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Monday, Jul 28th

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Freed Taliban captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl reportedly returns to active duty

BergdahlSgt. Bowe Bergdahl, released in May after five years as a Taliban prisoner of war in Afghanistan, will return to active duty Monday, The New York Times reported. According to the newspaper, the move is intended to further aid the former captive's return to life in the U.S. after his captivity.

Bergdahl’s return from Afghanistan was fraught with controversy, as fellow soldiers accused him of desertion, saying the initial search for the sergeant led to the deaths of U.S. troops. An Army investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl’s ordeal continues.

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Citi to pay $7 billion to settle U.S. mortgage securities probe

CitibankCitigroup Inc has agreed to pay $7 billion to settle a U.S. investigation into shoddy mortgage-backed securities the bank sold in the run-up to the financial crisis, including the largest civil fraud penalty ever levied by the U.S. Justice Department.

The settlement is more than twice what many analysts had expected but less than the $12 billion the government sought in negotiations with Citi, the third largest U.S. bank.

Citi said it took a related pretax charge of about $3.8 billion in the second quarter, which led the bank to report a 96 percent drop in earnings on Monday.

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Ebola crisis in West Africa deepens; 500+ dead

ebola crisisDeep in the forests of southern Guinea, the first victims fell ill with high fevers. People assumed it was the perennial killer malaria and had no reason to fear touching the bodies, as is the custom in traditional funerals.

Some desperate relatives brought their loved ones to the distant capital in search of better medical care, unknowingly spreading what ultimately was discovered to be Ebola, one of the world's most deadly diseases.

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7 Earthquakes Shake Central Oklahoma in 14 Hours

frackingThe U.S. Geological Survey has recorded seven small earthquakes shaking central Oklahoma in a span of just about 14 hours.

They ranged from magnitude 2.6 to 2.9 and were centered in the Guthrie, Jones and Langston areas, 15 miles to 30 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. The USGS said the quakes were recorded between 7:57 p.m. Saturday and 9:51 a.m. Sunday. No injuries or damage were reported.

Those follow four other quakes, including a 4.3-magnitude temblor near Langston recorded shortly after noon Saturday. The other Saturday morning quakes ranged in magnitude from 2.9 to 3.2.

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American among volunteer human shields at Gaza hospital

Human shields at Gaza hospitalA Gaza hospital director says foreign activists, including a US citizen, are working as human shields to try to protect patients in the facility from Israeli strikes.

Israeli airstrikes hit El Wafa Medical Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza City five times Friday, said executive director Basman Alashi. The hospital normally houses 30 patients in varying stages of occupational and physical therapy, Alashi said. During the current operation, he trained the families of 16 patients to help provide care at home. For those too incapacitated to move, he resorted to another tactic: asking foreign activists to act as a human shield.

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NRA warns ivory ban will make gun owners ‘criminals overnight’

Ivory handled gunGun owners are taking on the Obama administration over a new rule they say would trample their Second Amendment rights by banning the sale of antique firearms that contain endangered elephant ivory.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) announced Friday it is joining the fight to rollback the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s controversial ivory ban, just months after musicians began complaining about the policy.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) says the rule is intended to protect endangered African elephants, but Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s lobbying arm, says it would be “disastrous” for gun collectors.

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Emails shed new light on UK link to CIA 'torture flights'

CIA tortureCrucial logs revealing flights to a British overseas territory when it was allegedly used as a secret US prison are in the possession of the police, the Observer has learned.

The revelation has raised concerns about why, despite repeated demands, details of the flights have not been shared with lawyers and MPs, who for years have been investigating the role played by Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian ocean, in the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme.

A Whitehall official was photographed last week carrying documents marked "sensitive" confirming that the logs recording details of planes landing and taking off at the atoll have been handed to detectives. The documents, a series of printed emails and handwritten notes made by the official, reveal internal Foreign Office discussions about the line to take in response to questions about the British territory raised by lawyers and MPs.

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Former Health Secretary: Pennsylvania Didn't Seriously Study Fracking Health Impacts

Eli AvilaPennsylvania's former health secretary says the state has failed to seriously study the potential health impacts of one of the nation's biggest natural gas drilling booms.

Dr. Eli Avila also says the state's current strategy is a disservice to people and even to the industry itself because health officials need to be proactive in protecting the public.

"The lack of any action speaks volumes," said Avila, who is now the public health commissioner for Orange County, New York. "Don't BS the public. Their health comes first."

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Thousands flee northern Gaza after Israeli warnings

Thousands flee GazaThousands of Palestinians are fleeing northern parts of Gaza after Israel warned it was targeting the area in its campaign to stop rocket attacks.

The UN says 17,000 people have sought refuge in its facilities as Israeli air strikes continue for a sixth day.  Israeli forces have raided a suspected rocket-launching site in Gaza in their first reported ground incursion.

At least 159 Palestinians have been killed since Israel's offensive began, according to health officials in Gaza.

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