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Thursday, Dec 18th

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Secret showdown in CIA leak case

CIAProsecutors and defense lawyers in the case of a former CIA officer accused of leaking top-secret information to a New York Times reporter had a secret showdown in federal court recently over what to do about a half-dozen prosecution witnesses whose own employment records show violations of the rules and arguably even the laws governing handling of classified information.

The six witnesses set to testify against alleged leaker Jeffrey Sterling took secret documents home themselves without authorization, according to a recent court filing.

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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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Florida Gov. Rick Scott, staff used private email account for state business

rick scottFlorida Gov. Rick Scott exchanged emails dealing with vetoes, the state budget and his speeches from a private email account, according to records turned over to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Scott has previously said he used a Google email account to communicate with his family and not for state business. He also said that if ever he got an email dealing with state business he would forward it to his public email accounts.

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Chuck Hagel steps down as defense secretary after months of pressure

Chuck HagelDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down from his post, senior administration officials told Al Jazeera on Monday, following a tenure characterized by an inability to make inroads into the White House's insular foreign policy team.

Hagel is the first senior Obama adviser to leave the administration following the sweeping losses for Obama's party in the midterm elections. It also comes as the president's national security team has been battered by multiple foreign policy crises, including the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

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30K Missing IRS Emails Recovered

IRS emailsUp to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner.

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A Neo-Confederate in Nevada's Capitol

Ira HansenMy hometown alt-weekly, the Reno News & Review, published an in-depth report this week on Nevada Assembly Speaker-designate Ira Hansen and the political columns he wrote for the local Sparks Tribune newspaper for many years starting in 1994.

After the GOP swept the statewide offices and seized both chambers of the state legislature in this midterms, state legislators elected the staunchly conservative Hansen to the speakership. With such an extensive written record, the News & Review noted, "No Nevada official has ever given the public a more detailed blueprint to his thinking than Hansen."

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House Republicans Sue Obama Administration Over Health Law

John BoehnerHouse Republicans filed a long-threatened lawsuit Friday against the Obama administration over unilateral actions on the health care law that they say are abuses of the president's executive authority.

The lawsuit — filed against the secretaries of the Health and Human Services and Treasury Departments — focuses on two crucial aspects of the way the administration has put the Affordable Care Act into effect.

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