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House kills mortgage relief

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to kill President Barack Obama‘s signature program to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. A bill to terminate the program was approved on a 252-170 vote. But the bill is unlikely to clear the Senate. It was the last in series of four measures brought forward by newly empowered House Republicans to end government assistance for homeowners hurt by the housing crisis. Republicans argued the foreclosure prevention plan, known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, is ineffective and not worthy of taxpayer support amid soaring budget deficits. The vote broke largely along party
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Judge blocks, expands ban on Scott Walker’union-busting law

A Wisconsin judge issued a revised order on Tuesday blocking implementation of a controversial state law curbing collective bargaining by public unions while she hears a legal challenge to the proposed law. Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi, who issued an injunction two weeks ago blocking the law, issued an amended order barring Secretary of State Doug La Follette from doing anything that would result in the measure from taking effect. The measure, known as Wisconsin Act 10, was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker earlier this month. It bans collective bargaining
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Dems willing to deal on budget cuts

Democrats indicated Tuesday they may be willing to accept Republican-backed curbs on the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal regulators as part of an overall deal on spending cuts, a rare hint of compromise in private negotiations marked by public rancor. There was no immediate reaction from the White House, although administration officials are working closely with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the secretive three-way talks that include House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Any concession by Democrats on non-spending items would mark an attempt to persuade Republicans to accept smaller budget cuts than the $61 billion contained in legislation
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McCain, Levin back Obama on Libya attacks

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee say President Barack Obama was right to use military force in Libya. Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican John McCain of Arizona made the comments Tuesday at the start of a congressional hearing and the day after Obama’s speech on Libya. Levin said Obama has taken a thoughtful and deliberate approach to avert a bloodbath in Libya. McCain, Obama’s 2008 rival for president, said Obama’s decision to intervene was right and necessary.
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Wal-Mart fights sex bias case

Wal-Mart Stores Inc will argue on Tuesday that the U.S. Supreme Court should halt the largest class-action sex-discrimination lawsuit in history by female employees who seek billions of dollars. The female employees will counter that their lawsuit should be allowed to go to trial against the world’s largest retailer for allegedly paying women less and giving them fewer promotions than men at 3,400 U.S. stores since late 1998. At issue in the Supreme Court showdown is whether the small group of women who began the lawsuit 10 years ago can represent a huge nationwide class of current and former employees
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Rob Lowe dishes dirt on pal Charlie Sheen

Rob Lowe gives fellow Brat Packer Charlie Sheen a slight edge when it comes to partying. Lowe tells Vanity Fair that in past days, he and Sheen “competed to see who could play harder, then show up for work.” Lowe recently finished his autobiography and shared excerpts with the magazine. He calls Sheen “a wonderful mix of nerd and rebel” and speaks of days when the two were relatively unknown actors who plotted their careers in Sheen’s pool. Sheen has made headlines for his wild partying. He was fired from his hit CBS show, then alleged breach of contract and
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Obama to try and sell Libya war to Congress, nation

President Barack Obama is offering Congress and an anxious public his first detailed accounting of his rationale for U.S. military involvement in Libya and perhaps an answer to the burning question: What’s next? His speech, set for 7:30 p.m. EDT Monday, comes after the administration scored an important diplomatic victory. NATO ambassadors on Sunday approved a plan for the alliance to assume from the U.S. command all aerial operations, including ground attacks. That will help Obama assure the nation he can deliver on his promise that the United States will be a partner in the military action against Libya, but
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For real estate, it’s a buyer’s market

In suburban Chicago, it’s paradise to be a homebuyer. At the Millbrook Pointe development in quaint and pristine Wheeling, a $269,000, brick-and-stone townhouse comes with $25,000 in free upgrades, including wood-burning fireplaces, all-stainless steel kitchens and marbled bathrooms tricked out with double-bowl vanities and whirlpool soaker tubs. Down the highway at the Patriot Place golf course villas in Bolingbrook, buyers are lavished with lawns sodded to perfection, absurdly low seller financing and a year of free insurance that will pay the mortgage if you lose your job. At the Sunset Ridge estates, the amenity bonanza gets even more surreal: Buy
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