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Friday, Aug 22nd

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Prosecutors: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in criminal scheme

Scott WalkerProsecutors claim Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of a plan to illegally coordinate fundraising with an array of outside conservative groups to help him and several Republican senators survive a 2012 recall election, new court documents show.  In the documents unsealed Thursday, prosecutors spell out a "criminal scheme" by Walker and top aides to circumvent state law and raise money and plan spending by a dozen outside groups during the election.

The prosecutors' filings include an email in which Walker tells Republican strategist Karl Rove that a top campaign aide, R.J. Johnson, was leading the coordination effort and praises Johnson's work.

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Inside the Koch Brothers’ Secret Billionaire Summit

Billionaire summitCharles and David Koch wrapped up their annual summer seminar on June 16 in Dana Point, California, at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort—a fitting location for two men whose combined net worth is more than $100 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites.

According to conference documents obtained through a source who was in attendance, Representatives Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Jim Jordan (OH) were present, as were Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL). Cotton, Gardner and McConnell are all running for the Senate this year; Jordan for re-election in the House. Rubio is widely considered a major contender for a 2016 presidential run. According to the documents, the conference attendees discussed strategy on campaign finance, climate change, healthcare, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate. (The draft agenda is available for viewing here.)

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Hunters: Gun rights have nothing to do with hunting

NRAThere are now some 4 million members in the NRA, and their ability to organize, write elected officials and rally together is something their opponents stand in awe of. Yet because of the group’s continued embrace of Second Amendment issues, and seeming growing distance from what some hunters consider to be issues that matter most to them, the NRA is no longer seen as their greatest advocate in Washington.

“I would say on the record they are absolutely not working for the interests of hunters,” says Ross Lane, an Air Force veteran and director of the conservation group Western Values Project.

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Miami exiles pressure U.S. to loosen policy on Cuba

Cuban exilesCuban exile Joe Arriola at one time would never have dreamed of returning to his homeland while it was under communist rule.

But after 53 years in the United States, the former manager of the city of Miami swallowed his pride and decided he had waited long enough.

Arriola, 67, said a week-long trip to the island last year had opened his eyes to what he now believes is a failed U.S. policy of trying to isolate Cuba.

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Big Oil and Big Guns: Not so strange bedfellows

oil and big gunsOil and gas companies give hundreds of millions of dollars to political campaigns and lobbying groups to further their interests in Congress. In 2012 and 2013 oil and gas spent a combined $24 million on contributions to (mostly Republican) lawmakers in the Senate and the House. In 2013, OpenSecrets.org reported, the oil-and-gas industry spent almost $145 million on lobbying.

Oil and gas donations to advocacy groups relate to issues of oil and gas exploration on land and offshore, climate change, tax increases and approving the Keystone pipeline. But recent research by liberal groups suggests that millions of dollars have also been going to gun groups, such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Safari Club International (SCI), for purposes that seemingly contradict the platforms those groups purport to represent.

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Idaho GOP convention unconventional: Disunity abruptly ends event

Idaho GOP conventionBogged down by infighting over the qualifications of delegates and squabbles over Robert's Rules of Order, the Idaho Republican Convention came to a grinding halt Saturday afternoon. There was no election for state GOP chairman or adoption of a new Republican state platform.

Pocatello resident and chief executive officer of Premier Technology in Blackfoot, Doug Sayer, was a candidate for Idaho GOP chairman along with Blackfoot rancher, Mike Duff, and incumbent Barry Peterson. With the convention suspended, Peterson will remain chairman.

"A special committee will convene and there's a process in place to hold an election," Sayer said.

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The Bush, NeoCon and Pro-War Liberal Blunders That Produced the New Mess in Iraq

The Iraq mess explainedAnd so the inevitable is unfolding: a possible collapse of the U.S.-imposed Iraqi state, the apparent triumph of the most brutal extremists in the world, and more to come in Syria, Afghanistan, and possibly Jordan, Mali, Libya, and who knows where else. The first step to recovery -- if recovery is even feasible -- is an honest reckoning of why this is happening.

The discourse in Washington, as always, will be superficial, partisan, and knowledge-free. The blaming of Obama for leaving Iraq in 2011 will be the Fox News mantra of coming days and weeks (and, judging from the Benghazi flap, for years). Even theNew York Times on Wednesday morning -- reporting that the forces of the extremists, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, had overrun Mosul and were headed toward Baghdad -- mentioned that this was  another blow to the White House's faltering foreign policy. But while Obama has his share of missteps, the responsibility for this catastrophe rests with the neocons of the George W. Bush years and the liberal hawks who can't help but propose war when they see a wrong that needs righting.

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