May 2013

May 31, 2013

The Long Haul in Syria

By Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times

The civil war in Syria is heading in the wrong direction. In the last year, rebels had won control of big slices of territory, including much of the country's largest city, Aleppo. But those gains prompted a surge of military aid to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime: urban guerrillas from Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraq's Shiite Muslim militias, combat advisors from Iran's Revolutionary Guard and antiaircraft missiles from Russia (to prevent "hotheads" from trying to impose anything like a no-fly zone, an official in Moscow said Monday). As a result, the Assad regime has seized at least a temporary advantage.

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What Bachmann's Announcement Means for the Tea Party

With Janet Hook, Wall Street Journal

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's announcement that she will not not seek a fifth term in Congress marks a turning point in Congress for tea party-aligned conservatives. Janet Hook reports on the News Hub.

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The Two Faces of Michele Bachmann

By John Dickerson, Slate Magazine

Michele Bachmann's national career has been marked by wild swings between directness and misdirection. At times, the Minnesota representative is the embodiment of Tea Party clarity. At other times, she breaks new ground minting fact-free claims that make it hard to trust politicians. One of the fact-checkers that she has kept so busy joked that her departure from Congress should be declared a national day of mourning.

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Texas Man Being Questioned in Mail Threats to Obama, Bloomberg: Sources

By Jonathan Dienst and Pete Williams, NBC News

A person of interest is being questioned in connection with threatening letters sent to President Barack Obama, Mayor Bloomberg and the mayor's anti-gun group, according to law enforcement officials.

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Federal Program for Distressed Homeowners Is Extended

By Jackie Calmes, The New York Times

Despite signs of revival in housing, the Obama administration announced on Thursday an extension of its principal program for helping distressed homeowners to get mortgage modifications and avoid foreclosure.

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What Does an Improving Economy Mean for 2014?

By Amy Walter, Cook Political Report

Good economic times are good for incumbents. After all, voters are more apt to look for change in tough times than they are in good ones.

Significant economic anxiety contributed to the "wave" elections of 2008 and 2010. In 2012, the economy improved just enough to help President Obama win re-election.

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Obama, Congress Reenact Battle Over Student Loan Rates

By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times

President Obama complained about the looming interest rate hike on student loans in a Rose Garden event Friday morning and urged Americans to call, write and tweet their Republican members of Congress to do something about it.

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IRS Aside, Political Passions Take a Summer Break

By Charles Babington, Associated Press

Four years after the summer of rage that fueled the tea party movement, the political circuit is much quieter — even in Republican bastions like this. It’s not clear whether conservatives who rallied against President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul during raucous town hall-style meetings are tired, wary, complacent or simply saving their strength for a big push in next year’s elections.

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Scripps Spelling Bee Champion, 13, Reflects on Win

With David Wessel, Wall Street Journal

In an interview with WSJ's David Wessel, 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Arvind Mahankali reveals the training he undertook to win his title, whether the televised competition is too demanding and what he'll do now with all his free time.


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May 30, 2013

Pakistan Says U.S. Drone Killed Taliban Leader

By Mark Mazzetti and Declan Walsh, The New York Times

Less than a week after President Obama outlined a new direction for the secret drone wars, Pakistani officials said that a C.I.A. missile strike on Wednesday killed a top member of the Pakistani Taliban, an attack that illustrated the continued murkiness of the rules that govern the United States’ targeted killing operations.

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Richest 20 Percent Get Half the Overall Savings From U.S. Tax Breaks, CBO says

By Lori Montgomery, Washington Post

The 10 largest breaks in the U.S. tax code will save taxpayers more than $900 billion this year, with a little more than half the benefits flowing to the richest 20 percent of households, congressional budget analysts said Wednesday.

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Sequester Not Biting District Yet

By Jim Tankersley, The Washington Post

In the months since the automatic federal spending cuts known as the sequester took effect, the Washington area has added 40,000 jobs. Income-tax receipts have surged in Virginia, beating expectations. Few government contractors have laid off workers.

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