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NEWS   FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015   NEWS

Obama Takes Stock Of Health-Care Law — And Presidency
White House aides insist that, with a year and a half left in his administration, President Obama is not yet talking about his legacy. But this week, the president offered one of his most definitive, bottom-line assessments of his signature health-care law — sounding a lot like he was taking final inventory. “Coverage is up. Cost growth is at a historic low. Deficits have been slashed. Lives have been saved,” Obama said at a White House summit marking the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s working better than many of us, including me, anticipated,” he said. Obama likes to remind audiences that a lot can still happen in the final stages of his presidency, and he’s determined to retain his political relevance even as the contest to replace him starts to take center stage. But time is running out on his chances for major new initiatives, especially legislation that requires cooperation with Republicans, who control Congress. Washington Post

Indiana governor overrides law to authorize needle exchange
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence overrode state law and his own anti-drug policies Thursday to authorize a short-term needle-exchange program designed to help contain HIV infections in a rural county where more than six dozen cases have been reported, all of them tied to intravenous drug use. Pence issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency in Scott County, an economically depressed area about 30 miles north of Louisville, Ky., that has seen 79 new infections since December. The county typically sees only about five HIV cases each year, health officials said. All of those infected either live in Scott County or have ties to the county, and all of the infections have been linked to needle sharing among drug users. Charlotte Observer

Bergdahl Deal Highlights Hillary’s Pickle On Obama Doctrine
President Obama has evidently committed himself to using the remaining 22 months of his presidency to permanently alter the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy. Trading five Islamist commanders for a single soldier now accused of deserting his comrades is something the administration still says was a good move. It sounds kind of crazy to say, but put it a larger context. While the president has worked against the idea of “creative destruction” in the American economy, he’s been an enthusiast for the idea when it comes to foreign policy. Fox News

Pro-ISIS Magazine In Istanbul Bombed
A bomb blast ripped through the Istanbul offices of a radical, pro-ISIS magazine killing a writer and wounding its editor-in-chief as well as two other people on Wednesday night. According to a Turkish police statement, "a bomb left at the magazine's entrance door exploded when the door opened." The magazine "Adimlar" regularly publishes angry anti-American content, including articles that celebrate convicted Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as "Carlos the Jackal." In an interview with CNN in October, the magazine's chief editor, Ali Osman Zor, mounted a spirited defense of the ultra-violent jihadi group ISIS. CNN

Two More States Enact ‘Right To Try’ Laws For Terminally Ill Patients
Utah and Indiana became the eighth and ninth states to enact “right to try” laws that allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs that have not yet been approved for general use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence both signed bills on Wednesday that allow physicians to prescribe “investigational” medication that has made it through the first part of the FDA’s three-phase clinical trials process to terminally ill patients who have exhausted other options. Joining Pence at the signing ceremony in Indianapolis was five-year-old Jordan McLinn, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a fatal degenerative disease that has no FDA-approved therapies. However, Laura McLinn, the boy’s mother, said that there were promising new drugs being developed that might help her son. CNS News

U.S. Lawmaker To Homeland Security: 'Clean Up' Secret Service
A U.S. lawmaker on Thursday questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's choice of a veteran agent to lead the U.S. Secret Service and said the agency that protects the American president needs to be cleaned up. Representative Hal Rogers, the Appropriations Committee chairman, referred to a string of Secret Service security lapses and embarrassments, most recently the March 4 breach of a White House security barrier by agents returning from a party. "That agency needs discipline. We all have the highest of regard and respect for the Secret Service. However some agents are tarnishing that image. And it needs to be cleaned up," Rogers, a Republican, said at an appropriations subcommittee budget hearing. Reuters

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Downed Drones: ATF Spent $600K On 11 Drones That Never Flew
The Department of Justice agency spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on drones that never flew due to mechanical issues, and multiple agencies have unclear drone policies that can lead to costly confusion, according to a federal auditor's report. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) spent about $600,000 on six drones -- then never flew them because of technical problems with flight time, maneuverability and more, according to the report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that audited DOJ units. The ATF ended up canceling all of their drone-related operations and tossing the drones in the trash. The OIG said it was "troubled" ATF spent that kind of money on drones with problems that were "significant enough to render them unsuitable for deployment." MSNBC

