Snowden says his ‘mission’s already accomplished’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden said his "mission's already accomplished" after revealing NSA secrets that have caused a reassessment of U.S. surveillance policies.

 

Snowden told The Washington Post in an interview published online Monday night that he was satisfied because journalists have been able to tell the story of the government's collection of bulk Internet and phone records, an activity that has grown dramatically in the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

 

"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished," he said. "I already won."

 

"As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated," Snowden told the Post. "Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself."

 

President Barack Obama hinted Friday that he would consider some changes to NSA's bulk collection of Americans' phone records to address the public's concerns about privacy. His comments came in a week in which a federal judge declared the NSA's collection program probably was unconstitutional. A presidential advisory panel has suggested 46 changes to NSA operations.

 

Snowden was interviewed in Moscow over two days by Post reporter Barton Gellman, who has received numerous leaks from the former NSA contractor. The interview was conducted six months after Snowden's revelations first appeared in the Post and Britain's Guardian newspaper.

 

Gellman described Snowden as relaxed and animated over two days of nearly unbroken conversation, fueled by burgers, pasta, ice cream and Russian pastry.

 

In June, the Justice Department unsealed a criminal complaint charging Snowden with espionage and felony theft of government property. Russia granted him temporary asylum five months ago.

 

The effects of Snowden's revelations have been evident in the courts, Congress, Silicon Valley and capitals around the world, where even U.S. allies have reacted angrily to reports of U.S. monitoring of their leaders' cellphone calls. Brazil and members of the European Union are considering ways to better protect their data and U.S. technology companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are looking at ways to block the collection of data by the government.

 

Snowden, now 30, said he is not being disloyal to the U.S. or to his former employer.

 

"I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA," he said. "I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don't realize it."

 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Snowden interview.

 

Asked about the Snowden interview, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said: "Mr. Snowden faces felony charges here in the United States and should be returned to the U.S. as soon as possible, where he will be afforded due process and all the protections of our criminal justice system."

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Super Bowl to be played without helmets (humor)

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Read Time:2 Minute, 7 Second

New York — Unleashing a last-minute rule change that is certain to spark controversy,  the National Football League has banned the use of helmets in the upcoming Super Bowl.

 

“The NFL wants Super Bowl XLVIII to be the safest championship game ever played,” said league commissioner Roger Goodell. “That  means knocking out the current epidemic of concussions.”

 

The solution, according to the commissioner, can be found in the canyons of computer printouts that dominate his desk.  “Our research shows that helmet-to-helmet contact is the leading cause of concussions by far. Lose the helmets and the problem disappears.”

 

The NFL Players Association at first responded to the change with a scathing press release that accused the league of exploiting football's violent characteristics.

 

“Nothing draws crowds like a bloodbath, and without helmets, that’s just what the game would be,” the release said. “We demand that the NFL revoke this proposed ban before someone is seriously injured.”

 

But a hastily called meeting between player reps and the Commissioner resulted in the Players Association shifting its position.  The group issued a major revision to its initial press release declaring:

 

“Nothing draws crowds like a game that has removed the major barrier between the players and their fans. We applaud the NFL for creating this proposed ban in the interests of safety and more lucrative player endorsements.”

 

One unnamed player said it’s all about marketing. “In the promotion game, your face is your ace. You don’t want to be covering it up with a big helmet.”

 

Goodell noted that other changes to the game on the field would be explored “now that everyone is on board with the headgear issue.”

 

Among the proposals:

— change the shape of the ball to a perfect sphere, eliminating the hazardous points

— put the foot back in football by prohibiting players from touching the ball with their hands

— tear down the goalposts and replace them with goals, guarded by proper goalkeepers 

—  smooth out the herky-jerky flow of the game by keeping the ball rolling nonstop over two 45-minute periods

 

One reporter questioned if the proposals did anything to address the problem of violence in the sport. He was escorted into a small room where he was persuaded to pursue a different line of questioning.

