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Saturday, Aug 29th

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Feds allow Shell to drill for oil in Arctic Ocean off Alaska

Shell Allowed to Drill off AlaskaThe federal government on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska’s northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced that it approved the permit to drill below the ocean floor after the oil giant brought in a required piece of equipment to stop a possible well blowout.

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Planned Parenthood Seeks Injunction Against Florida Health Agency

Rick ScottPlanned Parenthood sought an emergency legal injunction on Monday against Florida health officials to block the use of what it says are "new and unpublished" standards to define pregnancy gestation periods.

The legal move filed in circuit court in Tallahassee comes after Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott ordered a probe last month of the state's 16 Planned Parenthood locations which resulted in three clinics being cited Aug. 5 for illegally performing abortions in the second trimester.

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Use Iran deal to prevent nuclear weapons free-for-all, treaty body says

Lassina ZerboThe head of the body trying to secure ratification of a global ban on nuclear testing urged world leaders on Monday to use the momentum of an atomic deal with Iran to prevent a slide toward a nuclear weapons free-for-all.

More than 160 countries have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) since it was finished in 1996. But since then, India, Pakistan and North Korea have all conducted nuclear tests, and are among eight countries including the United States and China blocking its entry into force.

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U.S. investigates Citigroup ties to Mexican billionaire: report

Citibank connection to Mexian billionaire investigatedThe U.S. Justice Department is looking into Citigroup Inc's dealings with companies linked to Mexican billionaire Carlos Hank Rhon as part of an expanding investigation into the bank's money-laundering controls, Bloomberg reported on Monday.

U.S. officials asked Citigroup (C.N) to provide information on accounts tied to four businesses affiliated with Hank Rhon, according to the news agency. These include two units each of Grupo Financiero Interacciones SA (GFINTERO.MX) and Grupo Hermes SA, which are controlled by Hank Rhon and his family.

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Pentagon: U.S. to increase drone use

drone use to expand by US- The number of U.S. military and intelligence daily drone flights will be increased by 50 percent in coming years, a senior Pentagon official said.

It is the first significant increase in drone use since 2011 and reflects the value of drones, for information-gathering as well as for lethal airstrikes, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Strikes by the unmanned aircraft have killed at least 3,000 people, non-governmental organizations have estimated.

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Air pollution increases allergenicity of ragweed pollen

Pollution increases allergensExposure to nitrous oxide exhaust gases in the environment makes the common ragweed pollen more allergenic, according to new research.

Pollen allergies affect about 50 million people in the United States, and are the main cause of hay fever and other allergies.

"After studies have already shown that Ambrosia growing along highways is clearly more allergenic than Ambrosia plants growing away from road traffic, we could provide a reason for this," said Dr. Ulrike Frank, a researcher at the German Research Center for Environmental Health at Helmholtz Zentrum München, in a press release. "Since in nature and along roads hundreds of parameters could play a role, until now the situation was not entirely clear."

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National labor board dismisses ruling that would have allowed college athletes to unionize.

College athletes may not unionize: rulingThe National Labor Relations Board announced Monday that it will not uphold its Chicago office's 2014 ruling that Northwestern's football players are employees of their university. That means athletes in private schools will not be able to unionize. The board punted on deciding whether athletes are employees, but will not let Northwestern players unionize.

The main issue in the board's eyes? Deciding on the difference between public and private schools, since public schools would not be covered under this ruling:

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UN aid chief slams 'horrifying' disregard of civilian life in Syria

UN condemns Syran deathsThe United Nations humanitarian chief has condemned attacks against civilians in Syria, a day after more than 100 people were killed in what activists said were regime air raids on the rebel-held suburb of Douma, near Damascus.

New U.N. aid chief Stephen O'Brien's comments came as sources told Al Jazeera that even more air strikes were carried out on Douma on Monday.

"I am horrified by the total disrespect for civilian life in this conflict," O'Brien said, a day after one of the bloodiest incidents in the four-year war.

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Bomb blast rocks Bangkok intersection; 15 reported dead

Banghkok blastA bomb blast rocked a shrine at a major central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour Monday, the government said, reportedly killing more than a dozen people and injuring many others.

At least two bombs were found at the scene, said Maj. Gen. Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak, a spokesman for Thailand's ruling junta. He said at least one had detonated.

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