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The Two-Way
11:03 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Report: Threat Of Mandatory Minimums Used To Coerce Guilty Pleas

In August, Attorney General Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to no longer hit low-level drug offenders with charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences. But it's not yet clear how broadly that directive is being interpreted.
Stephen Lam Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:44 am

A new report says the Justice Department regularly coerces defendants in federal drug cases to plead guilty by threatening them with steep prison sentences or stacking charges to increase their time behind bars.

And for the first time, the study by Human Rights Watch finds that defendants who take their fate to a judge or jury face prison sentences on average 11 years longer than those who plead guilty.

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The Two-Way
6:26 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Steelers Coach Fined $100,000 For Interfering With Play

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin during the Thanksgiving Day game with the Baltimore Ravens.
Gail Burton AP

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been fined $100,000 for interfering with a kickoff return in a Thanksgiving Day game with the Baltimore Ravens.

ESPN writes:

"The league said Tomlin's actions — he was standing on the white stripe that borders the playing field and took a step onto the field during Jacoby Jones' kickoff return — should have resulted in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty."

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The Two-Way
4:55 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

MSNBC's Martin Bashir Steps Down Over Palin Remarks

Martin Bashir attends the Today show's 60th anniversary celebration, in January 2012.
Evan Agostini AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 6:27 pm

MSNBC host Martin Bashir has resigned from the network following controversial remarks he made about former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Some three weeks ago, Bashir referred to Palin as a "world-class idiot" for suggesting that U.S. indebtedness to China was akin to slavery. The television host quoted from plantation owner Thomas Thistlewood's diary describing a punishment for slaves that involved having others defecate in their mouths.

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The Two-Way
4:22 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Several Whales Dead, Dozens Stranded Off Florida Everglades

Dozens of pilot whales are stranded in shallow water in a remote area of Florida's Everglades National Park.
Lynne Sladky AP

At least 10 pilot whales are dead and dozens stranded in the shallows off Florida's southwest coast, as wildlife workers struggle to redirect them back out to deep water.

Blair Mase, the marine mammal stranding network coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says four of the whales had to be euthanized on Wednesday, and six others had already died since the stranding was first identified on Tuesday.

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The Two-Way
3:50 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

NSA Collecting 5B Cellphone Locations A Day, News Report Says

The National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:59 pm

There's a new report Wednesday on the scale of surveillance by the National Security Agency: The Washington Post reports that the agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.

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The Two-Way
3:25 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Sunken Japanese Supersub From World War II Located Off Hawaii

An aircraft-carrying Japanese supersubmarine built during World War II has been found on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off Oahu, nearly 60 years after it was hastily scuttled by the U.S. Navy in an effort to keep its technology out of Soviet hands.

Reuters reports:

"The accidental discovery of the 1-400 ... on the rock- and debris-littered ocean floor, some 2,300 feet beneath the surface, has solved the mystery surrounding a ship long thought to be further afield.

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The Two-Way
2:53 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Accused LAX Gunman Ordered Held Pending Trial

Paul Ciancia, 23, the accused shooter at Los Angeles International Airport, has been ordered held without bond pending trial. The Nov. 1 shooting killed a TSA agent and wounded three other people.
FBI AP

The man accused of opening fire last month at Los Angeles International Airport, killing a TSA agent, was ordered Wednesday to be held without bond pending his trial.

Judge David Bristow determined that Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, was a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Ciancia's appearance at a San Bernardino County jail facility where's he's being kept in federal custody is his first in public since the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX's Terminal 3. He was shackled at his hands and feet, and wasn't asked to enter a plea. If convicted, Ciancia faces the death penalty.

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The Two-Way
2:47 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Sandy Hook Elementary 911 Calls Reveal Panic From Inside School

Connecticut State Police walk near the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown.
Douglas Healey Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:57 pm

Emergency calls from last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting reveal 911 dispatchers who dealt with the situation calmly, urging callers to take cover and inquiring about the welfare of the children.

One caller told dispatchers that a gunman was shooting inside the building and that she could see him. The New Haven Register has put audio of the calls online here. (Warning: some of it might be graphic).

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The Two-Way
1:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Biden Visits Chinese Leader As Flight Zone Dispute Simmers

Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday. Biden met with China's president to discuss issues that include China's recent claim of an air defense zone.
Lintao Zhang Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden met with China's president in Beijing Wednesday, in a trip to Asia that has often touched on growing tensions over China's new air defense identification zone.

Biden's two-day visit to China was planned before the country's defense officials surprised neighboring Japan by declaring a defense zone in an area contested by the two countries. The topic of the air zone likely helped extend a closed-door session that had been scheduled for 45 minutes to its actual length of two hours.

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The Two-Way
12:01 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Income Inequality Is The 'Challenge Of Our Time,' Obama Says

President Obama talks Wednesday about the economy and growing economic inequality in Washington.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 3:46 pm

President Obama tried Wednesday to turn the conversation back to the economy, calling the growing income gap the "defining challenge of our time."

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