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  • Belarus tightens control over online media Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 3:12 PM ET

    MINSK, Belarus— The Belarusian parliament has approved a bill that would allow authorities to shut Internet media if they carry content deemed illegal. Wednesday's move is part of the authorities' efforts to further tighten control over media ahead of November's presidential election, in which authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko is expected to...

  • WASHINGTON/ BOSTON, Dec 17- Government investigators fear the hackers behind the unprecedented attack on Sony's Hollywood studio may never be caught if they are under the protection of North Korea, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. The law enforcement official, who declined to be identified because the investigation is ongoing, said authorities will require...

  • Governor abandons single-payer health care plan Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 2:49 PM ET

    MONTPELIER, Vt.— Calling it the biggest disappointment of his career, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday he was abandoning plans to make Vermont the first state in the country with a universal, publicly funded health care system. "I am not going undermine the hope of achieving critically important health care reforms for this state by pushing prematurely for...

  • WASHINGTON/ BOSTON, Dec 17- Government investigators fear the hackers behind the unprecedented attack on Sony's Hollywood studio may never be caught if they are under the protection of North Korea, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. A threat against theaters planning to show Sony Corp's controversial movie about the assassination of the leader of North Korea...

  • Dec 17- A U.S. judge has dismissed Steve Wynn's lawsuit accusing prominent short-seller Jim Chanos of slander over an alleged statement that the casino mogul violated a U.S. anti-bribery law. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco ruled on Tuesday that Chanos was giving an opinion protected under the U.S. Chanos, founder of New York- based hedge fund...

  • Coalition of business owners opposes right to work Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 12:58 PM ET

    MADISON, Wis.— A newly formed coalition of more than 300 construction-related private businesses in Wisconsin announced Wednesday that it will work to defeat a right-to-work proposal being discussed by Republican leaders in the Legislature. Formation of the group comes as talks proceed behind the scenes among Republicans who control the Legislature...

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 17- The U.S. National Credit Union Administration said on Wednesday it filed a lawsuit against U.S. Bank and Bank of America over mortgage securities. The regulator said the banks broke state and federal laws by failing their duties as trustees for 99 securities trusts. The lawsuit is related to $5.8 billion in securities sold to five credit...

  • Protections blocked, but sage grouse work goes on Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 11:21 AM ET

    BILLINGS, Mont.— U.S. wildlife officials will decide next year whether a wide-ranging Western bird species needs protections even though Congress has blocked such protections from taking effect, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday. President Barack Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill late Tuesday with a provision that barred money from...

  • Michigan road funds deal in doubt this session Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 4:01 AM ET

    Rick Snyder and legislative leaders failed Wednesday to negotiate a potential tax increase to improve Michigan's deteriorating roads, as chances of a $1.2 billion deal dwindled before lawmakers adjourn for the year. The Senate and House approved vastly different plans after the November election. The Senate plan would more than double the 19- cents-...

  • Lethal injection drug bill clears Ohio Legislature Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 2:08 AM ET

    COLUMBUS, Ohio— The names of companies that provide Ohio with lethal injection drugs would be shielded under a proposal the state House is poised to vote on Wednesday. Problems finding supplies of lethal drugs have created a de facto moratorium on executions in Ohio, which a decade ago was one of the country's busiest death penalty states. Ohio executed just one...

  • 113th Congress ends with more fights than feats Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 1:16 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— The tempestuous 113th Congress has limped out of Washington for the last time, capping two years of modest and infrequent legislating that was overshadowed by partisan clashes, gridlock and investigations. That was the fewest since at least 1947 and 1948, when what President Harry Truman dubbed "the do-nothing Congress" enacted over 900 laws.

  • Clinton denounces torture, says black lives matter Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 12:09 AM ET

    NEW YORK— Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she's proud to have been part of an administration that "banned illegal renditions and brutal interrogations" and said the U.S. should never be involved in torture anywhere in the world. Clinton spoke about the importance of the nation acting in accordance with its values after receiving an award from The Robert F....

  • NYC premiere of Rogen film canceled as threats fly Wednesday, 17 Dec 2014 | 12:05 AM ET

    The New York premiere of "The Interview" canceled. The Department of Homeland Security said there was "no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters," but noted it was still analyzing messages from the group, dubbed GOP. The warning did prompt law enforcement in New York and Los Angeles to address measures to ramp up security.

  • WASHINGTON, Dec 16- President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress last week that lifted the threat of a government shutdown. The Department of Homeland Security will be treated differently, getting a funding extension only through Feb. 27, by which time Republicans will control both chambers of Congress.

  • Republican senator blocks terrorism insurance measure Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 | 9:09 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— A Republican senator Tuesday blocked a bill that would have renewed a government program credited with reviving the market for insurance against terrorist strikes after the Sept. 11 attacks. Tom Coburn, who is retiring this year, dimmed chances for any action in the waning hours of the lame-duck session of Congress. It provides a government...

  • The Senate approved legislation sent from the House of Representatives that renews retroactively, back to Jan. 1, 2014, a 55- item package of tax breaks. In a floor speech before passage, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said: "With this tax bill, the Congress is turning in its tax homework 11 months late... this package of tax incentives will last just two...

  • Kansas firm moves ahead on wind as rule is debated Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 | 4:58 PM ET

    TOPEKA, Kan.— Kansas' largest electric company announced plans Tuesday to buy power from a wind farm under development to meet a state renewable-energy mandate, as legislators prepared for another debate over repealing the requirement. Westar Energy Inc. said it expects Cedar Bluffs in Ness and Trego counties in western Kansas to start generating power by the...

  • Keystone pipeline to top Senate agenda next year Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 | 3:19 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell declared Tuesday that approving the Keystone XL pipeline will top the Senate agenda in January, potentially setting up an early veto confrontation with President Barack Obama. The $8 billion pipeline would carry oil from Canada into the United States and eventually to the Texas Gulf Coast.

  • Hemp gets boost in federal spending bill Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 | 2:44 PM ET

    LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Michael Lewis felt some anxiety when he stepped forward as one of Kentucky's first farmers to test the potential of hemp production, but some recent action by Congress has helped set his mind at ease. The latest federal farm bill allows states to designate hemp projects for research and development. And now, the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill...

  • WASHINGTON— A Congress that began with bright hopes for immigration legislation is ending in bitter divisions on the issue even as some Republicans warn that the political imperative for acting is stronger than ever for the GOP. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an author of the comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate last year with bipartisan...