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Government panel urges end to phone data spying
Written by STEPHEN BRAUN, Associated Press   
Friday, 24 January 2014 07:40

WASHINGTON (AP) β€” A government review panel warned Thursday that the National Security Agency's daily collection of Americans' phone records is illegal and recommended that President Barack Obama abandon the program and destroy the hundreds of millions of phone records it has already collected.

The recommendations by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board go further than Obama is willing to accept and increase pressure on Congress to make changes.

The panel's 234-page report included dissents from two of the board's five members β€” former Bush administration national security lawyers who recommended that the government keep collecting the phone records. The board described key parts of its report to Obama this month before he announced his plans last week to change the government's surveillance activities.

In that speech, Obama said the bulk phone collection program would continue for the time being. He directed the Justice Department and intelligence officials to find ways to end the government's control over the phone data. He also insisting on close supervision by a secretive federal intelligence court and reducing the breadth of phone records the NSA can investigate. Phone companies have said they do not want to take responsibility for overseeing the data under standards set by the NSA.

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FDA says nutrition facts label will get a makeover
Written by MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press   
Friday, 24 January 2014 07:39

WASHINGTON (AP) β€” After 20 years, the nutrition facts label on the back of food packages is getting a makeover.

Knowledge about nutrition has evolved since the early 1990s, and the Food and Drug Administration says the labels need to reflect that.

Nutritionists and other health experts have their own wish list for label changes.

The number of calories should be more prominent, they say, and the amount of added sugar and percentage of whole wheat in the food should be included. They also want more clarity on serving sizes.

"There's a feeling that nutrition labels haven't been as effective as they should be," says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "When you look at the label, there are roughly two dozen numbers of substances that people aren't intuitively familiar with."

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Study: New Madrid fault zone alive and active
Written by ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer   
Friday, 24 January 2014 07:23

LOS ANGELES (AP) β€” The New Madrid fault zone in the nation's midsection is active and could spawn future large earthquakes, scientists reported Thursday.

It's "not dead yet," said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough, who was part of the study published online by the journal Science.

Researchers have long debated just how much of a hazard New Madrid (MAD'-rihd) poses. The zone stretches 150 miles, crossing parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

In 1811 and 1812, it unleashed a trio of powerful jolts β€” measuring magnitudes 7.5 to 7.7 β€” that rattled the central Mississippi River valley. Chimneys fell and boats capsized. Farmland sank and turned into swamps. The death toll is unknown, but experts don't believe there were mass casualties because the region was sparsely populated then.

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ASU revokes fraternity chapter after racist party
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 24 January 2014 07:25

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) β€” Arizona State University announced Thursday that it is severing ties with a fraternity after the chapter hosted a distasteful party in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, replete with racist stereotypes and offensive costumes.

The school said in a statement that it has notified Tau Kappa Epsilon its recognition as a fraternity chapter at ASU has been permanently revoked.

Revoking recognition means the 65-year-old local chapter is no longer affiliated with ASU, the group won't be listed on the university's website and it cannot recruit members or hold on-campus meetings.

Tau Kappa Epsilon was placed on probation in 2012 and then suspended for hosting a Jan. 19 party that depicting racial stereotypes drew harsh criticism from civil-rights leaders who demanded the university expel the fraternity.

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Reputed mobster pleads not guilty in 1978 heist
Written by TOM HAYS, Associated Press   
Friday, 24 January 2014 07:19

NEW YORK (AP) β€” More than 30 years after hooded gunmen pulled a $6 million airport heist dramatized in the hit Martin Scorsese movie "Goodfellas," an elderly reputed mobster was arrested at his New York City home on Thursday and charged in the robbery and a 1969 murder.

Vincent Asaro, 78, was named along with his son, Jerome, and three other defendants in a wide-ranging indictment alleging murder, robbery, extortion, arson and other crimes from the late 1960s through last year. The Asaros, both identified as captains in the Bonanno organized crime family, pleaded not guilty through their attorneys and were ordered held without bail at a brief appearance in federal court in Brooklyn.

The elder Asaro's attorney, Gerald McMahon, told reporters outside court that his client was framed by shady turncoat gangsters, including former Bonanno boss Joseph Massino - the highest-ranking member of the city's five organized crime families to break the mob's vow of silence.

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