November 7, 2015
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Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley butted heads Friday night at a candidate forum — not technically a debate — in South Carolina. Both of Clinton's opponents criticized her for being slow to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Obama rejected Friday.

"Unlike some other unnamed candidates, the issue of Keystone was kind of a no-brainer," Sanders told the crowd at Winthrop University. "It never made sense to me from day one."

Sanders also sought to distinguish himself on campaign finance, noting he's the only Democratic contender without a super PAC, The Washington Post reports.

In her answers to host Rachel Maddow, Clinton focused on contrasting herself with Sanders on gun control, where the Vermont senator has taken a more conservative stance, and criticizing police brutality against black people.

"I still can't get over that Eric Garner in New York died from a chokehold," the frontrunner said. "Okay, maybe he shouldn't have been selling cigarettes, but did he deserve to die because of that? Absolutely not." Julie Kliegman

June 27, 2016

Key evidence in a Michigan murder trial could come courtesy of the victim's 19-year-old African grey parrot, Bud.

Prosecutor Robert Springstead said he is studying the bird's words to see if they can be admissible in court. "It's an interesting novelty and it's been a great opportunity for me to learn about African parrots," he told the Detroit Free Press. Bud's owner, Martin Duram, was shot and killed in May 2015, and ever since, the parrot has repeated the phrase, "Don't f—ing shoot," The Guardian reports. Duram's ex-wife, Christina Keller, now owns Bud, and she told WOOD TV he is "using Marty's voice. It imprinted in his brain, and he can't let it go." Duram's wife, Glenna, is on trial for the murder, and she survived a self-inflicted gunshot to the head sustained on the day he was killed.

In 1993, the public defender of a man accused of murdering his business associate in Santa Rosa, California, wanted the court to hear that her parrot, Max, was in the house at the time of her murder and had started to repeat the phrase, "No, Richard, no, no, no." The suspect's name was Gary Rasp, and the public defender, Charles Ogulnick, told The Guardian he made the argument that it "wasn't hearsay, it was a recording device." An expert said it's likely the bird would accurately repeat words heard during a stressful situation, but it didn't matter — the judge said no, and Rasp was convicted and is serving a life sentence. Catherine Garcia

June 27, 2016
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A federal judge ruled on Monday that clerks in Mississippi cannot cite their religious beliefs to recuse themselves from giving same-sex couples marriage licenses.

On Friday, the state is scheduled to enact House Bill 1523, a religious objections law filed in response to the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage, but under the ruling, part of it cannot be enforced. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves is extending his previous order that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, The Associated Press reports, and he said all 82 circuit clerks in Mississippi will receive formal notice that they are required to treat all couples equally.

Reeves said the state's elected officials can disagree with the legalization of gay marriage, but "the marriage license issue will not be adjudicated anew after every legislative session." Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R), no relation to the judge, released a statement saying he hopes the state's attorneys will appeal the decision to protect the "deeply held religious beliefs" of Mississippians. "If this opinion by the federal court denies even one Mississippian of their fundamental right to practice their religion, then all Mississippians are denied their 1st Amendment rights," he said. Catherine Garcia

June 27, 2016
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On Monday, House Democrats on the Benghazi Select Committee released a 339-page report that they say "debunks many conspiracy theories" about the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

The Democrats, led by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), say they had to make their own report because the Republicans on the committee refused to incorporate their opinions in a joint report, ABC News reports; the Republicans are expected to release their own report as early as Tuesday. The report reveals 21 findings, including some that have been previously announced, like that the Defense Department couldn't have done anything differently to save lives and that "administration officials did not make intentionally misleading statements about the attacks but instead relied on information they were provided at the time under fast-moving circumstances."

The committee also found no evidence that Hillary Clinton denied any security requests from personnel in Benghazi, the report says. More than 40 pages of the report criticize the Republican management of the committee, saying Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and his GOP colleagues wasted time and resources and excluded Democrats from some interviews and witness meetings. Catherine Garcia

June 27, 2016
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Volkswagen has agreed to pay almost $15 billion to settle lawsuits in the United States stemming from its rigging of diesel emission tests beginning in 2009, sources told Bloomberg.

Under the settlement, which will be filed Tuesday in San Francisco, the automaker will pay $2.7 billion in fines to the U.S. Environmental Protecting Agency and the California Air Resources Board and spend $2 billion on clean-emissions technology, plus set aside $10.03 billion to buy back cars from customers at pre-scandal values and to give owners as much as $10,000 per car for their trouble.

The vehicles were emitting more pollutants than allowed under U.S. and California law, and if the deal is approved by a judge, car owners will have to either surrender their vehicles or agree to have them fixed to meet emissions standards. Volkswagen is still facing criminal and civil actions in other jurisdictions, and a source told Bloomberg the company is expected to settle claims with other states, including New York, for about $400 million. Catherine Garcia

June 27, 2016
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For the time being, English is an official language of the European Union and the main working tongue of its institutions, but that could soon change thanks to Brexit.

"English is our official language because it has been notified by the UK," Danuta Hubner, chairwoman of the European Parliament's constitutional affair committee, said Monday during a news conference on the legal repercussions of the UK leaving the EU. "If we don't have the UK, we don't have English." Each member state can nominate one EU idiom, and while English is the most spoken language in Europe, Britain is the only one that chose it, Reuters reports.

English is one of the three languages used by researchers and companies to apply for EU patents, giving English speakers a leg up over the competition, and that edge might soon disappear. All EU documents and legal texts are translated into the bloc's 24 official languages, but Brits would have to do their own translating if English lost its status as an official language. French was the EU's dominant language through the 1990s. Catherine Garcia

June 27, 2016

Iceland defeated England in the European Championship on Monday, besting the Brits in their round of 16 match-up by a score of 2-1. As The Associated Press notes, Iceland was a considerable underdog in the fight, but the Icelandic players took advantage of England's porous defense to take the lead in the 18th minute before shoring up their own defenses to seal the win.

"This defeat will probably go down as England's most humiliating since losing 1-0 to the United States in the 1950 World Cup," AP writes. But it looks like Iceland and its fans are having quite the time celebrating:

England's manager Roy Hodgson — who makes more than $4 million a year, while his Icelandic counterpart is a part-time dentistresigned after the stunning loss. But as writer Karl Sharro pointed out back in February, maybe the scheduling of the whole thing was just too tempting for the fates to pass up. Iceland goes on to face France in the Euro quarter-finals Sunday. Kimberly Alters

June 27, 2016
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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn't just slam the two provisions in the Texas abortion clinic law that the court ruled against Monday — she went ahead and took down the very premise of the law, too. In a separate concurrence to Justice Stephen Breyer's majority decision that Texas' provisions placed an "undue burden" on a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, Ginsburg suggested that the law's very claim that it was created in the interest of protecting women's health was a whole lotta baloney.

"The Texas law called H.B.2 inevitably will reduce the number of clinics and doctors allowed to provide abortion services. Texas argues that H.B.2's restrictions are constitutional because they protect the health of women who experience complications from abortions. In truth, 'complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous,'" Ginsburg wrote, citing a brief by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Furthermore, Ginsburg pointed out that medical procedures, "including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements." The provisions the Supreme Court struck down required that abortion facilities meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

With that evidence in mind, Ginsburg concluded: "... [I]t is beyond rational belief that H.B.2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions." Becca Stanek

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