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Senate to vote on two budget bills Wednesday afternoon

WASHINGTON – The Senate will vote Wednesday on two competing budget measures to fund the government for fiscal 2011 and avoid a shutdown. Debate will begin at noon Eastern Time, and the votes will start at 3:00 pm. One of the bills is HR 1, the recently-approved House bill that…

Illinois repeals the death penalty

UPDATE (3:05 p.m. EST): The Governor of Illinois has signed a bill repealing the death penalty and commuting the sentences of 15 men Today, Illinois is expected to officially end the practice of state-sanctioned murder. It only took them 232 years. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, a supporter of capital punishment,…

Kerry: To balance budget, we must reform revenue, taxes, spending and entitlements

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said Tuesday that “revenue, tax reform, spending and entitlements” must all be on the table when considering ways to trim the deficit, as Congress heads for a showdown over the budget. “The American people deserve a serious dialogue about our fiscal situation, discretionary spending,…

Cardinal Rigali suspends 21 priests in Philadelphia over abuse allegations

Just in time for Ash Wednesday services, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia suspended 21 Philadelphia-area priests in the wake of a grand jury report blasting the Church for covering up allegations of abuse. It’s the largest suspension of priests since allegations against priests began. Watch the video below, which first…

Calling all hopefuls: where are the 2012 Republicans?

WASHINGTON — With just 11 months before the first true test of 2012 White House mettle, Republicans seeking to challenge President Barack Obama are sending a unified message: it’s anybody’s race. So blank is the slate — officially, at least — that of the dozen or so Republicans seen as…

Poll: Just 1 in 3 Maine Republicans would re-elect Olympia Snowe in 2012

Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R-ME) odds of surviving her Republican primary next year are looking slimmer by the day. Just 33 percent of Maine GOP primary voters say they’d support Snowe’s 2012 re-election bid, while 58 percent would vote for a more conservative challenger, according to a new survey by Public…

Two-thirds of states cut mental healthcare funds: advocacy group

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two-thirds of states cut mental health funding from their general fund budgets over the last two years, according to a report released by a mental illness advocacy group on Wednesday. Kentucky with 47 percent, Alaska with 35 percent, and South Carolina and Arizona both with 23 percent…

Idaho passes Republican bill to curb union rights

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Idaho state legislature approved a bill on Tuesday to strip public school teachers of many of their collective bargaining rights while protesters in six states rallied against Republican efforts to curb union power. The Idaho bill, which excludes issues like class size and workloads from negotiations…

House panel to examine Muslim radicalization

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House of Representatives will investigate radicalization in the American-Muslim community, sparking outrage that the probe is a witchhunt akin to the 1950s anti-Communist campaign. With al Qaeda and its affiliates openly trying to recruit Americans and Muslims inside the United States for attacks, House Homeland Security…

Study debunks stereotypes of US Muslim radicals

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Whether an ordinary US Muslim becomes a violent extremist cannot be determined by the length of his beard or how often he goes to the mosque, experts say, urging Americans to avoid stereotypes. On the eve of controversial congressional hearings on radicalization that have raised the ire…

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