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Posts of News Briefs
  • Wednesday April 16
    Boston police evacuate marathon finish line and detonate suspicious bags
    The Boston Police Department investigated two unattended backpacks near the finish line area of the city’s marathon. A man thought to have left one of the bags was taken into custody, though it appears to have been a hoax. The Boston Police Department's bomb squad was sent to check the bags, and officers cleared the area around the marathon's finish line - at Boylston and Dartmouth Streets - at around 7 p.m. local time on Tuesday, according to local news outlets. Police "disrupted" two of the bags for "precautionary reasons," yet the bags' contents have not been verified. At around 9 p.m., the bomb squad conducted a controlled detonation of a bag, a routine measure. WBZ-TV reported that Edson told police he was carrying a rice cooker in his backpack, prompting the bomb squad. Another source told WBZ-TV that the rice cooker in the bag was full of confetti.

    Ferry sinking off South Korean coast, over 470 people on board

    A sinking passenger ferry with 472 people on board sent out a distress signal off the coast of South Korea, according to local media reports. The vessel was reportedly carrying 338 students and teachers, all of whom have been rescued. One person was found dead inside the sinking vessel, Reuters quoted a South Korean coast guard official as saying. There are conflicting reports about the total number of students and teachers on board. According to Reuters, a school official stated that 338 students and teachers were on board, all of whom have been rescued. The high school students were on their way to Jeju Island as part of a school trip, according to Yonhap news agency.


  • Tuesday April 15
    Fire in triple-decker injures 3 Providence firefighters, resident
    Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of a blaze Monday night at a three-story apartment house at 55 Plymouth St., in the city’s West End, that injured three firefighters and a resident. The fire, reported at around 9:15 p.m., started at the rear of the building and quickly engulfed all three floors, Deputy Assistant Fire Chief Joseph R. Desmarais said. The building’s 15 residents, including about seven children, all had evacuated before firefighters arrived, Desmarais said. Firefighters were ordered to evacuate the structure for fear that it might collapse. The three injured firefighters — two of whom had burns and a third who injured his eye — along with an injured resident were transported to Rhode Island Hospital, where they were treated and later released, Desmarais said.

    TurboTax maker spending millions to kill simplified IRS tax filing

    A software company that promises to help Americans avoid the annual misery of filing their IRS returns has, in fact, spent years trying to convince lawmakers to make sure filing taxes remains difficult, thus protecting its business, a new report found. Every year Americans spend an estimated $2 billion and 225 million hours preparing their tax returns by April 15. The process can include obtaining information from a bank or employer, intensive financial disclosures, and, for many Americans, an appointment with a professional accountant who is qualified to evaluate how much money the state and federal government is due.


  • Monday April 14
    71 People Killed, 124 Wounded in Nigeria Bus Station Blasts
    Seventy-one people have been killed and a further 124 injured in two blasts that tore through a bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, police officials said. The explosions took place as several hundred commuters were boarding buses to Abuja. Police spokesman Frank Mba told AP that 16 luxury coaches and 24 minibuses were destroyed. Police say they believe that secondary explosions were triggered by the first one

    URI to Arm Campus Police Officers

    The University of Rhode Island will arm its campus police officers with handguns under a new policy announced Monday morning. The decision to arm the police force on the Kingston campus was the product of a process that drew input from law enforcement agencies and also from students, professors and others who participated in a campus-wide “conversation,” according to the university’s president, David M. Dooley.

    Space Monday
    Mars passes within just 57 million miles (92 million kilometers) of Earth Monday — its closest approach since January 2008. After sunset, Mars will be an orange beacon overhead, blazing as brightly as Sirius, the most luminous star in the sky other than the sun, experts say.

