Archives for News

Focus on gay rights shifts back to Obama

President Barack Obama may have made a slow start on gay rights issues, but by the end of his first term his record was such that a news magazine dubbed him the nation’s “first gay president.” Now activists want more. Fresh from historic Supreme Court arguments over same-sex unions, advocates want Obama to use his executive powers to fight discrimination at businesses, schools, and military bases and stop waiting for action from a reluctant Congress. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in June on big issues: the constitutional right to gay marriage and the right of gay married couples
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A New Orleans political brawl over cops and jail

A political brawl has broken out between the mayor and a sheriff who runs the city jail, which has come under scrutiny for a video showing inmates using drugs, drinking beer and handling a gun. Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked a judge last Tuesday to take the extraordinary step of placing the jail under federal oversight, effectively wresting control of it away from Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman. Landrieu is upset over an agreement Gusman reached with the U.S. Justice Department to reform the jail, saying the city, which funds the jail, can’t afford the potential expense. “Stated simply, the person
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Republicans reaffirm homophobic stand on gay marriage, honor perennial loser Ron Paul

Homophobia ruled at the spring gathering of the Republican National Committee this week in Los Angeles as the group approved — with no debate — yet another resolution affirming the party’s steadfast opposition to gay marriage. A simple resolution approved in a voice vote by the 157 members of the RNC said: “The Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America.” The resolution flies in the face of a trend of an increasing number of
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Hypocrisy rules in Washington

Hypocrisy is nothing new in Washington. The long-running debate over taxes and spending, however, is producing especially blatant examples of politicians contradicting themselves or attacking opponents for taking the very stances they’ve taken themselves. Lawmakers, for instance, denounce the deficit but refuse to let the Postal Service close money-losing offices or end Saturday delivery. They force the Defense Department to maintain weapons systems and military bases — located in their home districts, of course — that the Pentagon wants to end. Cries of hypocrisy grew so loud Thursday that House Speaker John Boehner got into a public spat with his
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Medicare hike may hurt the middle class

Retired as a city worker, Sheila Pugach lives in a modest home on a quiet street in Albuquerque, N.M., and drives an 18-year-old Subaru. Pugach doesn’t see herself as upper-income by any stretch, but President Barack Obama’s budget would raise her Medicare premiums and those of other comfortably retired seniors, adding to a surcharge that already costs some 2 million beneficiaries hundreds of dollars a year each. More importantly, due to the creeping effects of inflation, 20 million Medicare beneficiaries would end up paying higher “income related” premiums for their outpatient and prescription coverage over time. Administration officials say Obama’s
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A mother’s plea for real gun control

The mother of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut school shooting used the opportunity to fill in for President Barack Obama during the weekly radio and Internet address to make a personal plea from the White House for action to combat gun violence. “Thousands of other families across the United States are also drowning in our grief,” said Francine Wheeler, choking back tears in the address broadcast Saturday. “Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.” Ben Wheeler was among the 20 first-graders and six adults killed in the Dec. 14 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary
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Republicans subpoena emails of Obama’s Labor nominee

GOP lawmakers have subpoenaed the private emails of Labor secretary-nominee Thomas Perez, a possible sticking point ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing next week. The subpoena, issued Wednesday by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa, R-Calif., to the Justice Department, seeks the emails as part of an investigation into an agreement Perez brokered last year in his capacity as the nation’s top civil rights enforcer. In the deal, Perez persuaded the city of St. Paul, Minn., to withdraw a lending discrimination lawsuit before it could be heard by the Supreme Court. In exchange, the Justice Department declined to join two
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Immigration bill could exclude many from citizenship

A bipartisan immigration bill soon to be introduced in the Senate could exclude hundreds of thousands of immigrants here illegally from ever becoming U.S. citizens, according to a Senate aide with knowledge of the proposals. The bill would bar anyone who arrived in the U.S. after Dec. 31, 2011, from applying for legal status and ultimately citizenship, according to the aide, who spoke on condition because the proposals have not been made public. It also would require applicants to document that they were in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, have a clean criminal record and show enough employment or
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Senate debate on gun background checks starts next week

The first hurdle cleared with deceptive ease, the Senate turns to the heart of the battle over curbing gun violence next week when it considers a proposal to expand required federal background checks to gun shows and online firearms sales. In a bipartisan 68-31 vote Thursday, senators rejected an effort by conservatives to block debate on Democrats’ gun control legislation, a measure backed by President Barack Obama. Senators then formally opened debate on the bill, lawmakers’ response to the mass shooting in December at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and the most ambitious effort to limit gun violence in
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Second white supremacist arrested as result of Colorado prison chief’s death probe

Both of the white supremacist prison gang members whose names surfaced during an investigation into the slaying of Colorado’s prisons chief are now behind bars. Colorado Springs authorities arrested Thomas Guolee, 31, around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, according to El Paso County sheriff’s officials. They didn’t immediately release circumstances or details of his arrest. He was being held without bond for a parole violation, sheriff’s officials said. Last week, fellow 211 Crew member James Lohr was arrested in Colorado Springs after a short chase. Lohr, 47, is now being held on charges including vehicular eluding. His bond has been set at
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