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Iran Successfully Test-Fires Long-Range Missile: Minister

By Parisa Hafezi

ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran's military has successfully test-fired two new domestically made missiles, the defense minister said on Monday according to state television, ahead of talks with world powers to try to reach an agreement on curbing Tehran's nuclear program.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said one of them was a long-range ballistic missile with radar-evading capabilities.

"The new generation of long-range ground-to-ground ballistic missile with a fragmentation warhead and the laser-guided air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile dubbed Bina (Insightful) have been successfully test-fired," state television quoted him as saying.

"The Bina missile is capable of striking important targets such as bridges, tanks and enemy command centers with great precision."

Iran already has long-range surface-to-surface Shahab missiles with a range of about 2,000 km (1,250 miles) that are capable of reaching Israel and U.S. military bases in the Middle East. However, analysts have challenged some of Iran's military assertions, saying it often exaggerates its capabilities.



4 Key Insights Into The 2014 Midterms

In a new episode of Political Wire's podcast, we spoke with Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster for the George Washington University Battleground Poll. Lake shared her insights with us on the mood of the electorate and Democrats' turnout challenges as the 2014 midterms approach.

Here are four takeaways:

1. We're in unfamiliar territory when it comes to voters' frustrations with government and the economy: The last time Americans felt this sour about their government was during the Watergate scandal, Lake said. Americans are fed up with both parties, and their frustration with Congress has gotten to the point where voters are even souring to some extent on their own representatives in Congress. "They're not ready to fire their guy yet, but they've definitely put their guy on notice," Lake said. But unlike the Watergate era, Lake said, today's voters are also strongly frustrated with the state of the economy. And this time voters' disgust with government stems not from corruption scandals but from a perception that government is highly polarized and can't get anything done: "It's really hard to imagine, 'Where does this end, where does this come out?'"

2. Democrats need to talk more about jobs. Their focus on the minimum wage isn't a jobs platform: Yes, raising the minimum wage, which many Democrats have proposed as a way to tackle income inequality, polls well with voters. It even gets support from half of Republicans, Lake said. But she cautions: "I think the winning prescription is actually something that Democrats don't talk about right now, and that's jobs." Voters care even more about jobs, she suggested; a recent Battleground poll showed that a far greater fraction of voters wanted President Obama to address jobs/the economy in his State of the Union address than the fraction that wanted him to address income inequality. So while Americans like the idea of raising the minimum wage, "people don't think that's a major jobs platform," Lake said.

3. All signs point toward a midterm electorate that's more friendly to Republicans than in 2012: Historically, turnout tends to favor Republicans in midterm elections anyway. As if that didn't pose enough of a problem for Democrats, Republicans are fired up after the botched rollout of the ObamaCare insurance exchanges, and key Democratic constituencies, namely single women and young people, are "very disengaged," Lake said of the Battleground Poll results. All told, "I think you can expect a much whiter, older electorate in 2014 than you had in 2012 for sure."

4. Energizing young voters will be especially difficult for Democrats: Democrat Terry McAuliffe's campaign organization in the Virginia gubernatorial race was able to get Democratic-leaning single women to the polls in an off-year election, but not the crucial young-voter demographic that helped propel Democrats to the White House in 2008 and 2012. Young voters are discouraged about the state of the economy, the jobs market, and their education costs, Lake said: "I think we could see record-low turnout of young people, frankly." To help boost youth turnout, Democrats need the strong organization and digital operations that Obama's presidential campaigns had, and a greater focus on jobs than Democrats have right now. Democrats also need all the help they can get from voting inducements such as early voting and same-day registration, but Republican-controlled state governments have sought to roll back such initiatives. Another potential tool is ballot initiatives that concern issues that young people strongly care about, such as the minimum wage, student loans and marijuana legalization.

Listen to the entire conversation:



Revealed: U.S. Targets Death Strikes Using Mobile Phones

By John Byrne
Monday, February 10, 2014 9:28 EST

Be careful when you answer the phone.

That’s the message you might heed when considering National Security Operations and CIA operations in Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, according to a new report.