 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Cuba’s President Raul Castro issues stern warning to entrepreneurs

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HAVANA (AP) — President Raul Castro issued a stern warning to entrepreneurs pushing the boundaries of Cuba's economic reform, telling parliament on Saturday that "those pressuring us to move faster are moving us toward failure."
 
Castro has legalized small-scale private business in nearly 200 fields since 2010 but has issued tighter regulations on businesses seen as going too far or competing excessively with state enterprises. In recent months the government has banned the resale of imported hardware and clothes and cracked down on unlicensed private videogame and movie salons.
 
Castro threw his full weight behind such measures in an address to the biannual meeting of the communist legislature, saying "every step we take must be accompanied by the establishment of a sense of order."
 
"Inadequate controls by government institutions in the face of illegal activities by private businesspeople weren't resolved in a timely fashion, creating an environment of impunity and stimulating the accelerated growth of activities that were never authorized for certain occupations," Castro said.
 
He told lawmakers that Cuba wanted better relations with the U.S. but would never give in to demands for changes in Cuba's government and economy, saying "we don't demand that the U.S. change its political or social system, and we don't accept negotiations over ours."
 
"If we really want to move our bilateral relations forward, we'll have to learn to respect our differences," Castro said. "If not, we're ready to take another 55 years in the same situation."
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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US: 4 arrested in deadly N.J. mall carjacking

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Four men have been arrested on charges of murder, conspiracy and other counts in the carjacking death of a man shot in front of his wife outside an upscale mall in northern New Jersey last weekend, authorities said Saturday.
 
The suspects were identified as 29-year-old Hanif Thompson, of Irvington, and 31-year-old Karif Ford, 32-year-old Basim Henry and 33-year-old Kevin Roberts, all of Newark.
 
They are accused in the Dec. 15 carjacking and killing of Dustin Friedland outside The Mall at Short Hills. The 30-year-old lawyer from Hoboken was shot in the head in the mall parking garage after being confronted by two carjackers, authorities said. The assailants drove off in his silver Range Rover, which was found the next morning in Newark, about 10 miles from Short Hills.
 
The four face charges of murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. They were arrested between late Friday and early Saturday. Three of them were taken into custody at their residences in New Jersey, and Henry was arrested by an FBI task force at a hotel in Easton, Pa.
 
The suspects are being held on $2 million bail each but have not yet been formally arraigned. It wasn't immediately clear if they had attorneys.
 
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray attributes the swift arrest to "good old-fashioned police work" and leads from the public.
 
"The sheer senselessness of this case outraged people from Millburn to Newark," Murray said, referring to towns in Essex County, whose borders encompass crime-plagued Newark to the east as well as Millburn, Short Hills and other affluent suburbs to the west.
 
Murray said the crime appeared to have been motivated by the particular type of vehicle the suspects had been looking for.
 
The carjacking occurred just as Friedland and his wife, Jamie Schare Friedland, were ending a shopping trip. Mourners at Friedland's funeral on Wednesday said he had just opened the door of his SUV for his wife when he was shot. His wife was unharmed.
 
Friedland had a law degree from Syracuse University and was project manager at his family's heating and air conditioning and heating company.
 
Investigators believe the four suspects arrived at the mall in a Chevrolet Suburban. Two left together in the Suburban, and two left in the Friedland's SUV, Murray said. Authorities did not disclose the relationship between the suspects. Murray said no weapon, only a projectile, had been recovered.
 
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, who attended Saturday's news conference with local, state and federal authorities, said a multiagency task force set up three years ago to combat "an epidemic of carjacking" in Essex County had helped lead to arrests in the case.
 
There were 416 carjackings last year in Essex County, a 44 percent increase from 2010.
 
Nearly 300 carjackings were reported through July 31 of this year, according to the county prosecutor's office.
 
More than $40,000 was offered for information leading to the arrest of the killers in this case.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Canadian court strikes down anti-prostitution laws

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TORONTO (AP) — Canada's highest court struck down the country's anti-prostitution laws in their entirety Friday, including against keeping a brothel.
 
