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Breaking News philip seymour hoffman rip - 8034550272
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The actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his New York Apartment Sunday morning of an apparent overdose. The New York Times report:

The official said Mr. Hoffman, 46, was found in his West Village apartment around 11:30 a.m. by a friend who had become concerned at not being able to reach Mr. Hoffman.

Investigators found a syringe in his arm and an envelope containing what is believed to be her0in, the official said.

"It's pretty apparent that it was an overdose," the official said. "The syringe was in his arm."

Hoffman won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2005 with his portrayal of Truman Capote in the film "Capote."

He was most recently known for his role in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" He was slated to star in two more installments.

Sad, sad news. Rest in peace.

armed gunman Breaking News facebook pleas hostage situation pittsburgh gunman - 6601532672
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An armed ex-military man has taken a hostage in a downtown Pittsburgh office building today -- but the negotiation process was being hindered by the suspect's frequent emotional, misspelled posts to his Facebook page, (since deleted) where concerned friends were pleading with him to end the situation peacefully.

Klein Michael Thaxton so far has not made any demands and has been cooperative, according to police, but he wrote on Facebook that people will "never have to woryy about me again"; "this life im livn rite now i dnt want anymore ive lost everything"; and "how this ends is up to yall."

Police Chief Nate Harper says that while it's helpful that Thaxton can see "that people are concerned about his well-being, it is a distraction for negotiating."

UPDATE: Thaxton has surrendered to police. No one was injured.

anti-american Breaking News middle east mideast protesters - 6584896000
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Well, we knew the violent protests against the now infamous anti-Muslim video weren't going to end with a statement from President Obama -- thousands of demonstrators currently are assaulting U.S. and Western diplomatic compounds in Tunisia, Sudan, and Yemen, and authorities are trying to quell the attacks with tear gas and guns.

Since Tuesday's fatal aggression by militants in Benghazi and Cairo, protests have spread to Afghanistan, India, Bahrain, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, and Qatar.

The message of the American flag-burning protesters seems to be universal: "Death to America."

In Iraq, one banner read: "Freedom doesn't mean offending two billion Muslims."

[wsj]

Breaking News pussy riot - 6580316416
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About time -- Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced today that the three imprisoned members of Pussy Riot will be freed, saying further time behind bars would be "unproductive."

The band members' case comes up for appeal October 1.

The women already had spent more than five months in jail when they were convicted in August of "hooliganism driven by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years in prison.

[ap]

Breaking News explosion tragedy Venezuela - 6539679488
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According to CNN, a gas leak at northwestern Venezuela's Amuay oil refinery created a massive explosion, killing 24 people, including a 10-year-old boy, with at least 84 hospitalized.

The blast happened this morning around 1:11 a.m., and at this time the origin of the gas leak remains unknown. Officials also say that the site is under control.

[cnn]

Breaking News Lance Armstrong tour de france - 6536164864
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So it's come to this: Lance Armstrong has dropped his fight against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency -- he's "finished with this nonsense" -- and he's been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

He also will lose the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympics and all other titles, awards, and money he won from August 1998 forward.

"There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough,'" Armstrong said. "For me, that time is now."

The 40-year-old maintains his innocence, calling the USADA's case against him "an unconstitutional witch hunt" and saying its handling of his case was "one-sided and unfair."

[nyt]

Breaking News empire state building sho - 6536947200
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A disgruntled worker opened fire near the Empire State Building just after 9 a.m. this morning, killing one and injuring nine before he was shot and killed by police in a chaotic gunfight.

The shooter -- identified as 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, 58 -- was laid off about a year ago from apparel company Hazan Imports in New York City. The man he killed is reported to have been the manager of the business where Johnson had worked.

According to witness Chris Ogden, "He shot the guy in the head. The guy went down. He took a second shot when he was down."

The shooter then "walked down the block, like nothing was happening, real casual," Ogden said. "We were screaming from the top, 'It's the guy in the grey suit!'"

[dailybeast]

Breaking News pussy riot pussy riot sentenced Vladimir Putin - 6519017216
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Meanwhile in Russia: Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot each have been sentenced to two years in jail for an obscenity-laced performance at Moscow's Christ The Savior cathedral in February in which they were so bold as to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The women -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 -- are made of tough stuff. As the verdict came down, and a shout of "Shame!" was heard in the courtroom, they just laughed.

Judge Marina Syrova convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had "crudely undermined social order." She cited three specific elements for finding the trio guilty:

  1. The choice and timing of venue.
  2. Their continued performance and resistance to be taken outside by security and cathedral parishioners.
  3. The defendants' conduct and their accomplices afterwards.

Here's the shocking performance that started it all.

[death+taxes]

Breaking News colorado shooting dark knight rises shootin james holmes - 6469118208
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James Holmes, the suspect in the July 20 shooting massacre at a Colorado movie theater that killed 12, has been charged with 12 counts of first-degree murder, 12 counts of murder with extreme indifference, and 116 counts of attempted murder.

