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Wednesday, Mar 04th

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Dear Chelsea Manning: birthday messages from Edward Snowden, Terry Gilliam and more

Chelsea Manning birthdayOn Wednesday, Chelsea Manning – heroine, whistleblower and inmate – turns 27. She has been behind bars for four years and eight months, ever since her arrest for leaking ­classified US documents. There isn’t much prospect that she will be released any time soon. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence, with the earliest possibility of parole being in 2021. She has appealed to Barack Obama for a pardon. It seems unlikely he will grant it.

It is against this gloomy and unpropitious backdrop that leading writers, artists and public figures from around the world are today sending Chelsea birthday greetings. Their contributions include letters, poems, drawings and original paintings. Some are philosophical – yes, that’s you, Slavoj Žižek – others brief messages of goodwill. A few are ­movingly confessional.

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TIME Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters

Person of the YearFor decades, Ebola haunted rural African villages like some mythic monster that every few years rose to demand a human sacrifice and then returned to its cave. It reached the West only in nightmare form, a Hollywood horror that makes eyes bleed and organs dissolve and doctors despair because they have no cure.

But 2014 is the year an outbreak turned into an epidemic, powered by the very progress that has paved roads and raised cities and lifted millions out of poverty. This time it reached crowded slums in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone; it traveled to Nigeria and Mali, to Spain, Germany and the U.S. It struck doctors and nurses in unprecedented numbers, wiping out a public-health infrastructure that was weak in the first place. One August day in Liberia, six pregnant women lost their babies when hospitals couldn’t admit them for complications. Anyone willing to treat Ebola victims ran the risk of becoming one.

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6,000 tons of polluted soil dug up after southern Israel oil spill

Trans israel oil spillFollowing a major oil spill caused by a leak in the Trans-Israel pipeline Thursday night, the Environmental Protection Ministry said Saturday that it has so far removed 6,000 tons of contaminated soil from the southern Avrona nature reserve, in an attempt to contain and minimize the impact of what experts have labeled one of the country’s worst ever ecological disasters.

The polluted soil was transferred to the Nimra Landfill, located north of Eilat, the Walla news site reported. The Environmental Protection Ministry added that workers will continue evacuating soil from the reserve throughout the night.

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How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide

NSAFor the NSA, the task was easy. The agency had already obtained technical information about the cellphone carriers’ internal systems by spying on documents sent among company employees, and these details would provide the perfect blueprint to help the military break into the networks.

The NSA’s assistance in the Libya operation, however, was not an isolated case. It was part of a much larger surveillance program—global in its scope and ramifications—targeted not just at hostile countries.

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Rights groups release software to detect government spyware

Spying shieldHuman rights group Amnesty International released free software on Thursday that allows users to determine if their computers are bugged by government intelligence agencies.

The program, Detekt, was designed specifically for human rights activists and journalists, whose computers governments regularly target, Amnesty said.

“Governments are increasingly using dangerous and sophisticated technology that allows them to read activists and journalists’ private emails and remotely turn on their computer’s camera or microphone to secretly record their activities,” said Marek Marczynski of Amnesty International.

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Mercedes recalls 10,500 C-Class cars in U.S. for steering defect

mercedes recallDaimler AG's Mercedes-Benz unit is recalling 10,509 C-Class compacts from model year 2015 in the United States because some cars can lose steering function at low speed.

Mercedes said it had reports of two incidents from outside the United States alleging loss of steering. No injuries were reported.

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Jehovah's Witnesses ordered to pay $13.5m to victim of sexual abuse

Jehovah's witnessesA Californian judge has ordered the Jehovah’s Witnesses to pay $13.5m to a man who was sexually abused in the 1980s by a church leader, the attorney for the victim said on Friday.

Church elders had assigned a man to work with Jose Lopez on Bible studies, even though they knew he had admitted to molesting another boy in 1982, because they felt he was “repentant”, Lopez’s attorney, Irwin Zalkin, said.

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