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NEWS   SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28 2015   NEWS

Eric Holder: 'We Need To Change The Law' After Trayvon Martin Case
Days after the Justice Department announced it would not bring civil rights charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, attorney general Eric Holder said he planned to propose adjustments to federal civil rights laws before he steps down. Holder said in interviews that in his final weeks in office, he plans to share “specific proposals” about lowering standards of proof for civil rights crimes. “We do need to change the law. I do think the standard is too high,” Holder said in an interview with NBC News. “There needs to be a change with regard to the standard of proof.” Guardian
VOA VIEW: Holder is against equal rights for all - he wants special rights for blacks.

32,000 Emails Recovered In IRS Targeting Probe Amid Allegations Agency Chief May Have Lied
Investigators said Thursday they have recovered 32,000 emails in backup tapes related to the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative organizations. Though they don't know how many of them are new, they told a congressional oversight committee that IRS employees had not asked computer technicians for the tapes, as directed by a subpoena from House oversight and other investigating committees. That admission was in direct contradiction to earlier testimony of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Fox News

‘Obama Has The Worst Relationship With Israel’ Since 1948
Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland that President Barack Obama has had “the worst relationship with Israel since the state of Israel was created in 1948,” and he challenged Hillary Clinton to show a distinction from Obama’s policies by meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “President Obama has the worst relationship with Israel since the state of Israel was created in 1948. He views Israel as an extension of the West into the Middle East, as an intrusion, as the problem,” Bolton said. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Obama has alienated almost all US allies.

You Got Hacked. Cybersecurity Stocks Soar
Companies keep getting hacked. And that's music to the ears of the executives and investors in cybersecurity companies. February has been a phenomenal month for the overall stock market. The S&P 500 is up about 6%. But companies that help mitigate the damage from major attacks have done even better. There is a relatively new exchange-traded fund for cybersecurity companies. The ticker symbol, appropriately, is HACK (HACK). It has surged nearly 17% in February. The massive data breach at health insurer Anthem (ANTM) earlier this month is one reason why the stocks have done so well. CNN

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Opposition Leader Killed In Moscow
Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic former deputy prime minister turned Russian opposition leader, was shot and killed in Moscow on Saturday, officials said. Nemtsov's death comes just a day before a planned protest against President Vladimir Putin's rule. The Kremlin said that Putin will personally oversee the investigation. Nemtsov, 55, was a sharp critic of Putin, assailing the government's inefficiency, rampant corruption and the Kremlin's policy on Ukraine, which has strained Russia-West ties to a degree unseen since Cold War times. The Russian Interior Ministry, which oversees Russia's police force, said that Nemtsov was shot four times from a passing car as he was crossing a bridge just outside the Kremlin shortly after midnight. Philadelphia Inquirer
VOA VIEW: Only a full would believe that Putin was not responsible for the murder.

Bin Laden Was Al Qaeda Chief Until His Killing
Osama bin Laden remained the key al Qaeda decision maker in the time leading up to his killing at his Pakistan hideout, according to newly released documents at the terror trial of Abid Naseer in Brooklyn federal court. The documents were among thousands seized during the US raid on the terror chief’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011 in which he was shot by Navy SEALs. In one, a top al Qaeda figure sought his blessing to allow murderous operative Yunis al Mauritani to move to Iran in June 2010 with a team of terrorists so they could train to launch Mumbai-style attacks in Europe. NY Post

GOP White House Contenders Unite Against Hillary Clinton
This year's CPAC marks the unofficial kickoff of the battle for the conservative vote among GOP presidential contenders. For some, like Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the event will be a homecoming, a return to their most ardent and loyal supporters. For others, like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, CPAC represents a lion's den, full of activists skeptical of his conservative chops and wary of his presidential aspirations. CPAC can put a potential contender on the map, as it did with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson last year, when the movement launched to draft him into the presidential race drew significant attention and he took third in the presidential straw poll. CNN

Sen. Rand Paul: ‘It’s Time For Hillary Clinton To Permanently Retire’
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said, “It’s time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire,” in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., on Friday. “I believe Hillary Clinton’s abdication of responsibility, her refusal to provide adequate defense for Benghazi, her dereliction of duty should forever preclude her from high office,” said Paul. “It’s time for Hillary Clinton to permanently retire.” “Hillary’s war in Libya is a perfect example,” said Paul. “Hillary’s war made us less safe. Libya’s less stable, and radical jihadists run amok. They swim in our swimming pool. Hillary’s war in Libya allowed thousands of surface air missiles to fall into the hands of radical islamists. CNS News
VOA VIEW: Clinton should give up her power play.

