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Tuesday, Jan 27th

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US loosens embargo on Cuba, making trade and travel easier

Cuban trade easedThe Obama administration is putting a large dent in the U.S. embargo against Cuba as of Friday, significantly loosening restrictions on American trade and investment.

The new rules also open up the communist island to greater American travel and allow U.S. citizens to start bringing home small amounts of Cuban cigars after more than a half-century ban.

Thursday's announcement of new Treasury and Commerce Department regulations are the next step in President Barack Obama's plan to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. They come three days after U.S. officials confirmed the release of 53 political prisoners Cuba had promised to free.

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CIA panel finds no wrongdoing in search of Senate computers

CIAFive CIA personnel involved in searching computers used by Senate staffers to compile a scathing report on the torture of detainees didn’t break the law, had good reasons to conduct the searches and shouldn’t be penalized, said an agency accountability board report released on Wednesday.

The findings contradicted those of the CIA Inspector General’s Office and charges by former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein that the searches possibly violated the law and the Constitution, casting in an awkward light an apology for the intrusions made by CIA Director John Brennan in July.

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Secret Service director tells senior officials to leave their posts

US Secret ServiceFour top officials at the Secret Service have been asked to leave their jobs.

"Based on the Independent Panel review, and my own assessments, I will be implementing leadership changes in the Secret Service management team," Acting Director Joseph Clancy said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Washington Post first reported the news.

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Free climbers reach El Capitan peak, make history

El Capitan climbers make historyTwo US climbers - who spent more than two weeks scaling the sheer face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park - have finally reached the summit of the 3,000ft (914m) rock.

Kevin Jorgeson, 30, and Tommy Caldwell, 36 are the first climbers to do so without aids, except for harnesses and ropes to prevent deadly falls.

They began their historic half-mile ascent on 27 December 2014.  \During the climb the pair slept in tents suspended from the mountain face.

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Justices sock Obama administration on drug deportations

Elena kaganThe Supreme Court had a suggestion Wednesday for one of the more extreme reasons used by the Obama administration to deport documented immigrants on drug charges: Stick a sock in it.

The justices appeared fed up by the latest in a series of cases they have reversed over the past decade — cases in which immigrants have been deported or threatened with deportation because of minor drug offenses.

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Israeli Military Officers: Don't Punish Palestine for Joining the ICC

Palestinians and the ICCIf you thought it was a done deal that US aid to the Palestinians would be cut off in punishment of the Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court, think again. Opponents of Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Kentucky) boneheaded proposal to punish Palestinians for embracing the rule of law just got some powerful reinforcements.

Yes, Virginia, the cavalry is here: Israeli military officers.

Defense News reports:

Israeli military officers and experts are warning against funding freezes and other punitive acts against the Palestine Authority (PA) that they insist will jeopardize security coordination with Ramallah.

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Oklahoma leaves drug cocktail unchanged in first executions since botched procedure

Oklahoma execution drug unchangedThe last time Oklahoma executed a prisoner, Clayton Lockett in April 2014, the triple-cocktail procedure unraveled into scenes that even a skilled horror film-maker would be hard pressed to emulate. Blood squirted all over the doctor jabbing at the inmate’s groin in a desperate attempt to find a vein,

Lockett writhed and groaned on the gurney as he took 43 minutes to die, eyewitnesses were traumatised long after the event.

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Iran News Agency: Washington Post Reporter Jason Rezaian Indicted, Will Stand Trial

US reporteer indicted in iranA Washington Post journalist detained in Iran for months has been indicted and will stand trial, Iran's state news agency reported Wednesday, without elaborating on what charges he faced.

The report by the official IRNA news agency came the same day as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif before talks with world powers resume over the Islamic Republic's contested nuclear program.

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Are All Terrorists Muslims? It’s Not Even Close

Most terrorists not MuslimsWhat percentage of terror attacks in the United States and Europe are committed by Muslims? Guess. Nope. Guess again. And again...

“Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” How many times have you heard that one? Sure, we heard Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade say it, but to me, that was simply part of the Fox News plan to make their viewers dumber, as we saw again this past weekend when its terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson was caught fabricating the story that Birmingham, England, is closed to non-Muslims. But more alarmingly, even some reasonable people have uttered this statement.

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