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Non-believers on rise in Congress

atheistsThe number of members of Congress who don’t identify with any particular religion is on the rise, according to an analysis by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

In the 96th Congress (1979-80), not a single member of the House or Senate said they didn’t belong to any particular faith, didn’t know or refused to disclose their religion. But in the new 113th Congress, 10 members fall under that category.

That’s twice as many as in the 111th Congress (2009-10).

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FISA Warrantless Wiretapping Renewed By Senate

Dianne FeinsteinChristmas may be over, but the Senate is still singing “Do You Hear What I Hear?” In a 73 to 23 vote on Friday, Senators renewed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act for another five years. The extension continues the authorization the government has to conduct warrantless wiretaps of communications that Americans conduct with foreign intelligence targets abroad.

With strong bipartisan support led by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D - Calif.) chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and President Obama promising to sign it, the extension has less media buzz than it did when it first went through Congress during the Bush years. Still, that hasn’t changed the controversial and potentially unconstitutional nature of the bill.

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Indefinite Detention Protection Provision Mysteriously Stripped From DefenseBill

Dianne FeinsteinCongress stripped a provision Tuesday from a defense bill that aimed to shield Americans from the possibility of being imprisoned indefinitely without trial by the military. The provision was replaced with a passage that appears to give citizens little protection from indefinite detention.

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 was added by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), but there was no similar language in the version of the bill that passed the House, and it was dumped from the final bill released Tuesday after a conference committee from both chambers worked out a unified measure.

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Republican opposition downs UN disability treaty

Disabled treatyLed by Republican opposition, the Senate on Tuesday rejected a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled that is modeled after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.

With 38 Republicans casting "no" votes, the 61-38 vote fell five short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify a treaty. The vote took place in an unusually solemn atmosphere, with senators sitting at their desks rather than milling around the podium. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, looking frail and in a wheelchair, was in the chamber to support the treaty.

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How Many More Near-Election Disasters Before Congress Wakes Up?

Congress, Wake upThe destruction wrought by superstorm Sandy has been horrific enough, but if there’s anything to be grateful for, it’s the storm’s timing. If Sandy had hit just one week later, we’d be facing a constitutional crisis.

As it is, there is plenty of speculation on the possible effects of the storm on the Nov. 6 election. There are multiple and conflicting answers to the concerns being raised—from political to statutory to constitutional—but they all obscure a larger and more troubling truth: there is absolutely no reason for us to be in this situation in the first place.

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2nd Mistress of GOP Congressman Scott DesJarlais talks

Scott DesJarlaisOn the heels of a sex scandal involving a female patient, another woman has acknowledged having a sexual relationship with physician and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais while she was under his medical care.

The second woman described DesJarlais as "the nicest guy" and said he cooked dinner for her at their first get-together in 2000. But she also said they smoked marijuana during their relationship and remembered DesJarlais prescribing her pain medication on dates at his home."

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GOP Congressman calls evolution lie from 'pit of hell'

Paul BrounGeorgia Rep. Paul Broun said in videotaped remarks that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell" meant to convince people that they do not need a savior.

The Republican lawmaker made those comments during a speech Sept. 27 at a sportsman's banquet at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell. Broun, a medical doctor, is running for re-election in November unopposed by Democrats.

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