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NSA Worries Hackers May Shut Down American Utilities

NSA Worries Hackers May Shut Down American Utilities

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers worries that it is only a matter of time before other countries exploit vulnerabilities in the computer systems that control America’s energy infrastructure to bring them down.Rogers said that last year the Department of Homeland Security responded to 198 cyber incidents across critical infrastructure sectors, with 40 percent targeting the energy sector.“The energy sector continues to bear the brunt of our country's cyber-attacks because hackers recognize that the energy sector is our country's Achilles heel” said Rogers.“I have told my organization is I fully expect that during my time as the commander we are going to be tasked to help defend critical infrastructure within the United States because it is under attack by some foreign nation or some individual or group,” Rogers told the House Select Committee on Intelligence.He said his agency has seen nations, groups and individuals aggressively working towards gaining the capability to selectively shut down parts of the American power grid and other utility sectors.Rogers described intrusions into those networks as reconnaissance designed “to understand vulnerabilities that could be exploited in the future.”“There shouldn’t be any doubt in our minds that there are nation states or groups that have the capability to do that,” said Rogers.He added, “All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of the 'when,' not the 'if' that we are going to see something traumatic.”Getting access to those systems could mean shutting down selective parts of the American infrastructure.“If I want to tell it power turbines to go off line and stop generating power, you can do that,” said Rogers. "If I wanted to segment the transmission systems so you couldn’t distribute the power that was coming out of power stations, this would enable you to do that.”Rogers did not challenge committee Chairman Mike Rogers’ assertion that a report by the private cyber security firm Mandiant blamed Chinese government hackers as having gotten access into some of America’s industrial control systems.Rogers also worries that nation states will begin using cyber criminals as their surrogates to enter America’s computer networks."I’m watching nation states attempt to obscure, if you will, their fingerprints. And one of the ways to do is to use surrogate groups attempt to execute that for you,” said Rogers.He said recent activity by some cyber criminals targeting major companies to steal credit card information may already show links as they’ve used some tools historically used by nations.He said that “suggests to us that increasingly in some scenarios we’re going to see more linkages between the nation state and some of these groups that’s a troubling development for us."Rogers likened that possibility as “cyber hitmen for hire really, to serve nation states.”

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Everything You Need to Know About Obama’s Immigration Announcement

Everything You Need to Know About Obama’s Immigration Announcement

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- In a rare primetime nationally televised address, President Obama Thursday night will unveil the most sweeping executive action on immigration in decades. He plans to circumvent Congress and extend legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants, boost visas for valuable high-skilled workers, and strengthen security along the Southwest border."Everybody agrees that our immigration system is broken, unfortunately Washington has allowed the problem to fester for too long," Obama said in a video message posted to Facebook.Who gets relief, and who doesn’t, under Obama's plan? How will immigration enforcement change inside the country and along the border? And what will the immediate impact be on families, businesses and communities? Here's everything you need to know:The AnnouncementThe president will speak live at 8 p.m. ET from the East Room of the White House. On Friday, he will travel to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas to further detail his plans and rally supporters. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will also attend, officials said. The school is the same place where Obama announced a second-term push for immigration reform in Jan. 2013.The ActionThe White House says Obama will “maximize the use of his authority" to extend temporary legal status to more than five million undocumented immigrants.Who Gets Relief?

4.1 million undocumented parents and families of U.S. citizens who have been in country more than five years with no criminal record. 300,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, so-called Dreamers, will be newly eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Current age limits for the program will be dropped, sources say. 400,000 highly-skilled workers will be eligible for visas. Some other smaller categories for relief will bring the number affected above five million.

Who Gets Left Out?

Undocumented parents of DACA recipients will not be eligible for legal status. Undocumented agricultural workers will not be addressed.

