RationalWiki:What is going on in the world?/December 2016

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December 2016[edit]

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9Jeff Sessions is omitting decades of records for his Attorney General confirmation hearing.
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18Hundreds of Ethiopian-Israelis are rejecting mandatory military service in protest of institutional racism.
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13Harry Hurt, author of an unflattering Trump biography called Lost Tycoon, went golfing at one of Trump's golf courses with David Koch. Yes, that David Koch. Things got "interesting" when they ran into Donald himself.
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12Terrorist attack in Turkey as a shooting at a nightclub by a gunman in a Santa suit leaves 35 dead.
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12The Washington Post police shooting database shows that fatal shootings by police remain relatively unchanged after two years.
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16A Colorado Division of Criminal Justice report found that Black men and women in Colorado are disproportionately arrested and more likely to be imprisoned. (Autoplay video)
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11U.S. special operations numbers surge in Africa’s shadow wars.
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8Former director acknowledges Aegis Defence Services may have recruited former child fighters in Sierra Leone.
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12The US is ignoring Micronesian migrants who were displaced by the US's nuclear tests.
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7Bribes bore a hole in the U.S. border.
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11Otto Skorzeny: SS officer, Mossad agent.
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13Last week the US TV network A&E cancelled a documentary series on "Escaping the KKK" (original working title "Generation KKK") when it emerged that producers had paid Ku Klux Klan members for their involvement in the show. New details are emerging as Klan leaders claim they were paid hundreds of dollars daily to fake pre-scripted scenes and lie about their lives, encouraged to use the N-word, and provided with swastikas and cross-burning materials at the production team's expense.
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12Trump: Putin made a 'very smart' decision to withhold sanctions
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23Saudi Arabia has jailed a man for saying women should not be under the control of male "guardians".
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11Glenn Greenwald: The Guardian's "summary" distorted what Julian Assange actually said in an interview to make him seem more pro-Trump and pro-Russia than he really was (i.e., not at all). The journalist who actually interviewed Assange agrees. (Here are: the "summary" and the actual interview.) UPDATE: Most probably in response to Greenwald's article, the Guardian has made several corrections and amendments to the original article.
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20Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher's mother, passes away at 84.
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48Carrie Fisher dies at 60, drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.
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30Cheetahs now number just 7,100 in the wild, prompting calls for them to reclassified from vulnerable to endangered.
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14The Saudis are not just using cluster munitions in Yemen from the UK and US but also Brazil. The Canadian government has also admitted that weapons sold to the Saudis could be used in Yemen.
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14Migrant death toll passes 5,000 after two boats capsize off Italy.
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15The next Standing Rock-style protest could be over the Navajo oil battle in New Mexico.
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18It is now illegal to not stand for the national anthem in India.
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13Jerusalem rabbis instruct hotels to drop Christmas trees.
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11Critics see dangers lurking in framing of Clinton search warrant.
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8A Russian Defence Ministry Tupolev Tu-154 crashes into the Black Sea shortly after taking off killing all 92 on board
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13It's spreading... Defense minister of Pakistan tweets nuke threats at Israel after reading a fake news article
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29The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution urging an end to illegal Israeli settlements after the US refused to veto it.
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16A vaccine against Ebola is found to be highly reliable. Its clinical trial involved thousands of people. Other vaccines are being developed.
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19 In another example of how 2016 is almost laughably cursed, a supervolcano in Italy has begun to show signs of activity after five hundred years of dormancy.
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11 Meanwhile In Missouri: schoolyard fights can now land a child in up to four years behind bars.
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44President Obama just signed into law a bill protecting non-religious persons from discrimination. Speaking of religious liberty, he dismantled the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which is tantamount to a Muslim registration program. His successor could undo this, of course, but it would invite lawsuits from civil rights advocates.
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16Democrats in North Carolina tried but failed to repeal the "bathroom law". Republicans used this anti-LGBT law as a bargaining chip to strip powers from the newly elected Democratic governor.
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-6In milder news... bald eagle attacks Donald Trump, ruffles toupee (1 year old "news")
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7Supporters of Calexit have established an embassy in Russia.