According to documents and an interview with an alleged former drone operator, the United States uses geolocation targeting that tracks the location of mobile phones to plot strikes on targets in countries where it believes militants are hiding out. Trouble is, they’re not necessarily coupling it with information on the ground, meaning that strike targets can be determined by the locations of their phones alone.

What’s more, the fact that the U.S. may rely solely on phone locations means that others can easily become victims of a strike. According the former drone operator quoted in the report, published Monday by Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill in First Look, those who believe they might be targets have taken to sharing SIM cards, meaning the actual identities of those carrying phones are obscured.

“They might have been terrorists,” he says. “Or they could have been family members who have nothing to do with the target’s activities.”

“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he continues. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”



Florida Seeks To ‘Strangle The Lifeblood’ Of Bitcoin By Targeting Anonymous Transactions

By Scott Kaufman
Monday, February 10, 2014 8:52 EST

In an unprecedented move, authorities in Florida are targeting bitcoin traders simply for purchasing the currency.

Unlike previous prosecutions in which Bitcoin users were suspected of participating in other illegal activities, the Miami Beach Police Department is claiming that purchasing the currency is itself a crime punishable under state anti-money-laundering laws.

One of the men targeted is a user of localbitcoins.com named “Michelhack.” The site facilitates in-person meetings between Bitcoin owners and prospective buyers, and “Michelhack” had a 99 percent approval rating, so undercover agents from the United States Secret Service’s Electronic Crimes Task Force set up a meeting with him at which they exchanged a bitcoin for $1,000.

With that trust established, the undercover agent then arranged to purchase $30,000 more in bitcoins from “Michelhack” and, according to court documents, told him that they were to be used to purchase stolen credit cards.

Although “Michelhack” — who investigators identified as Miami Beach resident Michell Abner Espinoza — wasn’t involved in the credit card scheme, he was arrested yesterday on charges of making an unlicensed money transmission of between $300 and $20,000, and on money laundering charges for trading in currency valued at more than $10,000.



Panel Investigating Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Votes To Compel Insiders To Produce Records

Source: NJ.com

TRENTON — The state legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge scandal today voted to compel Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Stepien to produce the documents they have refused to provide by citing their Fifth Amendment rights against incrimination and other objections.

The committee voted 8-0 with all four Republicans abstaining to reject the objections raised by the two, to set a new due date for documents and to authorize its special counsel, Reid Schar, to "take all necessary steps" to enforce the subpoenas.

A co-chairman of the committee, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), said after the meeting that new subpoenas would be issued tonight or Tuesday morning. He declined to specify how many were issued or to whom, but said it was more than a dozen.

The developments came after the panel met for more than 90 minutes behind closed doors to receive advice from Schar. Republicans on the panel said they were abstaining because they were only provided information about the actions taken when they arrived today for the hearing.

Read more: http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/02/panel_investigating_chris_christie_bridge_scandal_issues_xx_new_subpoenas.html

Oklahoma Restaurant That Won’t Serve ‘F*ggots’ Gets Internet Push As ‘Best Gay Bar’

The owner of an Oklahoma restaurant who declared last week that he won’t serve “freaks,” “f*ggots,” the disabled, or people on welfare now finds himself the victim of an online campaign to brand his establishment the “Best Gay Club” in Oklahoma City.

Gary James of Gary’s Chicaros restaurant told KFOR last week that “I really don’t want gays around. Any man that would compromise his own body would compromise anything.”

The “gays” have responded on Yelp and Facebook by declaring James’s establishment the “est place for hot man sex!”

Another reviewer notes that “Gary does’t serve tube steak. He asks for yours when you walk in the door. But don’t ask to use his backdoor, he saves that for minorities.”

The restaurant’s official t-shirt proudly threatens violence against minorities.



Boomers Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out of U.S. Labor Force

When Robin McLane’s generation hit public schools in the 1950s, there were never enough classrooms or teachers to accommodate the bulge, she said. So she’s not surprised about the latest shock that boomers are delivering to the U.S. economy.

