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NEWS   TUESDAY, FEBRUARY , 2015   NEWS

IRS Defends Paying Refunds To Illegals Who Never Filed Taxes
The IRS is defending its decision to let illegal immigrants claim up to three years’ refunds on income even if they never paid income taxes, telling Congress in a new letter last week that agency lawyers have concluded getting a Social Security number triggers the ability to go back and ask for previous refunds. President Obama’s new deportation amnesty could grant Social Security numbers to as many as 4 million illegal immigrants, making many of them eligible for tax refunds under the Earned Income Tax Credit even for years when they cheated on their taxes, working off the books and refusing to file tax returns. Washington Times

Lumber Liquidators Stock Pummeled After '60 Minutes' Probe
A report on CBS' "60 Minutes" has knocked the floor out from under Lumber Liquidators. The report by CNN's Anderson Cooper revealed Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring sold by the company contains high levels of the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde. Lumber Liquidators (LL) plunged more than 25% by mid-morning Monday. Earlier the stock was halted from trading. That's after the stock lost more than a quarter of its value -- 26% -- last Wednesday when the CEO warned investors of an upcoming report on the show that would portray the company "in an unfavorable light." CNN

Obama And Netanyahu: A Clash Of World Views, Not Just Personalities
The disconnect between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is about a lot more than bad personal chemistry. Their relationship, which will be played out in all its dysfunctional glory during Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week, founders on a deep ideological divide and a sharply conflicting world view. A long, steadily worsening showdown between the rivals is coming to a head in the tense final stages of talks between world powers and Iran in pursuit of a nuclear deal backed by the U.S. but opposed by Netanyahu. CNN

U.S. Concerned After Venezuela Says Americans Detained
The United States is concerned with the situation in Venezuela following President Nicolas Maduro's announcement over the weekend that his government had detained U.S. citizens, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said on Monday. Venezuela summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires for a meeting with its foreign minister and others, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, adding that she had no other details. On Saturday, Maduro said Venezuela detained U.S. citizens, including a pilot, on suspicion of espionage. Reuters

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Nasdaq Hits 5,000 For First Time In 15 Years
The last time the tech-laden Nasdaq stock index hit 5,000, Bill Clinton occupied the White House, America Online had agreed to buy Time Warner for $165 billion and beloved "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz had died in his sleep. The index briefly touched that level, not seen in 15 years, on Monday as investors celebrated an interest rate cut in China and upbeat economic data. The Nasdaq Composite last hit 5,000 during the tech bubble peak in March 2000. The index tumbled in the months following to land at 1,108.49 in October 2002. The Nasdaq has only closed above 5,000 twice, once on March 9, 2000, and once on March 10, 2000. The Dow Jones industrial average also rose more than 100 points to set a new intraday record of 18,260.31 following mostly encouraging U.S. economic reports. MSNBC

Judge Rules EPA Lied AboutTtransparency, Tells Agency To Halt Discrimination Against Conservatives
A federal judge warned the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday not to discriminate against conservative groups in how it responds to open-records requests, issuing a legal spanking. Judge Royce C. Lamberth concluded the agency may have lied to the court and showed “apathy and carelessness” in carrying out the law, though the judge was unable to determine if documents were intentionally destroyed. Judge Lamberth described the “absurdity” of the way the EPA handled a Freedom of Information Act request from the Landmark Legal Foundation and then the court case stemming from it — including late last week admitting it lied to the court about how it went about searching for documents. Washington Times

Ahead Of Netanyahu Speech, Kerry Fires Across The Bow
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is warning that public discussion of details of the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran will make it more difficult to reach a deal that prevents the country from developing atomic weapons. In comments to reporters in Geneva on Monday, Kerry said he was concerned by reports that some details of the talks would be revealed in coming days. He did not elaborate, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak in opposition to a potential Iran deal in an address to Congress on Tuesday. Israeli officials say Netanyahu plans to discuss elements of the negotiations that he finds problematic and dangerous to Israel. Although Kerry did not identify Netanyahu as someone who might talk about details of the negotiations, he strongly hinted that was the case. CBS

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Department Of Justice To Criticize Ferguson Police In Report Due Soon
The U.S. Justice Department could release as soon as this week a report criticizing police in Ferguson, Missouri for unfairly targeting black residents with tickets and arrests in the years before an officer killed teenager Michael Brown, according to The New York Times. The police department's behavior created a tense racial environment and culture of animosity between black residents and police in Ferguson, the newspaper said, citing several officials who have been briefed on the report's conclusions. That tension erupted in massive protests against police after Brown, who was unarmed, was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson in August. The Justice Department launched a pair of investigations into the police department after the shooting. Reuters