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16New Brunswick police have seized a water meter that may be evidence of corruption in the city's water utility. In New York, cops target WoC for loitering because they are assumed to be prostitutes. Lastly, a HuffPost investigation has found Whites have been substantially over-represented on juries in recent police shooting cases.
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14A 6-month investigation into Louisiana’s Angola prison reveals substandard and inhumane healthcare leading to extremely high death rates for prisoners. Meanwhile, ex-Los Angeles Sheriff, Lee Baca, led a jail-abuse conspiracy.
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11Scottish police trained Saudi & Bahraini officers without human rights checks.
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6Yahoo email scan shows U.S. spy push to recast constitutional privacy.
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10Fifty-two of President Obama’s judicial nominees didn’t get a vote in the Senate.
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9Texas plans to cut Planned Parenthood from Medicaid.
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21President Obama has permanently banned oil drilling in various designated areas in the Arctic and Atlantic. Any attempt to reverse this decision by the new administration would be open to a legal challenge, as it is based on law that was passed in 1953. (Canada passed a similar measure for its own Arctic regions.)
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12Good news! ECJ rules against the UK government's snooper's charter. Oh wait...
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21Pharmaceutical companies are pushing opioids globally.
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22A Reuters investigation has found thousands of U.S. locales where lead poisoning is worse than in Flint.
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20The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ignored warnings about Milo Yiannopoulos's far-right behavior, leaving him free to bully a trans student on stage.
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12The Obama administration has been actively seeking loan payments from thousands of former students eligible for a debt-forgiveness program.
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12President Obama has expanded the US's global war to include Al Shabaab in Somalia. This continues the US's border-busting military strategy in Africa.
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10UK-made cluster bombs used in Yemen.
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10More than two-thirds of arrest-related deaths in the US in recent months could be considered homicides, according to data released by the Bureau of Justice and Statistics. (Autoplay video)
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11On Saturday, a suicide car bomb in central Turkey has killed 13 soldiers aboard a bus and wounded 56 more; the attacker appears to be associated with the PKK. More recently, in Switzerland, an armed gunman stormed a mosque and wounded three praying Muslims.
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149 Dead 45 injured in Berlin when a truck drives into a crowd. Because it's an act of violence that looks deliberate, it's likely a terrorist attack.
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13N.C. Governor-elect Roy Cooper wants to repeal the bathroom bill in his state. The bill is being used as a bargaining chip to repeal the HB2 law (a law that discriminates LGBTQ people). Cooper and North Carolinian politicians wish to end the bathroom debate because of political and economic pressure. Welcome to politics!
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6Vincent Viola nominated for Secretary of the Army.
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22Proof that your paleo friends are wrong. Evidence of cooking of plants 10,000 years ago.
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24Russian ambassador to Turkey shot. Let's pray to whatever gods we have that it doesn't result in WWIII. UPDATE: The ambassador has died.
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19Trump reveals just how tough he is on China: not at all. (Short version: the Chinese captured a US Navy drone operated by civilian contractors for oceanic research, arguing that it was in Chinese waters — disputed by the Philippines — and being used for espionage. Even after the Chinese agreed to return the device, Trump tweeted "we don't want the drone they stole back" and "let them keep it!" — just hours after blasting China over the seizure, mind.)
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22A study published in JAMA Psychiatry has found that abortions have no impact on women's mental health but being denied does, at least in the short term. This study improves upon previous projects that were reviewed by the American Psychological Association, which drew similar conclusions.
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20NSA watchdog who insisted Snowden should have come to him receives termination notice for retaliating against a whistle-blower.
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18Israel dismisses 1,000 complaints of torture.
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12A study by the London Business School and Tillburg University finds that US lawmakers who owned bank stock were more likely to vote for Wall Street bailout. (Autoplay video)
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8 A survey of Russian citizens by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank 15% of Russians think their households have a better quality of life.
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28Louisiana Republican: "Americans should run all Muslims out of business and anyone who employs them". Kristalnacht, anyone?
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13Henry Heimlich died Saturday, December 17th.
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15Two White teenagers dragged a Muslim woman along the pavement by her hijab in a London hate crime attack.
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19A rush effort is underway in Toronto to preserve US climate data before Donald Trump officially becomes President. That's right. Facts are seeking asylum in Canada.
