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Friday, Aug 22nd

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Federal judges approve early release for thousands of drug convicts

Holder Drug offenders now in prison will be eligible for early release under a unanimous decision Friday by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

No inmates will be released under the revised guidelines until November 2015, the commission said. Congress has until this November to change the decision.

The commission, an independent judicial agency, said all decisions on early release will be reviewed by a judge with prosecutors being given an opportunity to object. But it is somewhat broader than the guidelines sought by Attorney General Eric Holder, who argued that only inmates who have not committed violent crimes and are not linked to major drug organizations should be eligible.

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What Happens When Detroit Shuts Off the Water of 100,000 People

Detroit water crisisIn a city where the median household income is less than half the national average, 38 percent of residents live below the poverty line and 23 percent are unemployed, it comes as no surprise that at least 40 percent of customers are delinquent on their bills.

The water shut-offs have taken no prisoners. Since this year's shut-offs started at the end of March, at least 15,000 Detroit households have had their water turned off. But the campaign, a tactic designed to pressure Detroiters into paying their water bills, began with little or no publicity last year, when 24,000 homes had their water shut off, says Darryl Latimer, the deputy director of the water department.

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Appeals court strikes down Oklahoma gay marriage ban

Oklahoma court stirkes down gay marraige banA federal appeals court in Denver struck down a second state ban on same-sex marriage Friday, ruling that Oklahoma -- like Utah before it - cannot prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying.

The decision by a three-judge panel in the 10-year-old lawsuit is likely to give the Supreme Court a choice: It can use either Utah or Oklahoma as its foil for judging the constitutionality of all such bans, or it can wait for more cases headed its way from Virginia and elsewhere.

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University of Connecticut settles sex assault case with five women

U of ConnThe University of Connecticut has settled a federal lawsuit filed by five women who claimed the school responded to their sexual assault complaints with indifference.

The bulk of the settlement, $900,000 (£530,000), will go to a former UConn hockey player who joined the Title IX lawsuit last December, a month after it was originally filed by four other women. She alleged she was kicked off the team after reporting she had been raped by a male hockey player in August 2011.

The other four women will receive payments ranging from $125,000 to $25,000.

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FedEx indicted on drug trafficking charges

FedEx chargedFedEx is facing drug-trafficking charges after a federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted the overnight shipping company, accusing it of conspiring to deliver prescription drugs for illegal Internet pharmacies.

The indictment says FedEx knew for a decade that such pharmacies used their services. FedEx took steps to protect its business by setting up special credit policies for Internet pharmacies so it wouldn't lose money if police shut the sites down, the indictment says.

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Judge OKs gay marriage in Florida Keys

Florida judge okays gay marriageA judge ruled that gays can marry in Florida's most gay-friendly county, siding Thursday with same-sex couples in the Florida Keys who challenged a voter-approved ban as discriminatory. But an immediate state appeal quickly silenced their wedding bells.

Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia said same-sex couples could get marriage licenses as early as Tuesday in Monroe County, but Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi said the voters' will must be respected. An overwhelming majority approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 that defines marriage as a union solely between one man and one woman. Her notice of appeal creates an automatic stay that prevents any same-sex marriage licenses from being issued, her office said.

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Elaine Stritch, inimitable stage star, dead at 89

Elaine StritchBroadway lost one of its strongest, saltiest and most enduring voices Monday, when Elaine Stritch – actress, singer, long-legged and sharp-tongued force of nature – shook off her mortal coil Thursday, at 89.

Stritch's career on Broadway stretched back to 1946, when she made her debut in a comedy called Loco. For many decades after that, she delivered memorable performances in works by masters ranging from Rodgers and Hart to Edward Albee. She was a particularly perceptive purveyor of the songs of Stephen Sondheim; appearing in the original cast of his Company in 1970, she introduced The Ladies Who Lunch, an acid-and-alcohol-soaked manifesto that became one of her signature songs and one of the most inimitable recordings in the history of musical theater.

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