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Wednesday, Aug 27th

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US Sent Latin Youth Undercover in Anti-Cuba Ploy

Fidel castroFernando Murillo was typical of the young Latin Americans deployed to Cuba by a U.S. agency to work undercover. He had little training in the dangers of clandestine operations — or how to evade one of the world's most sophisticated counter-intelligence services.

Their assignment was to recruit young Cubans to anti-government activism, which they did under the guise of civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop. Murillo was instructed to check in every 48 hours and was provided with a set of security codes. "I have a headache," for instance, meant the Costa Rican thought the Cubans were watching him and the mission should be suspended.

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Fracking the Farm: Scientists Worry About Chemical Exposure to Livestock and Agriculture

fracking the farmThe fracking boom hadn't begun yet in Pennsylvania when J. Stephen Cleghorn and his wife purchased a rundown 50-acre farm in Jefferson County with the intention of building it up into a certified organic farm selling vegetables and goat dairy products.

Four years later, in 2009, when a big rig started horizontally drilling for gas nearby, Cleghorn began to see the effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on his farm. Those effects included health impacts on a neighbor's collies and a polluted spring - the kind of problems that now farmers in many states are experiencing and are indicative of a myriad of possible pathways for exposure to fracking.

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Once-frozen Arctic sea now gets 16-foot waves

Waves in arctic seaGood news for Arctic surfers? The Beaufort Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean, was long covered in a perpetual layer of ice; not so anymore.

Now, the area has seen waves 16 feet high thanks to warmer temperatures, scientists say in a new study, per National Geographic. The giant waves happened during a storm in 2012, the year the researchers collected their data. Such big waves could themselves contribute to a further reduction in ice. Waves break ice, and that gives the sun a chance to make the ocean even warmer.

Big waves can also result in quicker erosion on nearby shores, and could indirectly boost the release of greenhouse gases in the Arctic.

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US condemns 'disgraceful' shelling of UN school

Gaza school hitA third deadly attack on a United Nations school sheltering people fleeing bombardment in Gaza was strongly condemned by both the UN and the US on Sunday, with UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, calling it a "moral outrage and a criminal act" and pleading for an end to "this madness".

The US said it was appalled by the "disgraceful" attack, which killed at least 10 people and injured dozens just days after the shelling of two other UN schools in Gaza caused international shock and anger.

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Does John Brennan Know Too Much for Obama to Fire Him?

Jphn BrennanWhen John Brennan assured the country that the CIA hadn't improperly monitored the Senate team that compiled a report on Bush-era torture, he fed us false information. That much is clear from Thursday's news that "the C.I.A. secretly monitored a congressional committee charged with supervising its activities."

Either the CIA director was lying or he was unaware of grave missteps at the agency he leads. There are already calls for his resignation or firing from Senator Mark Udall, Trevor Timm, Dan Froomkin, and Andrew Sullivan, plus a New York Times editorial airing his ouster as a possibility.

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Lake Erie's algae woes began building a decade ago

Lake Erie algaeThe toxins that contaminated the drinking water supply of 400,000 people in northwest Ohio didn't just suddenly appear.

Water plant operators along western Lake Erie have long been worried about this very scenario as a growing number of algae blooms have turned the water into a pea soup color in recent summers, leaving behind toxins that can sicken people and kill pets.

In fact, the problems on the shallowest of the five Great Lakes brought on by farm runoff and sludge from sewage treatment plants have been building for more than a decade.

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Broken Code: Air Force Academy superintendent calls for investigation

AFAU.S. Air Force Academy cadet athletes flouted the sacred honor code by committing sexual assaults, taking drugs, cheating and engaging in other misconduct at wild parties while the service academy focused on winning bowl games and attracting money from alumni and private sources in recent years, a Gazette investigation has found.
The findings are egregious enough that academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson told The Gazette that she has called for an Inspector General's investigation of the athletic department.
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Islamic State grabs Iraqi dam and oilfield in victory over Kurds

IS takes over northern IraqIslamic State fighters seized control of Iraq's biggest dam, an oilfield and three more towns on Sunday after inflicting their first major defeat on Kurdish forces since sweeping across much of northern Iraq in June.

Capture of the electricity-generating Mosul Dam, after an offensive of barely 24 hours, could give the Sunni militants the ability to flood major Iraqi cities or withhold water from farms, raising the stakes in their bid to topple Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government.

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California governor declares emergency amid fires

California firesA fast-growing wildfire along the Oregon-California border spurred evacuation notices even as California's governor declared a state of emergency to help fight blazes raging in the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown's order Saturday night came as fires in other West Coast states burned through parched forests, brush and terrain, destroying some homes, threatening many others and forcing evacuations.

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