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Friday, Feb 05th

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Alex Baer: Phil's Fillips

Phil's FillipsIt's easy for a little guy to get lost in a crazed crowd.

No, not Rand "Really, it's Randal, not like Ayn" Paul, or Donald "Stop Calling Me Rumpo" Trump,  or even Rick "Don't Ask Anything or Look Me Up Anywhere" Santorum.  No, we're talking about Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil here, whose annual foray into the spotlight got overrun by a stampede of frothy-mouthed Iowa mammals, mostly baboons escaping their GOP handlers.

While portents of the American future were being expounded upon in definitive, if overly waffling, back-and-fill, sunny-then-wintry descriptive terms by politcos, high atop their own self-made gabbling pedestals and berms, Phil drew his own single-minded throng at Gobbler's Knob, awaiting his forecasted divinations of the nation's weather, and the possibility of any ray of positiveness, or, at the least, Spring.

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Report: Powell, Rice staff received classified emails on private servers

Colin PowellIn a letter obtained by NBC, Inspector General Steve Linick said that a total of 12 classified emails, now classified as "secret" or "confidential," were found to have been sent to the personal email accounts. Ten of them were sent to Rice's aides and two sent to Powell.

Linick added that none of the emails were marked classified at the time, and none were sent from the intelligence community.

In an interview with NBC, Powell downplayed the significance of the emails, saying that the information in the messages, which were sent by ambassadors, should not be classified.

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Martin Shkreli pleads the Fifth, then tweets about 'imbeciles' in Congress

Martin Shkreli pleads fifthEmbattled drug entrepreneur Martin Shkreli — who vigorously defended his decision to hike the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 to $750 — suddenly went silent Thursday at a Congressional committee, smirking and grinning instead of answering questions.

Now facing an unrelated federal criminal indictment, the typically loquacious Shkreli refused to testify, repeatedly citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

Members of Congress launched into fiery lectures directed at Shkreli, whose previous company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, came under scrutiny when it raised the price of Daraprim more than 5,000%.

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U.S., 11 nations sign contested Trans-Pacific trade deal; Sanders vows to kill it if elected

TPP signedRepresentatives of a dozen nations met in New Zealand to sign the debated Trans-Pacific Partnership, which seeks to bolster economies and investments between the United States and a number of Pacific Rim governments.

The TPP agreement was signed by the parties on Thursday, New Zealand time, during a formal ceremony in Auckland.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman attended the signing for President Barack Obama's administration.

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Protesters demand SF address homelessness amid Super Bowl hype

Homeless protest displacement for Super BowlProtesters stood in sharp contrast to the festivities taking place at Super Bowl City on Wednesday as they took to the streets to bring attention to the plight of homelessness in San Francisco.

Organizers and supporters met at the San Francisco Ferry Building, where they chanted, performed songs and held signs with messages like, “Hey Mayor Lee, no penalties for poverty.”

More than 80 helmet-donning police stood facing the equally large crowd of protesters.

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Assange 'unlawfully detained' in embassy, UN panel reportedly will rule

Julian AssangeWikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's three-and-a-half-year stay in the Ecuadorian embassy in London amounts to "unlawful detention," a United Nations panel examining his appeal will reportedly rule on Friday.

Assange, a former computer hacker who has been holed up in the embassy since June 2012, told the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that he was a political refugee whose rights had been infringed by being unable to take up asylum in Ecuador.

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NGOs sound alarm on heavy fuel oil used in Arctic shipping

NGO's sound alarm on Arctic Fuel OilAs Arctic Council delegates convened for a three-day environmental working group meeting in Sweden on Monday, representatives of 15 NGOs released a letter calling on the Council’s eight member states to pursue a ban on heavy fuel oils in the region.

“The risks to the marine environment, the climate, and public health are too great to permit the continued use of [heavy fuel oil] in Arctic shipping,” the letter says.

Cargo shipping in the Arctic region has increased in recent years as firms take advantage of shorter routes that are usually clogged by sea ice. Some of these ships are powered by or are transporting heavy fuel oil, which the letter asserts is a grave environmental threat to the Arctic’s delicate ecosystem.

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What’s Happened With The Oregon Occupation Since You Stopped Paying Attention

Oregon standoffA little over a month ago, armed ranchers rolled into a small Oregon town of Burns and began occupying the Malheur National Wildlife preserve. Initial coverage of the illegal occupation was feverish, but since then most of the media has moved on to newer, flashier items. In Oregon, however, the occupation is still dragging on.

Eleven people, including leader Ammon Bundy, are now in custody. Four people remain entrenched at the refuge and are refusing to leave until they are promised by the FBI negotiator that they will not be prosecuted.

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Congress Seeks Answers On Flint Water Crisis, Doesn't Get Them

Congress gets no answers about Flint waterMembers of Congress wanted to get to the bottom of the Flint water crisis, but several key players were missing from an oversight hearing on Wednesday.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) opted not to call Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to testify, to the consternation of committee Democrats. And Darnell Earley, one of the emergency managers Snyder had appointed to run Flint, refused to testify even after Chaffetz issued a subpoena Tuesday.

"We're calling on the U.S. Marshals to hunt him down and give him that subpoena," Chaffetz said.

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