The 9-0 Supreme Court ruling is a victory for sex workers seeking safer working conditions because it found that the laws violated the guarantee to life, liberty and security of the person. But the ruling won't take effect immediately because it gave Parliament a one-year reprieve to respond with new legislation.
 
Prostitution isn't illegal in Canada, but many of the activities associated with prostitution are classified as criminal offenses.
 
The high court struck down all three prostitution-related laws: against keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution, and street soliciting. The landmark ruling comes more than two decades after the Supreme Court last upheld the country's anti-prostitution laws.
 
The decision upheld an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling last year that struck down the ban on brothels on the grounds that it endangered sex workers by forcing them onto the streets.
 
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing on behalf of the court, said Canada's social landscape has changed since 1990, when the Supreme Court upheld a ban on street solicitation.
 
"These appeals and the cross-appeal are not about whether prostitution should be legal or not," she wrote. "They are about whether the laws Parliament has enacted on how prostitution may be carried out pass constitutional muster. I conclude that they do not."
 
A Vancouver sex worker who was part of a group that brought the case applauded the court's decision.
 
"I'm shocked and pleased that our sex laws will not cause us harm in a year," Amy Lebovitch said in a news conference.
 
Katrina Pacey, a lawyer for the group of downtown Vancouver prostitutes, called it "an unbelievably important day for the sex workers but also for human rights."
 
"The court recognized that sex workers have the right to protect themselves and their safety," she said.
 
In 1990, the two women on Canada's Supreme Court dissented on the ruling upholding the ban on street solicitation. This time, all six men on the court justices sided with their three female colleagues.
 
"The harms identified by the courts below are grossly disproportionate to the deterrence of community disruption that is the object of the law," McLachlin wrote. "Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes."
 
Sex-trade workers argued that much has changed since the high court last considered prostitution, including the horrific serial killings of prostitutes by Robert Pickton in British Columbia.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Euthanized bear leads to death threats for Nev. couple

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RENO, Nev. — A couple said they received death threats after reporting problems with a black bear that was captured and then euthanized Thursday by Nevada wildlife officials.
 
Richard and Adrienne Evans said they filed a report with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office on Thursday after receiving numerous threats and harassing messages by telephone and email.
 
"People have been giving me death threats," Adrienne Evans said. Evans is a teacher at Carson High School in Carson City and a well-known mountain bike racer in the Lake Tahoe area.
 
The issue arose after the Nevada Department of Wildlife trapped a 263-pound male black bear outside the Evanses' Incline Village home early Thursday morning. The bear, which had been tranquilized by the Department of Wildlife once and captured and released again as recently as October, was euthanized as a threat to public safety later in the day, said department spokesman Chris Healy.
 
The bear had attempted to break into Adrienne Evans' car twice in recent weeks and on Tuesday night succeeded, causing extensive damage to the vehicle's interior, the couple said. She denied having food inside the vehicle, as alleged by critics. The bear had also walked into an enclosed entryway at the couple's upstairs condominium on several occasions, the couple said.
 
The bear has slept in a nearby culvert and was being fed nightly by a neighbor, Adrienne Evans said. She said she has photos documenting the activity. Feeding wildlife is illegal, and the Department of Wildlife intends to issue a written warning to the responsible individual, Healy said. Repeated violations could lead to fines.
 
After the vehicle was damaged Tuesday night, the Evanses decided to contact the Department of Wildlife because they believed officials there have the best expertise to deal with such a situation.
 
The bear was put down because of its behavior, Healy said. It was the fifth bear to be killed by the Department of Wildlife this summer over public safety concerns.
 
"The bear was so used to people, it was becoming dangerous," Healy said. "This was unfortunately an example of a bear that had to be euthanized."
 
"We did the right thing," Adrienne Evans said, adding that she teaches wildlife and conservation values at school. "I love bears. I really do."
 
The threats started coming Wednesday night after officials installed the trap outside their home, the Evanses said. Threats were phoned to their home and to Richard Evans' construction office. Some of Adrienne Evans' mountain bike racing sponsors were also contacted, they said.
 
