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Friday, Apr 18th

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Alex Baer: Cupid's Calling Cards, Kiss Kiss.

Cupid droneFirst, there was unorganized barbarism for the species, down to the individual, very-personal level.  It was very hands-on.  It was very messy.  There was a lot of complaining about the workaday dry-cleaning bill for the yak furs, and some wisecracks from the laundry about the stains on the goatskin leisure suits as well.

Then, in a burst of ingenuity usually reserved for the plunder of goods and riches from others, humanity figured out a way to step back a bit from the mess of mayhem-making, if not the abyss of going with our worser instincts:  We watched volcanoes fling great chunks of rock onto hapless hunter-gatherers in our midst, and, inspirationally thunderstruck, we immediately started building catapults, trebuchets, and other means of decimating people at a distance, such as telemarketing calls.

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Accusation of FBI spying stalls 9/11 hearing

Guantanamo trialsA military judge abruptly recessed the first 9/11 trial hearing of the year Monday after defense lawyers accused the FBI in open court of trying to turn a defense team security officer into a secret informant.

If true, the lawyers argued, attorney-client confidentiality may be compromised in the case that seeks to put on trial and execute five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

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Can the US Government Confiscate a Citizen's Passport for No Apparent Reason? It Just Did

Nader el DajaniWhen two FBI agents called Nader el-Dajani in August 2012 and asked if he could meet at Starbucks for a chat, he instead invited them to his home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for coffee and tea. The 55-year-old businessman, who lives in Bahrain for most of each year, hadn't been charged with a crime, and the FBI agents never explained why they were interested in him. Dajani didn't have to tell the agents anything. But he did.

He explained that, a few months earlier, he'd been stopped and questioned by Department of Homeland Security officers at a London airport because he was carrying multiple cellphones, which he uses during his international travels. He readily answered the agents' questions about his travels in the Middle East—where he owns several businesses—and his knowledge of the region. He thought it was the right thing to do. "I told them everything," he says. "I was open." He assumed that cooperating with the bureau would make his life easier.

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Deadly Chile fire in Valparaiso 'may burn for 20 days'

Valparaiso fireOfficials in Chile say it could take more than 20 days to fully extinguish a forest fire in the hills around the port city of Valparaiso.

The blaze has killed at least 13 people, left thousands of people homeless and forced mass evacuations. Chile's forestry agency, Conaf, said firefighters were still battling the wildfires, but it stressed that the situation was not "out of control".

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Maryland Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

marijuanaMaryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) has signed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession in the state, following the passage of the measure in Maryland's General Assembly.

Senate Bill 364 reduces the penalty for possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana from a criminal to a civil offense. First-time offenders will face fines up to $100, while a second offense will be punishable with a fine up to $250 and subsequent offenses up to $500.

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General denies clemency in Manning case

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey BuchananTurning aside calls for clemency, an Army general has approved the 35-year prison sentence imposed on Pfc. Chelsea Manning for a massive leak of military and diplomatic data to WikiLeaks, the Army announced Monday.

The Army statement said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the commanding general of the military district of Washington, approved the convictions and the sentence on Thursday.

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U.S. Revealed: USAID ‘Cuban Twitter’ contractor given secret level clearance

Cuban twitterA firm contracted by the U.S. government to help set up a Twitter-like network in Cuba held secret level security clearance and was warned the operation could involve classified work, according to documents seen by Al Jazeera. And documents show that the program was managed by a section of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) tasked with helping manage regime change in countries where U.S. interests are at stake.

Details contained in the terms a $1.5 billion contract between USAID and Washington-based contractor Creative Associates International (CAI) outline the security clearance arrangements required by the U.S. government. Signed in 2008, the document had been obtained by researcher Jeremy Bigwood through a FOIA request, and shared with Al Jazeera.

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Three Lebanese journalists for al-Manar TV killed in Syria

Journalists killed in SyriaThree Lebanese journalists working for Hezbollah's al-Manar television were killed on Monday after coming under attack in the historic Christian town of Maaloula, north of Damascus.

Al-Manar said two other members of the team were wounded but were in a stable condition.

In a statement, it accused "terrorists" of killing reporter Hamza Haj Hassan, cameraman Mohamad Mantash and technician Halim Allaw who were in Maaloula to cover fighting between government forces, backed by Hezbollah fighters, and insurgents, mostly jihadis who took over the town in December.

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Guardian and Washington Post win Pulitzer prize for NSA revelations

Guardian and WP share PulitzerThe Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in US journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden.

The award, announced in New York on Monday, comes 10 months after the Guardian published the first report based on the leaks from Snowden, revealing the agency’s bulk collection of US citizens’ phone records.

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