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Are killer robots in our future?

Robots at the USR Factory, awaiting final programming and processing prior to shipment (Credit: Twentieth Century Fox)Today's headlines are dominated by the escalating violence in Iraq, continued civil war in Syria, a suicide bombing in Nigeria, and the early stages of the Boston Bomber's trial.  Meanwhile, here's a story you may have missed: killer robots may be in our future.

Robots are already working alongside humans in factories and warehouses, where they load boxes, drill and weld car parts, and move food from one conveyer belt to another.  But they are about to become far more ubiquitous, from driverless cars to delivery drones.  Robots have already caused at least 33 workplace deaths and injuries in the U.S., and the next generation will have much more autonomy and freedom as they interact with us.  As a result, manufacturers are developing extra protective measures and software designed to keep robots from contacting humans.

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How did O. J. Simpson change the culture?

California Highway Patrol chase Al Cowlings, driving, and O.J. Simpson, hiding in rear of white Bronco (Credit: The Los Angeles Times/Al Schaben) Twenty years ago last Tuesday, 95 million TV viewers (a third of America's population) watched O. J. Simpson flee police in a white Ford Bronco.  The 16-month-long media event that followed transformed news coverage forever.  In those days, CNN was the only 24/7 cable news channel, but Fox News and MSNBC soon followed, as did "reality" television.  A media professor notes that the chase was a "harbinger of an entirely different media landscape. . . . Fifty years ago, what you would've turned away from as outrageous, you turn to as kind of normal and interesting.  And then you can't do without it."

Meanwhile, Actor Harrison Ford reportedly broke his ankle while filming the next Star Wars film.  He rose to global stardom in 1977 as Han Solo in the first movie in the franchise.  Apparently a door from his spaceship, the Millennium Falcon, collapsed and fell on top of him.

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Is President Obama to blame for the current global crises?

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks as he and President Bronislaw Komorowski of Poland hold a news conference after their meeting at Belweder Palace in Warsaw June 3, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque) Three months ago, Russia seized Crimea.  Last Thursday, Russian tanks rolled into eastern Ukraine.  Last Saturday, Russian separatists destroyed a Ukrainian transport jet, killing 49 people.  On Monday, Moscow stopped transporting natural gas to Kiev.  Two months ago, the U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Israel and Palestine failed after the Palestinians announced a unified government that would include Hamas.  Now Israel is blaming Hamas for the kidnapping of three teenagers as tensions continue to escalate.

Meanwhile, militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have captured Mosul, Tikrit, and now Tal Afar.  They are executing mass numbers of Shiites everywhere they go.  The U.S. is considering an alliance with Iran in its attempt to beat back the Sunni insurgency.  However, Iran has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and continues to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

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Iraqi conflict: Is America in danger?

Members of the Iraqi security forces patrol an area near the borders between Karbala Province and Anbar Province, June 16, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Mushtaq Muhammed) Sen. Lindsey Graham serves on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Homeland Security.  He tells CBS News that "the seeds of 9/11s are being planted all over Iraq and Syria.  They want an Islamic caliphate that runs through Syria and Iraq . . . and they plan to drive us out of the Mideast by attacking us here at home."

Is there reason to be so alarmed?  Absolutely.

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A father's brave decision

Rick Zarate holds his newborn daughter while sitting beside his girlfriend, and Belle's mother, Cindy, in their hospital room soon after Belle's birth (Credit: Rick Zarate via BraveLove) Fifteen years ago, a couple faced an unplanned pregnancy.  The parents were both 16 years old.  As the father says, "we were both terrified and we weren't capable or ready to provide this child with the stability or guidance that she deserved and needed."  So they made the life-giving decision to place their daughter in an open adoption.

According to the father, the day his daughter Belle was born "galvanized my life in a way I could never have imagined."  He has visited her every year of her life and talks with her on Christmas and birthdays.  He writes that "Belle is happy, and she is smart, and I know what music she likes and that she's good at field hockey, and I know her dog's name is Cody and that she loves elephants, and I still get to tell her she can't date anyone until she's thirty, and that's enough for me."

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