in cities including Boston; New York; Phoenix; San Diego; El Paso and Austin, Texas; Memphis, Tenn.; Cleveland; Las Vegas; Milwaukee; North Bergen, N.J.; Portland, Ore.; Harrisburg, Pa.; Denver; and Calgary, British Columbia. Charlotte Observer

Brain Degeneration Trigger Related To Alzheimer's Found
A newly discovered cause of protein tangles implicated in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases has been reported Wednesday by a team led by San Diego scientists. They're following up on the discovery by searching for drug candidates to stop formations of these tangles of a protein called tau. Tau normally protects neurons. But excess levels of another protein called appoptosin, produced by a gene of the same name, triggers destruction of tau. Appoptosin increases the activity of an enzyme called caspase, which breaks down tau into disorganized tangles. Besides Alzheimer's, tau-associated diseases include frontal temporal dementia, and progressive supranuclear palsy, or PSP. The study was published in the journal Neuron. It builds on research showing that excess levels of appoptosin are linked to a variant version of the gene in PSP patients. San Deigo Union

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Rick Santorum Is First 2016 Hopeful To Visit All 99 Iowa Counties
Pizza Ranch served dozens of pizza pies, a congratulatory message from Rep. Steve King played over the loud speaker, and kids draped in oversized "Rick Santorum for President" t-shirts jumped and laughed on a corn-themed bounce castle. That was the scene that greeted presidential candidate Rick Santorum as he arrived in Island Park in Lyon County on Tuesday evening, becoming the first candidate of this election cycle to visit all 99 counties of Iowa. "It's really an honor for me to be here tonight to say that we've done all the 99 counties," the former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 winner of the Iowa caucuses told a crowd of about 200. MSNBC

Local Praise For Pope's Tone On Abortion
In expanding the Catholic clergy's ability to forgive women who have had an abortion, Pope Francis this week earned praise from both sides of one of the United States' most polarizing social issues. In a letter Tuesday, the pope said rank-and-file clergy can grant absolution to those who repent with "contrite" hearts during the Holy Year of Mercy, also known as a Jubilee year. Previously, such forgiveness required the approval of a diocese. Bishops in Philadelphia, Camden, New York, and elsewhere have long allowed their priests to grant absolution for abortions, but many other dioceses did not. Philadelphia Inqurier

Staffer Who Set Up Hillary’s Private Server: I’ll Plead The Fifth
A former State Department employee who helped Hillary Rodham Clinton set up her private e-mail server says he will assert his Fifth Amendment right not to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Attorneys for Brian Pagliano sent the committee a letter Monday saying their client would not testify at a hearing planned for next week. The panel subpoenaed Pagliano last monoth. The letter was first reported Wednesday night by The Washington Post. The top Democrat on the Benghazi committee, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, confirmed the Pagliano letter in a memo to ­fellow Dems. NY Post
OA VIEW: Guilty!

Welcome To Quantitative Tightening As $12 Trillion Reserves Fall
The great global monetary tightening of 2015 is under way, but it’s not being led by the Federal Reserve. Even as U.S. policy makers ponder whether to raise interest rates this month, one recent source of central bank liquidity in financial markets is drying up and the loss of it partly explains August’s trading volatility. Behind the drawdown are the foreign exchange reserves run by the central banks. Bolstered following financial crises in the late 1990s as a buffer against capital outflows and falling currencies, such hoards fell to $11.43 trillion in the first quarter from a peak of $11.98 trillion in the middle of last year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Bloomberg

Kerry To Outline US Assurances To Israel, Gulf To Lawmakers
Secretary of State John Kerry will send a letter to all members of Congress on Wednesday outlining U.S. security commitments to Israel and the Gulf Arab states in light of the Iran nuclear deal. State Department officials said Tuesday the letter would be sent shortly before Kerry delivers what is being billed as a major policy speech on the Iran agreement in Philadelphia. The officials said the speech, a week before Congress returns to work, will focus on how the deal makes the U.S. and its allies safer.
Kerry will also attack what the officials said is a "mythology" of false claims about what the deal will do. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to preview the speech by name. Las Vegas Sun

