Trump Announces Ban On Transgender Individuals Serving In Military
President Trump tweeted Wednesday that the U.S. government will not allow transgender people “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” In a series of tweets, he wrote: "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow...Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming..victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you." Fox
VOA VIEW: Very good for the military and taxpayers.

Scaramucci Previews Broad Crackdown On Leaks, Warns He's 'Front-Stabbing Person'
New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci suggested Wednesday that his efforts to stop damaging leaks will go beyond the West Wing and into federal agencies -- and made clear he won’t play the Washington back-stabbing game. To the contrary, he said, “I’m more of a front-stabbing person." Scaramucci, a New Yorker, told “Fox & Friends” what he doesn't like about Washington is "people do not let you know how they feel. They're very nice to your face, and then they take a shiv or a machete and they stab it in your back." He said that would change on his watch. "I have the stomach and the backbone to fire you," he said. Fox
VOA VIEW: Sounds good - time will tell.

North Korea Could Launch Reliable Nuclear-Capable Missile By 2018
The US believes that North Korea will be able to launch a reliable nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by early 2018, a US official familiar with the latest intelligence assessment confirmed to CNN Wednesday. That would be an acceleration of two years from previous estimates that put Pyongyang three to five years from fully developing long-range missile capabilities. The official clarified to CNN that while North Korea can currently get a missile "off the ground," there are still a lot of undetermined variables about guidance, re-entry and the ability to hit a specific target. CNN
VOA VIEW: CNN cannot be trusted, but nothing can be put past North Korea.

Liberal Groups Push For Health Care To Dominate The Midterms
Progressive groups are launching a new data-gathering effort -- starting at protests planned across the country this weekend -- to turn the 2018 midterms into a single-issue battle over health care. Called "Health Care Voter," the campaign will kick off Saturday, where attendees at more than 125 protests will be asked to fill out cards pledging to cast their ballots based on how their lawmakers vote on rolling back Obamacare. It will also include digital ads pushing the pledge. It's an attempt to capitalize on a critical moment in the health care battle, as the Senate moves toward repealing at least parts of Obamacare. CNN


Trump At Ohio Rally: ‘It’s So Easy To Act Presidential’
President Trump clearly enjoyed his campaign-style rally in Youngstown, Ohio, Tuesday evening, feeling the love from the crowd and getting enthusiastic applause and cheers throughout. On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted: "The crowd in Ohio was amazing last night - broke all records. We all had a great time in a great State. Will be back soon!" On Tuesday night after the rally, Trump tweeted: "People of Ohio are fantastic. Thank you so much. What an evening!" CNS

Scaramucci Gets Rid Of Communications Staffer On Orders From Above
White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said he “got rid of someone” on the communications staff Tuesday “because somebody above my rank had suggested that that person needed to be fired.” Scaramucci refused to say if he was acting on President Trump’s orders. “So I called him (the staffer who was allowed to resign) last night, and I said to him, the reason you were let go is somebody above my rank, I’m not going to say who, said that you needed to be let go. And you weren’t being let go. CNS
VOA VIEW: It seems like some kind of buck passing.

Boeing, AT&T Power Wall Street To Record
Wall Street got a big boost from strong corporate earnings on Wednesday, with all three major indexes hitting record highs, while investors awaited the outcome of a two-day Federal Reserve meeting. Boeing (BA.N) surged 8.2 percent to an all-time high, while AT&T (T.N) gained 4 percent, after the two companies posted higher-than-expected quarterly profit. The planemaker gave the biggest boost to the Dow and was the second biggest gainer on the S&P 500 after AT&T. Reuters

Former SEAL Kristin Beck Blasts Trump Decision Banning Transgender People From Military
Kristin Beck, a former member of SEAL Team 6 who is now a transgender woman, says the decision by President Donald Trump to ban transgender people from serving in the military would cost more in lawsuits than the savings Trump touted in medical and other costs. Beck insists that transgender personnel in uniform now pose neither a distraction nor a money problem. "It is a matter of leadership," said Beck, 51, who earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for valor during 20 years of service. She lived in St. Petersburg and served at U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Tampa Tribune

Senate Soundly Rejects Repeal-Only Health Plan
The Senate on Wednesday soundly rejected a measure that would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act without providing a replacement, leaving Republicans still searching for a path forward to fulfill their promise of dismantling President Barack Obama’s signature health law. Seven Republican senators joined Democrats to vote against the measure, which had been embraced by conservatives but could have left millions of people without health coverage. New York Times

