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Wednesday, Oct 22nd

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Judge rules against White House on Affordable Care Act

Obamacare rulingA federal judge in Oklahoma has ruled that Obamacare subsidies cannot go to residents of states that are not running their own insurance exchanges, a second blow to the Obama administration on a issue that threatens a key element of the health law’s coverage expansion.

Judge Ronald A. White said that the administration’s decision to allow subsidies to go through either a state-run health insurance exchange or the federal exchange is an improper and invalid reading of the Affordable Care Act and must be struck.

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European Activists Say They Don't Want Any U.S. 'Chlorine Chicken'

Europeans don't want chlorinated chickenMute Schimpf doesn't want to eat American chicken. That's because most U.S. poultry is chilled in antimicrobial baths that can include chlorine to keep salmonella and other bacteria in check. In Europe, chlorine treatment was banned in the 1990s out of fear that it could cause cancer.

"In Europe there is definitely a disgust about chlorinated chicken," says Schimpf, a food activist with Friends of the Earth Europe, an environmental group.

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Army opens Ranger School to women, a historic leap toward equality

Army Rangers accept womenFor the first time, women are being invited to apply for training with the Rangers, the elite group that the Army considers its “premier direct-action raid force.”

At this point, women will not be allowed to join the Rangers even if they complete the course; the ban on women in combat still holds. But that ban is slated to be lifted no later than January 2016, potentially opening the Rangers – and other combat roles – to qualified women.

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Gitmo hunger strikes are a cry for help. Why is the US fighting back with secret torture?

gitmo hunger strike“Safe, Humane, Legal, Transparent”: so goes the slogan of the world’s most famous offshore prison. It’s an Obama-era rebrand, a bid by Gitmo’s PR people to persuade Americans that today’s is a kinder, gentler Guantánamo Bay. There’s just one wrinkle: Gitmo is stilldangerous, nasty, lawless and secretive – and the evidence just keeps piling up.

At the forefront of this war over the truth is the first-ever trial concerning the practice of force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike, due to start Monday. My client, Abu Wa’el Dhiab – a Syrian man who has never been charged, and indeed has been cleared to leave Guantánamo by the US government for more than five years – has been fighting for over a year to reform the way he and other hunger-strikers have been treated. He’s finally about to have his day in court.

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California Becomes First State To Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

Ban the bagGov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, driven to action by a buildup of litter and damage to aquatic ecosystems.

A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers immediately said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015.

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Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn under Vatican investigation

Bishop Robert FinnA Canadian archbishop visited the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese last week on behalf of the Vatican to investigate the leadership of Bishop Robert Finn, the first Catholic prelate to be found criminally guilty of shielding a priest in the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis.

Ottawa, Ontario, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast visited the Midwestern diocese for several days last week, interviewing more than a dozen people about Finn's leadership, several of those interviewed told NCR.

According to those who spoke with Prendergast, the main question he asked was: "Do you think [Finn] is fit to be a leader?"

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9,800 U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan

US troops in AfghanistanAlmost 10,000 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after this year as part of a long-delayed security agreement with the country.

White House Senior Adviser John Podesta said on Monday the agreement between the two countries will be signed on Tuesday.

Podesta reported the agreement after attending the inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai in Kabul.

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Obama goal of Gitmo closure stalled at Pentagon

GitmoThe transfer of prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay has ground to a halt amid a slow Pentagon approval process, causing deep frustration within the administration and raising doubts that President Barack Obama will be able to fulfill his campaign promise to close the offshore prison for terrorism suspects.

A detainee sent back to his native Algeria in March is the only prisoner to have moved out this year, beyond the controversial exchange of five Taliban members in return for long-held captive U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

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Australia's 2013 heat waves linked to human-caused climate change, studies conclude

australia heat linked to climate changeAustralia has suffered through two back-to-back sweltering summers, with a record-setting heat wave sweeping across the country at the end of 2013 and into 2014. Now, five separate studies published today conclude that the blazing summer was linked to human-caused climate change.

The papers are part of a larger report, Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From a Climate Perspective, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). It includes 22 separate studies focusing on 16 different extreme weather events that occurred last year. And while researchers concluded that human activity had increased the likelihood and severity of Australia’s heat wave, they reported that it was hard to see any direct link between climate change and other extreme events last year—including the last 2 years of California drought and Colorado’s extreme rains.

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