House Passes Medicare Payment Overhaul In Rare Spark Of Bipartisanship
The normally fractious House made governing look effortless Thursday, passing a long-sought deal to overhaul Medicare’s payment system and placing pressure on Senate Democrats to approve the bipartisan package before its two-week spring break. The bill, approved 392-37, would repeal an 18-year-old budget tool that’s overridden each year with a so-called “doc fix” — even when the formula calls for a cut to physicians’ pay — and reauthorize a health insurance program for children for two years. Lawmakers from both parties said the annual Medicare patches were a sham and sowed uncertainty among doctors and seniors, so the payment formula had to go. Washington Times

VA Construction Chief Retires
A Department of Veterans Affairs executive is "stepping down" after reports that he received nearly $64,000 in bonuses despite overseeing $2 billion in cost overruns at four troubled VA hospital projects. One of those projects, in Aurora, Colo., is now the most expensive hospital in the department's history. Glenn Haggstrom, principal executive director of the Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction, is no longer an employee, a VA statement released Wednesday evening said. Haggstrom "retired" from federal service in the "midst of an investigation, initiated by VA, into delays and cost overruns associated with the design and construction of the medical center in Aurora," the statement said. "Haggstrom had recently been relieved of any decision-making," the statement said. Philadelphia Inquirer

Bowe Bergdahl Could Avoid Jail, Keep VA Benefits
He’s being charged with desertion and faces the possibility of life in prison, but Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could end up cutting a deal that keeps him out of jail while receiving health benefits from the Veterans Administration, legal experts say. “I think it’s a very messy case for the government to actually try. I think it’s going to resolve with some sort of alternative disposition,” attorney Greg Rinckey, a military-law specialist, told The Post. Bergdahl’s lawyer “would probably be happy with one that preserved the client’s VA benefits,” he added. Jeffrey Walker, a St. John’s University law professor and former military lawyer, said Bergdahl can plead for leniency because of reports of his hellish treatment as a Taliban captive for five years. NY Post

Germany Hunts For Co-Pilot Motive Amid Depression Reports
Police have searched the homes of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in two German cities in search of an explanation for why he may have crashed a passenger plane into the French Alps, killing all 150 people on board. German tabloid Bild reported Friday that Lubitz had a “serious depressive episode” six years ago and that a medical problem was noted in aviation records. The Federal Aviation Office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. French investigators believe the 27-year-old locked himself inside the cockpit and then intentionally smashed the Germanwings plane into a mountainside. A spokeswoman for Duesseldorf police, Susanna Heusgen, said “no crucial piece of evidence has been found yet” after the searches in Duesseldorf and Montabaur. Tampa Tribune

Astronaut Set To Make History For Longest Stay In Space
Astronaut Scott Kelly is leaving for a year in space Friday, and if he toughs out the whole year in orbit, he'll smash the U.S. endurance record for the longest continuous time in space. As NASA sets its sights on Mars, the one-year mission will provide data on how humans react to a long period in space. Even better for the scientists, Kelly's identical twin Mark, a retired astronaut and the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, will undergo the same tests on Earth that his brother is subjected to in space. USA Today

GOP Lawmakers Aim To Cut D.C.’s Gun Restrictions
Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Jim Jordan took aim at the District’s restrictive gun laws on Thursday, introducing bills that would make it easier for residents to buy and carry firearms. The two Republicans also want to make it harder for the D.C. government to impose burdensome requirements for citizens to obtain firearms or concealed-carry permits, which has been a complaint of gun-rights advocates since the Supreme Court upheld the legal challenge that ended the city’s virtual ban on firearms. Washington Times

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U.S. Ad Campaign Points To Dangers Of Dual Cigarette/E-Cig Use
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is launching an ad campaign warning consumers against the dual use of e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a nicotine-laced liquid to produce an inhalable vapor. Nationally, about three in four adult e-cigarette users also smoke cigarettes, the CDC said. "If you only cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke by adding another tobacco product, like e-cigarettes, you still face serious health risks," the CDC said in a statement. "Smokers must quit smoking completely to fully protect their health - even a few cigarettes a day are dangerous." The ads, which will begin running in print publications and radio on Monday, feature a 35-year-old named Kristy who tried using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, but wound up using both products. She suffered a collapsed lung and was diagnosed with COPD, a chronic lung disease, before quitting altogether. Reuters