Wal-Mart Proposes Policy Actions To Boost U.S. Manufacturing
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) on Wednesday proposed 10 policy actions to boost U.S. manufacturing that the retailer said could help recapture $300 billion of the $650 billion worth of consumer goods that are currently imported. Wal-Mart said barriers to manufacturing growth include a lack of available and qualified workers and of co-ordination and financing to support U.S. manufacturers, complex regulations that create high compliance costs and legal risks, and the need for an overhaul of the U.S. tax system and trade deals. Reuters


D.C. Law Requiring A ‘Good Reason’ To Carry Concealed Handguns Is Ruled Unconstitutional
A strict D.C. gun law that prevents most firearms owners from carrying concealed handguns in public in the nation’s capital is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court panel ruled Tuesday, saying the city government cannot demand citizens prove a “good reason” before being issued permits. In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered lower courts to issue permanent injunctions blocking enforcement of the law. City officials said they are considering an appeal, but gun rights supporters said the ruling is a major step and could set up an even bigger victory should the U.S. Supreme Court adopt the circuit judges’ decision. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: Makes sense.

Scaramucci: White House Will Continue Firing People Not Serving Trump ‘Honorably’
White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Wednesday that he will continue firing people if they are not serving President Trump “honorably.” “You have a one-in-a-million, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve the country and president of the United States, and you need to serve honorably. If you can’t do that, I have the stomach and backbone to fire you,” Mr. Scaramucci said on Fox News. The communications director said he did give former press assistant Michael Short the opportunity to resign after reports Tuesday that Mr. Short was fired with no warning. Washington Times
VOA VIEW: It will be interesting to see what will come from Short.

New U.S. Sanctions "Closing Off The Prospect For Normalizing Ties," Russian Diplomat Says
A senior Russian diplomat said Wednesday that a new package of U.S. sanctions against Russia harms chances for improving the ties between the two countries, pushing them into "uncharted territory," and that they "defied common sense," CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports. Russian officials welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump's presidential win last year, hoping to mend relations with the United States, which reached a post-Cold War low under President Barack Obama. But six months into Mr. Trump's presidency, ties between the two countries remained tense, and the much-anticipated first meeting between Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin early this month did not seem to produce any tangible results. CBS News

Trump's Mar-a-Lago Trips Cost More Than Trans Soldiers' Health Care
President Trump tweeted this morning that the U.S. military wouldn't allow transgender troops "in any capacity," an apparent rejection of the military's roughly 6,000 trans troops and the Obama-era policy that embraced them. The U.S. "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," Trump said. Except trans troops don't really cost that much, as many soon pointed out. A report for the Pentagon last year found that transition-related care would cost between about $2.4 and $8.4 million per year — less than 0.14% of the military's medical budget. USA Today
VOA VIEW: Liberal media view.

Trump Talks Privately About The Idea Of A Recess Appointment To Replace Sessions
President Trump has discussed with confidants and advisers in recent days the possibility of installing a new attorney general through a recess appointment if Jeff Sessions leaves the job, but he has been warned not to move to push him out because of the political and legal ramifications, according to people briefed on the conversations. Still raging over Sessions’s recusal from the Justice Department’s escalating Russia investigation, Trump has been talking privately about how he might replace Sessions and possibly sidestep Senate oversight, four people familiar with the issue said.Washington Post

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South Carolina Domestic Violence Law Unfair To Gay Couples, Court Rules
People in same-sex relationships in South Carolina should get the same legal protections against domestic violence as heterosexual couples, the state's highest court ruled Wednesday, deeming a portion of the state's domestic violence law unconstitutional. The court was asked to weigh in after a woman tried to get a protective order against her former fiancée, also a woman, and was denied. Current law defines "household members" as a spouse, former spouse, people with a child in common, or men and women who are or have lived together. It does not include unmarried same-sex couples. CBS
VOA VIEW: Equal = equal.