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17Pagan priest wins right to wear goat horns in license photo
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11Freed but forgotten: USA Today’s on the aftermath of California’s Proposition 47 which released thousands of low-level drug offenders and erased their felonies but failed to help them restart their lives.
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13New federal data shows some stark racial disparities between how White and Black inmates are dying in the US’s prisons and jails.
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17A Black man who served 31 years for a wrongful conviction was awarded a measly $75.
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9NYCHA stops discriminating against New Yorkers with criminal records.
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6Orwellian society: The British Department of Education had an agreement with the Home Office to share pupil nationality data for immigration purposes.
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15Half of 30-year-old Americans don't make what their parents did.
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515 percent of Corpus Christi cleared to use tap water after a chemical spill. (Autoplay video)
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10Republicans who dominate the North Carolina state legislature are trying to curb the recently elected Democratic governor’s power. Meanwhile, Maine Governor Paul LePage orders the state’s Department of Labor to not to enforce the minimum wage law.
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9A Bakersfield, California police officer has fatally shot a 73-year-old White man with dementia because he was armed with a crucifix.
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9Bunker Hill’s Indiana entire police force resigns in protest of the town council’s unlawful requests.
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8The DEA has included various cannabis extracts under Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) which is commonly used for medicinal use and has no intoxicating effects.
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11China seizes underwater drone from US
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-6 Wikipedia reaches fundraising target and keeps on right on fundraising despite promising to stop when they'd raised their target amount.
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8US energy policy under President Trump could be dramatically different from what it has been under Obama.
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20Facebook will start telling you when a story may be fake
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26In the Philippines, fake news, fake accounts, bots and trolls are being utilized to silence anti-Duterte sentiments over social media. Also, some citizen journalists were banned from Facebook by trolls gaming the algorithm.
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11Three-person babies approved in the UK
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8Japanese group in Australia sues over a memorial to the Japanese military's WW2 sex slaves, claiming it runs afoul of Australia's laws against racially hateful speech.
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8Welcome to the club, Venezuela.
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16A Saudi woman was arrested for not wearing a hijab or abaya (Muslim garment) in public.
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40Somebody started dumping Lockheed Martin stock 6 minutes before Trump's latest hate tweet sent the stock's price into a tailspin.
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17The Forest Hill train station attacker shouted "I want to kill Muslims" while he chased passengers after stabbing a passenger. (Autoplay video)
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10Boris Johnson, the UK's Foreign Minister, continues to back the Saudi-led coalition's bombing campaign against Yemen despite the UN finding that at least 119 air strikes potentially breached human rights law. (Autoplay video) Yemen's Prime Minister has accused the UK of being responsible for war crimes for continuing to arm the Saudi coalition.
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11Anti-feminist Tory MP Philip Davies elected to equalities committee.
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2Why are thousands dying from fentanyl abuse?
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4The ridiculously invasive virtual testing process used by Amazon and more than 900 institutions.
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4Japan has ratified the TPP.
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11New Jersey will no longer collect student loans from families of dead students.
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7Nebraska’s justice system is a maze with dead ends that imprisons the poor.
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10Ohio governor John Kasich vetoed a bill that would ban abortions in that state six weeks after fertilization but passed a 20-week ban.
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4The Brazilian senate approves an austerity package to freeze social spending for 20 years.
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31Trump has picked climate change denialist Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy, a department Perry has previously proposed abolishing. Meanwhile the Department has refused the Trump team's disturbing request for names of individual employees and contractors who have worked on climate change policy.
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16President Transparency has decided to classify the Senate report on the CIA's use of torture after 9/11 for 12 years.
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24The UK adopts an overly broad definition of antisemitism that includes criticism of Israel.
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10Geert Wilders has been found guilty of racial incitement and hate speech against Dutch Moroccans during a rally. Even though his comments and the rally's attendees' reaction were found to be staged, his party continues to lead in the polls.
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7Brazil's president, Michel Temer, has been accused of soliciting millions in illegal donations.
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15Trump has selected notorious neocon John Bolton as the US's #2 diplomat. (Autoplay video)
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22An oil pipeline 150 miles from the Standing rock camps has ruptured spilling 176000 gallons of oil into a creek.
