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Che Guevara

Viva Chavismo! Maduro wins Venezuelan presidential election with 50.66 percent of the vote

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© AFP / Luis Acosta
Newly elected President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro and his wife Celia Flores after the electoral victory on Sunday evening.
Maracaibo - Nicolas Maduro has won the Venezuelan presidential election with 50.66 percent of the vote against 49.07 percent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. Maduro gave a victory speech immediately after, while Capriles initially refused to recognize the results.

The "first bulletin" results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, at around 11:20 p.m. Venezuelan time, with 99.12 percent of the votes totaled, enough to give Maduro an irreversible victory.

Nicolas Maduro received a total of 7,505,338 votes, against 7,270,403 for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a difference of 234,935 votes. Total turnout was 78.71 percent of the electorate.

Given the closeness of the vote, Maduro's speech focused mostly on assuring the validity of his victory, and the reliability of the electoral body.

"If they want to do an audit, then do an audit. We have complete trust in our electoral body," he said from outside the presidential palace.

Ambulance

Mystery illness strikes employees at Baby Buy store in Texas

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Authorities were called to a Buy Buy Baby store in Forth Worth, Texas after several employees fell ill on Saturday afternoon.

It was only two people who reported feeling nauseous, dizzy and generally sick, and once those people left, business went on as usual.

But then, several others fell sick. In total 16 adults were ill, and nine were taken to the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth to be evaluated. Three refused to be treated.

They have ruled out carbon monoxide poisoning as the cause, but do not know what sparked the rapid illness.

Airplane

U.S. Airways tells African-American passengers to change out of hoodies and jeans before boarding first class

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© NBC
Miles and MacCraig Warren claim they were the targets of racial discrimination, a lawyer said.
When McCraig and Miles Warren tried to claim their first-class seats on a US Airways flight, an employee told them to first change into more appropriate attire, according to a federal discrimination lawsuit filed Wednesday.

A ticket counter employee repeatedly told the Warrens, who are both black, that their jeans, hooded sweatshirts and baseball caps violated an alleged first-class dress code. As the complaint states:
Doe employee informed plaintiffs that it was US Airways policy that everyone in first class is required to wear slacks, button up shirts and no baseball caps. Doe employee demanded plaintiffs to change from jeans into slacks, a button-up shirt and told plaintiffs to remove their baseball caps.

Bizarro Earth

New York school assignment: Think like a Nazi, argue that Jews are evil

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© MIKE GROLL /AP
Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard , Albany's school superintendent
The Albany school district is apologizing for a high school writing assignment that asked students to make a persuasive argument blaming Jews for the problems of Nazi Germany.

Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard says she doesn't believe the teacher who handed out the assignment had malicious intent.

The Albany Times Union reports the students were asked to research Nazi propaganda then assume their teacher was a Nazi government official who had to be convinced of their loyalty.

Treasure Chest

Sequestered? Homeland Security gets new $3.9B headquarters

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The construction site of the Department of Homeland Security's new headquarters, Feb. 15, 2012, in Washington, DC
President Barack Obama is trying to solve big problems in his proposed 2014 budget. His efforts to curtail entitlement spending have gotten most of the headlines. But he also seems determined to complete the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's new headquarters, the largest federal construction project since the Pentagon rose in the 1940s. The cost: $3.9 billion.

The project would unite at a single location nearly all DHS's 22 divisions devoted to thwarting terrorists and safeguarding the populace from natural and manmade disasters. The site is the campus of St. Elizabeth Hospital, a former federal asylum that was once the home of poet Ezra Pound and John Hinckley, Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin. There would be 4.5 million square feet of workspace in the new facility and ample employee parking.

The project's supporters say the price tag is justified. They say it's not easy to get the various DHS divisions to operate in concert with each other if they are scattered throughout the capital area. At the 2009 groundbreaking, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano herself made the case for the agency's costly new digs: "It will help us have meetings. It will help us create a culture of 'one DHS.'"

Comment: Rather than helping struggling Americans, the government deems it more important that the DHA gets a new building to facilitate operations. The sequester will cause 600,000 low-income women and children to be denied benefits under the federal nutrition program for women, infants and children. The economy is in tatters and poverty is at record levels. Anything wrong with this picture?
Sequester initiates new austerity drive against U.S. workers
The likely way social security benefits will be cut
Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients. Blame the sequester
TSA sealed $50-million sequester-eve deal to buy new uniforms


Arrow Down

Four more dogs found dead in Idaho as dog disappearances, killings mount

Four dogs have been found beaten in the head and shot to death in rural southern Idaho, authorities said on Thursday, adding to the mysterious disappearance and killing of dozens of dogs that has left residents in that area on edge.

