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Sunday, May 24th

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Prosecutor in Eric Garner chokehold case elected to Congress

Prosecutor in NY police chokehold electedA U.S. House seat in deeply Democratic New York City will remain under Republican control.

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan — who empaneled the grand jury that declined to indict a white police officer who placed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, in a fatal chokehold — on Tuesday captured a vacant congressional seat that spans Staten Island and a small part of Brooklyn.

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Senate passes GOP budget plan targeting 'Obamacare'

Senate budget bill passedThe U.S. Senate on Tuesday narrowly passed a Republican budget plan that prescribes deep domestic spending cuts to eliminate deficits by 2024 and aids the party's goal of trying to dismantle President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

The first combined House-Senate budget in six years passed 51-48 with all Senate Democrats voting against it.

Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, both presidential contenders, were the only Republicans who voted against the blueprint. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also seeking the White House, voted in its favor, as did Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a potential presidential candidate. All Democrats voted in opposition.

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Probe takes aim at US methane plume mystery

Methane investigationConley is part of a team of top atmospheric scientists taking part in a high-stakes hunt for the sources of a vast methane plume billowing over the hydrocarbon-soaked San Juan Basin, more commonly known as the Four Corners area of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The cloud was brought to public attention by NASA and University of Michigan scientists last year in a headline-grabbing study that drew on data gathered by a European Space Agency satellite from 2003 to 2009.

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Baltimore asks Justice Department to investigate police practices

Baltimore callss in DOJThe mayor of Baltimore called on federal investigators Wednesday to look into whether the city's beleaguered police department uses a pattern of excessive force or discriminatory policing.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said even though complaints of excessive force and lawsuits alleging misconduct are down over the last few years, "we all know that Baltimore has a fractured relationship with community."

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'Dozens die' as migrant boat deflates in Mediterranean

Migrant boat sinksDozens of migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean after a boat carrying an estimated 137 people deflates south of Sicily, Save the Children says.

The aid group says survivors reported up to 40 people fell into the sea as a rescue vessel was approaching.  Those rescued arrived in the Sicilian port city of Catania on Tuesday.

At least 1,829 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.

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No, Pentagon says: We’re not plotting the military takeover of Texas

Operation jade helmThe Pentagon wants to make it clear: No one is messing with you, Texas.

Defense officials are swatting down Internet-fueled rumors about a training exercise planned for this summer in the Southwest U.S. involving four branches of the military. According to the Pentagon, the exercise — called Operation Jade Helm 15— is meant to simulate covert military operations in “hostile” territory in Texas, Utah and part of southern California.

Some conspiracy theorists have postulated that the exercise is a ruse to institute martial law, possibly involving underground tunnels and five recently closed Wal-Mart stores.

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Afghanistan's Poppy Farmers Say New Seeds Will Boost Opium Output

poppy fieldsIt's the cash crop of the Taliban and the scourge of Afghanistan — the country's intractable opium cultivation. This year, many Afghan poppy farmers are expecting a windfall as they get ready to harvest opium from a new variety of poppy seeds said to boost yield of the resin that produces heroin.

The plants grow bigger, faster, use less water than seeds they've used before, and give up to double the amount of opium, they say.

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Missouri Senate Overrides Veto Of Welfare Restrictions Bill

Jay NixonThe Missouri Senate voted on Monday to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that severely restricts welfare eligibility, potentially cutting benefits to thousands of low-income families.

Nixon, a Democrat, on Thursday vetoed the bill, which calls for reducing the time families may receive aid from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program from five years to three years and nine months. It also would impose strict work requirements.

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Pregnant 10-year-old rape victim denied abortion by Paraguayan authorities

10 year old rape victim denied abortionThe girl is 10 years old, 22 weeks pregnant with the child of the stepfather who raped and impregnated her even after he was reported to social services. And she's the subject of a fierce debate among adults over the moral, legal, physical, and psychological implications of whether she should carry the child to term or be allowed an abortion.

The girl lives in Paraguay, reports the Guardian, which bans abortion except in the case of a threat to the mother's health, and the government has thus far denied the girl's mother's request to grant an abortion. "Right now, there is no reason to interrupt the pregnancy," says a public health rep, adding that "given the stage of the pregnancy, it's even more dangerous for the girl" to abort.

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