Border SecurityObama will direct more resources on border security with an emphasis on deporting new arrivals. Guidance to law enforcement will be to focus on criminal aliens rather than those living quietly in the shadows with no arrest record.The Legal ArgumentThe White House believes Obama's acts are effectively bullet-proof in court, backed up by the precedent of more than a dozen presidents who have used discretion in enforcement of immigration law and granted temporary legal status to thousands of immigrants on their watch. Advocates have been told the dreamer families were left out because White House believes inclusion of non-citizen families would jeopardize the legal underpinning of the plan.The CaveatsObama will sign his executive order Friday at the event in Las Vegas, but it will take several weeks for many of the new initiatives to roll out, people familiar with the plan say. Terms of the action will take effect in six months, giving time for congressional action to replace the order with legislation and allow advocacy groups to organize people to apply for relief.Nothing in Obama's plan will create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and any legal status received would be temporary. Officials have said the eligible immigrants -- as under DACA -- would not be entitled to federal benefits such as Medicaid, health care subsidies, etc.While up to as many as five million undocumented immigrants would be eligible to apply for relief under Obama’s new order, it is expected that fewer will actually apply and be approved. So bottom line: five million is the high end, but a rough estimate.The Public ViewA majority -- 52 percent -- of Americans said they would like to see Obama act unilaterally on immigration in the absence of congressional action, with 44 percent opposed, in an early September ABC News/Washington Post survey. But when asked about plans to extend legal status and work permits to undocumented immigrants now living and working in the U.S., a majority were opposed -- 50 percent saying they do not back the idea, up four percentage points from the year before.

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Beware of a Holiday Scam that Tricks You with a $100 Bill

Beware of a Holiday Scam that Tricks You with a $100 Bill

WJLA(WASHINGTON) -- Authorities in Maryland have warned the public about a potential holiday scam that involves the temptation of a $100 bill left on a car windshield.The simple scheme works like this: Drivers walk to their parked cars and, after they get in the vehicle,  notice a $100 bill in the windshield. The driver exits the car with the door open to retrieve it, only to have a thief steal the vehicle.Karen Straughn, Maryland Assistant Attorney General – Consumer Protection, wants the public to be aware of it, as reported by ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. Straughn said an unknown resident, during a public information safety session in Baltimore County, informed her of one incident, but Straughn said she has not seen a police report about it."But because it’s something of a frightening nature, if this happens to someone, we hope they will take the proper precautions," Straughn told ABC News.The Baltimore County Police Department’s auto theft task force told ABC News that while it has not seen the $100 bill scam at this time, “We have seen incidents where auto thieves will bump the back of someone's car in traffic. When everyone gets out of their cars, a thief will jump in the victim's car and drive off.” There are a couple of other scams involving drivers in parking lots that Straughn wants the public to be aware."With the fact that the holidays are coming up and more shopping, we believe this is something that could occur in this period of time," she said.According to Straughn, other schemes involve scammers approaching a car owner in a parking lot, asking if they can help repair a vehicle's "ding or dent" for an amount such as $200.After the scammer completes the job, one of two things can occur: The owner will drive away and realize days later the shoddy job, such as peeling paint."They drive away and you can’t catch them," Straughn said. "This is something that’s more common in our [suburban] area, particularly with holiday shopping."In other cases, the scammer will dispute the agreed amount and demand a larger sum, such as $2,000."One scammer went as far as to drive the individual to the bank," she said, adding the incident was reported to the police and the thief was caught.

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NASA Probes Unusual Source of Light in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

NASA Probes Unusual Source of Light in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In a galaxy far, far away, a mysterious light source is intriguing an international team of astronomers.Known as SDSS1133, the cosmic light appears as a bright spot on astronomical surveys, where it has been captured without explanation for six decades.After analyzing the light source, which is estimated to be more than 90 million light years away, astronomers said they've narrowed it down to two likely possibilities.It could be a supermassive black hole that merged with another and was kicked out of its native galaxy or a remnant of a supernova explosion."With the data we have in hand, we can't yet distinguish between these two scenarios," said Michael Koss, an astronomer and lead researcher with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, according to NASA.Koss added that the brightness of the light "has changed little in optical or ultraviolet light for a decade, which is not something typically seen in a young supernova remnant."The enigmatic light source is located in the dwarf galaxy Markarian 177 and is located inside the bowl of the Big Dipper. Supermassive black holes are usually found at the center of a galaxy, however, this light source is 2,600 light years from the core, according to NASA.A paper by Koss and his team is being published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on Friday, according to NASA.Whatever the light source is astronomers are closer than ever to solving another one of the mysteries of space.

