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US: Emergency Alert System Fails

© Paul Keleher/Flickr
At 2 pm today the National Emergency Alert System is supposed be tested for the first time in its history on a federal level. As of 2:03 the system has yet to be activated.

Every TV and radio station in the nation is supposed to broadcast the test alert - sent from inside the White House - for 30 seconds.

The system was created in 1963 to allow the President to address the nation in the time of nuclear attack or other national crisis.

UPDATE: Brian Stelter tweets: At the NYT media desk, we heard the test via a radio, but we haven't seen it via cable television.

UPDATE 2: It's 2:07 and we still haven't seen the test on any cable network. We're calling the FCC, which oversees the system, for comment.
Phoenix

Blast hits Egypt gas pipeline to Israel, Jordan: security source

© Agence France-Presse
Previous attacks have disrupted gas deliveries to both destination countries several times
An Egyptian pipeline sending gas to Israel and Jordan was hit by a fresh explosion early Thursday, Egypt's security services said.

The blast occurred 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of the town of al-Arish in the north of the Sinai peninsula, a security source said.

The pipeline, which carries gas through the Sinai and on to Jordan and Israel, had already been attacked six times since former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February.

Witnesses said they had seen armed men at the scene, the source said. He did not know if there had been any victims.

Previous attacks have disrupted gas deliveries to both countries several times, but it was not immediately clear what impact the latest incident would have.
MIB

Doctor Turned Serial Killer in World War II Paris

© The Associated Press
This March 17, 1946 file photo shows Dr. Marcel Petiot in Paris. The doctor, a serial killer who was convicted of 26 murders and guillotined as punishment for his crimes, regularly treated refugees, businessmen and Gestapo agents, but also had a predilection for killing wealthy Jews and burning their bodies in a basement furnace. He was one of the most unusual informers used by one of America's most secretive espionage agencies, known simply as the Pond.
Nazi-occupied Paris was a terrible place to be in the waning days of World War II, with Jews, Resistance fighters and ordinary citizens all hoping to escape. Disappearances became so common they often weren't followed up.

And one man used the lawlessness for his own terrible purposes, killing perhaps as many as 150 people.

Yet it wasn't until thick black smoke seeped into buildings in a fashionable part of the city that firefighters and police were called to an elegant townhouse where they found body parts scattered around -- setting off a manhunt that led them, eventually, to Marcel Petiot.

The crime was very much of its time, said David King, who chronicled the hunt for Petiot in Death in the City of Light.

"Paris was not a good place to be. A lot of people were trying to leave Paris, a lot of people just disappearing. He had it plotted out, a very devious plan," said King, in a telephone interview.
Che Guevara

US: Occupy Protesters Start March from NYC to DC

© The Associated Press / Mary Altaffer
Demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement start a march from the encampment at Zuccotti Park to Washington DC, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011 in New York
Flanked by police scooters, about two dozen Occupy Wall Street protesters started a two-week walk from New York to Washington on Wednesday.

The activists left Manhattan's Zuccotti Park, marched past the World Trade Center site and boarded a ferry to New Jersey. The group planned to stay overnight at a private home in Elizabeth, N.J., and resume their walk on Thursday morning.

"Everything is going well so far, everyone is in good spirits" Kelley Brannon, the walk's main organizer, said during a phone interview Wednesday night, shortly before they arrived in Elizabeth. "We're doing well and looking forward to our travel."

They plan to walk through Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland and arrive in Washington by Nov. 23 - the deadline for a congressional committee to decide whether to keep President Barack Obama's extension of Bush-era tax cuts. Protesters say the cuts benefit only rich Americans.
Document

US, Washington: Democrats push repeal of Defense of Marriage Act

© unknown
Senate Democrats who back gay marriage have decided now is the time to repeal a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The Democrats may satisfy their gay marriage supporters, but the bill won't get very far.

The repeal could be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, but the next stop - the full Senate - could be a long way off. The bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., says she doesn't have the votes for Senate passage, and the bill would have no chance in a House controlled by Republican conservatives.

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., defended the timing of the panel's likely vote on the Defense of Marriage Act. "It is never the wrong time to right an injustice," he said.

Feinstein's bill has 31 Senate sponsors, all Democrats. Most Republicans fiercely oppose the repeal.

"Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has been the foundation of our society for 6,000 years," said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary panel. "The Defense of Marriage Act protects this sacred institution, which I believe in, and attempts to dismantle this law are likely to be met with a great deal of resistance."
No Entry

US, California: Occupy UCLA Protest Shuts Down Wilshire Boulevard At Westwood

© Sara Fay
If the 200 protesters marching down Westwood Boulevard Wednesday were looking for attention, they found it. But not all of it was productive.

