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Saturday, Oct 25th

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President Obama tells Congress: I have authority to act against the Islamic State

ObamaOn the eve of a primetime speech to the nation, to lay out his plans to stop the Islamic State, President Barack Obama met with Congressional leaders at the White House. According to the White House, he told them that he has the authority to act against IS.

Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Nev., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.

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Congress and the President must right a century-old racial wrong done to New Yorker Henry Johnson

Henry JohnsonThe stage is set for America to meet a long-overdue national obligation now that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has recommended New Yorker Henry Johnson for the Medal of Honor.

Ninety-six years ago, during World War I, Johnson almost single-handedly repelled an assault by as many as 24 German soldiers on his post in France. He fought with rifle, knife and bare fists, suffering grievous injury while saving the life of his trenchmate.

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UK ambassador 'lobbied senators to hide Diego Garcia role in rendition'

Rendition siteLogs released under the Freedom of Information Act have reinforced claims that the UK lobbied to keep its role in the CIA's torture and interrogation programme out of what is expected to be a damning Senate report.

They show that the UK ambassador to the US met members of the Senate select committee on intelligence 11 times between 2012 and 2014 – as they were investigating the CIA's rendition programme. This included two meetings with the committee's chair, Diane Feinstein, which took place as crucial decisions were being made regarding how much of its report into the programme should be made public.

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A Few Bold Members Of Congress Join Fight Against Long-Standing Anti-Abortion Policy

Barbara LeeLawmakers who support abortion rights have long fought against policies that restrict women's access to the procedure, such as gestational limits, mandatory waiting periods and physical building requirements on clinics. But one federal anti-abortion policy has remained virtually untouchable for nearly four decades: the Hyde amendment.

The amendment, which prevents federal funds from being used to pay for abortion, has been passed as an attachment to federal budget bills since 1976. The legislation mainly prevents Medicaid recipients from receiving abortion coverage, except in cases of rape and incest or life endangerment, and it has been repeatedly approved by a bipartisan majority in Congress. Democrats often point to the policy as an assurance that no taxpayer funds are being used to pay for abortions, in response to the claim commonly made by anti-abortion activists.

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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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CIA improperly accessed Senate computers, agency finds

diane feinsteinCIA employees improperly accessed computers used by the Senate Intelligence Committee to compile a report on the agency’s now defunct detention and interrogation program, an internal CIA investigation has determined.

Findings of the investigation by the CIA Inspector General’s Office “include a judgment that some CIA employees acted in a manner inconsistent with the common understanding reached between SSCI (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) and the CIA in 2009,” CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said in a statement.

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Bogus cellphone charges ‘a billion dollar industry,’ claims Senate report

cell phone companiesA staff report from the Senate Commerce Committee is sounding the alarm about bogus charges on cellphone bills that it says are costing consumers “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The report takes aim at wireless or mobile “cramming,” where consumers are hit with unauthorized charges for things like ringtones or daily horoscopes.

“For as long as they have been giving outside parties access to their customers’ bills, the major phone companies have assured Congress and the public that they are protecting their customers from billing fraud. ... But this report makes it clear that is not the case,” Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said in a statement announcing the report.

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