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Thursday, Jul 31st

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Sylvia Burwell confirmed as new Secretary of Health and Human Services

Sylvia BurwellThe Senate has confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the nation’s new health secretary and steward of the president’s health care law.

The 78-17 vote was a bipartisan show of support for the veteran government manager who most recently served as President Barack Obama’s budget director.

But Burwell will have to act quickly to head off more insurance chaos this fall.

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Tea party leader, 2 others, trapped in Mississippi courthouse

hinds county courthouseA tea party officer and two others representing the challenger in a Senate primary became trapped in a courthouse in the middle of the night, hours after officials had gone home from counting votes, authorities said.

Janis Lane, Scott Brewster and Rob Chambers were locked inside the Hinds County Courthouse more than an hour after entering shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday through an unlocked door, said Othor Cain, spokesman for the sheriff's department, which is investigating.

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Chris Christie donor's property venture given $106m by state after law changed

Chris ChristieChris Christie’s New Jersey administration awarded a $105.6m public subsidy to a property venture involving a close friend and financial backer of the governor, after state law was amended to enable the project to qualify for the money.

The venture, in one of the state’s poorest cities, appears potentially lucrative for the friend, Jon Hanson, a wealthy real estate tycoon who headed the fundraising operations for Christie's election campaigns, chairs a policy commission for the governor, and is a longstanding Republican donor.

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The Real Origins of the Religious Right

Bob Jones UniversityOne of the most durable myths in recent history is that the religious right, the coalition of conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists, emerged as a political movement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion. The tale goes something like this: Evangelicals, who had been politically quiescent for decades, were so morally outraged by Roe that they resolved to organize in order to overturn it.

This myth of origins is oft repeated by the movement’s leaders. In his 2005 book, Jerry Falwell, the firebrand fundamentalist preacher, recounts his distress upon reading about the ruling in the Jan. 23, 1973, edition of the Lynchburg News: “I sat there staring at the Roe v. Wade story,” Falwell writes, “growing more and more fearful of the consequences of the Supreme Court’s act and wondering why so few voices had been raised against it.” Evangelicals, he decided, needed to organize.

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Jay Carney resigns, deputy Josh Earnest named replacement

Jay Carney

White House press secretary Jay Carney is resigning his post after more than three years as President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman.

Obama personally announced the change Friday afternoon with a surprise interruption of Carney’s daily news briefing, saying that the White House aide told him back in April that he wanted to move on.

\“Jay has become one of my closest friends and is a great press secretary and a great adviser,” the president said. “He has good judgment. He has good temperament and he has good heart.”
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White House blows cover of CIA chief in Afghanistan

Kabul CIA officer exposedThe White House accidentally blew the cover of the top CIA officer in Afghanistan Saturday, when his name and title were released in an e-mail sent to reporters who traveled with President Obama on his surprise visit to Bagram Air Field.

The CIA officer's identity was released as part of a list of U.S. officials who were attending a military briefing with Obama at Bagram, the Washington Post reported.

The individual was identified as "Chief of Station," a term used for the top spy in a country, according to the Post.

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Obama makes surprise trip to Afghanistan to visit troops

Obama in AfganistanPresident Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday to visit for a few hours with U.S. troops.

Air Force One landed at Bagram Air Field at 8:17 p.m. local time after the president quietly left the White House Saturday night. Press traveling with him had to agree to keep the trip a secret until after they landed in Afghanistan.

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