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In a selfie, a Lebanese teen's last moments
Written by DIAA HADID, Associated Press   
Monday, 30 December 2013 15:29

BEIRUT (AP) — It's a happy moment, a selfie taken by a group of teenagers on a sunny day in downtown Beirut. Mohammed Shaar sits among his friends in a red hoodie and his dark-framed glasses.

The next photos, captured by journalists only moments later, are tragic. The 16-year-old Shaar lies mortally wounded, his red hoodie and his blood forming a scarlet blur on the pavement — an anonymous civilian casualty of a car bomb that killed a prominent politician.

The before-and-after montage of Shaar, who died of his wounds a day after Friday's bombing, has rattled Lebanese who in Shaar's ordinary-turned-horrifying day saw their own lives and potentially their own fate. The Lebanese teenager has since become a symbol of a population held ransom by the country's widening violence and swelling tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, exacerbated by the war in neighboring Syria.

On Monday, hundreds of Shaar's fellow students marched to the Starco building, outside of which the bombing took place. They held signs saying "We are all Mohammed," waved the Lebanese flag and left flowers.

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Home electricity use in U.S. falling to 2001 levels
Written by JONATHAN FAHEY, AP Energy Writer   
Monday, 30 December 2013 15:04

NEW YORK (AP) — The average amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes has fallen to levels last seen more than a decade ago, back when the smartest device in people's pockets was a Palm pilot and anyone talking about a tablet was probably an archaeologist or a preacher.

Because of more energy-efficient housing, appliances and gadgets, power usage is on track to decline in 2013 for the third year in a row, to its lowest point since 2001, even though our lives are more electrified.

Here's a look at what has changed since the last time consumption was so low.

BETTER HOMES

In the early 2000s, as energy prices rose, more states adopted or toughened building codes to force builders to better seal homes so heat or air-conditioned air doesn't seep out so fast. That means newer homes waste less energy.

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Successive suicide bombings in Russia kill over 30
Written by VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press   
Monday, 30 December 2013 09:19

MOSCOW (AP) — A suicide bomber killed 14 people aboard an electric bus in the southern Russian city of Volgograd during the Monday morning rush hour, and authorities believe it was the work of the same group that set off a bomb at the railway station a day earlier.

Together more than 30 people were killed in the explosions, putting the city of one million on edge and highlighting the terrorist threat Russia is facing as it prepares to host February's Winter Games in Sochi, President Vladimir Putin's pet project. While terrorists may find it hard to get to the tightly guarded Olympic facilities, the bombings have shown they can hit civilian targets elsewhere in Russia with shocking ease.

Volgograd, located about 650 kilometers (400 miles) northeast of Sochi, serves as a key transport hub for southern Russia, with numerous bus routes linking it to volatile provinces in Russia's North Caucasus, where insurgents have been seeking an Islamic state.

Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for Russia's main investigative agency, said Monday's explosion involved a bomb similar to the one used in Sunday's attack at the city's main railway station.

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Feds announces test sites for drone aircraft
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 30 December 2013 12:11

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six states to develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft's march into U.S. skies.

The FAA announced Monday the sites will be based in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs.

The FAA does not allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015. Officials concede it may take longer.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says safety is the first priority in moving drones into U.S. airspace.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Report: NSA intercepts computer deliveries
Written by RAPHAEL SATTER, Associated Press   
Monday, 30 December 2013 07:19

LONDON (AP) — A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency's hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft's internal reporting system to spy on their targets.

Der Spiegel's revelations relate to a division of the NSA known as Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, which is painted as an elite team of hackers specializing in stealing data from the toughest of targets.

Citing internal NSA documents, the magazine said Sunday that TAO's mission was "Getting the ungettable," and quoted an unnamed intelligence official as saying that TAO had gathered "some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen."

Der Spiegel said TAO had a catalog of high-tech gadgets for particularly hard-to-crack cases, including computer monitor cables specially modified to record what is being typed across the screen, USB sticks secretly fitted with radio transmitters to broadcast stolen data over the airwaves, and fake base stations intended to intercept mobile phone signals on the go.

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