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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After consecutive days of gains and milestones, Wall Street was a bit of a mixed bag on Wednesday, with two of the major indices posting small gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial finished at 17,122.01, up 15.31 from Tuesday’s finish.

The Nasdaq dropped 1.02 to 4,569.62, while the S&P managed — barely — to close above 2,000 again, finishing the day at 2,000.10, up 0.08. That is the second consecutive day — and the second close ever — above 2,000 for the S&P 500.

Also on Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office indicated that a slow first quarter may indicate lower-than-expected growth for the economy in 2014. The updated GDP growth estimate is just 1.5 percent for the 2014 fiscal year. Still, the CBO expects 3.5-percent growth in 2015 and 2016.

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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DONETSK, Ukraine) — Recent Russian activity in eastern Ukraine is concerning to the U.S. State Department, spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

Psaki mentioned the presence of Russian troops pushing into Ukraine, recent reports of shelling towns near the border and heavy fighting near the Donetsk Airport during Wednesday’s briefing. “These incursion — incursions — indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely under way in Donetsk and Luhansk. Clearly, that is of deep concern to us,” Psaki said.

The U.S. is also worried that Russia is “sending its young men into Ukraine,” according to Psaki, “but…are not telling them where they’re going or telling their parents what they’re doing.”

“These are not steps that, certainly, you take when you are operating in a transparent manner,” Psaki said of the Russian activity.

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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Immigration courts are an “alternate legal universe,” one judge said on Wednesday. There are no bailiffs, no court reporters, no Miranda rights, no witnesses — and it’s happening every day on American soil.

There are more than 375,000 cases pending on the dockets of only 227 immigration judges.

“We look like the guy behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz,” Dana Marks, a federal judge and the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told a gathering at the National Press Club Wednesday.

“Most members of the public don’t have a clue about the realities of our world,” she said. “Since there’s no statute of limitations in immigration court, the convictions which cause people to come before us in our courtroom can be decades old.”

Marks called immigration courts the “forgotten stepchild within the Department of Justice,” receiving just 1.7 percent of the $18 billion given to immigration enforcement annually.

“Because we have been left to the mercy of the political winds which constantly buffet immigration issues, we have been resource-starved for decades,” she said.

There is a solution, she says, but it would not be quick or cheap – and it would require an act of Congress.

“To be efficient, and operate economically, to guarantee fairness, our immigration courts need to be independent, both from the prosecutors and from the respondents who come before us,” Marks said.

One issue Marks and Denise Noonan Slavin, a Miami-based judge who is the union’s executive vice president, highlighted was the immigration judge’s dual role as judges – or unbiased arbitrators — and employees within the Department of Justice, which often leads to blurred lines.

“The recent docketing changes brought about by the southwest border surge are another example of how we are serving two masters and not necessarily serving the public in the most efficient way,” Slavin said. “There is no other court that would turn the docket on its head at the request of one party. But the immigration court is flipping the docket by moving cases of newly arrived children to the front of the docket at the demand of the Department of Homeland Security.”

Slavin says this flip doesn’t make the most sense, especially when a judge could be deciding the fate of a child, whose parent’s own case may have been already on the docket and now pushed further down.

The administration requested judges to hear children’s cases with 21 days of apprehension following the influx of more than 60,000 children flooding the border since October 2013 – a 100-percent increase since last year. The administration has said they expect to return the majority of the Central American unaccompanied children.

“In the 27 years I’ve been an immigration judge, [I've] never been told what the ultimate outcome should be in a case. However, there are subtle pressures when you know you are supposed to do the case as quickly as possible,” Marks said. “There is a pressure to do things more quickly and that is more difficult.”

Marks adds that she and her colleagues have not seen an impact from President Obama’s initiative to add more judges and lawyers to the cases of unaccompanied minors.

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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Immigration courts are an “alternate legal universe,” one judge said on Wednesday. There are no bailiffs, no court reporters, no Miranda rights, no witnesses — and it’s happening every day on American soil.

There are more than 375,000 cases pending on the dockets of only 227 immigration judges.

“We look like the guy behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz,” Dana Marks, a federal judge and the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told a gathering at the National Press Club Wednesday.

“Most members of the public don’t have a clue about the realities of our world,” she said. “Since there’s no statute of limitations in immigration court, the convictions which cause people to come before us in our courtroom can be decades old.”

Marks called immigration courts the “forgotten stepchild within the Department of Justice,” receiving just 1.7 percent of the $18 billion given to immigration enforcement annually.

“Because we have been left to the mercy of the political winds which constantly buffet immigration issues, we have been resource-starved for decades,” she said.

There is a solution, she says, but it would not be quick or cheap – and it would require an act of Congress.