    The main event for the night will be the first total lunar eclipse of 2014, which will be visible from all of North and South America, as well as Hawaii and part of Alaska. It is perhaps the most exciting of the night's events (though it technically begins early Tuesday morning Eastern time). The lunar eclipse will begin at 12:53 a.m. EDT (0453 GMT) Tuesday (April 15), when the moon plunges into Earth's outer shadow. The "totality" phase, in which the moon is completely veiled by Earth's shadow, starts at 3:06 a.m. EDT and lasts for more than an hour, ending at 4:24 a.m. EDT. The moon should be quite a dramatic sight during the totality phase, experts say. "Sunlight bent by our atmosphere around the curvature of the Earth should produce a coppery glow on the moon," Space.com skywatching columnist Joe Rao wrote in an April 8 guide. "At this time, the moon, if viewed with binoculars or a small telescope, will present the illusion of seemingly glowing from within by its own light."


  • Sunday April 13
    CIA deceived government on torture program according to Senate report
    The Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation program – active from September 11, 2001 to 2006 – found that the CIA used interrogation methods not approved by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Ultimately, the Committee found that the “Justice Department’s legal analyses were based on flawed information provided by the CIA,” McClatchy news service reported Friday. “The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” the report found, according to McClatchy. The Senate’s probe, which yielded a yet-unreleased 6,300-page report, also found that the CIA distorted how many detainees it held in “black site” prisons throughout the world and how many were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” many amount to torture. The CIA has claimed only about 30 detainees fell under the mercy of such methods.


  • Thursday April 10
    90.7 WXIN Rock Hunt Night 4
    Come out to Firehouse 13 at 41 Central Street in Providence to see Satellites Fall, Hemlok, The Really Heavy, and The Bitchin' Aardvarks. Doors are at 8pm and the show starts at 8:30. Entrance is $3 with a RIC student ID and $5 without. You get to vote for your favorite bands.

    Retired URI professor charged with faking degree
    A retired University of Rhode Island professor faked his academic credentials and is facing charges of perjury, forgery and obtaining money under false pretenses, according to the state police. Frederick F. Meli, 64, of 24 N. Hillview Drive, Narragansett, was taken into custody Wednesday by members of the State Police Financial Crimes Unit. Col. Steven G. O’Donnell, superintendent of the state police, said that Meli misrepresented himself in 2007 before the North Smithfield Town Council, when he offered a résumé and a copy of a diploma from the University of Massachusetts in seeking a job.

    NSA monitors WiFi on US planes ‘in violation’ of privacy laws

    Companies that provide WiFi on US domestic flights are handing over their data to the NSA, adapting their technology to allow security services new powers to spy on passengers. In doing so, they may be in violation of privacy laws. In a letter leaked to Wired, Gogo, the leading provider of inflight WiFi in the US, admitted to violating the requirements of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The act is part of a wiretapping law passed in 1994 that requires telecoms carriers to provide law enforcement with a backdoor in their systems to monitor telephone and broadband communications. Gogo states in the letter to the Federal Communications Commission that it added new capabilities to its service that go beyond CALEA, at the behest of law enforcement agencies.

    Massachusetts Plans To Abolish Noncompetes
    Governor Deval Patrick has just made a massive move to make Massachusetts a global talent draw. In an economic development bill announced Thursday morning, Patrick has proposed legislation to eliminate noncompetes entirely in Massachusetts. He's also taking on the controversial H-1B visa program and proposing new spending for a global Entrepreneur in Residence program that will allow foreign students to stay in Massachusetts to work in startups.

    Condoleezza Rice Joins Dropbox’s Board As It Names New CFO, COO

    Condoleeza Rice, former United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor has joined the board of cloud file storage and syncing firm Dropbox. Rice is a famous figure, known in almost equal parts for her ferocious intelligence, and controversial role in the Bush administration, which included comments on alleged weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was thought at the time to possess.


  • Wednesday April 9
    Up to 20 people stabbed at Pennsylvania high school
    As many as 20 students have been injured in stabbing at a high school in the US state of Pennsylvania, authorities have said. One suspect believed to be a student is in custody at Franklin Regional High School in a suburb of Pittsburgh, a local affiliate of ABC News reports. The wounded, at least four with significant injuries, range in age from 14-17 and have been taken to hospital. The school was locked down as police searched the premises.

    The Heartbleed Bug

    The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs). The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.