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35US President-elect Donald Trump dismisses as "ridiculous", a report by the CIA which suggests Russia intervened in US Election. But, hey, it's not like the US didn't have it coming.
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21The British government has formally proscribed the neo-Nazi group "National Action" and declared it a terrorist organization after its recent propaganda campaign led to an investigation.
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17Thousands of Fight for 15 protesters rise up in 340 cities across the US.
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16Lawmakers in Ohio have just proposed new legislation intended to stall the development of renewable energy in that state. (Governor John Kasich has not made his decision whether to sign this bill, however.)
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10The Herald-Tribune’s series on racial bias in Florida’s judicial system.
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15A study by the Brennan Center for Justice finds that 39% of US prisoners have been imprisoned with no public safety rationale. (The study itself.)
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21Missouri authorities jailed woman for being too poor to pay her fine.
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12Ronald Bert Smith Jr, a recently executed Alabama inmate, coughed heaved for about 13 minutes during his execution.
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12Social Security took a disabled women’s money away after she was given free baseball tickets through a GoFundMe donation.
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11A survey of 27,000 trans people by National Center for Transgender Equality finds that the risk of poverty and suicide is far higher among transgender people.
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0The Revolutionary Forces of Syria media office, a major Syrian opposition media outfit and frequent source of information for Western media, is funded by the British government and is managed by Westerners operating out of Turkey.
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12Libya is spiraling into bloodshed and disaster while the Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen are being bombed out of existence.
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1029 killed and 166 wounded in twin blasts during a soccer game in Istanbul.
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10Israeli army tweets fake map showing Hezbollah military build-up in Lebanon.
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12According to the Snowden leaks, U.K. intelligence called Israel the “true threat' to Middle East.
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10Jérôme Cahuzac, appointed by Hollande to lead clampdown on wealthy avoiders, hid cash in a secret Swiss account for 20 years
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12Newest Trump picks include fast-food executive and minimum wage opponent Andy Puzder as the Secretary of Labor, attorney general of fossil fuel producing Oklahoma and global warming denier Scott Pruitt to run the EPA, Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.
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-7The Sun is as bald as a cueball as it potentially heads for early Solar Minimum (few sunspots), actual scientists argue about its potential effect on Anthropogenic Climate Change.
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53A dinosaur's feathery tail was found preserved in amber.
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29More proof that 2016 is the worst year ever. John Glenn has died.
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25U.S. life expectancy declines for the first time since 1993.
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28Climate change will bring more frequent and fierce rainstorms to cities like Houston. By 2100, parts of the U.S. could see a 400 percent leap in extreme summer storms.
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33Aim for the whites of their eyes: A Standing Rock protester will lose sight in her eye after she was shot with tear gas canister by police. Meanwhile, Michigan cops strap a Black man to a chair and beat him until he is blind in one eye.
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20In two separate, high-profile cases, jurors fail to convict Officers Michael Slager and Ray Tensing for murdering unarmed civilians; they were both mistrials, and new trials are planned.
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20The US's income gap continues to widen while poverty among people who are working has risen despite a recovery in the UK economy.
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5The US Border Patrol uses the desert as a weapon to kill thousands of migrants.
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10US strikes on Syrian troops at Deir Ezzor were deliberate.
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4International Institute for Strategic Studies has received £25m from Bahraini royals for over 5 years.
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23Trump isn't saving as many Hoosier jobs as you might think. Also, if Trump follows through with any threat to revoke federal contracts to ensure that a business doesn't outsource, he would risk the US being sanctioned since such a decision would violate our trade deals. (Autoplay video)
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13James Mattis, Trump's Secretary of Defense, is heavily in bed with defense contractors (Autoplay video) while Bob Dole's law firm has received donations from Taiwan in order to lobby on their behalf; Dole has influence over Trump's administration.
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16Trump has picked former WWE CEO and two-time failed Senate candidate in Connecticut Linda McMahon to run the Small Business Administration, retired US Marine general James Mattis as Secretary of Defense, retired Marine general John F. Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security, and Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; he has also expanded his search for a Washington insider as his Secretary of State. His EPA team is run by fossil fuel advocates and his Labor department team isn't exactly "America First". Meanwhile, his Treasury Secretary has a more rich-friendly tax plan and his oil magnate advisors hope to privatize Native American reservations.
