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Friday, Apr 25th

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Obama’s Plan to Use Executive Action Triggers Criticism

ObamaPresident Barack Obama plans to use executive authority to make good on pledges he will outline in his State of the Union speech this week, an approach that has already drawn criticism from congressional Republicans.

“The president sees this as the year of action, to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary to lift folks who want to come up into the middle class,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” program today.

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Nuns get partial win in U.S. Supreme Court contraception fight

Nuns get partial winThe U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday that, while litigation continues, an order of Roman Catholic nuns need not comply with a part of President Barack Obama's healthcare law requiring employers to provide insurance that covers contraception.

In the latest skirmish over religious objections to providing government-mandated contraception, the four-sentence court order was a partial victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Baltimore-based order of nuns that runs nursing homes, and Illinois-based Christian Brothers Services, which manages healthcare plans for Catholic groups.

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Meet the New Kochs: The DeVos Clan's Plan to Defund the Left

DevosTHE DEVOSES sit alongside the Kochs, the Bradleys, and the Coorses as founding families of the modern conservative movement. Since 1970, DeVos family members have invested at least $200 million in a host of right-wing causes—think tanks, media outlets, political committees, evangelical outfits, and a string of advocacy groups.

They have helped fund nearly every prominent Republican running for national office and underwritten a laundry list of conservative campaigns on issues ranging from charter schools and vouchers to anti-gay-marriage and anti-tax ballot measures. "There's not a Republican president or presidential candidate in the last 50 years who hasn't known the DeVoses," says Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.

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Harvard prof. embarks on 185-mile trek to battle campaign corruption

Harvard prof. lessigFifteen years ago, an 88-year-old woman named Dorris Haddock sensed that something was seriously amiss with the way campaigns were financed in the United States. Affixing a sign that said simply “Campaign Finance Reform” to her chest, she embarked on a 3,200 mile walk across 12 states to rally support behind measures to rid the political system of corruption and influence.

Haddock is credited with helping to galvanize public will around the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act, which was signed into law in 2002. Nonetheless, two months before she died at the age of 100, the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision, which undid many of the limits put in place on campaign finance and heralded a new era in unprecedented spending by special interests and corporations.

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How Did Mild-Mannered Maine Get America’s Craziest Governor?

Paul LsPageWhat better way to start a governorship than to refuse to attend a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day breakfast and, when the NAACP complains, tell them, on camera, to “kiss my butt”?           

That’s how Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, introduced himself to the nation three years ago, and the Republican Tea Party favorite quickly followed up with a series of intemperate remarks and questionable actions that arguably garnered him more negative national media attention than any Maine politician since Sen. James G. Blaine, the so-called “continental liar from the State of Maine” whose 1884 presidential run was derailed by graft and corruption charges.

LePage’s first major initiatives as governor—to roll back all state environmental laws to weaker federal standards and stop a ban on bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor, in baby bottles—were drafted by his special adviser, a registered lobbyist for many of the affected industries.

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Liz Cheney quitting bid to unseat Wyoming's Enzi

Liz CheneyLiz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said Monday she is abandoning her effort to unseat Republican incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming.  Cheney cited "serious health issues" that "have recently arisen in our family" as the reason for her decision.

But her candidacy had raised hackles in the Republican Party and caused a public rift with her sister, Mary, a lesbian, over Liz Cheney's opposition to gay marriage.

In her withdrawal statement, Cheney did not mention those controversies.

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Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change

fighting climate changeConservative groups may have spent up to $1bn a year on the effort to deny science and oppose action on climate change, according to the first extensive study into the anatomy of the anti-climate effort.

The anti-climate effort has been largely underwritten by conservative billionaires, often working through secretive funding networks. They have displaced corporations as the prime supporters of 91 think tanks, advocacy groups and industry associations which have worked to block action on climate change. Such financial support has hardened conservative opposition to climate policy, ultimately dooming any chances of action from Congress to cut greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, the study found.

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