Proxy War: U.S. On Both Sides Of Tensions Between Iran, Saudi Arabia
Talk about the United States being in a difficult place. One hour, the U.S. is conducting airstrikes to combat Sunni extremists -- ISIS -- in Iraq. "U.S. warplanes are now conducting airstrikes in support of Iraqi efforts to take the city of Tikrit from the terror group ISIS, the U.S. military said Wednesday," per NBC News. The next hour, it's helping aid Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign against Shiite extremists -- the Houthi rebels -- in Yemen. "Secretary of State John Kerry commended the work of the coalition and underlined U.S. support for the effort — including intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical assistance — in talks with his counterparts in the region on Thursday," according to a separate NBC report. MSNBC

Aaron Schock Says Goodbye To Congress, Compares Himself To Abraham Lincoln
Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Illinois, bid goodbye to his fellow members of Congress on the House floor Thursday afternoon. "I leave here with sadness and humility," Schock said in the five minute speech. "For those whom I've let down, I will work tirelessly to make it up to you." Though Schock did not directly address the investigations into his use of campaign and taxpayer money, the embattled congressman acknowledged that he made "mistakes" he hopes to learn from. Schock, who announced his resignation earlier this month also compared his trials to those of another Central Illinois politician. CBS

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US Drops Anti-ISIS Leaflets Over Syria
The Pentagon has released a copy of a leaflet that was dropped over ISIS’s defacto capital in Syria earlier this month. The leaflet drop is part of the U.S. military’s psychological operations to show potential ISIS recruits that they are part of a losing effort. Some 60,000 of the leaflets were dropped over Ar Raqqa, Syria early on the morning of March 16, officials said. The leaflets were dropped by a single U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter aircraft carrying a PDU-5B leaflet canister, according to the Pentagon. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today that the drop was intended to dissuade potential ISIS recruits from joining the group. ABC

Obama Praises Payday Lender Rules, Vows Veto Of Limitations
Embracing proposed new rules aimed at payday lenders, President Barack Obama on Thursday warned Republicans that he would veto attempts to unravel regulations that govern the financial industry. Obama, in excerpts of remarks for delivery later Thursday, praised the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for its proposal to set standards on a multibillion-dollar industry that has historically been regulated only at the state level. "As Americans, we believe there's nothing wrong with making a profit," Obama says, according to the excerpts. "But if you're making that profit by trapping hard-working Americans in a vicious cycle of debt, then you need to find a new way of doing business." Obama's remarks come on the same day the consumer agency was announcing the proposed payday lending rules in a hearing in Richmond, Va. Payday loans provide cash to borrowers who run out of money between paychecks. The short-term loans carry high interest rates. ABC

U.S. Stocks Fall For Fourth Day As Airlines Drop Amid Oil Rally
U.S. stocks fell for a fourth day, the longest losing streak since January, as declines in consumer and transportation companies overshadowed a rebound in technology shares. American Airlines Group Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. lost at least 0.9 percent as oil climbed to a three-week high. International Business Machines Corp., Apple Inc. and Intel Corp. added more than 0.7 percent, even as SanDisk Corp. plunged 18 percent amid a lower first-quarter revenue projection. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.2 percent to 2,056.25 at 4 p.m. in New York. The gauge closed below its average price in the past 100 days. Bloomberg

Syria's Assad Says 'Open' To Dialogue With United States
Syrian President Bashar Assad says he would be "open" to a dialogue with the United States, but that it must be "based on mutual respect." Assad made the remarks in an interview with Charlie Rose for CBS News' 60 Minutes. A short excerpt of the interview was posted online late Thursday. In the clip, Assad said that, in principle, "every dialogue is a positive thing, and we are going to be open to any dialogue with anyone, including the United States." He said there is no direct communication so far with Washington. Assad's comments come after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this month that the U.S. must eventually talk with the Syrian government to help broker an end to the country's civil war. The Obama administration later reiterated its position that Assad has no future role in Syria. Houston Chronicle

