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Inside Daily Brief (Feb 2nd, 2017)

The United States may impose new sanctions on various Iranian entities by Friday, according to sources familiar with the situation. The news comes shortly after the US put Iran “on notice” over its recent ballistic missile test. As the sources suggest, the sanctions will not be in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal. According to one person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, approximately eight Iranian entities are being considered for sanctions over terrorism-related activities, and roughly 17 are being looked at for ballistic missile-related activities. – REUTERS

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French presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Thursday faced increasing pressure to end his campaign, as some lawmakers in his own conservative party called for him to step down in the wake of a recent scandal. News of the alleged scandal broke last week, when it was reported that Fillon, a former prime minister, had made payments to his wife equaling hundreds of thousands of euros for work she might not have done. While Fillon claims he hasn’t done anything wrong, opinion polls suggest that support for his presidential bid is fading, a development that stands to benefit far right leader Marine Le Pen and independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. “I think our candidate must stop,” said Alain Houpert, a conservative Senator who was close to Nicolas Sarkozy, Fillon’s former rival in The Republicans party. In addition to investigating claims that his wife received payment for work she didn’t do, French investigators are now broadening the scope of their probe to include two of his children. – REUTERS

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Hillary Clinton will release a book comprised of essays this fall, and it is expected to contain insight into the 2016 presidential race. The untitled book will also contain quotations she has read for inspiration throughout her life. “These quotes have helped me celebrate the good times, laugh at the absurd times, persevere during the hard times and deepen my appreciation of all life has to offer,” said Clinton. Information on how much her book deal was worth has not been released. “We are delighted that Secretary Clinton finally thinks the time is right to share the words and thoughts that nourished and enriched her, and defined the experiences of her extraordinary life,” said Carolyn Reidy, CEO of publisher Simon & Schuster. – GUARDIAN

Would you purchase Clinton's upcoming book? What else do you think she has planned for the future? Do you expect that she'll ever run for office again? Hit REPLY and let us know your thoughts.

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The US Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General has announced that it will “review DHS’ implementation” of President Trump’s recent executive order calling for a temporary travel ban on individuals from seven majority-Muslim nations. According to a statement from the inspector general’s office, the review was “initiated in response to congressional requests and whistleblower and hotline complaints.” The statement goes on to suggest that the review will include an evaluation of “DHS’s adherence to court orders and allegations of individual misconduct on the part of DHS personnel.” Following the president’s executive order, protests spread throughout the country and allegations of unlawful detentions began to surface. Amidst the confusion and unclear guidance from the White House, green card holders as well as people with valid visas were caught up in the ban, and by Saturday night, a federal judge had called for a temporary and partial block of the order. – CNN

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The Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 84, after battling illnesses for several years. The death of Tshisekedi, who was the president of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, comes at an inopportune time for the country’s opposition movement, which had been working on a political deal designed to remove President Joseph Kabila from power. In December, multiple opposition parties gathered around Tshisekedi and agreed that Kabila, the country’s leader since 2001, would leave his position following delayed elections later this year. Those efforts have now stalled. “The coming months will provide a fierce test for the opposition to overcome their individual egos in order to rally against Kabila,” said Jason Stearns, a director at the Congo Research Group. – BLOOMBERG

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Scientists have found evidence to suggest that there is an ancient “lost continent” below the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. According to a new study, the continent, referred to by geologists as “Mauritia,” formed portions of modern-day Madagascar and India. The rest of it, they say, likely sunk beneath the sea some 84 million years ago. “We are studying the break-up process of the continents, in order to understand the geological history of the planet,” said the study’s lead author, Lewis Ashwal. The continent probably belonged to the massive supercontinent known as Gondwana, which ultimately separated to become Antarctica, Africa, Australia and South America. The researchers arrived at their conclusion after they discovered the mineral zircon on Mauritius, which they said was too old to be there. “The fact that we have found zircons of this age (3 billion years old) proves that there are much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have originated from a continent,” says Ashwal. – USAT

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Police in North Dakota are said to have arrested 76 individuals who were protesting against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Authorities said the arrests occurred when demonstrators would not leave land owned by the pipeline company. According to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the final section of the pipeline, which is to be built under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River, could potentially contaminate the tribe’s drinking water and damage sacred burial sites. While significant protests last year prompted the US Army Corps of Engineers to examine alternative routes for the pipeline, the acting Secretary of the Army ordered the corps earlier this week to let the work proceed. That move followed a memorandum from President Trump that called for an expedited review and approval process for the project. – BBC

