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Saturday, May 23rd

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In Texas, courts turn truancy cases into cash and even jail time

Texas truants prosecutedThe school’s rules are strict: A note has to be submitted within three days of a student’s return to school for an absence to be considered excused. With three other children and an elderly father to care for, keeping up with things like that “becomes overwhelming,” Yolanda says.

Occasionally, when her daughter missed school, she would forget to send a note explaining Raquel’s absence. In accordance with Texas state law, 10 unexcused absences in a six-month period will result in a charge of truancy, and in March 2013, when Raquel was in eighth grade, Yolanda received a letter informing her that the state had filed a charge of “failure to attend school” against her daughter. She tried to talk to school administrators about it, Yolanda says, but they told her, “All you can do is go to court and just get it straightened out.”

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George W. Bush's CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public

Michael MorrellFor a dozen years, the Bush-Cheney crowd have been trying to escape—or cover up—an essential fact of the W. years: President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants misled the American public about the WMD threat supposedly posed by Saddam Hussein in order to grease the way to the invasion of Iraq. For Bush, Cheney, and the rest, this endeavor is fundamental; it is necessary to protect the legitimacy of the Bush II presidency.

Naturally, Karl Rove and other Bushies have quickly tried to douse the Bush-lied-us-into-war fire whenever such flames have appeared. And in recent days, as Jeb Bush bumbled a question about the Iraq War, he and other GOPers have peddled the fictitious tale that his brother launched the invasion because he was presented lousy intelligence.

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Nebraska Votes to End Death Penalty

Nebraska ends death penaltyIn a monumental vote Wednesday, the Nebraska Legislature passed legislation to end the death penalty. With Gov. Pete Ricketts vowing to veto the repeal bill, attention now turns to an override vote that will likely take place next week.

Lawmakers voted 32-15 Wednesday to give third-round approval to Legislative Bill 268, which replaces lethal injection with a maximum punishment of life in prison. A minimum of 30 votes is needed to override a veto.

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DEA confiscates 154 pounds of Mexican heroin, biggest drug bust in N.Y. history

Drug bustFour suspected drug traffickers were arrested and some 154 pounds of heroin was seized late Tuesday in what is being called the single largest heroin seizure in New York state history and the fourth largest in the nation.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said the heroin was worth up to $50 million, with the "the potential of supplying a dose of heroin to every man, woman and child in New York City," Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said. Investigators also seized up to $2 million in cash and a gun.

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L.A. Becomes Largest City to Boost Minimum Wage

LA raises minimum wageToday’s vote to raise Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 is being called “the most significant victory so far” in the push to increase the minimum wage nationally. The City Council passed the ordinance 14-1, which will boost the current minimum of $9 in roughly $1 increments annually over the next five years. The first increase would happen in July 2016, boosting minimum wage to $10.50 an hour.

The response hasn’t been completely positive. While labor unions and supporters of the wage increase are displeased that the ordinance will take place piecemeal over 5 years, small business owners—who have until 2021 to comply—complain that the nearly 50 percent increase will hurt their bottom line.

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Bobby Jindal Defiant After Louisiana House Panel Kills Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Bill

Bobby JindalA Louisiana House Committee today voted down HB 707, an anti-gay 'religious freedom bill' favored by Republican Governor Bobby Jindal. In the wake of its defeat, Jindal remained defiant, vowing to enact key provisions of the bill through executive order.

HB 707, known as the "Marriage and Conscience Act," is before the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee. The legislation would prohibit the state from denying any resident, nonprofit or business a license, benefits or tax deductions because of actions taken "in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction" about marriage. Those in favor of the legislation say it protects religious freedoms, while those against insist it allows open season on discrimination.

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Ex-gay Therapy Oregon’s Bisexual Gov. Bans Conversion Therapy

Kate BrownOregon Gov. Kate Brown Monday signed into law House Bill 2307, which bans the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors.

The bill passed the Oregon Senate earlier this month by a vote of 21-3, after passing the House in March. Oregon now joins California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia in outlawing the scientifically discredited therapy, which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The practice, sometimes called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy, has been denounced as ineffective and harmful by every major mental health organization in the nation, and by President Obama and other top federal officials.

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