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Blogo convicted of corruption

Rod Blagojevich, who won two terms as Illinois governor before scandal made him a national punch line, was convicted Monday of a wide range of corruption charges, including trying to sell President Barack Obama’s Senate seat. The verdict, coming after his first trial ended last year with the jury deadlocked on most charges, was a bitter defeat for Blagojevich, who spent 2½ years professing his innocence on reality TV shows and later on the witness stand. His defense team insisted that hours of FBI wiretap recordings were just the ramblings of a politician who liked to think out loud. Blagojevich
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Supremes look at TV nudes

The Supreme Court has added a couple of high-profile constitutional challenges to its lineup of cases for next term: One looking at governmental regulation of television content and the other dealing with the authority of police to use a GPS device to track a suspect’s movements without a warrant. The court’s action Monday agreeing to review the two cases foreshadows what could be an extraordinary year for the justices. Gay marriage, immigration and the health care overhaul all are working their way to the court and could arrive in the term that begins on the first Monday in October. The
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Blackwater merc jailed

A US federal judge sentenced a former Blackwater security guard on Monday to 30 months in prison for shooting and killing an Afghan citizen in 2009. The judge also ordered 29-year-old Justin Cannon to serve two years of supervised release after his prison term ends. Cannon and a second Blackwater guard, Christopher Drotleff, 31, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the May 5, 2009 shooting of Romal Mohammad Naiem, an unarmed Afghan civilian. Drotleff was sentenced to three years and one month in prison on June 14. “Justin Cannon opened fire with an AK-47 at the rear of a retreating
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Bachmann plunges into race

Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman with deep tea party appeal, was ready Monday to officially plow into the Republican presidential primary with a conservative and often freewheeling message honed to the party’s base. Greeted in her native Iowa with a new poll predicting she’ll be a force in the state that opens the GOP nomination contest, Bachmann hopes to reshape both the 2012 GOP field and how she’s viewed in the eyes of voters. After the formal Iowa kickoff, she planned to shift her focus to New Hampshire and South Carolina, other states with cherished traditions of separating the viable
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Huntsman: It’s issues, not religion

Huntsman spoke to reporters in Nevada during an hour-long campaign stop at the Reno Livestock Events Center, where the Reno Rodeo was about to begin. Three days after formally announcing his candidacy, the former ambassador to China said his list of priority states includes the early caucus swing state of Nevada, where Republicans sided with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in 2008. Romney also is Mormon. So is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said earlier this week he’d pick Huntsman over Romney if he had to. Polls show many voters have reservations about electing a Mormon president. But
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It’s a gay time in New York

It was a weekend of wedding proposals, wedding plans and earnest thanks. The hard-won right to same-sex marriage in New York state gave way to joyous thoughts of trips down the aisle becoming a reality, not just a dream, for many thousands of gay couples. “New York has sent a message to the nation,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday before the colorful extravaganza that is New York City‘s annual gay pride parade. “It is time for marriage equality.” When Cuomo signed the gay marriage bill just before midnight Friday, New York became the sixth and largest state in the country
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Can Obama salvage stalled debt limit talks?

Struggling to break a perilous deadlock, President Barack Obama took direct control Friday of national debt-limit negotiations with both Republicans and Democrats. With the White House warning the nation’s economic stability is at stake, it’s one of the most severe tests yet of Obama’s presidency. The key disagreement is over taxes. Democrats, including Obama, say a major deficit-reduction agreement must include tax increases or the elimination of tax breaks for big companies and wealthy individuals. Republicans are demanding huge cuts in government spending and insisting there be no tax increases. Absent an agreement that cuts long-term deficits, Republicans say they
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Romney, Bachmann lead GOP field in Iowa poll

Republican front-runner Mitt Romney and U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann led a closely watched presidential poll of Iowa Republicans, the state that holds the first contest in the nomination battle. The Iowa caucuses, often held on a frigid winter night that can limit turnout to those most committed, often serves to winnow the field of candidates. Whoever captures the nomination in the unsettled Republican field is expected to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 2012 general election. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, led the poll of likely caucus-goers with 23 percent, followed by 22 percent support for Bachmann, who
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House rebukes Obama on Libya war

Challenging presidential power, a defiant U.S. House voted overwhelmingly Friday to deny President Barack Obama the authority to wage war against Libya. But Republicans fell short in an effort to actually cut off funds for the operation in a constitutional showdown reflecting both political differences and unease over American involvement. In a repudiation of their commander in chief, House members rejected a measure to authorize the Libya mission for a year while prohibiting U.S. ground forces in the North African nation, a resolution Obama had said he would welcome. The vote was 295-123 with 70 Democrats abandoning the president just
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Cantor walks out on budget talks

Efforts to find a bipartisan agreement blending huge budget cuts with a must-pass measure to increase how much the government can borrow have entered a new phase after Republican negotiators pulled out of talks led by Vice President Joe Biden. The exit of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor from the talks on Thursday means the most difficult decisions have been kicked upstairs to GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and President Barack Obama. The Biden-led group had made solid progress in weeks of negotiations but was at an impasse over taxes. Cantor, R-Va., said that the Republican-dominated House simply
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