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Thursday, Mar 05th

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GOP probe fails to link IRS scandal to White House

Darrell IssaA House Republican investigation faults senior IRS officials in the mistreatment of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, but could find no link to the White House, according to a report released Tuesday.

The probe isn't over, although investigators have reviewed 1.3 million pages of documents and interviewed 52 officials. The report, however, marks the end of Rep. Darrell Issa's tenure leading the investigation.

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President Obama commutes 8 sentences and grants 12 pardons

Obama pardonsPresident Obama commuted the sentences of eight drug offenders Wednesday and pardoned 12 federal offenders.  The drug offenders had received sentences ranging from 188 months or almost 16 years to life. They will now be released in 2015.

The White House announced the president's action in a news release. The president traditionally marks the Christmas season with acts of clemency.

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US co-opted Cuba's hip-hop scene to spark change

Cuba hip hop groups infiltratedFor more than two years, a U.S. agency secretly infiltrated Cuba's underground hip-hop movement, recruiting unwitting rappers to spark a youth movement against the government, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The idea was to use Cuban musicians "to break the information blockade" and build a network of young people seeking "social change," documents show. But the operation was amateurish and profoundly unsuccessful.

On at least six occasions, Cuban authorities detained or interrogated people involved in the program; they also confiscated computer hardware, and in some cases it contained information that jeopardized Cubans who likely had no idea they were caught up in a clandestine U.S. operation. Still, contractors working for the U.S. Agency for International Development kept putting themselves and their targets at risk, the AP investigation found.

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The Koch brothers eclipse the RNC

Koch brothersThe Koch brothers and their allies are pumping tens of millions of dollars into a data company that’s developing detailed, state-of-the-art profiles of 250 million Americans, giving the brothers’ political operation all the earmarks of a national party.

The move comes as mainstream Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, are trying to reclaim control of the conservative movement from outside groups. The Kochs, however, are continuing to amass all of the campaign tools the Republican National Committee and other party arms use to elect a president.

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The coming wave of anti-abortion laws

Pro choiceThe big Republican gains in the November elections strengthened and enlarged the anti-abortion forces in the House and the Senate. But it’s the GOP victories in the statehouses and governor’s mansions that are priming the ground for another round of legal restrictions on abortion.

Arkansas, for instance, already has strict anti-abortion laws. But with a Republican governor succeeding a Democrat who had vetoed two measures that would have banned most abortions beyond a certain stage of pregnancy, lawmakers plan to seek more restrictions — such as barring doctors from administering abortion drugs through telemedicine.

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Keystone pipeline approval bills advance in Congress

LandrieuLegislation to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline began racing through the U.S. Congress on Wednesday as Democrats and Republicans appeared to be coming together in a challenge of President Barack Obama's oversight of the project.

In a series of rapid developments that unfolded just hours after Congress returned from a seven-week recess, there were indications the measure could pass and be sent to Obama sometime next week.

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US election: Big win for conservative big money

Conservative big moneyEstablishment Republican money finally got what it paid for — an electoral wave.

After two cycles during which conservative megadonors’ record spending was plagued by flawed candidates and internecine squabbling, their side’s big money operatives got to do some gloating on election night.

Conservatives tweaked their playbook to spend bigger and earlier to crush tea party insurgents and define Democratic candidates. And Republicans won most of the Senate races in which they prosecuted that plan — including Iowa, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

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