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Normally you expect candidates to petition to be included on a ballot, not fight in court to be taken off. Well wake up Dorothy, because you're in Kansas politics now -- and a state court has declined to force the Democratic Party to field a candidate for U.S. Senate on the November 4 ballot.

A three-judge panel announced Wednesday that a legal petition to force Kansas Democrats to put forward a replacement for ex-candidate Chad Taylor, who quit the race two weeks ago, was supported by zero evidence and lacked legal standing.

Why was this political issue before the state district court in Shawnee, Kansas, in the first place?

California's so-called "Yes Means Yes" bill was signed into law Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown. What does this law, the first of its kind in the nation, require?

In response to the growing outcry about sexual assaults on college campuses, California lawmakers in August approved a bill requiring many colleges "to adopt a policy of unambiguous, affirmative consent by students engaged in sexual activity," Reuters reports.

The bill requires both public and private colleges that receive state funds for student aid adopt the policies and protocols outlined in the bill. In addition to the new consent standard, the bill also mandates prevention and outreach programs for sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, and date violence, reports the Los Angeles Times.

E-Cigarette, Cigar, Hookah Restrictions Laid Out in New FDA Rules

Should electronic cigarettes be sold to children? The Food and Drug Administration says no and has announced historic rules to ban sales of the popular devices to minors and require warning labels.

The FDA wants to regulate more than the booming electronic cigarette market. It is seizing on this opportunity to also restrict sales of cigars, hookahs, water pipes and dissolvable tobacco products.

The proposed rules (attached below) would be the first restrictions on e-cigarettes, a nearly $2 billion industry that for years has operated outside the reach of federal regulators. E-cigarettes have been growing in popularity for years and generally attract younger smokers.

The proposed rules won't ban advertising unless the products make health-related claims. Child-friendly e-cigarette flavors like bubble gum and chocolate (which are banned in traditional cigarettes) will still be allowed. Critics say flavorings like watermelon, grape soda and piņa colada are aimed at attracting young smokers.

E-cigarettes generally resemble the size and shape of traditional cigarettes. But rather than burning tobacco, the battery-powered devices heat up a flavored, nicotine-laced liquid, turning it into a vapor that the user inhales. Industry supporters say that makes e-cigarettes preferable to other cancer-causing tobacco products.

BofA Agrees to $10B Fannie Mae Settlement Over Shoddy Mortgages

Bank of America has agreed to pay more than $10 billion to Fannie Mae to settle claims related to shoddy mortgages sold largely by Countrywide Financial during the subprime housing boom.

BofA, which acquired Countrywide in 2008, said it agreed to buy back $6.75 billion in residential mortgage loans sold to Fannie Mae and pay the housing finance giant an additional $3.6 billion in cash.

During the housing boom, banks sold investors bundles of mortgages that were shoddier than promised, according to lawsuits the federal government filed. Now, BofA is resolving the claims against it from Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have said the lenders misrepresented the quality of the loans and have been trying to get lenders to pay up for bad loans.

The mortgages were sold to Fannie Mae from 2000 through 2008.

Benghazi Report Blames State Dept. as 3 Top Officials Resign

An independent panel has sharply criticized the U.S. State Department in its report on the Sept. 11 attacks on the Benghazi consulate. The consulate was unable to defend itself thanks to “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” at the State Department.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed on Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya. The Special Mission post was overrun by militants who used rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and machine-gun fire, the 39-page report states.

One day after the report as released, three State officials are reportedly resigning.

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security Eric Boswell is resigning, NBC News reports. His deputy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs, Bureau of Diplomatic Security Charlene Lamb, as well as another unnamed official from State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs are resigning as well.

Chicago Board of Education Asks Court to Stop Teacher Strike

The Board of Education of the City of Chicago has filed a motion for a temporary restraining order blocking the teacher strike by the Chicago Teachers Union.  The Board argues that the strike is illegal under the terms of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, and that it creates a public safety hazard by blocking access to meals for children, exposing children to an increased risk of violence, and denying critical special education services.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has brought a civil lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder asking the federal district court in Washington D.C. to reject the Attorney General's assertion of executive privilege in refusing to turn over documents related to the so-called "Fast and Furious" gun walking program.  The lawsuit requests that the court order the Attorney General to comply with the Committee's subpoena and release the documents immediately.

DOJ Sues Florida Over Purge of Voter Rolls

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit challenging Florida's program to systematically remove names from the list of registered voters that the state believes are ineligible to vote because of lack of citizenship.  The DOJ claims that the National Voter Registration Act prohibits Florida's program, or any program like it, within 90 days of an election for a federal office.  The next such election in Florida will occur on August 14, 2012.

Steve Jobs' FBI File

The FBI has released its dossier on Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc. who died on October 5, 2011. The dossier includes documents compiled in 1991 as the federal government considered Jobs for an appointment to the President's Export Council under George H.W. Bush, as well as documents from a 1985 investigation of a bomb threat against Jobs.  The dossier predates Jobs' return to Apple Inc. in 1996.  The release comes as the result of a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Justice Department Memo in Support of Obama's Recess Appointments

The Justice Department has issued a memorandum that supports President Obama's recent recess appointments that occurred despite the fact that the Senate is conducting pro forma sessions continuously through its scheduled recesses. The memo concludes that the pro forma sessions do not remove the president's ability to exercise a recess appointment since no business is conducted during the sessions.