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Scientists examining fossil records have identified a 500-million-year-old worm that possessed leg-like appendages. The specimens, one of which was found decades ago, were discovered in British Columbia’s Burgess Shale, a UNESCO World Heritage site well-known for its large deposits of marine fossils. The worm, distantly related to tardigrades and arthropods, was formally announced as Ovatiovermis cribratus in an article printed in BMC Evolutionary Biology earlier this week. The name Ovatiovermis is a reference to the scientists’ belief that the worm stood upright on the seafloor, in what they assume must have resembled a drawn out standing ovation. Meanwhile, cribratus indicates that it may have filtered through passing water to obtain food. – POPSCI

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After a fire destroyed the Victoria Islamic Center in Texas on Saturday, the town’s Jewish population is letting the followers of Islam use their temple as a place to temporarily worship. “Everyone knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them. When a calamity like this happens, we have to stand together,” said Robert Loeb, the president of Temple Bnai Israel. Over $900,000 has also been raised from donations and an online fundraising campaign, which was created for the mosque’s reconstruction. The cause of the fire is currently being investigated by federal officials, who noted that the center had previously suffered a burglary. – INDEPENDENT

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Apple is said to be working on a new chip for Mac laptops that will improve their battery life while in sleep mode. According to Bloomberg, the chip will manage some basic tasks, such as checking for email and installing updates, when the laptop is asleep. At present, the MacBook’s main processor handles these types of jobs, but by developing a low-power processor dedicated to the tasks, the company may be able to reduce battery consumption. Because the chip is reportedly similar to the Apple-made processor that’s currently being used to handle the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, it would seem likely that this development isn’t an attempt to completely switch out the Intel processor at the core of every MacBook. Bloomberg suggests that the chip “may” be featured in an upgraded MacBook Pro that Apple is aiming to release later this year. Such a move would make sense, as the 13-inch Touch Bar model of the MacBook Pro has been criticized for its short battery life. – VERGE

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A new study suggests that Mexico City’s 2008 move to ban car use on Saturdays has not resulted in a reduction of air pollutants. Scientists had initially expected the limited weekend driving to bring down vehicle emissions by 15 percent. The new analysis, however, did not find any noticeable effect. Mexico City, which has the worst air quality in the Western Hemisphere, has long been attempting to tackle its pollution problem. In 1989, for example, officials introduced rules that designated certain days on which drivers would not be allowed to use their cars. The days were determined based on the last number on a car’s license plate. To examine the more recently implemented Saturday restriction, scientists looked at not just air quality samples, but also public transportation numbers and other figures in order to get a more complete picture. "Saturday driving restrictions are a flawed policy. It's a big hassle for people and does not improve air quality," said researcher Lucas Davis. – BBC

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Ollie, the 25-pound bobcat that had escaped from her enclosure earlier this week at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, has been found. The bobcat was located on the property of the Washington D.C. zoo after initially escaping through a hole in her home. The facility had suspended the search for Ollie just hours before finding her. Craig Saffoe, the zoo’s great cats curator, said it did not have the resources to continue seeking Ollie. “She didn’t go too far, which is really reassuring to us,” Saffoe said. “I think she wanted to go out and have a little bit of fun. See what it was like on the outside and [then] ‘I think I’m ready to come back inside now.’ ” – FOXN

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Florin Jianu, Romania’s minister of business, trade and entrepreneurship, resigned on Thursday after a government-issued decree that decriminalizes various graft offenses resulted in widespread protests. Jianu referred to his resignation as an “ethical” decision. The country’s cabinet adopted the decree on Tuesday, just one month after the Social Democrat-led government of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu came to power. Grindeanu has not given any signs that he’d be willing to roll back the decree, and on Wednesday he sent a letter to the head of the European Commission explaining the reasoning behind his cabinet’s decision to approve the measure. According to the government, the action was designed to reduce overcrowding in prisons and align the criminal code with recent constitutional court rulings. Those who oppose the move argue that the country's fight against corruption "needs to be advanced, not undone." If Romania’s court does not block the decree, it will take effect within 10 days. – ALJAZEERA

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