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Doug Stephan Coffee
Doug Stephan Coffee
December 18, 2014

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Posted by Ken at 4:50 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

U.S. and Cuba Move to Thaw Relations After Prisoner Exchange
U.S. and Cuba Move to Thaw Relations After Prisoner Exchange
December 18, 2014

The U.S. will begin efforts to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and will open an embassy on the island nation following the release of an American government subcontractor and a swap of intelligence assets, President Barack Obama said Wednesday. It marks the most significant change in the U.S.-Cuba relationship since the Cuban revolution.

"Neither the American nor Cuban people are served by a rigid policy that's rooted in events that took place before most of us were born," Obama said in a televised address. "I believe we can do more to support the Cuban people and our values through engagement. After all, these 50 years have shown the isolation has not worked. It's time for a new approach."

Following a year of secret back-channel talks in Canada and at the Vatican, and culminating with a historic nearly hour-long call between Obama and Cuban President Raśl Castro on Tuesday, the Cuban government released 65-year-old Alan Gross on Wednesday on humanitarian grounds. His release clears the way for a broad relaxation of the 53-year U.S. embargo on Cuba.

In a prisoner swap, Cuba released an unnamed U.S. intelligence asset who has been imprisoned for 20 years, while the U.S. government released the final three members of the spy ring known as the Cuban Five remaining in federal prison.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Doug and My Cool Inventions
Doug and My Cool Inventions
December 17, 2014

Doug teams up with Akos Jankura 'The Solutionist' and John Cremeans 'The Doctor of Shopology' from My Cool Inventions Radio in a search for America's Top Invention weekday mornings at 9am (Eastern)!

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Sydney hostage-taker called himself a cleric -- and had a criminal record
Sydney hostage-taker called himself a cleric -- and had a criminal record
December 16, 2014

Before he was killed in a Sydney cafe, the gunman who held hostages there for more than 16 hours was no stranger to police.

The hostage-taker was Man Haron Monis, an official with direct knowledge of the situation said Monday.

"He had a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters.

Australian media reports paint a harrowing picture of Monis, 50, detailing his lengthy criminal history.

The self-styled Muslim cleric, also known as Sheikh Haron, pleaded guilty last year to writing offensive letters to the families of Australian troops.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Good Day Goodies!
Good Day Goodies!
December 10, 2014

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Crude oil swoons to 5-year low, gas prices to follow
Crude oil swoons to 5-year low, gas prices to follow
December 10, 2014

Crude oil prices accelerated their six-month slide Monday, plunging to fresh five-year lows after a key investment bank bearclawed the energy market, a major producer slashed its drilling and exploration budget by more than 20% and fresh reports pointed to slowing global economic growth.

The 4% drop in crude oil prices crimped Wall Street, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 Index down 0.7% to 2060 and igniting big losses among already hard-hit energy producers and oil patch stocks. The latest drop in oil is likely to fuel fresh cuts in gasoline prices in the weeks ahead, saving consumers, shippers and airlines billions. Oil prices have yet to find a bottom.

"We're in a tailspin,'' says Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service. "The world is facing a possible glut of oil in 2015. Consumers typically paid $470 billion-$480 billion for motor fuel between 2011 to 2013. We're on track for about $449 billion this year and likely to pay $75 billion to $100 billion less next year."

Gasoline prices, averaging $2.67 a gallon nationwide - vs. $3.26 a year ago - are likely to fall to about $2.50 before year's end, Kloza says.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Congress agrees on $1.1 trillion spending bill
Congress agrees on $1.1 trillion spending bill
December 10, 2014

Time running short, Republicans and Democrats agreed Tuesday on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and delay a politically-charged struggle over President Barack Obama's new immigration policy until the new year.

In an unexpected move, lawmakers also agreed on legislation expected to be incorporated into the spending measure that will permit a reduction in benefits for current retirees at economically distressed multiemployer pension plans. Supporters said it was part of an effort to prevent a slow-motion collapse of a system that provides retirement income to millions, but critics objected vehemently.

There was no immediate reaction from the White House to the bill.

At 1,603 pages, the spending bill adheres to strict caps negotiated earlier between the White House and deficit- conscious Republicans, and is also salted with GOP policy proposals. As described by unhappy liberals, one would roll back new regulations that prohibit banks from using federal deposit insurance to cover investments on some complex financial instruments.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Current vaccines might not stop the flu
Current vaccines might not stop the flu
December 9, 2014

Much of the influenza virus circulating in the United States has mutated and this year's vaccine doesn't provide good protection against it, federal health officials are warning.

Flu season's barely starting, but most cases are being caused by a strain called H3N2 this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a health warning issued to doctors Wednesday night.

The flu vaccine protects against three or four strains of flu-there's always a mix of flu viruses going around-and H3N2 is one of them. But the strain of H3N2 infecting most people has mutated and only about half of cases match the vaccine, CDC said.

Flu viruses do this all the time. The mutations are called "drift" and vaccines, formulated months in advance, often don't protect well against drifted viruses although they may provide a little of what's called cross protection.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Marines on alert ahead of release of Senate torture report
Marines on alert ahead of release of Senate torture report
December 8, 2014

Thousands of Marines have been put on a higher state of alert around the world in advance of the anticipated release of a Senate report on coercive interrogation techniques as a precaution, a U.S. defense official tells CNN.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest at the briefing Monday said the Senate committee has told them they will release the enhanced interrogation report Tuesday.

The Marines are all part of contingency response forces positioned in key areas to respond to a crisis. The alert status means the units are put on a shorter readiness time to be available and capable of deploying to a crisis such as an embassy or U.S. base coming under threat. Those exact warning times remain classified, but the Marines can be able of deploying within just a few hours of being notified.

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Cop cleared in chokehold death of Eric Garner
Cop cleared in chokehold death of Eric Garner
December 4, 2014

A Staten Island grand jury cleared an NYPD cop in the chokehold death of Eric Garner during his caught-on-video arrest for peddling loose cigarettes, the Staten Island district attorney confirmed Wednesday.

The panel voted a "no-bill" and dismissed all potential charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

The blockbuster decision capped weeks of investigation by the special grand jury, which was empaneled in September specifically to review evidence in Garner's racially charged death.

In a statement released by his union, Pantaleo said: "I became a police officer to help people and to protect those who can't protect themselves."

"It is never my intention to harm anyone and I feel very bad about the death of Mr. Garner," he added.

"My family and I include him and his family in our prayers and I hope that they will accept my personal condolences for their loss."

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Posted by Ken at 1:43 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

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