Sunday, February 25, 2018

Federal team investigating deadly Dallas house explosion

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Federal authorities are investigating a suspected natural gas leak that caused an explosion a newly renovated house in Dallas, killing a 12-year-old girl and injuring four other members of her family.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a three-person team Sunday to look into the blast. Firefighters Friday found the home shattered but no fire. Four injured people were in the front yard and one of them was holding the unconscious girl. Authorities say Linda Rogers was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Two other gas-related problems were reported last week in the neighborhood where a construction crew has been working. City officials on Saturday lifted a mandatory evacuation order for about 300 families in the area but natural gas service was suspended.

Cambodia's ruling party claims sweeping win in Senate vote

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The ruling party of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed a sweeping win in Sunday’s elections for the country’s Senate, a victory that it assured itself by eliminating any serious opposition from the contest.

Sok Eysan, a spokesman for the Cambodian People’s Party, said it had won a landslide victory. Privately, the party was claiming to have won all 58 of the seats that were voted on by the country’s 11,572 commune councilors.

Two additional senators are appointed by the National Assembly and another two by King Norodom Sihamoni.

Sunday’s vote was seen as a foretaste of a scheduled July general election for the National Assembly that is also expected to affirm Hun Sen’s rule.

The only opposition party in Parliament, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was dissolved in November after aggressive legal challenges by the government were sustained by the politicized courts.

Government supporters then replaced the party’s members of Parliament and its commune councilors — the voters in Sunday’s polls.

Hun Sen has been in power for three decades, and while maintaining a framework of democracy, tolerates little opposition. His grip seemed shaken by 2013’s general election, when the Cambodia National Rescue Party mounted a strong challenge, winning 55 seats in the National Assembly and leaving Hun Sen’s party with 68.

The opposition party also made a strong showing in last year’s commune council elections, capturing 5,007 of the 11,572 councilor positions.

After last year’s commune council elections, Hun Sen’s ruling party then stepped up its steady offensive against critics and opponents. Media outlets seen as critical of the government were forced to shut down, and most senior members of the Cambodia National Rescue Party fled the country.

“Without the presence of the main opposition that has 55 (members of Parliament) and 5,007 commune councilors representing the will of the people, there will be no real free and fair competition as determined by the principles of free, fair and inclusive elections,” said a pre-election statement on the Senate election from the Cambodia National Rescue Party, emailed by Mu Sochua, its former deputy president, now in exile.

“We urge the United Nations and the international community to denounce the holding of the Senate election this weekend and to take immediate and stringent measures including sanctions as a signal that it will not condone dictatorship,” it said.

The United States, and last week, Germany, have banned issuing visas to certain Cambodian officials considered responsible for the deterioration of democracy. Rights groups have also been highly critical.

“Unfortunately, the Cambodian Senate will continue to stand as yet another sad reminder of Cambodia’s unmitigated descent into outright dictatorship,” said Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian Parliament and chairman of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, comprising Southeast Asian lawmakers.

Only three small parties with no national followings ran candidates against the ruling party for seats in the Senate, which has no significant decision-making powers.

Possible tornadoes, flooding across central US leave at least 3 dead as storm system moves east

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At least three people are dead as a storm system roars eastward across the central U.S., spawning possible tornadoes and flooding and leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said late Saturday two people died in the western part of state due to “severe weather events”  as the storm that also included strong winds, hail and heavy rain slammed the region.

“Please take weather watches/warnings seriously, and stay safe,” Bevin said on Twitter.

In rural, south central Kentucky, 79-year-old Dallas Jane Combs died after a suspected tornado hit her Adairville home Saturday evening, Logan County Sheriff’s Department told television station WKRN. Sheriff officials said Combs was inside the home when it collapsed on her. Combs was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities say Combs’ husband was outside the house when the unconfirmed tornado hit and he sustained minor injuries.

In northeast Arkansas,  an 83-year-old man was killed after high winds toppled a trailer home. Clay County Sheriff Terry Miller said in a Facebook post that Albert Foster died Saturday night after the home was blown into a pond in Knobel.

Storm-related damage also was reported in Middle Tennessee, where FOX17 in Nashville reported extensive damage to homes and vehicles. FOX17 said at least a dozen homes were damaged in one Montgomery County subdivision.

FOX NEWS WEATHER CENTER

The storms were caused by a system associated with a cold front moving east, which caused flood watches and warnings to be issued across multiple states as of Sunday morning while a wind advisory remained in effect for nearly all of Lower Michigan. Heavy rain also spread into the Northeast, which caused greater flooding fears.

Pennsylvania Avenue at the Potter Park Zoo entrance is still closed due to flooding, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Lansing, Mich. (Robert Killips /Lansing State Journal via AP)

Pennsylvania Avenue at the Potter Park Zoo entrance is still closed due to flooding, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Lansing, Mich.  (Robert Killips /Lansing State Journal via AP)

“It’s right along that line we’ve seen the most rain activity here throughout the weekend,” Fox News Meteorologist Adam Klotz said Sunday on “FOX & friends Weekend.”

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed an executive order earlier Saturday declaring a state of emergency ahead of the anticipated storms and flooding in parts of southern Missouri. The order activates the resources of the Missouri National Guard and ensures state resources are available in the event of weather damage.

A levee breach along the Kankakee River in northwestern Indiana had local officials urging about 30 homeowners to evacuate.

A view from the Central Bridge shows the flooding from the Ohio River Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Cincinnati. Forecasters expected the Ohio River could reach levels not seen since the region's deadly 1997 floods.(Liz Dufour/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

A view from the Central Bridge shows the flooding from the Ohio River Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 in Cincinnati.  (Liz Dufour/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP)

The Ohio River is expected to reach 60.6 feet in Cincinnati by Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

The expected river crest would easily make it the worst flooding Greater Cincinnati has seen since March 5, 1997, when the river hit 64.7 feet, FOX19 reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

Campaigning for Egypt's presidential vote underway

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Campaigning is now underway in Egypt’s presidential elections, a two-candidate vote that’s virtually certain to be won by the incumbent, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

The campaigning began Saturday and ends March 23.

El-Sissi is challenged by an obscure politician who entered the race in the eleventh hour to save the president and his government the embarrassment of a one-candidate election. A string of potentially serious challengers have been arrested or intimidated out of the race.

Hundreds of billboard advertisements in support of the incumbent have over the weekend have been mounted alongside existing ones on the streets of Cairo, almost all bearing the image of a smiling el-Sissi, with slogans focusing on the economy and security.

