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Monday, December 22, 2014

A pit bull who went missing from her family's Southern California home on Thanksgiving was found a month later dyed a different color. Coco the reddish-brown pit bull with white markings had become a black pit bull with no markings. The dog was picked up as a stray and identified at a San Jacinto shelter through a microchip. Authorities in Riverside County believe the dog was stolen and dyed to keep it from being found by its owners. "The dye job is not very good," said county animal shelter official Frank Corvino. "But it would work if someone's looking for their missing, reddish-brown dog."


Glenn Greenwald and Peter Maass, The Intercept: NBC News yesterday called her a "key apologist" for the CIA's torture program. A follow-up New Yorker article dubbed her "The Unidentified Queen of Torture" and in part "the model for the lead character in Zero Dark Thirty." Yet in both articles she was anonymous. The person described by both NBC and the New Yorker is senior CIA officer Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. Multiple news outlets have reported that as the result of a long string of significant errors and malfeasance, her competence and integrity are doubted -- even by some within the agency. The Intercept is naming Bikowsky over CIA objections because of her key role in misleading Congress about the agency's use of torture, and her active participation in the torture program (including playing a direct part in the torture of at least one innocent detainee). Moreover, Bikowsky has already been publicly identified by news organizations as the CIA officer responsible for many of these acts. read more


A 15-year-old Florida girl walking her dog in the Panhandle town of East Point Sunday was attacked by a bear. Leah Reeder was dragged into a ditch, but remembered to "play dead" and the bear fled after her dog lunged at it, Reeder's mother Sherry Mann said. Reeder underwent surgery at a Panama City hospital. "The worst injuries are to her face," Mann said. "She has a huge laceration on top of her head and one across her forehead and deep, deep puncture wounds to the side of her head."


Back in May 2009, the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life conducted surveys and found that the more religious an American is, the more likely he or she is to support torture. More than five years later, not much has changed. While many might assume that the faithful would be morally repulsed by torture, the reality is the opposite. When poll respondents were asked, "Do you personally think the CIA treatment of suspected terrorists amounted to torture, or not?" most Americans said the abuses did not constitute torture. But it was non-religious Americans who were easily the most convinced that the "enhanced interrogation techniques" were, in fact, torture.


Officials in Habersham County, Ga., said Monday they do not plan to pay for the medical expenses of a toddler seriously burned during a police raid based on faulty intelligence. Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as "Baby Boo Boo," spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team's flash-bang grenade exploded in his face. The toddler was just 19 months old when officers executed a no-knock warrant on his family's home, tossing the "less-lethal" device into his crib, WSBTV reported. Police said a confidential informant told them he had bought drugs at the home, but no drugs or suspects were found inside. read more


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali has been hospitalized with pneumonia and is expected to recover because the illness was caught early, a spokesman said Saturday. Ali, 72, was admitted to a hospital in an undisclosed location Saturday morning and is being treated by a team of doctors and remains in stable condition, spokesman Bob Gunnell said.


Jordan ended an eight-year moratorium on executions on Sunday when 11 men were hanged at dawn. The men had been convicted of murder charges from 2002 to 2004, according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry. On Thursday, a record number of countries threw their weight behind a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on executions: 117 of the 193 member states voted in favor of the resolution, 38 voted against it, and 34 abstained.


Of 435 House races in November, only a few dozen were considered competitive — a result of decades of drawing district lines for partisan advantage, generally by state legislatures. But in an era of hyperpartisan gerrymandering, which many blame for the polarization of state and national politics, Ohio took a step in the opposite direction last week. With the support of both parties, the Ohio House gave final approval Wednesday to a plan to draw voting districts for the General Assembly using a bipartisan process, intended to make elections more competitive. read more


Paul Krugman: If you're the type who finds macho posturing impressive, Vladimir Putin is your kind of guy. Sure enough, many American conservatives seem to have an embarrassing crush on the swaggering strongman. "That is what you call a leader," enthused Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, after Putin invaded Ukraine without debate or deliberation. But Putin never had the resources to back his swagger. Russia has an economy roughly the same size as Brazil's. read more


Hillary Clinton is off her peak but still overwhelmingly strong in support for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, while Elizabeth Warren has inched up in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll. Clinton's backed by 61 percent of Democratic and Democratic leaning independents who are registered to vote, giving her a vast advantage over potential rivals Joe Biden, at 14 percent, and Warren, the freshman U.S. senator from Massachusetts, at 13 percent.


St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch admitted Friday that he believed multiple witnesses lied under oath while testifying before the grand jury that heard the case of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was shot dead by a police officer in August. McCulloch said that he did not plan to pursue charges against witnesses who may have lied and that it was his decision early in the process to let anyone who claimed to have witnessed Brown's Aug. 9 death to be presented before the grand jury. read more


New York City's Transportation Authority is about to unveil public service ads that tell men to stop "manspreading." -- sitting with their legs so wide they occupy more than one seat on a subway car. Posters will read "Dude ... Stop the Spread, Please." The Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train Tumblr captures photos of manspreaders in their habitat. Etiquette guru Peter Post said, "I'm baffled by people who do that kind of thing, who take other people's space."


A home security company in Utah has been telling military families they could back out of their contracts if they received orders to move -- but kept sticking them with the bills anyway. Vivint in Provo, Utah, has generated more than 3,000 complaints to the Better Business Bureau. “They came to the door with a deal that couldn't be beat,” said Army Capt. Robert Mixon, who signed up with Vivint two years ago when he was living outside Fort Sill, Oklahoma. "They said we could get out of the contract if we couldn't continue it." But after a move, the company told them he'd have to pay $68.99 a month until September 2015.


For all the anger among progressives about a Wall Street bailout provision that made its way into the just-passed $1.1 trillion government spending bill, there's been little attention on the person who put it in there. Meet Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas). Yoder, a second-term congressman whose largest contributors are in the finance industry, introduced the provision last summer. It was literally written by Citigroup executives, but Yoder took their language and rolled it into an amendment to a spending bill in a House subcommittee meeting. It got swept into the year-end spending package because it "was within the scope of negotiations" on it, according to an Appropriations Committee aide. read more


Officials in Moscow confirmed Friday that North Korean despot Kim Jong Un may attend ceremonies next year commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It would be Kim's first public foreign visit since coming to power in December 2011. "Yes, such an invitation was sent," confirmed Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, speaking to Reuters. read more


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