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Friday, May 22nd

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Environment 2010 MCT Settlements reached in Deepwater Horizon disaster

Gulf spill case settledA committee of lawyers representing businesses and individuals claiming damages from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill announced a $211 million settlement Wednesday with Transocean Ltd., owner of the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

In a separate development, oil giant BP — which leased the rig from Transocean — reached settlements resolving years of complicated spill-related litigation with Transocean, and with contractor Halliburton, which did cement work on the rig before it exploded in April 2010.

Court rulings have put the brunt of responsibility for the disaster on BP. But Transocean and Halliburton also were found to have some responsibility.

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In Texas, courts turn truancy cases into cash and even jail time

Texas truants prosecutedThe school’s rules are strict: A note has to be submitted within three days of a student’s return to school for an absence to be considered excused. With three other children and an elderly father to care for, keeping up with things like that “becomes overwhelming,” Yolanda says.

Occasionally, when her daughter missed school, she would forget to send a note explaining Raquel’s absence. In accordance with Texas state law, 10 unexcused absences in a six-month period will result in a charge of truancy, and in March 2013, when Raquel was in eighth grade, Yolanda received a letter informing her that the state had filed a charge of “failure to attend school” against her daughter. She tried to talk to school administrators about it, Yolanda says, but they told her, “All you can do is go to court and just get it straightened out.”

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George W. Bush's CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public

Michael MorrellFor a dozen years, the Bush-Cheney crowd have been trying to escape—or cover up—an essential fact of the W. years: President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants misled the American public about the WMD threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein in order to grease the way to the invasion of Iraq. For Bush, Cheney, and the rest, this endeavor is fundamental; it is necessary to protect the legitimacy of the Bush II presidency.

Naturally, Karl Rove and other Bushies have quickly tried to douse the Bush-lied-us-into-war fire whenever such flames have appeared. And in recent days, as Jeb Bush bumbled a question about the Iraq War, he and other GOPers have peddled the fictitious tale that his brother launched the invasion because he was presented lousy intelligence.

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Calif. oil spill spreads across 9 miles of Pacific, fouls beaches

California oil spillAn oil spill that fouled beaches and threatened wildlife along a scenic stretch of the California coast spread across 9 miles of ocean Wednesday as cleanup efforts began and federal regulators investigated how the pipeline leaked.

Workers in protective suits raked and shoveled stinky black goo off the beaches, while boats towed booms into place to corral the two slicks off the Santa Barbara coast where a much larger spill in 1969 — the largest in U.S. waters at the time — is credited with giving rise to the American environmental movement.

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Nebraska Votes to End Death Penalty

Nebraska ends death penaltyIn a monumental vote Wednesday, the Nebraska Legislature passed legislation to end the death penalty. With Gov. Pete Ricketts vowing to veto the repeal bill, attention now turns to an override vote that will likely take place next week.

Lawmakers voted 32-15 Wednesday to give third-round approval to Legislative Bill 268, which replaces lethal injection with a maximum punishment of life in prison. A minimum of 30 votes is needed to override a veto.

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Federal Court: Notre Dame Can’t Cut Off Birth Control For Its Students

Notre DameA federal appeals court held on Tuesday that the Supreme Court’s decision limiting access to birth control in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby does not permit the University of Notre Dame to shut down their health plans that help the school’s students pay for contraceptive coverage — or, at least, the court held that Notre Dame cannot obtain a court order permitting them to do so right now.

This is the latest of Notre Dame’s multiple trips to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Though the court held in 2014 that Notre Dame must comply with an extraordinarily modest obligation under federal law, the Supreme Court asked the Seventh Circuit to reconsider the case in light of Hobby Lobby. For now, the Seventh Circuit concluded, Hobby Lobby does not entitle Notre Dame to the relief that it seeks.

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Syrian city of Palmyra falls under control of Isis

Palmyra fallsThe historic city of Palmyra appears to have fallen almost entirely under the control of Islamic State, after forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad collapsed under a seven-day siege that has now left the magnificent ruins there exposed to near-certain destruction by the terror group.

Activists from the city and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said most of Palmyra fell on Wednesday shortly after the Assad regime evacuated most of the civilians in it and began withdrawing towards regime strongholds in the west.

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Oldest stone tools pre-date earliest humans

Oldest stone toolsThe world's oldest stone tools have been discovered, scientists report.  They were unearthed from the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya, and date to 3.3 million years ago.

They are 700,000 years older than any tools found before, even pre-dating the earliest humans in the Homo genus.

The find, reported in Nature, suggests that more ancient species, such as Australopithecus afarensis or Kenyanthropus platyops, may have been more sophisticated than was thought.

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Tops on Osama bin Laden's reading list: Illuminati, US foreign policy, Noam Chomsky

Osama bin LadenOsama Bin Laden kept close tabs on 9/11 conspiracy theories and recent American foreign policy and had an interest in the illuminati, according to a list of English-language books found at his compound that was released Wednesday.

Bin Laden had more than three dozen English-language works at the compound, many of them focused on America's efforts abroad, according to a list released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

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