December 20, 2014

First Line News Articles for Saturday, December 20 2014

Top Stories

Top Islamic militants killed; more US troops going to Iraq

Two senior Islamic State group leaders were killed in U.S. and coalition airstrikes in northern Iraq over the last week, U.S. officials said Thursday, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved new orders for several hundred troops to deploy to Iraq to train Iraqi forces.

Files of more than 40,000 federal workers breached

The computer files of more than 40,000 federal workers may have been compromised by a cyberattack at federal contractor KeyPoint Government Solutions, the second breach this year at a major firm handling national security background investigations of workers at federal agencies, the government confirmed Thursday.

Jeb Bush, praised by liberals, already drawing flak from the GOP

Jeb is the man to beat, the savvy ex-governor, the game-changer with Hispanic voters, the choice of big donors, the common sense voice on immigration and education, the establishment candidate with the best chance of recapturing the White House for the Republicans.

Next steps on Cuba: Normalizing could take awhile

How does one end almost 54 years of hostility toward a next-door neighbor? That’s about to become clear as the Obama administration and the communist government of Raul Castro move to normalize more than a half-century of bitter animosity between the United States and Cuba.

LDS News

How would LDS be affected by renewed US-Cuba relations?

President Barack Obama’s announcement Wednesday about normalizing relations with Cuba led LDS Church members to think about the possibility of missionary work in that country, where the faith has two small but growing congregations.

‘A light on the hill': Las Vegas Nevada Temple reaches 25-year milestone

It’s been 25 years since LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Las Vegas Nevada Temple.

Defending the Faith: A modern witness to the baby born in Bethlehem

As it should be, Joseph Smith’s birthday on Dec. 23 is far overshadowed by celebrations of Christmas. But he remains enormously important, not least because his life and mission confirm the truth of the Christmas message.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865617930/A-modern-witness-to-the-baby-born-in-Bethlehem.html

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a charitable organization, with a robust humanitarian aid program run largely by volunteers and a firm doctrinal foundation that celebrates and encourages giving to the poor.

LDS Church to create new missions in Utah and Washington in 2015

New LDS missions and mission president assignments effective next July began to leak this week and caused a stir. The Utah Provo Mission will split to create a mission in Orem. A Washington mission will split for the second time in two years.

National

IRS head says budget cuts could delay tax refunds

Budget cuts at the IRS could delay tax refunds, reduce taxpayer services and hurt enforcement efforts, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Thursday.

Marco Rubio slams Cuba agreement, says Obama is ‘willfully ignorant’

Calling President Obama “willfully ignorant” and “the worst negotiator” the U.S. has had in decades, Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday slammed the administration’s agreement with Cuba to open normal diplomatic relations for the first time in more than 50 years,vowing that the incoming Republican majority in the Senate will try to undo the deal with whatever tools they have at their disposal.

Neighboring states challenge Colorado pot laws in top U.S. court

Nebraska and Oklahoma challenged neighboring Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday amid complaints its pot was seeping across their borders, and Colorado vowed to defend its laws.

Investigators Say Arsonists Responsible for Massive L.A. Fire

Federal investigators believe a fire that took down an entire apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles last week was set on purpose

Rand Paul backs Obama on Cuba

Sen. Rand Paul broke with the field of Republicans considering a 2016 presidential run on Thursday, calling President Barack Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba a “good idea” since the American embargo against Cuba “just hasn’t worked.”

Insular US Secret Service needs external boss – report

The US Secret Service, which guards the US president, is too insular and must recruit its next head externally, a review prompted by a White House security breach says.

Tsarnaev appears in court for 1st time since 2013

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev returned to court Thursday for the first time since he was arraigned in July 2013, and he received a shout of encouragement from the mother-in-law of a man who was shot and killed while being questioned by law enforcement after the bombings.

World

EU leaders ready long confrontation with Russia

European Union leaders warned Moscow they were ready exercise their combined muscle over the long haul in a confrontation with an economically wounded Russia if President Vladimir Putin refused to pull back from Ukraine.

Mount Sinjar: Islamic State siege broken, say Kurds

Kurdish forces in northern Iraq are claiming their biggest victory yet against Islamic State (IS) militants.

Putin says Russia economy will be cured, offers no remedy

President Vladimir Putin assured Russians on Thursday that the economy would rebound after the ruble’s dramatic slide this year but offered no remedy for a deepening financial crisis.

UN envoy rips US as Assembly condemns N. Korea’s alleged abuses

North Korea’s envoy to the United Nations lashed out at the U.S. Thursday ahead of the General Assembly’s passage of a draft resolution calling for the country to be referred to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

Business

Air Travelers Aren’t Getting a Break From Lower Oil Prices

Are you hoping falling oil prices will make it cheaper to fly? Well, keep hoping. International oil prices have fallen more than 40% since mid-June as global supplies have piled up amid a production boom and weakening demand overseas.

MetLife Gets Risk Tag From U.S. Panel, Weighs Options

MetLife Inc. , the biggest U.S. life insurer by assets, was labeled a systemically important financial institution by a council of regulators and said it will consider whether to sue the government over the decision.

Saudi Arabia Says Hard for OPEC to Give Up Market Share

Saudi Arabia and OPEC would find it “difficult, if not impossible” to give up market share by cutting crude production, the country’s oil minister said.

Federal Reserve delays parts of Volcker rule until 2017

The US Federal Reserve has given Wall Street banks even more time to comply with parts of the Volcker Rule, a key provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.

Bank of America ‘Hustle’ whistleblower earns $57 million payout

Former executive of Countrywide Financial led a jury to find parent company Bank of America liable for fraud over shoddy mortgages.

Amazon Unveils One-Hour Delivery Service

Program Is for Prime Customers in New York, Includes Over 25,000 Products

Culture

The ‘Serial’ effect

“Serial’s” first season drew millions of listeners every episode, and the podcast’s popularity may be spilling over to other shows.

Science

Archaeologists in Egypt excavating million-mummy cemetery

Archaeologists have been excavating Fag el-Gamous for about three decades, a cemetery that they say was the site of a million burials between the first and seventh centuries.

Will Europe’s comet lander ever wake up?

Philae, the European lander lander that is currently sitting idle near a cliff on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, could soon wake up from its unexpected hibernation, say mission scientists.

2 Astronauts Will Expand Envelope With 1-Year Spaceflight

The two men assigned to a one-year spaceflight said Thursday that their upcoming mission will allow the world to push deeper into space.

Health

Obesity ‘could be a disability’ – EU courts rule

Obesity can constitute a disability in certain circumstances, the EU’s highest court has ruled.

Economy

Unemployment claims slide to six-week low. Jobs outlook ‘upbeat.’

Jobless claims filed by US Americans unexpectedly fell last week, suggesting the labor market continued to strengthen. Initial jobless claims ropped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000 for the week that ended Dec. 13, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

U.S. holiday sales may recover with help of deep discounts

Despite a disappointing Thanksgiving weekend, U.S. holiday sales may squeak by expectations if steeper and longer-running discounts lure enough shoppers.

Wall Street Extends Rally as Traders Cheer Dovish Fed

Stocks extended their rally into Thursday, with the Dow posting a 400-point gain, after the Federal Reserve offered a dovish outlook for interest rates.