  • Monday April 7
    More Voters Than Ballots in Afghan Election
    Afghans have turned out in impressive numbers to vote in their country’s presidential election. The day itself, April 5th, was marred by sporadic violence, allegations of fraud, and other controversy, yet by some measures it was perhaps the most successful election Afghanistan has ever held. The candidates were competing to replace Hamid Karzai. An estimated 7 million citizens, a third of them women, braved long queues, rainy weather and concerted efforts at intimidation on the part of the Taliban, who tried to suppress turnout and stifle the election. There was much that could have gone wrong. Instead, with a few exceptions to note, the early signs are that Afghanistan’s voters dealt a blow to those who would have stopped them going to the polls.


  • Saturday April 5
    Military drone crashes near Pennsylvania elementary school
    A nearly 400-pound unmanned aerial vehicle crash-landed near an elementary school in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon, irritating members of the community and alarming civil liberties advocates nervous about drones flying over the US. The drone, an RQ-7 Shadow, is 11 feet long with a 14 foot wingspan. Why it was flying in the air above Lickdale Elemantary School is unknown, but Major Ed Shank, a public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania National Guard, told Les Stewart of the Lebanon Daily News that drones operate out of Fort Indiantown Gap, an Army post in Lebanon County. The 375-pound craft endured what officials called a “hard landing” before being run over by a civilian vehicle. No one was hurt in the incident, but the drone – reportedly worth $150,000 – was a “total loss” and rendered useless after slamming into the ground.


  • Thursday April 3
    Rock Hunt Night 3
    Come out to Firehouse 13 at 41 Central Street in Providence tonight to see the Jessica Prouty Band, No Plateau, Three Points of Madness, and PALS play. You get to vote for your favorite bands. Admission is $3 with a RIC ID and $5 without. Doors are at 8pm and the show starts at 8:30.

    7.6 aftershock hits area of northern Chile

    A 7.6-magnitude aftershock has rocked the same area of northern Chile where a massive 8.2 earthquake struck on Tuesday. The earlier quake, which caused a tsunami, killed six people and forced almost one million others to evacuate. The Wednesday quake occurred just before 02:43 GMT off the northern coast of Chile, 19 km (14 miles) south of Iquique, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The epicenter of the latest quake was located at a shallow depth of 40 km (24.9 miles). Chile’s emergency ministry has ordered a preventative evacuation along the northern Chilean coastline.

    Iraq veteran kills 3 and self in Fort Hood shooting

    An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental health issues opened fire at Fort Hood military base on Wednesday, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide. The attack took place on the same Texas site where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009, authorities said. The shooter was identified as Army Spc. Ivan Lopez by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. Reuters later reported that security officials had confirmed the identification. Few details have been released about the gunman. But authorities at Fort Hood said Lopez had served for four months in Iraq in 2011. He was not physically wounded in action, but self-reported a traumatic brain injury before returning to the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

    European Parliament passes string new neutrality law

    Blocking and throttling Internet traffic will become illegal in the European Union following a parliamentary vote on Thursday.Members of the European Parliament voted to close loopholes in a proposed law that some believed would have created a two-tier Internet. The so-called Telecoms Package originally described "specialized services," which would have allowed ISPs to charge more for more data-intensive content services such as voice over IP and streaming video."After months of negotiations, the European Parliament has today adopted my proposal to close the last remaining loopholes in the text, in order to enshrine net neutrality in European law. Today's vote creates safeguards to ensure that players without deep pockets, such as start-ups, hospitals or universities, cannot be pushed out of the market as a result of deals between Internet service providers and content providers to offer faster services at a higher price," said Dutch Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake.


  • Wednesday April 2
    Magnitude 8.2 Quake Hits Off Chile Coast
    A powerful magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile's northern coast Tuesday night, causing landslides and setting off a small tsunami that forced an evacuation of coastal areas. Chilean authorities reported six dead and three people seriously injured in the country's north, according to Reuters.Officials said the dead included people who were crushed by collapsing walls or were killed by heart attacks. The government evacuated Chile's northern coast and President Michelle Bachelet declared the area a disaster zone, promising troops and police reinforcements to maintain public order while damage was repaired after landslides blocked roads.