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Court skeptical of California gay marriage appeal

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court appeared skeptical on Thursday toward attempts by California gay marriage opponents to overturn a landmark court decision because the judge overseeing the case did not disclose his own long-term homosexual relationship. California voters banned same sex marriages in 2008 by approving the…

Bill targets exports of web censorship tools

WASHINGTON — A bill aimed at choking off US exports of technology used for Internet surveillance or censorship was introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday. “It’s unconscionable that US technology is putting democracy activists at risk,” said Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey who is behind…

Hitler’s desk set sells for $423,000 in U.S.

NEW YORK — A brass desk set inscribed “AH” and used by Adolf Hitler at the signing of the Munich Pact, which preceded World War II, has sold for $423,000, a US auction house said. The ceremonial desk set, including ink wells and the Nazi crest of an eagle and…

White House targets domestic extremism

WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday laid out a plan to implement a government strategy to combat homegrown domestic terrorism and any attempts by Al-Qaeda to seek to radicalize American Muslims. The initiative commits the federal government to work closely with local authorities and communities that may be targeted…

House Republicans rally around payroll tax plan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans in the House of Representatives began to fall into line on Thursday behind a bill to extend an expiring payroll tax break after their leaders sweetened the measure with a provision that President Barack Obama has threatened to veto. The move to link the popular tax…

Protesters ‘occupy’ lawmakers’ Washington offices

WASHINGTON — Around 1,000 demonstrators assembled at US lawmakers’ offices on Thursday as part of a “Take Back the Capitol,” action targeting corporate America’s influence in Washington’s corridors of power. Protesters — many of them labor-union activists who support the Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York in…

Corzine can’t explain missing MF Global funds

WASHINGTON — Former Wall Street high-flyer and Democratic politician Jon Corzine told US lawmakers Thursday he did not know what happened to an estimated $1.2 billion that disappeared from the accounts of now bankrupt broker MF Global. Corzine — former US senator, New Jersey governor, head of Goldman Sachs and…

Obama rejects Republican ‘appeasement’ claims

WASHINGTON — With the icy riposte “ask Osama bin Laden,” President Barack Obama on Thursday rebutted Republican claims he is blind to the threat from radical “thugs” and guilty of appeasing US enemies. Obama’s use of lethal force as US commander-in-chief against Al-Qaeda and other groups has partly insulated him…

Suspect admits plotting to attack U.S. military facility

LOS ANGELES — A 32-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday to plotting to attack a US military processing center for new soldiers in the northwestern city of Seattle, officials said. Walli Mujahidh admitted conspiracy to murder officers and agents of the United States, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and…

Obama scolds Republicans on blocked consumer chief

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Thursday scolded his Republican critics for blocking his nominee to lead a new consumer watchdog agency tasked with protecting Americans from finance industry abuses. In a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, Obama pressed his political foes to “come to their…

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