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Patriot Act is on life support

Patriot Act on life supportA stalemate in the Senate would leave the FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) without powers they have used to track terrorists for years, say supporters of the Patriot Act.

Without action by the end of the month, key provisions of the Patriot Act will expire, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argues would put the United States at a pre September 11, 2001-footing.

Yet McConnell has no definite path to extend those provisions.

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U.S. House Votes To Ban Abortions After 20 Weeks

pro choiceThe U.S. House on Wednesday passed 242-184 a rewritten version of a bill to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy -- the second Republican attempt at advancing the measure.

In January, Republican Speaker John Boehner pulled the bill from a planned vote amid opposition by House Republican women and centrists who said its exceptions for victims of rape and incest were too narrow.

That earlier version would have allowed an exception for rape victims only if they had reported their assult to police.

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Senate strikes deal to pass fast-track trade bill

senate passes trade billSenate leaders have reached a deal to advance President Barack Obama’s trade initiative after a failed vote prompted a furious round of negotiating on Wednesday.

After trading offers throughout the night, party leaders agreed to vote on a fast-track trade bill that was blocked just 24 hours before by Democrats who’d wanted more assurances that their priorities would also be considered.

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Sally Yates confirmed as No. 2 at Justice Department

Sally YatesThe Senate easily confirmed a veteran federal prosecutor from Georgia as deputy attorney general Wednesday, despite a protest by some Republicans angry over President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.

Senators voted, 84-12, to confirm Sally Yates in the Justice Department's No. 2 job — a post she has filled on an acting basis since January.

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CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Speaks Out Upon Sentencing to 3.5 Years in Prison

Jeffrey SterlingOn Monday former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to 42 months in prison for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program.

Risen later exposed how the risky operation could have actually aided the Iranian nuclear program. In January Sterling was convicted of nine felony counts, including espionage. He becomes the latest government employee jailed by the Obama administration for leaking information.

Since he was indicted four years ago, Jeffrey Sterling’s voice has never been heard by the public. But that changes today. We air an exclusive report that tells his story, "The Invisible Man." We are also joined by Norman Solomon, who interviewed Sterling for the piece and attended both his trial and sentencing. Solomon is a longtime activist, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, co-founder of RootsAction.org, and coordinator of ExposeFacts.org.

More + Democracy Now Video...

Obama's plans for trade deals with Asia and Europe in tatters after Senate vote

Senate rejects trade billBarack Obama’s ambitions to pass sweeping new free trade agreements with Asia and Europe fell at the first hurdle on Tuesday as Senate Democrats put concerns about US manufacturing jobs ahead of arguments that the deals would boost global economic growth.

A vote to push through the bill failed as 45 senators voted against it, to 52 in favor. Obama needed 60 out of the 100 votes for it to pass.

Failure to secure so-called “fast track” negotiating authority from Congress leaves the president’s top legislative priority in tatters.

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Republicans put plans to reauthorize Patriot Act on hold after court ruling

US SenateSenate Republicans have conceded they may have to temporarily suspend plans for a long-term reauthorization of the Patriot Act after a court ruling against its use by the National Security Agency dramatically turned around the prospects for surveillance reform in Washington.

Three US appeal court judges threw the existing plan – to extend the NSA’s power to collect bulk metadata from American phone records for five years – into chaos on Thursday when they ruled that it was unlawful even under the old legislation.

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