“People all around me, relatives and friends, are either retiring, or they’re finding it’s very difficult to find work anywhere from 55 on,” said the 65-year-old, who lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and retired from her job as a high school literacy specialist in June. “For me, I was ready to move on.”

The share of Americans in the labor force, known as the participation rate, is hovering around an almost four-decade low as the population ages and discouraged job seekers give up looking for work. Federal Reserve research shows retirees are at the forefront of the recent exodus, which blunts the impact of policy aimed at boosting the economy and workforce.

In the two years ended 2013, 80 percent of the decrease in labor force participation was due to retirement, according to calculations by Shigeru Fujita, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. And while the number of discouraged workers rose sharply during and after the recession, the group’s ranks have been roughly unchanged since 2011.

That tilts the debate on whether the participation rate can fully rebound alongside the improving economy, as retired workers are unlikely to re-enter the workforce, said Michelle Girard, chief U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc., in Stamford, Connecticut. A tighter supply of workers means wage pressures would build faster than otherwise, something Fed Chairman Janet Yellen may watch as a leading indicator of inflation, Girard said.



U.S. Winter Storm Seen Spreading Snow, Sleet Across South

By Brian K. Sullivan Feb 10, 2014

Georgia’s governor declared a state of emergency for 45 counties and Atlanta canceled classes for tomorrow and the next day as a winter storm neared, less than two weeks after a system stranded thousands of people in cars, buses and schools.

The region may get 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 centimeters) of snow and ice over the next three days as the storm moves from Texas to the Atlantic Ocean, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. Sleet and snow will begin falling late today or early tomorrow, the agency said.

“There is the potential for a major ice storm from northern Georgia to central and upstate South Carolina to central North Carolina Tuesday night and Wednesday,” Mark Mancuso, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania, said on the company’s website.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal extended an emergency declaration today from 14 counties in the northern part of the state to 45. Public schools will close in Atlanta and Marietta and in DeKalb, Cobb and Fulton counties, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Winter storm alerts extend from Texas to North Carolina, covering parts of nine states, the weather service said.



Chrysler Pays UAW Trust $5 Billion to End Bankruptcy Chapter

Source: Bloomberg

Chrysler Group LLC, the American carmaker owned by Fiat SpA (F), will pay $5 billion to a United Auto Workers trust, completing the final payments that the company owed as a result of its bankruptcy.

Chrysler today closed a bond sale to reimburse the UAW health-care trust for a note it provided five years ago as part of the automaker’s financial rescue, the U.S. manufacturer said in a statement.

Fiat last month bought the 41.5 percent Chrysler stake held by the trust, which was created to pay medical bills for union retirees, to gain full control of the U.S. business. The combination creates the world’s seventh-largest auto manufacturer. Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, 61, wants to transform the company with a scale that can challenge the likes of General Motors Co. (GM) and Volkswagen AG.

“Getting full control of Chrysler is a big step but only a first step,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s business and law schools, said in an e-mail. “Now he will have to display world-class operating skills to integrate the companies and compete globally,” he said.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-10/chrysler-pays-uaw-trust-5-billion-to-close-bankruptcy-chapter.html

Eyeing 2016 Campaign, Liberals Are Watching Hillary Clinton For Signs On How She Might Govern


WASHINGTON (AP) — As Hillary Rodham Clinton mulls a second presidential bid, liberals are closely watching whether the onetime supporter of the Iraq war moves to the left or straddles the center.

Democrats say economic issues such as raising the minimum wage and protecting Social Security have become paramount for anyone aiming to lead the party after years of tough economic times.

During the 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama, Clinton was hurt by her stand on the Iraq war while she was a senator. But she burnished her image among party loyalists during four years at the State Department in the Obama administration. Now liberals want to see how she might carry the torch from Obama.

"We're going to see income inequality play the same role that the war in Iraq played in 2008," said Ilya Sheyman, executive director of MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group. "This is less about what she did before. The issue landscape right now is very different than in 2008."

Whether a viable Clinton alternative emerges for the 2016 campaign remains a looming question.


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