Campaign banners for the challenger, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, who is an ardent el-Sissi supporter, are conspicuously absent.

UN peacekeepers in South Sudan accused of paying for sex

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The United Nations mission in South Sudan says it has recalled a 46-member peacekeeping police unit after some members allegedly paid local women living in a protection camp for sex.

A U.N. statement says the Ghanaian policemen have been recalled from Wau to the capital, Juba.

The U.N. chief in South Sudan, David Shearer, calls it a “clear breach” of the code of conduct, which prohibits sexual relationships with vulnerable people.

“We should not have such people in this country,” South Sudan government spokesman Michael Makuei tells The Associated Press.

The United Nations has 17,000 peacekeepers in civil war-torn South Sudan.

The U.N. in recent years has struggled to deal with numerous cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers in some of the world’s poorest nations.

Border Patrol's checkpoints overlooked in debate over wall

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Agents who work at one of the Border Patrol’s checkpoints in South Texas, north of the U.S.-Mexico border, say that the checkpoint is undersized and sometimes overwhelmed by traffic.

It’s a situation challenged constantly by smugglers, sometimes with deadly consequences.

Top Border Patrol officials say President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall would help cut the number of overall smuggling cases. But critics say that plan overlooks checkpoints and other critical needs at the border.

The Trump administration budget proposal doesn’t directly address needs at most checkpoints. It proposes zeroing out new spending on tactical infrastructure like roads, fences and remote video surveillance.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, says Trump administration officials are taking away money “from proven law enforcement systems to put it into this 14th century solution.”

The Latest: Germany, France press Putin on cease-fire deal

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The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

4 p.m.

The German government says the German and French leaders have pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to facilitate the quick and complete implementation of a U.N. resolution demanding a 30-day cease-fire in Syria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office said Sunday that she and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the situation in a phone call Sunday with Putin. It said they called on Russia to “exert maximum pressure on the Syrian regime to achieve an immediate halt to the airstrikes and fighting.”

The German and French leaders argued that a cease-fire also would offer a basis to move forward the U.N.-brokered effort to find a political solution to Syria’s war.

___

10:50 a.m.

The Syrian capital and its embattled eastern suburbs were relatively calm on Sunday, following the U.N. Security Council’s unanimous approval of a resolution demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria, opposition activists and residents of Damascus said.

The activists reported few violations, including some clashes, on the southern edge of the rebel-held suburbs, known as eastern Ghouta, and two airstrikes late on Saturday night, shortly after the resolution was adopted.

The calm came after a week of intense airstrikes and shelling that killed more than 500 people in eastern Ghouta and left dozens dead or wounded in the government-held Damascus, which rebels pelted with mortar shells.

California Democratic Party doesn't endorse Feinstein re-election bid

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The California Democratic Party will not endorse Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election bid this year, with delegates at the party’s annual convention giving the majority of votes to her top primary challenger, progressive State Sen. Kevin de Leon.

De Leon got 54 percent of the vote, compared to 37 percent for the more moderate Feinstein, according to results released Sunday. But neither Democrat will receive the state party endorsement because they failed to reach the 60 percent threshold.

The vote totals were not a surprise, considering the state party’s liberal leaning.

And Feinstein leads de Leon by 29 percentage points in the primary race, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics polls average.

“The outcome of today’s endorsement vote is an astounding rejection of politics as usual, and it boosts our campaign’s momentum as we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder against a complacent status quo,” said de Leon, according to Politico. “California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines.”

Feinstein, the oldest member of the Senate at 84, is seeking a sixth term.

Feinstein took heat last fall from some on the left after appearing to voice optimism about Trump becoming “a good president.” Feinstein also recently said that former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which Trump is ending, was on shaky legal ground.

DACA provides a level of amnesty to certain illegal immigrants — many of whom came to the U.S. as children. 

Still, Feinstein will be difficult to beat, considering her establishment support and standing among independents and women, two key voting blocs.

“It will be tough to outflank her in that capacity,” Ben Tulchin, a San Francisco-based pollster, recently said.

Snap Targets Older Users With a Redesign That Young People Hate

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Snap (NYSE: SNAP) has long been lauded as the “it” social media app for teens and young adults. But now Snap is in a curious position for a social media company in that it actually needs to attract older users.

That’s opposite the problem that Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is having. In fact, Facebook is expected to lose two million users in the U.S. under the age of 25 this year, while Snapchat is expected to add 1.9 million U.S. users under 25.

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However, the company’s future growth is being called into question after Snapchat recently rolled out a redesign specifically aimed at older users — much to the horror of its core user group.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says redesign targets older users

Snapchat’s update, which separates professional posts from friends’ posts, was designed with older users in mind, according to comments from Spiegel on the fourth-quarter earnings call. In fact, the changes have already led to a dramatic increase in time spent on the app among users over 35, he said.

“We believe that the redesign has also made our application simpler and easier to use, especially for older users,” Spiegel explained.

Users don’t tend to like big changes in the design of the social apps they use everyday — and Snap knew that. Spiegel warned investors during the latest earnings call that it would take time for people to accept the change. At the time, Spiegel also noted that early observations showed the redesign would help its long-term growth.

At least 1.2 million Snapchat users hate the redesign

Sure enough, Snapchat users immediately hated the update. In fact, over 1.2 million people have signed a petition on change.org asking Snap to remove the update that they say has made features more difficult to use.

The petition states that small updates like the release of text fonts are helpful. The issue is with the overall redesign, which includes splitting friends’ and publishers’ content up, as well as putting Snapchat Stories in the same place as individual Snaps and direct messages. Previously, Snapchat Stories were in their own section.

“There is a general level of annoyance among users and many have decided to use a VPN app, or are using other risky apps or steps, to go back to the old Snapchat as that’s how annoying this new update has become,” the petition reads.

On Feb. 20 the Snap team posted a response on change.org that said while the team appreciated the feedback, the redesign is here to stay.

The team elaborated by saying that the goal of the redesign was to make it easier to connect with your real friends. Snap also said that the Friends and Discover pages will get smarter over time as they learn who each user interacts with the most. In addition, Snap will soon release tabs in Friends and Discover that will make it easier to find Stories and customize those pages.

Even Citi and Kylie Jenner are weary of the redesign

Reality TV celebrity Kylie Jenner, a big Snapchat user, sent out a shock wave in the Snap community when she posted a tweet on Feb. 21 that said the redesign makes her not want to use the app anymore.

With Snap down over 11% to $17.54 as of Feb. 23, a number of people were blaming the drop on Jenner’s tweet. However, Snap also received a downgrade from Citi on Tuesday to “sell” from “neutral” due to the extreme negative feedback about the update.