Wasserman Schultz Fires IT Staffer Following Fraud Arrest
Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has fired an information technology staffer following his arrest on a bank fraud charge at a Virginia airport where he was attempting to fly to Pakistan. Wasserman Schultz spokesman David Damron says Imran Awan was fired by the Florida lawmaker on Tuesday. Awan's attorney, Chris Gowen, confirmed that his client was arrested at Dulles Airport on Monday. He says Awan was cleared to travel and had informed the House of his plans to visit his family before the scheduled trip. ABC News

Wasserman Schultz Hit With Criticism Over Aide Arrested While Trying To Leave U.S.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is once again at the vortex of controversy, this time over a suddenly fired staffer who was arrested while at an airport preparing to leave the country. The latest imbroglio is unfolding exactly a year after the biggest crisis of Wasserman Schultz’s political career, the disclosure of massive volumes of internal Democratic National Committee emails, hacked from the party and published online by WikiLeaks. That controversy resulted in her resignation as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Sun Sentinel
VOA VIEW: Wasserman should go to jail.

TSA Rolling Out New Screening Rule For iPads And Other Large Electronics
In coming weeks and months, the Transportation Security Administration said it will roll out “new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items that require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes” across the country. The large electronic devices must be placed in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to laptops, according to TSA. That allows officers to see a clearer X-ray image. Atlanta Journal

Amazon Goes On Hiring Spree As labor market tightens
The company on Wednesday said that it's looking to fill more than 50,000 positions across the U.S. The announcement comes at a time when the labor market is growing tight with back-to-school and holiday shopping around the corner. Others will be competing for many of those potential hires. Inc. will open the doors to job seekers on Aug. 2, next Wednesday, at 10 shipping sites. The majority of jobs will be full-time. More than 10,000 part-time jobs will also be available at sorting centers, along with some supporting and managerial positions. ABC News


Fed Says Balance-Sheet Unwind To Start ‘Relatively Soon’
Federal Reserve officials said they would begin running off their $4.5 trillion balance sheet “relatively soon” and left their benchmark policy rate unchanged as they assess progress toward their inflation goal. The start of balance-sheet normalization -- possibly as soon as September -- is another policy milestone in an economic recovery now in its ninth year. The Fed bought trillions of dollars of securities to lower long-term borrowing costs after cutting the main interest rate to zero in December 2008.“Near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement Wednesday following a two-day meeting in Washington. “Household spending and business fixed investment have continued to expand.” Bloomberg

Nevada’s Congressional Democrats Denounce Trump Ban On Transgender Service Members
President Donald Trump’s announcement on Twitter today that he is banning transgender individuals from serving in the military is drawing ire from Democrats in Nevada’s congressional delegation. The announcement would impact more than 15,000 transgender military members, said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., in a statement. “Discrimination has no place in our armed forces,” Cortez Masto said.Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said the ban poses a safety threat and urged the president to rescind the decision. “Bigotry is disruptive — not the thousands of brave trans men and women currently serving in our armed forces,” she said. Rep. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., said barring transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces has nothing to do with costs or unit cohesion. She also called for Trump to reverse the decision. Las Vegas Sun
VOA VIEW: It will save the military a lot of money and changes.

With Opioid Crisis Raging, Heller Should Vote Against Senate Health Bill
An opioid epidemic is ravaging the country, and the Silver State is no exception. So why is Sen. Dean Heller considering voting for a bill that would cut back on funding to combat the epidemic while simultaneously lavishing billions in tax breaks on the very drug companies who have contributed to it? From 2013 to 2015, opioid-related hospitalizations spiked more than 150 percent in Nevada. In 2015, 465 Nevada residents died from opioid use — largely from prescription painkillers and heroin — and it’s been reported that doctors in the state write 94 painkiller prescriptions for every 100 residents.
Las Vegas Sun

Inside The Trumps’ Instagram Obsession
Eric Trump was Making America Great Again at his father’s New Jersey golf club just as United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley crammed onto a couch with a gaggle of her “sweet friends” and the sunglasses-clad Trump surrogate Katrina Pierson reminisced about the days before politics forced her out of her car and into an Uber. Or, so said their Instagram feeds. If President Donald Trump’s favorite form of social media is Twitter, the outlet of choice for many of his relatives, campaign boosters and even a Cabinet member is Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook. Miami Herald

Smoking Cessation Rises For First Time In 15 Years, And E-Cigs May Be The Key
Electronic cigarettes may be helping Americans to kick the smoking habit, according to a study released Wednesday from UC San Diego researchers. The annual quit rate rose from its longtime average of 4.5 percent to 5.6 percent for 2014-15, the most recent period with verified data, according to a U.S. Census survey of tobacco use. It was the first recorded rise in the smoking cessation rate in 15 years. This time period coincided with increased popularity of e-cigarettes, said Shu-Hong Zhu, an author of the new study and director of the Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control at UC San Diego. An intensified, nationwide anti-smoking campaign likely helped as well, he said. San Diego Tribune

