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Thursday, Feb 26th

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CIA panel finds no wrongdoing in search of Senate computers

CIAFive CIA personnel involved in searching computers used by Senate staffers to compile a scathing report on the torture of detainees didn’t break the law, had good reasons to conduct the searches and shouldn’t be penalized, said an agency accountability board report released on Wednesday.

The findings contradicted those of the CIA Inspector General’s Office and charges by former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein that the searches possibly violated the law and the Constitution, casting in an awkward light an apology for the intrusions made by CIA Director John Brennan in July.

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GOP senators move to block Gitmo closing

GOP Senators block Gitmo closingKey Senate Republicans on Tuesday unveiled legislation that would effectively block President Barack Obama from fulfilling his pledge to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before he leaves office in two years.

The legislation from Sens. Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Richard Burr and Lindsey Graham would prohibit for two years the transfer of detainees designated medium- or high-risk to the United States. It would also ban transfers to Yemen, where dozens of the 127 remaining Guantanamo detainees are from.

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Republicans Introduce Five Anti-Abortion Bills In First Days Of New Congress

Trent FranksEmboldened by a new Senate majority, Republicans in Congress introduced five abortion restrictions in the first three days of the new legislative session that would severely limit women's access to the procedure.

Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Monday reintroduced a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which the GOP-controlled House already passed once in 2013. And Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced four bills on Wednesday that would bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning funds, require all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, ban abortions performed on the basis of gender, and allow hospitals, doctors and nurses to refuse to provide or participate in abortion care for women, even in cases of emergency.

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Why the Republican Congress’s First Act Was to Declare War on Math

GOP war on mathThe first substantive act of the new, all-Republican Congress was a telling one: House and Senate leaders, now in partisan accord and able to impose an undiluted partisan imprint upon the institution, struck a blow in their decades-long struggle on behalf of low taxes for the rich and against the bookkeeping standards that have stood in their way.

In a rapid vote yesterday, the House directed the Congressional Budget Office to use “dynamic scoring” — a Washington term of art to describe imposing conservative ideology upon the once-neutral task of measuring the budgetary impact of legislation.

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At Least Six Millionaires to Take Senate Oaths Tuesday

Millionaire senatorsThere's no shortage of statistics to show that Congress no longer reflects the demographics of the nation it represents. That's especially true when it comes to personal finances. Of the 13 newly elected members of the Senate to be sworn in Tuesday, at least six are millionaires. That's a conservative estimate and the proportion is almost certainly higher.

Their arrival in the Senate comes as the wealth gap between the nation's top 20 percent of earners—including many members of Congress—and every other income group in America has reached its widest point in at least three decades, according to a Pew Research Center study released in December. Pew also found in a report released in October that the issue of income inequality is of growing importance to the American public. Forty-six percent of respondents said it's a “very big problem,” while 32 percent said its a “moderately” big problem.

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Senator Pushes Keystone XL Pipeline With Egregiously Misleading Statistic

Keystone misinformationAs the 113th Congress ends and the 114th Congress begins, at least one thing remains the same: Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline are still using the misleading claim that the controversial project will create 42,000 jobs.

Speaking on Meet the Press on Sunday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told host Chuck Todd that a bill to approve Keystone XL — the pipeline proposal that would send up to 830,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil per day down to Gulf Coast refineries — would be the first legislation sent to President Obama’s desk in 2015. And Obama should sign it, Barrasso said, noting that the pipeline would mean 42,000 new jobs.

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Edward Brooke, first black U.S. senator elected by popular vote, dies

Edward BrookeEdward Brooke, the Massachusetts Republican who was the first African-American to be popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, died on Saturday at the age of 95, the state Republican Party said.

Brooke was Massachusetts attorney general when he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1966, at a time when the country was gripped by racial unrest.

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