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School Defends Principal in Controversial ‘Gang Sign’ Photo

School Defends Principal in Controversial ‘Gang Sign’ Photo

WRIC(LAWRENCEVILLE, Va.) -- A Virginia high school is batting down accusations that its principal is flashing gang signs in a recent photo with students.The photo shows Brunswick High School principal Warren Bell making hand gestures, next to five students, all of whom are also gesturing with their hands.Bell wasn't making any inappropriate signs, and was actually trying to get the students, who were making a commotion in the restroom by taking the photos, to stop, Superintendent Dora Wynn said in a statement to ABC News."When the principal saw that the students were posing and making inappropriate gestures, he motioned for the students to stop what they were doing," Wynn said in the statement. "A student snapped a picture just as the principal was gesturing for the students to stop. That picture is construed by some as showing the principal was engaging in inappropriate conduct when, in reality, he was attempting to stop the students from continuing their inappropriate behavior."The photo has been circulating online, the school said. It's unclear where it came from.Some parents told ABC News affiliate WRIC-TV in Richmond they believe the principal showed poor judgment."I am really appalled," Shirley Penn, whose daughter attends the school, told the station. "Seeing is believing. He is in the picture and from what I can make out, he's making signs."Geonni Stockton, one of the students in the controversial photo, told WRIC the students didn't know the principal was in the photo until after it was taken. Stockton doesn't believe the principal meant any harm."We ain't no gang," he told the station. "We were just posing for the picture. It surprised me how much people saw it, how people took it, much views it got and stuff, how many people took it the wrong way."

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Takata Airbag Safety Exec Denies Need for Nationwide Recall

Takata Airbag Safety Exec Denies Need for Nationwide Recall

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A vice president of Takata, the airbag company that has been subject to a series of recalls in recent years, told a congressional committee on Thursday that he does not believe a nationwide recall of Takata's airbags is necessary.Takata feels "strongly" that Takata recalls should continue to focus on "regions of high absolute humidity. Our best information supports the view that these regions must be the priority for the replacement of airbags," Hiroshi Shimizu, Takata's senior vice president of global quality assurance, told the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday morning.The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration has called for a series of regional recalls to be expanded to a nationwide recall to replace Takata airbags installed in cars.Senators had their first opportunity to question a Takata representative since its airbags were linked to five deaths related to faulty deployments. Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sought to link Takata airbags to a sixth death, holding a press conference with a young woman who lost her sister in a 2003 automobile crash in Arizona.Kim Kopf detailed how her sister Charlene Weaver was killed after a car accident while riding as a passenger in a 2004 Subaru Impreza. Kopf and her family maintain Weaver was killed after she was struck by an airbag in the passenger’s seat.Kopf noted that the car her sister was a passenger in has yet to be recalled for airbag related reasons though similar models in humid states have been placed on the recall list."The American people have a right to know about the story behind this airbag recall," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who chaired the hearing. "That's why we're here today."Shimizu maintained that the main causes of airbag malfunctions are the age of the airbags, their exposure to humidity, and "potential production issues, which we have worked to identify and address."So far, automakers including BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota have recalled several million cars because of defective airbags.

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Angelina Jolie Addresses Retirement Rumors: ‘Happier’ Behind Camera

Angelina Jolie Addresses Retirement Rumors: ‘Happier’ Behind Camera

ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) -- First it was Brad Pitt. Now, his wife, Angelina Jolie, is vowing to give up acting.Despite being Hollywood’s highest paid actress, Jolie, 39, makes it clear in two new interviews that directing is her first love.“I’m happier when I get to put a camera on another actor and watch them do great work,” Jolie, who recently directed her second film, Unbroken, told Variety.Earlier, she told DuJour magazine, that she “absolutely” plans to give up acting.“I’ve never been comfortable as an actor; I’ve never loved being in front of the camera,” she told DuJour.Fortunately for fans, she doesn’t plan to quit right away. “I’ll do a few more,” she coyly told Variety. “I’m about to direct something with Brad and myself, in fact.”The film, By the Sea, which she’s shooting in Malta, features Jolie and Pitt playing a married couple on a trip to France.“Compared to Unbroken, this film is a walk in the park,” Jolie told DuJour. “The tricky thing is directing myself and directing Brad. It’s hard, dramatic material, and we’re balancing.”It will be the couple’s first film together since 2005′s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, where they met and fell in love. It could also be their last.Long before Jolie talked about retiring from acting, Pitt said he was nearing the end. Three years ago, he told Australia’s 60 Minutes that he’d planned to transition to roles behind the lens by age 50.“I wasn’t actually putting an exact deadline on my expiration date, but I see it coming,” he clarified in a news conference days later. “I just have other interests and I do quite enjoy the production side.”Pitt turned 50 last December.

