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Thursday, Jul 31st

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Christie agency awarded $260m to politically connected New Jersey firm

Chris ChristieNew Jersey governor Chris Christie’s administration has awarded a public subsidy worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars to a politically connected manufacturing firm.

Holtec International, which makes components for power plants, this week secured a $260m tax break from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) – the third-biggest corporate subsidy that the state has awarded.

George Norcross, a powerful Democratic Party “boss” in southern New Jersey, who reportedly struck an important non-aggression pact with Christie, a Republican, during Christie’s re-election campaign, sits on the company’s board of directors.

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Undocumented Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Trapped At The Border

Jose VargasI write this from the city of McAllen, which sits in the Rio Grande Valley near the border, just across from the Mexican city of Reynosa. In the last 24 hours I realize that, for an undocumented immigrant like me, getting out of a border town in Texas—by plane or by land—won’t be easy. It might, in fact, be impossible.

I flew into the valley Thursday morning to visit a shelter for unaccompanied Central American refugees and participate in a vigil in their honor. Outraged at the media coverage of this humanitarian crisis (these children are not “illegal,” as news organizations like CBS News and the New York Times call them), and frustrated by the political ping-pong centered on border security and increased enforcement, I also came here to share my own story of coming to the United States as an unaccompanied minor from the Philippines. I wanted to help change the narrative of the conversation and, with a camera crew, share stories from the shelter and its volunteers. The visit to the shelter was intense and sobering, watching small kids fight for their lives with nothing more than their spirits.

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League City,Texas bans undocumented children

Texas city bans immigrantsThe League City council passed a resolution on Tuesday night to ban undocumented children from entering the municipality.

League City Council Member Heidi Thiess drafted the measure, which declines to accept federal requests to operate detention or processing centers in the city. "Health and safety" concerns were cited among the reasons for the proposed ordinance.

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Inquiry into US government labs finds flu virus cross-contamination

CDCSenior US science officials have shut down two government laboratories that were the subject of "serious and troubling" safety lapses, and suspended some transfers of potentially dangerous germs.

Dr Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, revealed on Friday that in addition to the exposure of anthrax and the discovery of insecure smallpox vials, which had already been disclosed, inquiries had discovered the cross-contamination of flu viruses.

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NYC Mayor signs legislation to create municipal ID card, helping 500,000 undocumented immigrants obtain services

NYC MAyorPaving the way for half a million undocumented immigrants living in New York City to obtain identification, Mayor de Blasio signed legislation Thursday to create a municipal ID card.

Though de Blasio originally wanted the card to roll out before the end of the year, it's now scheduled to launch in January. The card will be free the first year, and there will be walk-in enrollment centers - along with online applications - that New Yorkers can access to apply, officials said.

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Israeli strikes kill more Palestinians as death toll surpasses 100

Gaza deathsIsraeli airstrikes on Gaza killed four more Palestinians before dawn on Friday, raising the death toll from the four-day offensive to at least 102, including dozens of civilians, while a Palestinian rocket hit a fuel tanker at an Israeli gas station, causing a blaze. The developments came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a news conference Friday that Israel will continue its offensive until rocket fire out of Gaza is halted.

"I will end it when our goals are realized. And the overriding goal is to restore the peace and quiet," Netanyahu said, brushing off a question about possible cease-fire efforts.

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New Jersey: No Mosque in MY Back yard

No mosque allowed in NJTypically, there isn’t a large police presence at a land-use hearing. But Wednesday night’s hearing was different. There was a palpable sense of concern by law enforcement. Why? Because Wednesday night, the board was deciding whether to approve the application of Muslims to convert an old church into a mosque.

The little town of Midland Park is a middle-class suburb of New York City, just north of my hometown of Paramus. It’s home to about 7,000 residents. And now this quiet township had also become the home of an ugly mosque controversy. Unlike the Ground Zero mosque protest of 2010, this fight didn’t make national headlines or become the lead story on the nightly news. Yet to the local residents and the Muslim-Americans who desperately wanted a place of worship, it was just as important, and emotions were just as high.

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Greenpeace takes another swipe at LEGO

LegoGreenpeace said it was calling on LEGO to review its relationship with Royal Dutch Shell because of the oil company's environmental legacy.

"We're asking LEGO to square the circle between its values and the companies it chooses to endorse," James Turner, a spokesman for Greenpeace International's Arctic campaign, said in a statement.

Greenpeace last week published a 15-page pamphlet expressing concern over a decision by LEGO to put Shell images on toys available at service stations operated by the energy company.

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Judge rules that Florida's Legislature illegally drew congressional districts to benefit GOP

Florida redistrictingA Florida judge threw out the state's 2012 congressional redistricting plan on Thursday, saying Republicans conspired to manipulate the boundaries to protect the party's majority in Washington and "made a mockery" of the rules of transparency in the process.

In the 41-page ruling Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis specifically ordered that two of the state's 27 districts should be redrawn as they violated a "Fair Districts Florida" standard approved by voters in 2010 to ban legislators from favoring or protecting incumbents.

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