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Thursday, Mar 05th

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Hong Kong's 'Occupy' leaders now face quiet but persistent harassment

Hong Kong Occupy groupProfessor Chan Kin-man is not an overly suspicious fellow. Yet recent harassment here has led him to sweep his rooms for bugging devices, and to fit a security chain and combination lock on his university office door.

For a year and a half, the Yale-educated sociologist has received dozens of hate letters, including death threats, with many of them cursing him as a traitor for helping found the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement that partly shut down Hong Kong last fall.

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Fracking is shaking up Holland : Gas-rich province protests quakes

Holland fracking earthquakesTo enjoy a quieter life, Franziska Selmeier, 54, decided decades ago to move to Slochteren, a town of 15,000 people in the northernmost province of the Netherlands.

But life in Groningen isn't as calm as she imagined. Last year, the area was hit with 84 earthquakes. "We are being terrorized by these tremors," Selmeier said. "Your house is supposed to be your safe place. It is really not anymore."

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New drug shields monkeys from AIDS: study

HIV vaccine a success in monkeysScientists said Wednesday a new drug tested on monkeys provided an astonishingly effective shield against an animal version of the AIDS virus, a major gain in the quest for an HIV vaccine.

Macaque monkeys given the drug were able to fend off high repeated doses of the simian version of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), they reported in the journal Nature.

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Afghan war civilian casualties reached record-high 10,000 in 2014

Afghan civilian casualtiesA new record of 10,548 civilians died or were wounded in the war in Afghanistan in 2014 – alongside a number of other new, deadly records.

Civilian casualties were up 22 percent from the previous record in 2013. The number of women and children either killed or wounded reached record highs, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Casualties from suicide attacks, roadside bombs and explosive devices also broke records.

The United Nations has been recording the war in Afghanistan since 2009.

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University of Massachusetts bans Iranian students from select STEM degrees

U of Mass. bars Iranian students from some degreesThe University of Massachusetts Amherst is not accepting Iranian applicants into its graduate school in select science and engineering fields, citing U.S. sanctions.

The university posted the policy on its website for graduate admissions.

The University has determined that recent governmental sanctions pose a significant challenge to its ability to provide a full program of education and research for Iranian students in certain disciplines and programs. Because we must ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, the University has determined that it will no longer admit Iranian national students to specific programs in the College of Engineering (i.e., Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering) and in the College of Natural Sciences (i.e., Physics, Chemistry, Microbiology, and Polymer Science & Engineering) effective February 1, 2015.

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Florida puts executions on hold as high court debates anesthetic

Florida executions on holdFlorida's highest court put executions on hold Tuesday while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether use of a controversial general anesthetic constitutes "cruel and unusual" punishment of condemned killers.

The state Supreme Court stopped the execution of Jerry William Correll next week because the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a challenge some Oklahoma inmates brought against use of midazolam hydrochloride as the first of three drugs used in lethal injections. Florida uses essentially the same formula, the court said in a 5-2 ruling.

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Swiss prosecutor raids HSBC offices after opening criminal probe

HSBC raidedGeneva's public prosecutor raided HSBC's lakeside Swiss office on Wednesday after opening a criminal inquiry into allegations of aggravated money laundering, the second probe to hit the bank this week.

Europe's largest lender is in regulators' sights after details about how its Swiss private bank allegedly helped wealthy clients evade taxes were leaked to the media and published last week.

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Myanmar's Buddhist terrorism problem

Myanmar's buddhist terroristsOn Feb. 11, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein rescinded a voting rights offer to the country’s Rohingya community amid intense pressure from far-right Buddhist groups. Last week hundreds of Buddhists took to the streets to denounce the continuation of a 2010 law that extended the right to vote to the country’s more than 1 million ethnic Rohingya. Myanmar does not regard the minority group as citizens.

The violence directed toward the Muslim Rohingya community has been characterized in the media as Buddhism’s terrorism problem. However, the faith-based portrayal of the Rohingya crisis devalues the political and social nuances necessary to understanding the conflict.

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Document: Canadian Police View Environmentalists, Not Climate Change, as Real Threat

ottawa demonstrationCanadian environmental organizations could pose a potential threat to national security and are attempting to make the fossil fuel industry look bad.

Such was the assessment of what the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) referred to as the "anti-petroleum movement" in a document dated Jan. 24, 2014, and titled Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment.

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