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Company Creates Tiny Livers with 3-D Printer to Test Drugs

Company Creates Tiny Livers with 3-D Printer to Test Drugs

Organovo(SAN DIEGO) -- A San Diego company has created human liver tissue with a 3-D printer designed to be used by drug companies for testing.The feat achieved by Organovo may seem like science fiction but more and more researchers and scientists have been examining how 3-D printers can be used to "create" human tissue for research purposes.The "tiny livers" are "bioprinted" with a specially designed 3-D printer and are composed mainly of three kinds of human liver cells, the company announced this week. In theory the tissue will allow drug companies to test out new medication on liver tissue before they go to human trials.The tissue is technically too small to be called an organ but the small tissue will function similarly to a real human liver and can live for at least 40 days, according to Organovo.Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo, said the tissue could be helpful in developing drugs."Pharma companies can use our bioprinted liver tissue to weed out toxic drugs early in drug development rather than after they have failed expensive clinical trials," Murphy said in a statement.Michael Renard, the company's executive vice president commercial operations, said the tissue is developed by getting the cells from regulated sources, including cadavers, and then processed into "bio-ink."After being printed in a specific pattern to mimic the make-up of a human liver, the tissues matures over three days before it can be used.The main goal of providing a three-dimensional engineered human tissue is to have something "that behaves biochemically...like a human organ," said Renard.

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Anna Faris, Chris Pratt Open Up About Their Premature Son

Anna Faris, Chris Pratt Open Up About Their Premature Son

Steve Granitz/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt and his wife actress, Anna Faris, are finally opening up about their ordeal when their first child was born back in August 2012. Jack was born premature."He was born at three pounds," Faris told GQ for the Men of the Year Issue. "And we were told, 'Okay, you need to be prepared for raising a special-needs child.'"Faris said that though it was a shock, they took it in stride and focused on being the best parents they could be to their son."And we felt like it was devastating, but it also felt like, you know, 'We can do this,'" she said.Pratt added, "He's alive."

The couple added that now, Jack is doing well and only needs to wear glasses. He's also adjusting to pre-school.

"I don't know what the f**k they do. Basically you just go there to get a cold," Pratt quipped.

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Santa Has Lost 30 Pounds in 20 Years, Review Finds

Santa Has Lost 30 Pounds in 20 Years, Review Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Is Santa Claus on a diet? Christmas card alterations in the past 20 years show Santa has lost more than 30 pounds, according to a review of cards by U.K. retailer Clintons.“As a nation, we are more mindful than in the olden days of being healthy and getting fit,” Tim Fairs, marketing and e-commerce director for the greeting card and gift products company, told ABC News of the shrinking Santa, adding that his company is “driven by what customers want.”While Christmas is, for many, about tradition, the change has been subtle and does not appear to have generated any complaints from customers, Fair said.The first-ever Christmas card was designed by Englishman John Callcott Horsley in 1843.Recent changes to Santa’s image also include more rosy cheeks and lighter red clothes, according the company's review of Christmas cards from 25 different publishers in the U.K. and around the world. Overall, depictions of Father Christmas are down slightly (5.6 percent) but his influence remains strong, with 12.7 percent more characters on cards wearing his trademark red hat than 20 years ago, Clintons said.The image of a big and jolly Santa was popularized by Coca-Cola ads. Before 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf, according to the Coca-Cola Co.Other significant changes in festive season cards include robins and snowmen. The robin redbreast now appears on 23.4 percent fewer cards than before, and there are 17.1 percent more snowmen. In addition, glitter now appears on 34.7 percent more cards than it did two decades ago.“New technology has cheapened the way we communicate,” Fair said, adding that he believes Christmas cards are unique at a time when people want to share how they feel.

