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Veterans Group Calls Restoration of Diplomatic Ties Between U.S. and Cuba Only a First Step

Veterans For Peace welcomes the recent policy changes between Cuba and the United States. In addition to a prisoner exchange, the new policy will also include easing commerce, communication, and travel restrictions. It also includes opening diplomatic relations which were severed in 1961.

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Hagel Authorizes Up to 1,300 Additional Troops to Deploy to Iraq

Up to 1,300 more U.S. troops, including approximately 1,000 soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, will begin to deploy to Iraq in late January, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

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Attorney General Announces Department of Justice Will Recognize Transgender Discrimination As Sex Discrimination

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to today’s announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Department of Justice will no longer assert that “Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex does not encompass gender identity per se (including transgender discrimination).”

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NYS Ban on Fracking: Ripple Effect Expected Says NYIT Expert

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking in the state provides powerful ammunition for others around the country who are opposed to the issue, says NYIT Environmental Technology Associate Professor Sarah Meyland of NYIT’s Center for Water Resource Management.

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21 States to Increase Minimum Wage on New Year's Day; Majority of States Will Have Wage Rates Above Federal

The year 2014 was marked by thousands of low-wage workers taking to the streets demanding higher pay, and a growing number of states and localities acting to increase their minimum wages in the face of Congressional inaction. On New Year’s Day, 21 states will implement minimum wage increases that are estimated to boost the incomes of 4.4 million low-paid workers, according to an analysis of Census data by the Economic Policy Institute. As a result of these increases, for the first time a majority of states – 29, plus the District of Columbia – will have minimum wages that surpass the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

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Memo to President Cites New Evidence of Climate Impacts of Proposed Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

President Obama should reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because there is new data that shows it would dramatically expand development of dirty tar sands oil, turbo-charging climate change by adding millions of tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere every year, according to a memo sent to Obama by Oil Change International and the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, 350.org, CREDO, and Bold Nebraska.

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U.S. approaching ‘tipping points’ for sea level rise-related flooding earlier than expected

By 2050, a majority of U.S. coastal areas are likely to be threatened by 30 or more days of flooding each year due to dramatically accelerating impacts from sea level rise, according to a study published today in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.


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Obama's new approach to Cuba removes major obstacle to progress on human rights on the island, says Human Rights Watch

President Barack Obama’s historic decision to overhaul US policy toward Cuba is a crucial step toward removing a major obstacle to progress on human rights on the island, Human Rights Watch said today.

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Fewest Death Sentences in 40 Years

With 35 executions this year, 2014 marks the fewest people put to death since 1994, according to a report released today by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). The 72 new death sentences in 2014[*] is the lowest number in the modern era of the death penalty, dating back to 1974. Executions and sentences have steadily decreased, as Americans have grown more skeptical of capital punishment. The states’ problems with lethal injections also contributed to the drop in executions this year.

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Vanderbilt Historian Says Cuba Embargo Must Go Next

The normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, which took a giant step forward Dec. 17 with announcements from Cuban leader Raul Castro and President Obama, is the smartest policy available to Obama and will benefit both nations, says a Vanderbilt historian who has visited Cuba many times.

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New York Fracking Ban Increases Pressure on President Obama to Protect Public Lands From Fracking Pollution

After years of public pressure, New York today became the second state to ban hydraulic fracturing because of risks to people and the environment. The announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo adds to the pressure on the Obama administration to end fracking across the country, including on America’s public lands.

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Jeb Bush Paid By Bank That Violated Cuba Sanctions
Full story: Buzzfeed

NILC Sues for Information about ICE Use of State Driver’s Licence Databases

After months of requests and appeals, the National Immigration Law Center, represented by Paul Hastings, LLP, filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to learn more about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials’ use of state driver’s license databases for immigration enforcement purposes. This lawsuit comes weeks before California is set to join eight other states and the District of Columbia in allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for state licenses.

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New York governor Andrew Cuomo bans fracking

New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that hydraulic fracturing will be banned in New York, following the release of a long-anticipated study that concluded fracking could pose "significant public health risks." Also today, the Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees voted to approve only a fraction of the renewable energy projects promised by the governor, bringing just 122 megawatts of new solar projects online and falling short of the 280 megawatts of renewable energy the governor committed to this year.

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Obama's Change of Cuba Policy is Welcome and Long Overdue, Says CEPR Director

News that the Obama administration is “changing its relationship with the people of Cuba” is due to the leftward shift in Latin America that has increasingly isolated the United States politically in the region, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. The Obama administration announced the changes following Cuba’s release of USAID contractor Alan Gross and an unnamed “intelligence asset,” and the U.S. release of the three remaining members of the “Cuban Five” who were imprisoned for espionage after working to disrupt plots by Cuban exile extremists based in the U.S. Cuba is also reportedly releasing 53 other political prisoners.