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Why The Foes Of The Iran Nuclear Deal Came Up Short Against Obama
Determined foes of President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran had vowed to use August to fire up public opposition and to build a bipartisan majority in Congress to sink the landmark pact. Instead, the effort fizzled. The result gave a boost to a White House that has often had rocky relations with even fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill and an unaccustomed defeat to Washington's pro-Israel lobbying groups, which are often regarded as among the Capitol's most effective interest groups.
The deal's survival was in effect sealed Wednesday when Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., gave the White House a crucial 34th Senate backer. That's enough to ensure that even if Congress passes a resolution to disapprove the agreement, Obama would have sufficient votes to uphold a veto. Kansas City Star

Watchdog: 900,000 Vets May Have Pending Health Care Requests
Nearly 900,000 military veterans have officially pending applications for health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the department's inspector general said Wednesday, but "serious" problems with enrollment data make it impossible to determine how many veterans were actively seeking VA health care. About one-third of the 867,000 veterans with pending applications are likely deceased, the report says, adding that "data limitations" prevent investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when. The applications go back nearly two decades, and officials said some applicants may have died years ago. Miami Herald

In Miami, Joe Biden Gets Feel For Presidential Campaign
Joe Biden came to Miami on Wednesday and sounded — at times — like a politician with another campaign in him. Speaking at Miami Dade College’s North Campus about making higher education more affordable, the vice president touched on the sort of themes — immigration reform, the economy and the middle class — that presidential candidates like to deploy from the stump. Biden isn’t running right now. But he’s thinking about it. And his two-day trip to Miami-Dade and Broward, the most Democratic counties in the country’s largest swing state, only stoked the fire among reporters and political observers that a Biden 2016 campaign could be for real. Miami Herald

Medical Marijuana Could Help Make Organ Transplants Safer
Researchers from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine have found that THC, marijuana’s primary psychoactive compound, could help delay the rejection of incompatible organs in transplant patients, reports the International Business Times. “We are excited to demonstrate for the first time that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the prolongation of rejection of a foreign graft by suppressing immune response in the recipient,” said the University of South Carolina’s Mitzi Nagarkatti. “This opens up a new area of research that would lead to better approaches to prevent transplant rejection as well as to treat other inflammatory diseases.” Their study, which was published recently by the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, examined two groups of genetically different mice and transplanted skin from one group to another, insuring that transplant rejection was inevitable. One group of mice was given THC while the other was given a placebo. SF Gate

Go Ahead, Admit You're A Racist
A group of women were chatting and laughing together like old friends when the subject turned to race. One of them said she was amazed that Donald Trump, while running for president, could get away with describing Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "killers." "If you kick every Latino out of this country," another chimed in, "then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?" Someone gasped and there was an awkward pause. One of the group was of Puerto Rican descent and two others were African-American. They were all panelists on the ABC show, "The View," and their conversation before a studio audience was being broadcast live. CNN
OA VIEW: Trump only described illegal immigrants, not immigrants - shame on CNN.

Planned Parenthood Urged Clinton To Speak Against ‘Life Begins At Conception' Language In Kenya
Emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server, released by the State Department this week, include one from a Planned Parenthood executive urging her to speak out against a move in Kenya to include in its new constitution language asserting that “life begins at conception.” In a July 2009 email sent to Clinton’s private email address, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of public policy and advocacy Laurie Rubiner appealed to her to take up the issue during an upcoming visit to the East African country. “Religious groups are on a concerted crusade to include new language in the Constitution which would codify that ‘life begins at conception,’” Rubiner wrote, adding that if Kenya adopted the language, it would be one of a small group of nations with a such a “fetal personhood” provision. CNS News

Obama Visits Arctic Community To Discuss Native Issues
President Barack Obama on Wednesday will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit a community north of the Arctic Circle, a trek the White House hopes will bring into focus how climate change is affecting Americans. After meeting tribal leaders and fishermen in Dillingham, home to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, Obama will fly into Kotzebue, an Arctic town of about 3,000 that is battling coastal erosion caused by rising seas. The stops, at the end of a three-day tour of Alaska, are also aimed at cementing Obama's legacy on improving ties with Native Americans. He has also traveled by foot and boat to see glaciers that are receding quickly due to climate change. Obama will say in Kotzebue that his administration has found dozens of new ways to work better with Native Americans - program fixes with small price tags but rich potential, a White House official told reporters. Reuters

