Top40 News for 04/14/2018

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#1 Airstrikes on Syria have destroyed ‘large part’ of Assad’s chemical weapons stock, says French Foreign minister after US, France and Britain launch response to ‘evil and despicable’ attack

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A 'large part' of the Syrian regime's chemical arsenal was destroyed last night after America, the UK and France launched co-ordinated missile attacks on facilities known to be used in the production of the deadly weapons.

American, British and French forces launched airstrikes on two chemical weapons facilities and a military command post in Syria on Friday night in retaliation for a chemical attack that left up 75 civilians dead last week. 

French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Saturday morning: 'A large part of its chemical arsenal has been destroyed. A lot has been destroyed in last night's strikes.'

While no further strikes have been planned, Le Drian refused to rule out a further attack if Assad crossed the 'red line' of using chemical weapons again.

He said: 'On the question of chemical weapons, there is a red line that must not be crossed, and if it should be crossed again, there will be another intervention. But I think the lesson has been learned.'

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#2 Russia calls for U.N. meeting on Syria, mulls supplies of S-300 systems

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Saturday called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council as Moscow said it would consider supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria following U.S.-led strikes.

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"Russia convenes an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss aggressive actions of the U.S. and its allies," President Vladimir Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin website.

"The current escalation of the situation around Syria has a devastating impact on the whole system of international relations," he added.

U.S., British and French forces pounded Syria with more than 100 missiles early on Saturday in response to a poison gas attack that killed dozens of people last week, in the biggest intervention by Western powers against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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#3 The Latest: Russia: Missiles aimed at Syrian air base downed

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on U.S.-led missile strikes on Syria (all times local):

2:50 a.m.

The Russian military says Syria’s Soviet-made air defense systems have shot down all 12 cruise missile aimed at a Syrian air base.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that 12 cruise missiles have been launched at the Dumayr air base east of Damascus. It said that Syria’s air defense assets have downed all of them.

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#4 Inside Syria: Reactions to US strikes range from excitement to fear

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Night-scope footage purportedly shows surface-to-air missiles over Damascus.

MANBIJ, Syria –  Obada Alstof, a 21-year-old opposition activist from the northern countryside of Homs, was woken up with a loud jolt and tremor in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

It came as a welcome surprise. 

“The explosions were so loud,” Alstof told Fox News in the immediate aftermath. “We had no idea what was happening but we immediately expected that the international coalition was targeting the regime locations.” 

The United States and its allies wasted little time before retaliating against the Bashar al-Assad regime over its use last week of chemical weapons, sending bombs raining down at a former missile base - some 15 miles west of Homs. That's where the regime is believed to keep chemical-weapon precursors stockpiled -- in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. 

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#5 B-1s, Tornadoes and Rafales used in Syria strikes

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The United States combined with the armed forces of the United Kingdom and France early Saturday to carry out airstrikes against the chemical weapons facilities maintained by the regime of Syria. Here are some of the weapons they used:

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Britain contributed four Tornado fighter jets armed with Storm Shadow cruise missiles to the operation, the UK's Ministry of Defense said.

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#6 Days from U.S. border, migrants in caravan tell their stories

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MEXICO CITY — The journey north for a group of Central Americans fleeing persecution and violence in their countries is nearing an end, after President Donald Trump's tweets thrust the group into the international spotlight.

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About 500 migrants, mainly from Honduras, are preparing to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border between Sunday and Tuesday, hoping they can claim asylum and begin building a new life.

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#7 Sections

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Germany is close to finalizing a deal that will see the country buy its first weapons-capable drone aircraft — an Israeli designed model — from European aerospace giant Airbus, according to a government response to lawmakers.

The deal, worth nearly 900 million euros ($1108.53 million) including training and maintenance costs, has been politically contentious because of fears that having combat drones might make Germany more likely to participate in offensive military action abroad.

"At the moment the aim is for Parliament to consider (the deal) and for the subsequent signing of the contract to occur soon, before the current binding offer expires," Germany's defense ministry said in a written response to questions from the opposition Left party. The terms of the offer are binding until May 31, meaning Parliament would have to approve the agreement in the coming weeks.

The government's response, dated April 12 and obtained by The Associated Press late Friday, adds that the agreement foresees the deployment of drones to a theater of operations by about mid-2020.

"We now have confirmation that Parliament is expected to sign off on the purchase of weapons-capable drones, likely in mid-May," said Left party lawmaker Andrej Hunko said Saturday.

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#8 The war in Syria, explained

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How Syria’s civil war became America’s problem.

President Donald Trump has ordered airstrikes on Syria as punishment for its chemical weapons attack last week in the town of Douma, which killed at least 42 people — including a number of children.

Understanding Trump’s decision requires understanding the real nature of the country’s horrific civil war. At its heart, it is a conflict between a regime that represents a minority of its citizens and the majority who want it gone. But over time, it has spiraled into an immensely complicated international war, with some of America’s most significant enemies and closest partners on various different sides.

