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Iowa Republicans ending straw poll, a tradition born in 1979

Iowa straw poll endsThe Iowa Republican straw poll, once a staple campaign event for GOP presidential candidates, is vanishing because of waning interest from 2016 hopefuls and questions about its relevancy.

A governing board for the Republican Party of Iowa voted unanimously during a private conference call Friday to drop the event, according to state GOP Chairman Jeff Kauffman. It was scheduled to be held in the central Iowa city of Boone on Aug. 8.


Whistleblower: Indiana health system endangered babies for profit

Indiana hospital discriminationAt 2 years old, Denise Koger can mutter sounds and gurgle noises, but she can't speak or stand on her own. The toddler – with a few dozen mini blond braids woven around her head – gets around in a wheelchair or stroller and receives food through a tube.

During birth, she ingested fecal matter and was deprived of oxygen, according to her mother, Nancy Koger. The 31-year-old blames her daughter’s disability on the hospital where she gave birth.


Families: No justice in Israeli inquiry on Gaza beach deaths

Gaza beach death sinquiry closedThe father of one of four Palestinian children killed on a Gaza beach during last summer's Hamas-Israel war said Friday he was outraged by the announcement from the Israeli military that it was closing its internal inquiry into the incident without any indictments.

The father also said he hopes the killings would be part of a Palestinian war crimes case against Israel, which is expected to be presented to the International Criminal Court.


North Carolina Allows Officials to Refuse to Perform Gay Marriages

North CarolinaUnder a law that took effect Thursday in North Carolina, employees who issue marriage licenses can refuse to complete paperwork for gay couples by invoking their religious beliefs — a move that could mean longer waits at courthouses for all those who want to wed, especially in rural counties with small staffs.

Gay rights groups and some Democrats said legal challenges were likely to come soon for the new law, the second of its kind nationwide. Utah passed one this year.


Cleveland judge finds cop in Tamir Rice killing should face murder charge

Tamir RiceTamir Rice was throwing snowballs and playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park on November 22 when a police car rolled into the snowy field and, within two seconds of getting out of his squad car, officer Timothy Loehmann shot and killed the black 12-year-old.

On June 11, Cleveland Municipal Judge Ronald Adrine found probable cause to file murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide, and dereliction of duty charges against Loehmann, reported. Adrine also found probable cause to file negligent homicide and dereliction of duty charges against Frank Garmback, Loehmann's partner, who drove the squad car on the day of the shooting.


Chaplain violated Army rule in promoting book

Jesus was a US RangerAn active-duty Army chaplain with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment has published a book titled Jesus Was an Airborne Ranger and appeared in a promotional video in uniform to promote it, raising questions about the service endorsing Christianity as the Pentagon wages wars in Muslim countries.

Chaplain John McDougall recently returned from Afghanistan where he served as chaplain for the 75th Ranger Regiment. He wrote the book, he told the Army in a story published on its website, because "the Jesus of many churches is a weakling — someone our Rangers cannot relate to."


Alex Baer: All Freedom, All the Time

Alex BaerReport from The Front: We haven't been killed yet.

Frankly, I have no idea how to estimate the number of times the exact same phrase has been used throughout human history, or even American history by combatants -- and noncombatants -- during times of war.

America's wars have been fought almost exclusively overseas, except when Americans got excited for a while by the ability of Americans to actually own other human beings, and to further become agitated by the assorted economic truths surrounding that other embarrassing truth. (Funny how that same one reared its head in the Constitution -- once steely-eyed and proudly, and nowadays stunned that it must be half-muttered, with eyes buried underground, requiring some winks and knowing glances to the knowing few.)


New Michigan law lets adoption agencies decline referrals

Rick snyderGov. Rick Snyder on Thursday signed a law letting private adoption agencies with state contracts decline to participate in referrals against their religious beliefs, despite criticism that it amounts to government-sanctioned discrimination against gay couples.

The Republican told The Associated Press that the legislation codifies an existing practice within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which relies on private agencies to help find temporary or permanent homes for 13,000 children in foster care at any given time.


Why shale producers are happy with this EPA fracking study

EPA Fracking studyThe energy industry agrees with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — at least when it comes to the findings of an EPA study on hydraulic fracturing.

Michael Krancer, partner and chair of the energy industry team at law firm Blank Rome LLP, said a draft report on the EPA study shows that fracking is “safe,” with “no widespread issues.”


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