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Wednesday, Sep 03rd

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ISIS Baffling U.S. Intelligence Agencies

ISIS baffling US IntelIt’s been two months since ISIS took over Iraq’s second-largest city. But U.S. analysts are still trying to figure out how big the group is and the real identities of its leaders.

The U.S. intelligence community is still trying to answer basic questions about the jihadists who tried to wipe out Iraq’s remaining Yazidis and who now threaten to overrun the capital of the country’s Kurdish provinces.

In a briefing for reporters Thursday, U.S. intelligence officials said the government is re-evaluating an estimate from early this year that said the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had only 10,000 members. These officials also said intelligence analysts were still trying to determine the real names of many of the group’s leaders from records of Iraqis who went in and out of American custody during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

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WHO: Number affected by Ebola 'vastly' underestimated

Ebola crisisThere is evidence that the reported numbers of dead and sickened by Ebola in West Africa may "vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak," the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.

With estimates of more than 1,060 deaths and 1,975 infected, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is already the deadliest ever.

It will take about six months for the epidemic to be controlled, Joanne Liu, head of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), said Friday. She compared the Ebola outbreak to "wartime" and said that abating it would require greater leadership from the WHO.

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France passes sweeping gender-equality law

France passes gender equality lawFrance passed a sweeping gender-equality law this week that eases current restrictions on abortion, encourages paternity leave and promotes gender parity at home and in the workplace.

Under the new law passed on Tuesday, women can obtain an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without any need to cite a reason. This amends France’s previous law, passed in 1975, that gave women the legal right to terminate a pregnancy only if they were in a situation of “distress.” The new law also bans any attempt to prevent women from obtaining information about abortion services.

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Ferguson Police Release Name Of Officer Who Shot Michael Brown

Ferguson officials release officer's nameFerguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson says the officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last Saturday is Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force who has no disciplinary actions on his record with the department.

The release of Wilson's name comes after Jackson said he wouldn't identify the man out of concerns for his safety, citing death threats made to Ferguson police and on social media. Jackson said that Wilson was treated for injuries he sustained Saturday.

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Russian military vehicles enter Ukraine as aid convoy stops short of border

Russian military vehicles enter UkraineThe white trucks of humanitarian aid rumbled through Russia in a convoy stretching for miles, moving slowly southwards on the M4 highway, amid a landscape of fertile fields and Ladas stopped at the roadside – their boots overflowing with watermelons for sale.

But, while the trucks came to a halt well short of Ukraine's border, a different Russian convoy did make the crossing into Ukrainian territory late on Thursday evening.

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Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki agrees to step down

Al MalikiEmbattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday night that he is stepping down, ending a political crisis at a time when Islamist militants have seized large swaths of the country and remain on the offensive.

The Obama administration has blamed al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government for sparking much of the sectarian strife that has gripped his country, as minority Sunnis have felt alienated and have sympathized with armed Sunni extremists calling themselves the Islamic State.

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Gaza Crisis: Israel Outflanks the White House on Strategy

Gaza crisisWhite House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.

Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.

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Highway Patrol to Take Over Security in Ferguson, Missouri

Higway patrol in fergusonMissouri Gov. Jay Nixon put the state highway patrol in charge of security here Thursday in hopes of quelling nightly clashes between protesters angry over a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and SWAT teams using tear gas.

Mr. Nixon tapped a highway patrol captain with ties to the local community to lead the effort. The decision followed days of escalating tension between police and protesters that has been documented minute-by-minute on social media and cable-TV news channels.

"Lately it has looked a little more like a war zone—and that's unacceptable," Mr. Nixon said of the St. Louis suburb of about 21,000 residents.

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How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program

Militarized policeAs many have noted, Ferguson, Missouri, currently looks like a war zone. And its police—kitted out with Marine-issue camouflage and military-grade body armor, toting short-barreled assault rifles, and rolling around in armored vehicles—are indistinguishable from soldiers.

America has been quietly arming its police for battle since the early 1990s.

Faced with a bloated military and what it perceived as a worsening drug crisis, the 101st Congress in 1990 enacted the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1208 of the NDAA allowed the Secretary of Defense to “transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is— (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense.” It was called the 1208 Program. In 1996, Congress replaced Section 1208 with Section 1033.

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