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POSTED February 22, 2012 9:01 p.m.

HIGH COURT TORN OVER LAW BANNING LIES ABOUT MEDALS: WASHINGTON (AP) — Free speech cases before the Supreme Court often lead justices to consider far-fetched scenarios, and Wednesday's argument over a law making it a crime to lie about having received top military honors was no exception.

One after another, the justices wanted to know whether a decision upholding the Stolen Valor Act could lead down a slippery slope to new laws against such things as lying about the Holocaust, an extramarital affair, a high school diploma, college degrees or to impress a date.

"Where do you stop?" Chief Justice John Roberts asked at one point.

But the justices also suggested that it might be possible in this case to uphold the 2006 law anyway by reasoning that Congress has an interest in protecting medals it created to honor war heroes.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who asked about lies about college degrees, also seemed open to sustaining the law.

"Here it does seem to me that you can argue that this is something like a trademark, a medal in which the government and the armed forces have a particular interest, and we could carve out a narrow exception for that. I think we would have to do that," Kennedy said.

OBAMA SEEKS CORPORATE TAX RATE CUT, LOOPHOLE LIMIT: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama rolled out a corporate tax overhaul plan Wednesday that lowers rates but also eliminates loopholes and subsidies cherished by the business world. A long-shot for action in an election year, the plan nevertheless stamps Obama's imprint on one of the most high-profile issues of the presidential campaign.

The president's plan to lower the corporate tax rate to 28 percent came on the same day Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney called for a 20 percent across-the-board cut in personal income tax rates, underscoring the potency of taxes as a political issue, especially during a modest economic recovery.

Obama has not laid out a plan for overhauling personal income taxes. But he has called for Bush era tax cuts to end on individuals making more than $200,000, thus increasing their taxes, and for a 30 percent minimum tax on taxpayers who make $1 million or more.

The president would reduce the current 35 percent corporate tax, which is the highest in the world after Japan but which many corporations avoid by taking advantage of deductions, credits and exemptions. Under his plan, manufacturers would receive incentives so that they would pay an even lower effective tax rate of 25 percent.

CALIF., FEDERAL OFFICIALS SAY WATER ALLOCATION LOW: FRESNO  (AP) — Water agencies that supply millions of California residents and farmers with water will be getting a reduced water supply this year.

The state Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday that contractors of the State Water Project can expect to get half the water they requested, a drop of 10 percent from earlier estimates.

And the Bureau of Reclamation, which runs the federal Central Valley Project, says agricultural water contractors on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley should expect to get only 30 percent of the water they had requested. Municipal and industrial water contractors would receive 75 percent.

Officials say the reduced amounts are based on lack of rain this winter and a meager snowpack, which is less than a third of normal.

LA POLICE CHIEF WANTS ILLEGALS TO HAVE DRIVER LICENSES: lOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck says illegal immigrants should be issued driver's licenses in California.

Beck says the state has failed to reduce the number of illegal immigrants driving without a license in California.

Beck says his chief concern is safety on the road by forcing all drivers to take the rigorous testing to get a license and the ability of police to identify the people they encounter.

 

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