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December 26, 2013 | By Timothy M. Phelps
WASHINGTON - Debo Adegbile, President Obama's nominee to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, attributes much of his success as an attorney to a nine-year stint as a child actor on "Sesame Street" in the 1970s. The unusual resume item brought him a kind of mini-celebrity and was a surprisingly frequent focus of job interviews, Adegbile has said, even as he climbed the legal ranks to join a big New York corporate law firm. But as he faces Senate confirmation hearings next month, Adegbile is drawing a different kind of attention from conservative activists.
December 22, 2013 | By Richard Simon
WASHINGTON - Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing is poised to receive the Medal of Honor a bit late: 150 years after his heroics at Gettysburg. Buried deep in a thick defense bill to fund modern-day weapons systems and military operations in Afghanistan is a measure to waive the time limit for posthumously awarding the nation's highest military honor to Cushing. The 22-year-old Union artillery officer refused to leave the battlefield even after being severely wounded during Pickett's charge July 3, 1863.
December 20, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
Two days after a judge ruled that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of Americans' telephone records was probably unconstitutional, the Obama administration on Wednesday released a report in which a presidential task force called for an end to the program. The President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies also suggested other significant reforms in the collection of data about Americans and foreigners. President Obama, who said he welcomed a debate over the activities exposed by Edward Snowden, should take the panel's advice.
December 19, 2013 | By Amro Hassan
CAIRO - In a move that heightened concerns over freedom of expression and other individual rights in Egypt, special police forces raided a human rights center's office in Cairo. Six people were arrested and three computers confiscated in the raid late Wednesday on the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights. Five of those detained were later released, the group said Thursday. "What is currently happening is a clear scenario of suppressing any voice trying to oppose the abuses being practiced" by the Egyptian authorities, said a statement jointly released by 10 Egyptian rights organizations.
December 19, 2013 | By Robyn Dixon, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Fears of civil war in South Sudan grew Thursday, after South Sudan's military admitted losing control of a key town in the country's east to army mutineers. The army lost Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, to a military faction associated with former Vice President Riek Machar, who has been accused by President Salva Kiir of launching a coup. Fighting continued in the region Thursday. Machar denies any coup attempt, claiming that Kiir is inciting ethnic tensions.
December 18, 2013 | By Meredith Blake
As anyone who's watched even a few minutes of A&E's reality hit "Duck Dynasty" can tell you, Phil Robertson is a pretty conservative guy.  But in an interview published in January's GQ Magazine , the duck call inventor and Roberston family patriarch  goes on record with comments about the sinfulness of gays and black people under Jim Crow that are about as forward-thinking as his Old Testament facial hair.  In the profile, an unedited Robertson...
December 10, 2013 | By Neela Banerjee
WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency plans to substantially reduce inspections and civil enforcement cases against industry over the next five years, arguing that focusing on the biggest polluters would be the most effective way to clean up air and water. In a draft strategic plan, the EPA proposes to cut federal inspections by one-third from the 20,000 inspections it conducted in the last fiscal year, ended Sept. 30. Moreover, it plans to initiate about 2,320 civil enforcement cases a year, compared with the 3,000 cases initiated last fiscal year, a 23% reduction.
December 2, 2013 | By Teresa Watanabe and Stephen Ceasar
In Cudahy, parents collected more than 600 signatures demanding a new principal. In Culver City, they fought attempts to unionize classroom aides and formed a group that elected a school board majority. In Los Angeles, parents are organizing for more effective school disciplinary practices. And hundreds recently flocked to a Sacramento hearing to demand a voice in shaping rules for the state's new school funding plan. This may well be the new look of parent power. While the PTA and other school-based groups used to be the primary vehicle for parent involvement, a plethora of new organizing models has proliferated - many of them reaching out to immigrants to boost their activism in schools.
November 25, 2013 | By Patrick J. McDonnell
BEIRUT - Long-delayed peace talks designed to end the bloody conflict in Syria will begin Jan. 22 in Geneva, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Monday, amid growing international alarm about the rise of Islamic militant rebels inside the country. The so-called Geneva 2 negotiations - sponsored by the United States and Russia - would mark the first meeting between the Syrian government and opposition representatives aimed at ending the 32-month-old civil war. Despite Monday's announcement, some observers expressed skepticism that the talks would take place.
November 21, 2013 | Matthew Teague
FAIRHOPE, Ala. - The state of Alabama can't rewrite a history shot through with hate and violence, but with the help of one determined woman it has added a postscript. On Thursday, Alabama's parole board pardoned the last of the long-dead Scottsboro Boys, nine black teenagers falsely accused of rape in 1931. Their case was monumental. It divided some residents here and united others, led to two landmark Supreme Court decisions, and precipitated the civil rights movement in the decades that followed.
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