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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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So long to federal funding for candidates

A cornerstone of U.S. politics since the 1970s, public funding of presidential campaigns may soon go the way of other relics of the era like long sideburns and lava lamps. Neither President Barack Obama nor any of the leading 2012 Republican contenders is expected to accept federal matching funds and the limits they impose. In fact, opting to take public money to finance a presidential campaign this year is likely to be seen as the mark of a loser. “I would be shocked if they took matching funds. I don’t think that it’s a successful model this time, or in
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Wisconsin anti-union law on hold for two months or more

Wisconsin’s polarizing union rights law will remain on hold for at least two months after a judge Friday said she would continue a restraining order blocking its enactment while she considers whether Republicans broke the state open meetings law in passing it. Republicans had been pushing the law through despite a boycott by Democratic state senators and weeks of protests that drew as many as 85,000 people to the state Capitol. But they suffered a defeat Thursday when the same judge declared the law was not enacted last week as Republicans had claimed. Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi on
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Film backers sue over De Niro bomb

A film financing company that put up nearly $6 million for the production of “Stone,” a crime drama starring Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, is suing the film’s producers for allegedly duping them into losing their entire investment when the film bombed last year. According to a complaint filed against Nu Image and Millennium Films by Mimran Schur Pictures (MSP) in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 30, David Mimran and Jordan Schur were successful businessmen outside the film realm until they decided to start MSP and invest in filmmaking. They aren’t complete entertainment novices, though. Mimran, an investment
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Boots on the ground? What boots?

When U.S. officials promise there will be no American “boots on the ground” in Libya, they aren’t talking literally, nor about footwear. It’s military shorthand that may look to some like rhetorical sleight of hand. But the CIA paramilitary officers now known to be operating alongside rebel forces in the North African nation aren’t part of the U.S. military, and so they are excluded from the promise. The U.S. and its allies are operating under United Nations authorization to provide protection for Libyan civilians and air cover against Moammar Gadhafi‘s warplanes. That does not rule out military ground forces, but
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Highway deaths at lowest level in 62 years

Highway deaths have plummeted to their lowest levels in more than 60 years, helped by more people wearing seat belts, better safety equipment in cars and efforts to curb drunken driving. The Transportation Department estimated Friday that 32,788 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2010, a decrease of about 3 percent from 2009. It’s the fewest number of deaths since 1949 — during the presidency of Harry Truman — when more than 30,000 people were killed. The Pacific Northwest region, which includes Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, saw fatalities fall 12 percent. Western states including Arizona, California
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Boehner snubs tea party, shows willingness to compromise

  Despite fresh pressure from tea party conservatives, House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that Republicans “can’t impose our will” on the White House and Senate Democrats on legislation to cut tens of billions of dollars in federal spending. At a news conference, Boehner, R-Ohio, denied Democratic suggestions that he has already agreed to jettison nearly half of the $61 billion in cuts passed by the House a month ago. But as was the case with Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., earlier in the week, he did not say the demand to reduce spending by the full $61 billion was
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Tea party faithful rally but does anyone care?

Jenny Beth Martin looked out on the rain-dampened crowd along Constitution Avenue and pointed over her shoulder at the Capitol. “They heard us, but they’re not listening!” Martin, a tea party leader, told members of the movement that helped put Republicans in charge of the House last November. The crowd booed. Four months after the historic election, the populist force that helped drive Republicans to power is finding that its clout on Capitol Hill isn’t automatic. Sensitive talks over how many billions of dollars to cut from this year’s federal budget have strayed far below the Republicans’ campaign promise to
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Rooftop sex photos spark debate at USC

A debate is raging at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles over photos of a USC fraternity member having sex with a woman on the roof on a campus building last weekend. The images showing the couple in a variety of sexual positions for what was described as an encounter of “prolonged duration” quickly went viral on the Internet and led to suspension of the student from the USC chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity for “conduct unbecoming of a Kappa Sigma and a gentleman.” The school has launched an investigation of the incident, which occurred on the roof
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Republicans want to abuse tax code to curb abortions

House Republicans want to use the tax code as a back-door way to limit abortions. In the House Ways & Means Committee — the tax code writing body for the House — Republicans who control the committee are pushing tax code modifications that would prevent taxpayers from deducting the cost of abortions as well as stop small business and taxpayers form using tax credits in the new health care law to provide or pay for insurance policies covering the procedure. Current law already prohibits the use of federal funding for abortions. An emotional debate over abortion almost sank the health
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