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Thursday, Oct 02nd

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Judge rules that Florida's Legislature illegally drew congressional districts to benefit GOP

Florida redistrictingA Florida judge threw out the state's 2012 congressional redistricting plan on Thursday, saying Republicans conspired to manipulate the boundaries to protect the party's majority in Washington and "made a mockery" of the rules of transparency in the process.

In the 41-page ruling Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis specifically ordered that two of the state's 27 districts should be redrawn as they violated a "Fair Districts Florida" standard approved by voters in 2010 to ban legislators from favoring or protecting incumbents.

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Todd Akin retreats from 'legitimate rape' apology

Todd AkinThe former congressman, who lost the 2012 Senate race in Missouri, has written a book that Politico previewed on Thursday.

“By asking the public at large for forgiveness,” Akin writes in the book, “I was validating the willful misinterpretation of what I had said.”

Akin, a conservative Republican locked in a tight race with Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, said in a TV interview in summer 2012 that he believes pregnancy can be prevented by a woman involved in “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

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Sandy Hook parents slam 'cowardly' Chris Christie

Chris ChristieNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill Thursday would limit the size of ammunition magazines, criticizing the proposed measure as an ineffective approach to reducing gun violence.

"This is the very embodiment of reform in name only," Christie said.

"It simply defies common sense to believe that imposing a new and entirely arbitrary number of bullets that can be lawfully loaded into a firearm will somehow eradicate, or even reduce, future instances of mass violence. Nor is it sufficient to claim that a ten-round capacity might spare an eleventh victim ... I will not support such a trivial approach to the sanctity of human life, because this is not governing. Governing is confronting problems."

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US Special Envoy to Middle East resigns

Martin IndykThe U.S. special envoy to the Middle East is resigning after a breakdown in new efforts to make a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, officials said Friday.

Martin Indyk, brought on nearly a year ago as Mideast envoy, will return to his previous job with the Brookings Institution think tank, tweeted State Department spokesperson Marie Harf.

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Prosecutors: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in criminal scheme

Scott WalkerProsecutors claim Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of a plan to illegally coordinate fundraising with an array of outside conservative groups to help him and several Republican senators survive a 2012 recall election, new court documents show.  In the documents unsealed Thursday, prosecutors spell out a "criminal scheme" by Walker and top aides to circumvent state law and raise money and plan spending by a dozen outside groups during the election.

The prosecutors' filings include an email in which Walker tells Republican strategist Karl Rove that a top campaign aide, R.J. Johnson, was leading the coordination effort and praises Johnson's work.

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Big Oil and Big Guns: Not so strange bedfellows

oil and big gunsOil and gas companies give hundreds of millions of dollars to political campaigns and lobbying groups to further their interests in Congress. In 2012 and 2013 oil and gas spent a combined $24 million on contributions to (mostly Republican) lawmakers in the Senate and the House. In 2013, OpenSecrets.org reported, the oil-and-gas industry spent almost $145 million on lobbying.

Oil and gas donations to advocacy groups relate to issues of oil and gas exploration on land and offshore, climate change, tax increases and approving the Keystone pipeline. But recent research by liberal groups suggests that millions of dollars have also been going to gun groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Safari Club International (SCI), for purposes that seemingly contradict the platforms those groups purport to represent.

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The Bush, NeoCon and Pro-War Liberal Blunders That Produced the New Mess in Iraq

The Iraq mess explainedAnd so the inevitable is unfolding: a possible collapse of the U.S.-imposed Iraqi state, the apparent triumph of the most brutal extremists in the world, and more to come in Syria, Afghanistan, and possibly Jordan, Mali, Libya, and who knows where else. The first step to recovery -- if recovery is even feasible -- is an honest reckoning of why this is happening.

The discourse in Washington, as always, will be superficial, partisan, and knowledge-free. The blaming of Obama for leaving Iraq in 2011 will be the Fox News mantra of coming days and weeks (and, judging from the Benghazi flap, for years). Even theNew York Times on Wednesday morning -- reporting that the forces of the extremists, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, had overrun Mosul and were headed toward Baghdad -- mentioned that this was  another blow to the White House's faltering foreign policy. But while Obama has his share of missteps, the responsibility for this catastrophe rests with the neocons of the George W. Bush years and the liberal hawks who can't help but propose war when they see a wrong that needs righting.

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