Shop at Target this holiday season? Better check your bank statement for odd charges. Starting around Nov. 27, until Dec. 15, a data breach at the mega chain may have struck millions of customers who made purchases with plastic. Apparently the breech involved information stored on the plastic strip on the back of the cards, and involved almost every store in the U.S. The Secret Service and a forensics team are helping investigate. Maybe it pays to do your holiday shopping early.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The Federal Reserve has announced that it will reduce its monthly bond buying to $75 billion in January, a drop of $10 billion. The Fed has sought to offset concerns that it is pulling back from the stimulus campaign too soon by agreeing to maintain near zero interest rates until unemployment rates fall below 6.5 percent. Confidence is high, as investors believe that the Fed is responding to positive changes to the economy. In response, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit yet another record, its 45th of 2013.
The President’s surveillance review panel has recommended new limits on NSA monitoring, including the need for court orders should officials want a peek at private cell phone data and closer scrutiny of any plans to listen in on other world leaders. And the panel suggests banning warrantless searches of Americans’ calls and emails. White House Spokesman Jay Carney said the report, which was originally scheduled for publication in 2014, has been released early due to inaccurate media reporting. In all, the panel delivered 46 recommendations for the country’s surveillance network.
What do feminist punk rockers, an uber-wealthy oligarch and a gang of environmental protesters have in common? They are all internationally famous jailbirds of the Putin regime, but that might change soon. In a surprise announcement, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that 10 years in prison might be long enough for Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the former Yukos Oil CEO who was seen a political challenge to Putin’s leadership. Meanwhile a broad amnesty act means members of the Pussy Riot band and the Arctic 30 Greenpeace group should soon walk free. Releasing high-profile detainees may simply be an attempt to garner positive pre-Olympic publicity.
Egypt’s ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, has been formally accused of participation in a vast terrorist scheme. Egypt’s military-backed government is pressing the charges, including treason, terrorism and espionage, which could carry the death penalty. Morsi stands accused of sharing state secrets with Iran. Another 35 Muslim Brotherhood members have been charged with the same offenses. Human rights groups claim that the “fantastical” charges represent an attempt to eradicate the organization. This will be the biggest trial of its kind in Egyptian history, overshadowing that of former president Mubarak, who governed Egypt for nearly three decades.
One of the record Mega Millions winners comes forward. (USA Today).
Budget deal approved by Congress. (NPR).
South Sudan rebels take over Jonglei state. (The Guardian).
Russia helps Ukraine to avoid bankruptcy. (BBC).
Justin Bieber discusses his retirement. (The Independent).
Blood pressure guidelines have been eased. (NYT).
Forget stem cells – how good is your printer? British researchers have successfully used a 3D inkjet printer to produce artificial cells from eyes. The technology could be used to treat or prevent blindness. Retina nerve cells, like those created by the printer, deteriorate due to blinding diseases. This new method could be used for artificial tissue grafts, allowing people to see longer and better. As 3D printers have churned out products ranging from guns to audio speakers this year, it’s nice to see some serious, and seriously practical, applications of the new technology.
Source: Science Daily
The American military is radically changing how it fights and treats its troops in response to the rise of Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. Ten years after the first hidden homemade bomb killed an American soldier in Afghanistan, IEDs account for more than half of the American deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. IEDs cost just a few hundred dollars to make. As guns and hand-to-hand combat become less popular, the American military has spent hundreds of millions of dollars researching treatment for mental and psychological injuries specific to IEDs. Billions more have been allocated to offsetting their effects using body armor, electrical jamming and ground-penetrating radar.
Source: USA Today
Jennifer Lawrence believes that calling people fat on TV should be a crime. In an interview with Barbara Walters — who chose her as one of the 10 most fascinating people of 2013 — Lawrence referenced the media regulations applied to cigarettes, sex and cuss words. The actress argued that if those things can be regulated because they harm young people, weight-based slurs could be controlled too, on the basis that they suggest that humiliation is funny. Could Lawrence, like Katniss Everdeen, spark a popular revolt against society’s judgments?
Dozens of tracks that the Beatles recorded 50 years ago are now available on iTunes UK. According to the EU’s intellectual property legislation, the songs were about to fall out of copyright and into the public domain, but the new release sidesteps that development. The compilation, mostly outtakes, demos and live sessions, includes alternate takes on several songs, including “She Loves You” and “From Me To You.” Exciting news for Beatle-lovers, but the remaining members may cringe at having their bloopers exposed.
Spain’s premier league soccer clubs are arguably the best in the world, and certainly among the richest. Given the astronomical salaries of their players — up to $200 million a year — you wouldn’t expect them to need a helping hand from beleaguered Spanish taxpayers. Yet the European Commission is investigating seven clubs, including FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, over accusations of illicit public funding. The EC will look into whether the alleged activities – ranging from tax benefits to state-backed loans for more than $100 million – gave the clubs a competitive advantage over their rivals.