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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Morning News and Views

Your credit card may have been hijacked by a gas station theft ring.A California man has been convicted in Texas for participating in a multi-state theft ring that used illegal skimmers at gas stations to steal 38,000 debit and credit card numbers -- then siphon $100,000 from bank accounts. Aleksandr Goukasian, of Los Angeles, faces up to life in prison when he's sentenced at a later date. He was convicted Friday of  four counts of unlawful possession of an electronic intercept device. He also was convicted of one count each of unlawful use of electronic communications, engaging in organized criminal activity and fraudulently possessing or using identifying information. Prosecutors in Fort Worth showed evidence that Goukasian's theft ring planted skimmers -- homemade electronic devices intercepting credit card information -- inside gas pumps in California, Las Vegas, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.

Las Vegas is about to mark the opening of a $2.4 billion airport terminal that officials are hoping will help lift the southern Nevada economy from the depths of the Great Recession. McCarran International Airport chief Randall Walker calls Terminal 3 crucial to serving tourists from the U.S. and Britain, plus places like South Korea, the Philippines, Amsterdam and Berlin. Opening day is Wednesday, and the second overseas arrival will be an inaugural Copa Airlines nonstop from Panama City. The first full day of operations will be Thursday. Gleaming and glassy T3 adds 14 gates and an eight-story parking structure to an airport currently ranked as the eighth-busiest in the U.S. and 23nd busiest worldwide by passenger volume. Walker says the project came in on time and on budget.

Arizona has put an end to a controversial  high school Mexican American studies program it considered divisive. Advocates claim it gave students a valuable and more clear eyed perspective on traditional subjects of study. Traditional studies of heritage countries and cultures have been mounted in ethnic communities across the country, including German and Italian in those immigrant communities.

Has America become the best country money can buy? Governor Romney leads Obama in campaign fundraising, not counting his five to one advantage in Superfund PAC funds.Romney held a high level private fundraiser in Utah last night.

On Tuesday, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, a six-term Republican, faces the first primary contest of his Senate career. His challenger, former state Senator Dan Liljenquist , was just two years old when Hatch was elected to the Senate in 1976. Liljenquist hopes to capitalize on an anti-incumbent climate that led to the defeat of Indiana Senator Richard Lugar in a primary last month.

According to the latest financial disclosure forms, Rep. Joe Heck's wife collected unemployment benefits in 2011 after she lost her job with her husband's company when he was elected to Congress. Democrats told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Lisa Heck should not have applied for benefits at a time when thousands of Nevadans are financially struggling and her husband draws a $174,000 congressional salary. But the Nevada Republican says his wife was no different from others who lost their job and qualified for payments. Lisa Heck was a nurse who worked for Specialized Medical Operations, a medical and training and consulting firm where her husband served as president. But the company was dissolved after Heck was elected to Congress in 2010. The benefits were first reported by Politico.

Authorities say that parts of northern Nevada have been shaken by a small earthquake.A preliminary report from the U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-4.2 quake struck at 8:51 p.m. Friday at a depth of about seven miles. The temblor was centered about 16 miles southwest of Reno, and was felt by residents in a wide area around Reno and Carson City. The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks later Friday night and early Saturday morning, including one that was magnitude 2.

Tropical Storm Debby is causing some trouble with oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico as it inches north. Forecasters say it could be near hurricane strength in about 48 hours. Debby has forced the suspension of 8 percent of the region's oil and gas production, amounting to about 2 percent of U.S. output.

A fire that quickly spread to about 2,000 acres in hot, dry and windy conditions has prompted evacuation orders for thousands of people in the Colorado Springs area. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported early Sunday that 5,000 residents of Manitou Springs are among those ordered out. It's one of Colorado's most severe wildfire seasons in recent memory.

Egyptian police have been ordered to confront any attempt to break the law with decisive force today. The order comes ahead of the announcement of a new president. The results of last weekend's presidential runoff have been delayed for several days, giving way to rumors and anxiety about back room deals and suspected interference by the ruling military council in determining the outcome. Thousands have gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square for the announcement.

Egypt's election commission has declared Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood the winner of Egypt's first free elections by a narrow margin over Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.
It was a close and divisive election. The commission said Morsi won with 51.7 percent of the vote versus 48.3 for Shafiq. The  huge crowd of Morsi supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square erupted in cheers and dancing when the result was read out on live television.

Turkey's foreign minister says a Turkish jet shot down by Syria was not spying. The official says the plane was downed in international airspace after it mistakenly entered Syria but quickly left after a warning from Turkey. Turkey has requested a NATO meeting on the matter. That could happen Tuesday. The wreckage has been found in about 1,000 feet of water.

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