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Judge clears way for same-sex marriage in Kansas

kansas same sex marriageA federal judge cleared the way Tuesday for same-sex marriages to proceed in a ruling that brings Kansas closer to joining a quickly-growing majority of states where the unions are legal.

Judge Daniel Crabtree, in a written ruling, granted a preliminary injunction that had been sought by the ACLU of Kansas on behalf of two lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licenses in Sedgwick and Douglas counties. The injunction will prevent the state from enforcing the ban on same-sex marriage found in the Kansas Constitution.

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How members of Congress use a little-known power to shape the military and help their constituents

Congress and the militaryEach year, members of Congress exercise a little-known power to help constituents obtain a nomination to one of the country's four elite service academies, which prepare future officers for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Merchant Marine.

In doing so, they are helping the nominees obtain a highly sought college education worth nearly $500,000 while shaping the leadership of the military.

Those nominations are often secret, sometimes political and always prestigious. In some cases, a USA TODAY examination shows, they go to children of friends, political supporters and donors to the lawmakers' campaigns.

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Senate passes funding for Israel's Iron Dome

Iron Dome

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) got unanimous consent in the Senate Friday for legislation to give Israel emergency funding for its Iron Dome missile defense system.

“This is a good example of us putting aside partisan considerations,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said after passage.

Israel has been battling the terrorist group Hamas for weeks and the conflict continued Friday after Hamas broke the latest cease-fire agreement.

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House panel opposes giving SEC documents for insider trading probe

SECA U.S. House of Representatives panel said on Friday it should not have to comply with a federal regulator's demand for documents sought for an insider-trading probe involving the staff director of a subcommittee and a lobbyist.

The House Ways and Means Committee argued in a court filing that U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in New York should deny the Securities and Exchange Commission's attempt to subpoena documents from the committee and its healthcare subcommittee staff director Brian Sutter.

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Facebook study manipulated News Feeds in January 2012 to investigate emotional contagion

Facebook-More than 680,000 Facebook users were part of a psychology experiment in January 2012 without their knowledge.

In order to investigate whether the emotions of other social media users could lead "people to experience the same emotions without their awareness," researchers manipulated 689,003 users' News Feeds to show statuses that were especially positive or negative.

The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in an article called "Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks."

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U.S. student loan refinancing bill fails Senate hurdle

US loan refinance bill failsDemocratic-sponsored legislation to allow student loan borrowers to refinance at lower interest rates failed to clear a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

The Senate voted 56-38 to end debate and move to a final vote, short of the 60 votes required.

Democrats had said their measure would let holders of both federal and private undergraduate loans - some with rates of 9 percent or higher - to refinance at 3.86 percent.

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GOP-run House votes 274 to 131 to make business tax break permanent--and increase deficit

GOP votes business tax break permanentThe House of Representatives voted 274 to 131 Friday to make the research and development tax credit permanent--and add $155.5 billion to federal deficits over the next 10 years.

Republicans, who have consistently complained about deficit spending, nevertheless were nearly unanimous in backing the plan. Only one Republican voted no. Sixty-two Democrats joined those in favor, while 130 voted no.

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