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Friday, May 22nd

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Chimpanzees granted 'legal persons' status to defend their rights in court

Chimps granted legal person hoodFor the first time in US history, a judge has granted two chimpanzees a petition – through human attorneys – to defend their rights against unlawful imprisonment, arguably bestowing the status of “legal persons” on the primates.

On Monday, Manhattan supreme court justice Barbara Jaffe granted a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of two non-human plaintiffs, Hercules and Leo – chimpanzees used for medical experiments at Stony Brook University on Long Island.

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US Bishop Finn, symbol of church's failure on sexual abuse, resigns

Bishop Finn resignsU.S. Bishop Robert Finn, the Catholic prelate in the U.S. heartland who became a symbol internationally of the church's failures in addressing the sexual abuse crisis, has resigned. He was the first bishop criminally convicted of mishandling an abusive priest yet remained in office for another two and a half years.

The Vatican announced Finn's resignation as head of the diocese of St. Joseph-Kansas City, Mo., in a note in its daily news bulletin Tuesday.

While the note did not provide any reason for the move, it is rare for bishops in the Catholic church to resign without cause before they reach the traditional retirement age of 75.

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Millions Spent Lobbying By Private Prison Corporations To Keep A Quota Of Arrested Immigrants

privatee prisonsPrivate prison corporations spent $11 million over six years to lobby Congress to keep immigrants in detention centers, a new report released Wednesday found. The Grassroots Leadership report, Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, found that lobbying efforts of the two largest private prison corporations have made them the main beneficiaries of aggressive immigration detention policies.

For-profit family detention centers have come under scrutiny in recent times as migrant women renewed a hunger strike this week in Texas, demanding that they be released on bond with their children.

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Life term for 1 Blackwater guard; 30 years for 3 others

Blackwater trialA federal judge in Washington gave out prison terms of 30 years to life on Monday to four guards for Blackwater Worldwide convicted in the 2007 fatal shooting of 14 unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad, the Washington Post and other news organizations are reporting.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth handed down a sentence of life in prison to Nicholas Slatten of Sparta, Tenn., convicted of murder in the incident in which American security officers fired assault rifles and grenades into heavy daytime traffic, the Post reports.

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Documents show Va. woman was shackled before being stunned

natasha mckennaA mentally ill woman who died after a stun gun was used on her at the Fairfax County jail in February was restrained with handcuffs behind her back, leg shackles and a mask when a sheriff’s deputy shocked her four times, incident reports obtained by The Washington Post show.

Natasha McKenna initially cooperated with deputies, placed her hands through her cell door food slot and agreed to be handcuffed, the reports show. But McKenna, whose deteriorating mental state had caused Fairfax to seek help for her, then began trying to fight her way out of the cuffs, repeatedly screaming, “You promised you wouldn’t hurt me!” the reports show.

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Obama and Raul Castro: Together at last

Castro and Obama meetU.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro will share the same stage on Friday in an encounter rich with symbolism as their countries set aside decades of mistrust and attempt to restore diplomatic relations.

The rapprochement is set to dominate the Summit of the Americas meeting, held in Panama, less than four months after they announced they would seek to lower tensions and boost trade and travel between the two Cold War enemies.

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Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out Of Cockpit Before Crash In France

Germanwings pilot locked outAs officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a jet with 150 people on board crashed in relatively clear skies, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in.

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

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