Back from the Brink
June 24, 2014
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Sen. Thad Cochran has just pulled off one of the biggest political comebacks of the year, winning tonight's Mississippi Republican primary runoff against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel — after having trailed McDaniel in the original primary vote three weeks ago.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Cochran has 182,507 votes, or 50.6 percent, against McDaniel's 177,709 votes, 49.4 percent. The Associated Press has projected Cochran as the winner.

McDaniel, a state senator, led in the initial primary with 49.5 percent against Cochran's 49.0 percent. But because no candidate reached over 50 percent of the vote, with a little-known third candidate taking the balance, under Mississippi election law the two contenders were then pushed through to a runoff.

Cochran aggressively attacked McDaniel's past career in talk radio, presenting him as undignified and not fit to serve in the U.S. Senate. And the Cochran campaign reached out heavily to African-American voters, who normally vote Democratic, to vote in the Republican runoff in order to stop the more extreme McDaniel.

Moreover, the Cochran campaign also had a finely tuned message in its campaign ads: That as the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, as well as the powerful Appropriation Committee's defense subcommittee, only he could continue to bring home the federal projects that are really so vital to the state's economy.

As the Jackson Free Press pointed out, Cochran also ran a cleverly bifurcated outreach. In white areas, campaign literature touted his many votes against the Affordable Care Act and his support for gun rights; in black areas, he touted his work on behalf of historically black colleges and universities, and his support for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps, a program that is not too near and dear to Republican primary voters. Eric Kleefeld

face off
2:26 p.m. ET

Rebekah Aversano's brother was struck by a minivan and killed three years ago, when he was 21. Aversano's Maryland family donated Joshua's face to Richard Norris, who received a transplant in 2012 for the teeth, jaw, tongue muscles, and nerves after being severely disfigured in a years-old shooting accident, The Guardian reports. The risky procedure took the University of Maryland team 36 hours.

When Aversano met Norris, a 39-year-old from Virginia, she asked permission to stroke his face.

"Wow, this is the face I grew up with," she said.

The 60 Minutes Australia trailer for the meeting is surreal. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
1:37 p.m. ET
Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters

Police detained about 20 people during an unsanctioned LGBT rights rally in central Moscow on Saturday, Reuters reports, including demonstrators and anti-gay protestors. Authorities have now blocked demonstrators from holding a pride parade 10 years in a row. Police and anti-LGBT protestors attacked, beat, and pepper-sprayed activists.

Activists, who were outnumbered by cops at Tverskaya Square, held a rainbow flag reading "Make love not war" before police took it away. Julie Kliegman

zoinks!
12:33 p.m. ET
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Saved by the Bell actor Dustin Diamond was convicted Friday of two misdemeanors related to a barroom stabbing last Christmas, the Associated Press reports. The Wisconsin jury cleared "Screech" of the felony charge, which was recklessly endangering public safety.

Diamond, 38, testified he had not intended to stab anybody. The victim said he hadn't known he was stabbed until he left the bar and talked to police, AP reports.

Carrying a concealed weapon carries a maximum sentence of nine months, and disorderly conduct a maximum of 90 days. Diamond's girlfriend, Amanda Schutz, was also convicted of disorderly conduct. A sentencing date has not been announced. Julie Kliegman

if you say so
12:00 p.m. ET
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FIFA president Sepp Blatter said at a news conference Saturday he has no ties to the soccer governing body's corruption, which resulted in the arrests of several FIFA officials earlier this week, Mashable reports.

"Arrested for what? Next question," he told a reporter one day after easily winning re-election to his fifth term. He denied that the "high-ranking FIFA official" who wired $10 million in alleged bribes, as mentioned Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Justice, was him. 

"Definitely that is not me," Blatter said. "I have no $10 million." Julie Kliegman

police shootings
11:38 a.m. ET
Ricky Rhodes/Getty Images

An Ohio prosecutor filed a motion Friday asking a state appeals court to correct "egregious" mistakes in clearing police officer Michael Brelo in the 2012 fatal shooting of an unarmed black man and woman, Reuters reports. Judge John O'Donnell ruled a week ago it was impossible to determine whether Brelo fired the shots that killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams after a high-speed car chase. The officer had been charged with voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Julie Kliegman

2016 fever
11:03 a.m. ET
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Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) formally launched his presidential candidacy Saturday in a Baltimore speech.

"I declare that I am a candidate for president of the United States and I am running for you," he told a crowd of supporters with his family by his side.

O'Malley spoke of striving to work toward economic, racial, marriage, and gender inequality. He'll face off against Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and likely former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee for the Democratic nomination. Julie Kliegman

hockey
8:11 a.m. ET
Elsa/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning bought a ticket to the Stanley Cup final with a 2-0 win over the New York Rangers in Game 7 on Friday night. After a scoreless 40 minutes in Madison Square Garden, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat each notched a goal.

The Lightning will face the winner of tonight's Game 7 matchup between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Stanley Cup finals begin June 3. Julie Kliegman

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