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Rare tornadoes hit Massachusetts, 4 dead

NEW YORK (AFP) – Massachusetts was under a state of emergency after at least two tornadoes hit the northeastern US state late Wednesday, leaving four people dead, officials said. Governor Deval Patrick declared the state of emergency “in response to the impacts of the tornadic activity and severe weather,” his…

Michigan superintendent: Let’s turn our schools into prisons

The superintendent of schools in Ithaca, Michigan, a small town in the heart of the state, had a sarcastic response to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-controlled state legislature’s decision to strip $300 per student from the school budget. The superintendent, Nathan Bootz, noted to local newspaper the Gratiot…

Syrian troops fire on protesters, kill 11

At least 11 protesters were killed by security forces during massive demonstrations on Friday across Syria, witnesses and activists told AFP in telephone interviews. Security forces opened fire with live rounds to disperse protesters who took to the streets in several cities across Syria in response to calls for “Good…

Obama vows to restore Gulf Coast one year after spill

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama on Wednesday vowed to do “whatever is necessary” to restore the Gulf Coast on the anniversary of the BP rig explosion, which caused the worst maritime oil spill in US history. “The events that unfolded on April 20, 2010 and the oil spill that…

Boehner to spend up to $500,000 to defend DOMA

In response to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) demands that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) release the cost to taxpayers of the Republicans’ legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act — which the Department of Justice earlier declined to defend — the contract signed with former Bush solicitor…

Mystery illnesses plague Louisiana oil spill crews

RACELAND, Louisiana — Jamie Simon worked on a barge in the oily waters for six months following the BP spill last year, cooking for the cleanup workers, washing their clothes and tidying up after them. One year later, the 32-year-old said she still suffers from a range of debilitating health…

Japan says Fukushima plant to be scrapped

SENDAI, Japan (AFP) – Japan said on Thursday its stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will have to be scrapped, while pressure also grew for the evacuation zone around the crippled facility to be expanded. With no end in sight to the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the US…

Rocket slams into Israel city as Gaza violence spirals

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Palestinians sent a Grad rocket slamming into the Israeli city of Beersheva Wednesday, injuring a man, after Israeli air strikes and a mortar attack killed eight Gazans. The Al Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, claimed responsibility for the attack as well as for…

Oman’s Sultan Qaboos replaces miniters after protests

MUSCAT (Reuters) – Oman’s ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said replaced two key ministers Saturday in response to protests across the Gulf Arab nation calling for political reforms and jobs. General Sultan bin Mohammed al-Naamani was appointed Minister of the palace office, which controls the country’s security, and Khalid bin Hilal…

News outlets sue Wisconsin governor over lack of response to email requests

Isthmus, an alternative newsweekly in Madison, WI, announced on Friday that it has filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker under that state’s Open Records Law. On February 17, Walker claimed to have received more than 8000 emails on his budget repair bill, with the majority urging him to…

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