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Tuesday, Nov 25th

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Keystone pipeline approval bills advance in Congress

LandrieuLegislation to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline began racing through the U.S. Congress on Wednesday as Democrats and Republicans appeared to be coming together in a challenge of President Barack Obama's oversight of the project.

In a series of rapid developments that unfolded just hours after Congress returned from a seven-week recess, there were indications the measure could pass and be sent to Obama sometime next week.

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Texas lawmaker proposes 'license to discriminate' against LGBT

laws to discriminate against gaysA conservative Texas lawmaker is trying for the second time to pass a state constitutional amendment that would allow businesses to refuse to serve LGBT customers on the basis of religious belief.

State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, introduced a resolution that would ostensibly bolster religious freedom in the state, a measure nearly identical to one she introduced two years ago.

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HUD’s privatization scheme may herald end of public housing

HUD At a time when a shortage of affordable housing is devastating low-income families, U.S. policymakers appear to have all but given up on the idea of a state-managed public housing system. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says more than $26 billion (PDF) is needed to repair the nation’s aging public housing, a backlog that has left many residents in deteriorating living conditions.

Yet the notion that the solution lies in improved public funding and support — or that public housing should be publicly owned at all — has become a political nonstarter. Instead HUD is embarking on a sweeping privatization program in the name of renovation.

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New federal protection for bird may limit oil and gas drilling

gunniuson grouseFederal officials granted protection as a threatened species to the Gunnison sage grouse on Wednesday, a move that could bring restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other activity to preserve the bird's habitat in parts of Colorado and Utah.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper immediately renewed the state's threat to sue to block the measures. He said the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ignores 20 years of work by state and local officials to protect the bird.

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Israeli policeman faces murder charge in Nakba Day shooting of Palestinian teen

Israeli policeman arrested for murderAn Israeli border policeman has been detained in connection with the shooting death of a Palestinian teenager, an arrest that a human rights advocate described as "incredibly rare."

The policeman was arrested Tuesday, according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. And on Wednesday, a judge extended the officer's detention six more days, according to a court order.

Siam Nowarah, the father of the late 16-year-old Nadeem Nowarah, called the arrest "a step in the right direction." At the same time, he noted the policeman still has not been formally charged, much less convicted and sentenced.

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Supreme Court lifts hold on gay marriage in Kansas

scaliaThe Supreme Court says same-sex marriages can go ahead in Kansas.  The court on Wednesday denied the state's request to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying while Kansas fights the issue in court.

A federal district judge last week blocked the state from enforcing its ban, saying it was in keeping with an earlier ruling by the federal appeals court that oversees Kansas that struck down bans in Oklahoma and Utah.

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US getting near-daily reports of drones flying near aircraft without permission

Drones near US aircraft without permissionThe US government is getting near-daily reports – and sometimes two or three a day – of drones flying near airplanes and helicopters or close to airports without permission, federal and industry officials tell the Associated Press. It’s a sharp increase from just two years ago when such reports were still unusual.

Many of the reports are filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by airline pilots. But other pilots, airport officials and local authorities often file reports as well, said the officials, who agreed to discuss the matter only on the condition that they not be named because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Michael Toscano, president of a drone industry trade group, said FAA officials also have verified the increase to him.

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Doubt cast over US torture investigation as more CIA detainees come forward

US torture investigationMore lawyers for men allegedly tortured by the CIA are coming forward to say that the major US criminal investigation into torture never interviewed their clients.

The Justice Department inquiry, concluded in 2012 without charging anyone involved in the CIA’s Bush-era network of secret prisons, is receiving new scrutiny thanks to a United Nations committee hearing in Geneva this week examining US compliance with international anti-torture law.

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Here's How The US Is About To Change Global Torture Rules

Obama on torture rulesThe Obama administration will tell a U.N. anti-torture committee today that the U.S. has reversed a Bush administration rule that had said the ban on torture did not extend beyond America's borders.

A U.S. delegation will appear in Geneva today before the Committee Against Torture, the U.N. body that monitors Geneva Conventions anti-torture compliance. The American delegation will state that the U.S. ban on torture now does apply to U.S. facilities overseas, at places like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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