“To be efficient, and operate economically, to guarantee fairness, our immigration courts need to be independent, both from the prosecutors and from the respondents who come before us,” Marks said.

One issue Marks and Denise Noonan Slavin, a Miami-based judge who is the union’s executive vice president, highlighted was the immigration judge’s dual role as judges – or unbiased arbitrators — and employees within the Department of Justice, which often leads to blurred lines.

“The recent docketing changes brought about by the southwest border surge are another example of how we are serving two masters and not necessarily serving the public in the most efficient way,” Slavin said. “There is no other court that would turn the docket on its head at the request of one party. But the immigration court is flipping the docket by moving cases of newly arrived children to the front of the docket at the demand of the Department of Homeland Security.”

Slavin says this flip doesn’t make the most sense, especially when a judge could be deciding the fate of a child, whose parent’s own case may have been already on the docket and now pushed further down.

The administration requested judges to hear children’s cases with 21 days of apprehension following the influx of more than 60,000 children flooding the border since October 2013 – a 100-percent increase since last year. The administration has said they expect to return the majority of the Central American unaccompanied children.

“In the 27 years I’ve been an immigration judge, [I've] never been told what the ultimate outcome should be in a case. However, there are subtle pressures when you know you are supposed to do the case as quickly as possible,” Marks said. “There is a pressure to do things more quickly and that is more difficult.”

Marks adds that she and her colleagues have not seen an impact from President Obama’s initiative to add more judges and lawyers to the cases of unaccompanied minors.

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Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday that it was looking into reports that a second American may have been killed in the same battle that caused the death of Douglas McCain, an American jihadi.

“We’ve seen those reports,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said during Wednesday’s briefing. She noted that the department did not have independent confirmation of those reports.

The White House confirmed on Tuesday that McCain, 33, was killed in Syria while allegedly fighting for the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. McCain was apparently killed in the city of Aleppo.

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Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday that it was looking into reports that a second American may have been killed in the same battle that caused the death of Douglas McCain, an American jihadi.

“We’ve seen those reports,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said during Wednesday’s briefing. She noted that the department did not have independent confirmation of those reports.

The White House confirmed on Tuesday that McCain, 33, was killed in Syria while allegedly fighting for the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. McCain was apparently killed in the city of Aleppo.

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iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will miss the entire 2014 season after his season-long suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy was upheld on appeal Wednesday.

The 2013 first-team All-Pro will be allowed to apply for reinstatement following the 2014 season.

“I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans,” Gordon said in a statement. “I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case.”

In 14 games last season, Gordon had 87 receptions for 1,649 yards and nine touchdowns. He was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2013.

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iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will miss the entire 2014 season after his season-long suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy was upheld on appeal Wednesday.

The 2013 first-team All-Pro will be allowed to apply for reinstatement following the 2014 season.

“I’d like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Cleveland Browns organization and our fans,” Gordon said in a statement. “I am very disappointed that the NFL and its hearing office didn’t exercise better discretion and judgment in my case.”

In 14 games last season, Gordon had 87 receptions for 1,649 yards and nine touchdowns. He was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2013.

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David Buchan/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — The University of Southern California has received several calls questioning the authenticity of football player Josh Shaw’s story about saving his nephew from potentially drowning and is investigating the matter, coach Steve Sarkisian said.

Shaw, 22, a cornerback on the Trojans football team, said he suffered a pair of ankle sprains Saturday night after jumping from the second story of an apartment complex to save his 7-year-old nephew, Carter, who was struggling in the pool.

The fifth-year senior said he landed on concrete before crawling into the pool and steering his nephew to dry land before grabbing a ladder and lifting himself out of the water using just his arms.

As story of the rescue gained attention, other accounts emerged conflicting with Shaw’s story.

“We’ve gotten a few phone calls contradicting what Josh said occurred Saturday night, so we’re going to continue to vet it,” Sarkisian said.

At this point, it’s unclear who made those calls or what part of the story is being challenged. Shaw did suffer sprains in both ankles, and he remains sidelined indefinitely.

“The X-Rays and MRIs we have taken on him have come back negative,” Sarkisian said. “So far, we don’t see anything structurally wrong with him, but he is very sore.”

Shaw was noticeably absent from practice Tuesday.

Over the weekend, he was voted a team captain. He was expected to be a major contributor for USC this season.

Shaw’s sister Asia — Carter’s mother — said she didn’t witness the incident but was quick to defend her brother.

“My child is safe, and it’s because of Josh,” she told ABC News. “I really do praise God and I just hope that he has a speedy recovery.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Two dozen suspected Ebola cases have emerged hundreds of miles from West Africa in what health officials are calling a second “unrelated” outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The virus has already killed more than 1,427 people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization.

In fact, nearly half of all Ebola deaths recorded since the virus’s discovery in 1976 have occurred in the last five months, according to WHO data.

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