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Obama Administration Issues Executive Order to Protect Transgender Rights in Public Employment

(Mediaite) President Barack Obama issued an executive order Thursday to prohibit transgender discrimination in public employment, another unilateral move by the administration in the wake of the 2014 midterms.

According to the new order, the Justice Department will now interpret the Civil Rights Act as covering transgender employees in workplace discrimination disputes, allowing the DOJ to bring suits against public employers for firing employees on the basis of gender identity.


Indiana church that booted gay choir director to close due to falling attendance

(LGBTQ Nation) A Methodist church in Indiana that suffered a massive walk-out after forcing its gay choir director to resign, will close its doors for good at the end of 2014.

David Mantor, pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Ind., says the decision to close the church resulted from falling attendance, membership and financing problems, reports The Herald Bulletin.


Marco Rubio’s fury over the Cuba shift shows why Obama made the right move

(WaPo) Rubio’s emotional — and at times inaccurate — response to the policy change shows why Obama’s move to normalize ties to Cuba after more than half a century is both good policy and good politics. It’s good policy because it jettisons a vestigial policy that has stopped serving a useful purpose, and because it is a gutsy move by Obama that demonstrates strong leadership and will help revive him from lame-duck status. It’s good politics because it will reveal that the Cuban American old guard, whose position Rubio represents, no longer speaks for most Cuban Americans.


Jimmy Carter Calls US-Cuba Diplomacy 'Courageous'

(AP) Former President Jimmy Carter says he is "proud and grateful" for the president's efforts to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba. Carter calls the shift in policy "courageous."

Carter rejects accusations that President Barack Obama is appeasing Cuba's communist leaders.

He said Thursday on MSNBC that the best way to bring democracy to Cubans is to let Americans "go there and trade and invest." Carter says that will show Cubans that Americans are "not the enemy."


Not much chance of Congress stopping Cuba policy

(AP) Opponents of President Barack Obama's sudden move to re-establish ties with Cuba have little chance of scuttling his effort in Congress.

His initiative faces some strong resistance among lawmakers and opened fissures in both parties. Criticism came mostly from Republicans, who say the new policy rewards Cuba's decades-long policies of repression, human rights abuses and aggression, but some prominent Democrats voiced opposition, too.


Texas GOP congressman who owns ‘blow-me.org’ website accused of sexual harassment

(Raw Story) According to Mediaite, Rep. Blake Farenthold was accused of harassing a female staffer in a lawsuit filed last Friday. On Monday, it emerged that Farenthold is the owner of the URL “www.blow-me.org,” a currently inactive web address.

Freshman congressman and Tea Party favorite Farenthold was accused of sexual misconduct and of creating a hostile work environment in a lawsuit filed by former staffer Lauren Greene.


Obama's Had a Helluva Good Month Since the Midterms

(Mother Jones) So how have things been going for our bored, exhausted, and disengaged president? He's been acting pretty enthusiastic, energized, and absorbed with his job, I'd say. Let us count the things he's done since the November 4th midterm elections...


Obama Applauds LeBron James For Wearing 'I Can't Breathe' T-Shirt

(HuffPo) The president singled out the Cleveland Cavalier for wearing Garner's final words, "I can't breathe," on a t-shirt during warm-ups before playing the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 9.

"I think LeBron did the right thing," Obama told People. "We forget the role that Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, and Bill Russell played in raising consciousness. I'd like to see more athletes do that -- not just around the issue, but around a range of issues."


New York Public Defenders Walk Out Of Court Protesting Eric Garner’s Death

(Buzzfeed) Over 100 Legal Aid Lawyers in NYC staged a walkout and die-in outside Brooklyn Criminal Court to protest what they say is a broken criminal justice system.

The protest, organized by the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA), saw hundreds of lawyers walk out of court as part of the #ThisStopsToday 11 days of action movement for Garner.