Thai Junta Leader To Fight Forced Labor In Fish Industry
Thailand’s junta leader has vowed to take legal action against companies using forced labor, after an Associated Press investigation revealed that fish caught by enslaved migrant workers was being exported from Thai ports to global markets. Speaking in an exclusive interview with the English-language Bangkok Post newspaper, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha acknowledged he had seen this week’s AP article and said his government was stepping up efforts to combat the scourge and prosecute those responsible. “If they still continue to exploit their fellow human beings, they should not be given any licenses to operate business in Thailand, and they must receive the punishment they deserve,” Prayuth said. Charlotte Observer

Diabetes 101: Tips To Manage Blood Glucose
Many individuals have a connection with diabetes; either they have a relative who has it or know of someone who is affected by it, but what exactly is diabetes and how does nutrition and exercise play a vital role in managing it? In order to understand this concept, let’s address the basics of diabetes and how blood glucose functions in relation to this condition. Diabetes is a condition in which your body is not able to produce enough insulin, causing blood glucose levels to be very high. Blood glucose, also referred to as blood sugar, is a driving force for our bodies to function. There are 3 main types of diabetes - Type 1, which is insulin dependent, meaning the body does not produce insulin; Type 2, which is insulin resistant, meaning the body does not use insulin properly; and Gestational Diabetes, found during pregnancy, which starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. San Diego Union

Secret Service Tightens Rules On Driving Agency Cars After Drinking
The Secret Service has imposed a new, stricter policy that prohibits staff from driving government cars within 10 hours of drinking alcohol, according to an internal agency memo reviewed by The Washington Post. The new policy was announced to staff Monday amid an inquiry into allegations that two agents drove through a secure bomb-threat investigation scene at the White House earlier this month after a party at a nearby bar. It replaces previous rules prohibiting staff from operating vehicles when they are under the influence of alcohol or perceived to be impaired. The new rules were issued internally the day before Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy appeared before a House committee investigating the March 4 incident. Washington Post

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House Panel Passes Bill Banning IRS From Using Private Email
IRS workers would be prohibited from using private email to conduct official business under a bipartisan bill passed Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Committee. The issue gained attention following revelations that Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush used personal email addresses to conduct government business. Both are potential candidates for president in 2016. "Events over the past month underscore the need to maintain transparent record-keeping procedures for executive branch employees," said Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill. "IRS personnel should never use personal email addresses when conducting official government businesses, especially those who routinely handle sensitive taxpayer information." Fox News

Romney: I Wouldn't Have Swapped For Bergdahl
Had Mitt Romney defeated President Barack Obama for the presidency in 2012, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl might still be a prisoner to the Taliban in Afghanistan. "I don't think I would have made the trade," the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said Thursday on NBC's "Today Show." Bergdahl was charged Wednesday with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, about nine months after he was freed by his captors after Obama agreed to release five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. One of the prisoners had tried to contact the Taliban from his captivity in Qatar, according to a Director of National Intelligence report. CNN

Top 2 U.S. Jobs By Number Employed: Salespersons And Cashiers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Wednesday that retail sales clerk and cashier were the two largest occupations in the United States in May 2014, with their numbers increasing slightly since 2013. In its annual report on wages and occupational employment, the BLS found that 4.6 million Americans worked in retail sales while 3.4 million more worked as cashiers, making up almost six percent of total U.S. employment. The two job categories increased by a combined 400,000 workers since 2012. Retail workers made $24,020 a year on average, while cashiers made $20,670, according to the BLS. The ten largest occupations accounted for 21 percent of total employment in the U.S. Besides retail salesperson and cashier, they include food preparation and serving, general office clerk, registered nurse, customer service representative, waiter and waitress, laborer, secretary and administrative assistant, and janitor. CNS News

