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The GOP agenda: Lots of turmoil, little hope for progress

The Republican agenda for the new Congress that convenes Wednesday may have a greater impact on the 2012 elections than on the lives of Americans in the next two years. Republicans promise to cut spending, roll back President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul and prevent unelected bureaucrats from expanding the government’s role in society through regulations that tell people what they must or can’t do. Getting this agenda through the House may be easier than in the Senate, given the GOP‘s 241-194 majority in the House. Getting the Senate to act will be a challenge. Democrats still hold an edge
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Rock legend Chuck Berry stricken before Chicago show

Rock-and-roll legend Chuck Berry felt ill and was checked out by ambulance medics before a show Saturday night, a Chicago fire official said. An audience member at the show, however, said Berry slumped over during the show and was offstage for at least 20 minutes. Fire Department spokesman Joe Roccasalva said Berry felt better and signed a release after being checked out. Roccasalva said the confusion arose because emergency personnel later responded to a patron at the show who was unwell. Berry, 84, is known for his classic songs including “Maybelline,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Roll Over Beethoven.” His agent
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The upcoming spending fight at the not-so-OK corral

Two early showdowns on spending and debt will signal whether the new Congress can find common ground despite its partisan divisions or whether it’s destined for gridlock and brinkmanship that could threaten the nation’s economic health. Not all of the bickering in the 112th Congress that convenes Wednesday will be between Republicans and Democrats. House Republicans, back in power after four years in the minority, will include numerous freshmen whose unyielding stands on the deficit, in particular, could severely test soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner‘s ability to bridge differences and pass major bills. His first big challenge will come in February,
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Obama offers help after attacks in Egypt, Nigeria

HONOLULU (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Saturday condemned separate “outrageous terrorist bombing attacks” in Egypt and Nigeria and said the United States was prepared to assist both countries in responding to them. Read the full story at Reuters
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Can’t beat your opponents? Beat your girlfriend

New Pittsburgh coach Mike Haywood was jailed Friday on a domestic violence charge after an incident at his South Bend home. Assistant St. Joseph County Police Chief Bill Redman said Haywood was arrested about 3 p.m. Friday after a custody issue developed with a woman with whom Haywood has a child. The unidentified woman told police that Haywood grabbed her by the arm and neck and pushed her as she tried to leave. Redman said the woman had marks on her neck, arms and back. “The University of Pittsburgh is aware of an alleged incident involving head football coach Michael
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Disgraced Favre will go out with a quiet, scandalous whimper

Brett Favre‘s name has appeared frequently on the NFL’s weekly injury report over 20 seasons of sprains, strains and painful hits. This might be the last time: The Minnesota Vikings declared the 41-year-old doubtful to play at Detroit, due to the lingering effects of a concussion. Favre wore his red quarterback jersey, but he didn’t have a helmet on and didn’t participate in any drills during Friday’s practice. Interim coach Leslie Frazier declined to address whether Favre has passed the post-concussion testing required by the league to return to action. Favre suffered the head injury against Chicago on Dec. 20
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Things get a little tense in residential rehab

Lindsay Lohan has been five times. Charlie Sheen is also a regular. Someone tried to make Amy Winehouse go, but she said, “No, no, no.” Rehab is practically a rite of passage in Hollywood, and Lohan is its latest poster child. Her trips to treatment and travails once there — including an alleged altercation with a worker at Betty Ford Center a few weeks ago — have been well documented for the past three years. The 24-year-old actress, who is set to leave Betty Ford on Monday, follows a pattern: Get in trouble, go to rehab, get released, repeat. It’s
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Mortgage lenders now cast themselves as saviors

PacWest Funding’s CEO watched in late 2007 as rival mortgage brokerages, banks and collaborators collapsed under the weight of the declining housing market. Fearing his company would be next, Curtis Melone restructured his business to offer what he felt people needed most: help with their crushing mortgage debt. Melone re-christened his company Green Credit Solutions, a loan modification firm dedicated to aiding people facing rapidly ballooning payments on loans many of them couldn’t afford in the first place. The journey from subprime-era lender into purported troubled homeowners’ helper has been a common post-meltdown path in the mortgage industry hotbed of
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