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Evidence comes under attack: How Congress is quietly killing one of the best ideas in government.

Evidence under attack“Every man has a right to his own opinion,” investor Bernard Baruch said in 1950, “but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”

Politicians are, of course, sometimes wrong on the facts, but the federal government is actually making significant progress to bring hard evidence into the policymaking process. It might sound obvious, but it’s actually one of the most promising ideas in governance: “evidence-based policymaking,” the use of credible research to drive public policy, and independent evaluation to decide which government programs work, and which don’t.

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Obama signs Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness bill

Boulder wilderness billLess than three days after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill approving the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains area for wilderness designation, President Barack Obama has signed the bill into law, ending a 40-year effort.

Obama signed the Senate's approval of H.R. 1138, the “Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act,” which designates three new wilderness areas (encompassing about 275,665 acres) in Idaho as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System; releases four wilderness study areas so that the land would be managed for multiple-use activities; and provides for several land conveyances in Idaho.

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Meryl Streep asks Congress to revive ERA

Meryl StreepNo actor or actress can match Meryl Streep's 19 Academy Award nominations, and only Katharine Hepburn has bested her three Oscars for acting. So maybe it's conceivable that Streep's letter Tuesday to each member of Congress can somehow revive the Equal Rights Amendment, politically dormant since its high-water mark four decades ago.

"I am writing to ask you to stand up for equality - for your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife or yourself - by actively supporting the Equal Rights Amendment," Streep writes. Each packet includes a copy of "Equal Means Equal," a book by Jessica Neuwirth, president of the ERA Coalition.

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Pentagon accused of withholding data on sex assaults at US bases

GillibrandThe number of sex-related crimes occurring in U.S. military communities is far greater than the Defense Department has publicly reported, a U.S. senator said Monday in a scathing critique that asserts the Pentagon has refused to provide her information about sexual assaults at several major bases.

The spouses of service members and civilian women who live or work near military facilities are especially vulnerable to being sexually assaulted, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a report. Yet they "remain in the shadows" because neither is counted in surveys conducted by the Defense Department to determine the prevalence of sexual assaults within the ranks, the report said.

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U.S. senators agree on path to fast-track trade bill

ast track okayedU.S. senators said on Thursday they could present a bipartisan bill to move trade deals quickly through Congress as soon as later in the day after reaching agreement on aid for workers hurt by trade.

The move set the stage for a tough fight with critics.

Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said the legislation, key to closing a 12-nation Pacific trade pact and the Obama administration's pivot to Asia, could be unveiled in the afternoon and ready for full Senate consideration next week.

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U.S. Senator Menendez Indicted by U.S. in Corruption Case

Menendez indictedU.S. Senator Robert Menendez was indicted after a corruption investigation into whether he took gifts from a campaign donor, imperiling the political career of one of the most influential Democratic and Latino voices on foreign policy.

Menendez was charged in connection with gifts from Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor and longtime friend who sought his help in a dispute with federal agencies. Menendez is the 12th U.S. senator in history to be charged while serving in office, and the prospect of a lengthy case could put pressure on him to resign. Melgen was also indicted today.

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Petition to prosecute 47 GOP senators over open Iran letter reaches goal

Letter to IranA petition asking to prosecute the 47 U.S. Republican senators, who sent a heavily criticized open letter to Iran's leadership, has reached the goal to require a White House response.

The petition was published on March 9 and reached more than 200,000 signatures in three days, well above the requirement of 100,000, which requires the White House to respond.

The petition cited the 1799 Logan Act, which can carry an imprisonment sentence for up to three years.

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