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December 31, 2013 | By David G. Savage and Maeve Reston
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a temporary exemption late Tuesday to a small group of Catholic nuns that shields it from having to comply with a part of President Obama's healthcare law that requires it to provide contraceptive coverage in its insurance plans. She acted on an emergency appeal from lawyers for the group who said the nuns faced "draconian fines" beginning on New Year's Day if they failed to comply with the law widely known as Obamacare. Sotomayor gave the government until Friday to file a response in the case.
December 24, 2013 | By Henry Chu
LONDON - Nearly 60 years after his death, Alan Turing, the British scientist whose code-breaking work helped the Allies beat Hitler and whom many consider the father of artificial intelligence, received a royal pardon Tuesday for the crime of having had sex with another man. Turing was convicted in 1952 of “gross indecency,” the charge used against gay men in an age when homosexual relations were illegal in Britain. He underwent chemical castration and had his government security clearance confiscated, then took his own life in 1954 at age 41, prematurely ending a distinguished career that pioneered today's computer era. In recent years, a campaign to have Turing's name cleared has built momentum, resulting in an official apology in 2009 and culminating in the announcement Tuesday that Queen Elizabeth II, exercising her royal “prerogative of mercy,” had pardoned Turing at the request of the government.
December 24, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO - A California firefighter who was severely burned when her crew was trapped during a 2007 wildfire received a pardon from the governor Tuesday for crimes she committed in her youth. Gov. Jerry Brown's order, citing Brooke Linman's bravery and heroism, was one of 127 grants of clemency that followed a tradition of Christmas Eve pardons he began in 2011. Though most of those who were pardoned committed minor, nonviolent drug crimes decades ago, the list also includes robbers, spouse abusers, people who fired guns during their crimes, a chop-shop operator and a man who stole frozen food.
December 24, 2013 | By Anthony York
Gov. Jerry Brown announced pardons for 127 convicted felons Tuesday, keeping with a Christmas Eve tradition he has followed since retaking the governor's office in 2011. All of those pardoned by Brown have long since completed their sentences and have a record of at least a decade without any further criminal activity, according to a statement from the governor's office. Most were convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. "Pardons are not granted unless they are earned," the statement said.
December 23, 2013 | By Maeve Reston
HONOLULU - President Obama issued an executive order Monday granting civilian and military employees a 1% pay raise in 2014. Military employees have received a raise each year that Obama has been in the White House, but civilian pay has been flat over the last three years as members of Congress have tangled over the budget and the federal deficit. On the campaign trail in 2010 and 2012, some Republicans targeted the pay scale of federal employees, suggesting that inflated government employment was contributing to the nation's fiscal problems, although their salaries make up a small portion of the overall budget.
December 20, 2013 | Wire reports
The Baltimore Orioles won't be closing a deal for All-Star closer Grant Balfour . Days after reaching a preliminary agreement with the free agent pending a physical, the Orioles said Friday that they weren't satisfied with the results of Balfour's exam. "This is a deal that's not going to come together," Dan Duquette , Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations, said on a conference call. Duquette declined to say what specifically concerned him about Balfour, who turns 36 later this month.
December 19, 2013 | By Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW - He was once Russia's richest man and, by some measures, President Vladimir Putin's most potent foe. By Thursday, when Putin said he was likely to grant clemency to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, that was all long in the past. Both Khodorkovsky's power and the source of his wealth have been lost over the course of a decade in prison, and Putin's position as Russia's leader is more secure than ever. Khodorkovsky's release would signal an end to a remarkable saga that has been one of the hallmarks of Putin's tenure, and has led to international condemnation of what many view as a high-profile violation of human rights.
December 19, 2013 | By Paige St. John
SACRAMENTO -- State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) on Thursday proposed resurrecting state grants for county programs that deal with mentally ill people who run afoul of the law. After a decade of state funding, the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grants ceased in 2008 due to budget cuts. Steinberg is seeking to restore funding, starting with $50 million. Unless Steinberg finds room elsewhere in the upcoming 2014 state budget, the funding is contingent on whether Gov. Jerry Brown receives a delay in a federal court order to reduce crowding in state prisons.
December 18, 2013 | By Jessica Gelt
Christian charity will be hitting the small screen in the middle of next year when "It Takes a Church" is to debut on GSN. The network announced Tuesday that it has greenlighted the new original series, which features 2014 Grammy Award nominee Natalie Grant as host. The hourlong reality show is to visit a different congregation at churches across the U.S. in order to find the perfect romantic partner for a preselected single person. The church's pastor will then ask his or her congregation to try to find a match.
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