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Monday, Sep 01st

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Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki agrees to step down

Al MalikiEmbattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday night that he is stepping down, ending a political crisis at a time when Islamist militants have seized large swaths of the country and remain on the offensive.

The Obama administration has blamed al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government for sparking much of the sectarian strife that has gripped his country, as minority Sunnis have felt alienated and have sympathized with armed Sunni extremists calling themselves the Islamic State.

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Gaza Crisis: Israel Outflanks the White House on Strategy

Gaza crisisWhite House and State Department officials who were leading U.S. efforts to rein in Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip were caught off guard last month when they learned that the Israeli military had been quietly securing supplies of ammunition from the Pentagon without their approval.

Since then the Obama administration has tightened its control on arms transfers to Israel. But Israeli and U.S. officials say that the adroit bureaucratic maneuvering made it plain how little influence the White House and State Department have with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu —and that both sides know it.

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Highway Patrol to Take Over Security in Ferguson, Missouri

Higway patrol in fergusonMissouri Gov. Jay Nixon put the state highway patrol in charge of security here Thursday in hopes of quelling nightly clashes between protesters angry over a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and SWAT teams using tear gas.

Mr. Nixon tapped a highway patrol captain with ties to the local community to lead the effort. The decision followed days of escalating tension between police and protesters that has been documented minute-by-minute on social media and cable-TV news channels.

"Lately it has looked a little more like a war zone—and that's unacceptable," Mr. Nixon said of the St. Louis suburb of about 21,000 residents.

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How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program

Militarized policeAs many have noted, Ferguson, Missouri, currently looks like a war zone. And its police—kitted out with Marine-issue camouflage and military-grade body armor, toting short-barreled assault rifles, and rolling around in armored vehicles—are indistinguishable from soldiers.

America has been quietly arming its police for battle since the early 1990s.

Faced with a bloated military and what it perceived as a worsening drug crisis, the 101st Congress in 1990 enacted the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1208 of the NDAA allowed the Secretary of Defense to “transfer to Federal and State agencies personal property of the Department of Defense, including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is— (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense.” It was called the 1208 Program. In 1996, Congress replaced Section 1208 with Section 1033.

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Military eases hairstyle restrictions accused of being racially biased

military hair dosUnited States military branches announced they have loosened grooming requirements that sparked controversy for allegedly targeting the natural hairstyles of African-American soldiers.

The U.S. Army on March 31 banned hairstyles including twists, dreadlocks, some types of braids, and Afros that were previously authorized. Following outcry from black members of the U.S. armed forces, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in April ordered the secretaries of all military branches to review their policies on grooming.

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Labor sharks sink teeth into low-wage immigrant workers

Wage theftWhen Ophelia Hernández, a 53-year-old clothing store owner from El Salvador, got working papers to come to the United States, she jumped at the chance to escape the gang violence and extortionists who had forced her out of business in her native country. As she began her job search in New York, however, Hernández came up against a different kind of extortion in the form of labor sharks.

These predatory employment agencies exploit low-wage job seekers, many of whom are newly arrived or undocumented immigrants, by charging them exorbitant fees for jobs that pay less than the minimum wage – and sometimes don’t even exist.

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Mentally challenged unarmed L.A. man fatally shot by police, possibly while lying down

LAPDA mentally challenged, unarmed man was shot and killed by police officers in Los Angeles, while his family says he was lying down and complying with officers' commands.

Police say 25-year-old Ezell Ford was hailed by police Monday night for "an investigative stop" during which "a struggle ensued," prompting police to open fire. Ford was struck multiple times and transported to a nearby emergency room where he died. No officers were injured in the incident.

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Gay marriages could begin in Va., barring delay

Gay marriage in Virginia to beginA federal appeals court appears to have cleared the way for same-sex marriages to begin in Virginia as early as next week, but that could be put on hold indefinitely if the nation's highest court intervenes.

The state also would need to start recognizing gay marriages from out of state next Wednesday after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision not to delay its ruling that struck down the state's gay marriage ban.

While the U.S. Supreme Court could effectively put same-sex marriages on hold again if opponents in the case are able to win an emergency delay, supporters offered tempered excitement.

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Ferguson Police Arrest Two Reporters Who Tried to Film Them in a McDonald's

Journalists arrested in FergusonTwo reporters covering the shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer in a St. Louis suburb say they were arrested at a McDonald's Wednesday evening in the commercial corridor where angry protests have occurred.

Wesley Lowery of 'The Washington Post' and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post. say they were working in the fast-food restaurant when SWAT officers came in to quickly clear the area. Both quickly tweeted about their arrests, detention and subsequent release without any charges.

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