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Immigration, World Poverty and Gumballs

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North Korea: Beyond the cold war theatrics, is there really a nuclear threat to US?

The recent show of force by the United States marks one of the lowest points in modern diplomacy, but beyond the geopolitical threatrics it turns out that very little is actually known about the North Korean threat.

Instead of taking the high road of international diplomacy, Obama’s war hawks chose a more neoconservative approach by baiting the North with a nuclear-capable B-2 Stealth flyover of the country by the US, by F22 aerial exercises and a US Navy Destroyer parked off the South Korean peninsula this week. Further fanning the flames, China also mobilised some of its own troops and military assets along the North Korean border.

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Obama Budget Calls For Social Security Cuts: Administration Official

WASHINGTON — Seeking an elusive middle ground, President Barack Obama is proposing a 2014 budget that embraces tax increases abhorred by Republicans as well as reductions, loathed by liberals, in the growth of Social Security and other benefit programs.

The plan, if ever enacted, could touch almost all Americans. The rich would see tax increases, the poor and the elderly would get smaller annual increases in their benefits, and middle income taxpayers would slip into higher tax brackets despite Obama's repeated vows not to add to the tax burden of the middle class. His proposed changes, once phased in, would mean a cut in Social Security benefits of nearly $1,000 a year for an average 85-year-old, smaller cuts for younger retirees.

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So Long, Yankees! China And Brazil Ditch US Dollar In Trade Deal Before BRICS Summit

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Iraq: War's legacy of cancer

Two US-led wars in Iraq have left behind hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium munitions and other toxic wastes.

Fallujah, Iraq - Contamination from Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq.

Many prominent doctors and scientists contend that DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal, and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.

There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah.

Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.

As shocking as these statistics are, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research, and reporting of cases, the actual rate of cancer and other diseases is likely to be much higher than even these figures suggest.

This report contains photos of a graphic nature.

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In Moscow, new Chinese leader Xi warns against meddling

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping warned against foreign interference in the affairs of other nations during a speech in Moscow on Saturday, sending a signal to the West and echoing a message often repeated by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Permanent U.N. Security Council members with veto power, Russia and China have frequently teamed up diplomatically to blunt the influence of the United States and its NATO allies and have blocked three draft resolutions on Syria.

"We must respect the right of each country in the world to independently choose its path of development and oppose interference in the internal affairs of other countries," Xi told students at an international relations school.

He spoke a day after meeting Putin on his first foreign trip since becoming president, a choice both said underscored a "strategic partnership" between Russia and China.

In the Kremlin, he told Putin: "you and I are good friends."

In a symbolic show of trust, Xi became the first foreign leader to visit the Russian military command center in Moscow on Saturday, Russian news agencies reported.

Xi told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev his visit had "surpassed my expectations" and said he had chosen Russia as his first foreign destination as president to "show the special importance of our relations."

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Xi hopes China, Russia to boost military ties

MOSCOW - President Xi Jinping on Saturday said he hoped China and Russia to strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the military forces of the two countries.

Xi, also chairman of central military commission, made the remarks while visiting Russia's defense ministry. He is the first Chinese head of state to have made the tour.

A welcome ceremony was held by Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu when the Chinese president arrived at the ministry. Xi inspected Russia's three-service honor of guards, and the brass band played the two countries' national anthems.

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Gov't spent nearly $3.7M on ex-presidents in 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Being the leader of the free world is an expensive proposition. And the costs don't stop once you leave the White House.

The government spent nearly $3.7 million on former presidents in 2012, according to an analysis just released by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. That covers a pension, compensation and benefits for office staff, and the government also picks up the tab for other costs like travel, office space and postage.

The costliest former president? George W. Bush, who clocked in last year at just over $1.3 million.

The $3.7 million taxpayers shelled out in 2012 is about $200,000 less than in 2011, and the sum in 2010 was even higher. It's a drop in the bucket compared with the trillions the federal government spends each year.

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Money Requested for New Prison at Guantánamo

WASHINGTON – The United States Southern Command has requested $49 million to build a new prison building at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for “special” detainees on top of other renovations it says are necessary since Congress has decided to keep it open indefinitely. That brings the potential taxpayer bill for upgrading the deteriorating facilities to an estimated $195.7 million, the military said on Thursday.

That overall price tag is significantly higher than the estimate of $150 million to $170 million that General John F. Kelly, the Southcom commander, gave in Congressional testimony on Wednesday. The special detainee facility was not included on the list of requested construction projects released by Southcom on Wednesday when reporters asked for details.

Full report

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GUNS

California's Gun Repo Men Have a Nerve-Racking Job

On the evening of March 5, nine agents from the California Department of Justice, wearing bulletproof vests and carrying Glock pistols, assembled outside a ranch-style house in a Los Angeles suburb. They were preparing to confiscate weapons from a gun owner who’d recently lost the right to possess firearms after spending two days in a psychiatric hospital. They knocked on the door and asked to come in. These touchy encounters sometimes end in anger and, occasionally, handcuffs. This time, the agents came out peacefully with three guns. Then it was on to the next stop on the list for that night.

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N.Y. Dad’s Pistol License Suspended Over Something His 10-Year-Old Son Said — and It Could Be 8 Years Before He Gets It Back

A New York father has had his firearms all but confiscated after the Suffolk County Pistol License Bureau suspended his pistol license indefinitely over a perceived threat made by his 10-year-old son and two of his classmates at school.

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15 year old girl leaves anti-gun politicians speechless

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Jackie Evancho - To Believe

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John F. Kennedy - American University Commencement

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