News in Brief: US Steps Up Secret War in Yemen, and More

US Steps Up Secret War in Yemen

United States forces have stepped up a covert war against suspected militants in Yemen amid the violence and unrest that has weakened the country's government, according to The New York Times. The Obama administration is exploiting the instability caused by warring factions and anti-government movements to launch strikes at al-Qaeda militants with drones and fighter jets. The authoritarian government of Yemini President Ali Abdullah Saleh is a close ally of the US and has authorized limited American counterterrorism efforts in the country since 2009, but Saleh's government is currently fighting for survival, making room for broader American involvement. Last week, US fighter jets killed a suspected al-Qaeda militant, and witnesses say four civilians also died in the strike.

Japan Underestimated Radiation Release From Daiichi Meltdown

Japan now estimates that the amount of radiation that was initially released from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in April could have been twice as high as previously thought, according to the Environment News Service. Tokyo Electric Power, the company that runs the plant, also admitted on Monday that three reactors in the plant experienced a full meltdown. The amount of radiation initially released is estimated to be about 40 percent of the radiation released during the Chernobyl meltdown, which is wildly considered the worst nuclear accident in history. The new revised figures have raised concerns about the accuracy of information provided by Japanese authorities in the face of international scrutiny.

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Hackers Access Citigroup Credit Card Accounts

Citigroup Inc. reported today that hackers compromised the company's information system and gained access to the credit card accounts of 200,000 customers, or about 1 percent of the total accounts with Citigroup, according to The Washington Post. The hackers broke into Citigroup's online account service and were able to view customers' account numbers, contact information and email addresses. The hackers could not access card security codes, Social Security numbers and birth dates. It is unclear if the hacker attacks are associated with recent attacks on big companies like Sony and Bank of America.

Highly Skilled Immigrants Now the Majority

Immigrants in the United States considered to be highly skilled workers now outnumber those considered lower skilled, according to The Washington Post. A new study by the Brookings Institute shows that 30 percent of immigrant workers have at least a bachelor's degree, while 28 percent do not have a high school diploma. The growing number of highly skilled foreign workers reflects shifting economic demands and could have a big impact on the current immigration debate, which tends to focus on lower-skilled workers seeking better jobs in the US.

EPA Declassifies Chemicals in Health Studies

The Environmental Protection Agency this week made public the identities of 150 chemicals contained in 104 health safety studies formerly kept confidential by the chemical industry, according to a press release. The names of the chemicals had been redacted from the studies in the past because they were considered industry secrets. The declassification is a result of an ongoing effort to make more information available to the public. The chemicals involved are used in consumer products like air fresheners, dispersants, nonstick and stain-resistant materials, fire-resistant compounds and lead.