“While the recent redesign of its flagship app could produce positive long-term benefits, the significant jump in negative app reviews since the redesign was pushed out a few weeks could result in a decline in users and user engagement, which could negatively impact financial results,” Citi’s Mark May wrote Tuesday.

Spiegel snaps back at users, says they will get used to it

While Spiegel had warned investors that users would need time to get used to the redesign, it’s hard to imagine that he was prepared for this level of pushback. A petition with 1.2 million signatures begging for a reversal in design isn’t normal.

However, he seemed fine with the negative feedback according to his comments made at the Goldman Sachs Internet and Technology Conference on Feb. 15.

“We’re excited about what we’re seeing so far,” Spiegel said at the event.

He said the complaints they’re receiving are actually validating the changes they made. For example, one complaint they’ve been receiving is that celebrities like Kim Kardashian no longer feel like their friend because their Stories are in a separate area now. Spiegel said this change is actually good because those celebrities were never their real friends anyway.

Snap is obviously trying to grow its users by appealing to people outside of the below-25 age group. However, it needs to be careful, or it will alienate its core group of loyal users in its pursuit of new users.

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Thousands march in memory of slain Russian opposition leader

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Thousands of people have marched down a central Moscow boulevard to mark the third anniversary of the slaying of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

Nemtsov was shot and killed on Feb. 27, 2015 while walking on a bridge near the Kremlin. His death sent shock waves through Russia’s beleaguered opposition.

Demonstrators at the front of Sunday’s anniversary event carried a banner reading, “These bullets are in all of us.”

Two candidates in Russia’s presidential election next month — Ksenia Sobchak and Grigory Yavlinsky — participated in the march.

An officer in the security forces of Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov was convicted of firing the shots that killed Nemtsov and received a 20-year prison term. Four other men convicted of being involved in Nemtsov’s slaying received 11 to 19 years.

Tourist infected with measles went to New York art museum, area hotels, health officials say

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An Australian tourist infected with measles visited several locations in New York City, included the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art, before seeking treatment, health officials warned Saturday.

The New York State Department of Health said in a news release the sightseer was visiting between Feb. 16 and Feb. 21 and stayed at several hotels in the greater-New York area.

The visitor originally checked into a La Quinta Inn on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Feb. 16, where the person stayed until Feb. 19, according to health officials. During that time period, the sick person was part of an Oasis Bible Tour group at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Feb. 16 and the evening of Feb. 17.

After checking out of the Manhattan hotel, the tourist then stayed overnight at a Best Western Hotel on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn from Feb. 19 to Feb. 20 before staying at the Comfort Inn & Suites Goshen in Orange County until Feb. 21, according to the health department.

Met Google

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a tourist infected with measles visited this month.  (Google Street View)

The tourist also made a trip to the Watchtower Educational Center in Putnam County during that time period.

The person eventually sought treatment at an urgent care in Goshen, located about 66 miles north of New York City, and was taken to Orange County Regional Medical Center.

CHICAGO O’HARE TRAVELERS POSSIBLY EXPOSED TO MEASLES

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people, according to health officials. “People first develop a fever, then may have a cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by appearance of the rash,” the DOH said.

The virus can also remain alive in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours.

A Somali child refugee receives a vaccine for measles at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) transit centre in Dolo Ado near the Ethiopia-Somalia border August 11, 2011. The U.N. refugee agency and a government agency have established four camps along the Ethiopian border with Somalia to accommodate a refugee population that now exceeds 120,000, most of whom are victims of drought and famine; the worst in decades, and has affected about 12 million people across the Horn of Africa. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (ETHIOPIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST DISASTER ENVIRONMENT HEALTH) - GM1E78B1Q3K01

A Somali child refugee receives a vaccine for measles at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees transit centre in Dolo Ado near the Ethiopia-Somalia border August 11, 2011.  (REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya)

“Those individuals lacking immunity or who are not sure if they have been vaccinated, should contact their health care provider if they develop measles symptoms,” the health department warned. “Symptoms include a fever, rash, cough, conjunctivitis or runny nose. Symptoms usually appear in 10-12 days after exposure. Individuals who may have been exposed and who lack immunity could begin experiencing symptoms at this time.”

PHYSICIAN: WE NEED A UNIVERSAL FLU VACCINE — NO MORE EXCUSES

Dr. Robert Glatter with Lenox Hill Hospital told ABC7 that people are contagious about a week after symptoms begin, and someone can get measles just by being in the room of someone else infected.

“Somebody who is sneezing and coughing puts others at risk,” Glatter said.

Last year, The World Health Organization said that measles cases in Europe skyrocketed with at least 35 children who died from the highly-infectious disease.

The biggest outbreak was in Romania, where there were 5,562 cases. In that country, the large rural population often do not vaccinate their children and may not take them to hospitals promptly when they fall ill, The New York Times reported at the time.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

Pakistan: Blasphemy suspect who jumped off building healing

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A Pakistani official says a blasphemy suspect who suffered serious injuries after jumping off a federal building is now in stable condition.

Khwaja Hammad, a senior official of Federal Investigation Agency, said Sunday that Sajid Masih is recovering at a hospital in Lahore. He denies that the suspect was abused or tortured.

Masih was summoned by the Cyber Crime Wing on Friday for allegedly posting blasphemous material on Facebook.

Sajid told local media that officials tortured him and confiscated his mobile phone.

Police had earlier arrested his cousin, Patras Masih, also for allegedly posting blasphemous material on Facebook.

Rights groups say Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws, which can carry the death penalty, are often misused or exploited to settle personal scores.

Billy Graham played complicated role in US race relations

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The Rev. Billy Graham had a complicated role in race relations, particularly when confronting segregation in his native South.

Graham spoke wistfully in 1965 of two grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy. But he also refused to speak to racially segregated audiences and was allied with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Scholar Stephen Miller says Graham was a moderate who helped some Southern whites ease away from Jim Crow laws.

A civil rights leader from Graham’s native North Carolina, the Rev. William Barber, credits Graham with helping tear down segregation.

Born in 1918, Graham grew up in a South strictly divided by race. He once said he regretted not being more active in civil rights, and he apologized for anti-Semitic remarks captured on tape in the Nixon White House.

Underestimating Your Life Expectancy Could Hurt Your Retirement

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It’s never easy to contemplate our own mortality, but estimating our life expectancy is something all of us need to do in the course of our retirement planning. In the absence of a crystal ball, it’s impossible to predict how long any of us will live, but according to new data from the Society of Actuaries, both pre-retirees and retirees alike expect to live to the median age of 85.