Though their goals were similar, Wednesday's march was a far cry from Occupy UCLA's short-lived campout and quiet table on Bruin Walk just a week ago.

The protesters started at the heart of campus in Bruin Plaza and headed into the Village. The intersection of Wilshire and Westwood boulevards was shut down. Marchers sat in the street, blocking traffic. Eleven were arrested, seven of them students.

A disturbance was made, a voice was heard. All in the name of calling University of California students to fight against tuition hikes and the state to reinvest in higher education.

And while many of the marchers were UCLA students, they weren't led by their peers. The protest was the first event in a week of action organized by ReFund California Coalition, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that demands more funding for higher education.
Arrow Down

Israel Court Upholds Ex-President's Rape Conviction

© Reuters/Baz Ratner
Former Israeli President Moshe Katsav (2nd L) arrives to the Supreme Court to hear the verdict of his appeal on a rape conviction in Jerusalem November 10, 2011.
Israel's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a conviction for rape against former president Moshe Katsav, and said it saw no reason to change the seven-year jail sentence imposed on him earlier this year.

The justices, in reading out their verdict following the appeal hearing, said they concurred with the decision of the three-judge panel at lower court that convicted Katsav last December and sentenced him in March.

Katsav was convicted for twice raping an aide when he was a cabinet minister in the late 1990s, and molesting or sexually harassing two other women who worked for him during his 2000-2007 term as president.

Katsav had consistently denied the charges, but the Tel Aviv lower court said his testimony had been "riddled with lies."

He was allowed to remain free until after the appeal ruling but will begin serving his sentence on December 7, Israeli media reports said.
Crusader

New Pew Forum Report Analyzes Religious Restrictions Around the World

religions graphic
© n/a
Three-Year Study Finds One-Third of Global Population Experiences An Increase

Washington, D.C. - More than 2.2 billion people, nearly a third (32%) of the world's total population of 6.9 billion, live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially between mid-2006 and mid-2009, according to a new study on global restrictions on religion released today by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. Only about 1% of the world's population lives in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities declined.

In general, most of the countries that experienced substantial increases in government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion already had high or very high levels of restrictions or hostilities. By contrast, nearly half of the countries that had substantial decreases in restrictions or hostilities already scored low. This suggests that there may be a gradual polarization taking place in which countries that are relatively high in religious restrictions are becoming more restrictive, while those that are relatively low are becoming less restrictive.

These are among the key findings of Rising Restrictions on Religion, the Pew Forum's second report on global restrictions on religion. The study is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, an effort funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation to analyze religious change and its impact on societies around the world.
Dollar

US: Big Banks Plead with Customers Not to Move Their Money

demonstrate at a Bank of America
© David McNew/Getty Images
Police officers stand guard as Occupy LA protesters stop to demonstrate at a Bank of America during the Move Your Money March on what is being called Bank Transfer Day on November 5, 2011.

Yes, The Big Banks DO Care If We Move Our Money

650,000 customers moved $4.5 billion dollars out of the big banks and into smaller banks and credit unions in the last month.

But there is a myth making the rounds that the big banks don't really care if we move our money. For example, one line of reasoning is that no matter how many people move their money, the Fed and Treasury will just bail out the giants again.

But many anecdotes show that the too big to fails do, in fact, care.

Initially, of course, if the big banks really didn't care, they wouldn't have prevented protesters from closing their accounts.
Bulb

Bank Transfer Day: Kristen Christian on How She Inspired Mass Exodus from Big Banks to Credit Unions

Protests were held across the country Saturday to mark Bank Transfer Day, a campaign to move accounts from big banks into community banks or credit unions. Credit unions attracted more than 40,000 new account holders, reporting about $80 million in new savings, or an average of about $2,000 per new account holder. The campaign was organized by Kristen Christian when she learned that Bank of America planned to charge her a $5 monthly debit card fee. Her Facebook post urging friends to abandon big banks unwittingly blossomed into a national campaign. Although the campaign was neither inspired by nor organized by the cyber-activist group Anonymous or the Occupy Wall Street movement, it did benefit from their support. "The message from Bank Transfer Day was not the fee itself, but actually the principle behind it, because, at least with Bank of America, the fee only applied to account holders with less than $20,000 in combined accounts. So, based on principle, I couldn't support a business that would directly target the impoverished and working class," Christian says.
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