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Biz Markie on Why He Lost 140 Pounds: ‘I Wanted to Live’

Biz Markie on Why He Lost 140 Pounds: ‘I Wanted to Live’

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Just two months ago, Biz Markie revealed that he'd lost around 140 pounds after focusing on his health. The rap icon was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago and realized he needed to make a change."I wanted to live," Markie, 50, told ABC News. "Since I have to be a diabetic, If I didn't make the changes, it was going to make the diabetes worse. I'm trying to get off [the Diabetes meds]. The way you gotta do it is lose the weight. I'm off half my meds, I just got to get off the rest."Markie said doctors were straightforward when he was diagnosed and said if he didn't shape up, the results could be terrible."They said I could lose my feet," he said. "They said I could lose body parts. A lot of things could happen."Markie said he's feeling great and spoke to ABC as part of his collaboration with Zevia, a zero-calorie soda that he mixes into his diet."Instead of drinking regular soda, I drink Zevia to make you believia!" he joked. "I love that there's alternatives to eating, because I want to live."Markie said right now he's on tour, but in 2015, he plans to drop even more weight."I'm maintaining but I think at the beginning of the year, I'm going to try and get down another 10 pounds," he added.But don't expect Biz to gain any weight back just because he's on tour."On the Yo Gabba Gabba! Tour, we eat organic," he said, adding that little changes like turkey bacon with eggs for breakfast keeps him healthy. He also keeps the portions down."I don't pig out," he said, adding that he mostly does cardio for his workouts.Markie also said that he has so much more energy now after shedding so much weight."When I used to be on stage, I used to be out of breath, I couldn't walk that far," he said. "Now, I got so much energy. I can do a whole show."Markie is an icon, with close friends like Will Smith, who have been on his back for years to lose the weight. Markie said back in the early 2000s, Smith bet him on the set of Men in Black 2 to get him to lose the weight."It's a great feeling that they care, but it's better to win the bet," he said, laughing.

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Robot Bartenders Mix it Up on the High Seas

Robot Bartenders Mix it Up on the High Seas

Royal Caribbean(NEW YORK) -- Of all the tech things travelers love about the cruise industry's latest brand-new mega-ship, robot bartenders is definitely the most talked about.Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, part of the line's Quantum Class, spans 18 decks, encompasses 167,800 gross registered tons, features 2,090 staterooms and carries 4,180 guests. Each one of them is likely lining up for a beer served by a bot at the ship's Bionic Bar.Powered by Makr Shakr, a company that aims to "empower people with new robotic interactions, especially in the food and beverage sector," guests place orders via tablets and then wait as robotic bartenders mix cocktails.Quantum of the Seas will sail out of New York Harbor from her homeport of Cape Liberty, New Jersey for the inaugural season before departing to its new homeport of Shanghai, China.

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Coal King Don Blankenship to Appear in Court

Coal King Don Blankenship to Appear in Court

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Coal boss Don Blankenship is set to make his first appearance in court Thursday as a defendant facing a raft of charges stemming from the 2010 coal mine blast that took 29 lives.Once a larger-than-life figure in Appalachia, whose iron-fisted leadership of a giant coal conglomerate made him both famous and feared, Blankenship now faces up to 31 years in prison on federal charges of conspiracy, fraud and making false statements.A federal grand jury returned the indictment against Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, last week alleging that leading up to the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in April 2010, Blankenship took short cuts on safety in order to maximize profits, including failing to properly ventilate the mine. Investigators believe a buildup of methane and coal dust caused the deadly blast.The 43-page indictment alleges that for years prior to the explosion, Blankenship “conspired to commit and cause routine, willful violations of mandatory federal mine safety and health standards” at the mine and “was part of a conspiracy to impede and hinder federal mine safety officials from carrying out their duties at Upper Big Branch by providing advance warning of federal mine safety inspection activities, so their underground operations could conceal and cover up safety violations that they routinely committed.”Prosecutors also allege he made false statements about safety practices to the Securities and Exchange Commission.The judge handling Blankenship’s case recently imposed a strict gag order, according to local reports, purportedly in hopes of protecting a potential jury pool from bias.The indictment came just months after Blankenship sat down with ABC News in April and said he was despised because he “does the right thing,” denying that he ever cut corners on safety matters. When asked if he believed he would be indicted, Blankenship chuckled and said, “No.”Shortly before the interview, a federal safety report on the Upper Big Branch disaster had concluded, “If basic safety measures had been in place...there would have been no loss of life at UBB [the Upper Big Branch mine].”Blankenship countered that the real fault rested with the federal mine safety officials he has now been accused of trying to deceive.“You know, you can't just take the side of the government, the government's people too,” he told ABC News. “They have their own failings and their own shortcomings. We need to get to the bottom of these safety issues and truly protect coal miners, rather than seeing if we can blacken someone's reputation or hurt somebody.”The consensus among the families of the victims, and of West Virginia’s political leaders, is that Blankenship bears the ultimate responsibility for America’s worst mining disaster since 1970.A large group of relatives of those killed in the mine told ABC News earlier this year that they were waiting patiently for their day in court. Many rallied outside the courthouse when his indictment was announced.“I believe that Don has blood on his hands and I believe that justice will be done. I’ve got to believe that,” said Sen. Joe Machin, D-W.Va., in an interview.The 2010 explosion at Upper Big Branch may have cost Blankenship control of his company -- Massey was ultimately bought by Alpha Natural Resources in 2011, six months after Blankenship stepped down as CEO.In April of this year, as federal officials began to focus on his role in the Upper Big Branch explosion after he refused to participate in the official state and federal investigations, Blankenship embarked on a public relations offensive to promote a 50-minute film called Never Again which offered what he said was proof that the explosion was the result of an unexpected surge of natural gas into the mine shaft -- not the result of safety deficiencies.“No one ever did more for improving or trying to improve safety,” Blankenship told ABC News. He said he declined to meet with investigators because he did not believe they would treat him fairly.Families of the victims told ABC News they considered the movie a public relations stunt aimed at influencing potential jurors who would one day hear the case against him.