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Report: Americans Work Longer Hours But Don’t Get Overtime Pay

America’s middle-class workers are spending longer hours at work doing the kinds of tasks that should qualify them for overtime pay, but outdated federal rules are shutting out these workers from the wages they deserve, according to The Case for Reforming Federal Overtime Rules: Stories from America’s Middle Class, a report issued Wednesday by the National Employment Law Project.

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Forest Service Cops Again Call For Change But Losing Hope

U.S. Forest Service employees hold their top leaders in increasingly low regard but especially within its law enforcement program, according to survey results obtained by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). These latest dismal survey results cap a year of swelling chorus of calls for the removal of Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations (LE&I) Director Ferrell. The results also depict a law enforcement cadre which views themselves as ill-equipped and unsupported in meeting their mission.

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Census Bureau Estimates Show How School-Age Child Poverty in Every County Compares with Prerecession Levels

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today, the poverty rate for school-age children had no statistical change in 2,199 counties between 2007 and 2013 while 928 counties experienced an increase and 15 showed a decline.

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Protection for Bristol Bay from Offshore Drilling Announced by President Obama

Today the Obama Administration announced a landmark decision to finally remove the North Aleutian Basin from the federal Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. We celebrate today’s action to protect Bristol Bay and the southeast Bering Sea, the region’s valuable fishing grounds, and world’s largest wild salmon run from offshore development in perpetuity. The decision represents a long and hard fought victory for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, who has worked collaboratively to prevent offshore drilling in Bristol Bay for over 12 years.

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Senate Confirms New ICE Director: Sarah Saldana, First Latina

In almost a straight party-line vote, the Senate confirmed Sarah Saldana’s appointment to the head of ICE today, making her the first Latina to hold the position. The vote was 55-39, with only Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) being the only Republicans to vote in her favor.

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Terri Schiavo's husband: Jeb Bush's record is one of government interference and opposing individual liberty
Full story: ThinkProgress


ACLU sues Obama administration for detaining asylum seekers as intimidation tactic

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's policy of locking up asylum-seeking mothers and children to intimidate others from coming to the United States.

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Report: Development Subsidies Fuel Economic Inequality

Taxpayer subsidies awarded to corporations by state and local governments, supposedly to create good jobs and growth, are instead fueling economic inequality by going to companies that are owned in whole or part by billionaires, and to low-wage employers.

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Smoking Gun Shows Allstate Using Illegal Auto Insurance Pricing Scheme

An Allstate document discovered by Consumer Federation of America (CFA) provides the first clear evidence that the insurance giant is basing customers’ auto insurance premiums on a new factor, called “marketplace considerations,” that has nothing to do with the risk that a driver will cause an accident or file any claims. This and similar schemes, often referred to as “Price Optimization,” have been developed by insurance companies and consulting firms to increase profits by raising premiums on individuals who are unlikely to shop around to find a better price.

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Rep.'s Voting for Dodd-Frank Rollback Receive Millions from Top Wall Street Banks

On December 11, the House passed the 2015 federal budget (H.R. 83) by a vote of 219-206, appropriating more than $1 trillion for federal agencies. Buried in the 1,600 pages of the bill’s text are hundreds of controversial provisions, known as “policy riders,” some of which benefit powerful industries.

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Congress's $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Offers Triumphs, Setbacks for Animal Protection

On Saturday, Congress approved its Fiscal Year 2015 $1.1 trillion spending bill. Within the 1,603-page piece of legislation, which will fund the federal government through September 30, 2015, federal lawmakers included provisions that can be marked as both triumphs and setbacks for wild and domestic animals. The bill now makes its way to President Obama for his signature into law.

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Physicians: CIA's rectal hydration and feeding a form of sexual assault masquerading as medical treatment

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) said today that the use of rectal hydration and rectal feeding on detainees without evidence of medical necessity – which was revealed in yesterday’s U.S. Senate report – constitutes torture.

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PFOX Humiliated After Billboard Twin Turns Out to be Gay and Not a Twin

Truth Wins Out expressed its disdain for Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX) today, after the organization’s scientifically bankrupt billboard on a section of Interstate 95 in Richmond, Virginia turned out to be a fraud.

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Mental Illness Is the Wrong Scapegoat After Mass Shootings

In the shadow of the two year anniversary of one of the worst mass shootings in American history, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, an extensive new study by two Vanderbilt University researchers challenges common assumptions about gun violence and mental illness that often emerge in the aftermath of mass shootings.

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RootsAction Congratulates James Risen; DOJ Drops Threat to Imprison Journalist for Not Revealing Sources

RootsAction.org co-founder Norman Solomon praised the U.S. Department of Justice's apparent decision to drop its threat to imprison author and journalist James Risen unless he reveals his source in reporting the story of Operation Merlin.

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