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Sunday, Feb 07th

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CTE in the NFL: The tragedy of Fred McNeill

CTE in the NFLThe night before Fred McNeill died in November, he was watching "Monday Night Football." The 63-year-old former Minnesota Viking linebacker and UCLA grad had his gold and blue slippers tucked under his bed. "He loved the game," said his youngest son, Gavin. "He was proud of what he did."

Yet the very same game had robbed so much from him.

McNeill had transitioned from playing 12 years of professional football into family life. He had a wife, Tia, and two young sons, Fred Jr. and Gavin. After playing in two Super Bowls, he spent his last NFL season studying law and eventually became a partner with a firm in Minneapolis.

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New U.S. bill being drafted to reform human trafficking rankings

Trafficking ill rankings to changeA leading U.S. lawmaker on human rights has begun drafting legislation to seek major reforms in how the State Department ranks countries on human trafficking, in response to concerns that the latest annual report was watered down for political reasons.

U.S. Representative Chris Smith said the bill, which he expects to finalize in a month and introduce in the House of Representatives in six weeks, will call for some of the biggest changes in a decade in how Washington grades global efforts against modern slavery.

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Alex Baer: Phil's Fillips

Phil's FillipsIt's easy for a little guy to get lost in a crazed crowd.

No, not Rand "Really, it's Randal, not like Ayn" Paul, or Donald "Stop Calling Me Rumpo" Trump,  or even Rick "Don't Ask Anything or Look Me Up Anywhere" Santorum.  No, we're talking about Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil here, whose annual foray into the spotlight got overrun by a stampede of frothy-mouthed Iowa mammals, mostly baboons escaping their GOP handlers.

While portents of the American future were being expounded upon in definitive, if overly waffling, back-and-fill, sunny-then-wintry descriptive terms by politcos, high atop their own self-made gabbling pedestals and berms, Phil drew his own single-minded throng at Gobbler's Knob, awaiting his forecasted divinations of the nation's weather, and the possibility of any ray of positiveness, or, at the least, Spring.

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Report: Powell, Rice staff received classified emails on private servers

Colin PowellIn a letter obtained by NBC, Inspector General Steve Linick said that a total of 12 classified emails, now classified as "secret" or "confidential," were found to have been sent to the personal email accounts. Ten of them were sent to Rice's aides and two sent to Powell.

Linick added that none of the emails were marked classified at the time, and none were sent from the intelligence community.

In an interview with NBC, Powell downplayed the significance of the emails, saying that the information in the messages, which were sent by ambassadors, should not be classified.

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Martin Shkreli pleads the Fifth, then tweets about 'imbeciles' in Congress

Martin Shkreli pleads fifthEmbattled drug entrepreneur Martin Shkreli — who vigorously defended his decision to hike the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 — suddenly went silent Thursday at a Congressional committee, smirking and grinning instead of answering questions.

Now facing an unrelated federal criminal indictment, the typically loquacious Shkreli refused to testify, repeatedly citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Members of Congress launched into fiery lectures directed at Shkreli, whose previous company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, came under scrutiny when it raised the price of Daraprim more than 5,000%.

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U.S., 11 nations sign contested Trans-Pacific trade deal; Sanders vows to kill it if elected

TPP signedRepresentatives of a dozen nations met in New Zealand to sign the debated Trans-Pacific Partnership, which seeks to bolster economies and investments between the United States and a number of Pacific Rim governments.

The TPP agreement was signed by the parties on Thursday, New Zealand time, during a formal ceremony in Auckland.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman attended the signing for President Barack Obama's administration.

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Protesters demand SF address homelessness amid Super Bowl hype

Homeless protest displacement for Super BowlProtesters stood in sharp contrast to the festivities taking place at Super Bowl City on Wednesday as they took to the streets to bring attention to the plight of homelessness in San Francisco.

Organizers and supporters met at the San Francisco Ferry Building, where they chanted, performed songs and held signs with messages like, “Hey Mayor Lee, no penalties for poverty.”

More than 80 helmet-donning police stood facing the equally large crowd of protesters.

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Assange 'unlawfully detained' in embassy, UN panel reportedly will rule

Julian AssangeWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's three-and-a-half-year stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London amounts to "unlawful detention," a United Nations panel examining his appeal will reportedly rule on Friday.

Assange, a former computer hacker who has been holed up in the embassy since June 2012, told the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that he was a political refugee whose rights had been infringed by being unable to take up asylum in Ecuador.

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NGOs sound alarm on heavy fuel oil used in Arctic shipping

NGO's sound alarm on Arctic Fuel OilAs Arctic Council delegates convened for a three-day environmental working group meeting in Sweden on Monday, representatives of 15 NGOs released a letter calling on the Council’s eight member states to pursue a ban on heavy fuel oils in the region.

“The risks to the marine environment, the climate, and public health are too great to permit the continued use of [heavy fuel oil] in Arctic shipping,” the letter says.

Cargo shipping in the Arctic region has increased in recent years as firms take advantage of shorter routes that are usually clogged by sea ice. Some of these ships are powered by or are transporting heavy fuel oil, which the letter asserts is a grave environmental threat to the Arctic’s delicate ecosystem.

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