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Senate To Vote On Obamacare Repeal Early In GOP Health Debate
Senate Republicans are poised to vote on a simple repeal of Obamacare in the early stages of an unpredictable floor debate on health care amid significant doubts that Republicans can muster 50 votes to pass any kind of bill. GOP Senator Bob Corker said he plans to vote for the simple-repeal amendment later Wednesday, although he predicted it will fail. "It’s really the only piece of legislation" that can force Republicans and Democrats to sit down and work on a compromise, Corker of Tennessee told reporters. Bloomberg

Amazon’s $500 Billion Market Milestone Marks Its Status As Corporate Titan
Shares of the e-commerce giant closed up 1.2 percent at $1,052.80 Wednesday, bringing Amazon’s market capitalization to $503.2 billion, the first time it has surpassed the half-trillion mark. It’s an exclusive club that includes only three other publicly traded U.S. companies: Apple, Alphabet and crosstown rival Microsoft, which saw its shares surge past that mark for the second time in its history in January. To be sure, $500 billion is just a number — it changes nothing about Amazon’s positioning versus its rivals. Before passing the market milestone, Amazon already had been America’s fourth-largest company and the eighth-largest employer in the Fortune 500. And other companies, such as Exxon Mobil and General Electric, have been part of the $500 billion circle in the past and then seen their market value dip below that significant threshold. Seattle Times
VOA VIEW: Amazon has gotten too big.

Spinning Ohio State Fair Ride Breaks Apart; 1 Dead, 7 Hurt
A swinging and spinning amusement park ride called the Fire Ball broke apart on the opening day of the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday, hurtling people through the air, killing at least one and injuring seven others. Three of the injured remained hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday night, authorities said at a late-night news conference. "The fair is about the best things in life, and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Republican Gov. John Kasich.
Houston Chronicle

Pentagon: North Korea's Missile Capability Far Ahead Of Schedule
North Korea may have a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile by next year -- about two years ahead of schedule, a new assessment by the Pentagon says. An analysis by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency accelerates the timeline of Pyongyang's missile capabilities. It says that intercontinental ballistic missiles -- capable of carrying nuclear warheads -- could be ready by 2018. The report's predictions, similar to those by South Korean intelligence officials, increase pressure on U.S. and Asian leaders to stop Pyongyang's missile progress. UPI

Palin To Subpoena Two Dozen Reporters In Defamation Suit
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin plans to subpoena close to two dozen New York Times reporters, editors and other workers as part of her defamation lawsuit against the newspaper, it was revealed in court documents Wednesday. In a motion arguing that the case be dismissed, lawyers for the New York Times complained that Palin’s legal team has served notice that she plans to subpoena “twenty-three non-party current and former Times reporters, editors and other employees – most of whom had nothing to do with the editorial at issue.” New York Post
VOA VIEW: Bad for NY Times if the reporters are allowed to testify.

Trump Taps Brownback For Ambassadorship Focused On Religious Freedom
President Donald Trump has appointed Gov. Sam Brownback to an ambassadorship, a little more than a month after the Kansas governor saw his signature tax policy dismantled by the state’s Legislature. Trump announced Brownback’s appointment as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom Wednesday evening. Brownback had long been expected to be named to the post. “Religious Freedom is the first freedom,” the governor said on Twitter Wednesday evening. “The choice of what you do with your own soul. I am honored to serve such an important cause.”
Kansas City Star

Study Suggests Suicide Can Spread Among Soldiers In A Unit
Troubling new study findings suggest that U.S. Army soldiers are more likely to try to kill themselves if another member of their unit has attempted suicide in the previous year. In fact, the researchers linked almost 20 percent of such suicide attempts to recent attempts by others in their units. It's not clear if the findings reflect a contagion-like effect, high levels of stress inside specific units or something else altogether, the investigators noted. Whatever the case, "when a suicide attempt occurs in a unit, there is increased risk of another suicide attempt," said study author Dr. Robert Ursano. He is a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Uniformed Services University, in Bethesda, Md. "Being alert to clusters of suicide attempts may offer new avenues for intervention to decrease suicide attempt rates." UPI

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Iran Vows 'Decisive Response' To US Sanctions Bill
The House of Representatives on Tuesday night adopted a bill that would sanction three of America's most quarrelsome adversaries, moving the legislation within reach of the president's desk.  The Senate passed a similar version of the bill, titled the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, earlier this month. Both chambers voted for the legislation targeting Iran, Russia and North Korea with overwhelming bipartisan support: In the House, 419 members voted for it when just 3 voted against, while 97 out of 100 senators supported the measure. If signed by the president, the law would target individuals and entities involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and in its government's reported human rights abuses. The legislation also broadens existing US sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, beyond those simply leveled against the organization's Quds Force. Jerusalem Post
VOA VIEW: Both sides of the isle are in conformity.

