Breaking News of the Day: Pussy Riot Gets 2 Years In Jail

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Meanwhile in Russia: Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot each have been sentenced to two years in jail for an obscenity-laced performance at Moscow's Christ The Savior cathedral in February in which they were so bold as to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The women -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 -- are made of tough stuff. As the verdict came down, and a shout of "Shame!" was heard in the courtroom, they just laughed.

Judge Marina Syrova convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had "crudely undermined social order." She cited three specific elements for finding the trio guilty:

  1. The choice and timing of venue.
  2. Their continued performance and resistance to be taken outside by security and cathedral parishioners.
  3. The defendants' conduct and their accomplices afterwards.

Here's the shocking performance that started it all.


Breaking News of the Day: James Holmes Charged With 12 Counts Of First-Degree Murder

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James Holmes, the suspect in the July 20 shooting massacre at a Colorado movie theater that killed 12, has been charged with 12 counts of first-degree murder, 12 counts of murder with extreme indifference, and 116 counts of attempted murder.

He faces, at minimum, life in prison without parole, and at maximum, the death penalty.


Breaking News: Was Colorado Shooter Dressed As The Joker?

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James Holmes, the 24-year-old gunman who killed 12 at a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises early today, is alleged to have been dressed as the Joker at the time of the shooting, according to NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly:

We have some information, most of it is public. It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He had his hair painted red, he said he was "The Joker," obviously the "enemy" of Batman.

Earlier reports say Holmes was dressed in full body armor. Kelly and his spokesman have not said who briefed him.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates would not confirm the information about Holmes, but confirmed he had spoken to Kelly.


Breaking News of the Day: Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare [UPDATED]

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The U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Obama's landmark healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, this morning in a 5-4 ruling.

To the surprise of, well, everyone, Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the court's liberals to support the individual mandate -- the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine -- which will remain constitutional as a tax.

"The bottom line," according to SCOTUSBlog, is that "the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read. [...] Chief Justice Roberts' vote saved the ACA."

Justice Anthony Kennedy, usually the court's swing vote, dissented, reading from the bench that he and three conservative justices believe "the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."

Mitt Romney was quick to criticize the decision:

The court, he said, may have ruled the law constitutional, but "what they did not do is say that Obamacare was a good law. ObamaCare was a bad law yesterday, it is a bad law today... If we want to replace Obamacare, we have to replace Obama.

Obama championed the ruling as "victory for people all over this country":

They've reaffirmed a fundamental principle: That here in America, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin... It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics," he said. "I did it because I believed it was good for the country.

Under the ACA, Americans will be be required to buy health insurance or pay a penalty of 1 percent of their income to the IRS. Only about 6 percent of the population will actually be required to buy health insurance or face a tax under the mandate, since most people already have coverage or will get it through Medicare, according to the Urban Institute.

The House will vote on a full repeal the week of July 9, according to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

In related news, CNN and Fox News jumped the gun this morning and reported the law had been struck down; similarly, a handful of Republican lawmakers celebrated prematurely via Twitter.


Breaking News of the Day: Obama Offers Immunity To Young Immigrants

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Bypassing Congress, President Obama announced today the implementation of his own version of the DREAM Act that will begin granting work permits to as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, graduated from high school, and stayed out of trouble with the law.

According to the AP:

The new policy will grant immunity from deportation to "illegal immigrants [who] were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military." It will also allow them to apply for a two-year work permit that can be repeatedly renewed if they stay out of trouble.

How is Obama's election-year move possible? A memo by Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano describes the new policy as a matter of "prosecutorial discretion":

Our Nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner. They are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Indeed, many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways. Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.

Breaking News of the Day: Lance Armstrong Faces More Doping Charges

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Just months after the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles ended a years-long investigation into doping allegations by Lance Armstrong without bringing criminal charges, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has brought formal charges against him, alleging that the former cyclist engaged in a massive doping conspiracy from 1998-2011.

In a letter dated June 12 and obtained by The Washington Post, USADA alleges that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, corticosteroids, and masking agents, and distributed and administered drugs to others.

USADA is an agency that oversees anti-doping in Olympic sports. It has the authority to bring charges that could lead to suspension from competition and the rescinding of awards, which means these charges could cost Armstrong his seven Tour de France titles. The agency lacks the authority to bring criminal charges.

Armstrong's publicist released his statement today:

I have never doped, and, unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one. That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence. Any fair consideration of these allegations has and will continue to vindicate me.


Breaking News of the Day: Prop 8 Headed To Supreme Court

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined today to reconsider the February ruling that struck down Proposition 8, California's ban on gay marriage -- which means the legislation is headed to the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.

An appeal to the higher court in the coming months is the only chance that Prop 8 supporters have of reviving the same-sex marriage ban. If the justices agree to hear the case, they would be expected to rule by June 2013.