More Winter Storms On The Way For Large Swaths Of U.S.
Get ready for some spring (snow) showers: Another band of bad weather was moving across the U.S. on Monday, promising powder and another blast of wintry weather after February's record-smashing cold. March came in like a lion this weekend, dumping a wintry mess of ice and snow across the Midwest and the Northeast. Indianapolis set a daily record with 5.9 inches, and New York City's Central Park got 4.8 inches of powder — picking up more than the month's average snowfall of 3.9 inches just on the first day of March, according to The Weather Channel. There was enough snow in Boston to delay Monday's start to the murder trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, but not enough to break the city's snowfall record for one season. MSNBC

Prince William's China Trip Is First Royal Visit In Decades
Prince William is in China for the first time to strengthen British-Chinese diplomatic and economic ties. This is the highest-profile member of the British royal family to visit to mainland China in nearly 30 years, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane. His was an "express" tour of Beijing by motorcade, seeing the capital the way only a prince can, including a brief walk through the legendary Forbidden City cleared free of tourists. It was once the home of emperors who ruled this country and was a stop on his grandmother, the queen's, trip in 1986. The Duke of Cambridge visited China's President Xi Jinping on Monday. The two met in the modern-day center of power, the "Great Hall of the People." State media Xinhua wrote the prince's "field trip" "may also serve other royal family members with fresh knowledge about China." CBS

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Republican Peter King Criticizes Conservatives On DHS Funding
Speaking on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) strongly criticized conservatives in Congress who are opposed to funding  President Barack Obama’s executive action to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, saying they are “irresponsible” and “have no concept of reality.” “There's an element within our party, a wing within the Congress, which is absolutely irresponsible,” King said when asked by the show’s guest host about the Republicans who want the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill to include language to block the amnesty plan. CNS News

Bill Clinton’s Portrait Artist Secretly Includes Monica Lewinsky
Here's one issue the Clintons may -- or may not -- not want to brush off. In a recent interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, the artist who painted a portrait of President Bill Clinton that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. revealed a surprise -- the portrait “subtly” incorporated Monica Lewinsky. Artist Nelson Shanks told the newspaper that the shadow on the left side of the portrait was cast by a mannequin in a blue dress -- a nod to the president’s affair with his 22-year-old intern. Shanks, who described Clinton as “the most famous liar of all time,” told the Philadelphia Daily News that the shadow represents a metaphorical “shadow on the office he held.” Shanks painted the portrait while standing in the Oval Office. ABC

New Mexico Students Walk Out Over New Tests Contested In US
Students frustrated over a new standardized test walked out of schools around New Mexico in protest Monday as the new exam was being given. The backlash came as millions of U.S. students started taking more rigorous exams aligned with Common Core standards. Many parents and students around the country have opted out of the exams. Others are lobbying lawmakers and education officials for change. The test measures student achievement and can be used in teacher evaluations. Opponents say the exams distract from real learning, put added stress on students and staff members, and waste resources, especially in poor districts. A few hundred students at Albuquerque High School defied warnings from administrators that the teens would not graduate and could face discipline as a result of the walkout. ABC

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North Korea Fires 2 Missiles After Telling Army To 'Prepare For War' With US, Allies
Two days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly told his army to prepare for war with the United States and its allies, the country fired two short-range missiles off its east coast. In a defiant response to military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. set to begin Monday, North Korea fired the missiles about 305 miles into the sea, Reuters reported, citing South Korea’s defense ministry. North Korea fired the missiles without designating any no-sail zones, South Korean Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said. "If North Korea takes provocative actions, our military will react firmly and strongly so North Korea will regret it in its bones," Kim told a news briefing. Fox News

Boko Haram Beheading Video Shows Ties To ISIS
Nigerian Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram has taken a page out of the ISIS playbook, releasing a new video Monday of two prisoner beheadings so similar to clips posted by the Middle East jihadist group that experts now believe the terror groups are working together. The 6-minute video, titled “Harvest of Spies,” translated into English, French and Arabic, was posted Monday on Twitter by Boko Haram's media arm and initially reported by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist groups online. It shows a farmer confessing under duress to spying for the police, and shows a second man, then cuts to footage of both, decapitated with their heads on their chests. The video was tweeted out by ISIS-affiliated Twitter accounts. Fox News

Rep. Jim Jordan: Conservatives Haven't Made 'Strong Enough' Case Against Obama's Amnesty
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) says President Obama's executive action on immigration is unconstitutional and it's unfair -- and that's why he and 51 other House conservatives voted against a Homeland Security funding bill on Friday that included money for Obama's attempt to go beyond existing immigration law. "We need to make the case. We haven't made the case strong enough," Jordan told CNN's "State of the Union," hosted by the liberal -- and sharply critical -- Dana Bash. "What the president did, how is it fair to citizens if you let noncitizens, illegals, go back and get tax refunds for the last three years, as (IRS) Commissioner Koskinen has testified under oath? How is it fair to seniors if you let noncitizens, illegals, participate in our Social Security system? How is it fair to voters?" Jordan asked. CNS News

