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Wednesday, Sep 03rd

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Miami exiles pressure U.S. to loosen policy on Cuba

Cuban exilesCuban exile Joe Arriola at one time would never have dreamed of returning to his homeland while it was under communist rule.

But after 53 years in the United States, the former manager of the city of Miami swallowed his pride and decided he had waited long enough.

Arriola, 67, said a week-long trip to the island last year had opened his eyes to what he now believes is a failed U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba.

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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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Idaho GOP convention unconventional: Disunity abruptly ends event

Idaho GOP conventionBogged down by infighting over the qualifications of delegates and squabbles over Robert's Rules of Order, the Idaho Republican Convention came to a grinding halt Saturday afternoon. There was no election for state GOP chairman or adoption of a new Republican state platform.

Pocatello resident and chief executive officer of Premier Technology in Blackfoot, Doug Sayer, was a candidate for Idaho GOP chairman along with Blackfoot rancher, Mike Duff, and incumbent Barry Peterson. With the convention suspended, Peterson will remain chairman.

"A special committee will convene and there's a process in place to hold an election," Sayer said.

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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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Elizabeth Warren aims at Mitch McConnell by helping his rival

WarrenSen. Elizabeth Warren is going to lend some of her Democratic star power to Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky — and get back at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell while she’s there.

The Massachusetts senator said she wants to help Grimes, who is locked in a tight battle with McConnell, in part because he suggested holding a floor vote on Warren’s student loan refinancing bill was designed to help the Democratic Party’s election chances. (Warren’s bill was blocked Wednesday on a 56-38 procedural vote and did not advance.)

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Rick Perry visits San Francisco, says homosexuals are like alcoholics

Rick PerryTexas Governor Rick Perry used alcoholism to analogize his personal view on homosexuality at a meeting of supporters in San Francisco Wednesday night.

Speaking at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club, Perry discussed economic issues such as government regulation and job creation. When asked by interviewer Greg Dalton about the Texas GOP's formal endorsement of the otherwise discredited practice of "reparative" therapy to "change" a person's natural sexual preference, Perry said while he does not know if the therapy necessarily works, he does view homosexuality as a mental disorder.

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Ohio must restore three early voting days, court says

Ohio voting restrictions blockedOhio must allow voters to cast in-person ballots on the final three days before an election, a federal judge ordered Wednesday.

The order wraps up one segment of long-running dispute over early-voting days in the quintessential swing state. Most notably, the decision allows voters in the November gubernatorial election to cast ballots on one Sunday, a popular voting day for urban churches whose largely African-American congregants organize "souls to the polls" caravans after services.  Before this ruling: Early voting eliminated on Sundays across Ohio

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