Holder Says U.S. Malls Should 'Step Up' Security
Shopping mall operators need to increase security through more staff, cameras and other techniques in light of threats made against the Mall of America in Minnesota and other shopping centers by Somali-based Islamist militants this week, outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said. "I certainly think we have to step up our sensitivities to what goes on in these commercial enterprises," Holder said in an interview with CNN that aired on Friday. "It would be the responsible thing for operators of these malls to increase their capabilities when it comes to keeping people safe who are just going about their everyday lives." Reuters

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U.S. Air Force Says New Bomber Essential, Vows To Control Costs
The Air Force urgently needs a new long-range bomber to replace its aging fleet and will keep costs at or below a $550 million cap for each warplane, top U.S. officials told lawmakers on Friday. Air Force Secretary Deborah James said the Air Force understood that runaway costs had to be contained, and noted that a sharp reduction from the planned purchase of 80 to 100 bombers would send the price of each aircraft spiraling higher. "We've kind of learned some lessons from the not-too-distant past about what happens when you don't keep stressing affordability, affordability, affordability," James told the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Reuters

Boehner Scrambles For Votes To Temporarily Avert Homeland Security Shutdown
The House scrambled Friday to pass a three-week measure to keep the Department of Homeland Security funded, throwing the agency's funding into further uncertainly as a midnight deadline looms to avert a shutdown. A vote on the short-term stopgap measure stood open as Republican leaders tried to convince members to change their votes. Dozens of Republicans have already voted against the bill, breaking with House leaders who had urged the temporary solution as a way to continue pushing for add-ons that would roll back the president's executive actions on immigration. But conservatives said the stopgap bill represented a cave to the White House, and Democrats were refusing to contribute enough votes to get the measure over the finish line. MSNBC
VOA VIEW: Republicans must hold fast against Obama.

Family Income - Not Married Parents - More Apt To Impact Kids' Well-Being
Which matters more to a child's future: living in a traditional family or having financial security? The short answer: money, a new analysis concludes. Simply put, while the marital status of a child's parents can influence the overall well-being of the child, the family's economic situation can be even more important, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data conducted by the Council on Contemporary Families (CCF). Depressed household incomes are causing a decline in marriage rates in the U.S., fueling a rise in single-parent households, the report finds. "Limited economic prospects, in turn, tend to translate into lower marriage rates, higher rates of divorce, and more cohabiting unions," writes Shannon Cavanagh, associate sociology professor at the University of Texas. She's also an affiliated exert with CCF, a non-partisan, non-profit group, based at the University of Miami, that offers research on American families. MSNBC

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Bill O’Reilly’s Partisan Critics Stepping Up Attack
Following several stories questioning Bill O’Reilly’s past reporting, a liberal media watchdog has ordered its researchers to comb through years of the Fox News Channel host’s writings, radio and television shows and public appearances to find examples of inconsistencies. O’Reilly is squarely in the crosshairs of Media Matters for America, an illustration of how the media is subject to the same political campaigns as politicians. Fox is standing behind O’Reilly, but the extent to which cable news’ most popular personality is damaged may depend on how many more stories come out. “It’s a moving target,” said Bradley Beychok, Media Matters president, on Friday. “It’s too early to tell what the end of this is.” Seattle Times

Obama Bids Farewell Again To Attorney General Eric Holder
Eyes glistening, President Barack Obama bid an affectionate farewell Friday to Attorney General Eric Holder. It was a sequel to an emotional going-away at the White House last year, but this tribute came with a soulful surprise. "Eric is really just milking this departure thing for everything that it's worth," Obama said at a Justice Department ceremony to unveil the outgoing Cabinet member's official portrait. "I mean, golly." But even Obama got upstaged this time. After the president and the attorney general had concluded their remarks, Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul," made an unannounced appearance in the Justice Department hall. Holder, stunned, genuflected. And Franklin stepped behind the lectern to sing "America the Beautiful" with an homage to Holder. Tampa Tribune
VOA VIEW: What was Holders greatness and accomplishments?

