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U.S. Court:Kansas can strip Planned Parenthood funding

Kansas Planned ParenthoodA federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that Kansas can strip two Planned Parenthood clinics of federal family planning money while the organization moves forward with its legal challenge of a state law it says is retaliation for its advocacy of abortion rights.

Kansas is among several conservative states that have sought in recent years to strip Planned Parenthood of funding. At issue in Tuesday's ruling is money distributed to states under Title X, a federally financed family planning program. The Title X money targets low-income individuals seeking reproductive services such as birth control, pregnancy testing, cancer screenings and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. It cannot be used for abortions.

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Protests mark Supreme Court hearing on contraceptives

protesta at Supreme CourtBraving an unseasonable and wet snowfall, several hundred activists rallied outside the Supreme Court this morning as inside, the Hobby Lobby retail chain argued that it should not have to provide employees with contraceptive coverage — a policy mandated by the Affordable Care Act but opposed by company owners on religious grounds.

"I am an avid believer in our freedom to control our own reproductive system," said Jeannie Deibel, 41, of Taneytown, among those whose signs may have gotten a soaking but whose spirits remained high throughout the dueling rallies. "Birth control is a basic right that a for-profit company, an employer, should not be able to dictate."

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Obama to Propose Changes to NSA Data-Collection

data collection changesThe New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration plans to announce a new proposal that would “drastically overhaul” the NSA’s phone records-collecting program.

The proposed changes will need to be approved by Congress, according to the report. Obama first called for the changes in a speech last January, giving intelligence officials until March 28 to develop the reforms.

At the time, journalist Glenn Greenwald—who first broke the story of the NSA’s phone-data collection programs—called the proposed reforms “cosmetic” and “basically a PR gesture.”

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Jury finds Madoff office staff guilty on all counts

Madoff fiveSome of Bernie Madoff’s former employees will be joining him in federal prison.

A Manhattan jury convicted five of the master scammer’s former office workers on a raft of fraud charges on Monday afternoon, finding they helped to execute the fraudster’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

"As the jury unanimously found, these five defendants played crucial roles in constructing and maintaining the house of cards that was the Madoff investment fraud,” said Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

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108 missing, unaccounted for in Wash. mudslide

mudslideMore than 100 people remain missing after a massive mudslide that hit rural Snohomish County, emergency officials said Monday.

Searchers don't expect to find any more survivors from Saturday's slide that killed at least eight people and is estimated to contain 15 million cubic yards of debris.

"We're still in rescue mode at this time, but the situation is very grim," said Chief Travis Hots of Snohomish County Fire District 21. "We have not found anybody still alive on this pile since Saturday."

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Tennessee seeks 10 execution dates; keeps plans secret

Tennessee executionsThe state of Tennessee doesn't want you to know how it will kill the condemned.

It doesn't want you to know who will flip the switch, sending a lethal dose of pentobarbital through the veins of death row inmates. And it doesn't want you to know how it obtained that pentobarbital — which isn't available from any legal drug manufacturer — as well. State correction officials have even banned the media from visiting inmates on death row.

As Tennessee makes an unprecedented push to set execution dates, it is doing so in the shadows, cloaking its plans in secrecy. Legislators passed a bill a year ago that allowed the state to withhold all information about the drugs it plans to use to execute death row inmates. Georgia, Oklahoma and Missouri have enacted similar laws shrouding information about their lethal injection drugs.

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Jimmy Carter on NSA: "If I Send an Email, It Will Be Monitored"

Jimmy CarterFormer President Jimmy Carter says he suspects his communications are being monitored by the National Security Agency.

“I have felt that my own communications are probably monitored,” Carter said in an interview with Andrea Mitchell that was aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Carter expressed his support for Edward Snowden in an interview with CNN last June:

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