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A federal court in Mississippi handed down a 49-year prison sentence on Monday to Joshua Brandon Vallum, the first person prosecuted under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for targeting a victim because of gender identity.

Vallum had pleaded guilty last year to the 2015 assault and murder of Mercedes Williamson, a 17-year-old transgender girl whom he says he once dated.

Addiction experts are up in arms over remarks by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in which he referred to medication-assisted treatment for addiction as "substituting one opioid for another."

Nearly 700 researchers and practitioners sent a letter Monday communicating their criticisms to Price and urging him to "set the record straight."

The number of potentially habitable planets in the universe is crazy big (10 billion trillion).

With all those worlds, it seems pretty reasonable to suppose that life will get started on some of them. And, going further, evolution will then do its work — leading some species all the way up to forms of tool-building intelligence.

But given an intelligent species — think apes or even birds or octopus — what does it take to make the transition up to a civilization?

Updated at 2:44 p.m. ET

Neither Merrick Garland nor Sen. John Cornyn of Texas will be the new FBI director.

Two friends of Judge Merrick Garland who asked not to be named say he loves being a judge, and he intends to remain on the bench.

This comes after word that Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell recommended Garland to President Trump as a candidate for FBI director.

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, Republican moderates in Congress have been under pressure from new activist groups to oppose the president. For U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, the pressure is starting to show. He complained to the employer of one of the activists about her political participation — with some troublesome consequences.

The WannaCry ransomware that attacked computers in 150 countries has lines of code that are identical to work by hackers known as the Lazarus Group, according to security experts. The Lazarus hackers have been linked to North Korea, raising suspicions that the nation could be responsible for the attack.

The Trump administration has made school choice, vouchers in particular, a cornerstone of its education agenda. This has generated lots of interest in how school voucher programs across the country work and whom they benefit.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse shares something in common with President Trump: both are serving in elected office for the very first time.

The similarities pretty much end there.

Sasse earned a doctorate in history. Before his election in 2014, he was a federal health official, and president of Midland University, which is linked with the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Updated at 9:45 p.m. ET

President Trump revealed "highly classified information" to two top Russian officials during a controversial Oval Office meeting last week, according to a report from The Washington Post.

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