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Michelle Obama calls for strengthened gun laws to stop bloodshed

First Lady Michelle Obama returned to her murder-plagued hometown Wednesday to make an emotional plea for strengthening US gun laws, saying she too could have been a victim of brutal street violence while growing up. Making a rare direct foray into the domestic policy debate, Obama held back tears as…

Scientists pinpoint what pain looks like in the brain

Scientists said Wednesday they have figured out how to recognize pain in brain scans, possibly paving the way for future tests that could accurately gauge its severity. “Right now, there’s no clinically acceptable way to measure pain and other emotions other than to ask a person how they feel,” said…

Chuck Hagel: North Korea ‘skating very close to a dangerous line’

North Korea is “skating very close to a dangerous line” with its heated rhetoric and provocative actions, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters Wednesday. The United States and its allies hoped Pyongyang would tone down its inflammatory language but the American military was prepared for any possibility, Hagel said.…

Egyptian president withdraws legal complaints against journalists

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has ordered the withdrawal of complaints filed against journalists for publishing rumours about him, said a statement posted Wednesday on the presidency’s Twitter account. “The president has ordered the withdrawal of all legal complaints filed against journalists for publishing rumors on him,” the statement said. The…

Obama’s budget faces attacks from both liberals and conservatives

President Barack Obama rolled out a $3.78 trillion budget Wednesday, angering Republicans with a call for higher taxes on the rich while worrying liberals by countenancing cuts to retirement benefits. Much was familiar in Obama’s blueprint, rooted in his enduring campaign to shield the American middle class and to cut…

Major businesses call for climate change laws

Several major companies issued a joint call Wednesday for the United States to enact legislation to battle climate change, saying that the issue was critical to their businesses. Thirty-three firms including online retailer eBay, tech giant Intel, coffee leader Starbucks and sportswear makers Adidas, Nike, Patagonia, The North Face and…

Government foreclosure relief brings homeowners only $300 to $500

By Paul Kiel, ProPublica The government’s largest effort to compensate victims of the banks’ foreclosure practices is finally sputtering to an end. But for most of those eligible 2013 nearly three million borrowers 2013 it won’t be much of an ending: they’ll be receiving a check for $300 to $500.…

Obama’s budget boosts funding for health and science

President Barack Obama’s budget proposal released on Wednesday would boost funds for major science and health programs while making small cuts at NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency. Top projects at the US space agency would continue, including developing a new spaceship to send astronauts to the International Space Station,…

French Senate approves crucial marriage equality measure

France’s Senate on Wednesday approved the crucial first article of a bill granting gay couples the right to marry, clearing the way for a law that has sparked protests from conservatives and religious groups. The upper house approved the article overnight by a vote of 179 to 157, with all…

Study: Northern hemisphere summers now warmest of last 600 years

Summers in the northern hemisphere are now warmer than at any period in six centuries, according to climate research published on Wednesday in the science journal Nature. Harvard University researchers analysing evidence from Arctic tree rings, ice cores, lake sediments and thermometer records said recent warm temperature extremes in high…

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