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Amazon unveils music store ‘optimized’ for Apple devices

Amazon said Thursday its 22-million song music catalog was now “optimized” for users of Apple devices, making it easier for iPhone owners to circumvent the iTunes store. The move is part of a new initiative by the Internet retail giant challenging Apple’s dominance of the digital music market. “For the…

Russia plans national park for joint U.S.-Russia nature reserve

Russia on Thursday decreed a national park in its remote Far Eastern Chukotka region, paving the way for a joint US-Russian nature reserve spanning the Bering Strait, an idea first proposed by the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed the decree to create the new national…

U.S. attorney defends handling of Aaron Swartz case as ‘appropriate’

A US prosecutor at the center of a controversy over the handling of a case involving an Internet activist who committed suicide has defended the government’s actions as “appropriate.” Assistant US Attorney Carmen Ortiz expressed regret over the death of Aaron Swartz, who was accused of illegally copying and distributing…

Weird marine creature could be the ancestor to modern shellfish

A weird marine creature that lived 500 million years ago at a time of explosive growth in Earth’s biodiversity could be a forerunner of worms and molluscs, a study published on Thursday said. Palaeontologists in China and Europe have taken a second look at fossils of a species called Cotyledion…

Michelle Obama opens a Twitter account for her birthday

Michelle Obama’s office said Thursday it had opened a Twitter account, as the US first lady turned 49. The account is @FLOTUS, the acronym for First Lady of the United States, and it will be administered by the first lady’s staff. Tweets penned by the first lady herself will bear…

White House: Iran under pressure from sanctions

The White House said Thursday that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s latest warnings on the state of Iran’s economy, proved the “profound impact” of nuclear sanctions. Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Tehran needed to tailor the economy to subvert Western sanctions, saying the current approach would be a “losing strategy.” White House…

Hurricane Sandy turns Long Island airport into vast used-car purgatory

Mother nature in all her fury tossed them about like toys. Now they fill two airport runways — parked, obedient and damaged — as they await nibbles from buyers. Cars — thousands upon thousands of them, of every size, color, make and model — roughed up to one extent or…

FBI director travels to Libya amid Benghazi investigation

FBI director Robert Mueller traveled to Libya, his office said Thursday, as US investigators continue their probe there into last year’s deadly attack on a US diplomatic mission. “The director was in Libya to discuss cooperation on several issues,” said an FBI official who spoke on condition of anonymity, without…

Group to distribute secular material after Christians passed out Bibles in school

A secularist organization in central Florida announced plans on Wednesday to distribute atheist and agnostic informational materials in local schools after a group of Christians distributed Bibles on Jan. 16, according to the group’s press release. The Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC), which is a chapter of the national Freedom…

Clinton: U.S. and Somalia launch new era of diplomatic ties

The United States and Somalia Thursday launched a new era of diplomatic relations, as Washington recognized the African nation’s government for the first time since 1991. “Today is a milestone, it is not the end of the journey, but it is an important milestone towards that end,” US Secretary of…

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