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Obama proposes to $6.5 billion in spending cuts but it might not sell

The White House called for $6.5 billion in immediate spending cuts Thursday as negotiations opened with tea party-backed Republicans in Congress seeking reductions nearly 10 times as large in their drive to reduce the size of federal government. “The conversation will continue,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a one-sentence statement after an hour-long meeting with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and other top congressional leaders in the Capitol. Boehner’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, said before the meeting that cuts of that magnitude were “little more than the status quo.” The talks, in Biden’s private office just off the Senate floor, marked
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So many budget claims, so few facts

It sounds like a pretty good starting point for negotiations: The White House and Capitol Hill Democrats say they’re ready to meet the GOP halfway in the latest round of budget talks, offering $50 billion in cuts compared with Republicans’ proposed $100 billion worth of reductions. “The White House has been willing to move halfway to where they are,” said Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council. “Talking about negotiation and compromise, that’s very important.” A news release from House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer late Thursday posed this challenge: “Democrats meet Republicans halfway: When will Republicans agree
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Uh oh! Church scholars tamper with Bible’s language

A new edition of one the most popular English-language Bibles will offer substitutes for words such as “booty” and “holocaust” to better reflect modern understanding, a Catholic group said on Wednesday. Nearly 50 scholars from all faiths and a committee of Roman Catholic bishops have labored since 1994 over the first fresh edition of the New American Bible since 1970, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said. The annual best-seller to be issued by a dozen publishers beginning next week on Ash Wednesday “is a beautiful translation — it’s a new way to look at an old love,” said Mary
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FBI agent thought dead is still alive

In an instant, the disappearance of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson in Iran went from a cold case to something very hot. After nearly four years without word about what happened to Levinson, his family received proof late last year that the father of seven was alive. It was a dramatic development that sharply intensified diplomatic efforts to bring him home. Until then, there had never been any evidence about whether Levinson was alive or dead since he disappeared in March 2007 from the Iranian island of Kish. It remains unclear who is holding Levinson or where he is, but
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WVa Dems slam Boehner for blocking vets ceremony at Capitol

West Virginia’s two Democratic senators blamed House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday after their hopes of having the remains of World War I veteran Frank Buckles honored in the Capitol Rotunda were dashed, at least for now. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin III both released statements saying the Ohio Republican had blocked the Capitol honor. Asked if that were true, Boehner spokesman Mike Steel said the speaker and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would seek Defense Department permission for a ceremony for Buckles at Arlington National Cemetery. Buckles died Sunday on his farm in Charles Town, W.Va., at
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Wisconsin state workers brace for layoffs

Thousands of Wisconsin state workers were bracing for layoff notices Friday as Republican Gov. Scott Walker and absent Democrats remained in a standoff over a budget balancing bill that would also strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights. Walker said he would issue 1,500 layoff notices Friday if at least one of the 14 Senate Democrats doesn’t return from Illinois to give the Republican majority the quorum it needs to vote. Senate Republicans voted Thursday to hold the missing Democrats in contempt and force police to bring them back to the Capitol. The legislation has led to nearly three
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