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Thursday, May 28th

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Baltimore asks Justice Department to investigate police practices

Baltimore callss in DOJThe mayor of Baltimore called on federal investigators Wednesday to look into whether the city's beleaguered police department uses a pattern of excessive force or discriminatory policing.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said even though complaints of excessive force and lawsuits alleging misconduct are down over the last few years, "we all know that Baltimore has a fractured relationship with community."

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'Dozens die' as migrant boat deflates in Mediterranean

Migrant boat sinksDozens of migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean after a boat carrying an estimated 137 people deflates south of Sicily, Save the Children says.

The aid group says survivors reported up to 40 people fell into the sea as a rescue vessel was approaching.  Those rescued arrived in the Sicilian port city of Catania on Tuesday.

At least 1,829 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.

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No, Pentagon says: We’re not plotting the military takeover of Texas

Operation jade helmThe Pentagon wants to make it clear: No one is messing with you, Texas.

Defense officials are swatting down Internet-fueled rumors about a training exercise planned for this summer in the Southwest U.S. involving four branches of the military. According to the Pentagon, the exercise — called Operation Jade Helm 15— is meant to simulate covert military operations in “hostile” territory in Texas, Utah and part of southern California.

Some conspiracy theorists have postulated that the exercise is a ruse to institute martial law, possibly involving underground tunnels and five recently closed Wal-Mart stores.

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Afghanistan's Poppy Farmers Say New Seeds Will Boost Opium Output

poppy fieldsIt's the cash crop of the Taliban and the scourge of Afghanistan — the country's intractable opium cultivation. This year, many Afghan poppy farmers are expecting a windfall as they get ready to harvest opium from a new variety of poppy seeds said to boost yield of the resin that produces heroin.

The plants grow bigger, faster, use less water than seeds they've used before, and give up to double the amount of opium, they say.

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Missouri Senate Overrides Veto Of Welfare Restrictions Bill

Jay NixonThe Missouri Senate voted on Monday to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a bill that severely restricts welfare eligibility, potentially cutting benefits to thousands of low-income families.

Nixon, a Democrat, on Thursday vetoed the bill, which calls for reducing the time families may receive aid from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program from five years to three years and nine months. It also would impose strict work requirements.

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Pregnant 10-year-old rape victim denied abortion by Paraguayan authorities

10 year old rape victim denied abortionThe girl is 10 years old, 22 weeks pregnant with the child of the stepfather who raped and impregnated her even after he was reported to social services. And she's the subject of a fierce debate among adults over the moral, legal, physical, and psychological implications of whether she should carry the child to term or be allowed an abortion.

The girl lives in Paraguay, reports the Guardian, which bans abortion except in the case of a threat to the mother's health, and the government has thus far denied the girl's mother's request to grant an abortion. "Right now, there is no reason to interrupt the pregnancy," says a public health rep, adding that "given the stage of the pregnancy, it's even more dangerous for the girl" to abort.

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How Republican presidential candidates are getting away with denying evolution

GOP and evolutionA neurosurgeon who believes the human brain is too complex for anyone but God, an ophthalmologist who refuses to talk about the age of the Earth, and a Harvard-trained lawyer beloved by creationists are running for president of the United States, raising the prospect of an election without science.

Retired doctor Ben Carson joined senators Rand Paul (the ophthalmologist) and Ted Cruz (the Harvard alum) on the campaign trail on Monday, vying for the Republican nomination against each other and other confirmed and likely candidates including Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker.

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California's growing concern: Crops raised with oil field water

California to use oil waste for farm waterHere in California's thirsty farm belt, where pumpjacks nod amid neat rows of crops, it's a proposition that seems to make sense: using treated oil field wastewater to irrigate crops.

Oil giant Chevron recycles 21 million gallons of that water each day and sells it to farmers who use it on about 45,000 acres of crops, about 10% of Kern County's farmland.

State and local officials praise the 2-decade-old program as a national model for coping with the region's water shortages.

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Former Japanese journalist says 'comfort women' apology needed

Takashi UemuraA former Japanese journalist who received death threats for his investigation of "comfort women" said Tokyo should apologize for Japan's wartime past.

Takashi Uemura, who first reported on the women in 1991, said he has faced allegations of fabricating the truth from right-wing critics. Speaking at New York University on Monday, Uemura said press freedom has waned in Japan when it comes to the sensitive issue of Japan's wartime past.

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