ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

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February 16, 2012 --  (San Diego’s East County) – ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflecting all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:    
 
WORLD 
 
  • Israelis: Iran behind Bangkok bombings: coordinated attacks around the world (CNN)
  • Israel warns US Jews: Iran could attack here (ABC)
  • Heightened security in U.S. over Iran threat (ABC) 
 U.S. 
  • Congressional negotiators reach tentative deal on payroll tax, unemployment benefits (Washington Post)
  • Lobbyists sue Obama administration after being booted from boards (The Hill)
  • Obama signs $63B FAA funding bill into law (The Hill)
  • U.S. seeks to mine social media to predict future (UT San Diego)
 
Health   
  • Alzheimer’s brain plaque ‘rapidly cleared’ in mice (BBC)
  • How your cat is making you crazy (Atlantic)
 
Scroll down for excerpts and links to full stories. 
 
 
WORLD
 
Israelis: Iran behind Bangkok bombings: coordinated attacks around the world (CNN)
 
February 14, 2012 -- The failed bomb attack by an Iranian national in Bangkok today is just the latest in what Israeli officials say is "a coordinated series of attacks" that began in January, and includes Monday's attacks in India and Georgia, as well as a foiled attempt to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in Azerbaijan.
 
In Tuesday's bombing, an Iranian named Saeid Moradi was in a rented house in downtown Bangkok when a cache of explosives detonated, apparently by accident, taking off a section of the roof.
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/israelis-iran-bangkok-blast/story?id=15584889#.Tzti_7TQf0c
Israel warns US Jews: Iran could attack here (ABC)
 
February 3, 2012 -- Israeli facilities in North America -- and around the world -- are on high alert, according to an internal security document obtained by ABC News that predicted the threat from Iran against Jewish targets will increase.
 
"We predict that the threat on our sites around the world will increase … on both our guarded sites and 'soft' sites," stated a letter circulated by the head of security for the Consul General for the Mid-Atlantic States. Guarded sites refers to government facilities like embassies and consulates, while 'soft sites' means Jewish synagogues, and schools, as well as community centers like the one hit by a terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people.
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/israel-warns-us-jews-iran-strike/story?id=15506257#.TztjxbTQf0c
Heightened security in U.S. over Iran threat (ABC)
 
February 14, 2012 -- With Iran allegedly striking out at Israeli citizens and Jewish targets around the world, Israeli and American security officials in the U.S. are on high alert. "We expect it and we are ready," one senior Israeli official told ABC News.
 
Israeli officials told ABC News that the level of personal security on high-ranking Embassy officials as well as other, lower profile officials in the U.S. is at its highest in at least five years, a response to what they called "a coordinated series of attacks." When Israeli officials travel to and from events, ABC News has observed a notable increase in the security presence.
http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/heightened-security-us-iran-threat/story?id=15592451#.Tztit7TQf0c
 
U.S.
 
Congressional negotiators reach tentative deal on payroll tax, unemployment benefits (Washington Post)
 
February 14, 2012 -- Congressional negotiators reached a tentative deal Tuesday to extend a payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and Medicare payment rates for doctors, while finding more than $50 billion in cuts to reduce the effect on the federal deficit.
While President Obama and congressional leaders publicly jousted over the negotiations, senior Democrats and Republicans worked behind the scenes toward a compromise that would extend the tax and unemployment benefits through the year. A deal also would mean that doctors would not see a drop in rates paid by Medicare, according to senior aides in both parties.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-renews-pressure-for-payroll-tax-cut-even-as-gop-leaders-agree-to-compromise/2012/02/14/gIQAyZEbDR_story.html?hpid=z1
Lobbyists sue Obama administration after being booted from boards (The Hill)
February 14, 2012 -- Lobbyists who were booted from federal advisory committees by the Obama administration are suing the government to reverse the ban on their service.
In a 16-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, six lobbyists argue the administration’s ban against lobbyists on advisory committees violates the First Amendment.
http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/210439-lobbyists-sue-obama-after-being-booted-from-boards
Obama signs $63B FAA funding bill into law (The Hill)
 
February 14, 2012 -- President Obama signed a $63.6 billion funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration Tuesday, bringing to an end a years-long fight over aviation funding that became engulfed in labor disputes. 

After a year of debate — and a two-week partial shutdown of the FAA — the House and Senate approved a multi-year funding bill for the beleaguered agency for the first time since its last authorization expired in 2007, and the White House said Tuesday that Obama signed the measure. 

http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/aviation/210649-obama-signs-63b-faa-funding-bill-into-law
 
U.S. seeks to mine social media to predict future (UT San Diego)
 
February 12, 2012 -- The U.S. government is seeking software that can mine social media to predict everything from future terrorist attacks to foreign uprisings, according to requests posted online by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Hundreds of intelligence analysts already sift overseas Twitter and Facebook posts to track events such as the Arab Spring. But in a formal "request for information" from potential contractors, the FBI recently outlined its desire for a digital tool to scan the entire universe of social media - more data than humans could ever crunch.
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/feb/12/us-seeks-to-mine-social-media-to-predict-future/  
Health
 
Alzheimer’s brain plaque ‘rapidly cleared’ in mice (BBC)
 
February 9, 2012 -- Destructive plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients have been rapidly cleared by researchers testing a cancer drug on mice.
The US study, published in the journal Science, reported the plaques were broken down at "unprecedented" speed.
Tests also showed an improvement in some brain function.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16945466
How your cat is making you crazy (Atlantic)
 
February 16, 2012 -- NO ONE WOULD accuse Jaroslav Flegr of being a conformist. A self-described “sloppy dresser,” the 63-year-old Czech scientist has the contemplative air of someone habitually lost in thought, and his still-youthful, square-jawed face is framed by frizzy red hair that encircles his head like a ring of fire.
 
Certainly Flegr’s thinking is jarringly unconventional. Starting in the early 1990s, he began to suspect that a single-celled parasite in the protozoan family was subtly manipulating his personality, causing him to behave in strange, often self-destructive ways. And if it was messing with his mind, he reasoned, it was probably doing the same to others.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/how-your-cat-is-making-you-crazy/8873/#.TzRDnzPwopE.facebook