By Lawrence Hurley and Gabriel Debenedetti WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the overall cap on federal election contributions is sending ripples across American politics, as states have begun backing away from their own restrictions on donations and lawyers are forecasting a new wave of challenges to campaign finance laws nationwide. The court's 5-4 ruling on Wednesday was unsettling for many Washington fundraisers, donors and lobbyists who were comfortable with federal rules that had limited total donations to candidates and party groups to $123,200 in the 2014 election cycle. Now, thanks to the court's decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, donors who are able to give millions of dollars to candidates and their parties will see their influence expanded - much as it was by a 2010 ruling that inspired the creation of independent "Super PACs" and other groups that could receive unlimited donations. Both rulings are part of a series of decisions by the conservative-led Supreme Court that have given big-money donors more influence in U.S. elections.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration defended its creation of a Twitter-like Cuban communications network to undermine the communist government, declaring the secret program was "invested and debated" by Congress and wasn't a covert operation that required White House approval.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba's communist government.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government on Thursday reached a $5.15 billion settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the largest ever for environmental contamination, to settle claims related to the cleanup of thousands of sites tainted with hazardous chemicals for decades.
PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix man who told police he killed his 12-year-old half brother last month because he "just felt like killing" is now accused of fatally stabbing a cellmate, authorities said Thursday.
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The soldier who killed three people at Fort Hood may have argued with another service member prior to the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said Thursday.
By David Schwartz PHOENIX (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday grilled an aide to Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio for misleading local residents about a ruling that found deputies racially profiled Latino drivers. During the tense hearing in Phoenix, U.S. District Judge Murray Snow also threatened to personally attend training sessions for deputies to ensure his order from last year is complied with at Arpaio's Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. "I am not going to tolerate any slip-ups any more," Snow said on Thursday. The judge has called for an independent monitor to ensure Arpaio's Sheriff's Office stops using race in making law enforcement decisions, in a ruling that stems from a 2007 lawsuit questioning whether police could target unauthorized immigrants without profiling Hispanics who are U.S. citizens or legal residents.
BOSTON (AP) — A Boston firefighter and former Marine killed in an apartment blaze last week was praised Thursday as a courageous, compassionate man who served his country in Iraq and his community at home.