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Thursday, Dec 18th

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Iran unveils monument for fallen Jewish-Iranian soldiers

Iran monument to jewish iranian soldiersIran has unveiled a monument to honor Jewish-Iranian soldiers who fell during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

In a ceremony in Tehran on Monday, a senior Iranian parliament member praised the Iranian Jewish community’s ties to the state and its “obedience” to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Ruhollah Khomeini before him.

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New Jersey Paid Fees To Mary Christie's Firm After State Investment Was Terminated

Christie and wife MaryWhen the New Jersey pension system terminated a $150 million investment in a fund called Angelo, Gordon & Co. in 2011, that did not close the books on the deal. In the three years since state officials ordered the withdrawal of that state money, New Jersey taxpayers have forked over hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to the firm. As those fees kept flowing, Angelo Gordon made a prominent hire: Mary Pat Christie, wife of Gov. Chris Christie, who joined the company in 2012 as a managing director and now earns $475,000 annually, according to the governor's most recent tax return.

The disclosure that New Jersey taxpayers have been paying substantial fees to a firm that employs the governor's spouse -- years after state officials said the investment was terminated -- emerged in documents released by the Christie administration to International Business Times through a public records request.

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Arizona erred in denying dreamers' licenses, Supreme Court says

Jan BrewerThe U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a last-minute bid by Gov. Jan Brewer to keep dreamers from getting licenses to drive.

In a brief order issued this morning, the court denied Brewer's request that it issue a stay to prevent the 9th Circuit from ordering a federal judge in Phoenix to issue an injunction blocking Brewer's edict declaring that dreamers do not meet the requirements of Arizona law. The justices gave no reason for their decision.

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Gov. Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks

Andrew CuomoNo one understands better than impacted people — residents and workers in shale country, from the Barnett Shale of Texas and the Haynesville Shale of Louisiana to the Bakken Shale of North Dakota and the Marcellus and Utica Shales in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and beyond — the wisdom of Governor Cuomo’s historic decision today to ban fracking in New York State:

ALBANY — The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.

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Judge throws out black teen's conviction from 1944

Judge throws out 1944 conviction of teenA judge threw out the conviction Wednesday of black teen executed 70 years ago for the deaths of two white girls.

George Stinney Jr., 14, was convicted of the grisly murders of Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 7, in Alcolu, S.C. The girls had disappeared in March 1944 while riding their bicycles, and their bludgeoned bodies were found in a watery ditch along a road in the town, about 70 miles north of Charleston.

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North Korea behind Sony cyber attack

The InterviewU.S. authorities have determined that North Korea is behind the recent cyber attack on Sony Pictures, a federal law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said a formal announcement of attribution by the U.S. government could come as soon as Thursday.  U.S. investigators had been moving quickly toward a determination in recent days, indicating earlier this week that attribution was imminent.

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President Obama commutes 8 sentences and grants 12 pardons

Obama pardonsPresident Obama commuted the sentences of eight drug offenders Wednesday and pardoned 12 federal offenders.  The drug offenders had received sentences ranging from 188 months or almost 16 years to life. They will now be released in 2015.

The White House announced the president's action in a news release. The president traditionally marks the Christmas season with acts of clemency.

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Judge hears of 'bloody mess' execution as Oklahoma seeks to lift moratorium

Clayton LovettA federal judge heard witness testimonies on Wednesday regarding Oklahoma's attempt to resume executing prisoners, just nine months after the lethal injection of Clayton Lockett lasted an excruciating 43 minutes during which his vein burst causing what one warden described as “a bloody mess.”

Attorneys representing 21 death-row inmates in Oklahoma filed court documents last Friday revealing that Lockett’s death was far more grisly than previously portrayed, according to The Tulsa World newspaper on Sunday.

In court testimony Wednesday, Dr Joseph Cohen, a pathologist hired by the inmate's lawyer, said he was convinced Lockett suffered after being declared unconcious.

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US, Cuba seek to normalize relations

Fidel CastroThe United States and Cuba will start talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades, American officials said Wednesday. The announcement comes amid a series of new confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American Alan Gross and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.

President Barack Obama was to announce the policy changes from the White House at noon Wednesday.

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