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Sunday, Nov 23rd

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Legal pot wins in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, DC

Legal pot wins in 3 statesResidents of Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. voted in midterm elections to legalize recreational marijuana use — key victories that could further fuel the legalization movement as mainstream America increasingly recognizes cannabis usage.

The Oregon and Alaska measures will create a network of retail shops similar to those operating in Washington state and Colorado, which in 2012 voted to become the first U.S. states to allow marijuana use beyond medical prescription.

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Mortar fire on Syria school kills 13 children

Kurdish refugee child in SyriaMortar rounds slammed into a school Wednesday in a rebel-held suburb east of Damascus, killing at least 13 children whose limp, bloodied bodies were later laid out on the floor of a crowded field hospital awaiting burial, activists said.

Syrian children often have been the victims of the country's civil war, now in its fourth year, but they rarely are specifically targeted. Still, Wednesday's attack in the town of Qaboun marked the most serious violence against Syrian minors since a twin suicide bombing killed at least 25 children in a government-controlled neighborhood in the central city of Homs in October.

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Facebook's government user data requests up 24%

FacebookRequests by governments for Facebook's user data are up by nearly a quarter in the first half of this year compared to the previous six months.

Global government requests were up by 24% to almost 35,000 in the first six months, the social media giant said. The amount of Facebook content restricted because of local laws also rose about 19% in the same period.

News of the increase comes as Facebook fights its largest ever US court order to hand over data from 400 people.

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What New York can learn from North Dakota: the dark side of fracking

ND frackingAs children we are often taught basic life lessons about survival, such as not to make deals with strangers that involve getting in their cars or not to accept large amounts of money or gifts from a stranger without expecting they'll want something in return. Yet that's exactly the deal that proponents of fracking are putting forward: We'll give you unlimited energy, money and high paying jobs, they say, with no downside.

Tapping into concerns about climate change, energy companies are even encouraging the ridiculous notion of fracking as a solution to global warming and a bridge to cleaner energy. Day by day, though, we're learning that the upsides of fracking are far less than what producers advertise, and the downsides are numerous and often devastating.

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Judge clears way for same-sex marriage in Kansas

kansas same sex marriageA federal judge cleared the way Tuesday for same-sex marriages to proceed in a ruling that brings Kansas closer to joining a quickly-growing majority of states where the unions are legal.

Judge Daniel Crabtree, in a written ruling, granted a preliminary injunction that had been sought by the ACLU of Kansas on behalf of two lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licenses in Sedgwick and Douglas counties. The injunction will prevent the state from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage found in the Kansas Constitution.

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Oklahoma Supreme Court Puts New Abortion Law On Hold

Oklahoma SCThe Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday halted the implementation of new abortion restrictions in the state that supporters said are aimed at protecting women's health and critics said are really measures designed to shutter clinics.

Oklahoma is one of several Republican-stronghold states in hat have adopted similar restrictions on abortion clinics in about the last year, prompting legal battles at the state and federal court level.

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Scientists see mechanism for spontaneous HIV 'cure'

HIV decodingFrench scientists said Tuesday they had found the genetic mechanism by which two HIV-infected men may have experienced a "spontaneous cure", and said it offered a new strategy in the fight against AIDS.

Both men were infected by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), one of them 30 years ago, but never developed AIDS symptoms.

The AIDS-causing virus remained in their immune cells but was inactivated because its genetic code had been altered, the scientists said.

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Justices back air marshal who blew whistle on cutbacks

Air marshal whistleblowerA former air marshal who leaked information about agency cutbacks had a good day at the Supreme Court Tuesday, while the federal government he served had trouble convincing justices that he deserved to be fired.

The result could turn out to be a rare court victory for government whistle-blowers who expose potential dangers to health or safety, even if the disclosures violate agency rules.

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Fugitive Mexican mayor suspected in abduction of 43 students captured

AbarcaMexican police on Tuesday captured a fugitive former mayor and his wife suspected of being the probable masterminds behind the abduction of 43 student teachers feared massacred in September, officials said.

Police working with a local drug gang in the southwestern city of Iguala abducted the students after clashes there on the night of Sept. 26, sparking a huge manhunt and causing serious embarrassment for President Enrique Pena Nieto.

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