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Saturday, Jul 04th

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Alex Baer: Action, Reaction, and a Humpee's Holiday Hunch

Dog chasing manHere is a scattered smattering of overheated thoughts for this hot. heat-waved, and patriotically-roasted, spit-skewered expanse of a weekend:

Why is it that the modern world must -- absolutely MUST -- trump nature, and whomp-stomp peace and quiet? Well, for that matter, and more to the point, why is there human activity at all?

This one beats hell out of me, and I've been asking that question since I was 3-and-a-half, on a tricycle, pedalling furiously, trying to out-distance a rapidly-gaining Boston terrier named Tag -- a neighbor's dog who was permanently locked in the demented, mindless throes of human-leg-lust, and would launch at any chance for satisfaction, not matter what you'd done or not done.

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Tentative agreement on Iran sanctions relief

javad ZarifWorld powers and Iran have reached tentative agreement on sanctions relief for the Islamic Republic, among the most contentious issues in a long-term nuclear agreement that negotiators hope to clinch over the next several days, diplomats told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The annex hammered out by experts, one of five meant to accompany the agreement, outlines which U.S. and international sanctions will be lifted and how quickly. Diplomats said senior officials of the seven-nation talks, which include U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, still had to sign off on the package.

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Obama Plans Broader Use of Clemency to Free Nonviolent Drug Offenders

Obama and clemency for drug usersSometime in the next few weeks, aides expect President Obama to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up on nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, he will probably commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century.

The expansive use of his clemency power is part of a broader effort by Mr. Obama to correct what he sees as the excesses of the past, when politicians eager to be tough on crime threw away the key even for minor criminals. With many Republicans and Democrats now agreeing that the nation went too far, Mr. Obama holds the power to unlock that prison door, especially for young African-American and Hispanic men disproportionately affected.

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AFL-CIO leader tries to quell pro-Sanders revolt

RICHARD tRUMKARichard Trumka has a message for state and local AFL-CIO leaders tempted to endorse Bernie Sanders: Don’t.

In a memo this week to state, central and area divisions of the labor federation, and obtained by POLITICO, the AFL-CIO chief reminded the groups that its bylaws don’t permit them to “endorse a presidential candidate” or “introduce, consider, debate, or pass resolutions or statements that indicate a preference for one candidate over another.” Even “‘personal’ statements” of candidate preference are verboten, Trumka said.

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Blowing the whistle in a war zone

John hatleyIn this month’s issue of Rolling Stone, alongside Caitlin Jenner’s dazzling new appearance, is the story of how my former 1st Sgt. John Hatley was found guilty of executing four bound and blindfolded prisoners during my first deployment in Iraq.

Hatley’s 2007 trial drew national attention because he was the highest-ranking service member at the time to be found guilty of premeditated murder. His investigation, arrest and conviction came to define military service for me. In the wake of the accusations, a kind of tribal mentality — “herd mentality” isn’t dynamic enough a phrase — connected many of the soldiers with whom I served. They came out strong in their defense of a leader who can best be described as a cross between legendary college football coach Bear Bryant and the Judge from Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.” He’s huge, affable, violent, driven, competent and absolutely sure of himself.

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Ford recalls 432,000 North American vehicles over software bug

Ford recallsFord Motor Company on Thursday announced the recall of more than 430,000 vehicles in North America due to a bug in a software module that, in some cases, can prevent the cars' engines from turning off.

In a news release, the automaker said the recall affects more than 432,000 2015 model Focus, C-MAX and Escape vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The company said the body control module needs an update.

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This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it's leaking

Pacific dome is radioactive and leakingBlack seabirds circle high above the giant concrete dome that rises from a tangle of green vines just a few paces from the lapping waves of the Pacific. Half buried in the sand, the vast structure looks like a downed UFO.

At the summit, figures carved into the weathered concrete state only the year of construction: 1979. Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb.

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Episcopal church votes to divest from fossil fuels: 'This is a moral issue'

Episcopal church to divest from fossil fuelThe leadership of the Episcopal church has voted to withdraw from fossil fuel holdings as a means of fighting climate change, delivering an important symbolic victory to environmental campaigners.

Two weeks after the pope’s pastoral letter on the environment, the divestment decision by a major US Protestant denomination underscored that climate change is increasingly seen by religious leaders as a deeply moral issue.

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Former UK ministers urge Obama to free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo Bay

Shaker AhmerBoris Johnson has placed himself at the head of cross-party group, including a former Tory attorney general and Labour home secretary, who are calling on Barack Obama to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in Guantánamo Bay.

In an intervention timed to coincide with US Independence Day, six former cabinet ministers have joined leading writers, actors, directors, musicians to warn the White House that the continued detention of Aamer is undermining US standing in the world.

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