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Rising NFL star charged with murder in Massachusetts court

By Richard Valdmanis BOSTON (Reuters) – Aaron Hernandez, a 23-year-old rising football star with the New England Patriots, was charged with murder and fired by the team on Wednesday, another blot on the National Football League’s tightly protected image. Hernandez was charged in a Massachusetts court with one count of…

Gulf of Mexico could see record-sized ‘dead zone’ from pollution this year

The Gulf of Mexico could see a record-size dead zone this year of oxygen-deprived waters resulting from pollution, US scientists have cautioned based on government data models. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecasts said the dead zone could be as large as New Jersey, or up to 8,561 square…

Lesbian widow celebrates Supreme Court victory

By Edith Honan NEW YORK (Reuters) – If Thea Spyer, whose death in 2009 set the stage for Wednesday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, were still alive, she might tell her partner, Edith Windsor, “You did it, honey!” Windsor, who turned 84 just a few days ago, spoke…

Dutch court finds six coffee shop owners guilty of selling cannabis to non-residents

A Dutch court on Wednesday fined six coffee shop owners and workers for selling cannabis to non-residents, in a victory for Dutch authorities’ fight against drug tourism. Prosecutors had sought up to one-month suspended jail terms for the owners and staff of cannabis cafes in Maastricht for selling pot to…

U.S. government will retire most research chimpanzees

The US government said Wednesday it will send most of its 360 research chimpanzees into retirement but will keep a small colony of about 50 for possible future studies on vaccines and behavior. The National Institutes of Health announced after more than two years of examination it was accepting most…

Twitter CEO defends ‘principled’ data gathering policy

Twitter is holding to a “principled” policy on national security data requests and will “push back” in some cases to protect the privacy of its users, its chief executive said Wednesday. Dick Costolo, appearing at a forum at the Brookings Institution in Washington, declined to comment on whether Twitter had…

Learning to throw shouldered big evolutionary step for humans

The shoulder may have been one of mankind’s greatest evolutionary successes, allowing us to kill prey by hurling spears or rocks, a study said on Wednesday. Focusing on a relatively underappreciated part of the anatomy, scientists said the shoulder was the key part of a throwing mechanism that evolved about…

Elephant tooth reveals evolution of plant-only diet

Once they developed a taste for grass, the ancestors of today’s elephants swiftly broadened their leaf-only diet and placed their progeny on a new evolutionary track, a study said Wednesday. Early tuskers were moving into open grassland millions of years before their teeth were adapted to grazing, according to a…

French mayor lands in court for refusing to recognize same sex marriage

A gay couple in southwestern France on Wednesday filed a criminal complaint against a mayor who refused to wed them in defiance of a landmark law, one of a small band of diehards holding out against same-sex marriages. Jean-Michel Colo, the mayor of Arcangues, stirred up controversy by becoming the…

Ecuador asylum expected to take weeks as Snowden waits in Moscow airport

By Alessandra Prentice and Steve Gutterman MOSCOW (Reuters) – A former U.S. spy agency contractor facing charges of espionage remained in hiding at a Moscow airport on Wednesday while the prospect grew of a protracted Russian-U.S. wrangle over his fate. Ecuador, where Edward Snowden has requested asylum, said a decision…

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