Does Ted Cruz Really Need To Buy Insurance Through Obamacare?
When Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday that he and his family would "presumably" purchase health insurance through an Obamacare exchange, the news sparked cries of hypocrisy from Democrats and progressives. How ironic, they said, that one the fiercest opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would decide to use a program he's vowed to overturn. "Ted Cruz: Obamacare for me, but not for thee," quipped the @SenateDems Twitter feed, which is operated by staffers for Democratic Senate leaders. Now, it turns out, the Cruz family might not purchase their insurance through an ACA exchange after all. Rick Tyler, a spokesman for Cruz's just-launched presidential bid, told CBS News the senator "is weighing all the available options to choose what's best for his family." CBS

New Study Links Gut Microbiome With Psychiatric Disorders
The role of microbes in dictating human health is an increasingly popular research subject. A new study by researchers at Louisiana State University suggests high-fat diets can cause brain inflammation and alter behavior. Scientists say the neurological changes are triggered by changes in the gut's bacterial makeup, or gut microbiome or microbiota. Previous studies have pinpointed a link between gut microbes and psychological disorders like anxiety and depression. To further test the link between mind and stomach, researchers at LSU decided to study the effects of an obesity-related microbiota on a healthy, non-obese mouse. In other words, healthy mice were injected with microbiota transplanted from the guts of obese mice -- mice subsisting on high-fat diets. UPI

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Surge In R&D Spending Burnishes U.S. Image As Innovation Nation
Companies in the U.S. are again putting money where their competitive advantage lies: in uncovering the products that will one day change how you work and play.
Corporate spending on research and development rose 6.7 percent in 2014, almost twice the previous year’s gain and the biggest advance since 1996, according to Commerce Department data. The pickup was capped by a 14 percent fourth-quarter surge that signals additional increases are on the way. The spending could extend the momentum of an era of growth-inducing innovation that produced smartphones and tablet computers, 3-D printers, cloud software that delivers services via the Internet and hydraulic fracturing that is making the U.S. more energy self-sufficient. Combined with what’s still on the drawing board, such initiatives raise the odds productivity will rebound, boosting the standard of living. Bloomberg

US ‘Troubled’ By Thai Leader’s Threat To Execute Journalists
he U.S. says it hopes that Thailand's leader, who took power in a military coup last year, wasn't serious when he made a threat to execute journalists. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha (prah-YOOT chahn oh-CHAH) made the apparently sarcastic comment to reporters in Bangkok Wednesday. He said that any media that cause "division" should be punished. He singled out several reporters and publications for insults. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Thursday that the U.S. was troubled by Prayuth's threat to journalists who do not report the "truth." He said such statements, even if not serious, contribute to an atmosphere in which freedoms could be suppressed. The coup and the Thai junta's crackdown on dissent has strained traditionally strong ties with the U.S. Washington has suspended $4.7 million in military aid. Las Vegas Sun

House Speaker Invites Japanese Leader To Address Congress
House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nur) is inviting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (SHEEN-zoh AH-bay) to address a joint meeting of Congress next month. The Ohio Republican announced Thursday that Abe — who will be the first Japanese leader to address Congress — is scheduled to speak on April 29. He says the speech will give Americans a chance to hear from a close U.S. ally on a variety of issues, including working together to open new markets and foster more economic growth through free trade. In recent weeks, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH'-hoo) have delivered addresses to joint meetings of Congress. Las Vegas Sun

Airlines Change Cockpit Rules In Wake Of Germanwings Crash
Some airlines are changing their rules to require two people in a cockpit at all times after a French prosecutor said it appeared as though the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 intentionally crashed the plane while alone in the cabin. Multiple European and Canadian airlines on Thursday announced changes to their protocol in the wake of the deadly crash, which killed all 150 on board after going down in the French Alps on Tuesday. Investigators said the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the Airbus A320 plane indicated co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, was alone in the cockpit at the time of the crash. The pilot had left the cockpit and was unable to regain entry. UPI

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Regional War In Yemen Challenges Iran Talks
US diplomats in Switzerland kept their focus on Tehran’s nuclear program on Thursday, despite war breaking out along regional and sectarian lines in Yemen since the Iran negotiations recessed five days ago. US President Barack Obama authorized assistance to Saudi Arabia and its Sunni regional allies in its surprise military campaign in Yemen against rebel Shi’ite Houthis, a group supported politically and financially by Iran. The Tehran government condemned Riyadh’s air campaign as an act of “American- backed aggression” within hours of a meeting between its foreign minister, Javad Zarif, and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry “briefly” broached the topic of Yemen in their meeting, which lasted more than three hours, the US Department of State said. Jerusalem Post

