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Thursday, Jul 24th

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Grim Day for Staten Island Republican Congressman Facing Indictment

Michael GrimRep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) thought he had a bad day when he threatened a reporter on live television. Turns out that was easy.

On Friday afternoon, news broke that Grimm, who has long been under scrutiny for campaign finance irregularities related to his 2010 campaign, would be indicted. According to The New York Times, Grimm will be indicted under federal fraud charges related to a health food store that the congressman once owned in Manhattan.

The investigation of the two-term Republican from Staten Island was originally focused on Grimm's relationship with Ofer Biton, an Israeli citizen who pleaded guilty to a visa violation last year, and whether Biton may have illegally funnelled money from supporters of an Israeli rabbi to his campaign. Another Grimm fundraiser and friend was arrested in January for allegedly making illegal contributions to his campaign.

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The Usual Suspects Aim to Spoil Iran Nuclear Deal

NetanyahuAs the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program proceed -- apparently with steady progress toward a comprehensive agreement -- and Iran demonstrates to the world it is abiding by the interim agreement signed last fall, the usual suspects who hope to derail this progress have been relatively quiet. But we can expect the calm to end soon. That's the longtime pattern of the U.S.-Iran relationship: spoilers never go away, they just regroup and try to despoil again and again.

The attempt by the Israel Lobby in particular to scuttle the negotiations at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu failed earlier this year. The gambit was to intimidate Congress into passing crippling conditions on the talks and indeed new sanctions, even as Iran was complying with the interim deal. The most powerful pro-sanctions group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, finally backed off, seeing that several Democratic leaders in the Senate were not going to be coerced.

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Supreme Court to rule on political campaigns’ pretty little lies

Supreme CourtIt turns out that there is a tenet in American politics that groups as diverse as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Obama administration, the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List and the Republican National Committee can agree on: Elections thrive on free speech, even if that speech contains obfuscations, mudslinging, half-truths and, occasionally, blatant lies.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, a case that turns on whether an Ohio law that prohibits “false statements” about candidates during a political campaign violates the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment.

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The tea party radio network

tea party radioGlenn Beck worked the crowd like a preacher at a rally this month in Louisville, Ky., declaring that God had responded to conservatives’ prayers by sending a slate of tea party candidates to wrest control of the Republican Party from Mitch McConnell.

But there was a more earthly benefit to the arrangement that brought Beck to the rally. It was organized by the tea party nonprofit group FreedomWorks, which had endorsed the candidates — and which has paid more than $6 million in recent years to have Beck promote the group, its initiatives and events.

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The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

wall streetOligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population.

A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful.

"Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens" analyzed extensive data, comparing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted between 1981 and 2002 with the expressed preferences of average and affluent Americans as well as special interest groups.

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NRA gunning for more than just right to bear arms

NRAWhen the Obama administration announced plans to halt the domestic sale of most elephant ivory, the National Rifle Association urged its members to mobilize against the ban.

While the NRA said it agreed with the goal of ending endangered elephant poaching, it warned that something far more important was at stake: “This is another attempt by this anti-gun administration to ban firearms,” the organization asserted in an alert.

When it comes to defending gun rights, no issue is seemingly too obscure for the NRA — not even the ivory trade. Amid the high-profile epic battles, including the recent clashes following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, there have been smaller, under-the-radar ones, too — often appearing to touch only tangentially on actual guns.

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Obama To Sign Executive Orders On Equal Pay

equal pay executived orderPresident Barack Obama will sign two new executive orders on equal pay for women Tuesday, Politico reports. The executive actions coincide with "Equal Pay Day" -- the date that symbolizes how far into 2014 women must work to earn the same amount of money men earned last year.

Both executive orders mirror provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which Congress has twice failed to pass. One would prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who share their salary information with each other. The provision is inspired by Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the first bill Obama signed on equal pay in 2009, who worked for nearly 20 years at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. before discovering that men in her same job with equal or lesser experience were earning significantly more money than she was.

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