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Thursday, Apr 24th

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Supreme Court strikes down aggregate campaign limits on individuals, opening political taps

Suoreme CourtThe Supreme Court on Wednesday further opened up the taps on political campaign spending, with a bombshell ruling that removes the long-standing limits on how much total money an individual can contribute to federal candidates.

In what amounts to a 5-4 ruling won by conservatives, the court declared the aggregate contribution limits imposed four decades ago violated the First Amendment’s free-speech protections. Though individual donations may still be limited, for now, the ruling means donors can spread their wealth across as many candidates and causes as they can find.

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Judge Halts Texas Execution Until Drug Supplier Identified

texas execution drug secretU.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore Wednesday in Houston halted the execution of Texas death row inmate Tommy Lynn Sells, 49, until the state provides Sells’ attorneys with information about the supplier of the pentobarbital to be used in the lethal injection.

Sells was scheduled for execution just after 6 p.m. Thursday in Huntsville.

His attorneys want to know the source of the execution drug in order to verify its quality to spare Sells from unconstitutional pain, but the state argues that the identity of the supplier must be kept secret to protect it from threats of violence.

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A Quarter Of Europe's Bumblebees, Vital To Agriculture, Face Extinction

bumble beesAlmost a quarter of Europe's bumblebees are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitats and climate change, threatening pollination of crops worth billions of dollars, a study showed on Wednesday.

Sixteen of 68 bumblebee species in Europe are at risk, the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said. It is preparing a global study of the bees, whose honeybee cousins are in steep decline because of disease.

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Sahara desert dust brings smog to Britain

Saharan dust brings fog to LondonBritish authorities on Wednesday warned people with heart or lung conditions to avoid exertion as a combination of European emissions and Sahara dust created a "perfect storm" of pollution that blanketed the country in smog.

The environment department said air pollution in some areas reached the top rung on its 10-point scale.

The department said the smog was caused by pollution from Britain and industrialized areas of the continent — trapped in place because of light winds — mixing with dust blown up from a storm in the Sahara desert.

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Israel: radical settlers spray hate graffiti on monastery

Jerusalem vandalsVandals scrawled hate graffiti on a Catholic monastery in central Israel and slashed the tires of nearby cars weeks before Pope Francis visits the Holy land, Israeli police said Tuesday.

Slogans against Mideast peace talks with the Palestinians as well as graffiti disparaging Jesus and Mary were found on the outer walls of the Deir Rafat monastery close to Jerusalem.

Israeli police are investigating and searching for suspects, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

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CIA’s harsh interrogation tactics more widespread than thought, Senate investigators found

CIA torture widespreadThe CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques on foreign terror suspects – a practice that has provoked international condemnation – was more widespread than the agency has publicly acknowledged, Senate investigators have learned.

Moreover, the CIA’s own internal documents confirm the agency’s culpability in the hypothermia death of one Afghan captive – an incident that also has never even been publicly discussed, McClatchy was told.

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Watch Donald Rumsfeld Lie About Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda, and 9/11

Rumsfeld liesIn The Unknown Known, Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris (The Fog of War) turns his infamous interrotron on former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He was one of the key architects of the U.S. response to the attacks of September 11th under President George W. Bush, which included wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The title of Morris’ documentary, out April 4, is taken from a controversial response Rumsfeld gave in February 2002 when, as Secretary of Defense, he was prodded about the lack of evidence concerning “reports” propagated by the Bush administration that Iraq was supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups:

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Alex Baer: Learning the Kind of 'Out' We Are

OUTThe ability to learn is Nature's way of keeping us from dying from the same thing, over and over again.  Except that it works only for the species, not individuals, and only some of the time at that.  Individuals are as free as ever, Nature says, to perish or be punished by almost any lame-brained, bone-headed thing we'd care to do.

The ability to learn may be fickle, appearing to pick and choose its candidates by invisible lot, or by some other means we mortals cannot detect.  However much we ponder, mull over, and squint, in mid-thought, Nature still retains the ability to surprise.

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Suspended Connecticut priest Paul Gotta charged with sexual assault

Paul GottaA suspended Roman Catholic priest who is accused of giving guns and explosives to a juvenile has been arrested on allegations he sexually assaulted a minor.

East Windsor police arrested the Rev Paul Gotta on Monday on seven sexual assault charges, including two felony counts and five misdemeanor counts. Police say the assaults occurred over the span of about a year beginning in January 2012. No other details of the allegations were released.

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