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New Homes, Worker Ban Heighten Tension in Middle East

New Homes, Worker Ban Heighten Tension in Middle East

iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- At a time when tensions in Jerusalem are already sky-high, Israel on Wednesday approved plans to build 78 new homes in East Jerusalem.Palestinian leaders and domestic critics of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are furious. The U.S. State Department has also criticized the move.But it's not the only incident that has exacerbated tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. Another announcement to bar Arab Israeli workers has set off a national uproar.Citing security concerns after Tuesday's synagogue attack, the mayor of the southern city of Asheklon on Thursday banned Arab Israeli construction workers at pre-schools.The decision has been publicly condemned not just by Arab Israeli leaders but by Netanyahu, the defense minister and the justice minister. Arab Israeli lawmaker Achmed Tibi called the move, "racist" while Israeli leaders say discrimination against Arab Israelis is not just unacceptable, it's illegal. Israel's attorney general and rights groups are expected to fight the mayor's move.

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CIA Praise, of Sorts, for Glenn Greenwald’s Book on Edward Snowden

CIA Praise, of Sorts, for Glenn Greenwald’s Book on Edward Snowden

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A CIA reviewer has halting praise for journalist Glenn Greenwald’s book on the Edward Snowden affair, calling it the book “the most complete, though far from the most objective account” of the leaker who exposed the National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance programs.The review, written by a veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology and Directorate of Operations, was posted recently on the CIA’s website, in a regularly-updated section called the “Intelligent Officer’s Bookshelf.” The Agency veteran and others often review espionage-related popular nonfiction and fiction books for the site.The reviewer describes Greenwald’s account in No Place to Hide of being contacted by Snowden and eventually meeting him in Hong Kong, before taking issue with what he called Greenwald’s “core arguments” presented later.“Greenwald is appalled at the concept implied in the [third] chapter’s title ["Collect It All"] and analyzes it with the presumption of illegality while dismissing without comment the intelligence issues that led to its adoption,” the reviewer says. “Greenwald also ignores other interpretations regarding the legality of the NSA’s collection programs…”Greenwald’s book is reviewed along with two others that cover the Snowden affair, and the reviewer concludes that Greenwald’s “sums up the common themes of these three books: Snowden’s acts were justified because he chose to seek ‘reform of the surveillance state.’”A disclaimer at the bottom of the website notes that the opinions “expressed in this journal are those of the authors” and shouldn’t be “construed as asserting or implying U.S. government endorsement…”In January, America’s top intelligence officials, including CIA Director John Brennan, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the purported severe damage Snowden’s disclosures had done to U.S. national security.

