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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to finally have a director

By David Ingram WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate on Wednesday confirmed a director for the federal agency that regulates firearms, fulfilling one of the demands President Barack Obama made after the Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting. After a delay while lawmakers awaited the return of a colleague who was flying in…

Mexico to detain ‘Queen of the Pacific’ over drug trafficking

Mexico will detain Sandra Avila Beltran, known as the “Queen of the Pacific” for her links to the drug trade, after the United States deports her, an official said Wednesday. The government official, who requested anonymity, said Avila Beltran faces an investigation into a scheme to launder money through real…

Twitter report: U.S. leads the world in demands for user information

Twitter revealed on Wednesday that government demands for information about users rose in the first half of this year, with US authorities accounting for more than three-quarters of the requests. Governments submitted a total of 1,157 requests for information about Twitter accounts, with 78 percent of those queries coming from…

Obama set to sign bill to lower student loan interest rates

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would reverse a recent hike in federal student loan interest rates, lowering them to 3.86 percent for undergraduates in the new school year. The House voted 392-31 in favor of the bill that will switch interest rates…

NSA director Keith Alexander insists mass surveillance programs respect privacy

The director of the National Security Agency has tried to dampen the current outcry over US government surveillance programmes by insisting such programmes respect Americans’ privacy. He also said that he is unable to intercept his own daughters’ emails. General Keith Alexander told a conference of hackers on Wednesday that…

Subterranean ‘highway from hell’ shows some volcanoes have a short fuse

A subterranean “highway from hell” enables some volcanoes to erupt at super-speed, a discovery that also throws up options for predicting the peril, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday. Volcanoes disgorge molten rock generated within the mantle, the layer sandwiched between Earth’s crust and fiery core. The…

‘Bird brains’ evolved before birds: study

New evidence has emerged that puts a dent into the reputation of the famous “first bird” — Archaeopteryx, a feathered descendant of the dinosaurs, which lived around 150 million years ago. Three-dimensional scans of skulls of early birds and dinosaurs suggests that at least a few species of dinos that…

Lawmakers sue Illinois governor over veto of legislative raises

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The leaders of the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate on Tuesday filed a lawsuit challenging Governor Pat Quinn’s veto of lawmakers’ pay during a legislative impasse over pension reform. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both Democrats, said in a letter to…

Florida gunman who killed 6 called 911 hours earlier about someone performing ‘witchcraft’ on him

MIAMI (Reuters) – A man who shot and killed six people in a Miami-area apartment building called 911 hours beforehand and said he believed he was being followed and that someone was performing witchcraft on him, according to a copy of the call released on Wednesday. A SWAT team stormed…

Britain set to ban Google Glass for drivers

Google’s smart glasses will distract drivers, says Department of Transport. Google Glass is the highest profile product in a wave of new wearable technologies, promising to display everything from restaurant reviews to directions and allow automated video and photos wherever we go. But the internet-connected eyewear looks set to be…

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