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Friday, Dec 19th

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The Great Police Violence Cover-Up

US policeI have a 20-year-old son, and I have a 12-year-old son, and I’m so afraid for them. … This is about a war machine. It is us against the [expletive] machine!”  —Rapper Killer Mike

Perhaps the saddest thing is: We don’t really know what the truth is. We don’t really know if Killer Mike—his voice breaking on stage this week after the Ferguson grand jury decision—is correct in his perception that America’s police departments are less protectors of the peace than monstrous “war machines” leveled against the nation’s poor and minorities.

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The Fracking Rush Hits a Pothole

Fracking boom potholeEver heard of Bryan Sheffield? The baby-faced tycoon enjoyed a brief blast of fame a few months ago when he became one of those rare non-tech billionaires under 40.

What ignited his rise to the ranks of Americans with money to burn? He owns a company called Parsley Energy Inc. that extracts oil and natural gas using the highly polluting technique known as fracking. Sheffield's fortune hit the billion-dollar milestone when Parsley went public in May.

But a sudden plunge in oil prices quickly spiked the young Texan's newfound status, trimming Sheffield's fortune to a more modest $750 million.

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Darren Wilson resigns from Ferguson Police Department

Darren WilsonDarren Wilson, the Ferguson Police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown nearly four months ago, is resigning, according to his attorney.

Wilson's resignation was announced Saturday by Neil Bruntrager, who says his client's resignation is effective immediately. Wilson had been on administrative leave since Aug. 9.

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U.S. CEOs threaten to pull tacit Obamacare support over 'wellness' spat

CEO wellness plansLeading U.S. CEOs, angered by the Obama administration's challenge to certain "workplace wellness" programs, are threatening to side with anti-Obamacare forces unless the government backs off, according to people familiar with the matter.

Major U.S. corporations have broadly supported President Barack Obama's healthcare reform despite concerns over several of its elements, largely because it included provisions encouraging the wellness programs.

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Ohio Republicans push law to keep all details of executions secret

Ohio execution Republican lawmakers in Ohio are rushing through the most extreme secrecy bill yet attempted by a death penalty state, which would withhold information on every aspect of the execution process from the public, media and even the courts.

Legislators are trying to force through the bill, HB 663, in time for the state’s next scheduled execution, on 11 February. Were the bill on the books by then, nothing about the planned judicial killing of convicted child murderer Ronald Phillips – from the source of the drugs used to kill him and the distribution companies that transport the chemicals, to the identities of the medical experts involved in the death chamber – would be open to public scrutiny of any sort.

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Indoor smoking ban coming to Beijing

Beijing smoking banSmokers in China's capital city will not be allowed to light up in all indoor public places, at work or on public transit under new legislation passed by the Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People's Congress.

Initially limited only to Beijing, the new restrictions will start in June, according to Chinese state media. Among those affected will be teachers, who are forbidden from smoking in front of students in primary and secondary grades. Schools themselves will be required to educate students about the dangers of smoking.

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World's first computer dates to 205 BCE, earlier than thought

Antikythera MechanismLong considered the world's first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism is now thought to be 100 years older than first determined, researchers said.

The bronze mechanism, discovered in 1901 in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera, was initially dated to 150 to 100 BCE, but researchers now found that it recorded a solar eclipse that happened on May 12, 205 BCE.

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Egypt court drops charges against Mubarak

Mubarak murder charges droppedAn Egyptian court on Saturday dismissed criminal charges against former president Hosni Mubarak in connection with the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising that ended his nearly three-decade reign.

Mubarak, 86, was also acquitted of corruption charges that he faced along with his sons Alaa and Gamal.  Mubarak was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2012, but the verdict was overturned on appeal the following year.

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Terrorists attack China's Xinjiang region, despite stronger security

Terorist attack in ChinaFifteen more people have died in a terrorist attack in China’s rebellious Xinjiang region, state media reported Saturday, despite Beijing’s recent efforts to beef up security in this far-west part of the country.

According to China’s Xinhua news service, 11 of the dead were “mobsters” who tossed explosive devices and attacked civilians with knives on a food market street in Shache County, south of Kashgar, at about 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Police on patrol nearby killed the 11 attackers, said Xinhua, and 14 people were injured.

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