This data is fairly consistent with that of the Social Security Administration (SSA), which states that the average 65-year-old man today will live until 84.3, while the average 65-year-old woman will live until 86.6. But what the SSA also notes is that 25% of today’s 65-year-olds will live past the age of 90, while 10% will live past 95. And those are the folks who risk running out of money by not planning appropriately.

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How will your savings stack up?

As you get closer to retirement, you’re apt to get a better sense of what you’ll spend on living expenses, and from there, you can see if you’re saving adequately in theory. Imagine you expect to spend $5,000 a month, or $60,000 a year, as a senior, of which $32,000 will come from Social Security. This means your savings will need to provide $28,000 of income per year.

Now if you’re planning to work until age 65, and you think you’ll live until 85, that means you’ll need $28,000 in income per year for 20 years, or a total nest egg of $560,000 (assuming your savings are housed in a Roth account; with a traditional retirement account, your withdrawals are subject to taxes, which means that if you have $560,000 in savings, the IRS gets a portion, thereby leaving you with less). But what happens if you’re among the 25% of seniors who wind up living until age 90? Suddenly, you’re potentially $140,000 short. Ouch.

And that’s precisely why you’re generally better off doing one of two things: working longer, or planning for a longer retirement. Imagine that instead of retiring at 65, you push yourself to work until age 70. Not only will you avoid dipping into your savings sooner, but you’ll get a chance to grow your Social Security benefits in the process. Then, when you retire at 70, there’s a better chance your 20 years’ worth of income will suffice.

Similarly, you can ramp up your savings rate later on in your career to amass more in your nest egg. Instead of saving the $560,000 we talked about above, save $700,000 (or more). Or, take a hybrid approach. Extend your career for a couple of years, and boost your savings during its latter stage to support a longer retirement.

Is there a chance you’ll wind up with excess money at the end of your life? Yes. Is that a horrible situation to be in? No. If you have family members who could use the money, gifting your surplus savings to them toward the end of your life is a great way to continue your legacy.

Of course, if your health starts to fail later on in your career, and you have reason to believe you won’t live as long as your peers, then much of the aforementioned advice doesn’t apply. But if you don’t have a pressing reason to think you won’t live a long life, then by all means, err on the side of optimism.

Remember, none of us can predict the future, but you can take steps to avoid depleting your nest egg prematurely by planning for a longer retirement rather than a shorter one. It’s a far better bet than risking the opposite scenario and winding up cash-strapped when you’re old and vulnerable.

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Could Elon Musk Lose the Satellite Market — and Win the Solar System?

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When SpaceX launched the world’s biggest rocket ship on Feb. 6, that kind of seemed like a big deal — but not everyone is impressed.

Previewing the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch, The Wall Street Journal seemed perplexed. Yes, the Falcon Heavy is big, admitted the Journal. But as a “heavy-lift booster,” it said, it is a product designed to serve a market that’s suffering “significantly eroded commercial demand” and “uncertain commercial prospects.”

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The problem, as the Journal (correctly) pointed out, is that thanks to advances in rocketry, electronics, and materials technology, “both national security and corporate satellites continue to get smaller and lighter” (and cheaper).

Smaller, faster, cheaper, better — versus big

That’s good news for small rocket-launching start-ups like Vector Launch, Virgin Orbit, and Rocket Lab (which recently launched its first satellite into orbit). They hope to capitalize on burgeoning demand for cheap, on-demand access to orbit. But as the market for satellite launch moves toward satellites whose mass in measured in kilograms, not tons, it appears to make SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launcher — which aims to put 70 tons of cargo in low Earth orbit in one go — a solution in search of a problem.

Citing SpaceX’s own launch manifest, the Journal points out that the company has only four contracts signed that call for the heavy lifting capabilities of the Falcon Heavy. That’s versus dozens of launches slated to fly aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9. SpaceX’s ultra-low prices for space launch have made its Falcon 9 incredibly popular among commercial satellite launchers. But there just doesn’t seem to be a lot of demand for an even bigger launcher like the Falcon Heavy.

Crisis and opportunity

And that’s just fine. You see, on the one hand, Musk isn’t really competing in small satellite launches. Instead, he seems OK with allowing companies like Virgin Orbit, Rocket Lab, and Vector (itself founded by one of Musk’s original partners at SpaceX) to capture that market.

Musk, in contrast, has his sights set firmly on colonizing Mars, a planet months away from Earth under even the most optimistic scenario — too far for astronauts to reach in a tiny space capsule such as the Falcon Heavy could carry. To make a Mars mission viable, you either need (1) a really big rocket ship taking off from Earth to Mars, or alternatively (or even additionally) (2) a really big rocket that can shuttle multiple spaceship parts into Earth orbit, assemble them there, and then fuel and crew that spaceship to depart for Mars.

Either way, you want to build the biggest rocket ship possible. And that’s why, after building and flying the Falcon Heavy earlier this month, Musk mused that what is now the world’s biggest rocket ship was actually still “a bit small ” for his purposes.

To make his Mars dreams a reality, Musk believes he will need an even larger rocket ship, the vessel he now calls the BFR. At almost 350 feet tall and weighing 4,400 tons, the BFR will probably comprise two main parts: a 190-foot-tall, 3,200-ton first-stage booster section; and a 157-foot-tall, 30 feet in diameter, 1,200-ton spaceship on top of it. That’s big enough to cram in some really sizable spaceship parts for assembly in orbit. Alternatively, the BFR would be big enough to transport a team of colonists all the way to Mars in relative comfort, all on its own.

Musk wants the to be big enough that it can tackle just about every big mission you can throw at it — sending astronauts to the Moon or Mars, gigantic-spaceship-construction in orbit, fueling those gigantic spacecraft, and even transporting cargo (and people) around between continents on Earth.

The BFR could, by the way, also carry supermassive satellites into Earth orbit — just like the Falcon Heavy, but more so — if predictions of the market shifting to all small satellites, all the time, don’t pan out. But if they do, that should be fine with Elon Musk. Other companies can handle the small stuff, while he focuses on the big problem of designing really big rocket ships for interplanetary spaceflight.

What it means for investors

This does, however, leave us as investors with the question of what to make of Boeing (NYSE: BA), Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT), Orbital ATK, Aerojet Rocketdyne — anyone and everyone in the publicly traded space universe, that is to say — which are working so hard on building a Space Launch System (SLS) for NASA? Until the SLS gets built and tested, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy will remain the biggest rocket ship on Earth — and cheaper pound-for-pound-to-orbit, to boot. If economics have anything to say about it, the Falcon Heavy should capture the bulk of whatever large satellite launch contracts there are to be had.