Hamas Calls For A 'Day Of Rage'
Hamas called for a "day of rage" on Friday in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, shortly after the European Union's decision to keep the organization to the terrorist blacklist. In a statement issued by the terrorist organization, Hamas politburo chairman, Ismail Haniyeh, called on all factions to fight what he called "unilateral steps of Israel" in the Temple Mount compound, including the setting up of cameras and security checks at the site. Hamas also took pride in the removal of the metal detectors from the area and claimed that "the steadfastness of the residents of Jerusalem surprised the occupation with their determination and sacrifice." The Hamas leader turned to the leaders of the Arab and Islamic world to "use all diplomatic tools against Israel to dissuade them from continuing to harass the Al-Aksa Mosque." Jerusalem Post

Delays Leave Transgender Military Recruits In Limbo
When then-US Defence Secretary Ash Carter announced last June that transgender people would be permitted to serve openly in the armed forces it was a landmark moment for thousands of troops who had hidden their identities and put off medical treatment, as well as for potential recruits unable to join up. But a year on from that decision, progress opening the armed forces to transgender Americans has stalled amid delays and attacks from congressional Republicans. On the eve of the deadline for the Pentagon to begin allowing new transgender recruits, on the first of this month, Defence Secretary James Mattis announced a six-month delay so that the services could "evaluate more carefully" the impact of transgender troops on "readiness and lethality". Some congressional Republicans celebrated the delay and have since called for the policy to be reversed entirely. BBC News

Justine Damond Death: Woman 'Slapped Police Car'
Investigators say that before Justine Damond was shot to death by a Minneapolis police officer, a woman "slapped" the back of his patrol car. The search warrant issued by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) does not say if that woman was the Australian yoga teacher. The document may shed light on the possible source of the "loud sound" that startled the car's driver. Damond was killed by Officer Mohamed Noor after calling 911 two weeks ago. The search warrant, which was provided to local news stations by investigators, stated: "Upon police arrival, a female 'slaps' the back of the patrol squad. "After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley." BBC News

Republicans Push 'Skinny Repeal' Of Obamacare Amid Uncertainty Over Vote
Confusion and uncertainty reigned on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as the Senate failed to pass a measure that would have repealed major provisions of Barack Obama’s health reforms, something Republicans have promised to do for seven years. At least six Republican senators joined with Democrats to reject the bill, just two years after the party approved a similar measure that was vetoed by Obama. But a new plan emerged as the leading contender to replace the 2010 healthcare law. A day after the Senate narrowly voted to open debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) despite not knowing where it would lead, the so-called skinny repeal seemed the most probable of a number of options for the repeal or replacement of the ACA to succeed. The Guardian

Trans Healthcare Costs Are Actually A Tiny Proportion Of The US Military Budget
On Wednesday, when Donald Trump tweeted that the US armed forces would not “allow or accept” transgender people into military service, he argued the Pentagon “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs” of covering transgender-related healthcare. That’s been a common refrain for Republicans who oppose open service by transgender members of the military. In June, congresswoman Vicki Hartzler of Missouri said that the cost of covering service members’ transition care was “over a billion dollars”.A closer look at the cost of healthcare for transgender military members – these are treatments like counseling and hormone replacement therapy – suggests it’s more like a drop in the ocean of cash that is the Pentagon’s annual budget. The Guardian

Two Long Island Immigrants Among 114 Arrested In 11-Day ICE Sweep
Two immigrants living on Long Island were among 114 foreign nationals arrested during a recent sweep in the metropolitan area of those wanted for various offenses and violations, the federal immigration enforcement agency said Wednesday. The announcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not disclose the identities of the two immigrants — one living in Nassau County and one in Suffolk — or why they were arrested. A spokeswoman for the agency’s New York field office said the two were apprehended as part of an operation “targeting at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and immigration fugitives.” Newsday

