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Saturday, Feb 13th

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Report: More than 1M people besieged in Syria

Million besieged in SyriaMore than one million Syrians are trapped in besieged areas, a new report says in a challenge to the United Nations, which estimates just half that amount and has been accused by some aid groups of underplaying a crisis.

The fate of Syria's besieged is at the heart of peace talks that quickly fell apart last week in Geneva and are set to resume by Feb. 25. Negotiators for the opposition had insisted that the Syrian government stop besieging civilians before talks could truly begin.

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Texas again denied request to bar Syrian refugees

Texas barred from banning refugeesA judge denied for the second time a request by Texas to bar relief agencies from bringing Syrian refugees into the state, a decision that could have a bearing on the attempts of 30 other governors to block refugees from their states.

U.S. District Judge David Godbey said the Republican leaders who have fought the resettlement have not shown Texas would suffer irreparable harm. The same judge rejected in December the state's request for a restraining order saying the evidence presented was "largely speculative hearsay."

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Wife of ISIS Figure Charged in American Woman's Death

Kyla MuellerThe wife of a now-deceased Islamic State leader was charged Monday for her alleged role in last year's death of American aid worker Kayla Jean Mueller.

Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, 25, the widow of former ISIL leader Abu Sayyaf, allegedly conspired to provide support to the terrorist group, often forcibly holding Mueller in the couple's homes where she was subjected to repeated sexual abuse by ISIL chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Mueller died in February 2015.

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The NRA Just Scored One Of Its Biggest Victories In Years

NRA victory in courtGun activists just had a very good day in court.

On Thursday, a divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down Maryland’s ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. In so doing, they potentially put this case on the fast track to the Supreme Court.

They also risk setting off a literal arms race where gun makers race to sell as many exotic kinds of weapons as possible in order to expand the scope of the Second Amendment.

The case primarily turns on a few lines in the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, its first decision holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. Though Heller expanded the scope of that amendment significantly — effectively creating a whole new area of constitutional law more than two centuries after the Bill of Rights was ratified — it also held that the Constitution does not protect “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

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Millions could die as world unprepared for pandemics, says UN

pandemicsA global epidemic far worse than the Ebola outbreak is a real possibility and could kill many millions if the world does not become better prepared to deal with the sudden emergence and transmission of disease, the UN has said in a hard-hitting report.

The report has emerged in draft form, as experts rally to deal with the rapid spread of the Zika virus across Latin America, which has been linked to thousands of cases of brain damage in babies.

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Syria 'exterminating detainees' - UN report

Syria exterminating detaineesThe Syrian government has carried out a state policy of extermination against thousands of detainees, UN human rights investigators say.

They accuse President Bashar al-Assad's regime of crimes against humanity, in a report for the UN Human Rights Council. The study says both loyalist and anti-government forces have committed possible war crimes.

Many detainees were tortured, some were beaten to death, and others died from lack of food, water, or medical care.

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Alex Baer: Landmark Decisions

Land MarksAnd now, a word about Landmark Decisions:  Boxy.

(No, not like the hyper vlogger, nor like those who boil down everything to thinking in-or-outside of that very same box -- but, well, squarish.  You know, like a box -- not, um, square-ish, like not being hip or very uncool.  Uh, to quote a Monty Python sketch:  Wait, I'll come in again...)

As I has begun:  Landmark Decisions -- no, wait, hang on, hang on.  No running away in panic is required here.  There'll be no airing of legal briefs, or any other kind, here today -- much to the relief of all concerned.

No, I was starting to warm up on the weirdly interwoven subjects of Time, Change, Culture, Cars, and Architecture.

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NFL Insists Football Is Safe Even As List Of Players With CTE Grows

NFL ignores CTEThe Super Bowl is a beloved American tradition, with a heavy cash flow that leads back to the National Football League -- ad spots this year went for as much as $5 million and spectators were willing to pay $4,600 for game day tickets at secondary merchants.

As the NFL’s coffers have grown, the league has increasingly been able to deflect some of the concerns over the impact the game has had on the health of players by expanding its influence on research.

Yet, the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been diagnosed in 87 out of 91 former NFL players as of 2015 and continues to trigger debates on the fate of the game's future ranging from peewee leagues to the pros.

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Obama asks for $1.8 billion in emergency Zika funding

Obama asks for Zika fundsPresident Obama will ask Congress for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus through mosquito control programs, vaccine research, education and improving health care for low-income pregnant women, the White House said Monday.

The proposal also includes $355 million in foreign aid to South America, Central America, the Caribbean, where the Zika virus is spreading most rapidly. The World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency last week, warning that the mosquito-borne virus is strongly suspected as the cause of a cluster of cases of microcephaly, a neurological disorder that afflicts the babies of pregnant women with the virus.

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