Judge-National Security Agency ... Budget bill picks up support ... Traffic mystery

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Updated: Mon, 16 Dec 2013 09:16:25 EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — The super-secret National Security Agency is ending the year under a cloud of controversy. A federal judge ruled today that the agency's bulk collection of people's phone records violates the Constitution's guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure. Judge Richard Leon granted a preliminary injunction against the government's collecting of the phone records of two men who had challenged it. But he put enforcement of that decision on hold pending a near-certain government appeal.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prospects for Senate approval of the House-passed bipartisan budget bill have improved today. Two more Republicans said they would not stand in way of advancing the legislation during a key test vote set for Tuesday. The bill eases the effects of mandatory spending cuts that Congress ordered earlier while it also averts the specter of another government shutdown, at least for a while.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey state lawmaker wants Congress to investigate the agency responsible for traffic jams caused by lane closures at a bridge into New York City. Democrats claim the gridlock was an act of retribution by loyalists of Republican Gov. Chris Christie, which Christie has denied. Democratic state Sen. Loretta Weinberg of Bergen County tells The Associated Press she is preparing a resolution asking Congress to investigate the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A judge has ordered paint companies to pay 10 California cities and counties $1.1 billion to remove lead from millions of older homes. The verdict follows a five-week nonjury trial. The judge found that Conagra Grocery Products and Sherwin-Williams marketed paint they knew was harmful to children. Atlantic Richfield and DuPont were found not liable.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Mega Millions jackpot has been boosted to $586 million. The hike pushes the prize for tomorrow night's drawing closer to the $656 million U.S. record set last year. Mega Millions lead director Paula Otto says ticket sales are ahead of projections. Otto says that if no winner is selected tomorrow and Friday, the jackpot could surpass $1 billion for the Christmas Eve drawing.

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