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January 12, 2016
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Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was briefly jailed last year for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses on religious grounds, is reportedly attending President Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday.The Washington Examiner reports that the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobbying group, secured the seats for Davis and her lawyer, Mat Staver, as part of conservatives' efforts to invite guests who were opposed to policies like ObamaCare and same-sex marriage and undermine Obama's "effort to stack the audience with those who support his causes."

The White House has said that it intends to fill the audience with guests that "represent the progress we have made since the president first delivered this speech seven years ago," according to the Examiner. Obama's invitees include the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage, Jim Obergefell, who will reportedly sit in the First Lady's box. Becca Stanek

10:50 p.m. ET
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An estimated 250 Islamic State militants were killed Wednesday after a series of U.S.-led airstrikes hit a convoy south of Fallujah, Iraq, U.S. officials told Reuters.

The strikes also destroyed at least 40 vehicles, and if the figures are confirmed, this would be one of the deadliest operations against the group. The airstrikes came one day after suicide bombers attacked an airport in Istanbul, killing 42 people. No organization has claimed responsibility, but ISIS is the prime suspect. Catherine Garcia

9:35 p.m. ET
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On Wednesday, Michael Phelps became the first American male swimmer to qualify for five Olympic teams over the course of his career.

During the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha, the 22-time Olympic medalist finished first in the men's 200-meter butterfly, at 1:54.84, automatically qualifying for the 2016 games in Rio. The 31-year-old will likely swim in multiple events. "Just being able to finish how I want to is so important to me," he said. "Getting on this team is what I wanted to do." Catherine Garcia

9:05 p.m. ET
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CIA Director John Brennan is warning Americans that a deadly attack like the one Tuesday at an airport in Istanbul could soon happen in the United States.

No group has claimed responsibility yet for the attack, which left 42 people dead, but it has the hallmarks of an Islamic State operation. "I am worried from the standpoint of an intelligence professional who looks at the capabilities of Daesh…and their determination to kill as many people as possible and to carry out attacks abroad," he told Yahoo! News, using an acronym for ISIS. "I'd be surprised if Daesh is not trying to carry out that kind of attack in the United States." While the terrorists in San Bernardino and Orlando were inspired by ISIS, the group did not direct them to attack inside the U.S., and Brennan credits effective homeland security from preventing attacks plotted by ISIS.

Brennan said one reason why it looks like ISIS was behind the Istanbul attack is the fact the group often uses suicide vests during operations. "It's not that difficult to actually construct and fabricate a suicide vest…so if you have a determined enemy and individuals who are not concerned about escape, that they are going into it with a sense that they are going to die, that really does complicate your strategy in terms of preventing attacks," he said. Read more about why Brennan believes ISIS is targeting Turkey and how setbacks on the battlefield are driving militants to more attacks at Yahoo! News. Catherine Garcia

7:36 p.m. ET
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says Donald Trump's campaign has dramatically improved — mostly because the presumptive Republican nominee listened to his advice.

One change McConnell suggested was for Trump to stop making his usual freewheeling speeches, and instead come prepared to events with a script on a teleprompter. Trump has "made a lot of progress toward passing what I would consider sort of the credibility threshold that you need to pass in order to be considered for the most important political job in the country," McConnell told The Associated Press.

He also shared that he's not afraid that Trump's candidacy will usher in a new Democratic majority in the Senate, and thinks the GOP has a "great shot" at holding its place. Next week, McConnell will meet with Trump when he heads to Capitol Hill to visit House Republicans. Catherine Garcia

6:50 p.m. ET
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The Egyptian government announced Wednesday that the data recorder from EgyptAir 804 confirms smoke was detected in a bathroom and the avionics bay before the plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea last month.

The Egyptian Aircraft Accident Investigation Committee said some of the wreckage recovered from the front of the plane showed signs of high temperature damage and soot, ABC News reports, and the preliminary data shows the flight data recorder cut off at an altitude of 37,000 feet. Experts say the findings point to the plane experiencing an electrical fire.

The Airbus A320 crashed May 19 on its way from Paris to Cairo, killing all 66 people on board. Catherine Garcia

5:11 p.m. ET
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The professional hockey landscape was altered in just a few minutes Wednesday, as three blockbuster moves rocked the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers traded former No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Adam Larsson in a move intended to shore up their right-shot defense, as the Oilers had only one right-shot defender under contract next year. Meanwhile, the Devils will acquire an elite offensive player in Hall, who tallied 65 points, including 26 goals, in 82 games this past season.

Not to be outdone, the Montreal Canadiens traded star P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Preds' captain Shea Weber in a swap of top-tier defensemen. Subban, who is four years younger than Weber, won the Norris Trophy — awarded to the league's top defenseman — back in 2013 and was described by Predator general manager David Poile as an "an elite offensive defenseman." Weber has finished in the top four in voting for the Norris Trophy five times in his career and looks to add veteran leadership to the Canadiens.

Presented with such major moves within a span of about half an hour, the hockey world reacted as calmly as one would expect:

To top things off, down in Florida, coveted free agent Steven Stamkos — widely considered the prize of the 2016 offseason — re-signed with his current team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

See, guys? Sometimes things happen in hockey. Kimberly Alters

4:53 p.m. ET
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In the face of mounting criticism over its lack of diversity, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just rolled out its longest and most diverse list of invitations to date. Of the 683 prospective new members, 46 percent are female and 41 percent are people of color. Among those invited are Idris Elba, John Boyega, and Alicia Vikander.

The Academy doesn't have the best track record when it comes to representation: Despite a viral protest campaign calling out its lily-white membership in 2015 using the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, the organization failed to significantly improve upon its remarkably heterogeneous makeup last year. At the beginning of 2016, an estimated 92 percent of voting members were white, while about three-quarters were male. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs addressed the issue back in February, promising the organization would "continue to take action and not just speak."

Selma director Ava DuVernay has called this most recent effort "a good start." Here's hoping next year's nominees reflect the change. Roxie Pell

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