On top of that, with the Falcon Heavy flight-tested, SpaceX is moving right ahead to building the BFR, which will be even bigger than the SLS, and presumably even cheaper to operate as well. If Musk and SpaceX succeed with their latest audacious plan, it’s entirely possible that when the BFR gets built, it won’t make just the Falcon Heavy redundant, but the SLS as well. And what will Boeing, Lockheed, and all the rest of them do then?

I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe, with luck, Musk will be so busy thinking about Mars and other planets by then that he will find simple low Earth orbit launch missions (literally) beneath him, and the competition there will get a chance to catch its breath. Maybe not.

What I do know is that I wouldn’t be investing in Boeing and Lockheed based on their space business right now — because I see a very real risk that that is going away.

10 stocks we like better than BoeingWhen investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Boeing wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of February 5, 2018

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Orbital ATK. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Where Should You Invest Now?

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This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

By Mike Eklund via Iris.xyz

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Where should you invest now? As I wrote last year in “Should I Own International Stocks?”, in investing it is important to “skate where the puck is going, not where it has been” (Wayne Gretzky). What this means is don’t use historical results to predict future returns.

The last 10 years have been very good to US stock investors as we explain further in “Why Have US Stocks Performed So Well”.  It is easy to be complacent and assume you can expect the same results for the next 10 years.

Noted below in Exhibit 1 is historical returns for various indexes over the last one, five and ten years, respectively.

Click here to read the full story on Iris.xyz.

More from ETF Trends Where Should You Invest Now? The Social Security Conundrum Is American Energy on the Verge of a New Golden Age? A New ETF Plugs Into Electric Vehicle Demand A Beneficial Basket of Commodities

Read more at ETFtrends.com >

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North Korea willing to hold talks with US, ex-spy chief says

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North Korea has “enough” willingness to hold talks with the U.S., a former intelligence chief from the rogue country believed to be the mastermind behind a deadly attack on South Korea told the country’s president on Sunday.

The Blue House, South Korea’s presidential office, reported Sunday the news of the meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Yong Chol, a senior official of the North’s ruling Worker’s Party, during the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“President Moon pointed out that U.S.-North Korea dialogue must be held at an early date even for an improvement in the South-North Korea relationship and the fundamental resolution of Korean Peninsula issues,” spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said of the meeting.

The two met for an hour in Pyeongchang, the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to Yonhap.

Kim Yong Chol, center, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, arrives to attend the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, at the Korea-transit office near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

Kim Yong Chol, center, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, arrives to attend the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, at the Korea-transit office near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018  (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

“The North Korean delegation too agreed that North Korea-U.S. relations must develop along with the South-North Korea relationship while noting [the North] has enough intention to hold North Korea-U.S. dialogue,” the spokesman added.

TRUMP, AT CPAC, ANNOUNCES ‘HEAVIEST’-EVER NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS

The United States and North Korea, which have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war after an armistice in 1953, have been at odds for decades. In recent months the war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump has escalated as the North tests nuclear missiles and Washington pushes the Hermit Kingdom to disarm.

North Korea's chief delegate Kim Yong-Chol (L) talks with his South Korean counterpart Lee Hong-Kee (R) during the inter-Korean general talks at the south side of the truce village of Panmunjom, in the Demilitarized Zone, December 14, 2007. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool (SOUTH KOREA) - GM1DWUSGVMAA

Kim Yong Chol led theNorth Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony.  (Reuters)

President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, is at the closing ceremony and sitting in the same box with the controversial former general. They did not appear to interact when South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with dignitaries at the beginning of the ceremony, according to the Associated Press.

Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, attended the opening ceremony in a historic first — no member of the ruling Kim family had ever traveled to the South before. She invited President Moon Jae-in to a summit with her brother in Pyongyang. The delegation to the closing ceremony was expected to follow up on that invitation while in South Korea.

Family members of victims of the sunken South Korean naval ship Cheonan by a North Korean attack hold up defaced portraits of Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, during a rally against his visit near the Unification bridge in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. A North Korean high-level delegation led by Kim arrived to attend the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The signs read: " Let's punish Kim Young Chol." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Family members of victims of the sunken South Korean naval ship Cheonan by a North Korean attack hold up defaced portraits of Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, during a rally against his visit near the Unification bridge in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018.  (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The delegation’s arrival was met by protesters calling for Kim’s arrest for his alleged role in the 2010 attacks — the sinking of the warship Cheonan that killed 46 South Korean sailors and an artillery strike on a South Korean island that killed four people.

During Kim’s time in the intelligence agency, which is called the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea was suspected of carrying out the 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. The department is tasked with carrying out cyberwarfare and intelligence operations against other countries.

NORTH KOREA SPY CHIEF, ACCUSED IN DEADLY ATTACKS ON SOUTH KOREA, TO LEAD OLYMPIC DELEGATION AT CLOSING CEREMONY

Outside the Olympic Stadium, just before the ceremony, more than 200 anti-Pyongyang protesters waved South Korean and U.S. flags, banged drums and held signs reading “Killer Kim Yong Chol go to hell.” They denounced the South Korean government’s decision to allow the visit, according to the AP.

A South Korean protester tear a North Korean flag with a knife, during a rally against a visit of Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, near the Unification bridge in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018. A North Korean high-level delegation led by Kim arrived to attend the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A South Korean protester tear a North Korean flag with a knife, during a rally against a visit of Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, near the Unification bridge in Paju, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018.  (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

“How can a murderer who killed 46 sailors on the Cheonan warship be invited, protected and defended? This is the state of what the Republic of Korea has become,” one protester shouted into a mic, referring to South Korea’s formal name.

The protesters also hung a sign that read: “We are against Pyongyang Olympics: fallen into the propaganda of the terrorist Kim Jong Un’s brutal regime.”

Two weeks ago during the opening ceremony to the games, Kim Yo Jong sat in the same VIP box with Moon and Vice President Pence, creating some awkward moments.

Pence stood to cheer the entrance of the U.S. team, but he remained seated when the athletes from North and South Korea marched together behind a “unification” flag, leaving Moon to instinctively turn around and shake Kim’s sister’s hand.

Pence’s office claimed afterward that the North had pulled out of a planned meeting at the last minute.