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CIA Praise, of Sorts, for Glenn Greenwald’s Book on Edward Snowden

CIA Praise, of Sorts, for Glenn Greenwald’s Book on Edward Snowden

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A CIA reviewer has halting praise for journalist Glenn Greenwald’s book on the Edward Snowden affair, calling it the book “the most complete, though far from the most objective account” of the leaker who exposed the National Security Agency’s widespread surveillance programs.The review, written by a veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology and Directorate of Operations, was posted recently on the CIA’s website, in a regularly-updated section called the “Intelligent Officer’s Bookshelf.” The Agency veteran and others often review espionage-related popular nonfiction and fiction books for the site.The reviewer describes Greenwald’s account in No Place to Hide of being contacted by Snowden and eventually meeting him in Hong Kong, before taking issue with what he called Greenwald’s “core arguments” presented later.“Greenwald is appalled at the concept implied in the [third] chapter’s title ["Collect It All"] and analyzes it with the presumption of illegality while dismissing without comment the intelligence issues that led to its adoption,” the reviewer says. “Greenwald also ignores other interpretations regarding the legality of the NSA’s collection programs…”Greenwald’s book is reviewed along with two others that cover the Snowden affair, and the reviewer concludes that Greenwald’s “sums up the common themes of these three books: Snowden’s acts were justified because he chose to seek ‘reform of the surveillance state.’”A disclaimer at the bottom of the website notes that the opinions “expressed in this journal are those of the authors” and shouldn’t be “construed as asserting or implying U.S. government endorsement…”In January, America’s top intelligence officials, including CIA Director John Brennan, testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the purported severe damage Snowden’s disclosures had done to U.S. national security.

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Pope Francis Takes on Capitalism at UN Conference on Hunger

Pope Francis Takes on Capitalism at UN Conference on Hunger

FAO via Getty Images(ROME) -- Speaking to a United Nations conference on hunger in Rome Thursday, Pope Francis once again took on capitalism.The pope called it painful to witness how the "primacy of profit" and speculation obstruct the fight against hunger and malnutrition around the world.

In the past 12 years, hunger has fallen by about 20 percent. But millions in the West overeat to the point of obesity, while 800 million continue to go hungry, with malnutrition being linked to almost half of the deaths of young children around the world.

Pope Francis added that no form of political or economic pressure that exploits the availability of foodstuffs can be considered acceptable.

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Two US Naval Supply Ships Collide in Arabian Sea

Two US Naval Supply Ships Collide in Arabian Sea

File photo. U.S. Navy / Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob I. Allison(MANAMA, Bahrain) — Two U.S. Naval supply ships collided in the Gulf of Aden, according to Navy officials.  The USNS Amelia Earhart and USNS Walter S. Diehl collided in the gulf between Yemen and Somalia early Thursday morning as they began a replenishment operation.Both ships appeared to have only minor damage and will continue their assigned missions, the Navy said.The Navy plans to conduct an investigation to determine the collision’s cause.

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Kerry to Join Iran Nuke Talks in Vienna

Kerry to Join Iran Nuke Talks in Vienna

State Dept photo(VIENNA) -- Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Vienna on Thursday, where he'll join the nuclear talks with Iran. In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry is coming to the Austrian city to "check in" on the nuclear negotiations with Iran.Psaki added that Kerry's departure date is "not yet determined," leaving open the possibility that he may leave before Monday's deadline. If Kerry goes home, it may be a sign that a deal is dead. If he travels elsewhere, he might be continuing the sidelines negotiations he's done from London and Paris. Officials, meanwhile, are working hard to lower expectations of a deal this week, and some are now openly debating whether an extension is necessary.

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Republican Governors Weigh 2016 Prospects

Republican Governors Weigh 2016 Prospects

RGA(BOCA RATON, Fla.) — The first day of this year’s annual Republican Governors Association conference was overshadowed by the president’s pending executive action on immigration. But, there was one more issue Wednesday -- besides the victory lap after this year’s big Republican wins -- on everyone’s mind: 2016. At least six attendees at the conference are mulling a bid for the top office. The RGA’s outgoing chairman New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been very vocal that he is considering a run saying Wednesday that running the RGA was his “first priority over the last year,” but now, “I’ve got some decisions to make, I’m not shy as you know, I’ll let you know.” When asked if he thinks the next GOP nominee should be a governor, he was clear: “I do because we are better at it than people who do not have the experience of running large enterprises.” Considering the number of GOP governors at the conference this week, Christie and another possible 2016 contender Indiana Gov. Mike Pence were asked if they had made pacts to play nice in what will likely be a nasty intra-party brawl.  “No, no pacts,” Christie said, before dead panning. “I haven’t seen Pence in the corner making any pacts with anybody, but I’ll be watching.”Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked when the 2016 race should begin, to which he replied, the “more legitimate question” is “when did it start.” “I think the campaign has engaged,” Perry said. “We are talking about issues here that are going to affect the presidential election in 2016.”

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