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Ready for 2016?

Potential presidential candidates’ recent burst of summertime Iowa visits belies this reality: No one has started to do the serious spadework of preparing for a 2016 White House run in this important state. Sure, it’s more than two years until Iowa is to begin the presidential selection process. But this is a state where presidential campaigning — including, early on, wooing state legislators, recruiting volunteers and identifying potential staff — is a near-constant undercurrent. And yet the biggest names in the 2016 speculation game are all but absent in Iowa, so well-known that they have the luxury of staying away
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Al Qaeda: ‘Kill more Americans’

An American al Qaeda militant has called for more attacks on Western diplomats in the Arab world, praising the killers of the U.S. ambassador to Libya on September 11 last year, a U.S.-based monitoring group said on Sunday. Western nations shut embassies across the Middle East and North Africa early this month, after a warning of a possible militant attack. Many have reopened, and Britain said its Yemen embassy would open on Sunday after being closed for 12 days. Adam Gadahn, a California-born convert to Islam with a $1 million U.S. price on his head, appealed to wealthy Muslims to
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Senate races: All in the family

Sen. Mark Pryor likes to tell voters that he always puts Arkansas first, borrowing the campaign slogan associated with his family for decades. In Wyoming, Liz Cheney bets that her famous father’s name will be gold in her Senate race. And in Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu counts on her kin’s New Orleans ties to help lift her to re-election in a tough race. Family does matter in the runup to next fall’s Senate elections: Candidates are wielding famous political pedigrees in a number of races that could determine whether Democrats maintain control in the 2014 elections. Famous last names mean
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Yes, Virginia, there is an Area 51

National security scholars at George Washington University have some good news and bad news for UFO buffs – the U.S. government has finally confirmed the existence of Area 51 in Nevada, but it makes no mention of little green men or alien spaceships. The government acknowledged the existence of the mysterious aviation test site known as Area 51, a remote installation about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, in a newly declassified CIA history of its U-2 spy plane program. After decades of extreme secrecy surrounding the site, stoking conspiracy theories about UFOs and experiments on alien spacecraft, the CIA
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NSA revelations spark concern

New revelations from leaker Edward Snowden that the National Security Agency has overstepped its authority thousands of times since 2008 are stirring renewed calls on Capitol Hill for serious changes to NSA spy programs, undermining White House hopes that President Barack Obama had quieted the controversy with his assurances of oversight. An internal audit provided by Snowden to The Washington Post shows the agency has repeatedly broken privacy rules or exceeded its legal authority every year since Congress granted it broad new powers in 2008. In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more
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RNC bars CNN, NBC from debates

The Republican National Committee, responding to plans by two television networks for programs about Hillary Rodham Clinton, approved a resolution Friday to block CNN and NBC from hosting GOP presidential primary debates. The unanimous vote affirmed RNC Chairman Reince Priebus‘s threat against the networks if they went ahead with programs about Clinton, a possible Democratic presidential contender. Priebus said CNN has “an obvious bias.” “That’s a network that won’t be hosting a single Republican primary debate,” Priebus declared, receiving a standing ovation from Republican activists from across the country gathered for the committee’s summer meeting in Boston. In a statement,
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NSA breaks thousands of laws

Looks like the National Security Agency, which makes it a practice to snoop into lives of Americans, broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times a year since Congress, at the urging of then President George W. Bush, expanded the agency’s powers in 2008. Most of the infractions involve illegal surveillance of Americans while some, but not the majority of offenses, targeted foreign intelligence operatives in the United States — both restricted by law and executive order. Most are significant violations of law, while other infractions involve typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. emails
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Congress, staffs getting exemption from bans on abortion funding?

It’s an issue lawmakers may not want to have to explain at town hall meetings back home: An attempt to fix a problem with the new health care law has created a situation in which members of Congress and their staffers could gain access to abortion coverage, something that currently is denied to federal employees who get health insurance through the government’s plan. Abortion opponents say the Obama administration needs to fix it; abortion rights supporters say the concern is overblown. The abortion complication is a new headache for the administration as it tries to shoehorn members of Congress and
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Hagel tries to tone down Obama effect on military sexual assault

In a highly unusual move to blunt the legal impact of the president’s comments on military sexual assaults, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering his top leaders to be sure to only base their judicial decisions on facts and their own independent judgment. The one-page memo tells the military that even though senior U.S. leaders may openly condemn sexual assault, drug abuse, hazing and other crimes, such comments are not intended to sway the outcome of any particular case. In early May, as high-profile incidents of sexual assault in the military spiked, President Barack Obama — the nation’s commander in
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Rising threat from al-Qaida?

Top U.S. and Iraqi diplomats warned Thursday of a rising threat in Iraq from al-Qaida, which is carrying out suicide and car bombings with greater frequency nearly two years after U.S. troops withdrew from the country. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also discussed how to stop Iraqi airspace from being used to ferry weapons and illicit cargo from Iran to the embattled Syrian government and how to stem the flow of weapons and extremist fighters into Iraq from neighboring Syria. “It’s a two-way street. It’s a dangerous street,” Kerry said. The two met on
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