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Monday status (of the union) conference

The U.S. Supreme Court will be in recess until Feb. 15. Both houses of Congress are in session, and President Bush will give his final State of the Union address tonight, where he’ll focus on the economy and the war (WaPo).

Meanwhile,

Criminal defense attorneys are complaining that the  PROTECT Act is being so creatively used by prosecutors that people who downloaded explicit images of children from file sharing sites like Kazaa – but who never sold, peddled, bought or made such images – are getting higher sentences than people who actually molest children, and they want the U.S. Supreme Court to do something about it. (Wired)

Meanwhile, parties in a case examining whether the Civil Rights Act protects those who complain of race discrimination from retaliation by their employers prepare to go before the high court. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Attorney General Michael Mukasey wants to make nice with the Congress that only narrowly confirmed him, in hopes of easing tension and making it easier for folks like Stephen Bradbury to get confirmed. (Roll Call / ACS Blog / NYT).

The Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that regulates the nation’s mining industry, says that it has failed to issue penalties for hundreds of safety citations dating back at least 13 years. The problem was discovered after the agency checked into whether a coal operator had been assessed a penalty after an accident in 2005 in which a miner bled to death after not receiving proper first aid. (Gazette-Mail of Charleston/AP via the NYT).

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