The North’s state-run news agency ran a story Sunday quoting a “spokesman for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee” as saying that Pence insulted Kim’s sister with his hard-line rhetoric after returning to the U.S. and “we will never have face-to-face talks with them even after 100 years or 200 years.”

Fox News’ Katherine Lam and The Associated Press contributed  to this report.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed

12 texting tips you didn't know the iPhone could do

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“Hey, can I call you?” I bet millions send this text every day. It’s common etiquette. You text first and see whether someone is busy. If you get a “Sure,” or “Y,” or “K,” you can ring that person up.

Texts used to be handy; now they’re an integral part of our lives. We hold entire conversations via text. We exchange GIFs, emojis, and videos with ease. Not sure what kind of butter to buy? Text your spouse a picture of two brands to get the answer.

Waiting for that response can be painful, especially if you’re not even sure the person has seen your text. But there is a way. Click here to find out if the recipient has read your text messages.

Here are iPhone texting tricks you wish you’ve known all along.

More on this…

1. Reply directly from a notification

If you have an iPhone 6S (or later model), you’re probably familiar with 3D Touch even if you don’t use it very much. This feature lets you press your screen with different amounts of finger pressure to access more options. This is kind of like hovering over an icon with your mouse, but better. Once you start using 3D Touch, you get it.

For example, with 3D Touch, you don’t have to open the Messages app to reply to a message. Just do a long hard press on the lock screen text notification itself to reply. If you’re in a hurry, this feature will save you time, although 3D Touch does require some practice.

2. Use 3D Touch for quick replies

You can also use 3D Touch for a long hard press on a text within the Messages app to send quick fun replies such as “like,” “heart,” “unlike,” “laughter” and question mark icons. This will spare you the task of browsing the full catalog of emojis for just the right one. Related: Not sure what your teenager is texting about? Click here for a chart of inappropriate emojis. Warning: Some are NSFW.

3. Know how to copy and forward

Copying messages in Messenger can be tricky because it’s always hard to highlight a body of text on your phone using only your finger. But sometimes you want to forward the entire contents of text – to show it to someone else, to re-submit deleted info, or to archive important correspondence.

Instead of copying and pasting a message’s text to forward it, you can simply “long press” a message (similar to quick reply). Tap More on the bottom menu, and then select the arrow on the bottom left corner to forward it. The original message’s content will be copied as a new message. Just select the recipients as usual. If it’s a really important text or conversation, save it outside of Messages. Click here to find out how to save your text messages.

4. Share your location with a tap

Why would you need to share your location with anyone on the Messages app? Parties, for one. You can easily direct lots of people to an obscure location, such as a cabin at the end of a spidery gravel road in the middle of the night. In theory, you could also use it for emergencies.

(For privacy reasons, you probably don’t want this feature on all the time. But in case you need it, you can easily share your location with anyone within the Messages app).

To share your location in the Messages app: Open a conversation thread then tap the little “i” icon in the upper-right corner of your screen to open the contact’s details.

To send your current location (including a map) to the particular contact, tap Send My Current Location.

If you want to send someone regular updates about your location, you can tap Share My Location instead.

1. On your kid’s phone, go to Contacts, and select your name.

2. On your own contact page, scroll down and tap Share My Location.

3. Choose between Share for One Hour, Share Until End of Day, or Share Indefinitely.

5. Save data with this quick fix

Sending photos via text messages can be data-intensive. If you have a mobile data cap, you can eat through it in no time. You don’t always need to send megabytes-worth of material by text message, especially when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi.

To save bandwidth, you can opt to send low-quality photos in your iPhone text messages instead. Here how’s you do it: Go to Settings >> Messages >> and scroll all the way down and toggle Low Quality Image Mode to On.

6. Stop the irritating alerts

The good news is that iPhones will send you two text alerts when you receive a message, as well as the optional accompanying sounds. This is a default setting, and you’ll receive the two alerts within a two-minute interval. While this is great for most occasions, I personally found it redundant.

To have your iPhone send single text alerts only, do this: Go to Settings >> Notifications >> Messages. Scroll down to Repeat Alert then set it to Never.

7. Silence maddening group messages

We often join a group-texting session, and we get the information we need, and then we think, “Okay, I’m done. No need for more texts.” But still the alerts ping, ping, and ping away, and they can easily get overwhelming. Thankfully, you can silence these group alerts on your iPhone.

To mute group message alerts, swipe left on the group message then tap Hide Alerts. You’ll then see a moon icon on the left side of the group to indicate that it’s muted. Nice.

8. Make it harder to respond to the wrong message

Even seasoned texters can get confused about which conversation they’re responding to, especially if you have several group-texting sessions happening simultaneously. To avoid embarrassing miscommunications, you can organize your group-texts by giving them individual labels.

To name a group, simply open the conversation thread, tap the “i” icon on the top right then tap, Enter a Group Name.

9. Know who texts without looking at your phone

Similar to having special ringtones for your special someone, you also can set special text tones for specific contacts. This is great for knowing exactly who just sent you a text.

To set up a special text tone on your iPhone, select the specific Contact (on the Contacts app or the Phone app), then tap “Edit” on the upper right. Now on the “Text Tone” section, change it from “Default” to something else. You can also change the specific contact’s vibration alert in this section.

10. Block and silence the annoying ones

Do you have contacts who keep annoying you with text messages? Well, on the iPhone, you can simply block that contact and silence them.

Here’s how you do that: From the text conversation, tap the “i” icon on the top-right then tap the name or number at the tap. Select Block this Caller, then Block Contact to confirm. Don’t worry; you always have to option to unblock the contact later.

11. Hide embarrassing notification previews

Text notification previews are convenient. You can see the first few lines of a text before unlocking your phone, and thereby determine whether a response is urgent. The downside: Anyone can read your texts from the lock screen.

If you want to keep your text previews hidden on the lock screen and save yourself from potential embarrassment, go to Settings >> Notifications >> Messages then scroll down to Show Previews to set to When Unlocked or Never.

12. Start using this alternative to long texts

Don’t have time to tap away and send a long message to one of your friends? No problem.

You can record a voice note using Messages so your friend will receive an audio clip. It saves you time on long messages and also gives them the personal touch of hearing your voice.

1. Launch the Messages app on your iPhone or iPad.

2. Tap on an existing conversation with the person you would like to send a voice note to.

3. Tap and hold the microphone button and begin speaking into your phone’s microphone.

4. Swipe upwards to the quick send button (looks like a message bubble with an arrow in it).

If you mess up while recording, swipe your finger to the left in step 4 instead of upwards to cancel the voice message. Just tap and hold again to start the recording over.