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Latest Breaking News

FairPoint workers rally outside State House

6 hrs ago - By Mike Cronin CONCORD, N.H. —Striking FairPoint workers protested in Concord on Friday as the company struggles to reach an agreement over contract negotiations. Union officials said they have made three contract offers since FairPoint's last prop ... (WMUR)

Some gray wolves to be returned to endangered list

6 hrs ago - TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday threw out an Obama administration decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list — a decision that will ban further wolf hunting and trapping in ... (Associated Press)

Protesters in contempt of court for anti-whaling campaign

7 hrs ago - By PAUL ELIAS SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court Friday for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarc ... (AP-Excite)

Obama threatens to veto any measures to weaken consumer protections

8 hrs ago - Dec 19 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday threatened to veto any efforts by a Republican-controlled Congress to weaken measures aimed at protecting consumers from abuses in the financial system. "If they try to water down consumer protecti ... (Reuters)

WHO says 1 million people have been wounded in Syria's civil war

9 hrs ago - December 19, 2014 13:32 One million people have been wounded during Syria's civil war and diseases are spreading as regular supplies of medicine fail to reach patients, the World Health Organization's Syria representative said. A plunge in vaccinat ... (GlobalPost)

WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Admitted Drone Strikes Counterproductive

9 hrs ago - WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Admitted Drone Strikes Counterproductive By TeleSUR 19 December 14 Controversial U.S. drone strikes may be helping rather than hindering the Taliban in Afghanistan, according to a leaked CIA document released by Wikileaks Thu ... (Reader Supported News)

Caramel apple outbreak causes illness, one death in California

10 hrs ago - A multi-state listeria outbreak has infected 28 people as of Dec. 18, four of whom died from the illness, according to a Friday release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There was one reported case of listeria in California, and t ... (Sacramento Bee)

Pentagon anti-bomb force 'improperly retained' information on Americans

10 hrs ago - The Pentagon’s taskforce charged with stopping insurgent bombs has for years inappropriately acted as an intelligence agency, according to a declassified internal report obtained by the Guardian. The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organiza ... (The Guardian)

Sued by Google, a State Attorney General Retreats

10 hrs ago - Attorney General Jim Hood of Mississippi on Friday agreed to call a “time out” in his fight with Google after the Internet giant filed a lawsuit accusing him of conspiring with the movie industry. The move by Mr. Hood, who has been one Google’s most ... (New York Times)

A day after Nativity scene erected, atheist sign posted in State Capitol (NE)

11 hrs ago - By Paul Hammel LINCOLN — In the “that-didn’t-take-long” category, an atheist sign was posted Friday at the first-floor Rotunda of the Nebraska State Capitol, one day after a first-ever Nativity scene was erected there. “Religion is but myth and su ... (Omaha World Herald)

Supreme Court denies stay in Florida gay marriage case; couples can marry after Jan. 5

11 hrs ago - MIAMI — Same-sex weddings may soon begin in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block them. The court said Friday it wouldn't block the marriages. A federal judge previously declared Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and sai ... (Tampa Bay Times)

Cubans look to future with optimism in wake of historic breakthrough

11 hrs ago - One of Hermania’s Arufat’s fondest memories of her childhood in pre-revolutionary Cuba is of waiting at the ferry port for her mother to arrive back from the United States, bearing – as she always did – a handful of gifts. More than half a century o ... (The Guardian)

Staples says breach affects 1.2M cards

11 hrs ago - Kaja Whitehouse, Staples on Friday said cyber criminals may have compromised 1.2 million customer cards. On Friday, Staples gave an update to a data breach announced in October, saying criminals deployed malware to point-of-sale systems at 115 of i ... (USA Today)

Cops: Woman killed boy, falsely reported abduction (update to yesterdays Amber Alert)

11 hrs ago - BERNE, N.Y. (AP) — A 19-year-old woman strangled a 5-year-old cousin who had been in her parents' care, then discarded his body along a road before calling in a false report that two masked intruders took the boy from their Albany-area home, authorit ... (Omaha World Herald-AP)

Apple on defence after BBC exposé of working conditions in its factories

12 hrs ago - Apple is in the spotlight again over working conditions for the people who make its products, following a BBC investigation that alleges poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories. Undercover filming by the BBC investigative program Panorama sho ... (CBC)

