By Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball WASHINGTON (Reuters) - At 3:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, the National Security Agency and telecommunications companies will begin mothballing a once-secret system that collected Americans' bulk telephone records, shutting down computers and sealing off warehouses of digital data. If the U.S. Congress fails to act, key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will lapse in a watershed moment in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era. Intrusive government powers, created and wielded in the name of preventing another mass-casualty terrorist attack, would be at least partly scaled back, proponents and critics of the surveillance say.
By Megha Rajagopalan BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing will ban smoking in restaurants, offices and on public transport from Monday, part of unprecedented new curbs welcomed by anti-tobacco advocates, though how they will be enforced remains to be seen. Health activists have pushed for years for stronger restrictions on smoking in China, the world's largest tobacco consumer, which is considering further anti-smoking curbs nationwide. Under the rules, anyone in China's capital who violates the bans, which include smoking near schools and hospitals, must pay 200 yuan ($32.25).
(Reuters) - Rain showers caused flooding on roads in parts of Texas on Saturday, an official said, after severe weather killed at least 22 people during the week and prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to declare a disaster in the state. Texas has endured record rainfall for the month of May. This week, flooding turned streets into rivers, ripped homes off their foundations, swept over thousands of vehicles and trapped people in cars and houses. Obama signed a disaster declaration late on Friday to free up federal funds to help rebuild areas of Texas affected by the storms. ...
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