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Wednesday, Sep 17th

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Nasa launches 'flying saucer' tech

LDSDThe US space agency (Nasa) has launched an atmospheric test vehicle that looks every inch like a flying saucer.

In reality, the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) is a demonstrator for the type of technologies humans will need to land on Mars. The LDSD has been sent into the stratosphere via a balloon off Hawaii.

It will trial a new type of parachute and an inflatable Kevlar ring that can help slow down a spacecraft as it approaches the Red Planet's surface.

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Feds drop Sami Al-Arian prosecution

Sami al-ArianThe Justice Department has dropped a long-stalled second criminal prosecution of a former college professor who pleaded guilty to aiding a terrorist group following a high-profile trial in Florida that ended with a muddled verdict almost a decade ago.

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., filed a motion Friday seeking to dismiss a criminal contempt indictment brought in 2008 against former University of South Florida mechanical engineering professor Sami Al-Arian, who was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents.

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Report: Obama drone policy destabilizing for world, US democracy

Obama drones destabilize the worldDrone technology and the way the United States uses it has the potential to destabilize battlefields, governments and even American democracy, according to a new report by a task force that includes former U.S. military officials.

The report, released by the Stimson Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank, surveyed the Obama administration’s use of drones and concluded that while they can be a powerful and effective force in wars, they can also interfere with the sovereignty of other nations and cause unnecessary conflict abroad. The report also suggested that the Obama administration’s secrecy surrounding U.S. drone programs is to blame for the public’s current misconceptions and fears about the aircraft, which are also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

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Defense alleges orchestrated tales in ex-Blackwater guards' trial in D.C.

Blackwatere trialDefense lawyers for the ex-Blackwater security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqis in Baghdad nearly seven years ago are raising the possibility that prosecution witnesses, with direction from Iraqi law enforcement investigators, have orchestrated their stories.

The defense has been bedeviled by the fact that no one has come forward to support its self-defense theory - that the guards acted because they were under attack.

The most prevalent explanation since the shootings on Sept. 16, 2007, is that there were no incoming shots.

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Teaching creationism as scientifically valid now banned in all UK public schools

Creationism museumThe United Kingdom has banned the teaching of creationism as scientifically valid in all schools receiving public funding.

The government released a new set of funding agreements last week including clauses which specifically prohibit pseudoscience.

"The parties acknowledge that clauses 2.43 and 2.44 of the Funding Agreement [which preclude the teaching of pseudoscience and require the teaching of evolution] apply to all academies. They explicitly require that pupils are taught about the theory of evolution, and prevent academy trusts from teaching 'creationism' as scientific fact," one clause reads.

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WikiLeaks Reveals Global Trade Deal Kept More Secret Than the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Global trade secretsEmbattled WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange announced Wednesday from London the publication of a secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), a controversial global trade agreement said to make it easier for corporations to make profits and operate with impunity across borders.

The whistleblower and transparency website WikiLeaks published on Thursday the secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), a controversial global trade agreement promoted by the United States and European Union that covers 50 countries and is opposed by global trade unions and anti-globalization activists.

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Nobody Knows, Cares Whether Your Clothes Are Made In Deadly Factories

jeans sold in USYou probably don't know who makes your clothes. The scary thing is, the retailer that sold them to you may not know, either.

A yearlong study of factories in Bangladesh by New York University's Center for Business and Human Rights found that many retailers can't be sure which factories make the products they sell, often in immaculate shops half a world away. That's because manufacturers sometimes farm out work to local factories that aren't registered with trade associations or the local government and that operate away from the eyes of regulators, the study found.

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