Obamacare’s Survival Hangs On Four Words At High Court
The fate of Obamacare rests with U.S. Supreme Court. Again. Three years after the court upheld the Affordable Care Act by a single vote, the justices are poised to consider a new challenge -- an appeal that has turned a routine question of how to interpret the statute into a threat to unravel the landmark 2010 law. The court hears arguments on March 4 and will rule by the end of June. A decision against the Obama administration would wipe out the tax credits that make insurance affordable for millions of people under the law. It would also leave hospitals with billions of dollars in unpaid bills and potentially cause insurance markets to collapse. Bloomberg

Banks And Tech Chiefs Unite To Press Congress For Anti-Hacking Bill
JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Microsoft Corp. are among 32 technology, banking and retail companies urging lawmakers to pass legislation that provides legal protection for sharing hacking threats. Cybersecurity legislation is needed in part because of the rise in online data breaches and thefts, top lawyers for the companies said Monday in a letter to congressional leaders. “Cyber-attacks have accelerated in frequency and sophistication and present a significant risk to our national and economic security,” according to the letter also signed by Aetna Inc., Bank of America Corp., American Express Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. “There is an urgent need for action to help bolster our country’s cybersecurity defenses.” Bloomberg

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Military Judge Orders Overseer Of Gitmo Cases Replaced
A military judge is ordering the Pentagon to replace the overseer of war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Air Force Col. Vance Spath made the ruling Monday. He found that the current convening authority, retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary, exceeded his discretion by requiring Guantanamo judges to focus on those cases, to the exclusion of other military cases. Spath declared illegal a rule that was meant to accelerate the Guantanamo cases. He said it would make people wonder if judicial decisions were made in the interest of speed, not justice. The Defense Department approved the rule in November, along with one requiring judges to live at the U.S. naval base. The Pentagon rescinded the latter requirement last week, but let the exclusivity rule stand. Las Vegas Sun

Likely GOP Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush Stops In Las Vegas
Likely GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush is making the first of what could be many visits to Las Vegas with a stop today at a community center in Sun City Summerlin. Bush will stop by the Mountain Shadows Community Center at 12:30 p.m. for a question-and-answer session with Las Vegas residents. Nevada politico Sig Rogich, a former top aide for Bush’s father, President George H. W. Bush, helped organize the event. Rogich said his “good friend” Jeb Bush is the “reasonable” candidate in a crowded Republican field. “I think he understands that to get good things through for America, it takes consensus,” Rogich said. In January, Bush said he was “seriously considering the possibility of running” for president. Las Vegas Sun

Iran President Rouhani: Lift Sanctions Over Nuclear Talks
Tehran says it's time to lift sanctions against the oil-rich country imposed in response to nuclear concerns, though a new U.N. report raises questions. Iran and members of the international community are working to resolve long-standing issues over the country's controversial nuclear program. A sanctions package from November 2013 allows Iran to export some crude oil in exchange for concessions on nuclear research. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said sanctions on his country should be "lifted all at once" because of its commitment to nuclear talks. UPI

Netanyahu: No Disrespect Toward Obama Intended
Speaking prior to his address to the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday he meant no disrespect to President Barack Obama.
Netanyahu, invited by Congress and not by Obama, will present a speech Tuesday in which he is expected to object to the United States' negotiations over nuclear weapons with Iran. The invitation, offered by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) but not endorsed by Obama, has driven a wedge in U.S.-Israeli relations. Speaking to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference in Washington D.C. on Monday, Netanyahu sought to diffuse tensions in the capital. "Never has so much been written about a speech that hasn't been given. My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both, he said. UPI

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US-Israel Intel Cooperation On Iran's Neclear Program Has Been Stopped
The United States and Israel have stopped intelligence cooperation on Iran's nuclear program, Channel 10 reported Monday. The reported halt in intelligence cooperation comes amid tensions in the relationship between Israel and the administration of US President Barack Obama over differences of opinion on an emerging diplomatic deal with Iran and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the US Congress in which he is expected to speak out against such a deal on Tuesday. The intelligence cooperation between the two countries has helped the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency collect information for reports on Iran's nuclear program in the past, according to Channel 10. These same IAEA reports helped convince the international community to support sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Jerusalm Post