Congress Averts Homeland Security Shutdown
Congress narrowly averted a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security late Friday. Both the House and Senate passed a seven-day extension of funding for the agency, with the House acting just two hours before funding was set to expire at midnight. The House vote was 357-60. The Senate passed the measure by voice vote. The successful last-ditch effort came after House Republican leaders failed to muster enough votes earlier in the day to continue funding the agency for three weeks. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., rallied Democrats to support the one-week extension before funding expired. She said that voting for the seven-day measure would put Democrats on a path toward possible passage next week of a $40 billion spending bill that would fund the agency through the end of September. USA Today

'Knives Are Out': Hawaii Dem Faces Backlash For Taking On Obama Over 'Islamist' Extremism
She was Hawaii's golden girl after winning a seat in Congress with support from top liberal groups, but now that Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been critical of President Obama, her political reputation in the bluest of blue states is taking a hit. That isn’t stopping the twice-deployed 33-year-old Army veteran from continuing to challenge the president, her home state's favorite son, over his refusal to identify terror groups like the Islamic State as driven by "radical Islam.” “Every soldier knows this simple fact: If you don't know your enemy, you will not be able to defeat him,” Gabbard told FoxNews.com. “Our leaders must clearly identify the enemy as Islamist extremists, understand the ideology that is motivating them and attracting new recruits, and focus on defeating that enemy both militarily and ideologically.” Fox
VOA VIEW: A rational Democrat.

Rand Paul At CPAC: Phone Records Of Americans ‘None Of Their Damn Business’
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was at home addressing the traditionally libertarian-leaning Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, calling for an American national defense “unencumbered by nation building” and telling the crowd that their phone records are none of the government’s business. Mr. Paul has won The Washington Times/CPAC presidential preference straw poll for the last two years, and “Stand with Rand” signs were peppered throughout the crowd, which fired back chants of “President Paul” at him.

IRS Watchdog Reveals Lois Lerner Missing Emails Now Subject Of Criminal Probe
The IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois G. Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had told Congress were irretrievably destroyed. Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Timothy P. Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation. “There is potential criminal activity,” Mr. Camus said. Washington Times

Eric Holder: Homegrown Terror Threat "Keeps Me Up At Night"
Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder expressed his "great concern" over the threat of homegrown violent extremism in the U.S. It comes as the FBI director James Comey said this week that the bureau was investigating potential ISIS suspects in all 50 states. On Wednesday, three Brooklyn residents were charged with conspiring to support the militant network. "It's something that keeps me up at night, worried about what these homegrown violent extremists are potentially capable of doing," Holder told CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues. However, he believes the U.S. is winning the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). CBS

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Rick Santorum Digs At Obama: "We Don't Need A Weatherman-In-Chief"
Former Senator Rick Santorum criticized the Obama-Clinton foreign policy team and underscored the need for an experienced wartime president, as he addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. "Thanks to the Obama-Clinton foreign policy team, we have gone from a policy of peace-through-strength to a policy of lead-from-behind," Santorum, a potential 2016 presidential contender, said to the crowd of conservatives. "And it has been disastrous for the American people." Santorum used the opportunity to criticize the Obama administration's claim that global climate change is the greatest threat to American security. "We don't need a weatherman-in-chief," Santorum stated. "We need a commander-in-chief to run this country." CBS

Former Gov. Rick Perry: Obama Has Made The World Less Safe
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday blasted President Barack Obama's record on foreign policy, calling for a harder-line approach in the Middle East and accusing the administration of "making grave calculations that make the world less safe." Speaking on the second day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, the likely Republican presidential contender said, "Our country has entered a time of testing, and our political leadership has failed the test." "At no time in the last 25 years has the future been more uncertain and the world more dangerous than it is today," he said, calling the Islamic State group seizing territory in the Middle East "the worst threat to freedom since communism." ABC
VOA VIEW: Obama has made the world more dangerous.

1.1 Billion Young People At Risk Of Losing Their Hearing
This just in from the World Health Organization: Your mother was right all along. About 1.1 billion people are at risk for losing their hearing, and half of 12- to 35-year-olds in high income countries expose their ears to "unsafe" sound levels when they listen to audio devices, the WHO announced today. And about 40 percent of them are exposed to "potentially damaging" sound levels at music and entertainment venues. "As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young people are placing themselves at risk of hearing loss," said Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director for the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. "They should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won’t come back. Taking simple preventive actions will allow people to continue to enjoy themselves without putting their hearing at risk." ABC

Pending Sales Of Existing U.S. Homes Rise To Highest Since 2013
More Americans signed contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes in January, rounding out a week of housing data that depicted an uneven recovery.
The index of pending sales climbed 1.7 percent after a 1.5 percent drop the prior month that was smaller than initially estimated, figures from the National Association of Realtors showed Friday in Washington. The median forecast of 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 2 percent rise. Employment gains and near record-low mortgage rates will help to underpin demand. A lack of properties for sale, higher prices and still-tight credit are hurdles for some customers as first-time buyers remain reluctant to enter the market. Bloomberg

