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US News: Domestic Spying Reform; Red Cross Emergency Pet App; Nut Theft a Growing Problem; NYC Noise

By: ap
By: ap
More expensive nuts - such as pecans and walnuts - are becoming a growing target for thieves. In fact, any large volume of stored nuts of any type seems to be a potential target for theft.

More expensive nuts - such as pecans and walnuts - are becoming a growing target for thieves. In fact, any large volume of stored nuts of any type seems to be a potential target for theft.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's orders to change some U.S. surveillance practices have put the burden on Congress to deal with a national security controversy that has alarmed Americans and outraged foreign allies.
Yet he also avoided major action on the practice of sweeping up billions of phone, email and text messages from across the globe.
In a speech Friday, Obama said he is placing new limits on the way intelligence officials access phone records from hundreds of millions of Americans -- and was moving toward eventually stripping the massive data collection from the government's hands.
His promises to end government storage of its collection of data on Americans' telephone calls -- and require judicial review to examine the data -- have been met with skepticism from privacy advocates and some lawmakers.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Red Cross has a new app for pet owners. It's a Pet First Aid App that puts lifesaving information in the hands of dog and cat owners so they can provide emergency care until veterinary assistance is available.
The 99-cent app gives iPhone and Android smartphone users instant access to expert information so they learn how to maintain their pet's health and what to do during emergencies.
Dr. Deborah Mandell, who's a vet and a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, explains, "Pet owners need to learn the signs of a healthy dog or cat so they can recognize health problems early." She says catching potential illness or injury early can make a huge difference in treatment success.
Owners have access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations. Users learn how to treat wounds, control bleeding and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies. Additional topics include burns, car accidents, falls and what to do for cold- and heat-related emergencies.

CHRISTIE-TRAFFIC JAMS
Mayor: Christie aides tied Sandy funds to project
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's office is denying a claim by the mayor of Hoboken that the Christie administration withheld millions of dollars in Hurricane Sandy recovery grants because she refused to sign off on a politically connected development.
Spokesman Colin Reed calls Mayor Dawn Zimmer's statements politically motivated and says the Christie administration has been helping Hoboken secure assistance since Sandy struck.
Zimmer, a Democrat, says Christie's lieutenant governor and a top community development official said recovery funds would flow to Hoboken if the commercial development went forward.
Zimmer says Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno pulled her aside at a May event and told her unless the project is approved "we are not going to be able to help you."
Christie is embroiled in another scandal involving traffic jams apparently manufactured to settle a political score.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- The resumption of the commercial slaughtering of horses was blocked Friday as President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that withholds money for required federal inspections of the slaughtering process.
The measure provides temporary funding for the federal government, but it stops the U.S. Agriculture Department from spending on horse slaughterhouse inspections.
The president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says the federal government's action reflects the opinions of many Americans that horse slaughter is "abhorrent and unacceptable."
The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress withheld inspection funding. Since federal money was restored in 2011, plants in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa have fought to start slaughtering to potentially export horse meat for overseas consumers.

ESCALON, Calif. (AP) -- The soaring value of California's nut crops is attracting a new breed of thieves, who have been making off with the pricey commodities by the truckload, recalling images of cattle rustlers of bygone days.
In one case from this harvest season in the Central Valley, thieves cut through a fence and hauled off $400,000 in walnuts.
Investigators suspect low-level organized crime, while some pilfered nuts are ending up in Los Angeles for resale at farmers markets or disappear into the black market.
Such heists have become so common that an industry task force has devised ways to thwart thieves. Domestic demand for specialty foods and the expanding Asian market for them have prompted a nut orchard boom in the state's agricultural heartland, which is a worldwide leader.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The chemical spill that contaminated water for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians is just the latest and most high-profile case of coal polluting the nation's waters.
An Associated Press analysis of federal environmental data found chemicals and waste from the coal industry have tainted hundreds of waterways and groundwater supplies for decades, spoiling private wells, shutting down fishing and rendering streams virtually lifeless.
Because these contaminants are released gradually and in some cases not tracked or regulated, they attract much less attention than a massive spill like the one in West Virginia.
The Environmental Protection Agency says discharges from coal-fired power plants are responsible for almost 60 percent of all toxic pollution entering the nation's waters.

MEMPHIS MALL ROBBERY
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Police say men with sledgehammers robbed a jewelry store at a crowded Tennessee mall.
A police spokeswoman says in an email that five or six suspects entered Reed's Jewelers around 7:39 p.m. and began smashing display cases with hammers. Police say the men took approximately 65 Rolex watches, stuffing items into pillow cases and running out nearby mall exits.
No injuries were reported. Despite earlier conflicting reports, police determined there were no shots fired. Police say no weapons were seen.
The mall was locked down but later reopened.
The Commercial Appeal reports security led shoppers out of the mall in a steady pace after the robbery.
The disturbance happened about an hour before closing at Wolfchase Galleria situated next to a country club east of downtown Memphis.

NEW YORK (AP) -- No wonder they call New York the city that never sleeps. Who can get any shuteye with all the noise?!
Screeching subway trains, honking cars, roaring planes and barking dogs make noise the Big Apple's No. 1 quality-of-life complaint. The city's 311 hotline got more than 260,000 calls about noise last year -- up 30 percent in two years.
Silence, it seems, is the one thing in this city of more than 8 million that's almost impossible to find, despite one of the nation's strictest noise codes. Tickets range from $70 for barking dogs to up to $8,000 for a nightclub's loud music.
City health officials warn decibel levels over 85 for a prolonged time can cause hearing damage. Some parts of the city top 100 decibels -- especially near airports.

Regulators close bank in Illinois
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Regulators have closed a small lender in Illinois, making it the first U.S. bank failure of 2014 following 24 closures last year.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday it has taken over DuPage National Bank, based in West Chicago, Ill.
The lender, which operated three branches, had about $61.7 million in assets and $59.6 million in deposits as of Sept. 30.
Republic Bank of Chicago, based in Oak Brook, Ill., agreed to pay the FDIC a premium of 1.20 percent to assume all of DuPage National Bank's deposits.
Republic Bank also agreed to buy essentially all of the failed bank's assets.
The failure of DuPage National Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $1.6 million.

Slumping Intel to cut more than 5,000 jobs in 2014
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Intel plans to trim more than 5,000 jobs from its workforce this year in an effort to boost its earnings amid waning demand for its personal computer chips.
The Santa Clara, Calif., company confirmed the job cuts Friday, the day after Intel Corp. reported its profit and revenue had fallen for the second consecutive year.
The purge represents about 5 percent of the nearly 108,000 jobs that Intel had on its payroll at the end of December. An Intel spokesman says the company intends to jettison the jobs without laying off workers.
Intel's financial performance has been slumping because the company didn't adapt quickly enough as the growing popularity of smartphones and tablet computers undercut sales of PCs running on its chips. Most mobile devices don't run on Intel's processors.


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