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Saturday, Apr 19th

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Senator goes to wrong hearing, blames Moscow

Senator goes to wrong hearingSenator Dan Coats had a quick explanation for how he ended up speaking at the wrong hearing - the Russians made him do it.

The Indiana Republican went to what he thought was an appropriations hearing on the defense budget on Wednesday and was posing an appropriate question on that subject when someone handed him a piece of paper.

"I just got a note saying I'm at the wrong hearing," Coats said.

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Fracking Exports Will Leave U.S. Communities in the Dark

Fracking exportsLast month, thirty Senate Democrats -- members of the "climate caucus" -- stayed Up All Night on the Senate floor to speak out about climate change. This was an important moment to highlight the most critical environmental issue of our time. What was not mentioned however, was the massive threat to our planet posed by exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) extracted through the increasingly controversial process known as "fracking."

Yet legislation authored by one of their own -- Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and a House bill by Congressman Cory Gardner (R-CO), would tear down barriers to the export of LNG, potentially spurring a massive increase in fracking, exacerbating the problems the senators spoke out against.

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AP photographer killed, reporter wounded

AP photogrraph4er killed in AfghanistanA veteran Associated Press photographer was killed and an AP reporter was wounded on Friday when an Afghan policeman opened fire while they were sitting in their car in eastern Afghanistan.
Anja Niedringhaus, 48, an internationally acclaimed German photographer, was killed instantly, according to an AP Television News freelancer who witnessed the shooting.

Kathy Gannon, an AP correspondent who for many years was the news organization's Afghanistan bureau chief and currently is a special correspondent for the region, was shot twice and received medical attention. She was described as being in stable condition and talking to medical personnel.

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Mississippi Approves Religious Freedom Bill, Governor Signs It Into Law

Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration ActAfter simultaneous debate in both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature Tuesday, state lawmakers approved a religious freedom bill that some have argued could lead to discrimination against LGBT people and others.

First in the House, the bill passed 79-43, and later, Senate lawmakers approved the bill with a wide majority. [Update — April 3: Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill into law Thursday, noting in a statement, “I am proud to sign the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act today, which will protect the individual religious freedom of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference.”]

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Mass faintings in Cambodia sicken over 200 garment workers

Mass faintings CambodiaMore than 200 Cambodian garment workers have been hospitalized after episodes of mass fainting at three factories this week, highlighting problems within an industry that is critical to the kingdom's fledgling economy.

The plants all make clothes for brands such as sportswear giants Puma SE and Adidas. Both companies said they were investigating the incidents and would respond soon.

Tainted food, poor working conditions and the spraying of insecticide are suspected causes, AFP news agency reported, citing Khim Sunsoda, deputy governor of Pur Senchey district, where the incidents happened.

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Anadarko petroeum to pay $5b to clean up cancer causing sites across US

Anadarko settlementEnergy company Anadarko Petroleum Corp agreed on Thursday to pay more than $5 billion to clean up areas across the United States polluted by nuclear fuel, wood creosote and rocket fuel waste that caused cancer and other health problems.

The agreement resolves a long-running lawsuit against the Kerr-McGee energy and chemical company, which Anadarko bought in 2006. The case was brought by a trust representing the U.S. government, 11 state governments, Indian tribes and individuals.

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Senate committee votes to declassify parts of CIA torture report

Dianne FeinsteinAfter years of inquiry, $40m in expenses and an unprecedented clash with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Senate intelligence committee voted on Thursday to declassify portions of a study into the agency's use of torture on detainees suspected of being involved in terrorism.

The landmark 11-3 vote now places the Obama administration back at the center of an inherited controversy that it has sought for over five years to escape.

That controversy has immediate implications for the military tribunals of the 9/11 defendants at Guantánamo Bay, several of whom were subjected to the abuse.

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Ocean discovered on Saturn's moon may be best place to look for alien life

Saturn moveResearchers have discovered a deep saltwater ocean on one of the many small moons that orbit Saturn, leading scientists to conclude it is the most likely place in the solar system for extraterrestrial life to be found.

Gravitational field measurements taken by Nasa's Cassini space probe revealed that a 10km-deep ocean of water, larger than Lake Superior, lurks beneath the icy surface of Enceladus at the moon's south pole.

David Stevenson, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said the body of water was so large it "may extend halfway or more towards the equator in every direction. It might even extend all the way to the north."

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Israel cancels Palestinian prisoner release

Palestinian prisonersIsrael will not free an expected fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners because of the Palestinians' push for recognition at the United Nations, Israel's chief negotiator said Thursday.

A statement from negotiator Tzipi Livni sent to The Associated Press described the Palestinians' decision to seek accessions to 15 international conventions through the U.N. violated the terms set for the prisoners' release. That comes as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described their U.N. move as a response to Israel's failure to release prisoners as promised at the end of March.

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