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#9 Kentucky Governor Blames Teacher Protest For Inevitable Assault Of Children Left Home Alone

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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin slammed protesting teachers with an outrageous accusation Friday evening, indicating they were responsible for the inevitable sexual assault or poisoning of children left home alone in his state because school was out.

“I’m offended by the fact that people so cavalierly, and so flippantly, disregarded what’s truly best for children,” the Republican governor said at an impromptu news conference captured on video after teachers rallied at the state Capitol to stop school funding cuts.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on the teacher rallies today. “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.”

Bevin also dissed protesting teachers for “hangin’ out, shoes off ... smokin’, leavin’ trash around, takin’ the day off.”

Bevin said “for a fact .... hundreds of thousands” of children were left home alone because schools were closed in 39 districts across the state to allow teachers and administrators to protest funding cuts.

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#10 Police: Woman who drove SUV with family off cliff was drunk

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SAN FRANCISCO — A woman was drunk when she drove her large family off a Northern California cliff last month and her wife and several children had large amounts of a drug in their systems that can cause drowsiness, authorities said Friday.

Police had previously said they believed the Hart family died in a suicide plunge from a scenic overlook. The crash happened just days after authorities in Washington state opened an investigation following allegations the children were being neglected.

Preliminary toxicology tests found Jennifer Hart had an alcohol level of 0.102, said California Patrol Capt. Bruce Carpenter. California drivers are considered drunk with a level of 0.08 or higher.

Toxicology tests also found that her wife Sarah Hart and two of their children had "a significant amount" of an ingredient commonly found in the allergy drug Benadryl, which can make people sleepy. Toxicology results for a third child killed are still pending, Carpenter said.

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#11 Split California into three states? Backer says he’s got the ballot signatures

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A Bay Area venture capitalist who thinks California’s political system is dysfunctional says he’s collected enough signatures to put a measure on the November ballot to split the state in three.

Tim Draper says he’ll submit more than 600,000 signatures to the secretary of state next week for a measure that would divide the state into what he’s tentatively labeled NorCal, SoCal and Cal, which would include the Central Coast and the Los Angeles Basin. The Bay Area would be in NorCal.

A total of 366,000 valid signatures would be needed to put the idea before voters.

“This is an unprecedented show of support on behalf of every corner of California to create three state governments that emphasize representation, responsiveness, reliability and regional identity,” Draper said in a statement Thursday.

Draper complains that California is saddled with “failing school systems that impact more than 6 million kids, highest-in-the-nation taxes, deteriorating infrastructure and strained government. Partitioning California into three states would empower regional communities to make better, fairer and more sensible decisions for their citizens.”

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#12 Police responding to Parkland shooting found confusion and death

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MIAMI - When Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Gennaro Volpe heard the call come over his radio - "shots fired" at a Parkland high school - he rushed to campus.

There, Volpe was met with chilling scenes of chaos and death. A slain man, someone he knew, lying motionless outside the freshman building. Another victim, still alive, whom Volpe hustled onto a golf cart to seek medical attention.

"I spoke to (the victim), but he did not respond back," Volpe wrote in a report released Friday afternoon by BSO. "During my conversation I only gave him words of encouragement that he was going to survive."

Volpe's report was one of nine firsthand accounts documenting BSO's response to the Feb. 14 mass shooting by Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and made public two months later. The agency has been criticized because BSO Deputy Scot Peterson, the school's resource officer, did not immediately enter the freshman building where most of Cruz's attack took place. Other BSO deputies also did not enter immediately. Ultimately, Coral Springs Police Department officers were the first to go in and begin searching for the shooter and treating victims.

Peterson's shots-fired call went out at 2:23, soon after the attack began, according to a timeline released earlier by BSO. Police did not enter the building until 2:32 p.m., five minutes after the shooting ended. Cruz was able to elude capture and was arrested more than an hour later off campus. Seventeen students and staff members died.

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#13 Schumer says Trump strikes ‘appropriate,’ warns against greater involvement in Syria

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Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Friday that President Trump's decision to mount a military strike on Syria was "appropriate," but warned against deepening the United States' involvement in the war-torn country.

"A pinpointed, limited action to punish and hopefully deter Assad from doing this again is appropriate, but the administration has to be careful about not getting us into a greater and more involved war in Syria," Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer's comments came shortly after Trump announced that the U.S., France and the United Kingdom had launched "precision strikes" on targets in Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack in a suburb of Damascus that left dozens dead.

The U.S. and other Western countries have blamed the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for mounting the chemical strike.

Syria and its allies, Russia and Iran, have denied that Assad's government used chemical weapons. Russia blamed the U.K. on Friday for staging the attack in the suburb of Douma.

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#14 Mueller has evidence that Trump lawyer met in Prague with Russians during campaign, sources say

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WASHINGTON - The Justice Department special counsel has evidence that Donald Trump's personal lawyer and confidant, Michael Cohen, secretly made a late-summer trip to Prague during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Confirmation of the trip would lend credence to a retired British spy's report that Cohen strategized there with a powerful Kremlin figure about Russian meddling in the U.S. election.

It would also be one of the most significant developments thus far in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of whether the Trump campaign and the Kremlin worked together to help Trump win the presidency.