Some said, "You'll be struck dead (and) if that bear dies you will have to leave Incline," Adrienne Evans said. "All these people called and threatened me, and that's definitely inappropriate."
 
The alleged harassment occurred nearly two months after Bill Devine, a Washoe County Sheriff's sergeant and elected Incline Village official, wrote an "open letter to Tahoe bear advocates" complaining of bullying tactics. He did so after a bear entered his home and a trap set by wildlife officials outside prompted an around-the-clock vigil by bear advocates trying to prevent any bear from being caught.
 
"It is you who have divided this community," Devine wrote.
 
Ann Bryant, founder of the citizens group the Bear League, acknowledged at the time that some critics of the Nevada Department of Wildlife organize to keep bears from being trapped. Bryant and others have been highly critical of the department for killing too many of the bears they trap.
 
Members of her organization are urged to be polite and told not to break any laws, Bryant said.
 
Still, Bryant said, opinions are intense over the bear issue.
 
"Emotions are going to be high as long as they are killing bears," Bryant said.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Obama to military: Crack down on sexual assaults

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President Obama ordered military leaders Friday to review their response to allegations of sexual assault in the military and to report back within a year.
 
"As commander in chief, I've made it clear that these crimes have no place in the greatest military on earth," Obama said in a statement.
 
The military report is due by Dec. 1, 2014.
 
If he is not satisfied with the response, Obama said "we will consider additional reforms that may be required to eliminate this crime from our military ranks and protect our brave servicemembers who stand guard for us every day at home and around the world."
 
Congress has been debating legislation that would remove authority for prosecuting sexual assault from military commanders.
 
In his statement, Obama hailed the efforts of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., for efforts aimed at "eradicating this scourge from our armed forces." The president said he and the military would continue to cooperative on ways "to address this corrosive problem."
 
Obama, who earlier this year ordered the Pentagon to take steps to address sexual assault in the ranks, praised its "broad range of initiatives," including prevention programs and changes to the military justice system.
 
"Yet, so long as our women and men in uniform face the insider threat of sexual assault, we have an urgent obligation to do more to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes as appropriate under the military justice system," Obama said.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Putin freed inmates to stifle critics ahead of Olympics, say analysts

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MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin stunned observers with a pardon of jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and an amnesty that will free two members of the jailed punk group Pussy Riot as well as dozens of anti-government protesters currently on trial.
 
The move came less than two months ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics which Russia is hosting in February, and was widely seen as an attempt by Putin to improve his image at home and abroad.
 
"It's a PR move by the Kremlin. With the Olympic Games so close, it's important for the Kremlin to improve the country's image on the international arena," said Tatyana Lokshina, deputy director of the Moscow branch of Human Rights Watch.
 
Putin signed a decree on Friday pardoning former Yukos head Khodorkovsky, jailed in 2003 on charges of fraud and tax evasion that were widely considered politically-motivated. Earlier on Thursday, Putin told journalists that Khodorkovsky had formally asked for a pardon.
 
Khodorkovsky was freed from prison on Friday afternoon and immediately flew to Germany.
 
Putin's surprise announcement Thursday came just a day after Russia's parliament passed an amnesty commemorating the 20th anniversary of Russia's constitution. While the amnesty did not apply to Khodorkovsky, it would see some 20,000 prisoners freed.
 
Among those to be freed as part of the amnesty are Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, who are serving two-year terms on charges of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred for an protest dance stunt in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012.
 
The amnesty will also apply to 28 Greenpeace activists on trial for hooliganism over their September protest against oil drilling in the Arctic Sea. It will also eventually clear several protesters currently on trial over their alleged involvement in clashes with police during an anti-government rally on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square on the eve of Putin's inauguration in May 2012.
 
A Moscow court terminated cases against four protesters on Thursday, while the rest of those affected by the amnesty will be freed within several months, according to Russia's Federal Prison Service.
 
"The people affected are those widely referred to as political prisoners," Lokshina says. "Putin has made the gesture of a tsar who can either execute or pardon at will. That was why Khodorkovsky's release was not part of the amnesty, but a presidential pardon."
 