Amnesty: Hamas Rocket Attacks Amounted To War Crimes
Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militant groups during last summer's conflict in Gaza amounted to war crimes, Amnesty International says. Militants displayed a "flagrant disregard" for the lives of civilians during the 50-day war, a report found. Six civilians in Israel and 13 Palestinians are believed to have been killed as a result of such attacks. Hamas, which dominates Gaza, said Amnesty's report contained many inaccuracies and false allegations. The conflict left a total of at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, according to the UN. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers were killed along with the six civilians. BBC

President Hadi Leaves Yemen As Saudis bomb Rebels
Yemen's President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi has arrived in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, according to officials, as Saudi Arabia continues to launch air strikes against Shia Houthi rebels. It is the first confirmation of his whereabouts since Wednesday, when he fled rebel forces in the city of Aden. Officials say he will now travel to Egypt for a two-day Arab league summit. Saudi authorities began air strikes in Yemen on Wednesday night, a step Iran called "dangerous". The jets targeted Houthi positions in the capital Sanaa, along with missile batteries and warplanes. Saudi Arabia says it is "defending the legitimate government" of President Hadi. BBC

US Defends Strategy In Yemen And Iraq But Diplomats Admit: It's A Mess
Diplomats in Washington were forced to defend the increasingly tangled web of US alliances in the Middle East on Thursday, as a surprise attack against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen appeared at odds with growing US support for pro-Iranian forces in Iraq. The White House revealed late on Wednesday that it was providing intelligence and targeting support for Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen, which are designed to stem advances by Houthi rebels that threaten to overthrow its government. The decision to intervene in what many observers fear could become a civil war between the Iranian-supported Shia rebels and a Yemeni government backed by Sunni Arab nations has raised concerns that the US is finding itself on the opposite side of similar sectarian tensions that have divided Iraq. Diplomats in Washington were forced to defend the increasingly tangled web of US alliances in the Middle East on Thursday, as a surprise attack against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen appeared at odds with growing US support for pro-Iranian forces in Iraq. Guardian

Discovery Uses Virus To Boil Water Three Times Faster
Scientists have found a way to boil water faster, although they admit the discovery is unlikely to revolutionise tea-making. The technology works by coating a heating element with a virus found on tobacco plants. The coating dramatically reduces the size and number of bubbles that form around the element as it gets warmer. Air pockets caused by bubbles temporarily insulate heating elements from the surrounding water, slowing down the transfer of heat. A coating made from the tobacco virus tripled the efficiency of boiling water, scientists said, which could save vast quantities of energy in industrial power plants or large-scale electronic cooling systems. Guardian

Ban Notes Saudi Arabia’s Military Operations In Yemen, Urges Protection Of Civilians
Noting Saudi Arabia’s announcement that, at the request of the Government of Yemen, it has begun military operations in the Gulf nation, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and emphasized that despite escalation, negotiations remain the only option for ultimately resolving the crisis. “[Mr. Ban] is aware of reports that other States, in particular members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, are also supporting these operations,” said a statement released from the Office of the UN chief’s spokesperson. “The Secretary-General reminds all parties involved of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians and of all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel, as well as of the rules and principles of international human rights law and refugee law,” the statement added. UN News

Losing Sight Of Middle East Peace Akin To Pouring More Oil’ On Region’s Flames – UN Special Envoy
As Israeli and Palestinian parties do not appear ready to recommence talks, the international community must consider presenting a viable framework for negotiations, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said today during his final briefing to the Security Council, noting that “this may be the only way to preserve the goal of the two-State solution.” “Upon leaving this position, I cannot but express an overriding feeling that I have been part of a peace process in which a can is kicked down an endless road,” said Robert Serry, who served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the Middle East for the last 7 years. Replacing Mr. Serry will be Nikolay Mladenov, former head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. UN News

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