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Wednesday, Jul 23rd

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Google's latest project: mapping small gas leaks in US cities

Gas leakGoogle Street View cars outfitted with special sensors have identified hundreds of small but steady methane leaks lying beneath the streets in three US cities.

The specially equipped cars drove the streets of Boston, Staten Island, and Indianapolis sniffing out minor gas leaks for a pilot mapping project in conjunction with the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund and local utility companies. EDF released the findings online Wednesday, along with a set of interactive maps.

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Julian Assange's lawyers will appeal against ruling to uphold arrest warrant

Julian AssangeLawyers for Julian Assange said they would appeal after a Stockholm judge rejected their challenge to the warrant for his arrest, condemning the WikiLeaks founder to remain in the Ecuador embassy in London.

"The court believes there is probable cause for the crimes of which he is accused," judge Lena Egelin said in a statement to the court.

"He has chosen himself to go into the embassy and … the court does not believe that the deprivation of his liberty is such as to be disproportionate" to the allegations, she said.

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Six Gitmo detainees may be transferred to Uruguay

Gitmo detaineesThe Pentagon has notified Congress of its intent to transfer six Guantanamo Bay detainees to Uruguay, two Obama administration officials said Wednesday.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has opposed the way detainees are treated at Guantanamo and has said that he would take them in, but then they would be free to leave.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it is the administration’s policy not to publicly confirm such notifications, said the Pentagon alerted Congress of the plan last week. In practice, the actual transfer would not take place until at least 30 days after the congressional notification.

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Australia votes to repeal carbon tax

carbon tax repealed in AustraliaAustralia's Senate has voted to repeal the carbon tax, a levy on the biggest polluters passed by the previous Labor government.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose Liberal-National coalition beat Labor in an election last year, had made the repeal a central aim of his government.

Politicians have been locked in a fierce row about the tax for years.  Labor says it helps to combat climate change, but the Liberals claim it penalises legitimate businesses.

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New wildfire in Washington State prompts evacuation

Washington State wildfires-A new wildfire in Washington State prompted hundreds of evacuations and closed a highway as the Oregon governor declared a state of emergency.

The Chiwaukum Creek fire east of Stevens Pass grew from 500 acres to 2,000 on Wednesday. Smoke from the blaze could be seen in Seattle, 100 miles away.

Fire officials ordered about 800 people to leave the fire area, including campers. A section of Highway 2, which runs through Stevens Pass, connecting it to Leavenworth and Wenatchee, was closed.

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Bolivia on verge of legalizing work from age 10

Child labor in BoliviaAlicia weaves through El Alto's stalled traffic under a blazing sun, hawking colorful woven flowers to grumpy drivers and lovers.

With luck, the 12-year-old and her mother will together muster $18 by day's end, all the while keeping watch over her younger brother and sister, ages 8 and 6.

"It is difficult for my mother to sell alone because she has to look after my siblings," said Alicia, who normally goes to school in the afternoon but is using her vacation to help her mother by working the entire day. As her siblings sleep, her mother knits the flowers that Alicia sells.

While most of the world is trying to diminish child labor, Bolivia is on the verge of becoming the first nation to legalize it from age 10. Congress has approved the proposal and all that's now required is President Evo Morales' signature.

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Microsoft to cut 18,000 jobs this year as it trims Nokia

MicrosoftMicrosoft Corp said on Thursday it will slash up to 18,000 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce, this year as it trims its newly acquired Nokia phone business and tries to transform into a cloud-computing and mobile-friendly software company.

The larger-than-expected cuts are the deepest in the company's 39-year history and come five months into the tenure of Chief Executive Satya Nadella, who outlined plans for a "leaner" business in a public memo to employees last week.

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Koch High: How The Koch Brothers Are Buying Their Way Into The Minds Of Public School Students

Charles KochIn the spring of 2012, Spenser Johnson, a junior at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kansas, was unpacking his acoustic bass before orchestra practice when a sign caught his eye. "Do you want to make money?" it asked.

The poster encouraged the predominantly poor students at Highland Park to enroll in a new, yearlong course that would provide lessons in basic economic principles and practical instruction on starting a business. Students would receive generous financial incentives including startup capital and scholarships after graduation. The course would begin that fall. Johnson eagerly signed up.

In some ways, the class looked like a typical high school business course, taught in a Highland Park classroom by a Highland Park teacher. But it was actually run by Youth Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit group created and funded primarily by Charles G. Koch, the billionaire chairman of Koch Industries.

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U.S. judge rules California death penalty system unconstitutional

Death penalty CaliforniaCalifornia's system for imposing and carrying out the death penalty is so long and drawn-out that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment and thus is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

Ruling in the case of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was condemned to death in 1995 and has yet to be executed, Judge Cormac J. Carney of the U.S. Central District of California said that to take "nearly a generation" to decide on Jones' appeals was unconstitutional.

As part of the ruling, Carney vacated the death penalty sentence in Jones' case.

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