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Sarah Palin tells Iowa conservatives it's time 'to stiffen our backs'

By Kay Henderson DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who rallied members of the Tea Party in their failed effort to defund Obamacare, lashed out on Saturday against members of the Republican Party who agreed to end the government shutdown. The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee's comments during a speech in Des Moines come at a time of division within the party over the strategy conservative members of Congress adopted in forcing a 16-day shutdown of the federal government last month.

Analysis: At Supreme Court hearing, passions over religion and its rules

By Joan Biskupic WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When the U.S. Supreme Court talks about religion, all hell breaks loose. A dispute over an upstate New York town's prayer before council meetings produced an unusually testy oral-argument session on Wednesday that recalled the decades of difficulty Supreme Court justices have had drawing the line between church and state.

U.S. justices question woman's chemical weapons conviction

By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Supreme Court justices on Tuesday signaled concern that the federal government may have wrongly used a chemical weapons law to prosecute a Pennsylvania microbiologist convicted of trying to poison her husband's lover. Seemingly taken from the storyline of a television police drama, the tale, in fact, raises a core question about the power of Congress to enact laws implementing international treaties the U.S. government has signed.

Budget talks in Congress may offer clues to Ryan's political future, positioning in GOP

WASHINGTON - To hear Rep. Paul Ryan tell it, a bipartisan group of congressional negotiators has the chance to take the first steps toward fixing a serious problem: a debt-ridden federal government facing an onslaught of retiring baby boomers draining entitlement programs. If successful, "we'll restore confidence in Washington," Ryan said this week at the start of House-Senate budget talks. "The bar is pretty low right now. Let's see if we can clear it."

US top court examines higher-ed affirmative action

The US Supreme Court Tuesday considered whether state referendums can ban race and sex as factors in university admissions. In 2006, the US state of Michigan voted on a measure to disallow so-called affirmative action in college admissions. The high court heard arguments Tuesday on whether the ban is constitutional, considering the US constitution's equal protection guarantees. Outside, on the Supreme Court steps, some 200 mostly minority protesters gathered to defend affirmative action.

Justices weigh whether Michigan's voter ban on affirmative action is discrimination

WASHINGTON - Affirmative action opponents persuaded Michigan voters to outlaw any consideration of race after the Supreme Court ruled a decade ago that race could be a factor in college admissions. That state's constitutional amendment is now being examined by the high court to determine whether the change the voters sought is in fact discriminatory. It is a proposition that even the lawyer for civil rights groups in favour of affirmative action acknowledges is a tough sell, at first glance.

Column: The GOP's age of unreason

By Nicholas Wapshott If the federal government fails to pay its bills and the interest on its borrowing by the middle of the month, it is the overwhelming verdict of the nation's smartest economists that financial mayhem will ensue.

Republicans see shutdown fight shift away from 'Obamacare'

A handful of Tea Party-supported conservatives have publicly backed off the fight to repeal Obamacare.

Justice Scalia says has not expressed view on gay marriage

MEDFORD, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of four justices to dissent from a June decision by the court that struck down a portion of a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, said on Thursday he has not given his views on the constitutionality of gay marriage itself. "I haven't expressed my view about gay marriage," Scalia, a noted conservative said, adding that the decision itself only applied to a narrow piece of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Canadian Muslim leaders worried U.S. speakers will spread 'hate' about Islam

TORONTO - A Canadian Muslim organization is calling on Ottawa to spell out how it decides whether to allow controversial foreign speakers into the country ahead of a planned appearance by two conservative American bloggers. The National Council of Canadian Muslims worries Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer will spread "hate and misinformation" about the Islamic faith when they speak at a Toronto-area hotel Tuesday evening, the group's executive director said.
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