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NATION: Death toll rises in Joplin to 132

Death toll rises in Joplin to 132

JOPLIN, Mo. -- Friends and family paid tribute to victims of the Joplin tornado on Friday, beginning the grim task of burying the dead as officials said the savage storm's death toll had risen to 132 people.

As the first funeral began just over the Kansas border, city officials said the body count had gone up by six from the previous day. The state meanwhile worked to pare down the list of people missing and unaccounted for since the deadliest single U.S. twister in more than six decades.

The original list of 232 missing or unaccounted for residents had dropped to 156 by Friday, Missouri Department of Public Safety deputy director Andrea Spillars said, adding that at least 90 people on the initial list had been located alive.

Judge throws out campaign law

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- A U.S. judge has ruled that the campaign finance law banning corporations from making contributions to federal candidates is unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision last year in his analysis.

In a ruling issued late Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Cacheris tossed out part of an indictment against two men charged with illegally reimbursing donors to Hillary Clinton's 2006 Senate and 2008 presidential campaigns.

Cacheris said that under the Citizens United decision, corporations enjoy the same rights as individuals to contribute to campaigns.

Man found guilty of raping teen

CONCORD, N.H. -- A New Hampshire man was found guilty Friday of forcibly raping and impregnating his children's 15-year-old baby sitter, who belonged to the same church, more than a decade ago.

The case involving 52-year-old Ernest Willis of Gilford garnered national attention because the fundamentalist Baptist church he and the girl attended made her apologize to the congregation. The pastor then helped ship the girl to live with a Colorado couple she didn't know and put her baby up for adoption. Concord police did not locate her until last year.

Before trial, Willis pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape but denied he forcibly raped Tina Anderson twice in 1997. He testified that the two had sex on only one occasion, it was consensual and no force was used.

Anderson, now 29, said in a victim impact statement Friday that Willis destroyed the person she was and filled her with shame and guilt.

The Associated Press typically does not identify those who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Anderson asked that her name be used.

Final shuttle spacewalk ends

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA completed its part in the construction of the International Space Station on Friday, with the final spacewalkers in the 30-year shuttle program attaching an extension boom.

''Twelve years of building and 15 countries and now it's the Parthenon in the sky and hopefully the doorstep to our future,'' spacewalker Gregory Chamitoff before heading back inside. ''So congratulations everybody on assembly complete.''

Chamitoff said it was fitting for space shuttle Endeavour to be at the space station for the end of construction since it was there for the first assembly mission in December 1998.

It was the fourth spacewalk in a week for the Endeavour astronauts.

Bluefin tuna not endangered

PORTLAND, Maine -- The bluefin tuna has escaped being placed on the endangered species list, but the majestic fish prized by sushi lovers will be listed as a ''species of concern'' by the federal agency that oversees America's fisheries.

After extensive scientific review, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday it has determined that bluefin tuna does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The agency conducted the review after the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition seeking an endangered status for the fish, claiming the species faces possible extinction because of overfishing and habitat degradation.

Gas prices dip ahead of holiday

NEW YORK -- Drivers can expect some relief at the gas pump as they set out for the Memorial Day weekend.

Gasoline prices have dipped nearly 18 cents per gallon since flirting with $4 per gallon earlier this month. However, the national average is still $1.05 per gallon more than it was last year.