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Senate Confirms Vivek Murthy As Surgeon General Over NRA Opposition

Vivek MurthyIn a rare show of defiance of the National Rifle Association, the Senate on Monday confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy to serve as surgeon general of the United States. Murthy's nomination had been stalled for nearly a year due to comments he made in support of stricter gun laws.

Murthy is a Harvard- and Yale-educated physician, and has identified obesity and chronic disease as areas of focus for his tenure. He will be the first Indian American to hold the position.

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The Charmed Life of a CIA Torturer

CIA torturerMatthew Zirbel’s home in Great Falls, Virginia is filled with oriental carpets, perhaps collected from his time spent working in countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The million dollar home has “LOTS of “WOW!” You will “Oooh & Ahhh”, says this recent description on Zillow.

This isn’t the first time Zirbel’s surroundings have wowed someone. Over a decade ago, Zirbel, then a junior CIA officer, was in charge of the Salt Pit, a “black site” in Afghanistan referred to in the recent Senate torture report as “Cobalt,” where detainees were routinely brutalized and which one visitor described as a “dungeon.” A delegation from the Federal Bureau of Prisons was “WOW’ed” by the Salt Pit’s sensory deprivation techniques, and a CIA interrogator said that prisoners there “literally looked like [dogs] that had been kenneled,” according to the report.

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Texas police officer uses stun gun on 76-year-old during routine traffic stop

stun gunIn dashboard-cam footage uploaded by local newspaper the Victoria Advocate, officer Nathaniel Robinson, who is 23, can be seen slamming Pete Vasquez on to the hood of the police car. He then puts him in a restrictive hold, before the two abruptly fall out of the camera’s field of vision.

Soon after, Robinson returns into sight holding his stun gun, shouting “put your hands behind your back.”  Police later confirmed the stun gun had been used twice on Vasquez.

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Remote Alaskan Town Experiences Climate Change First Hand

Alaska town shows climate change unpreparednessI t's a Wednesday morning in late August, the first day of classes at the Shishmaref School. The doors of the pale blue building haven't opened yet, and the new principal is hurriedly buttering toast in the kitchen for the students’ breakfasts. Teachers are scrambling to make last-minute adjustments to their classrooms, while anxious kids, ranging from pre-K students through high schoolers, wait on the porch, their jackets zipped against the chill of the early-morning air.

It's all so incredibly normal, you might not know that, just a few years ago, no one thought Shishmaref would be here anymore.

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5+ Die in Pennsylvania Spree Killing

five dead in shooting spreeThe suspected gunman remains on the loose after a killing spree in Montgomery County that left five people dead at three locations.

A woman was found dead in Lower Salford Township, two people were found dead in Lansdale and two people were found dead in Souderton.

Meanwhile, police remain on the scene of a fourth location in Pennsburg. The exact situation in Pennsburg is not yet known.

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The Detainee Abuse Photos Obama Didn’t Want You To See

Torture photos withheldIf you thought the Senate’s ‘torture report’ was shocking, imagine the prospect of the Obama administration releasing hundreds, maybe thousands of photographs depicting detainee abuse.

The Obama administration is withholding hundreds, perhaps even thousands of photographs showing the U.S. government’s brutal treatment of detainees, meaning that revelations about detainee abuse could well continue, possibly compounding the outrage generated by the Senate “torture report” now in the public eye.

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Firms plead guilty to overbilling for food, water for troops in Afghanistan

Firms overcharge US for troop suppliesTwo foreign companies have pleaded guilty in court to defrauding the U.S. government by overcharging for food and water for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Supreme Foodservice GmbH, a privately held Swiss company, and Supreme Foodservice FZE, a United Arab Emirates company, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania and paid a fine of $288.6 million, the Justice Department reported.

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Gunman, 2 hostages die in fiery end to Sydney siege

Sydney hostage situation endsA tense, 16-hour Australian hostage standoff ended with an eruption of gunfire and death when heavily armed police stormed a cafe in the heart of Sydney's financial center.

New South Wales state police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the gunman and two hostages died in the fiery end to the crisis. Scipione, speaking at a press conference early Tuesday Australian time, said four of the 17 hostages and one police officer were injured. He lauded the hostages and police for their courage as the horror unfolded.

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Pennsylvania county poised to make all public schools for-profit charters

PA county to go all charter schoolsYork County, Pennsylvania, could become the second school district in the country to offer only charter schools to the area’s residents if a court ruling likely to come this week turns over control of public schools to the state.

In what appears to be a last-ditch effort to carry out a two-year-old plan to turn all of York’s schools over to for-profit charter corporation Charter Schools USA, Pennsylvania’s Department of Education filed a petition in a York County court earlier this month to take away almost all local control from the school board, and put the district in the “receivership” of state-appointed York education official David Meckley.

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