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U.S. Senate confirms Kagan to Supreme Court

Elena Kagan confirmed to Supreme CourtThe U.S. Senate on Thursday approved President Barack Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, his second appointment to the high court that decides abortion, death penalty and other contentious cases. Ms. Kagan is the fourth woman ever to serve as a Supreme Court justice.

Her addition to the court will mark the first time three female justices have served concurrently. Nearly all Democrats, the Senate's two independents and a handful of Republicans were backing her nomination.


SEC probes BP as it poised to "kill" Gulf well

SEC probes BP as it poised to "kill" Gulf wellU.S. regulators were investigating BP Plc on Monday for possible insider trading related to its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a move that may hurt the energy giant's efforts to restore investor confidence.

Details of the probe emerged as BP prepared to deliver the first of what it hopes will be two knockout blows to "kill" its ruptured Macondo well, 105 days after it started gushing out millions of gallons of oil, causing an environmental disaster.


Immigration memo may be a break for immigrants

new hope for undocumented immigrantsAn internal memo prepared for the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says it is possible to provide green cards or delay deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are now living and working in the United States without papers or permanent residence.

The recent memo to USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas, released in Washington late Thursday, said one group that could receive green cards are the almost 400,000 current holders of Temporary Protected Status who include Salvadorans, Haitians, Hondurans and Nicaraguans.


Native American farmers and ranchers press USDA on bias complaints

Native American farmers press USDANative Americans who have sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging discrimination say they, like many African Americans, were taken aback by the agency's hasty firing of a black mid-level official last week after she was falsely accused of racism.

Shirley Sherrod was quickly vindicated, receiving apologies from the agency and the White House -- and an offer of a new job from Secretary Tom Vilsack. Though Sherrod has yet to say whether she will accept the offer, she said at the National Association of Black Journalists conference in San Diego on Thursday that she plans to sue Andrew Breitbart, the conservative blogger who posted the misleading video that led to her troubles.


U.S. Nuclear Forensics Skill Is Declining, Report Says

nuclear explosionThe nation’s ability to identify the source of a nuclear weapon used in a terrorist attack is fragile and eroding, according to a report released Thursday by the National Research Council.

Such highly specialized detective work, known as nuclear attribution, seeks to study clues from fallout and radioactive debris as a way to throw light on the identity of the attacker and the maker of the weapon. In recent years, federal officials have sought to improve such analytic skills, arguing that nuclear terrorism is a grave, long-term threat to the nation.


White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity

Lawyer Stewart Baker The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual's Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

The administration wants to add just four words -- "electronic communication transactional records" -- to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge's approval.


Federal judge blocks key parts of Ariz. immigration law

Federal judge blocks key parts of Ariz. immigration lawA federal judge on Wednesday blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona's immigration law from taking effect, delivering a last-minute victory to opponents of the crackdown.

The overall law will still take effect Thursday, but without the provisions that angered opponents — including sections that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.


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