Science!
May 14, 2014
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Medications that could help alcoholics quit drinking are rarely prescribed, according to a new study released Tuesday. The drugs — acamprosate and naltrexone — reduce cravings for alcohol, but researchers say there's a lack of awareness and understanding of their efficacy among doctors.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, focused on "the number needed to treat," The New York Times reports. That is an indicator of how many people have to take a pill for one to be helped; this study found that the number to treat for acamprosate was 12, while naltrexone was 20 (widely used drugs like statins need at least 25 people, often much more). The researchers only looked at the effectiveness of the drugs in combination with counseling and therapy.

"These drugs are really underused quite a bit, and our findings show that they can help thousands and thousands of people," says lead author Dr. Daniel E. Jonas at the University of North Carolina. "They're not blockbuster. They're not going to work for everybody. But they can make a difference for a lot of people." The World Health Organization just reported that alcohol kills someone every 10 seconds worldwide. In the U.S. about 18 million people abuse alcohol, not quite a third of those receive treatment, and less than 10 percent are prescribed medications, The New York Times said. Catherine Garcia

This just in
11:34 a.m. ET
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Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo was found not guilty on two counts of felony voluntary manslaughter on Saturday, The Washington Post reports.

He is the first of six officers to be prosecuted for their roles in the November 2012 fatal shootings of Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, both of whom were unarmed at the time of their deaths. Russell and Williams led 62 police vehicles on a chase after the Chevy Malibu Russell was driving backfired in front of police headquarters, which officers mistook for gunfire.

When Russell finally stopped his car in East Cleveland, 13 police officers, including Brelo, shot at least 137 rounds into the vehicle. Russell was shot 23 times; Williams was shot 24 times. Sarah Eberspacher

Crisis in Iraq
10:18 a.m. ET
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Two U.S. officials speaking anonymously with The Guardian on Friday said Iran has contributed troops to the Iraqi ground force operations against ISIS.

The U.S. military has previously stated that Iran's involvement would not be opposed, so long as its troops remain under the command of Iraqi government-led forces. Still, a U.S. statement released Friday detailing recent operations against ISIS made no mention of Iran's involvement.

The U.S. and its allies have staged a series of offensives over the past few days, in a bid to retake control of the Beiji refinery compound. U.S.-led airstrikes have also targeted the city of Ramadi, which was overtaken by ISIS earlier this week. Sarah Eberspacher

Foreign affairs
9:58 a.m. ET
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A gunfight between federal forces and suspected cartel members in the western Mexico state of Michoacán left at least 42 people dead on Friday night, government officials told Reuters.

Most of those killed were suspected gang members; while federal officials did not name the cartel involved, Michoacán's Governor Salvador Jara told a news station that the criminals were likely from the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which specializes in producing and trafficking methamphetamine to the U.S. from the region.

The Wall Street Journal reports that New Generation has orchestrated several police killings over the past few months, most notably on May 1, when its gang members targeted an army helicopter, while also setting fire to banks, gas stations, and cars in Guadalajara. Sarah Eberspacher

Quotables
9:24 a.m. ET
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Johnny Storm, also known as The Human Torch and one-fourth of Marvel's Fantastic Four, was originally written as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed daredevil. So when Michael B. Jordan was announced as the new face of Storm in Marvel's reboot, he says he expected some pushback.

"You're not supposed to go on the Internet when you're cast as a superhero," Jordan wrote in an open letter for Entertainment Weekly. "(But) I didn't want to be ignorant about what people were saying."

Jordan's online hunt turned up comments that boiled down to: "A black guy? I don't like it," he says.

"I can see everybody's perspective, and I know I can't ask the audience to forget 50 years of comic books," Jordan adds. "But the world is a little more diverse in 2015 than when the Fantastic Four comic first came out in 1961."

Read the actor's full letter, ahead of his new movie's August premiere, over at Entertainment Weekly. Sarah Eberspacher

Senate Says
8:52 a.m. ET
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President Barack Obama moved one step closer to completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal with 11 other countries, as the Senate voted in favor of fast-track legislation on the deal, on Friday night. The legislation would help Obama move more quickly toward a finalized agreement on the TPP, by letting Congress use quick up-or-down votes, sans amendments, on specific trade deal details.

The bill now moves to the House, where it will likely face tougher passage, and where, The Washington Post notes, it has an unusual, bipartisan proponent: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) who is chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and leading Republican support of the legislation. Sarah Eberspacher

This just in
8:17 a.m. ET
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With several hours left before official results are announced, Ireland already appears set to pass a historic referendum allowing same-sex marriage, The New York Times reports.

The country would be the first in the world to legalize gay marriage by a popular vote; early ballot counts have found voters resoundingly in favor of the measure. And while no official announcement has yet been made, opposition leader David Quinn already tweeted his concession to the proposal's supporters: "Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done." Sarah Eberspacher

Compromise!
May 22, 2015
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California officials on Friday accepted a compromise offer from Delta farmers, who proposed forgoing a quarter of their water supplies due to the state's "unprecedented drought," The New York Times reports.

California's agricultural industry accounts for 80 percent of the state's water consumption per year, but farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta own some of the state's most senior water rights — and The Sacramento Bee notes that they have historically held tight to those claims. Representatives for the Delta's nearly 4,000 farmers said they expected most to participate in the cutbacks, either by farming less of their acreage or planting crops that require less water. Sarah Eberspacher

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