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Sunday, May 01st

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Norway oil-rig helicopter crashes on island, killing all 13 aboard

Norway helicopter crash kills 13A helicopter carrying Statoil workers from an offshore rig in the North Sea crashed Friday on an island off western Norway, killing all 13 people on board, rescuers said.

The Airbus EC-225 helicopter shattered into pieces as it slammed just after noon into the rocky shoreline of Turoey, a tiny island outside Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city.

“We do not believe anyone can be found alive,” said Boerge Galta of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center. The rescue operation was called off Friday at 5 p.m. after 11 bodies were found on land but divers were still looking for the other two bodies.

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Egyptian cleric defends CIA agent convicted over his rendition

Sabrina De SousaThe radical Egyptian cleric who was kidnapped in Milan by the CIA in 2003 has come to the defence of a former CIA officer convicted for her alleged role in his extraordinary rendition.

Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, who is known as Abu Omar, told the Guardian in a telephone interview that he believed Sabrina De Sousa, who faces imminent extradition to Italy, was a scapegoat and ought to be pardoned by Italy’s head of state, Sergio Mattarella. De Sousa, a 60-year-old dual American and Portuguese citizen, faces a four-year prison sentence and is due to be extradited from Portugal on 4 May.

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Supreme Court won't block Texas photo ID law — yet

Voter ID law in Texas upheldThe Supreme Court refused Friday to block Texas' photo ID law, the strictest in the nation, from remaining in effect for now, but it left open the possibility of doing so this summer if a lower court challenge remains unresolved.

Civil rights groups who say the law discriminates against black and Hispanic voters had argued that it should be blocked because it was struck down by a federal court in 2014 and a three-judge appeals court panel last year. The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit will hear the case next month.

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N. Korea Jails Another U.S. Citizen for spying

Kim Dong Chul jailed in N. KoreaNorth Korea has sentenced a US man to 10 years of hard labour for spying.  Kim Dong-chul, a 62-year-old naturalised US citizen born in South Korea, was arrested last October.

Kim had made an apparent confession in Pyongyang last month in front of reporters, saying he was paid by South Korean intelligence officers.

The US has previously accused North Korea of using its citizens as pawns in a diplomatic game. Pyongyang denies the accusations.

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Belgium Issues Iodine Pills to All Citizens in Nuclear Emergency Plan

Belgians to get anti radiation pillsBelgium is to issue iodine tablets to its entire population as part of a revised nuclear emergency plan, a measure unveiled just months after it emerged that ISIS-linked bombers spied on a top scientist and hoped to build a "dirty bomb."

A dose of iodine, which helps to limit the effects of radiation on the body, will be made available to all 11 million people in the small country, Health Minister Maggie De Block told reporters Thursday.

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Pentagon disciplines 16 of its own for Kunduz hospital airstrike

Pentagon disciplines own for hospital hitThe Pentagon has disciplined 16 service members following an airstrike that killed 42 at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last fall.

A six-month internal investigation of the devastating Oct. 3 incident led to the punishment of a two-star general, the crew of an Air Force AC-130 gunship and Army special forces members, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Cost for new oral cancer drugs skyrocketed in last decade

Cost of oral cancer drug sky rocketedA new drug for cancer introduced in 2014 costs about six times the price of a new drug in 2000, with the cost of many other drugs to treat the disease increasing in price significantly during that time, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina found the skyrocketing prices line up with changes in health insurance making patients responsible for more of the cost and potentially put people in the position of not being able to afford treatment.

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Natural gas explosion in Salem Township: Injuries reported, evacuations underway

gas explosion in SalemCrews are responding to a natural gas explosion Friday in Salem Township, Westmoreland County, where at least one injury has been reported and evacuations are underway in the immediate area.

The blast and resulting fire happened around 8:30 a.m. in the area of Route 22 at Route 819. The total number of people injured and the severity of the injuries is unknown.

The explosion involved a pipeline owned by Texas Eastern, which has shut off the gas and sent personnel to the site, according to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister.

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Aleppo onslaught: New air strikes hit medical facility

New strike on medical facility in AleppoAn air strike hit a clinic in a rebel-held district of Aleppo on Friday, the civil defence said, the second time this week a medical facility in Syria's second city has been hit.

The strike on the Al-Marja neighbourhood wounded several people, including at least one nurse, the civil defence, known as the White Helmets, said.

Local sources said that at least five people had been killed.  The clinic had been providing dental services and treatment for chronic illnesses for about five years.

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