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At University of Texas, guns on campus debate is personal

University of Texas junior Sonia Escot was studying at her usual first-floor spot at a campus library on that morning last September when a fellow student walked in with an AK-47. “If that shooter had wanted to shoot, I would have been one of the first,” said Escot, 21, who does not like to study anymore at that library. Gunman Colton Tooley, 19, killed himself on the sixth floor after running through campus firing his weapon, injuring no one. Now, six months after Tooley’s actions led to a day long campus shutdown — and nearly 45 years after Charles Whitman
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Who decides how to save the earth?

To the quiet green solitude of an English country estate they retreated, to think the unthinkable. Scientists of earth, sea and sky, scholars of law, politics and philosophy: In three intense days cloistered behind Chicheley Hall’s old brick walls, where British saboteurs once secretly trained, four dozen international thinkers pondered the planet’s fate as it grows warmer, weighed the idea of reflecting the sun to cool the atmosphere, debated the question of who would make the decision. The unknown risks of “geoengineering” — in this case, tweaking Earth’s climate by dimming the skies — left many uneasy. “If we could
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Can Congress avoid an economic train wreck?

Political ideologies and government spending realities are speeding trains headed toward a nasty crash in Washington this week barring a compromise between Republicans in the House and Senate Democrats aligned with President Barack Obama in the battle to contain America’s soaring debt. Failure to reach a deal for the rest of this budget year, which ends on Sept. 30, could lead to a partial shutdown of the government when spending authority expires at midnight on Friday. It is unclear which side would absorb public blame and anger for such a dramatic turn of events. But there was likely to be
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Obama no longer agent of change

President Barack Obama, once a fresh faced prophet of hope, now a graying incumbent and the face of America’s painful status quo, is expected to launch his bid for a second term this week. Obama, his political brand battered by a flurry of crises near and far — including an economic meltdown and a third US war abroad in Libya, has endured two years of turmoil after winning an election for the ages in 2008. He is expected to formally lodge paperwork with the Federal Election Commission early this week, which would allow him to set a political course for
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Labor, tea party spending big bucks in Wisconsin court election

Pro-labor organizations and one of the country’s largest tea party groups are pouring money into Tuesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court election in an effort to turn the normally sleepy race into a referendum on the national fight over labor rights. The attention from conservative and liberal groups has energized voters and set the election on pace to be the most expensive high court race in Wisconsin’s history. Sarah Palin even weighed in via Twitter on Friday, throwing her support behind the incumbent conservative justice. The candidates, Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, say the race is about their
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Boehner walks political tightrope on budget

Sometimes in politics and legislation, whether you win is less important than how you win. That’s the dilemma facing House Speaker John Boehner as he tries to round up the votes to pass a fast-approaching spending compromise and avert a partial government shutdown by week’s end. Boehner, R-Ohio, wants the overwhelming majority of those votes to come from his fellow Republicans, even if dozens of easily attainable Democratic votes could help carry the budget bill to victory. The goal complicates Boehner’s task, and possibly could push the bill farther to the right. It motivates him to battle for the votes
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Obama ready to announce run for second term

President Barack Obama is about to make one of Washington’s worst kept secrets official: He wants a second term. Democratic officials familiar with the president’s plans said Saturday that Obama intends to file papers as early as this coming week with the Federal Election Commission to launch his 2012 re-election campaign. He also will announce his candidacy to supporters by email and text messages. The officials asked not to be identified in order to speak before the papers are filed. That widely anticipated but formal step of registering with the FEC will free Obama to start raising money for the
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Online gone wild for April Fools’ Day

The online world got an April Fools’ Day makeover as YouTube rolled out 1911 viral videos and the Huffington Post put up a mock pay wall. Lighthearted pranks are an annual Web tradition on April Fools’ Day, with jokey redesigns and parody products. Comedy video website Funny or Die, which last year became “Bieber or Die,” turned into “Friday or Die.” The site’s home page was taken over by teenage viral video star Rebecca Black, complete with “Behind the Music”-style featurettes on her song “Friday.” Escape was futile: Even pressing “back” in one’s browser only added Black’s lyrics to the
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Student newspaper cover photo yanked by Facebook

Now that Facebook is mainstream, the gold old days of anything goes is history. Nowadays, the social networking site is so afraid of being sued that it yanked a student newspaper photo illustrating a cover story about how oral sex can spread throat cancer. The photo depicts a couple simulating oral sex but does not contain any nudity or explicit sexual imagery.  But Facebook put the University of North Florida student newspaper, The Spinnaker, under notice and forced the paper to remove the photo from its Facebook account. The paper always publishes its cover photos on its account but this
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Close to deal on spending? Depends on who’s talking

A bullish President Barack Obama said Friday that compromise is close with Republicans on $33 billion in budget cuts, and he warned that without a deal the ensuing government shutdown would “jeopardize our economic recovery” just as jobs are finally being created. Despite his assessment, negotiators reported little progress, Senate Democrats backtracked on a key concession from earlier in the week and Congress’ top Republican sounded less optimistic than the president that a breakthrough was imminent. “There is no number. There is no agreement on a number” on how much to cut, insisted House Speaker John Boehner, who is under
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