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Chicago homicides hit 20-year high as gun violence spikes

Chicago Hits 20 year highChicago recorded its deadliest month in two decades in August, part of a sharp rise in gun violence in the nation's third-largest city this year.

Chicago police said Thursday that 90 people were killed last month, a 66 percent increase over August 2015. There were 472 shooting victims — an average of more than 15 people per day.

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SpaceX rocket explodes during Cape Canaveral test fire

SpaceX explosionA Falcon 9 rocket belonging to tech billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX aerospace firm has exploded during a routine test firing at Cape Canaveral in Florida, shaking buildings and sending a thick cloud of black smoke into the air.

There were no reports of injuries in the explosion just after 9 am (1400 GMT) on Thursday

SpaceX said in a statement that an "anomaly" during the static fire test resulted in the loss of the rocket and the Israeli communications satellite that it had been due to carry into space on Saturday.

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Tropical Storm Hermine causing widespread flooding across Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay floodingIt’s official: the curious system meteorologists have been tracking since last week has finally strengthened into Tropical Storm Hermine.

Around 11 a.m. this morning, the National Weather Service’s hurricane hunter plane flew back into Tropical Depression Nine — and collected the data needed to name the system previously called Invest 99L and Tropical Depression Nine.

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Obama commutes 111 more sentences to set new monthly record

Obama commutes 111 more in August 2016As part of his "second chance" initiative, President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the prison sentences of more than 100 nonviolent drug offenders, setting a new monthly record.

Obama announced the commutations of 111 more individuals, bringing the August total to 325. Thirty-five of those who were granted relief Tuesday had been serving life sentences."

We must remember that these are individuals -- sons, daughters, parents, and in many cases, grandparents -- who have taken steps toward rehabilitation and who have earned their second chance," the White House said in a statement. "They are individuals who received unduly harsh sentences under outdated laws for committing largely nonviolent drug crimes."

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Agriculture Dept. closes offices in 5 states after threats

Dept. of Agriculture threatsThe Agriculture Department has closed offices in five states after receiving anonymous threats.

USDA spokesman Matthew Herrick says in a statement on Tuesday that the department had received "several anonymous messages" that raised concerns about the safety of USDA personnel and facilities. He said six offices are closed until further notice.

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Gene Wilder, ‘Willy Wonka’ Star and Comedic Icon, Dies at 83

Gene WilderGene Wilder, who regularly stole the show in such comedic gems as “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Stir Crazy,” died Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn. His nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman said he died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.

His nephew said in a statement, “We understand for all the emotional and physical challenges this situation presented we have been among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality.

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White Lives Matter To Be Listed As Hate Group By Southern Poverty Law Center

White Lives Matter now a hate groupWhite Lives Matter will soon be listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

SPLC said the status will be reflected in the next update of its “Hate Map,” which tracks the activities of hate groups around the country.

“I can’t speak to how many chapters will be listed, but it’s clear that the leadership of the group, the ends of the group ― it’s just a flat-out white supremacist group,” Heidi Beirich, director of the center’s Intelligence Report, told the Houston Chronicle. “The ideology behind it, the racist leaders, everything about it is racist.”

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