What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

Copyright 2018, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

Supreme Court case seeks disclosure of credit card fees to benefit consumers

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Every time a consumer swipes his or her credit card, the credit card company collects a fee. Do most consumers know this? Probably not. That’s because American Express rules prohibit retailers from educating consumers about these fees or giving consumers benefits for using lower-cost cards.

Although retailers are fighting for the right to disclose these fees, credit card companies are determined to keep consumers in the dark. 

To change these rules, retailers support a lawsuit that will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The case, Ohio et al. v. American Express, began when the federal government and 11 states sued American Express, claiming that its rules violate U.S. antitrust laws.

After weeks of testimony and extensive briefing, a federal district court agreed. An appellate court later reversed the decision. Now the final determination will be made by the Supreme Court.

Retailers have been fighting the credit card networks’ unfair rules and anti-competitive practices for decades. The rules the Supreme Court will consider are but one example. They prevent consumers from getting basic information about the true costs of their payment choices, and prevent retailers from offering their own incentives or rewards to consumers who choose lower fee payment options.

Keeping consumers in the dark has allowed the banks and credit card networks to control the rewards they give to select customers while jacking up the fees charged to merchants – fees that are ultimately passed on to every customer in the form of higher prices.

For retailers, the solution is simple: let in the light.

Consumers crave transparency. They want to know the origins of their salmon and their T-shirts. They want to know what chemicals are in their water bottles and the calorie content of their breakfast. They use smartphones to read reviews and to compare prices on products right in the store.

Consumers use this information to make purchasing decisions that best fit their lifestyles and their budgets. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to know how much they’re paying to use their credit cards? Or be given the option at checkout to choose additional benefits for using a less expensive payment option?

The informed consumer is at the core of modern retail.  Empowered consumers increase retail competition, which in turn gives consumers more choices and lower prices.

The absence of similar transparency in the credit card market – because of American Express’s rules – has stifled competition in the payments space. The resulting higher fees increase prices for all consumers whether they pay by card, cash, check, or government benefits.

Transparency is the best way to prevent those with market power from stifling competition and innovation. Amex’s rules are the antithesis of the free market principles retailers embrace.

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears this case, America’s retailers hope the court will strike down American Express’s rules in order to allow transparency, marketplace competition and consumer choice to prevail.

Deborah White, senior executive vice president and general counsel for the Retail Industry Leaders Association and president of the Retail Litigation Center

Cong. Andy Harris to Hold Tele-Town Hall Monday

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mdcongandyharris
Image courtesy Rep Andy Harris

Congressman Andy Harris will host a Tele-Town Hall on Monday evening beginning at 5:30pm.  His office will call out to nearly 50,000 constituents on the Eastern Shore – pulling those numbers from the constituent services database.  You can sign up for the tele-town hall at – https://harris.house.gov/live

And for questions about the Town Hall – or to be removed from the call list – you should call Congressman Harris’s DC office – (202) 225-5311.


 

CDC employee's disappearance prompts $10G reward offer

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A search was underway in the Atlanta area to find an employee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who went home sick more than a week ago and has been missing ever since.

The family of Timothy Cunningham, 35, an epidemiologist at the CDC office in Chamblee, Ga., has offered a $10,000 reward for information about his whereabouts, Atlanta’s Fox 5 reported.

Cunningham’s brother, Anterio Cunningham, told the station he suspects something has gone wrong because disappearing without a trace is something the family could never imagine Timothy Cunningham – a Morehouse and Harvard graduate — would do.

“My first mind is that something has happened — especially considering the length of time he’s been gone,” the brother told Fox 5 last week. “Not having his phone, leaving his dog Bo alone, he just wouldn’t voluntarily check out like that.” Anterio said sitting in his brother’s living room Monday.

Family members said Cunningham was recently promoted to a commander with the U.S. Health Service Corps.

According to Fox 5, Cunningham reported to work Feb. 12, but left early because he was feeling ill. Although he has been missing since then, his cell phone, wallet and SUV were still at his home, family members said.

“We just hope he will just come home safely. None of this makes sense. He wouldn’t just evaporate like this and leave his dog alone and have our mother wondering and worrying like this. He wouldn’t,” the missing man’s brother said.

Atlanta police said Saturday that they are asking for the public’s help in finding the missing man.

Disappearance of CDC employee prompts $10G reward offer

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A search was underway in the Atlanta area to find an employee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who went home sick more than a week ago and has been missing ever since.

The family of Timothy Cunningham, 35, an epidemiologist at the CDC office in Chamblee, Ga., has offered a $10,000 reward for information about his whereabouts, Atlanta’s Fox 5 reported.

Cunningham’s brother, Anterio Cunningham, told the station he suspects something has gone wrong because disappearing without a trace is something the family could never imagine Timothy Cunningham – a Morehouse and Harvard graduate — would do.

“My first mind is that something has happened — especially considering the length of time he’s been gone,” the brother told Fox 5 last week. “Not having his phone, leaving his dog Bo alone, he just wouldn’t voluntarily check out like that.” Anterio said sitting in his brother’s living room Monday.

Family members said Cunningham was recently promoted to a commander with the U.S. Health Service Corps.

According to Fox 5, Cunningham reported to work Feb. 12, but left early because he was feeling ill. Although he has been missing since then, his cell phone, wallet and SUV were still at his home, family members said.

“We just hope he will just come home safely. None of this makes sense. He wouldn’t just evaporate like this and leave his dog alone and have our mother wondering and worrying like this. He wouldn’t,” the missing man’s brother said.

Atlanta police said Saturday that they are asking for the public’s help in finding the missing man.

US, Britain in cybersecurity divide over Chinese tech firm Huawei

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Washington is cranking up pressure on Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications-equipment maker that U.S. officials view as a potential tool for state-sponsored spying.

But across the Atlantic, one of America’s closest allies has taken a different approach. British Prime Minister Theresa May met Huawei Chairwoman Sun Yafang in Beijing earlier this month. Days later, Huawei announced it would invest £3 billion ($4.2 billion) in the U.K. over the next five years.

Britain’s embrace of Huawei is widening a gulf between the U.S. and several important allies over American allegations the company poses a cybersecurity threat. Some Washington lawmakers have recently expressed worry that Huawei’s inroads in countries with close security ties to the U.S. could make their telecommunications networks more vulnerable to Beijing snooping.

A 2012 U.S. congressional report labeled Huawei a national-security threat, saying its equipment could allow China to spy or disable telecommunications networks. Smaller U.S. carriers use Huawei gear, but the report made it politically difficult for bigger ones, such asAT&T Inc., to do so.