Gun Control Groups Accused Of ‘Swatting’ Open-Carry Permit Holders, Putting Lives At Risk
Rick Ector, of Detroit, recently told FoxNews.com that people carrying guns, whether openly or concealed, lowers crime. Second Amendment groups are accusing the gun control lobby of putting law-abiding owners of firearms in danger by urging people to call the police on anyone carrying a gun in public. As more states relax rules about open-carrying of guns, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has taken to social media to urge the public to assume gun-toters are trouble, and to call the cops on anyone they feel may be a threat. “If you see someone carrying a firearm in public—openly or concealed—and have ANY doubts about their intent, call 911 immediately and ask police to come to the scene,” the group wrote on its widely followed Facebook page. “Never put your safety, or the safety of your loved ones, at the mercy of weak gun laws that arm individuals in public with little or no criminal and/or mental health screening.” Fox News

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U.S. Private Payrolls Rise Steadily; Productivity Revised Up
U.S. private employers maintained a steady pace of hiring in August despite recent global financial market turmoil, suggesting that labor market momentum likely remains strong enough for the Federal Reserve to consider an interest rate hike this year. The ADP National Employment Report on Wednesday showed private payrolls increased 190,000 last month. While that was below economists' expectations for a gain of 201,000 jobs, it was a step-up from the 177,000 positions created in July. The ADP report, which is jointly developed with Moody's Analytics, was published ahead of the government's more comprehensive employment report to be released on Friday. "Businesses are still hiring, but it is not clear if Friday's report will give the Fed either an 'all-clear' or a 'let's go slow' signal," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. Reuters

Carter, In Folksy Talks, Describes US Military Of Future
Defense Secretary Ash Carter is using a speech and wide-ranging exchange with troops on social media sites to press his agenda for change in the military. And he's signaling his early support for expanded maternity leave, women serving in combat jobs and greater flexibility pay, promotions and benefits. Carter is making clear his intention to drag the Defense Department into the future. And he often sounds like he's made up his mind, even though he hasn't yet gotten his military leaders' recommendations. He tells a pregnant soldier the military will march in lock step on plans to expand maternity leave. And while military officers haven't forwarded their final reports on whether combat jobs should remain closed to women, Carter said no one should be barred from the chance to try. Las Vegas Sun

Pediatricians Suggest Alcohol Discussions With Children Start At 9
In order to warn children of the dangers of drinking, pediatricians are recommending that parents talk to children as young as 9 years old about alcohol consumption.
Discussing alcohol with children under 10 may seem a bit early, however the American Academy of Pediatrics bases their new parental suggestion on surveys showing that as the age many will begin to form positive opinions of alcohol. "Positive expectancies are often shaped by alcohol advertising, which is ubiquitous and portrays its use as being a normal part of adolescent and adult social life," researchers wrote in the report, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. "As a result, the negative expectancies usually present in children are slowly replaced by positive expectancies as they enter adolescence." UPI

Russia, China Using Hacked Data To Target U.S. Spies
Chinese and Russian intelligence services have been collecting personally identifiable information in order to target American government workers for counterintelligence. CNN and the Los Angeles Times reported this week that Russia and China – whose leaders are meeting in Beijing for two days to discuss bilateral negotiations – have used a massive database analysis to combine and cross-reference information obtained from cyberattacks on targets that range from the Office of Personnel Management to Ashley Madison to identify and potentially compromise operatives. "Individually, the OPM breach and the Ashley Madison breach present significant dangers to U.S. personnel, including intelligence personnel, but taken together, they really ratchet up the level of harm," Marc Zwillinger, a lawyer handling data breach and privacy cases, told CNN. "It provides a lot of leverage that could be used to blackmail and possibly influence U.S. personnel." UPI

