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Thursday, Apr 17th

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Obama orders review of US deportation practices

US deportationSeeking to pacify frustrated immigration advocates, President Barack Obama is directing the government to find more humane ways to handle deportation for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, the White House said Thursday.

With prospects for an immigration overhaul in Congress appearing ever dimmer, immigration advocates have been ramping up pressure on Obama to halt all deportations — a step Obama has insisted he can't take by himself. By announcing he's open to changing how the U.S. enforces its current laws, Obama is signaling he may be growing more inclined to test the limits of his authority in the face of congressional inaction.

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Colorado court: Some marijuana cases can be overturned

colorado pot convictionsColorado's second-highest court ruled Thursday that some people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana can ask for those convictions to be thrown out under the law that legalized recreational marijuana in the state.

The Colorado Court of Appeals said people whose cases were under appeal when Amendment 64 took effect in December 2012 are eligible to have their convictions reversed.

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Justice Department backs reduced penalties for low-level drug offenses

US prisonAttorney General Eric Holder on Thursday urged the U.S. Sentencing Commission to reduce the recommended prison time for certain low-level drug offenses.

Citing prison overcrowding, and the fact that nearly half of the nation’s 216,000 federal prisoners are incarcerated on drug charges, Holder said sentencing reform is desperately needed.

“ Modestly reducing the quantity-based guideline for drug offenses, while continuing to ensure higher penalties for drug offenders involved violence, or who are career criminals, or who use weapons in their offenses is consistent the Attorney General's Smart on Crime initiative and will help further our current need for efficient and strategic criminal justice reforms,” the Justice Department’s written testimony stated.

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White House withholds thousands of documents from Senate CIA probe, despite vows of help

white HouseThe White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.

In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.

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Michigan’s ‘Rape Insurance’ Law Limiting Abortion Coverage Takes Effect

Michigan rape insurance billA law requiring Michigan women to purchase a rider if they expect their private health insurance to cover abortion services takes effect Thursday.

Right to Life Michigan admits the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act won’t  lower abortion rates in the state, but will shift the burden on who pays for the services. Opponents say it’s a draconian law that threatens women’s health by limiting their access to a procedure that is legal and constitutionally protected, the Detroit Free Press reports.

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Wrongly convicted Louisiana inmate released after 30 years on death row

Glenn Ford released after 30 yearsLouisiana inmate Glenn Ford walked free Tuesday after 30 years on death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.

My mind going all kind of directions, but it feels good," Ford, now 64, told reporters immediately after his release.  Asked whether he felt resentful, Ford said, "Yeah, because I was locked up almost 30 years for something I didn't do."

Ford, the longest serving death row inmate, was sentenced to death in 1985 for the 1983 murder of jeweler and watchmaker Isadore Rozeman, who was killed in a shooting at his Shreveport shop.

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Washington detention center hunger strike on Day 5

Wshington prison hunger strikeA hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center in Washington state that started with hundreds of participants was down to five detainees on its fifth day, and they were under medical evaluation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Tuesday.

The agency said 27 people had refused to eat at the start of the day. They were placed under medical observation and separated from others at the Tacoma facility. By Tuesday afternoon, 22 detainees had eaten, and five remained on hunger strike and under medical evaluation.

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