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U.S. releases $450 million in frozen Iran funds for complying with nuclear deal

The United States has authorized the release of a $450 million installment in Iranian assets that were frozen as punishment for Tehran’s disputed nuclear program, the State Department said Thursday. It came after a new report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog found that Iran was complying with the terms of…

Russia agrees to surprise security deal in Ukrainian crisis

Russia, Ukraine and the West reached a surprise deal Thursday to try to ease the Ukrainian crisis, in a glimmer of hope for the former Soviet republic that risks splitting in two. The agreement laid out concrete steps to “restore security for all citizens” and crucially urged “all illegal armed…

Retailer Michaels Stores confirms payment card data breach

(Reuters) – Michaels Stores Inc, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, on Friday confirmed that there was a breach of certain systems that process payment cards at its U.S. stores and that of its unit, Aaron Brothers. The company said in January that it was working with federal law…

Literary icon Gabriel Garcia Marquez dead at 87

Colombia’s Nobel-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez died Thursday in Mexico City at the age of 87, Mexican and Colombian media reported. Garcia Marquez, the author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” passed away at his home with his wife and two sons by his side, Mexico’s Televisa anchor Joaquin Lopez-Doriga…

Courtney Love slams Bruce Springsteen: ‘Saxophones don’t belong in rock ‘n’ roll’

Courtney Love slams Bruce Springsteen: ‘Saxophones don’t belong in rock ‘n’ roll’ (via NJ.com) In the latest clip from her ongoing YouTube series, “Courtney Love On…”, the Hole frontwoman says Bruce Springsteen — whose E Street Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week —…

Pope Francis includes elderly Muslim in Easter foot-washing ritual

Pope Francis washed the feet of a dozen elderly and disabled people including a Libyan Muslim during an Easter ritual in Rome on Thursday imitating Jesus Christ’s humility. The 77-year-old bent down with difficulty to wash and kiss the feet of the nine Italians and three foreigners aged between 16…

In response to bridge investigation, Christie names Seton Hall dean as ombudsman

In response to bridge scandal review, Christie names Seton Hall dean as ombudsman (via NJ.com) TRENTON — In response to the internal review of his office commissioned in the wake of the September lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, Gov. Chris Christie today appointed Seton Hall University Dean Patrick…

FBI facial-recognition program uses low-resolution photos and employment mugshots

The FBI’s Facial Recognition Database Combines Lo-Res Photos With Zero Civil Liberties Considerations (via Techdirt) Another FOIA lawsuit brought against the government by the EFF has resulted in the release of previously withheld documents. The papers cut loose this time detail the FBI’s facial recognition database and other parts of…

California sees Obamacare surge as open enrollment ends for 2014

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thanks to a final April surge, California’s Obamacare marketplace enrolled a total of 1.4 million people in private health insurance plans, state officials announced on Thursday, beating a federal forecast by just over 800,000 enrollees. The marketplace also signed up an additional 1.9 million in the…

Hotel executive and Democratic fundraiser confesses to illegal campaign contributions scheme

By Nate Raymond NEW YORK (Reuters) – A prominent hotel executive in New York pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring to make $188,000 of illegal campaign contributions to three U.S. candidates via straw donors. Sant Singh Chatwal, chairman of Hampshire Hotels Management, pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, New…

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