Scalise Discharged Month After Shooting
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was critically wounded in a shooting at a baseball practice last month, has been discharged from a Washington hospital. MedStar Washington Hospital Center said Wednesday that the six-term Louisiana Republican was released from the hospital on Tuesday and is beginning "intensive inpatient rehabilitation." It did not identify the rehabilitation facility. "Congressman Steve Scalise has made excellent progress in his recovery from a life-threatening gunshot wound six weeks ago," the hospital said. Scalise was in good spirits and looking forward to returning to work once he completes his rehabilitation, according to the hospital. On Monday, Scalise phoned in to the weekly GOP whips meeting, thanking everyone for their hard work and expressing appreciation for U.S. Capitol Police. Newsday

NASA plans to build a new plane that could halve flight times
For all its reputation as a miracle of motion at the forefront of all things travel, supersonic aviation is both mired in the past and weighed down by a future laden with question marks. Not since Concorde was removed from service in October 2003 has a commercial airliner flown at beyond the speed of sound. And with the retirement of the great Anglo-French jet, the concept of soaring through the air at faster than 761mph has increasingly become a fragment of yesteryear - a ghost of some golden age that is deemed unlikely to return. Part of the issue with supersonic flying is just how noisy it is. Famously, a plane breaking the sound barrier provokes a "sonic boom" - a cacophonous whip-crack which, if it erupts close enough to the ground, can cause windows to break and complaints to be issued. Telegraph

Angelina Jolie Reveals She Was Diagnosed With Bell's Palsy and Speaks About Divorce From Brad Pitt
Angelina Jolie has spoken out about her ongoing divorce from Brad Pitt, and revealed that she was diagnosed last year with Bell's Palsy, a medical condition which can cause temporary paralysis of the facial muscle. According to the actress, the Bell's Palsy, which she says she has now successfully cured through acupuncture, caused one side of her face to droop.“Sometimes women in families put themselves last,” she told Vanity Fair in a new interview, speaking about her diagnosis, “until it manifests itself in their own health.” Telegraph

The National Crime Agency Is Sending Hackers To Rehab
At the age of 13, Jake Davis was spending all day, every day on his bedroom computer at his Shetland Islands home. It would be another five years before he discovered an Anonymous chatroom and became part of the hacktivist group, going on to form his own group, Lulzsec. With his new group, he went from targeting The X Factor, to the US Senate, the CIA and the Serious Organised Crime Agency, actions that ultimately led to his arrest. He was still a teenager.This week, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has announced the launch of a hacker ‘rehab’ programme directed specifically at young people like Davis, who is now a white hat hacker and collaborating on upcoming startup Spyscape. “I would probably have wanted to get involved with a programme like this at the age of around 13, and mostly to interact with better hackers,” Wired

Google's DeepMind Creates An AI With 'imagination'
In two new research papers, the British AI firm, which was acquired by Google in 2014, describes new developments for "imagination-based planning" to AI. Its attempt to create algorithms that simulate the distinctly human ability to construct a plan could eventually help to produce software and hardware capable of solving complex tasks more efficiently. DeepMind's previous research in this area has been incredibly successful, with its AlphaGo AI managing to beat a series of human champions at the notoriously tricky board game Go. However, AlphaGo relies on a clearly defined set of rules to provide likely outcomes, with relatively few factors to consider. Wired

UN Condemns Killing Of Two Peacekeepers In Central African Republic
Secretary-General António Guterres and the United Nations Security Council have condemned yesterday's killing of two peacekeepers in the Central African Republic's (CAR) south-eastern city of Bangassou. “This incident brings to nine the number of peacekeepers killed in service in Bangassou since the beginning of the year,” said a statement issued this morning by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General. According to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), two of its Moroccan peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in Bangassou by suspected anti-Balaka fighters, while another peacekeeper was slightly injured. The incident followed the killing of a Moroccan peacekeeper on Sunday. UN News

Half Of All Countries Aware But Lacking National Plan On Cybersecurity, UN Agency Reports
Only about half of all countries have a cybersecurity strategy or are in the process of developing one, the United Nations telecommunications agency today reported, urging more countries to consider national policies to protect against cybercrime. Releasing its second Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said about 38 per cent of countries have a published cybersecurity strategy and an additional 12 per cent of governments are in the process of developing one. The agency said more effort is needed in this critical area, particularly since it conveys that governments consider digital risks high priority. “Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organizations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective,” stated the report, adding that cybersecurity is “becoming more and more relevant in the minds of countries’ decision makers.” UN News

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