Rubio: Obama Sees Deal With Iran As His Legacy
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says President Barack Obama sees a deal with Iran on its nuclear ambitions as his legacy. Rubio, a likely presidential candidate in 2016, told the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday that the president treats Iran's religious leader with more respect than Israel's prime minister. Rubio also says Obama's foreign policy has left the United States weaker than when he took office. Obama and his administration are in negotiations with Iran's leaders to curb Tehran's nuclear program. Republicans and some Democrats have been critical of the attempt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to Washington next week to criticize the efforts, as well. Las Vegas Sun

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Fischer Says Odds Greatest For Rate Rise In June, September
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said on Friday the central bank looked most likely to raise interest rates in June or September, although economic developments might warrant different timing for liftoff. “I don’t think there is an emphasis on June instead of September” Fischer told a monetary policy forum in New York. He added that judged by the views of Fed officials and investors “it seems those two months get the main weight of probability.” At the same time, he said, “things could happen” that could change those assumptions. “We will make a decision and we will make it on the basis of evidence.” Bloomberg

Jeb Bush Greeted With Boos But Energetic On CPAC Stage
Former Florida governor and presidential hopeful Jeb Bush was met with boos Friday as he took the podium at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. Bush's moderate views, including support of Common Core K-12 education standards and immigration reforms that are fiercely opposed by many Republicans, have chafed CPAC attendees, who said they planned to stage an informal walkout during his 20-minute question-and-answer session with Fox News host Sean Hannity. "We are going to get up en masse, and we are going to walk out on him," William Temple, a member of the Golden Isle Tea Party, told the Washington Times. "We are not going to interrupt anyone's speech, but we are all going to exercise our right to [use] the bathroom at the same time." UPI
VOA VIEW: Jeb's position on immigrations hurts his presidential bid.

US Rescinds Rule Requiring Judges To Move To Guantanamo
Officials have rescinded a new rule requiring U.S. military judges presiding over tribunals at Guantanamo Bay to relocate to the base in Cuba. The rule prompted the judge in the Sept. 11 terrorism case earlier this week to order an immediate halt to proceedings unless it was rescinded. The memo rescinding the rule was released by the Pentagon on Friday. The Defense Department in January had ordered the judges to relocate after an official said it would help speed up litigation in the three active prosecutions by military commissions of prisoners at the base. Las Vegas Sun
 

Afghanistan’s New Leader Will Attend Talks At Camp David Next Month
President Obama will host Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Washington next month, the White House said on Friday, as U.S. officials consider making changes to the administration plan for ending the military mission in Afghanistan. Ashraf Ghani, making his first visit to the United States as Afghan leader, will be joined by Abdullah Abdullah, his former rival who is now the government’s chief executive officer. During the March 22-25 visit, Ghani and other Afghan officials will take part in a “strategic dialogue” with U.S. officials, hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry at Camp David, the presidential retreat, the White House said in a statement. Washington Post

Ted Cruz Says Motivating Conservatives Is Key To Winning White House
Ted Cruz may not be running for anything yet, but the senator from Texas nevertheless presented his theory here Friday night for why a presidential candidate like him would be best positioned to win back the White House for Republicans. The conventional wisdom in political circles has been that to win a presidential election again, Republicans must broaden their appeal to more moderate swing voters, especially women, minorities and young people. It's a message former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a favorite of the party establishment, has repeatedly delivered as he prepares for an all-but-certain presidential run. Washington Post
VOA VIEW: Trying to weaken conservative values will not win the Republican nomination.

Citizens Connect Accidentally Displayed Several Complainants’ Personal Information
Laura Holland was not surprised when a convenience store near her home let its dumpster overflow with garbage and didn’t shovel a path to allow the garbage truck in to collect it; she’s had issues with the store’s dumpster practices in the past. She was surprised, however, when she discovered that her complaint to the city about that dumpster appeared on the Citizens Connect website, leaving her name, email address, and phone number available for anyone to see. Holland isn’t alone. Boston.com found several instances where complainants’ personal information was displayed on Citizens Connect without their consent or knowledge. In all of those cases, the complaints weren’t made through Citizens Connect in the first place. Boston Globe

