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Friday, Dec 19th

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Senate plans release of torture report by year's end

waterboardingA Senate committee plans to release its long-delayed report on CIA interrogation practices before the end of the year.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have said the summary, on the "enhanced interrogation" practices allegedly used during the administration of George W. Bush, could be submitted before the current Senate's last session on Jan. 3.

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Arkansas, Mississippi gay marriage bans overturned

arkansas, mississippi gay marriage ban overturnedArkansas and Mississippi became the latest two states Tuesday to have their gay marriage bans overturned by federal judges, but there are no rushes to the altar as both orders are on hold so the states can consider appeals.

Like several states, Arkansas and Mississippi had voter-approved constitutional amendments pass in 2004 that defined marriage between one man and one woman.

In Arkansas, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker ruled in favor of two same-sex couples who had challenged the amendment. They argued the ban violated the U.S. Constitution and discriminated based on sexual orientation.

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Canadian protesters defy authorities over Trans Mountain pipeline

pipeline protesters in CanadaA proposed pipeline expansion that would transport tar sands oil through a park in British Columbia has unified Canadians from all walks of life in their opposition to the project — which they said does not respect public opinion and could endanger both land and sea.

“I’ve never seen in my 30 years of being environmentally active an issue that so galvanizes so many people,” said John Bennet, executive director of Sierra Club Canada. “It’s absolutely clear that the public, not just a handful of crazies willing to get arrested, don’t want it.”

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Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

Robert McCullochHe criticized the media. He talked about witness testimony that didn't match physical evidence. And he did it at night, as a city already on edge waited to learn if a grand jury would indict a white Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch — whose impartiality has been questioned since soon after Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9 — has come under renewed scrutiny since he appeared before television cameras to announce that the grand jury would not indict Wilson. A defensive McCulloch repeatedly cited what he said were inconsistencies and erroneous witness accounts. He never mentioned that Brown was unarmed.

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Obama to unveil new limits on ozone pollution in victory for health groups

ozone limitsThe Obama administration will unveil new limits on smog pollution bringing the US up to par with public health standards in other industrialised countries.

The Environmental Protection Agency is under a court-ordered deadline to propose new rules for ground-level ozone by 1 December. The New York Times reported that the announcement would come on Wednesday.

The new standards represent a victory for public health and environment groups which had sued the Obama administration for rejecting stricter controls for political reasons.

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Save the Children staff furious over ‘global legacy’ award for Tony Blair

Tony BlairThe charity Save the Children faces a backlash from staff after it presented Tony Blair with a “global legacy award” in New York last week – despite privately acknowledging that he is a controversial and divisive figure.

Amid widespread criticism on social media, many of the charity’s staff have complained that the presentation of the award has discredited Save the Children (STC). An internal letter, which gathered almost 200 signatures – including senior regional staff – in the first six hours of dissemination, said the award was not only “morally reprehensible, but also endangers our credibility globally”, and called for it to be withdrawn.

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Innocent Man Freed After 36 Years

Innocent man freed after 36 yrs.Moving slowly assisted by a cane, a white-haired and weary Michael Hanline saw the outside of a Los Angeles-area prison cell for the first time in more than three decades Monday.

Hanline ambled his way to freedom after spending 36 years behind bars for a murder he was wrongly convicted of before his release Monday, reuniting with his wife and family.

"There's no words for it," he said. "I have emotions just charging through me."

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Honda admits under-reporting serious U.S. accidents since 2003

Honda under reported accidents in USHonda Motor Co (7267.T) failed to notify U.S. safety regulators of 1,729 claims of injuries and deaths related to accidents in its vehicles since 2003, the automaker acknowledged on Monday.

The Japanese automaker said in a statement that its count of underreported claims came from a third-party audit. Honda cited "various errors related to data entry" and said it used an "overly narrow interpretation" of its legal reporting requirements. It said it is taking steps to remedy these shortcomings.

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Washington DC Theater J Cancels Middle East Festival, Prompting Censorship Debate

J TheaterThe Jewish theater company in the nation’s capital is struggling to find its footing in the face of increasing efforts by donors and funders to steer it away from dealing with controversies related to Israel.

Theater J, a nationally acclaimed group under the auspices of the Washington DC Jewish Community Center, has canceled its annual Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival. The theatrical festival, which in the past has included works critical of Israeli policy, was asked to accept a rigorous vetting process of artists this year to limit that criticism.

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