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France Drops Investigation Into Arafat's Death
French investigating magistrates have decided to drop an inquiry into the death in France of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whose widow alleged he was poisoned, the prosecutors office said on Wednesday. A lawyer for his widow Suha Arafat, who has argued that his death in 2004 was a political assassination, told Reuters that they would challenge the decision in an appeals court. Arafat, who signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accord with Israel but led an uprising after subsequent talks broke down in 2000, died aged 75 in a French hospital four weeks after falling ill. Jerusalem Post

UN: Gaza Strip Could Become Uninhabitable By 2020
The Gaza Strip may be uninhabitable in five year's time if the Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave continues and vital infrastructure is further damaged in military conflicts, a United Nations report released Tuesday claims. The report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) outlines the organization's assistance to the Palestinian people and developments in the economy of the Palestinian territories, focusing on the damage caused by last summer's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza and the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. "The Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, which took place during the conflict in July and August 2014, sent the Palestinian economy into its first recession since 2006," the report states. Jerusalem Post

Argentina Orders HSBC To Replace Local Boss
Argentina's central bank has ordered HSBC to replace its chief executive in the country within 24 hours and accused the bank of failing to prevent tax evasion and money laundering. In November Argentine authorities charged HSBC with helping more than 4,000 clients evade taxes. The bank was accused of helping clients hide money in Swiss bank accounts. HSBC rejected the charge and said in a statement that it complied with Argentina's laws. The central bank said that HSBC Argentina's president and chief executive, Gabriel Martino, "had not directed the necessary measures to mitigate and adequately address the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities." BBC

Texas Police 'Shoot Man With Hands Up'
Video footage has emerged that appears to show police in Texas shooting and killing a man who had his hands up. In the video, obtained by local media in San Antonio, Gilbert Flores is seen outside a house with his arms raised before shots are fired and he falls. Police say he was armed and officers first attempted to subdue the 41-year-old with a stun gun. A series of fatal police shootings in the last year have sparked protests and increased scrutiny on police tactics. BBC

Obama Plans To Announce Climate Change Strategy On Last Day In Alaska
On the final day of his trip to Alaska, President Obama was set to announce a slate of initiatives to help remote Arctic communities beset by the effects of climate change. The announcement also included measures to fight climate change, which is happening twice as quickly in Alaska as in the continental US. In a visit to the small north-west Alaskan village of Kotzebue, Obama was set to announce a federal coordinator for response efforts in the region, myriad grants to increase community resources and systems to address the regional impact of climate change. Guardian

US Health Watchdog To Take Legal Action Against E-Cigarette Makers
A health watchdog is to take legal action in California against the manufacturers of some of the best-known brands of e-cigarettes, following tests to establish the levels of toxic chemicals they contain. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) says its tests found that nearly 90% of the companies had at least one brand that produced high levels of one or both of the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. In the first ever large lab-testing of e-cigarettes on the market, the CEH found that most – 50 of 97 products examined – contained high levels of one or both chemical. Guardian

First-Ever UN-Backed Summit Opens To Harnesses Global Momentum To Eliminate Viral Hepatitis
Delegates from more than 60 countries are gathered in Glasgow for the first-ever World Hepatitis Summit that began today aiming to provide “a wake-up call to build momentum to prevent, diagnose, treat – and eventually eliminate – viral hepatitis as a public health problem,” the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. According to WHO, which is co-sponsoring the summit with the World Hepatitis Alliance, some 400 million people are currently living with viral hepatitis, and the disease claims an estimated 1.45 million lives each year, making it one of the world’s leading causes of death. UN News

General Assembly Hands Over Draft Global Sustainability Agenda To UN Member States
The United Nations General Assembly today approved a resolution sending the draft ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ to Member States for adoption later this month, bringing the international community “to the cusp of decisions that can help realize the… dream of a world of peace and dignity for all,” according to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Today is the start of a new era. We have travelled a long way together to reach this turning point,” declared Mr. Ban, recounting the path the international community has taken over the 15 years since the adoption of the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) towards crafting a set of new, post-2015 sustainability goals that will aim to ensure the long-term well-being of our planet and its people. UN News

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