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Obama: ‘We can’t make extortion routine as part of our democracy’

Failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause the United States to default on its bills, a situation “dramatically worse” than the current government shutdown, President Barack Obama warned Tuesday. But he also sought to assure jittery markets and nervous countries that the US would honor its debts despite the…

IRS grants tax-exempt status to conservative ‘America Is Not Stupid’ dark money group

Smart move? The IRS has granted nonprofit status to America Is Not Stupid 2013 a so-called dark money group best known for a 2012 election ad featuring a talking baby who compared the smell of his diaper with a Montana senator. As ProPublica wrote in January, America Is Not Stupid…

Court reinstates CIA’s contract with Amazon for cloud computing services

A US federal judge has reinstated a CIA cloud computing contract with Amazon, rejecting a challenge from IBM, according to court documents released Tuesday. Judge Thomas Wheeler of the Federal Court of Claims said in a notice posted by the court that Amazon Web Services’ is “restored” and that a…

Citizens United 2.0? Supreme Court could kill limits on political donations

Three years after its historic Citizens United decision upended America’s campaign finance system, the Supreme Court appears poised to allow even more cash to flood into US politics. In one of the most highly anticipated cases of a judicial term that got underway this week, the US high court on…

UN chief urges action on Syria humanitarian crisis

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called Tuesday for “action” over the dire humanitarian situation in conflict-torn Syria as efforts were underway to destroy the regime’s chemical weapons. “The Security Council has… made a strong commitment to relieve the humanitarian situation to reach millions of desperate civilians. Now these commitments must be…

NSA chief open to letting an independent agency store phone data

The National Security Agency’s director said Tuesday he is open to storing telephone records in a neutral “repository” to alleviate concerns about government snooping. General Keith Alexander, speaking about the controversy over bulk collection of phone “metadata” said his personal view is that more transparency would help restore public trust…

Stocks sink as D.C. budget paralysis continues

US stocks, led by the tech-rich Nasdaq, tumbled Tuesday as a Washington budget and debt ceiling impasse dragged on without clear progress. In late-morning trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85.55 (0.57 percent) to 14,850.69. The broad-based S&P 500 lost 12.43 (0.74 percent) at 1,663.69, while the Nasdaq Composite…

Pentagon names envoy to finally shut down Guantanamo Bay

The Pentagon on Tuesday named an envoy to shut down the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay, showing renewed commitment to US President Barack Obama’s elusive goal. Paul Lewis, formerly a legal expert for the House of Representatives on Guantanamo, will look at ways to close the jail and transfer detainees…

Obama administration upholds ban on some Samsung devices due to Apple patent

The Obama administration Tuesday upheld a decision to ban some Samsung mobile technology products due to the company’s violation of patents owned by rival Apple. US Trade Representative Michael Froman rejected a Samsung effort to overturn the August ruling by the US International Trade Commission to ban some older model…

Execute elephant poachers on the spot, Tanzanian minister urges

A government minister in Tanzania has called for a “shoot-to-kill” policy against poachers in a radical measure to curb the mass slaughter of elephants. Khamis Kagasheki’s proposal for perpetrators of the illicit ivory trade to be executed “on the spot” divided opinion, with some conservationists backing it as a necessary…

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