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In reality, the government never really shuts down

Social Security checks would still go out. Troops would remain at their posts. Furloughed federal workers probably would get paid, though not until later. And virtually every essential government agency, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, would remain open. That’s the little-known truth about a government shutdown. The government doesn’t shut down. And it won’t on March 5, even if the combatants on Capitol Hill can’t resolve enough differences to pass a stopgap spending bill to fund the government while they hash out legislation to cover the last seven months of the budget year. Fewer than
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Don’t want genetically engineered foods? You’re eating them anyway

You may not want to eat genetically engineered foods. Chances are, you are eating them anyway. Genetically modified plants grown from seeds engineered in labs now provide much of the food we eat. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States have been genetically modified to resist pesticides or insects, and corn and soy are common food ingredients. The Agriculture Department has approved three more genetically engineered crops in the past month, and the Food and Drug Administration could approve fast-growing genetically modified salmon for human consumption this year. Agribusiness and the seed companies say their products
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Wisconsin Senate moves to strip public worker union rights

Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly took the first significant action on their plan to strip collective bargaining rights from most public workers, abruptly passing the measure early Friday morning before sleep-deprived Democrats realized what was happening. The vote ended three straight days of punishing debate in the Assembly. But the political standoff over the bill — and the monumental protests at the state Capitol against it — appear far from over. The Assembly’s vote sent the bill on to the Senate, but minority Democrats in that house have fled to Illinois to prevent a vote. No one knows when they
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Some Republicans ease off anti-union rhetoric

With a wary eye on Wisconsin, Republican leaders in several states are toning down the tough talk against public employee unions and, in some cases, abandoning anti-union measures altogether. Indiana’s governor urged GOP lawmakers to give up on a “right to work” bill for fear the backlash could derail the rest of his agenda. In Ohio, senators plan to soften a bill that would have banned all collective bargaining by state workers. And in Michigan, the Republican governor says he’d rather negotiate with public employees than pick a fight. That’s hardly enough to set labor leaders celebrating. They still face
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Tea Party forges a vision for Montana

With each bill, newly elected tea party lawmakers are offering Montanans a vision of the future. Their state would be a place where officials can ignore U.S. laws, force FBI agents to get a sheriff’s OK before arresting anyone, ban abortions, limit sex education in schools and create armed citizen militias. It’s the tea party world. But not everyone is buying their vision. Some residents, Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer and even some Republican lawmakers say the bills are making Montana into a laughingstock. And, they say, the push to nullify federal laws could be dangerous. “We are the United States
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