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Florida's Charlie Crist: End Cuba embargo

Charlie ChristFormer Florida Gov. Charlie Crist called this week for the United States to abandon its decades-old trade embargo with Cuba.

"The embargo has done nothing in more than 50 years to change the regime in Cuba," Crist said in a statement to CNN. "If we want to bring democracy to Cuba, we need to encourage American values and investment there."

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How religion in the US today tracks closely with geography

religion and geography in the USTell me where you live, and there’s a good chance I’ll know your religion.  Mississippi or Alabama? Protestant. Rhode Island or New Jersey? Roman Catholic. Mormon? That’s easy: Utah, although a substantial minority in Idaho is Mormon too. Vermont or Oregon? You could well be "unchurched."

Demography isn’t exactly spiritual destiny. But for most Americans, their religious identity tracks closely with where they live.

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Majority of Americans perceive GOP as out of touch with women

GOP and womenA majority of Americans believe the Republican Party doesn't understand the problems and concerns of women, a CNN poll released Friday indicates.

Fifty-five percent of all respondents say the GOP doesn't understand women, while 59 percent of women surveyed and 64 percent of women respondents over age 50 believe the same, results show.

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Wave of new state bills: Religious freedom or license to discriminate?

Religious freedom?If a bill approved by the Kansas House Committee on Federal and State Affairs Thursday becomes law, businesses and government employees could legally refuse service to citizens because of their sexual orientation or marital status, claiming it violates their religious beliefs.

HB 2453, if passed, would permit “any individual or religious entity” to claim an exemption, based on religious views, from providing nearly any kind of services, and to be relieved from “treat(ing) any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union, or similar arrangement as valid.” Although the bill would require government agencies to make another employee available to provide the service if one employee objects, opponents of the bill say that arrangement could prove unworkable in small locales.

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AIPAC Caves On Iran Sanctions Vote

AIPACThe American Israel Public Affairs Committee backed off its push for a swift vote on new Iran sanctions in a statement Thursday evening, providing a boost for the Obama administration's efforts to strike a nuclear deal with Iran.

"[T]hat there should not be a vote at this time on the measure," said the lobbying group.

The statement was first reported by The Hill. It came after Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the author of the sanctions bill, signaled on the Senate floor that it should move forward when there is bipartisan unity.

Read the full statement below:

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Elizabeth Warren To Obama: Stop Nominating So Many Corporatists

elizabeth warrenOn Thursday morning, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called on President Barack Obama to nominate more judges to the federal bench who have backgrounds serving the public interest instead of corporate America.

Of Obama's judicial nominations so far, just ten—fewer than four percent—have worked as lawyers at public interest organizations, according to a report released Thursday by the Alliance for Justice, a network of civil rights organizations. Only 10 nominees have had experience representing workers in labor disputes. Eighty-five percent have been either corporate attorneys or prosecutors. At an event Thursday sponsored by several civil rights organizations, including the Brennan Center for Justice and the Alliance for Justice, Warren called for more balance in the system.

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Republicans Drop Keystone, Insurance Demand on Debt Limit

xl keystone protestHouse Republican leaders are giving up efforts to couple a U.S. debt-limit increase with provisions backing the Keystone XL pipeline or repealing an insurance-risk provision in Obamacare, two party leadership aides said.

House leaders lack enough Republican support for either option, and they are looking at other possible conditions to attach to an increase in the debt limit, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.

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