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Friday, Apr 24th

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Aide to Mississippi Sen. Cochran arrested on drug charge

CochranAn aide to Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi has been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine after federal agents raided his home.

Fred W. Pagan, an office administrator for Cochran, was arrested Thursday.  Court papers said Customs and Border Protection officers found a package on April 9 in Cincinnati, Ohio, that contained 1.1 kilograms of the drug known as GBL. The package was bound for Pagan's home address.

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25 years later: Who got the Hubble telescope off the ground?

Hubble Space TelescopeOn the 25-year anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, Space.com talked with science writer Robert Zimmerman, author of "The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built it" (Princeton University Press, 2008)

Zimmerman's book chronicles the multidecade struggle to get Hubble into space, the people who fought to keep it alive (often at the expense of their own careers and personal lives), and the incredible science it has produced. You can read an excerpt of "Universe in a Mirror" here.

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Bill Shuster muscled through transportation bill pushed by lobbyist girlfriend

Bill shusterLast year, Rep. Bill Shuster approached fellow Republican Rep. Tom Graves with a request. The powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman wanted to take over Graves’ moribund Travel Transparency Act, an industry-friendly bill that would allow airlines to advertise the base price of a ticket without including fees and taxes.

The bill had gone nowhere under Graves (R-Ga.) — it didn’t even muster a hearing in committee. Once the Pennsylvania congressman took over, though, it moved at lightning speed: He introduced a revised version of the bill in March of last year, the same day he met with an airline industry group that supported it. A month later, Shuster shepherded the measure through his transportation panel in roughly 10 minutes. It sailed through the full House three months later without a roll call vote.

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Bill Cosby accused of sexual assault by three more women

Bill Cosby accused by 3 more womenThree more women have accused Bill Cosby of sexually abusing them decades ago, as the veteran comedian gets ready for the final show in his US comedy tour. Janice Baker Kinney, Marcella Tate and Autumn Burns said at a press conference hosted by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred that Cosby, 77, drugged and sexually assaulted them in separate incidents between 1970 and 1982.

They join more than three dozen women, many of whom are represented by Allred, who have made similar accusations in public over the past year.

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100 Years Ago, 1.5 Million Christian Armenians Were Systematically Killed. Today, It's Still Not A 'Genocide'

Armenian genocideOn April 24, 1915, Ottoman Turkish authorities hauled off Daniel Varoujan, a leading Armenian poet of the time, along with over 200 other intellectuals in the capital Constantinople. To the crumbling Ottoman Empire, the poets, painters, writers, booksellers and politicians at the beating heart of the Armenian community posed too much of a threat.

Soon, much of the empire’s Christian Armenian population would be targeted and nearly wiped out, accused of conspiring against the empire with the Russians. Many Armenians say the genocide was collective punishment for the actions of a few.

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Diet Pepsi dropping aspartame on customer concerns

Diet PepsiPepsiCo says it's dropping aspartame from Diet Pepsi in response to customer feedback and replacing it with sucralose, another artificial sweetener commonly known as Splenda.

The decision to swap sweeteners comes as Americans keep turning away from popular diet sodas. Rival Coca-Cola said this week that sales volume for Diet Coke, which also uses aspartame, fell 5 percent in North America in the first three months of the year.

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High levels of radiation detected at Tokyo playground causes shutdown

Tokyo park radiationA Tokyo playground was shut down after high levels of radiation were detected in the area.

Japanese authorities found one spot contained radiation of 480 microsieverts per hour, the BBC reported. That amount was equal to nearly half the recommended limit of annual exposure for one person.

Tokyo officials were alerted to the radiation traces on Wednesday, Japanese television network NHK reported. They said they believe the radiation is coming from beneath the surface of the park.

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Nebraska legislature leads charge to abolish death penalty

Nebraska moves to end death penaltyNebraska’s Republican-dominated legislature is leading the charge to abolish the death penalty in the state, potentially making it the first GOP-controlled state in decades to ban the practice and setting up a confrontation with Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

State lawmakers approved Legislative Bill 268 late last week, which would replace the death penalty with life without parole, in a lopsided 30-13 vote, enough to overcome Ricketts’ promised veto if support holds.

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115 children killed since start of Saudi-led Yemen offensive

Yemen bombingsA United Nations report said on Friday that civilian causalities have mounted since the start of the Saudi-led offensive against Shiite rebels in Yemen, with more than 500 civilians killed in the nearly monthlong conflict, including at least 115 children.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville said 1,185 civilians have been injured between March 26, when the airstrike campaign began, and April 22.

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