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A state lawmaker from Virginia is so upset about the Congress repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell that he wants to institute a mini-DADT banning gay men and lesbians from the Virginia National Guard.

"It's a distraction when I'm on the battlefield and have to concentrate on the enemy 600 yards away and I'm worried about this guy whose got eyes on me," the lawmaker, Delegate Bob Marshall (R), told WUSA9. "If I needed a blood transfusion and the guy next to me had committed sodomy 14 times in the last month I'd be worried."

Marshall says he's working on legislation to institute a DADT-style state law. His authority to do so, he claims, comes from the clause of the U.S. Constitution which reads, "reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia."

But Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), who as the authority to deploy the state National Guard in a state emergency, says no way.

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The Senate voted 67-28 to break a GOP filibuster and end debate on the START nuclear weapons reduction treaty with Russia, paving the way for a final vote on ratification later this week that could be another major victory for the Obama administration in the lame duck session.

A sufficient number of Republicans broke ranks against right-wing opposition to the treaty, which was led in part by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), to cut off debate. Now all that remains is a vote on ratification, which has to reach the Constitution's required two-thirds vote to approve a treaty, a higher bar than the 60 votes for breaking a filibuster -- and a bar that the cloture vote has already achieved so far. That vote is expected this week -- and enough Republicans have already pledged support.

The treaty had also been held up in the Senate, with some Republicans even hinting that their opposition was being fanned in reaction to Democrats pursuing such other objectives as the DREAM Act and the (ultimately successful) repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

But momentum grew in the last few days, with key Republicans such as Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) coming on board.

Numerous Republicans who are not currently in office -- including all six living Republican former Secretaries of State, from Henry Kissinger through Condoleezza Rice -- have urged ratification.

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Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) railed against President Barack Obama's nominees to the federal bench on Tuesday afternoon, complaining that Obama was only nominating individuals with "ACLU DNA" and rattling off a list of potential judges who are now or have ever been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I'm sure that less than one percent of the lawyers in America are members of the ACLU," Sessions said. "It seems if you have the ACLU DNA, you get a pretty good leg up to being nominated by this president."

The ACLU -- which has over 500,000 members and supporters -- did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's argument in defense of the pro-segregation Citizens' Council from his hometown of Yazoo City, Miss., has centered on the fact that the group, made up of white town leaders, drove the violent Ku Klux Klan out of town.

"In Yazoo City they [the council] passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. ... We didn't have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City," he told the Weekly Standard. He stuck to the same version of events in his walkback today, though adding that the Council wasn't made up of "saints."

But why did the Yazoo City Citizens' Council, an outfit that led boycotts of integration supporters and drove the local NAACP out of town, fight the KKK?

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The 2010 Census numbers have been released, with the final verdict on which states will gain House seats, and which states will lose them -- and consequently, how the Electoral College landscape will change for the presidential election in 2012.

All in all, states carried by President Obama in 2008 will lose a net total of six electoral votes, thus adding six votes to the McCain 2008 column -- using as our basis a year when the Republican nominee lost almost every state that a GOP candidate possibly could.

If the year 2012 turns out to be a Democratic landslide, or a Republican landslide, then these small shifts won't really matter in the great scheme of things. But if it becomes a tight race that comes down to a dogfight for every last electoral vote, like in 2000, then these changes could have a truly momentous effect on the country and indeed the world.

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by T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, and Daniel Zwerdling, NPR Dec. 21, 2010, 2 a.m.

Versions of this story were co-published with NPR [1] and Stars and Stripes [2]. For more coverage, listen to Morning Edition [3].

One afternoon this fall, Bobby McKinney hunched over a coffee table with a clear glass surface. A lamp with a bare light bulb illuminated it from below. Pencil in hand, the former Marine traced the pattern for a tattoo across delicate paper, a swirling, intricate design reminiscent of a Celtic cross.

Did you or a loved one suffer a mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) while serving? ProPublica and NPR want to hear your story. Tell us about your experiences with TBI.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose unpolished, tough-talking style has brought him much national attention and made him a viral sensation, is often floated as a potential presidential candidate in 2012. A new Quinnipiac poll out today suggests Christie would face a tough time even in his home state.

According to the poll, a large majority of New Jersey voters don't think their governor would make a good president. Sixty-three percent of respondents said Christie would not be a good commander-in-chief, while only 25% said he would be a good fit for the nation's top job.

What's more, most New Jersey voters don't like the sound of "Vice President Christie" either. Just 32% of respondents said Christie would make a good veep, while 59% said he would not.

Those results come despite another finding in the poll that most voters in the state approve of the job Christie is doing as governor by a 46% to 44% margin. So while Christie's constituents like what he's doing for the Garden State, they're not so sure he'd be a good choice to run the entire country.

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Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), the potential presidential candidate who has come under fire for comments praising the segregationist Citizen Councils that operated during his youth in the South, has now released a statement fully condemning the organizations:

"When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns' integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn't tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time."

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