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Friday, Apr 18th

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State of the Union 2014: Obama to raise minimum wage for federal workers

ObamaPresident Barack Obama will act to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10, fulfilling a big wish for liberals, the White House announced.

The executive order to be announced at Tuesday’s State of the Union address would cover only the fraction of 2 million federal contractors making the minimum wage.

The president will also renew his call for Congress to raise the minimum wage for all workers to $10.10 via a bill from Democrats Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California that would then tie it to the rate of inflation.

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Arizona GOP reprimands John McCain as too liberal

Arizona GOPThe Arizona Republican Party has formally reprimanded Sen. John McCain, censuring him for a liberal voting record and working with Democrats in Washington.

The state party adopted a resolution by voice vote condemning the five-term senator for a record that is “disastrous and harmful” to the nation during a party meeting in Tempe on Saturday. The resolution knocks McCain for being critical of his party’s conservative wing while staying “eerily silent against liberals,” working closely with Democrats on immigration reform and not backing a conservative strategy to defund Obamacare, which McCain long warned would result in October’s government shutdown.

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Obama’s Plan to Use Executive Action Triggers Criticism

ObamaPresident Barack Obama plans to use executive authority to make good on pledges he will outline in his State of the Union speech this week, an approach that has already drawn criticism from congressional Republicans.

“The president sees this as the year of action, to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary to lift folks who want to come up into the middle class,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” program today.

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Nuns get partial win in U.S. Supreme Court contraception fight

Nuns get partial winThe U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday that, while litigation continues, an order of Roman Catholic nuns need not comply with a part of President Barack Obama's healthcare law requiring employers to provide insurance that covers contraception.

In the latest skirmish over religious objections to providing government-mandated contraception, the four-sentence court order was a partial victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Baltimore-based order of nuns that runs nursing homes, and Illinois-based Christian Brothers Services, which manages healthcare plans for Catholic groups.

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Former Senate staffer facing child porn charges dead in apparent suicide

senate staffer suicideA former aide to US senator Lamar Alexander hanged himself in his parents' basement in Maryland, just weeks after his arrest on child pornography charges, officials said Friday.

Ryan Loskarn, 35, was pronounced dead at just after noon local time Thursday, said Bruce Goldfarb, a spokesman for the Maryland office of the chief medical examiner in Baltimore. He said the death was ruled a suicide.

Family members called police after finding Loskarn unresponsive in the basement where he had been living, the Carroll County sheriff's office said in a statement posted on its website.

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Christie reelection team, state Republican committee subpoenaed in GWB probe

bridgegateNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's scandal-plagued January just got worse.

Federal prosecutors are advancing the George Washington Bridge lane-closure investigation and have subpoenaed documents from Christie's re-election committee and the state GOP.

Christie has said he was not involved in the plot to close access lanes to the bridge that spans the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York in September. He fired his deputy chief of staff when her involvement in the plot, which created gridlock over four days, became public. He also says he will cooperate in "appropriate" investigations.

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Holder: Clemency for Snowden 'too far,' but open to resolution

SnowdenU.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday he would "engage in conversation" with National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden in search of some sort of resolution for his case. But he stopped short of considering clemency, telling MSNBC that "would be going too far."

Holder's carefully phrased remarks come after both the New York Times and The Guardian published editorials in favor of granting Snowden clemency from the Espionage Act charges the Justice Department laid against him following Snowden's revelations last June about the NSA's widespread surveillance programs. Some members of Congress -- mostly liberal Democrats -- have also said they would welcome a deal.

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