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10 things you need to know today: May 21, 2014

Harold Maass
The Senate minority leader easily bested his Tea Party opponent on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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Mitch McConnell brushes off Tea-Party-favored primary challenger

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) easily defeated a Tea-Party-backed challenger, Matt Bevin, in Tuesday's primary. Establishment Republicans also beat more conservative candidates in Oregon, Georgia, and Idaho. "My party is knitting itself back together," said Rep. Tom Cole (R- Okla.). Democrats said mainstream Republicans were only winning because they were shifting to the right and running like Tea Partiers. [CNN, The Wall Street Journal]


Judge rules Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban unconstitutional

A federal judge on Tuesday threw out Pennsylvania's gay-marriage ban and declined to put the ruling on hold pending a possible appeal by the state, giving same-sex couples time to rush to apply for marriage licenses. Gay marriage is now legal throughout the Northeast. "We are a better people than what these laws represent," U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III wrote, "and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history." [The Associated Press]


Russia clinches crucial gas deal with China

China on Wednesday signed a deal to buy natural gas from Russia. The long-awaited deal gives China, the world's biggest energy user, a source of clean-burning fuel. It also gives Russia a place to sell its gas at a moment when Europeans, angered by Moscow's ties to separatists in Ukraine, are trying to find other sources of gas. The 30-year deal is estimated to be worth more than $400 billion, and is said to reflect the two countries growing ties.  [Reuters]


U.S. to disclose memo justifying killing American terror suspects abroad

The Obama administration said Tuesday it would release a classified memo justifying the use of drones in the targeted killing of American terrorism suspects overseas. The document was written by appeals court nominee David Barron, whose nomination faces a vote Wednesday. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. decided to disclose the memo rather than appeal a court order to release it under the Freedom of Information Act. [The New York Times]


Twin blasts kill dozens in Nigeria

Two explosions killed at least 118 people at a market in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Tuesday afternoon. Nobody claimed responsibility, but suspicion immediately fell on the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, which has been blamed for the abduction of more than 270 high-school girls last month. "It's a wake-up call," said activist Shamaki Gad Peter. "They are trying to make the country ungovernable." [The New York Times, Voice of America]


Court halts Missouri execution over condemned man's medical condition

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito late Tuesday halted a Missouri execution to allow doctors to determine whether the condemned inmate, Russell Bucklew, would suffer extreme pain during his lethal injection due to a birth defect that affects his veins. He would have been the first person put to death in the U.S. since a botched execution in Oklahoma in April. [USA Today]


GM recalls another 2.4 million vehicles

General Motors announced the recall of another 2.4 million vehicles on Tuesday, bringing to 13 million the total number of cars and trucks it has recalled since January. The latest recalls covered some Chevrolet Malibus, Cadillac Escalades, and other models. Just last week, GM recalled another 2.9 million vehicles. GM on Friday agreed to pay $35 million over delayed recalls on 2.6 million cars with faulty ignition switches. [CBS News]


D'Souza pleads guilty to illegal campaign contributions

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making illegal campaign contributions. D'Souza, author of 2010's The Roots of Obama's Rage and co-director of the 2012 documentary 2016: Obama's America, had claimed he was being persecuted for criticizing Obama. Under a plea deal, he admitted making illegal contributions, but a charge of making false statements was dropped. "I deeply regret my conduct," he said. [New York Daily News]


Ex-players sue the NFL over painkillers

Eight retired National Football League players filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing the league of illegally giving them painkillers — without prescriptions, and without warning them of potential side-effects — so they could return to the field despite injuries. Attorney Steven Silverman said the league put profits ahead of the players' health. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he couldn't comment because he had not seen the suit. [The Washington Post]


Golfer Lucy Li becomes youngest Women's Open qualifier at age 11

Lucy Li, 11, became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open this week. The previous record holder, Lexi Thompson, was 12 when she qualified in 2007. Li shot rounds of 74 and 68 on a par-72 course, beating her nearest rival by seven strokes in a sectional qualifier. The tournament begins June 19. One player, Beverly Kass, competed at age 10 in 1967, but that was before the qualification process began. [ESPN]

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