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Thursday, Apr 24th

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Hobby Lobby invests in contraception manufacturers

Hobby LobbyWhen Obamacare compelled businesses to include emergency contraception in employee health care plans, Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, fought the law all the way to the Supreme Court. The Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate, the company's owners argued, forced them to violate their religious beliefs.

But while it was suing the government, Hobby Lobby spent millions of dollars on an employee retirement plan that invested in the manufacturers of the same contraceptive products the firm's owners cite in their lawsuit.

Documents filed with the Department of Labor and dated December 2012—three months after the company's owners filed their lawsuit—show that the Hobby Lobby 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes large matching contributions to this company-sponsored 401(k).

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NSA performed warrantless searches on Americans' calls and emails – Clapper

ClapperUS intelligence chiefs have confirmed that the National Security Agency has used a "back door" in surveillance law to perform warrantless searches on Americans’ communications.

The NSA's collection programs are ostensibly targeted at foreigners, but in August the Guardian revealed a secret rule change allowing NSA analysts to search for Americans' details within the databases.

Now, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat on the intelligence committee, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has confirmed for the first time the use of this legal authority to search for data related to “US persons”.

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U.S. Intel Committee Chiefs Blast Deal for Israeli Spy

Jonathan PollardBoth the Democratic and Republican heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee are staunchly opposed to a proposal floated by the Obama administration to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison as part of a deal for continued Israeli participation in ongoing Mideast peace talks.

Obama administration officials confirmed Monday to The Daily Beast that Pollard’s release after three decades of incarceration was being discussed between Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a carrot to entice Netanyahu to agree to an extension of negotiations with the Palestinians.

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Marathon bombing: Saudi victim sues Glenn Beck for defamation

Glenn Beck

Last April 19, Glenn Beck told listeners that he had a big scoop for them – maybe, one of the biggest scoops of his career.

What we do going forward from here will determine the fate of our nation,” he said.

Mr. Beck, the conservative talk show host, told the audience that Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, a young Saudi national who was studying English in Massachusetts, was behind the duel explosions that had ripped through a crowd at the Boston Marathon four days earlier.

And the FBI was covering it all up, continued Beck, on his radio program "The Blaze."

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Colorado Investigates a Spike in Fetal Abnormalities Near Natural Gas Drilling Site

Fetal abnormalities near frackingThe Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has  called in an epidemiologist to investigate a recent spike in fetal abnormalities in Garfield County on Colorado's western slope. Stacey Gavrell, Director of Community Relations for Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, said area prenatal care providers reported the increase in fetal abnormalities to the hospital, which then notified CDPHE.

So far neither the hospital nor the state have released information about the numbers of cases reported, over what span of time, or the amount of the increase.

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Glenn Greenwald, Journalist involved in NSA leak to win UGA award

Glenn GreenwaldThe journalist most associated with the coverage of Edward Snowden's leak of phone and Internet surveillance by the National Security Agency will be this year's recipient of the University of Georgia's McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage.

Glenn Greenwald was a columnist for The Guardian and is now a founder of First Look Media's "The Intercept." He'll receive the award during a ceremony in the fall.

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Egyptian court lets Al Jazeera journalists speak but not go free

Al Jazeera journalists in cagesAn Egyptian court held its fourth session Monday in the criminal case against three Al Jazeera journalists accused of fabricating news and running a terror cell on behalf of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. But when the prosecution failed for the third time to provide the key video evidence against the journalists, the judge instead dramatically entertained bail for the reporters, who have been held since Dec. 29.

In the end, bail was _ again _ denied. But the judge’s decision to let the defendants address the court directly was unprecedented in the Egyptian judicial system, even if it did not lead to their provisional release.

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Large explosion rocks Washington natural gas plant; 5 workers hurt, 400 residents evacuated

gas explosion washingtonA large explosion rocked a natural gas processing plant on the Washington-Oregon border Monday, injuring five workers, causing about 400 people to evacuate from nearby farms and homes, and emitting a mushroom cloud of black smoke that was visible for more than a mile.

The 8:20 a.m. blast at the Williams Northwest Pipeline facility near the Washington town of Plymouth, along the Columbia River, sparked a fire and punctured one of the facility's two giant storage tanks for liquefied natural gas.

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CIA misled on interrogation program, Senate report says

CIAA report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.

The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.

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