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Federal court says Texas voter ID violates Voting Rights Act

Voter IDA federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Texas' voter ID law has a "discriminatory" effect on minorities in a victory for President Barack Obama, whose administration took the unusual step of bringing the weight of the U.S. Justice Department to fight a wave of new ballot-box restrictions passed in conservative statehouses.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2011 Texas law runs afoul of parts of the federal Voting Rights Act — handing down the decision on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the landmark civil rights law.

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Ron Paul's top 2012 campaign staff members indicted on felony charges

Ron PaulTop staff members from Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign have been indicted in the culmination of a long investigation into Paul campaign’s alleged payments to an Iowa state senator to endorse the former Texas congressman for president and the hiding of those payments.

Jesse Benton, who ran Paul’s 2012 campaign and is married to the former congressman’s granddaughter, was indicted on Wednesday on five felony charges in federal court in Des Moines, Iowa along with John Tate and Dimitri Kesari, both of whom were also were top staffers on the 2012 campaign.

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Chicago police detained thousands of black Americans at interrogation facility

Chicago police warehouseAt least 3,500 Americans have been detained inside a Chicago police warehouse described by some of its arrestees as a secretive interrogation facility, newly uncovered records reveal.

Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.

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San Fran Mayor Named in FBI Gang Probe

Ed LeeEvidence from the prosecution of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow potentially implicates a wide array of city and state leaders, including Mayor Ed Lee, in alleged bribery schemes, pay-to-play plots, campaign fund laundering and state construction contract rigging.

According to a Tuesday filing by Chow’s attorneys in federal court, which includes never-before-released details and names from a yearlong investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mayor Lee, some of The City’s leadership, an Alameda County prosecutor and a state official were all named in alleged wrongdoing caught on tape or witnessed by undercover FBI agents or their sources.

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U.N.: Civilian casualties in Afghanistan reach record levels

Afghanistan civilian casualtiesThe number of women and children killed or injured through the year in Afghanistan increased by 23 percent and 13 percent, respectively, as overall casualties reached record levels.

There have been 4,921 civilian casualties -- 1,592 civilians killed and 3,329 wounded -- in Afghanistan from January until June, a one percent increase over last year's record, according to a report by the United Nations released Wednesday.

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Pope urges welcome of divorced, remarried Catholics

Pope FrancisDivorced and remarried Catholics are not automatically excommunicated from the church, Pope Francis reminded a Vatican audience Wednesday.

He told a general audience the Catholic church still regards a remarriage after divorce a violation of church teachings, but noted the church expects children of failed marriages to continue to be raised by parents who feel shunned by the church and are kept "far from the community life (of the church) as if they were excommunicated."

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In Canada, officials keep close watch on environmental activists

Canada monitoring green activistsOn July 16, James McIntyre, 48, was shot and killed by police outside a public meeting about a proposed hydroelectric dam in Dawson Creek, a small town in northeastern British Columbia. The dam, called Site C, is controversial among environmentalists and First Nations people, and the night McIntyre was shot, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were responding to reports that a protester was disrupting the meeting.

Little is known about the circumstances surrounding his death, but in a video taken immediately after the shooting, his blood can be seen pooling on the sidewalk and dripping into the street. Eventually, two officers approach his slumped body and place restraints on it while a third policeman keeps his gun drawn.

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Netflix to provide one year of paid parental leave

NetflixNetflix is giving new parents on its payroll up to a year of paid leave in a move that could pressure other technology employers to improve their baby benefits as they vie for talent.

The employee benefit announced Tuesday on Netflix's blog is generous even by the standards of Silicon Valley, where perquisites supplement lavish salaries in the competitive battle for computer programmers and other tech workers.

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Fox News announces GOP debate field

GOP debateJohn Kasich and Chris Christie are in — Rick Perry is out.

Kasich and Christie clinched the last two spots for this week's 10-candidate debate, Fox News announced Tuesday, joining Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.  The debate will be 9 p.m. Thursday in Cleveland.

Perry finished 11th in the aggregate of polls Fox used to determine the field. That relegated the former Texas governor to a debate at 5 p.m. Thursday with other candidates outside the top 10: Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore.

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