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Thursday, Dec 18th

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Oakland to pay $4.5M to 'Occupy' vet wounded by police

Occupy vet gets $4.5MAn Iraq War veteran whose skull was fractured during an Occupy Oakland protest when he was hit by a beanbag round fired by police has reached a tentative $4.5 million agreement to settle a federal lawsuit with the city of Oakland, his lawyers and city officials announced Friday.

Scott Olsen, 26, sued the city in 2012 for medical expenses and injuries that also included a fractured vertebrae and hemorrhaging of the brain. Olsen was among more than 1,000 demonstrators protesting the police clearing of an Occupy Oakland encampment when struck by a beanbag fired by an officer outside City Hall on Oct. 25, 2011.

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Microsoft defends its right to read your email

MicrosoftMicrosoft is defending its right to break into customers' accounts and read their emails.

The company's ability -- and willingness -- to take such an approach became apparent this week. Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) admitted in federal court documents that it forced its way into a blogger's Hotmail account to track down and stop a potentially catastrophic leak of sensitive software. The company says its decision is justified.

From the company's point of view, desperate times call for desperate measures.

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Missing radioactive material may pose 'dirty bomb' threat: IAEA

IAEAAbout 140 cases of missing or unauthorized use of nuclear and radioactive material were reported to the U.N. atomic agency in 2013, highlighting the challenges facing world leaders at a nuclear security summit next week.

Any loss or theft of highly enriched uranium, plutonium or different types of radioactive sources is potentially serious as al Qaeda-style militants could try to use them to make a crude nuclear device or a so-called "dirty bomb", experts say.

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U.S. says Toyota to pay $1.2 billion over safety issues

ToyotaToyota Motor Corp will pay a record $1.2 billion to resolve a criminal investigation into its handling of consumer complaints over safety issues, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Toyota admitted it misled American consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements about two safety issues, each of which caused a type of unintended acceleration, the Justice Department said.

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Robert Parry: A Shadow US Foreign Policy

NEDThe National Endowment for Democracy, a central part of Ronald Reagan’s propaganda war against the Soviet Union three decades ago, has evolved into a $100 million U.S. government-financed slush fund that generally supports a neocon agenda often at cross-purposes with the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

NED is one reason why there is so much confusion about the administration’s policies toward attempted ousters of democratically elected leaders in Ukraine and Venezuela. Some of the non-government organizations (or NGOs) supporting these rebellions trace back to NED and its U.S. government money, even as Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials insist the U.S. is not behind these insurrections.

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Ohio cuts early voting method favored by blacks

Ohio voting cutsOhio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday he is cutting early voting on Sundays and weekday evenings, dealing another blow to the voting rights effort in the nation’s most pivotal swing state.

Husted’s change would spell doom for a voting method that’s popular among African-Americans in Ohio and elsewhere. Many churches and community groups lead “Souls to the Polls” drives after church on the Sunday before the election.

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Lawsuit brings to light secrecy statements required by Halliburton & KBR

HalliburtonOne of the nation’s largest government contractors requires employees seeking to report fraud to sign internal confidentiality statements barring them from speaking to anyone about their allegations, including government investigators and prosecutors, according to a complaint filed Wednesday and corporate documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Attorneys for a whistleblower suing Halliburton Co. and its former subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, said the statements violate the federal False Claims Act and other laws designed to shield whistleblowers.

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