Mexican Police Capture Top Cartel Capo 'La Tuta' Gomez
Servando "La Tuta" Gomez, a former school teacher who became one of Mexico's most-wanted drug lords as head of the Knights Templar cartel, was captured early Friday by federal police as he tried to sneak out of a house wearing a baseball cap and a scarf to hide his identity. Gomez was arrested at a house in Morelia, the capital of the western state of Michoacan, along with eight bodyguards and associates toting a grenade launcher, three grenades, a machine pistol and assault rifles, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said. Gomez and his accomplices were arrested without a shot fired, after a months-long intelligence stakeout in which his associates were identified when they gathered on his birthday Feb. 6 with cakes, soft drinks and food, he said. Houston Chronicle

Ethics Watchdogs Unhappy With Latest Cutbacks
Gov. Nathan Deal proposed a huge bolstering of the state ethics commission, but House leaders have cut back his ambitious plans and government watchdogs aren’t happy about it. Under Deal’s budget proposal, the long dysfunctional agency, which enforces the state’s campaign finance and lobbying laws, would get four new attorneys and four investigators to resolve complaints more quickly and eliminate backlogs. The House didn’t go along with the governor’s proposal, cutting the expansion in half. The chamber backed giving the agency two more lawyers and two auditors, cutting Deal’s proposal by $400,000. Still, it is more than the commission has now. Atlanta Journal

GOP Leaders Are Struggling To Show They Really Are In Charge
Two months into full Republican control of Congress, GOP leaders are struggling to demonstrate they really are in charge. The stunning House defeat Friday of a three-week spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security exposed Speaker John Boehner’s weakness in the face of rebellious conservatives. It also again demonstrated his need to rely on Democrats at critical moments as the minority party’s agreement to a one-week spending bill helped the speaker get it over the finish line with only hours to spare before a threatened agency shutdown. President Barack Obama signed the bill shortly before midnight. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already had bowed to Democrats’ demands and stripped the contentious provisions rolling back Obama’s immigration policies from his chamber’s version of the Homeland Security spending bill. Charlotte Observer
VOA VIEW: Republicans have weak leaders.

Cal. Gas Prices Rose Faster Than Ever
California gasoline prices are rising further and faster than ever before. On Friday, San Diego motorists paid $3.33 on average for a gallon of regular, up 9 cents overnight and 42 cents from a week ago, according to the AAA daily fuel gauge. A month ago, the San Diego average was $2.43 -- a record-setting differential. Analysts at gasbuddy.com are calling it the most aggressive retail gasoline price hike ever recorded in California. "The primary catalyst for the aggressive price hikes has been the sharp spike that occurred Wednesday in wholesale gasoline prices, triggered by operational glitches at multiple California refineries and work stoppages by the United Steelworkers Union," the analysts wrote. San Diego Union

Kurdish Fighters Rout IS Militants From Town Near Iraq
Backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, Kurdish fighters fought their way Friday into a northeastern Syrian town that was a key stronghold of Islamic State militants, only days after the group abducted dozens of Christians in the volatile region, Syrian activists and Kurdish officials said. The victory marks a second blow to the extremist IS group in a month, highlighting the growing role of Syria's Kurds as the most effective fighting force against the Islamic State. In January, Kurdish forces drove IS militants from the town of Kobani near the Turkish border after a months-long fight, dealing a very public defeat to the extremists. But it is also tempered by this week's horrific abductions by IS militants of more than 220 Christian Assyrians in the same area, along the fluid and fast shifting front line in Syria. Kansas City Star

Caribbean Community Welcomes New Cuba-U.S. Relations
Caribbean Community leaders opened a two-day summit in the Bahamas on Thursday, welcoming the United States’ opening with Cuba but reiterating their call for an end to “the senseless trade embargo” against their Spanish-speaking neighbor. “At our summit meeting with Cuba last December, I called on the U.S. Congress to end its senseless trade embargo against Cuba. I do so again now,” Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said in his outgoing speech as chairman of the 15-member regional bloc known as Caricom. Browne, who became chairman just weeks after winning his twin-island’s elections last year, noted that the region has had diplomatic relations with Cuba dating back to 1972 when “Four independent member states of our community ended the U.S.-inspired, hemispheric diplomatic embargo of Cuba.” Miami Herald

Annoyance Arises From Gov't Error On Health Care Tax Forms
It's not uncommon to feel some trepidation around tax-filing season. But there's an added hassle this year for nearly a million consumers who got financial help with health insurance premiums under President Barack Obama's law. The government sent consumers erroneous information on forms that they need to complete their 2014 tax returns. Now they're getting robocalls and emails advising them to delay filing until the mistakes get fixed. Some are taking it in stride. Others wonder what else could go wrong. "It's been a comedy of errors from the start," said K.C. Crafts, a freelance financial writer from South Berwick, Maine. SF Gate

