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Saturday, Feb 28th

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Whistleblowers: US Gave Visas to Suspected Forgers, Fraudsters, Criminals

EB-5 programOfficials overseeing a federal program that offers an immigration short-cut to wealthy foreign investors have ignored pointed warnings from federal agents and approved visas for some immigrants suspected of having committed fraud, money laundering, and even one applicant with alleged ties to a child porn website, an ABC News investigation has found.

The shortcomings prompted concerns within the Department of Homeland Security that the boutique immigration program would be exploited by terrorists, according to internal documents obtained by ABC News.

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Court orders Alabama to issue gay marriage licenses

Alabama ordered to issue gay marriange licensesSame-sex marriage is headed to the deep south — a federal court ordered the state of Alabama to begin issuing gay marriage licenses on Feb. 9.

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied the state’s request to stay same-sex marriages pending an appeal scheduled to appear before the Supreme Court later this year.

The decision to reject the stay reinforces a decision made one week ago that the state’s Marriage Protection Act and Sanctity of Marriage Amendment both violate the state and U.S. constitutions. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade put the ruling on hold for 14 days to allow the state Attorney General to make his appeal.

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Obama: $4 trillion budget replaces 'mindless austerity'

4 trillion dollar budget billPresident Obama unveiled a nearly $4 trillion budget that is "designed to bring middle class economics into the 21st Century" through new programs to be financed by higher taxes on the wealthy.

While unlikely to pass the Republican Congress, the budget calls for new tax credits and other initiatives devoted to education, child care, paid leave, and infrastructure, with tax hikes resulting from the closure of certain loopholes.

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U.S. workers strike for second day at nine refineries; one to shut

refinery strikersUnion workers were on strike for a second day on Monday at nine U.S. refineries and chemical plants as they sought a new national contract with oil companies covering laborers at 63 plants.

The walkouts were the first in support of a nationwide pact since 1980 and targeted plants with a combined 10 percent of U.S. refining capacity. One of the plants, Tesoro Corp's (TSO.N) 166,000-barrel-per-day Martinez, California, refinery, was being shut because it was in the midst of planned maintenance work.

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Death toll from GM ignition switches rises to at least 51

gm deathsMore than 1,100 claims were filed in the week before Saturday's deadline to seek payments from the General Motors ignition switch compensation fund. So far, 51 death and 77 injury claims have been granted.

But the fund's deputy administrator says the grants are very likely to rise as she and her boss, compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg, sort through at least 4,180 claims that came before the deadline passed.

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John B. Geer had hands up when shot by police, four officers say in documents

John Geer had hands upJohn B. Geer stood with his hands on top of the storm door of his Springfield, Va., townhouse and calmly said to four Fairfax County police officers with guns pointed at him: “I don’t want anybody to get shot . . . . And I don’t wanna get shot, ’cause I don’t want to die today.”

But as one officer tried to ease Geer through the standoff, another officer, Adam D. Torres, shot and killed Geer from 17 feet away, telling investigators that he saw Geer move his hands to his waist and thought he might be reaching for a weapon, according to newly released documents from the county.

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Storm blankets Midwest in snow, creeps toward Northeast

storm hits midwestA slow-moving winter storm blanketed a large swath of the Plains and Midwest in snow Sunday, forcing the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights, making roads treacherous and forcing some people to rethink their plans to attend Super Bowl parties.

Blizzard conditions developed in Chicago — where more than a foot was expected by evening — and other Midwest locales as the system slowly crept eastward into Pennsylvania and western New York state. Parts of New England still digging out from a storm early last week were bracing for yet another round of snow to arrive Sunday and last through Monday.

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