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Gay legislators impact civil unions debate

Of America‘s 7,382 state legislators, only 85 are openly gay or lesbian. They are, however, playing an outsized and often impassioned role when the agenda turns to recognizing same-sex couples with civil unions or full marriage rights. In Hawaii and Illinois, gay state representatives were lead sponsors of civil union bills signed into law earlier this year. In Maryland and Rhode Island, gay lawmakers are co-sponsoring pending bills that would legalize same-sex marriage. In New York, a gay senator, Tom Duane, is preparing to be lead sponsor of a marriage bill in his chamber later this session. “For my colleagues,
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White House considers tapping oil reserves

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff William Daley said on Sunday the Obama administration was considering tapping into the U.S. strategic oil reserve as a way to help ease soaring oil prices. Read the full story.
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White House praises Muslims: Get jump on House hearings

Muslim Americans are not part of the terrorism problem facing the U.S. — they are part of the solution, a top White House official said Sunday at a Washington-area mosque. Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough set the Obama administration’s tone for discussions as tensions escalate before the first in a series of congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization. The hearings, chaired by New York Republican Peter King, will focus on the level of cooperation from the Muslim community to help law enforcement combat radicalization. The majority of the recent terror plots and attempts against the U.S. have involved people espousing
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Tough federal judge gets first-hand look at New York drug turf

The scene in a gritty Brooklyn neighborhood had the feel of a political campaign stop, except the stately man trailed by aides, a bodyguard and two news photographers wasn’t making speeches or working a crowd. Instead, longtime federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein — 6-foot-2 and looking fit — strolled mostly in silence on Friday around the Louis Armstrong Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant — the same streets where authorities say armed thugs once terrorized residents with an “open-air drug bazaar.” Weinstein, who’s overseeing the case against the crack cocaine crew, had decided it was important to leave his chambers, don his dark
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Hiring increase could mean turning point in jobs crisis

Companies added more workers in February than in any month in almost a year — a turning point for the economy that finally pushed the unemployment rate below 9 percent. Economists say the stronger hiring should endure all year. The 222,000 jobs the private sector created more than offset layoffs by financially squeezed state and local governments. They slashed 30,000 jobs, the most since November. The unemployment rate sank to 8.9 percent, the lowest since April 2009. The rate has now fallen almost a full percentage point in just three months — the sharpest drop in a generation. Hiring last
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