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Gay marriage about to become law in Rhode Island

  The number of U.S. states allowing gay marriage is set to enter double digits now that Rhode Island’s state Senate has taken a landmark vote. Legislation allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed passed Wednesday evening by a comfortable 26-12 margin. The House has already passed the bill, but will hold a largely procedural final vote next week before the bill goes to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, who said he will sign it into law. When he does, the last holdout in the region will join the five other New England states that already allow gay marriage. Nine
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Presidents gather to dedicate George W. Bush’s new library

All the living American presidents past and present are gathering in Dallas, a rare reunion to salute one of their own at the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Profound ideological differences and a bitter history of blaming each other for the nation’s woes will give way — if just for a day — to pomp and pleasantries Thursday as the five members of the most exclusive club in the world appear publicly together for the first time in years. For Bush, 66, the ceremony also marks his unofficial return to the public eye four years after the
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On many issues, Barack Obama and George W. Bush are a lot alike

Despite vast differences with President George W. Bush on ideology, style and temperament, President Barack Obama has stuck with Bush policies or aspirations on a number of fronts, from counterterrorism to immigration, from war strategy to the global fight against AIDS. Even on tax policy, where Bush advocated lower tax rates for all and Obama pushed for higher rates on the rich, Bush’s tax cuts for the middle class not only have survived under Obama, they have become permanent. Obama inherited from his predecessor two military conflicts, a war on terror and a financial crisis. He also inherited, and in
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A big shift in debate over immigration

The national mood on immigration has changed dramatically since Arizona approved a first-of-its-kind immigration law, igniting a furor over border security and the country’s treatment of immigrants. A mere three years later, President Barack Obama and Republicans and Democrats in Congress are lobbying for the nation’s first immigration overhaul in nearly three decades — and public opinion is on their side. The remarkable and almost shocking shift has renewed debate in Arizona and other states opposed to mass immigration about whether it’s time to double down or back off. Arizona’s law drew international complaints of unlawful police scrutiny and inspired
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Obama’s new drug war: More treatment, less prison time

President Barack Obama’s new strategy for fighting the nation’s drug problem will include a greater emphasis on using public health tools to battle addiction and diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of prisons, under reforms scheduled to be outlined by the nation’s drug czar Wednesday. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the National Drug Control Policy, is scheduled to release Obama’s 2013 blueprint for drug policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. Millions of people in the United States will become eligible in less than a year for treatment for substance abuse under the new health care overhaul.
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Older Americans ignore realities of long-term health care needs

We’re in denial: Americans underestimate their chances of needing long-term care as they get older — and are taking few steps to get ready. A new poll examined how people 40 and over are preparing for this difficult and often pricey reality of aging, and found two-thirds say they’ve done little to no planning. In fact, 3 in 10 would rather not think about getting older at all. Only a quarter predict it’s very likely that they’ll need help getting around or caring for themselves during their senior years, according to the poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs
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New strain of bird flu considered ‘one of most lethal’

A new bird flu strain that has killed 22 people in China is “one of the most lethal” of its kind and transmits more easily to humans than another strain that has killed hundreds since 2003, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Wednesday. The H7N9 flu has infected 108 people in China since it was first detected in March, according to the Geneva-based WHO. Although it is not clear exactly how people are being infected, experts say they see no evidence so far of the most worrisome scenario – sustained transmission between people. An international team of scientists
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How Congress stalls military’s effort to save tax dollars

Parked around the airstrip at Lackland Air Force Base are more than a dozen massive C-5A Galaxy transport planes. There is no money to fly them, repair them or put pilots in the cockpits, but Congress rejected the Air Force’s bid to retire them. So every now and then, crews will tow the planes around the Texas tarmac a bit to make sure the tires don’t rot, then send them back into exile until they can finally get permission to commit the aging aircraft to the boneyard. It’s not an unfamiliar story. Idle aircraft and pricey ship deployments underscore the
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Senate moving to force sales tax on Internet sales

A measure to empower U.S. states to require out-of-state retailers to collect online sales tax cleared a legislative hurdle in the Senate on Monday, after earlier winning official backing from President Barack Obama. Seventy-four senators voted to limit debate and move forward with a final vote on the proposed legislation in the Democratic-controlled Senate, likely on Wednesday. “You have businesses all around America on Main Streets and shopping malls collecting sales tax on the things that they sell, competing with Internet retailers who do not,” said Democratic co-sponsor Senator Richard Durbin. Supporters of the measure include brick-and-mortar retailers such as
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Boston bombing aftermath sidetracks immigration bill debate

Congressional advocates of comprehensive U.S. immigration legislation were diverted into a sometimes testy debate on Monday over whether the measure should be delayed because of questions arising from the Boston Marathon bombing allegedly carried out by two immigrant brothers. The idea of holding up the legislation gained some ground with the support of U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, a prominent Republican who in the past supported immigration reform. However, the highest-ranking Republican in Washington, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said he saw no reason for the bombings to delay the debate. Florida Senator Marco Rubio,
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