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-10Vulnerable Democrats have already begun to capitulate to Trump.
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3As Robin Raphel worked for the State Department in Pakistan, her brand of traditional diplomacy ran into the new realities of covert surveillance. The collision turned her life upside down. (Paywall)
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11Descendants of slaves fight for their land in South Carolina.
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6Ohio legislature moves to ban abortion as early as 6 weeks after conception.
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11Nazi criminals are still receiving war victim pensions in Germany.
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1The wife of a convicted terrorist recruiter may face criminal charges for refusing to stand in court when appropriate, claiming it was against her Islamic beliefs.
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20Texas's rate of vaccination opt-outs is steadily increasing, and may become the new hotspot for "vaccine choice" groups due to being the most populous (and rich) state that allows opts out for personal/religious religions. With its political scene already long dominated by anti-science positions and other extreme views as well as a primary system that is easy to game make it a worrying prospect. Note that Texas is the current home of Andrew Wakefield
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8Manuel Valls, the prime minister of France announced his candidacy to the French presidential election today.
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14Angela Merkel calls for a ban on face veil. Seven days earlier, the Dutch parliament approved a similar ban.
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26An armed North Carolina man tried to "self-investigate" a DC pizzeria supposedly involved in "Pizzagate", a right-wing conspiracy about a child sex ring involving the Clintons. This conspiracy includes an entire block of DC businesses.
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21A Muslim woman was called a terrorist and pushed down a flight of stairs in New York City. Another hate crime was committed against a Muslim woman working for the NYPD when a man threatened and assaulted her and her son. (Autoplay video)
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14The Pentagon buried evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste.
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14Jill Stein sues Pennsylvania officials; vote recounts in Michigan begin Monday.
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12John Key has resigned as Prime Minister of New Zealand.
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27McCarthyism continues to grow in the US as a conservative group sets up a watch list on university professors.
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33The Army Corp of Engineers has finally denied Dakota Access's pipeline permit. Meanwhile, President Obama is making a last ditch effort to save as much public land as possible from President-elect Donald Trump.
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14Fiji's police and military using torture with near impunity.
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34It looks like, ironically, Austria — of all places — are currently the Western world's safeguards against far-right nationalism. Update: Matteo Renzi has resigned.
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13Denmark has deported a Slovakian woman for begging.
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16Congress seeks to pass a bill that will fund various health programs like fighting cancer and mapping the brain… and deregulate the pharmaceutical industry.
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26Firms such as Kellogg's, Unilever, and Nestlé use child labor to gather palm oil.
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15For monkeys, lower status affects immune system.
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11North Dakota has approved of $7 million worth of support to the cops protecting the Dakota Access pipeline while the state threatens to fine those bringing supplies to protesters. Amnesty is demanding the Justice Department investigate the reports of brutality.
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10How US dollars are helping the Philippines’ bloody drug war.
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16Proving that the US really can’t afford universal healthcare, the House of Representatives passes a $619 billion defense policy bill.
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8Through the Export-Import Bank, the Obama administration has spent nearly $34bn on dirty energy plants in countries from India to Australia to South Africa. Good thing Obama believed in anthropological global warming!
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7Counterterrorism law to let Australia detain convicts after their sentences.
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11Out of 8 companies surveyed, only Twitter would rule out helping Trump build a database of Muslims.
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7Obama’s EPA watered down a key study of fracking and water contamination.
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5The Saudi-led war in Yemen has shut down more than half of their health facilities which has worsened the spread of cholera.
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12Ethnic cleansing is underway in South Sudan.
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12Texas cops brush off rape of 15-year-old without telling mom.
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8School tutor charged after he assaulted a Black student.
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5The White man who admitted to killing former NFL player Joe McKnight, a Black man, has been released with charges.
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17Au revoir, Monsieur Hollande!
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33The EU is on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy target.
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37Australian high school students have outmaneuvered Martin Shkreli, can produce price-jacked drug for about $20 a popbatch what he charges $750 a dose for.
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20British Prime Minister and daughter of Anglican vicar, Theresa May, planned to punish children of illegal immigrants for the sins of their parents. I hate to say Andrea Leadsom was right about her.