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Le doh
May 21, 2014
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France can rightly boast that its national train system is much faster, newer, and generally more advanced than America's Amtrak network. But then it would have to eat crow for ordering 2,000 new trains that are too wide to fit in many of its stations. The national rail operator RFF acknowledged the error on Tuesday, explaining that it had given national railway company SNCF measurements for stations 30 years old or newer, when most of France's stations are at least 50 years old.

France has already spent about $110 million widening its train platforms, but hundreds more stations have to be retrofitted so the fat trains can pass through. The real problem is France's "absurd rail system," said Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier. In 1997, France spun RFF off from long-time national railway company SNCF. Seventeen years later, they're still apparently working out the kinks. Peter Weber

crisis in yemen
6:44 p.m. ET

Air strikes across Yemen have killed close to 100 people, including several women and children, the Houthi-run state news agency said Monday.

In the Amran province, north of the capital, Sanaa, 54 people were killed, including 40 who were shopping at a market, Reuters reports. In southern Yemen, more than 40 people were killed during a strike on a livestock market in the town of al-Foyoush. Médecins Sans Frontières reports that hundreds of people have been entering medical facilities over the past several days, with Colette Gadenne, head of the mission, saying, "It is unacceptable that air strikes take place in highly concentrated civilian areas where people are gathering and going about their daily lives, especially at a time such as Ramadan."

The U.N. has called for a stop to the air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, and special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed spoke with Houthi forces to try to broker a humanitarian ceasefire. Last week, the UN designated the war a Level 3 humanitarian crisis, the most severe category. Since March, 3,000 people have been killed in the fighting. Catherine Garcia

This just in
5:37 p.m. ET
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In a previously sealed document from a 2005 deposition, comedian Bill Cosby admitted to acquiring Quaaludes, which he said he intended to give to younger women he wanted to have sex with.

The admission came under oath, as part of a lawsuit filed by a former Temple University employee against Cosby. Cosby admitted to giving her three half-pills of Benadryl. The lawsuit was settled in 2006.

The Associated Press went to court in a successful petition for the release of the documents, which were publicly released on Monday afternoon. Cosby's lawyers unsuccessfully sought to keep the documents sealed, arguing that their release would "embarrass" Cosby. Scott Meslow

This just in
4:31 p.m. ET
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The South Carolina Senate on Monday voted 37-3 to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbus, The Associated Press reports. The Senate will still need to vote on the bill one more time Tuesday, though The New York Times reports it is "virtually assured of success" in the Senate. How the bill will fare in the House, however, still remains to be seen; it must also pass there before it can be signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley.

South Carolinians began pushing for their state to remove the flag, considered by many to be a racist symbol, after a white gunman last month killed nine African-Americans attending a Bible study group in a historically black Charleston church. Samantha Rollins

This just in
3:53 p.m. ET
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Less than two weeks after Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was formally sentenced to death for his role in the April 2013 bombing, he filed a preliminary motion for a new trial. Tsarnaev's lawyers are requesting a new trial for both his conviction and death sentence, saying a new trial is required "in the interests of justice." The motion is considered a placeholder for a more detailed one his lawyers will file next month, before Tsarnaev's post-trial action deadline of August 17.

Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 charges in May in relation to the bombing that killed three people and injured 264 others. Becca Stanek

Behold the future
3:38 p.m. ET

In 50 to 60 years, your wildest Dune-inspired dreams might just come true. That's because OXO, a French architecture company, is literally constructing a vertical city in the middle of the Earth's biggest desert, the Sahara. The plans call for the building to stand 1,476 feet high and contain approximately 84,000 square feet of residential and commercial areas, amid other livable spaces.

"The idea is to make a city out of this tower... The idea is to obtain a building combining different programs including housing units adjacent to offices of course. There is a museum, a meteorological observatory on the Sahara, there are libraries, gyms, pools. The idea was really to offer a sufficient number of programs to be able to remain self-sufficient and not to have to rely on other buildings or have to create new ones," architect Manal Rachdi told Reuters.

The vertical city will also function as its own "livable, green ecosystem," with a towering central garden irrigated by rainwater. Work on the building begins in 2025 (you can see the plans in the Reuters video below), and is expected to be completed over the course of 50 years. Now, would the future mind hurrying up? Jeva Lange

Breaking Records
3:22 p.m. ET
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Team USA's 5-2 win over Japan on Sunday in the Women's World Cup final wasn't just a victory for soccer-loving Americans everywhere. The game was also a major win for Fox, which broke a ratings record for the most-watched soccer telecast on a single network in U.S. television history.

The ratings mark a 77 percent increase since the last Women's World Cup in 2011, which aired on ESPN. An estimated 20.3 million viewers tuned in for the championship match.

That's more than the number that tuned in to any of the U.S. men's team's matches in the 2014 World Cup. It is also comparable to the 23.5 million viewers who watched Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. Lori Janjigian

The price we pay
3:01 p.m. ET
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For the second year in a row, Starbucks is set to raise prices, tacking on anywhere from 5 to 20 cents to affected beverages' prices. Both a small and a large cup of coffee, for instance, will go up by 10 cents in most areas of the country, Starbucks says, bringing the price of a plain ol' cup of joe up to $2.45. The upped price tags will take effect on Tuesday and will apply to beverages only.

Starbucks' plan to raise prices comes amid some coffee sellers' decision to lower prices, The Associated Press reports. Just last week, The J.M. Smucker Co. docked prices in anticipation of lower unroasted coffee bean prices. According to Starbucks, its decision to raise prices included factors such as rent, labor, marketing, and equipment. Becca Stanek

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