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Saturday, May 23rd

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The BBC braces for the fight of its life

BBC fighting for its lifeA majority Conservative government was the outcome that Europe’s largest public broadcaster dreaded most.

And Prime Minister David Cameron had not even finished announcing his new Cabinet this week when the British press declared his government at war with the BBC.

The appointment of John Whittingdale, a Conservative stalwart and former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, as the minister overseeing broadcasting policy was, to hear the UK media tell it, the opening barrage in what will be a brutal fight about the corporation’s future over the next 18 months.

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White House: U.S. special forces kill key Islamic State leader

ISIS leader killedU.S. Special Forces killed a suspected senior leader of the Islamic State militant group and detained his wife during an operation in Syria, the White House said Saturday. A young Yezidi woman believed to be held as a slave by the couple was also taken into custody.

It is a rare publicly known case of U.S. ground operations in Syria, where the militant group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has grabbed significant territory. Although a U.S.-led coalition has dealt the Islamic State significant setbacks, especially in Iraq, the group is far from defeated. Just this week, it captured the government headquarters in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province.

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2015 Is the Hottest Year On Record

2015 hottest yearHere’s the climate crisis in two hunks of ice: the snowball that Climate Change denier James Inhofe tossed on the floor of the Senate, and Antarctica’s 618-square-mile Larson B Ice Shelf, which will disintegrate by the end of the decade, according to a report released today by NASA.

Earlier this week, Larson B’s much bigger brother, Larson C, was also declared to be at “imminent risk” with huge cracks appearing on its surface.

Not only are these developments yet more canaries in the coalmine of global climate disruption, they have nasty effects. When massive ice shelves fall apart, glaciers melt into the ocean, accelerating the rise in global sea levels.

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Cellphone therapy: New apps help track and treat mental illness

cell phone therapy“Reminder: Eat breakfast.” That’s the notification Jennifer receives on her phone every morning after waking. After eating, she picks up her phone again to record what she ate and how she felt. Throughout the day, the app she uses, Recovery Record, acts as an online diary of sorts, reminding her to eat a snack or log her supper.

“It takes a lot of the anxiety out of eating,” said Jennifer, a 20-year-old Londoner who has had an eating disorder for three years.

Alongside therapy, recording these dietary details on her mobile app is a crucial part of coping with her disorder — as is the privacy of her recovery, so Jennifer is not her real name, and the information she punches in (both food and feelings) is protected.

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Colombia ends aerial spraying, shelving air war on cocaine

Cocaine spraying columbiaThe futility of Colombia’s two-decade air war on the cocaine trade was laid bare on Thursday when the government, following President Juan Manuel Santos’ recommendation, agreed to halt the aerial spraying of coca crops with the herbicide glyphosate — a pillar of Plan Colombia, the multibillion-dollar U.S. aid package to fight drug trafficking.

Drug war opponents and environmentalists have long panned the use of aerial spraying in Colombia. Ironically, though, it’s the U.S. government that recently shed light on the policy’s impotence. The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy announced last week that the cultivation of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine, had spiked 39 percent in 2014 over the previous year — despite the U.S.-funded aerial spraying program that has fumigated 4 million acres of crops at a cost of nearly $2 billion since it began in 1994.

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Ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi sentenced to death

Morsi sentenced to deathAn Egyptian court sentenced ousted President Mohammed Morsi and over 100 others to death Saturday over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak and later brought Morsi's Islamist movement to power.

In what appears to be the first violent response to the sentence, suspected Islamic militants in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula gunned down three judges and wounded three others traveling in a car in the northern Sinai city of al-Arish, according to security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

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Washington State Declares Drought Emergency

washington drought emergencyDrought isn't just a California problem, folks. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency on Friday, with snowpack and stream flows dramatically below normal.

“We’re really starting to feel the pain from this snowpack drought," Inslee said at a press conference. "Impacts are already severe in several areas of the state. Difficult decisions are being made about what crops get priority water and how best to save fish. ... We have some tough, challenging months ahead of us. We’re ready to bring support and relief to the hardest hit areas of the state. We’re going to do everything we can to get through this."

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Israel continues to criminalize marking Nakba Day

Nakba Day illegal in IsraelEach year on May 15, Palestinians across the world commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe), or the 1948 establishment of Israel that led to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians being displaced from their homeland.

The estimated 1.7 million Palestinians who carry Israeli citizenship and live in villages, towns and cities across the country are no exception. Each year, protests, marches, lectures and other events to mourn their ancestors' dispossession are held in Palestinian communities across Israel.

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Gets Death Penalty in Boston Marathon Bombing

TsarnaevA federal jury on Friday condemned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a failed college student, to death for setting off bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured hundreds more in the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

The jury of seven women and five men, which last month convicted Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, of all 30 charges against him, 17 of which carry the death penalty, took more than 14 hours to reach its decision.

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