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WASHINGTON: GOP bill targets foreign aid

A House panel unveiled a bill Monday that would block U.S. aid to Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority unless the Obama administration reassures Congress that they are cooperating in the fight against terrorism. It is a direct challenge to the president's foreign policy authority, and comes as the House is looking for significant cuts in the State Department budget and in foreign assistance. The House Foreign Affairs Committee will consider the bill tomorrow. While the House is likely to approve it, its prospects in the Democratic-controlled Senate are dim. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) is likely to reject many of the bill's provisions.

NEBRASKA: Farmers' settlement decried

Michele Bachmann pointed to one program in particular Monday when talking about wasteful government spending: a multibillion-dollar settlement paid to black farmers, who claim the federal government discriminated against them for decades in awarding loans and other aid. After the Republican presidential candidate and Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa toured flooded areas along the Missouri River, they were asked whether farmers affected by the flooding should be worried about proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture cuts. They responded by criticizing a 1999 settlement in what is known as the Pigford case. King likened the Pigford settlement to "modern-day reparations" for African-Americans. Said Bachmann, "We can't afford $2 billion in potentially fraudulent claims when that money can be used to benefit the people along the Mississippi River and the Missouri River."

CALIFORNIA: Budget cuts close courts

The San Francisco Superior Court announced Monday that it's laying off more than 40 percent of its staff and shuttering 25 courtrooms because of budget cuts. Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein said a $13.75 million deficit caused by state budget cuts had to be closed. "The civil justice system in San Francisco is collapsing," she said.

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