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April 17, 2014
Courtesy Facebook/LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs

The golden retrievers that gained national attention last year for helping those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing are plotting a comeback tour. Lutheran Church Charities said it's bringing back the familiar furry friends to this year's race to help those still rattled by last year's tragic attack.

"Dogs just bring a wonderful comfort," said the church's president, Tim Hetzner. "They're a calming presence and allow victims to open up and talk about what happened — which is a critical part of the healing process." The cuddly creatures were first dispatched to Newtown, Conn., following the shootings at Sandy Hook to help calm kids down.

Six therapy retrievers will be on a whirlwind tour of Boston this weekend. In addition to mingling with the public downtown, the pups are slated to visit hospitals, victims' families, and first responders. "Our goal is to bring mercy and healing to those that are not only physically affected, but emotionally affected, too," said Hetnzer.

After all, happiness is a warm puppy. Jordan Valinsky

8:10 p.m. ET
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A Los Angeles jury found Lonnie David Franklin, Jr., a former LAPD garage attendant and garbage truck driver, guilty on Thursday of murdering nine women and one girl over the course of 30 years.

Dubbed the Grim Sleeper, he is believed to be one of the most prolific serial killers in California history. In addition to being found guilty of murdering 10 women between the ages of 15 and 35, Franklin, 63, was also found guilty of one charge of attempted murder. The first murder took place in the 1980s, and the last in 2007, authorities said, and the women's bodies were found discarded in trash bins and alleys around South Los Angeles, within a few miles of Franklin's house, CNN reports.

Police arrested Franklin in 2010 after conducting DNA testing, and prosecutors built their case on DNA and ballistic evidence and the testimony of a woman who survived an attack. It took less than two days to convict Franklin, and the penalty phase of the trial will start May 11. Prosecutors said a woman Franklin was convicted of raping in the 1970s while he was in the Army stationed in Germany may testify. He is eligible for the death penalty. Catherine Garcia

7:01 p.m. ET
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Ben Carson is not interested in being Donald Trump's running mate, telling The Wall Street Journal on Thursday he would be "a distraction" and it's "too important a time in our life."

Carson is helping Trump in his quest to pick a vice president, and he said Democrats may be vetted. "We would consider people who are Americans and who put America first," he said. In an interview with CNBC, Trump said there is "probably a 40 percent chance" he would choose one of the 16 Republican candidates who ran against him. "I've gotten to be friends with a lot of those people, and I guess perhaps enemies with a couple," he said. Catherine Garcia

6:26 p.m. ET
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It didn't take long for Donald Trump to respond to comments House Speaker Paul Ryan made Thursday regarding supporting the presumptive Republican nominee.

Ryan told CNN's Jake Tapper he is "not ready" to endorse Trump, and there's "some work to be done" before such an endorsement could happen. Trump quickly released a statement saying he is "not ready to support Speaker Ryan's agenda. Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people. They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!" Catherine Garcia

4:24 p.m. ET
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he is "not ready" to endorse presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Ryan, the ranking Republican in government, told CNN's Jake Tapper that there's "some work to be done" before he'd feel comfortable supporting Trump. Back in March, Ryan said he would in fact back Trump if he won the party's nomination. Trump had promised to be a "unifier" for the Republican party, but as Slate's Jamelle Bouie points out, Ryan is the latest of several major party figures who have declined to support him:

Of course, depending on your point of view, it's entirely possible Trump is proving to be quite the effective unifier. After Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suspended their campaigns following Tuesday's GOP primary in Indiana, Trump is the only candidate left vying for the party's nomination. Kimberly Alters

4:04 p.m. ET
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President Obama has commuted the sentences of 58 federal prisoners, the White House announced Thursday. Eighteen of the 58 were serving life sentences, mostly for nonviolent drug-related charges. The majority of the prisoners are set to be freed on Sept. 2, though some will be released early next year.

The latest round of commutations marks Obama's second batch this year. He cut short the sentences of 61 inmates in March, and with this latest round of commutations brings his total to 306 — more than double the total commutations of the last six presidents combined. Becca Stanek

3:15 p.m. ET

Things Cinco de Mayo is not:

  • Mexican Independence Day
  • A beloved Mexican holiday
  • An opportunity to tell the world you "love Hispanics!"

Donald Trump might have missed the memo on that last one:

As if that wasn't cringe-worthy enough, the plot thickens even further:

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo respectfully, folks! Jeva Lange

3:02 p.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images,Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Never before in the past 10 presidential elections has a candidate even come close to arousing the levels of dislike that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have evoked in the American people — and especially not this late in the election cycle. Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight crunched the numbers and found that Clinton's unfavorable rating tops the previous record for Republican and Democratic nominees between 1980 and 2012 by a solid 5 percentage points; Trump, meanwhile, smashes the record with an unfavorable rating that's a whopping 20 points higher than the previous record.

Moreover, there's a big difference between the disdain voters felt for the previously most disliked candidate, 1988 Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, and what they feel now for Trump and Clinton. Most Americans didn't feel that strongly one way or another about Dukakis, but voters now have very strong feelings about Trump and Clinton; while some people may really love them, more people really don't. Even when Clinton and Trump's "strongly unfavorable" ratings are subtracted from their "strongly favorable" ratings, the results are still well into the negatives.

Read the full rundown on the numbers — including some pretty damning graphs — over at FiveThirtyEight. Becca Stanek

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