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Bachmann announces presidential run Monday

Conservative Republican Michele Bachmann will officially launch her presidential bid in Iowa on Monday, a source close to her campaign said on Tuesday. The representative from Minnesota, who announced her intention to run at a Republican debate in New Hampshire last week, will hold a kick-off event Monday in Waterloo, Iowa, where she was born, the source told Reuters. Bachmann, 55, is founder and head of the House Tea Party Caucus. She was one of the first elected officials to court the movement that helped fuel Republican gains in the 2010 midterm elections with calls for spending cuts and reduced
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Home sales hit six-month low

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes hit a six-month low in May and supply rose, pointing to a housing market still struggling to regain its footing. The National Association of Realtors said on Tuesday that sales slipped 3.8 percent month over month to an annual rate of 4.81 million units, the lowest since November. It was the second straight month of declines. The drop was smaller than economists had expected, but the April sales figure was revised lower, leaving a report that was largely in line with expectations in financial markets. While the fall in sales last month was partly
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Oops! Obamacare provides Medicaid for the middle class

President Barack Obama’s health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed. The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department. After initially downplaying any concern, the Obama administration said late Tuesday it would look for a fix. Up to 3 million more people could qualify for Medicaid in 2014 as
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Make or break week on debt limit

U.S. lawmakers working to rein in the country’s rising debt said on Monday they will have to make substantial progress this week to ensure the country retains its top-notch credit rating. Democrats and Republicans said they face a crucial series of talks as they try to find the trillions of dollars in budget savings that will allow Congress to cover the country’s borrowing needs through the November 2012 election. “I’d say if we haven’t made enough progress by the end of this week we’re really going to have to reassess the situation,” Republican Senator Jon Kyl told reporters. Other Republicans
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Who the hell is Jon Huntsman?

Jon Huntsman Jr. is a high school dropout, a Harley-riding ex-governor and a diplomat whose last boss was President Barack Obama. Now this Republican wants Obama’s job. The unusual political resume and sometimes centrist views makes Huntsman both a long shot to emerge with the GOP presidential nomination and a candidate to be feared by the Democrat in the White House should he break out of the pack. At the Tacos Don Rafa food cart in downtown Salt Lake City, though, Huntsman is known simply as a regular, often dressed in a denim jacket. “His palate can withstand more hot
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Tritium leaks found at U.S. nuke plants

Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping, an Associated Press investigation shows. The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation. Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the AP’s yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants. Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding
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Danger lurks: Feds soften nuke industry rules

Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews. The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public
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Obama’s lack of action on gun control angers Dems

More than five months after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, the White House has yet to take any new steps on gun violence, even though that’s what President Barack Obama called for in the wake of the shooting. The silence from the administration is drawing criticism from gun control activists and even some of Obama’s Democratic allies. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., told the president in a letter last week that the administration “has not shown the leadership to combat gun violence.” It’s in keeping with Obama’s general stance on gun issues since taking office: outspoken earlier in
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Gates: Obama’s actions in Libya legal

For legal reasons, President Barack Obama rejects the word “hostilities” to describe U.S. involvement in Libya’s civil war. Along the same lines, Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls American actions there “a limited kinetic operation.” Definitions are part of the debate over whether Obama is violating the War Powers Resolution by failing to obtain congressional approval for U.S. participation in the NATO-led air strikes against Moammar Gadhafi‘s government. The international coalition assisting Libyan rebels in their efforts to oust Gadhafi from power is in its fourth month. Before dawn on Sunday, NATO airstrikes began pounding targets in Tripoli as part of
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McCain rips into Republicans

Republican Senator John McCain, his party’s 2008 presidential nominee, ripped into the current crop of Republican White House contenders, accusing them of breaking party tradition by preaching “isolationism.” McCain said if former President Ronald Reagan were still alive he would have been disappointed in last week’s Republican presidential debate in which candidates voiced impatience with U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya. “He would be saying: That’s not the Republican Party of the 20th century, and now the 21st century. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for
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