US Envoy To UN At AIPAC: There Will Never Be A Sunset On America's Commitment To Israel's Security
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power affirmed America's commitment to Israel on Sunday during a speech at the AIPAC annual policy conference.
"There will never be a sunset on America's commitment to Israel's security," Power vowed, adding that, "The US will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Period." Power said that there was an alarming surge in global anti-Semitism in recent years. Criticism of Israel is never a justification for incitement to violence, she stated. Power said that the US was committed to fighting against this anti-Semitism. Jerusalem Post

Iraq 'Seizes Districts From IS' In Tikrit Advance
Iraqi government forces say they have retaken some districts around Tikrit in their fight to recapture the city from Islamic State (IS). A force of about 30,000 troops and militia are said to be attacking on different fronts, backed by air strikes from Iraqi jets. A commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards is taking part in the operation, a Shia militia commander told the BBC. Tikrit, north of the capital Baghdad, fell to IS militants last June. Security sources told the BBC that pro-government troops had seized control of the two districts of al-Tin, near Tikrit university north-east of the city, and the district of al-Abeid, in the west. BBC

US Police Shoot Homeless Man Dead In Los Angeles
US police have shot and killed a homeless man during an altercation in central Los Angeles, in an incident caught on video. The graphic film shows a violent struggle between the man and several officers in the city's Skid Row area. Police say that three officers opened fire after the man tried to grab a gun from an officer. Witnesses said the dead man was known as Africa and had been homeless after treatment for mental illness. The LA police department said officers had been responding to reports of a robbery and had attempted to use a Taser to subdue the suspect but he had "continued fighting and resisting". BBC

Fox News Forced To Backtrack Again Over Bill O'Reilly's Reporting Claims
Fox News has admitted, in answer to questions from the Washington Post, that host Bill O’Reilly did not witness any bombings in Northern Ireland or murders in El Salvador. The network said he saw only photographs of such atrocities. For more than a week, Fox defended O’Reilly from increasing accusations that he has for years exaggerated elements of his reporting. O’Reilly called such accusations “bullshit” and made vague threats against reporters who do not satisfy his demands about their own reporting. The story took on increased relevancy after NBC suspended the Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, over inconsistencies in his version of events in Iraq in 2003 and around Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Guardian

Doctors Agree To Delay Vccinations To Build Trust With Families, Study Finds
A new survey has found that doctors acquiesce to requests for delayed vaccinations in order to build trust with families, despite most doctors feeling the practice causes more pain to children and puts them at elevated risk of contracting illness, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics on Monday. The study was released as outbreaks of measles increase in frequency in the US. The virus is one of the most contagious diseases known to science, and of the approximately 20 million people around the world who contract the disease each year, 146,000 die. The disease was nearly eradicated in America – the measles vaccine reduced occurrences of the illness by 99% – but since 2008 cases have increased. Guardian

Boris Nemtsov Murder: Security Cameras 'Turned Off For Maintenance'
Police investigating the murder of Boris Nemtsov are unable to identify the killer because security cameras that could have recorded the attack had been turned off for maintenance, it has emerged. Mr Nemtsov, a vociferous public critic of Vladimir Putin, was gunned down on Friday night in what appears to have been a highly professional assassination. Cameras overlooking the murder scene on the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge could have provided crucial evidence including identifying the killer and the getaway vehicle, as well as further details of how the attack was planned. Telegraph

US Fears That Britain's Defence Cuts Will Diminish Army On World Stage
Ever since the Cold War ended more than two decades ago, America has never entertained any serious doubts about Britain’s ability to fulfil its commitment as a vital military ally when tackling threats to the Western alliance. Until now. For the dramatic cuts to Britain’s defence budget implemented since the Coalition took power in 2010 have led to a number of senior US military officers and politicians openly questioning whether, when it comes to fighting the wars of the future, Britain has the capability to be an effective ally on the battlefield. The Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have all suffered cutbacks to the extent that they are no longer able to undertake the kind of missions that Britain has historically supported. Telegraph

UNICEF Fears Scores Of Kidnapped Children In South Sudan Could Be Sent To Front Lines
Hundreds of children seized by armed men from a village in South Sudan have generated fears that “they are going from the classroom to the front line,” says the top United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative in that country who demanded their immediate release. UNICEF, in a press release issued in Juba, South Sudan, reported that 89 children preparing for exams were forcibly recruited last month as child soldiers, but the agency now believes the number of children may be in the hundreds. In addition, adult males were also forcibly recruited during the raids that took place on 15 and 16 February. UN News

UN Agency Head Urges Cooperation On Safeguards, Stresses Role Of Nuclear Energy In Development
In his introductory statement to the Agency’s Board of Governors, the head of the United Nations atomic energy watchdog said he remains “seriously concerned” about nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and that he is not yet in a position to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is used for peaceful purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano said the Vienna-based body remains ready to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme, despite DPRK’s unwillingness to allow verification teams into the country. UN News

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