According to pro-Kremlin analyst Sergei Markov, the amnesty goes back to a Soviet tradition of pardoning prisoners on certain anniversaries.
 
"Putin is a conservative with traditionalist views. An amnesty expresses the humanistic essence of the government," said Markov, who is prorector of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics.
 
"As for his pardon of Khodorkovsky, it's also a pretty harsh joke, in Putin's style, because today is Day of the Chekist," a day commemorating Russia's security services, of which Putin is a veteran.
 
In his time in prison on politically tinged charges of tax evasion and embezzlement, Khodorkovsky, 50, turned from a powerful oligarch into a respected dissident, becoming a political thinker who argued for social justice and placed the blame on Putin for Russia's stagnating economy.
 
Khodorkovsky was Russia's richest man, worth billions of dollars, and the CEO of the country's largest oil company when he was arrested on the tarmac of a Siberian airport and charged with tax evasion.
 
Khodorkovsky's oil company Yukos was effectively crushed under the weight of a $28 billion back-tax bill. Yukos was sold off. Most of it went to state oil company Rosneft, allowing the Kremlin to reassert control of the country's oil business and silence Khodorkovsky.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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US: HHS loosens rules for those who lost health care plans

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WASHINGTON —Americans whose insurance policies were canceled this year will be excused from paying fees due to the individual mandate, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a letter sent to lawmakers.
 
The Affordable Care Act already included a "hardship exemption," and several lawmakers had argued that having a policy unexpectedly canceled because it did not fit the coverage requirements of the new law should qualify as a hardship because it comes through no fault of the consumer.
 
Those whose plans were canceled will also be able to buy catastrophic coverage, which previously had been available only to people younger than 30. Those policies tend to cover fewer things and cost less than the policies now required by the law.
 
"The president and I want to do everything we can to ensure that individuals with canceled plans have as many options as possible," Health and Human Services Sebelius wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and five other senators who had asked about the exemption. "I agree with you that these consumers should qualify for this temporary hardship exemption, and I can assure you that the exemption will be available to them."
 
The mandate requires that anyone who does not have health insurance in 2014 pay a fee when they turn in their 2014 tax returns.
 
"This is a common sense clarification of the law," Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said. "For the limited number of consumers whose plans have been canceled and are seeking coverage, this is one more option."
 
Not everyone is happy about the change.
 
"This latest rule change could cause significant instability in the marketplace and lead to further confusion and disruption for consumers," said America's Health Insurance Plans'President Karen Ignagni in a statement.
 
Republican lawmakers used the change as an opportunity to attack the law. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called the change an acknowledgement "that more Americans have lost health insurance than gained it" under the law. He again called for the law to be repealed.
 
Thursday, four senior administration officials said that fewer than 500,000 people may not have insurance come Jan. 1 after they received cancellation notices in October.
 
That's because, they said, many of the people who originally received cancellation letters have been automatically enrolled in new plans by their insurers; state regulators have approved their current plans on President Obama's request; insurers have presented different options to keep their customers and people with insurance have been more likely to shop for new policies to avoid gaps in their coverage.
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Obama has a last Friday flurry

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President Obama and aides are clearing the decks before his annual end-of-the-year trip to Hawaii.
 
Within the past 24 hours, the administration has launched a news flurry that includes:
 
— Changes in penalty assessments under the new health care law;
 
— An Obama order to the Pentagon to review and report on its efforts to end sexual assaults in the military;
 
— The formal nomination of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be the next ambassador to China;
 
— Release of a homeland security department inspector general's report saying there is no evidence of widespread misconduct within the Secret Service.
 
The White House also scheduled a presidential news conference for 2 p.m. Friday.
 
And the president on Friday will sign the two-year budget deal approved by Congress this month.
 
In the early evening, Obama and his family board Air Force One for the trip to Hawaii.
 
These are among the last moves in what has been a frustrating year for Obama and the White House.
 
Next year, with a revamped staff and presumably some rest, Obama appears to be looking for a fresh start.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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