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Thursday, Dec 18th

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Dear Chelsea Manning: birthday messages from Edward Snowden, Terry Gilliam and more

Chelsea Manning birthdayOn Wednesday, Chelsea Manning – heroine, whistleblower and inmate – turns 27. She has been behind bars for four years and eight months, ever since her arrest for leaking ­classified US documents. There isn’t much prospect that she will be released any time soon. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence, with the earliest possibility of parole being in 2021. She has appealed to Barack Obama for a pardon. It seems unlikely he will grant it.

It is against this gloomy and unpropitious backdrop that leading writers, artists and public figures from around the world are today sending Chelsea birthday greetings. Their contributions include letters, poems, drawings and original paintings. Some are philosophical – yes, that’s you, Slavoj Žižek – others brief messages of goodwill. A few are ­movingly confessional.

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TIME Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters

Person of the YearFor decades, Ebola haunted rural African villages like some mythic monster that every few years rose to demand a human sacrifice and then returned to its cave. It reached the West only in nightmare form, a Hollywood horror that makes eyes bleed and organs dissolve and doctors despair because they have no cure.

But 2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic, powered by the very progress that has paved roads and raised cities and lifted millions out of poverty. This time it reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it traveled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place. One August day in Liberia, six pregnant women lost their babies when hospitals couldn’t admit them for complications. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one.

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6,000 tons of polluted soil dug up after southern Israel oil spill

Trans israel oil spillFollowing a major oil spill caused by a leak in the Trans-Israel pipeline Thursday night, the Environmental Protection Ministry said Saturday that it has so far removed 6,000 tons of contaminated soil from the southern Avrona nature reserve, in an attempt to contain and minimize the impact of what experts have labeled one of the country’s worst ever ecological disasters.

The polluted soil was transferred to the Nimra Landfill, located north of Eilat, the Walla news site reported. The Environmental Protection Ministry added that workers will continue evacuating soil from the reserve throughout the night.

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How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide

NSAFor the NSA, the task was easy. The agency had already obtained technical information about the cellphone carriers’ internal systems by spying on documents sent among company employees, and these details would provide the perfect blueprint to help the military break into the networks.

The NSA’s assistance in the Libya operation, however, was not an isolated case. It was part of a much larger surveillance program—global in its scope and ramifications—targeted not just at hostile countries.

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FBI warns of 'destructive' malware in wake of Sony attack

malware after Sony hitThe Federal Bureau of Investigation warned U.S. businesses that hackers have used malicious software to launch a destructive cyberattack in the United States, following a devastating breach last week at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Cybersecurity experts said the malicious software described in the alert appeared to describe the one that affected Sony, which would mark first major destructive cyber attack waged against a company on U.S. soil. Such attacks have been launched in Asia and the Middle East, but none have been reported in the United States. The FBI report did not say how many companies had been victims of destructive attacks.

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Honda admits under-reporting serious U.S. accidents since 2003

Honda under reported accidents in USHonda Motor Co (7267.T) failed to notify U.S. safety regulators of 1,729 claims of injuries and deaths related to accidents in its vehicles since 2003, the automaker acknowledged on Monday.

The Japanese automaker said in a statement that its count of underreported claims came from a third-party audit. Honda cited "various errors related to data entry" and said it used an "overly narrow interpretation" of its legal reporting requirements. It said it is taking steps to remedy these shortcomings.

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Secret Malware in European Union Attack Linked to U.S. and British Intelligence

regin malwareComplex malware known as Regin is the suspected technology behind sophisticated cyberattacks conducted by U.S. and British intelligence agencies on the European Union and a Belgian telecommunications company, according to security industry sources and technical analysis conducted by The Intercept.

Regin was found on infected internal computer systems and email servers at Belgacom, a partly state-owned Belgian phone and internet provider, following reports last year that the company was targeted in a top-secret surveillance operation carried out by British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters, industry sources told The Intercept.

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