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Saturday, Dec 20th

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U.S. Air Force pilot killed in crash in Middle East

f-16A U.S. Air Force pilot was killed when an F-16 crashed while returning to its base in the Middle East.

The U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of American military operations in the Mideast, said the fighter jet crashed in a non-combat incident late Sunday night while going back to its base shortly after takeoff.

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Hong Kong protesters force closure of government

Hong Kong protestersThousands of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists forced the temporary closure of government headquarters on Monday after clashing with police, defying orders to retreat after more than two months of sustained protests in the Chinese-controlled city.

The democracy movement represents one of the biggest threats for China's Communist Party leadership since Beijing's bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student protests in and around Tiananmen Square.

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In GMO labeling fight, all eyes on Vermont as suit could set precedent

gmo labelingFood activists and the industry are looking to a court case between Vermont and a major food distribution association as a bellwether for the future of genetically modified foods.

In May, the state legislature voted to require food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled as such. If the law goes into effect in 2016, Vermont will become the first state to require such labeling. But first it will have to stand up in federal court: the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which is funded by a coalition of companies including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Starbucks and Monsanto, along with three other industry groups, sued the state shortly after the law passed.

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US cities making it harder to feed the homeless

US cities making it harder to feed homelessFor a lot of people in the United States, Thanksgiving includes volunteering: either filling up a bag of non-perishable food items for a food drive, or volunteering, or sending donations to food banks or hunger charities like Feeding America. If you haven’t, you certainly know someone who has.

And yet a growing array of communities seem intent on making it harder for many of these organizations to serve the still-high homeless population in cities across the United States.

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Fracking risk compared to thalidomide and asbestos: UK Chief Scientist

Fracking dangefrsFracking carries potential risks on a par with those from thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos, warns a report produced by the government’s chief scientific adviser.

The flagship annual report by the UK’s chief scientist, Mark Walport, argues that history holds many examples of innovations that were adopted hastily and later had serious negative environmental and health impacts.

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Online Education: Private companies want to scoop up your child's data.

Online education run amokMassive open online courses, first envisioned as a way to democratize higher education, have made their way into high schools, but Washington is powerless to stop the flood of personal data about teenage students from flowing to private companies, thanks to loopholes in federal privacy laws.

Universities and private companies this fall unveiled a slew of free, open-access online courses to high school students, marketing them as a way for kids to supplement their Advanced Placement coursework or earn a certificate of completion for a college-level class.

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World AIDS Day to be marked around world

World Aid DayPeople around the world on Monday will join forces to show their support for those living with HIV, as well as those who have died from the virus, when the 26th World Aids Day is marked.

An estimated 34 million people are living with HIV and more than 35 million have died from the disease.  This year's theme is "Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation."

Ahead of World Aids Day, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) urged for more investment and access to treatment for children. The group said that 1.1 million infections among children under 15 have been averted, but that more needs to be done.

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Pennsylvania launches Medicaid expansion, overhaul

MedicaidHundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania residents left out of coverage under the 2010 federal health care law now have a chance to get insurance as the state undertakes a massive overhaul to health care for the poor.

On Monday, enrollment begins in the Healthy Pennsylvania program, the name given to Pennsylvania's Medicaid expansion by outgoing Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. Coverage will begin Jan. 1, and state officials say some 600,000 people — primarily low-income, single working adults — are newly eligible for coverage under guidelines set by the 2010 law.

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Bilingual Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem torched

Arab-Jewish school torchedA fire broke out Saturday evening on the grounds of a dual Hebrew and Arabic language school in southern Jerusalem, sparking suspicion of politically motivated arson.

Firefighters gained control over the blaze at the Hand in Hand school in Jerusalem’s Pat neighborhood. On the walls of the building, emergency responders found anti-Arab graffiti which said “death to Arabs,” “Kahane was right” and “down with assimilation.”

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