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Monday, Jul 06th

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NSA spied on French presidents: WikiLeaks

French presidents spied onThe United States National Security Agency spied on French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, WikiLeaks said in a press statement published on Tuesday, citing top secret intelligence reports and technical documents.

The revelations were first reported in French daily Liberation and on news website Mediapart, which said the NSA spied on the presidents during a period of at least 2006 until May 2012, the month Hollande took over from Sarkozy.

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Hoping to build trust, NYPD details new approach to policing

NYPDNew York City police officials provided the first in-depth look Tuesday at a new policing strategy they say will put more beat cops in neighborhood precincts to improve the relationship between officers and the communities they serve.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said the neighborhood policing plan would use staffing changes and other tactics to restore faith in a department that, in an era of historically low crime, still struggles to boost the morale of its own officers and gain the trust of mostly minority residents in the city's toughest neighborhoods.

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Putin’s Plot to Get Texas to Secede

Texasa Nationalist MovementNathan Smith, who styles himself the “foreign minister” for the Texas Nationalist Movement, appeared last Spring at a far-right confab in St. Petersburg, Russia. Despite roaming around in his cowboy hat, Smith managed to keep a low-key presence at the conference, which was dominated by fascists and neo-Nazis railing against Western decadence.

But at least one Russian newspaper, Vzglyad, caught up with the American, noted that TNM is “hardly a marginal group,”and quoted Smith liberally on the excellent prospects for a partial breakup of the United States. Smith declared that the Texas National Movement has 250,000 supporters—including all the Texans currently serving in the U.S. Army—and they all “identify themselves first and foremost as Texans” but are being forced to remain Americans. The United States, he added, “is not a democracy, but a dictatorship.” The Kremlin’s famed troll farms took the interview and ran with it, with dozens of bots instantly tweeting about a “Free Texas.”

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Amazon pulls Confederate flag merchandise

Jeff BezosThe online retailer Amazon will remove all Confederate flag merchandise from its website, a move that comes amid growing public criticism and skyrocketing sales of the so-called "Southern cross," a spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

Amazon's decision, first reported by CNN's M.J. Lee, came after similar moves by Wal-Mart, Sears and eBay, all of which have pulled sales of Confederate flag merchandise over the past 24 hours. In that same time period, Amazon had seen its sales of Confederate flags grow by more than 3,000 percent.

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Google eavesdropping tool installed on computers without permission

Google eavesdropping toolPrivacy campaigners and open source developers are up in arms over the secret installing of Google software which is capable of listening in on conversations held in front of a computer.

First spotted by open source developers, the Chromium browser – the open source basis for Google’s Chrome – began remotely installing audio-snooping code that was capable of listening to users.

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Pakistan heatwave: Emergency measures as toll nears 700

Pakistan heat wavePakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif has called for emergency measures as the death toll from a heatwave in southern Sindh province reached nearly 700.

The army is now being deployed to help set up heat stroke centres, with temperatures reaching 45C (113F).

Officials have been criticised for not doing enough to tackle the crisis.

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eBay Bans Confederate Flags

Confederate flageBay said in a statement today that it will ban Confederate flag-themed items, immediately, following in the footsteps of Walmart, Sears and K-Mart.

“We have decided to prohibit Confederate flags, and many items containing this image, because we believe it has become a contemporary symbol of divisiveness and racism,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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Senate Gives Obama Huge Win On Trade

Senate voteThe Senate on Tuesday handed President Barack Obama the biggest legislative victory of his second term, with a dramatic vote clearing the way for major trade agreements with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union.

The 60-37 vote all but ensures the passage of legislation that will allow Obama to "fast-track" his negotiated trade pacts through Congress, preventing filibusters or amendments. Liberals have long assailed Obama's trade agenda, but Republicans successfully wooed a bloc of Democrats led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to secure enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

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Virginia to Phase Out Confederate Plates

Terry MccauliffeVirginia will phase out vehicle license plates featuring the Confederate battle flag, the state's governor said on Tuesday, following the fatal shootings of nine black worshipers at a historic South Carolina church, allegedly by a white gunman.

The state, which was part of the pro-slavery Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War, will no longer allow specialty license plates for the Sons of Confederate Veterans group that feature the flag, said Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat.

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