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New state laws threaten U.S. voting rights: Holder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General Eric Holder is venturing deeper into a political thicket over how individual states run elections, saying discrimination based on race or ethnicity still prevents people from voting. Holder, the chief U.S. law enforcement official, is addressing the issue on the eve of an election year.…

House passes Republican payroll tax cut plan

WASHINGTON — Defying a White House veto threat, the US House of Representatives voted Tuesday to tie a payroll tax cut extension to the swift approval of the controversial “Keystone XL” US-Canada oil pipeline. US President Barack Obama’s Republican foes used their majority to muscle the bill to passage in…

Congress keeps sodomy ban in defense bill

The House-Senate conference committee has kept the military’s current policy on sodomy in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012. In a move that riled some social conservatives, the Senate version of the legislation repealed Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibits “unnatural…

Obama on 2012: ‘We’re going to win this thing’

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama confidently predicted he would overcome tough odds and win his 2012 reelection fight Tuesday, selling the premise of his campaign to influential donors. “Here is my message to you. You guys stick with this. If you don’t falter, if you stay steady we are…

U.S. court enters fray over morning-after pill

WASHINGTON — A US federal judge heard arguments Tuesday about the government’s decision to deny over-the-counter access of emergency contraception to girls under 17, as part of a decade-long legal battle. Federal Judge Edward Korman heard from the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Reproductive Rights one week…

FCC turns down volume on loud TV ads

WASHINGTON — US telecom regulators ordered television stations on Tuesday to turn down the volume on commercials. “The rules adopted today require that commercials have the same average volume as the programs they accompany,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in a statement. The FCC said the move was a…

Long-term jobless set to lose safety net

WASHINGTON — Instead of brimming with holiday cheer, millions of the long-term unemployed across the United States are anxiously watching to see if the new year brings an end to their jobless benefits. The US government’s long-term unemployment insurance benefits expire at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve…

Arsenic in water near coal-fired U.S. plants: monitor

WASHINGTON — An environmental monitor Tuesday identified 19 new sites across the United States where groundwater near coal-ash dumps from power plants was found to be contaminated with arsenic and other pollutants. The Environmental Integrity Project said the pollution — in some cases more than 10 times the maximum contaminant…

Crash chopper with Indian newlyweds ‘was off course’

LOS ANGELES — A helicopter carrying four tourists including a young Indian newlywed couple crashed in a ravine near Las Vegas after veering off course, an initial investigation said Tuesday. The pilot and all passengers died last Wednesday when the chopper they were taking to see the Hoover Dam, a…

ACLU sues Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker over new voter ID law

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty filed a federal lawsuit against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday, alleging that the state’s new voter ID law is unconstitutional. The law, which was passed by the Republican-led state legislature in…

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