Examinations showed that the German Shepherd mixes, whose carcasses had been dumped in a pile off a highway south of Twin Falls, had been bludgeoned and shot in the head, said Gary Trostel, deputy with the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office.

"We didn't know until today how they had died: poisoned or shot or what. We knew it was some type of head trauma the way the eyes bulged out and with all the bleeding," Trostel said.

Animal control officers reported last month that roughly 30 dogs had gone missing since November in Twin Falls and nearby communities in a farming region known as the Magic Valley.

A German shepherd discovered by hikers last month in an area known as the Devil's Corral in neighboring Jerome County appeared to have suffered what animal control officers called a "ritualistic execution" in which its head was crushed with rock and its carcass covered with a purple cloth.

Vader

Taser used on Connecticut middle school student

Polcie Taser gun
© Newsline
Controversial: A police officer wields a Taser gun
Middletown's school superintendent Patricia Charles says an incident took place early Wednesday between police and an unnamed student.

A city student was subdued Wednesday morning with a Taser by Middletown Police outside Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

Middletown Police student resource and patrol officers "were called to the school today to assist the staff," according to Lt. Heather Desmond.

"When officers arrived, the student was uncooperative and combative. The officers tried to take the student into custody and during the arrest, the student was "drive" stunned one time with a Taser. The student was then compliant with officer's directions and the arrest continued without further incident."

No one was injured, Desmond said and declined to give out more details due to the student's age.

Superintendent of Schools Patricia Charles confirmed the incident took place at about 9:30 a.m. at the Middletown school that serves seventh- and eighth-graders, but was unable to provide much more information. Charles declined to provide the student's age, sex or grade.

MIB

Grand Rabbi of France resigns after accusations of plagiarism, lying about education

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© Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images files
Grand Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim “prays to be heard in his request for forgiveness,” a statement said.
France's top rabbi announced Thursday he is taking leave from his post, hoping to end a scandal that has unsettled the Jewish community after he acknowledged "borrowing" other people's work and lying about his educational pedigree.

The Central Consistory of France accepted Rabbi Gilles Bernheim's request for time away at an urgent meeting to discuss fallout from the case. Bernheim, 60, later issued a statement apologizing to France's Jewish community, his family and friends, and saying he could no longer do his job with the necessary "serenity."

"He hopes that the serious events he is blamed for and which mark him, don't obscure all the actions carried out in the name of his various rabbinical functions over the years in the service of the divine," the statement said. "He prays to be heard in his request for forgiveness..."

Richard Prasquier, the head of France's largest umbrella group of Jewish organizations, CRIF, said by phone that two other rabbis would temporarily fill the post of Grand Rabbi of France, while Bernheim is away for at least six months. Talks about whether he might return at all will take place in the coming months, he said.

Stormtrooper

Cop fired for using Trayvon Martin images in target practice

People along with New York City Council members attend a press conference to call for justice
© AFP Photo / Allison Joyce
People along with New York City Council members attend a press conference to call for justice in the February 26 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on the steps of City Hall March 28, 2012 in New York City.
A Florida policeman has been fired for using photos of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, shot and killed last year by a neighborhood watchman, for target practice. Martin's family attorney condemned the act as "depraved."

Sgt. Ron King of the Florida's Port Canaveral Police Department allegedly offered paper shooting targets emblazoned with Martin's image to two other officers, an internal review revealed. He was dismissed on Friday for possessing a number of such shooting targets.

"Port Canaveral Police Department considers that behavior unacceptable," John Walsh, CEO of the Port Canaveral Authority said. King reportedly acquired the paper targets online and brought them to a firearms training session.

Heart - Black

'Heartbreaking' auction of Hopi katsinam proceeds in Paris

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© Courtesy Survivor International

Young Hopi man Bo Lomahquahu with Director of Survival International France Jean-Patrick Razon outside the Drouot auction house.
As many concerned Hopi had feared, the auction of 70 katsinam happened on April 12, despite passionate protests both outside and within the Drouot auction facility in Paris.

In an auction described by an AP reporter as "chaotic," the items, commonly referred to as "masks," brought in 930,000 Euros, or 1.2 million, over the pre-sale estimate of copy million. One of the katsinam, or "friends," called the Crow Mother, sold for $209,000.

On the street outside the building, a protester carried the American Indian Movement (AIM) flag as a group sympathetic to the Hopi's cause handed out leaflets. Bo Lomahquahu, a Hopi student studying in Paris, was a notable presence. He described the scene to the New York Times as "very surreal and heartbreaking." He explained that the katsinam "are truly sacred to us; we feed and care for them. ... And to see people walking out with them in bags, like some object, I felt really helpless and hurt."