Russell Brand And New Era Estate Score Amazing London Housing Victory

13 hrs ago - Hundreds of residents facing eviction from their London estate have scored a massive victory after investors sold the development to an affordable housing charity. The New Era estate group - backed by Russell Brand - were facing being made homeless ... (Huffington Post)

European leaders warn against too much economic pain on Russia

13 hrs ago - The European Union's unanimous resolve to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine appeared to be cracking as French, German, Austrian and Italian leaders voiced concern at an alliance summit of inflicting too much pain on Moscow as its economy tu ... (LAT)

Poll: Americans skeptical of commercial drones

13 hrs ago - By JOAN LOWY and JENNIFER AGIESTA Dec. 19, 2014 12:34 PM EST WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans broadly back tight regulations on commercial drone operators, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, as concerns about privacy and safety override the po ... (The Associated Press)

'Sextortion' suspects deny involvement in Daniel Perry case

14 hrs ago - Two Filipino men suspected of blackmailing a UK teenager who took his own life have been traced by the BBC. Daniel Perry from Dunfermline was 17 when he fell from the Forth Bridge in July 2013. He had been the victim of online sexual blackmail or " ... (BBC)

China orders payout in 'gay shock therapy' case

15 hrs ago - China has ordered a psychiatric clinic to pay compensation to a gay man who was given electric shocks in an attempt to make him heterosexual. The man, Yang Teng, said a Beijing court had decreed that the Xinyu Piaoxiang clinic would have to pay him ... (BBC)

100 million euros in assets seized in Rome 'mafia' probe

15 hrs ago - ROME (AP) — Police have seized construction companies, apartments, villas and a yacht belonging to a businessman who authorities allege consorted with a Mafia-like gang in Rome with ties to local politicians. Tax Police Lt. Col. Gerardo Mastrodomeni ... (Associated Press)

McDonald's violated worker rights: NLRB

15 hrs ago - A government labor watchdog has accused McDonald's and some franchise owners of violating workers rights by retaliating against them for taking part in fast food protests. The National Labor Relations Board said in several complaints filed Friday th ... (CNN)

Sony 'made a mistake'

15 hrs ago - The first questions asked of President Obama involved the massive Sony hack, which the United States has tied to North Korea. “In this interconnected digital world, there are going to be opportunities for hackers to engage in cyberassaults both in t ... (Washington Post)

Thailand Says It Was Unaware Of CIA 'Black Site' On Its Soil

17 hrs ago - Thailand's prime minister says his government had no knowledge of a secret location inside the country where the CIA is said to have waterboarded top al-Qaida operatives in 2002. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha was responding to the so-called "tortu ... (NPR)

U.S. ends TARP with $15.3 billion profit

17 hrs ago - The U.S. government essentially closed the books on TARP with a $15.3 billion profit. Treasury sold its remaining shares Friday in Ally Financial, its last remaining major stake from the $426 billion bailout of banks and the U.S. auto industry. The ... (CNN)

Obama to deliver State of the Union on Jan. 20

17 hrs ago - David Jackson, President Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union address to the new Republican-run Congress on Jan. 20, officials said Friday. "Your report will inform our efforts to address the people's priorities," House Speaker John Boe ... (USA Today)

Vladimir Putin invites Kim Jong-un to Moscow

18 hrs ago - Friday 19 December 2014 09.11 EST The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has invited the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in the second world war, the Kremlin’s s ... (The Guardian)

American Airlines Reaches Deal With Flight Attendants Union

18 hrs ago - Deal Settles Big Area of Uncertainty as It Continues Integration with US Airways By MICHAEL CALIA American Airlines Group Inc. said Friday that it had reached a joint collective-bargaining deal with the union representing 24,000 flight attendants, ... (WSJ)

FBI poised to link China to Sony computer hack, reports say

18 hrs ago - Reports say link between the hack and North Korea has been established, with more details to come at press conference with Obama on Friday A poster of The Interview outside a theater in New York. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA The FBI is investigati ... (Guardian UK)