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August 4, 2014
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American Idol contestant Michael Johns died Friday from a blood clot in his ankle. The 35-year-old is the first finalist of the show to pass away.

"Our family is devastated by the passing of our beloved Michael, a wonderful husband, son, brother, uncle, and friend," his family said in a statement. "We appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from all corners of the globe."

Johns was born in Australia, and moved to the United States in 1997 on a tennis scholarship, People reports. He made his way to Atlanta to work on his music, and ended up finishing eighth during the seventh season of Idol. He released an EP in 2012, and on July 10 tweeted he was working on a new song, "Reckless."

Former American Idol judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul turned to Twitter to send their condolences, with Jackson tweeting, "So Sad. Too soon. Thank you for sharing your talents with us." Catherine Garcia

9:14 a.m. ET
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A federal judge on Friday placed a temporary injunction on enforcement of North Carolina's controversial bathroom law, H.B. 2, which requires people to use restrooms matching the sex listed on their birth certificate. U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder's ruling only applies to three transgender people at the University of North Carolina, one employee and two UNC students, who will now be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice on campus.

"North Carolina's peeping and indecent exposure statutes continue to protect the privacy of citizens regardless of" the bathroom law, Schroeder wrote, referencing fears that a bathroom free-for-all would be abused by criminals, "and there is no indication that a sexual predator could successfully claim transgender status as a defense against prosecution under these statutes."

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory stood by the law on Friday, saying it is a "very, very complex issue," and asking for respectful disagreement. H.B. 2 will face constitutional challenge in court this fall. Bonnie Kristian

8:02 a.m. ET
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Speaking at a press conference Friday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage said while responding to a question about whether Maine police engage in racial profiling in drug arrests that the "enemy" his state faces is typically racial minorities:

"Look, a bad guy is a bad guy, I don’t care what color it is. When you go to war, if you know the enemy, the enemy dresses in red and you dress in blue, you shoot at red, don’t you? You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy. And the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority right now coming in are people of color or people of Hispanic origin. I can’t help that. I just can’t help it. Those are the facts." [LePage, via The Hill]

Earlier on Friday, LePage found himself in hot water when he followed up an expletive-filled voicemail to a state lawmaker by saying he'd like to shoot the representative in the head. "I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you," he said, referencing Alexander Hamilton's famous duel with Aaron Burr. "I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt." Bonnie Kristian

7:43 a.m. ET
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A state funeral was held Saturday for 35 of the victims of this week's devastating earthquake in Amatrice, Italy. So far, 290 bodies have been found in Amatrice and nearby towns as rescuers continue to sift through rubble — though after three days there is little hope of locating additional survivors.

"Don't be afraid to bewail your suffering, we have seen so much suffering. But I ask you not to lose your courage," said Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole at the funeral mass. "Only together can we rebuild our houses and churches. Above all, together we can give life back to our communities."

Aftershocks continue to strike the mountainous region, the strongest with a magnitude of 4.2 around 5 a.m. on Saturday. About 150 families are living in a large gymnasium until rebuilding or relocation efforts can begin. Bonnie Kristian

August 26, 2016
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"After a long day of napping and ripping the squeaky thing out of every stuffed toy in the house, your dog needs to wind down, too," says Tony Merevick at Thrillist. While you enjoy your glass of chardonnay, pour your pooch some ­CharDOGnay — or ­ZinfanTail, if she prefers reds. Brewed by Apollo Peak, a Denver-based company that also makes feline-friendly catnip wines, the wines for canines are herbal blends that contain no grapes or alcohol. The peppermint in the ­ZinfanTail can help with digestive problems and travel sickness, and the chamomile in the ­CharDOGnay is a mild relaxant. The beast booze runs at $18 per 12-ounce bottle — not bad for a classy evening with your best bud. The Week Staff

August 26, 2016
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A New Mexico elementary school principal instructed teachers never to call students "boys and girls" under the school's new Gender Identity Procedural Directive, NBC News affiliate KGW reports. Principal Judith Touloumis told teachers to avoid "binary" gender words and use neutral terms like "students." The local school board later apologized, saying Touloumis had misunderstood the directive. The Week Staff

August 26, 2016

Last week, Donald Trump hired Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, to be his campaign CEO. Many were quick to point out the now explicit (rather than simply thinly veiled) connection of news outlet to the Trump campaign, which had already offered generally favorable coverage of Trump for months.

But this week, well, it seems not even Trump's in-the-tank political outlet can spin his poll struggles. In an "exclusive" published Friday, Breitbart touted a poll showing a "neck and neck" race between Clinton and Trump to end August. The problem? The Breitbart/Gravis poll actually shows Hillary Clinton topping Trump among respondents, grabbing 42 percent to his 41 percent.

Yes, the margin of error for the poll is 2.5 percent, so Clinton's lead can technically be demoted to a "statistical tie" between the candidates — which is how Breitbart chose to portray the findings. But as Sam Stein of The Huffington Post points out, if your campaign's practically in-house polling can't even show you comfortably on top, well… Kimberly Alters

August 26, 2016
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Good news for anyone who hates saying goodbye to their pup every morning: With studies now showing the advantages of having pets in the office, more companies are opening their doors to dogs, NPR reports. Seven percent of U.S. firms now let employees bring pets to work, up from 5 percent five years ago.

Bringing man's best friend to the office can lower workers' stress and boost productivity and morale, studies show. There's a social component, too: "They tend to see that the dogs increase co-worker cooperation and interaction, particularly when people would go by and see the dog just to visit," said Randolph Barker, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor who researches pets in the office.

If we're lucky and this trend continues, maybe every day can be Take Your Dog to Work Day. But until the animal takeover hits your workplace, there's always puppy cams. The Week Staff

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