Trump's threats to fire Mueller or the deputy attorney general overseeing the investigation, Rod Rosenstein, escalated this week when the FBI raided Cohen's home, hotel room and office Monday. The raid was unrelated to the Trump-Russia collusion investigation, but instead focused on payments made to women who have said they had sexual relationships with Trump.

Cohen has denied for months that he ever has been in Prague or colluded with Russia during the campaign. Neither he nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment.

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#15 Democratic lawmakers renew calls for congressional authorization of Syria strikes

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Democratic lawmakers fervently renewed their calls for congressional approval of military force following President Donald Trump's Friday night announcement of US precision strikes against Syria.

"The President must come to Congress and secure an Authorization for Use of Military Force by proposing a comprehensive strategy with clear objectives that keep our military safe and avoid collateral damage to innocent civilians," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement Friday night.

The US' joint military action with France and the UK came as a response to a chemical weapons attack against civilians by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

As questions swirled this week around how Trump would respond to the attack, so did continued uncertainty about updates to Congress' Authorizations for Use of Military Force. The 1973 War Powers Act requires the President to receive congressional approval for any hostilities lasting longer than 60 days. Every administration since, however, has argued that portions of the law are unconstitutional.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Pelosi, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to notify them of the President's announcement of Syria strikes in the half-hour before Trump's speech, according to the vice president's spokesman Jarrod Agen.

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The headphone market has grown exponentially in recent years. Whether you want a cheap pair or you feel like breaking the bank, and no matter the features you require, there’s more choice than ever.

That competition has invariably meant cheaper prices – and products like the Lindy BNX-60 headphones: a pair of wireless aptX Bluetooth headphones, complete with active noise-cancelling technology, for less than £100. The Lindy BNX-60s are probably not a set of headphones for the discerning audiophile. But as a great value pair of noise-cancelling headphones with the added bonus of wireless Bluetooth, we can’t quibble with what’s on offer here. If you value the functionality, we don’t think you can go wrong.

Cheap, portable, wireless and noise-cancelling, the Philips SHB8850NC (£90) headphones are fantastic value for money. The fit may not be for everyone, so do try before you buy if you can, but there's nothing wrong with the style and sound quality for under £100. They do noise-cancellation, too, and are light and portable. Winner.

The Bose SoundSport Wireless (£139) are some of the best-sounding, most reliable in-ear headphones you’ll find for under £150. They are traditional wireless in-ear headphones, with a neckband cable incorporating a remote housing part-way down. They’re not show-offs, but they are smartly-designed and comfortable to wear. The soft silicone rubber hooks trace the basic lines of the ear, making the fit secure enough for running or going to the gym. The Bose SoundSport Wirelesses are sweat resistant and certified to IPX4, too. Battery life is a modest six hours, but there's nothing modest about the sound - think punchy and powerful.

We’ll get straight to the point: the AKG Y50BTs (£99) are superb. What you have here is a rare example of headphones that are equally excellent across audio performance, features, design and build quality. If you’re looking for an affordable pair of Bluetooth headphones, look no further.

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#17 Apple Warns Employees to Stop Leaking Information to Media

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(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. warned employees to stop leaking internal information on future plans and raised the specter of potential legal action and criminal charges, one of the most-aggressive moves by the world’s largest technology company to control information about its activities.

The Cupertino, California-based company said in a lengthy memo posted to its internal blog that it "caught 29 leakers," last year and noted that 12 of those were arrested. "These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere," Apple added. The company declined to comment on Friday.

Apple outlined situations in which information was leaked to the media, including a meeting earlier this year where Apple’s software engineering head Craig Federighi told employees that some planned iPhone software features would be delayed. Apple also cited a yet-to-be-released software package that revealed details about the unreleased iPhone X and new Apple Watch.

Leaked information about a new product can negatively impact sales of current models, give rivals more time to begin on a competitive response, and lead to fewer sales when the new product launches, according to the memo. “We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great, and not have that done poorly by someone else,” Greg Joswiak, an Apple product marketing executive, said in the memo.

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#18 Singapore to test facial recognition on lampposts, stoking privacy fears

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In the not too distant future, surveillance cameras sitting atop over 100,000 lampposts in Singapore could help authorities pick out and recognize faces in crowds across the island-state.

The plan to install the cameras, which will be linked to facial recognition software, is raising privacy fears among security experts and rights groups. The government said the system would allow it to "perform crowd analytics" and support anti-terror operations.

GovTech, the Singapore government agency in charge of a "Lamppost-as-a-Platform" pilot project scheduled to begin next year, has given companies until May to register their interest in providing technology for the network.

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#19 5 questions Mark Zuckerberg dodged on Capitol Hill

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., on April 11, 2018.

An audience member wore a blue and green pointy wig, aiming to look like a Russian troll, during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg 's testimony before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C., April 10.

Vietnamese Facebooker and human rights activist, La Viet Dung, shows the open letter signed by himself sent to Facebook Inc.'s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, in Hanoi, Vietnam April 10.

Slideshow by photo services

Mark Zuckerberg's team has a lot of following up to do.

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