Almost everywhere outside the U.S., Huawei has become a colossus. It is the world’s third-largest smartphone company, after Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. And it has leapfrogged Ericsson and Nokia Corp. to become the world’s largest maker of telecom equipment—things like switches, routers and cellular-tower gear.

As wireless carriers around the world prepare to upgrade to a faster generation of network technology called 5G, Huawei has emerged as one of the industry’s biggest players.

The broad concern in Washington is that Beijing could force Huawei to use its knowledge of its own hardware’s design to spy on Americans or cripple communications. Some intelligence officials also fear Huawei’s equipment might have security vulnerabilities that could be exploited to remotely control or disable the gear.

“We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, at a Senate committee hearing earlier this month. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have introduced separate bills to bar the U.S. government and its contractors from using Huawei gear.

A Huawei spokesman said the company is employee-owned and no government has ever asked it to spy on another country. The company said it poses no greater cybersecurity risk than other vendors, since the telecom-equipment industry shares global supply chains and production capabilities.

“Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei’s business in the U.S. market,” the company said in a statement. “Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide.”

That is what worries some in Washington. Of particular concern is Huawei’s major presence in countries in the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partnership with the U.S. Governments of Britain, Canada and Australia allow major phone carriers in their respective countries to use Huawei equipment but give special scrutiny to Huawei gear. New Zealand, where Huawei gear is also used widely, is the fifth coalition member.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D., Md.), co-author of the 2012 report, and Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Texas), who introduced the House bill, both cite use of Huawei equipment by Five Eyes allies as a U.S. national-security vulnerability.

“Our partners’ willingness to jeopardize their systems in terms of infiltration puts at risk the information we share and the coordinated actions that might be developed,” said Michael Wessel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The body reports to Congress on the national-security implications of the trade and economic relationship between the two countries.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, an intelligence-agency division, said telecom systems related to U.K. national security are managed differently than carrier-operated networks the general public uses. In a statement on behalf of the British government, the NCSC called Huawei “a globally important company.”  It said the “government and British telecoms operators work with Huawei at home and abroad to ensure the U.K. can continue to benefit from new technology while managing cyber security risks.”

The U.K. was the first major European market to welcome Huawei’s telecommunications equipment. In 2005, Huawei landed a big contract to supply BT Group PLC with telephone switches and other infrastructure.

British intelligence officials at the time expressed reservations to BT about using Huawei equipment but lacked the authority to stop a private company from doing so, a person familiar with the matter said. A BT spokeswoman declined to comment.

Today, two of the country’s biggest phone carriers, BT and Vodafone Group PLC, use Huawei equipment. Huawei last year opened a joint lab with the University of Edinburgh to research data management and processing.

Huawei has roughly 1,500 employees in the U.K. It has recruited British business and government luminaries, such as John Browne, former CEO of oil giant BP PLC, to populate the board of its U.K. business.

In 2009, British intelligence chiefs warned lawmakers that China could use Huawei to remotely disrupt or disable a telecommunications network. To ease concerns, Huawei the next year opened a testing lab in Banbury, England, near Oxford.

There, about 30 people with U.K. security clearances disassemble Huawei equipment and evaluate hardware and software for security vulnerabilities. Huawei funds and operates the lab, and the staff are Huawei employees. Overseeing the operation is a board composed of mostly senior British intelligence and government officials, as well as three Huawei representatives.

David George-Cosh in Toronto contributed to this article.

Condoleezza Rice says US needs to consider Second Amendment's place in 'modern world'

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This month’s massacre in Parkland, Fla., seems like a key moment in the nation’s ongoing debate about the Second Amendment, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during a radio interview Friday.

“I think it is time to have a conversation about what the right to bear arms means in the modern world,” Rice told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday. “I don’t understand why civilians need to have access to military weapons. We wouldn’t say you can go out and buy a tank.”

More specifically, Rice said weapons like the AR-15 rifle that authorities say shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, 19, used to kill 17 students and teachers Feb. 14, shouldn’t be available to civilians, the Washington Times reported.

NIKOLAS CRUZ CHARGED IN FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING

But Rice, who served under President George W. Bush, made clear that she remains a believer in the Second Amendment.

“We can’t throw away the Second Amendment and keep the First,” she said, adding that she considers the first two amendments to the Constitution to be “indivisible.”

“We can’t throw away the Second Amendment and keep the First.”

– Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state

Hewitt then asked if Rice — being an educator herself as a political science professor at Stanford University — supports the idea of teachers carrying guns as a deterrent to potential campus shootings.

Rice said she doesn’t think that is “going to be the answer,” the Washington Times reported.

“I don’t really like the idea, frankly, of a gun in my classroom,” she said.

Rather, she supports looking to law enforcement and guards as ways for protection.

Rice, 63, was exposed to senseless violence at an early age, having grown up in Birmingham, Ala., where the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 resulted in the deaths of four young girls. She has written and spoken frequently about the impression the horrific event made on her.

She told Hewitt that despite her reservations about weapons in the classroom, the proposal merited a serious discussion.

“Look, if people need to train people to protect our schools, and perhaps even communities want to consider whether or not they need guards to protect the schools, it’s a sad thing to think that we might, then that’s something that we should look at,” Rice said.

She told Hewitt that talking across “our differences is extremely important” and that communities have to “pull together.”

“We have to start listening to each other, first and foremost,” Rice said of the people from all sides of the debate on gun control.

Click here for Hugh Hewitt’s full interview with Condoleezza Rice.

Man used hunting knife in brutal slaying at Massachusetts library, authorities say

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A man armed with a hunting knife stabbed a woman to death Saturday inside a public library in Massachusetts, authorities said.

The suspect — identified as Jeffrey Yao, 23 — allegedly approached the 22-year-old woman from behind as she was seated at a table in the reading room of Winchester Public Library, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said.

The blade was said to be 10 inches long and the suspect reportedly stabbed the woman multiple times.

During the attack, the young woman suffered injuries to her head and upper torso, Ryan said. As she struggled toward the door, onlookers reportedly tried to help her escape.

One bystander, a 77-year-old man, was also injured in the attack, suffering a non-life-threatening stab wound to an arm, Ryan said.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the attack and were working to determine a motive, a news release from the district attorney’s office said.

It wasn’t clear if Yao knew the woman, but the suspect was “known to police,” Ryan said. The woman’s identity was being withheld until her family could be notified, she added.

The suspect was charged with murder and armed assault with intent to murder, the news release said. He was being held without bail and was expected to appear in court Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.