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Military often drops the ball on sexual abuse investigations

The U.S. military in many cases does not properly investigate allegations of sexual assault, sometimes failing to collect key evidence, fully examine crime scenes or interview witnesses, a probe by the Pentagon‘s inspector general found. The report, which was released to the public on Monday, came as Congress weighs measures that would overhaul how the military handles sexual assault cases after a string of high-profile scandals in the armed forces. The inspector general’s review of 501 criminal investigations in 2012 included cases of rape and aggravated sexual assault. Although it found some flaws in the investigations 72 percent of the
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Senators head for rowdy showdown on rule changes

Senators prepared for a potentially rancorous day Tuesday — even by recent standards of partisan unpleasantness — as Democratic leaders threatened to change filibuster rules to stop Republicans from blocking White House nominees for top executive jobs. Several Senate votes were scheduled to test whether Republicans will allow simple-majority confirmations of a handful of long-stalled nominations. Some senators held out hopes for a breakthrough early Tuesday after one didn’t come in a rare, three-hour private meeting of nearly all 100 senators Monday night. If neither side retreats, the two parties could be on a collision course, with potentially big ramifications
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Obama drops passion from public reaction to Trayvon Martin case

When President Barack Obama first addressed the death of Trayvon Martin last year, he did so passionately, declaring that if he had a son, he would look like the slain 17-year-old. His powerful and personal commentary marked a rare public reflection on race from the nation’s first black president. But now, with the man who fatally shot Martin acquitted and the burden of any future charges squarely on his own administration, Obama is seeking to inject calm into a case that has inflamed passions, including his own. In a brief statement, the president called Martin’s killing a “tragedy” but implored
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Obama goes political over Trayvon Martin case

President Barack Obama is using the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of the man who shot him to push his anti-gun agenda. Obama, in a statement released Sunday, called Martin’s death a tragedy for America and said Americans should ask themselves if they’re doing all they can to stem gun violence, and what can be done to prevent future tragedies like the Florida shooting The President said he knows the not-guilty verdict reached late Saturday elicited strong passions around the country. He asked  all Americans respect the call for calm reflection and, so far, most of the rallies
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Volunteerism bringing George H.W. Bush to the White House

A commitment to volunteerism is bringing together presidents past and present. Former President George H.W. Bush is coming to the White House on Monday for a ceremony President Barack Obama is holding to recognize the 5,000th Daily Point of Light Award. Created by Bush more than two decades ago to honor volunteer service, the award’s name comes from the description in his 1989 inaugural address of Americans serving each other as “a thousand points of light.” Bush’s wife, Barbara, the former first lady; their son Neil, and other relatives are expected to attend; son and former President George W. Bush
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Reid heads for rules showdown in Senate

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is driving his chamber toward rule changes that would help President Barack Obama win confirmation for some of his nominees for posts overseeing workers’ and consumers’ rights. But the changes might strip future senators of their prized ability to delay action. Reid, D-Nev., planned to continue his push to let nominees win approval with a simple majority of senators’ backing instead of the 60-vote threshold that has stalled many nominations. All 100 senators have been invited to a closed-to-the-public meeting Monday evening to seek a compromise on how to approach those nominated to serve in
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Obamacare struggles to meet critical deadlines

With time running out, U.S. officials are struggling to cope with the task of launching the new online health insurance exchanges at the heart of President Barack Obama’s signature health reforms by an October 1 deadline. The White House, and federal agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), must ensure that working marketplaces open for enrollment in all 50 states in less than 80 days, and are responding to mounting pressure by concentrating on three essential areas that will determine whether the most critical phase of Obamacare succeeds or fails. “The
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Texas finally passes nation’s most restrictive abortion law

Republican lawmakers in Texas passed a bill that would give the state some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws and force most of its clinics to close, leading Democrats to promise a fight over the contentious measure in the courts and at the ballot box. More than 2,000 demonstrators filled the Capitol building in Austin to voice their opposition to the bill, including six protesters who were dragged out of the Senate chamber by state troopers for trying to disrupt the debate. The Republican majority passed the bill unchanged late Friday — just before midnight — with all but
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Republicans rejoicing after former Montana governor says ‘no’ to Senate race

Republicans received a boost in their attempt to win back the majority in the Senate next year when a former Democratic governor bowed out of Montana’s open Senate race, a development that could further hamper President Barack Obama’s agenda during his final two years in office. Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Saturday he would not run for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus in 2014, dealing a blow to Democrats who considered the popular ex-governor their best chance of keeping the office. Republicans have not settled on a candidate in GOP-leaning Montana. Republicans need to pick up
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Government may limit ability to seize records of journalists

The Justice Department on Friday proposed curbing the ability of prosecutors to seize reporters’ records while investigating leaks to the media, after complaints that journalists’ rights were violated in recent high-profile cases. A revised set of guidelines proposed by the department said that search warrants would not be sought against journalists carrying out “ordinary news-gathering activities.” In another change, the department would in most instances notify news organizations in advance if a subpoena is being sought to obtain phone records. The changes were contained in a report which the department prepared at the request of President Barack Obama and which
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