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Friday, Dec 19th

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US journalist killed in failed rescue raid in Yemen

Luke SomersAn American photojournalist and a South African teacher held by Al-Qaeda in Yemen were killed Saturday during a failed U.S.-led rescue attempt, a raid President Barack Obama said he ordered over an "imminent danger" to the reporter.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) previously posted a video online threatening to kill photographer Luke Somers, prompting a second rescue attempt for him by American forces backed by Yemeni ground troops. But an aid group helping negotiate the release of South African Pierre Korkie said he was to be freed Sunday and his wife was told only that morning: "The wait is almost over."

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Meet Tiny Doo, the rapper facing life in prison for making an album

Tiny DooAs rappers go, Brandon Duncan’s approach is not unusual: his lyrics reflect the violent reality of the streets. But in the pantheon of rappers who have had run-ins with the courts, Tiny Doo looms large. Despite his lack of a criminal record, Duncan stands accused of nine counts of participating in a “criminal street gang conspiracy”, charges that could land him in prison for life.

But Duncan is not charged with participating in any of the crimes underlying the conspiracy, or even agreeing to them. Rather, he’s effectively on trial for making a rap album.

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Potential Indictments in George Washington Bridge Probe May Be Handed Down in January: Sources

GW bridgeMultiple sources familiar with the investigation into last year's traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge tell NBC 4 New York at least half a dozen potential federal indictments in connection with the scandal may be handed down as early as January.

Those facing potential indictment include former staffers to Gov. Christie and current and former Port Authority officials, the sources said. Possible charges may be related to what sources familiar with the probe describe to NBC 4 New York as an apparent conspiracy to cover up what they refer to as a politically motivated plot.

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Big-Picture Study Of Fracking Operations Suggests Even Small Chemical Exposures Pose Risks

fracking risksApril Lane's work often brings her to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she monitors pollution from natural gas production sites around the area's rich shale reserves. Exposure to toxins, she says, have left her with chronic headaches, nausea and a hesitancy to have more children.

"I've decided having another baby is probably not going to happen for me. I'm too scared of what the health effects might be," said Lane, 28, of Little Rock, a mother of one and an environmental health advocate who has led citizen groups in tracking threats from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations.

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Kerry Puts Brakes on CIA Torture Report

KerrySecretary of State John Kerry personally phoned Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Friday morning to ask her to delay the imminent release of her committee’s report on CIA torture and rendition during the George W. Bush administration, according to administration and Congressional officials.

Kerry was not going rogue -- his call came after an interagency process that decided the release of the report early next week, as Feinstein had been planning, could complicate relationships with foreign countries at a sensitive time and posed an unacceptable risk to U.S. personnel and facilities abroad. Kerry told Feinstein he still supports releasing the report, just not right now.

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Shocking news: Electric eels exert remote control over prey

eels use remote controlElectric eels, those perilous predators of South America, can unleash a potent electrical jolt to wallop their hapless prey. But this zap is not used merely to stun other fish.

A new study shows that the eels use it to exert a form of remote control over their victims, causing fish that may be hiding to twitch, thus exposing their location, or inducing involuntary muscle contraction to incapacitate their prey.

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Huge Israeli Arms Buy Nobody's Talking About

fi35The Israeli parliament has become a turbulent place in the past few weeks — even more so than usual. What with key politicians getting fired, there’s been lots of chatter about what this shake-up will mean for the Israel-U.S. relationship. But it may not mean very much at all.

It’s worth noting that while coalition disputes (supposedly) led to the dissolution of the parliament this week, the cabinet still functioned well enough to approve on Sunday a $2-billion deal to purchase stealth fighter jets from American aerospace company Lockheed Martin.

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Orion spacecraft's flawless test flight puts Mars exploration one step closer

orion launchWhite smoke rose in the air and green dye coloured the ocean to guide the USS Anchorage and smaller recovery vessels to the spot where Nasa’s Orion crew capsule splashed down to Earth after a flawless and awe-inspiring test flight on Friday.

Cameras mounted inside Orion caught the casual splendour of the world turning beneath it as the empty capsule lapped the planet twice before tearing into the atmosphere on its journey home at 20,000 mph.

As its heatshield rose to twice the temperature of molten lava, Orion popped its parachutes and gently floated down, scoring a bullseye on its target landing site off the coast of Baja California in Mexico at 4.29pm GMT.

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Missouri AG Confirms Michael Brown Grand Jury Misled by St. Louis DA

Missouri grand jury misledSubsequent to a previous report from Lawrence O'Donnell the Missouri Attorney General has confirmed with Last Word that they instructions given the Michael Brown Grand Jury describing the Police "use of force" laws was incorrect and misleading.

The background of this situation is that Lawrence O'Donnell reported that after reviewing the transcripts of the Darren Wilson Grand Jury, his analyst discovered that Assistant District Attorney's working for Bob McCullough gave the Jurors an outdated copy of Missouri Law that all that was required for an Officer to use deadly force is their "reasonable belief" that there was a threat.

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