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10 things you need to know today: May 6, 2015

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Harold Maass
Huckabee throws his hat into the ring.
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1.

The U.S. investigates ISIS claims it staged Texas attack

Skeptical U.S. investigators are looking into the Islamic State's claim that it was behind the attack at a Texas cartoon contest featuring images mocking Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The White House said it was too early to say whether ISIS really was involved in what would be its first strike in the U.S. Police shot and killed two men — Elton Simpson and his roommate Nadir Soofi — after they allegedly opened fire, wounding a security guard. A federal law enforcement agent said Simpson was under investigation before the attack. [Reuters, Fox News]

2.

Mike Huckabee launches second White House bid

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday became the latest in a flurry of candidates to jump into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Huckabee, a former president of the Arkansas Baptist Convention, made a strong showing in his first White House bid, in 2008. On Tuesday, he jabbed at Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and GOP rivals such as Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, saying he would be "funded and fueled not by the billionaires but by working people across America." [Bloomberg]

3.

Hillary Clinton backs citizenship path for undocumented immigrants

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday publicly backed establishing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States. "We can't wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship," she said at a Las Vegas high school. Seeking to draw a contrast between her view and that of rivals in the Republican party, the Democratic frontrunner said, "When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status." [USA Today]

4.

Investigators say Germanwings co-pilot rehearsed crash

French investigators reported Wednesday that the Germanwings co-pilot suspected of deliberately crashing his airliner in the French Alps had entered crash settings on the plane's previous flight in what appeared to be a rehearsal for the tragic fatal dive. Andreas Lubitz repeatedly set the altitude dial to 100 feet on a flight to Barcelona that ended normally, French safety agency BEA reported Wednesday. On the return flight to Dusseldorf, he allegedly locked the captain out of the cockpit and crashed, killing himself and 149 others. [NBC News]

5.

Baltimore officer challenges prosecutor claim that Freddie Gray's arrest was illegal

One of the six Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death has filed court papers challenging prosecutors' claim that Gray was falsely arrested. A lawyer for Officer Edward Nero, who has been charged with assault, misconduct, and false imprisonment, said Gray had an illegal knife, and challenged prosecutors to produce it. Baltimore City's State Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed the charges last week after receiving a police investigative report. She said the knife was legal under state law. [Baltimore Sun]

6.

French lawmakers back bill likened to U.S. Patriot Act

The lower house of French parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would broaden the government's spy powers. The bill, which is expected to easily pass in the Senate, was drafted days after gunmen killed 17 people in separate attacks — including one on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The so-called French Patriot Act would let intelligence agencies tap phones and monitor email accounts without a judge's permission. Critics say it it is an unnecessary encroachment on liberty. [The New York Times, AFP]

7.

Four sentenced to death for mob killing in Afghanistan

An Afghan court on Wednesday sentenced four men to death for participating in the March mob killing of a 27-year-old woman named Farkhunda who was wrongly suspected of burning a copy of the Koran. Forty-nine people, including 19 police officers, were tried for their alleged roles in the fatal beating, which caused widespread anger and spurred calls for greater women's rights in Afghanistan. Eight others were convicted and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Charges were dropped against 18, and the rest will be sentenced Sunday. [The Associated Press]

8.

California water regulators adopt mandatory conservation rules

California's State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday approved the state's first rules for mandatory water conservation as the state struggles with an historic drought that is entering its fourth year. The emergency regulations require communities to slash water use by as much as 36 percent. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) ordered the cutbacks, which hit urban users hardest while giving broad exemptions to the state's giant agricultural sector, even though it accounts for 80 percent of the state's water use. [Reuters]

9.

Loretta Lynch meets with Freddie Gray's family and police in Baltimore

Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited Baltimore on Tuesday, saying she was considering a request from City Council President Jack Young for a civil rights investigation into the city's police department after the death of Freddie Gray. He suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody. Lynch met with Gray's family, protesters, city officials, police, and religious leaders. Calm has returned to the city following protests and riots, but Lynch said tensions between residents and police remain. [Politico, The Associated Press]

10.

Federal government approves ferry service to Cuba

The Obama administration on Tuesday granted licenses to at least four companies to offer ferry service between Florida and Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years. "I'm very excited, because this is a historical event in U.S.-Cuba relations," said Leonard Moecklin Sr., managing partner of one of the companies, Havana Ferry. The move is part of an effort, announced by President Obama in December, to restore diplomatic relations between the U.S. and its former Cold War antagonist. [Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, The Wall Street Journal]