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Venezuela's Oil Economy In Dire Straits
Venezuela stands out in terms of regional economies affected most by the weak crude oil market, a research note from the International Monetary Fund said. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, is up about 20 percent since the beginning of February, but nearly 40 percent below June 2014 levels. The IMF said the low price of crude oil is a net benefit to countries that rely on importers as the savings spills over to consumer pocketbooks. For net exporters, the weak market is creating fiscal pressures. "One country that stands out is Venezuela, which had been experiencing severe economic imbalances before oil prices began to fall and now finds itself in an even more precarious position," a note published Thursday by the IMF said. UPI

Obama’s Faustian Bargain: War Of Ideas A Non-Factor In The Dialogue Between Washington And Tehran
Having admonished young Russians to fight corruption and demand freedom, Joe Biden stared at a packed Moscow University auditorium and said: “Don’t compromise on the basic elements of democracy. You need not make that Faustian bargain.” Four years on, the US vice president’s boss is the one brewing a pact with the devil, ceding moral values for mortal gains. That, at least, is how both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog see the evolving deal between Iran and the P5+1 world powers. The deal has yet to be formally presented, but its reported contours are clear: a supervision regime that would force the Iranians to slow down and expose their industrial progress toward the ability to build a nuclear bomb, keeping the capability at least a year away at any point during the agreement’s duration. Jerusalem Post

'US Will Be Able To Detect Iranian Sprint To Nuclear Bomb'
A former aide to President Barack Obama told Israeli television on Friday that the United States would be able to detect any Iranian effort to "sprint" toward an atomic weapon as part of the emerging nuclear agreement in the P5+1 talks. Dennis Ross, the former Mideast peace envoy, told Channel 2 on Friday that the agreement being discussed would enable Western officials to perform "anytime, anywhere inspections of declared and undeclared sites" for a period of up to 10 years. Ross said that while there is an obvious need to see what the final agreement would look like, he said that he has received indications that the Americans will insist on a deal that will include "verifiable mechanisms for detection." Jerusalem Post

Islamic State: Iraq Minorities 'Threatened With Eradication'
Islamic State militants are trying to eradicate Iraqi minority groups from large parts of the country, human rights organisations have warned. A report details summary executions, forced conversions, rape and other abuses suffered by minorities. Such acts are tantamount to war crimes, and in some cases, genocide, it argues. Iraqi minorities face a "threat to their existence", said the Institute of International Law and Human Rights (IILHR), one of the groups involved. Focusing on Iraq's Christian, Kaka'i, Shabak, Turkmen and Yazidi populations, the report looks at their plight after the fall of Mosul to IS in June 2014, a key point in the rise of a group that now controls swathes of the country. BBC

'Jihadi John': Prime Minister Defends Security Services
The prime minister has defended the security services amid criticisms they failed to stop Mohammed Emwazi, known as "Jihadi John'", from joining Islamic State in Syria. David Cameron said the security services made "incredibly difficult judgements" on the UK's behalf. His comments came after it emerged Emwazi was known to authorities. The PM said he would not comment on specific cases but urged the public to back the security services. The masked Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John", who has been pictured in the videos of the beheadings of Western hostages, was identified this week as a Kuwaiti-born British man, in his mid-20s and from west London. BBC

Former Mossad Head Urges Israeli Voters To Oust Binyamin Netanyahu
A former head of Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad is urging voters to oust Binyamin Netanyahu in the next general election, accusing the prime minister of endangering the country’s security with his stance on the Iranian nuclear programme. Meir Dagan, a vocal critic of Netanyahu’s Iran policy since stepping down as Mossad chief four years ago, is to be a keynote speaker at a rally in Tel Aviv next weekend, calling on the public to turf the prime minister out of office on 17 March.
Netanyahu was due to fly to Washington on Friday. Guardian

Ban Reiterates Condemnation Of Boko Haram Attacks, Urges Efforts To Combat Terrorist Threat
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reiterated his strong condemnation of the continuing indiscriminate and horrific attacks by Boko Haram against civilian populations in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. “The abduction and use of children, including as ‘suicide bombers,’ is particularly abhorrent,” the Secretary-General stated today in a statement issued by his spokesperson, saying that he is encouraged by the positive steps taken by the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and Benin, with the support of the African Union, towards operationalizing the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to counter the threat. UN News

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