He faces, at minimum, life in prison without parole, and at maximum, the death penalty.

[@ProducerMatthew]

Breaking News colorado shooting dark knight rises shootin shooter dressed as joker - 6443320064
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James Holmes, the 24-year-old gunman who killed 12 at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises early today, is alleged to have been dressed as the Joker at the time of the shooting, according to NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly:

We have some information, most of it is public. It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He had his hair painted red, he said he was "The Joker," obviously the "enemy" of Batman.

Earlier reports say Holmes was dressed in full body armor. Kelly and his spokesman have not said who briefed him.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates would not confirm the information about Holmes, but confirmed he had spoken to Kelly.

[death+taxes]

Breaking News health care obamacare supreme court ruling - 6377839872
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The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Obama's landmark healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, this morning in a 5-4 ruling.

To the surprise of, well, everyone, Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court's liberals to support the individual mandate -- the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine -- which will remain constitutional as a tax.

"The bottom line," according to SCOTUSBlog, is that "the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read. [...] Chief Justice Roberts' vote saved the ACA."

Justice Anthony Kennedy, usually the court's swing vote, dissented, reading from the bench that he and three conservative justices believe "the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."

Mitt Romney was quick to criticize the decision:

The court, he said, may have ruled the law constitutional, but "what they did not do is say that Obamacare was a good law. ObamaCare was a bad law yesterday, it is a bad law today... If we want to replace Obamacare, we have to replace Obama.

Obama championed the ruling as "victory for people all over this country":

They've reaffirmed a fundamental principle: That here in America, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin... It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics," he said. "I did it because I believed it was good for the country.

Under the ACA, Americans will be be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty of 1 percent of their income to the IRS. Only about 6 percent of the population will actually be required to buy health insurance or face a tax under the mandate, since most people already have coverage or will get it through Medicare, according to the Urban Institute.

The House will vote on a full repeal the week of July 9, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

In related news, CNN and Fox News jumped the gun this morning and reported the law had been struck down; similarly, a handful of Republican lawmakers celebrated prematurely via Twitter.

[politico]

Breaking News obama immigration policy - 6334964480
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Bypassing Congress, President Obama announced today the implementation of his own version of the DREAM Act that will begin granting work permits to as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, graduated from high school, and stayed out of trouble with the law.

According to the AP:

The new policy will grant immunity from deportation to "illegal immigrants [who] were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military." It will also allow them to apply for a two-year work permit that can be repeatedly renewed if they stay out of trouble.

How is Obama's election-year move possible? A memo by Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano describes the new policy as a matter of "prosecutorial discretion":

Our Nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner. They are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Indeed, many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways. Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.
[dailyintel]
Breaking News doping Lance Armstrong - 6328370688
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Just months after the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles ended a years-long investigation into doping allegations by Lance Armstrong without bringing criminal charges, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has brought formal charges against him, alleging that the former cyclist engaged in a massive doping conspiracy from 1998-2011.

In a letter dated June 12 and obtained by The Washington Post, USADA alleges that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids, and masking agents, and distributed and administered drugs to others.

USADA is an agency that oversees anti-doping in Olympic sports. It has the authority to bring charges that could lead to suspension from competition and the rescinding of awards, which means these charges could cost Armstrong his seven Tour de France titles. The agency lacks the authority to bring criminal charges.

Armstrong's publicist released his statement today:

I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one. That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me.

[wapo]

Breaking News Prop 8 Supreme Court - 6300114432
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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined today to reconsider the February ruling that struck down Proposition 8, California's ban on gay marriage -- which means the legislation is headed to the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.

An appeal to the higher court in the coming months is the only chance that Prop 8 supporters have of reviving the same-sex marriage ban. If the justices agree to hear the case, they would be expected to rule by June 2013.

[mercnews]

Breaking News zimmerman bond - 6286879488
Via mediaite
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The Orlando Sentinel's Jeff Weiner is reporting via Twitter that George Zimmerman's bail has been revoked, and that Zimmerman must surrender within 48 hours.

Weiner reports that the prosecution is saying Zimmerman and his wife "may have committed contempt of court by lying," arguing that Zimmerman "misrepresented, misled and deceived the court" during a bond hearing regarding his U.S. passport and his family's financial situation.

[mediaite]

Breaking News gay marriage obama - 6209759744
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President Obama has publicly announced his support for gay marriage in an interview today with Robin Roberts.

I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or Marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

Obama, who is the first U.S. president to openly back gay marriage, had come under fire this week for remaining mum on the subject after Joe Biden and Arne Duncan publicly declared their support. The president's announcement comes a day after North Carolina voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that bans marriage equality.

Obama's interview will appear on ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday. Excerpts will air tonight on ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer.

[abc]