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Posted by Staff  on 10/31/2014 at 11:04 AM

The White House on Wednesday sought to tamp down the controversy over a magazine piece that detailed deep tensions between the U.S. and Israel – and quoted an unnamed senior Obama administration official calling the Israeli leader a “chickenshit.” 

Administration officials, including White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, did not deny the quote. They also did not signal there would be any robust effort to find out who said it. 

But Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the National Security Council, said the criticism does not reflect how the rest of the administration views Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

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Posted by Staff  on 10/31/2014 at 11:03 AM

After Michael Steele, the first African-American chairman of the Republican Party, left office, the RNC became single mindedly devoted to blocking black people from the ballot box. That's the allegation that MSNBC's Chris Matthews made not once, but twice, to Steele's face, on the October 28 edition of Hardball.

For his part, Steele simply laughed it off. Fellow guest panelist and leftist writer David Corn chortled that Matthews had delivered the "best introduction ever!"

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Posted by Staff  on 10/31/2014 at 11:02 AM

Jen Psaki made it clear that the Obama administration has no interest in trying to find out who made recent inflammatory comments about Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Is the administration trying to figure out who made these inappropriate and counter-productive comments?” Reuters reporter Arshad Mohammed asked.

“No,” Psaki said. “There are anonymous sources in all of your stories every single day. If we spent all of our time focused on that effort we wouldn’t be working on diplomacy.”

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Posted by Staff  on 10/31/2014 at 11:01 AM

Kay Hagan clearly did not enjoy being asked three times whether President Obama has been a strong leader.

Hagan admitted, “President Obama has a lot on his plate,” apparently implying that past successful Presidents did not?

Hagan cited excuses, including the 2010 oil spill, the rise of ISIS on his watch, and Ebola as reasons that Kasie Hunt’s question was too hard to answer.

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Posted by Staff  on 10/31/2014 at 10:59 AM
Brittany Maynard says she hasn't decided yet when she'll end her life, but it's a decision she's still determined to make.

"I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn't seem like the right time right now," Maynard says in a video released to CNN on Wednesday. "But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It's happening each week."

Maynard says she has stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer. In April, she says, doctors gave her six months to live.

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Posted by Staff  on 10/31/2014 at 10:59 AM
In the tense standoff between a Maine nurse and state officials, it was a surreal scene.

Nurse Kaci Hickox, who recently returned to the United States after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, went on a bike ride with her boyfriend Thursday -- followed by a police cruiser and a throng of journalists watching their every move.

Her lawyer called the ride "a good way to exercise her right." Hickox told reporters she "just wanted to enjoy this beautiful day."

Hours later, Gov. Paul LePage said negotiations with Hickox over where she could go had failed, adding that he would "exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law" to keep her away from public places.

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Posted by Staff  on 10/30/2014 at 8:19 AM
A New York college professor was beheaded and her body dumped outside an apartment building by her son, who later killed himself by stepping in front of a commuter train, police said.

The woman has been tentatively identified as Patricia Ward, a 66-year-old assistant professor at Farmingdale State College on Long Island, Detective Lt. John Azzata of the Nassau County Police told reporters Wednesday.

She was decapitated shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday by Derek Ward, 35, with a kitchen knife in the second-floor apartment they shared, Azzata said. Patricia Ward had multiple stab wounds and broken ribs, police said.

The son either carried or dragged his mother's body down the stairs, through the lobby and left it on the street, Azzata said. Her head was found about five feet from the body, leaving some neighbors to think the gruesome scene was a Halloween stunt.

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Posted by Staff  on 10/30/2014 at 8:18 AM

Guy Scott, famous in Zambia for his jocular, outspoken — and sometimes undiplomatic — tongue, on Wednesday became the nation's acting president and sub-Saharan Africa’s only current white head of state.

Scott took office in the southern African copper-producing nation after the death of President Michael Sata in London late Tuesday, amid questions about whether Scott can run for the office in coming elections. The announcement came after a Cabinet meeting lasting several hours.

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Posted by Staff  on 10/30/2014 at 8:17 AM

After reportedly concealing a long illness, Zambian President Michael Sata died Tuesday in a London hospital, the country’s second leader to die in office in a foreign hospital.

Six years ago, then-President Levy Mwanawasa died in a Paris hospital after suffering several strokes.

The death of Sata, 77, in King Edward VII Hospital late Tuesday was confirmed by Zambia's Cabinet secretary, Roland Msiska.

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Posted by Staff  on 10/30/2014 at 8:16 AM
Tax changes have been a major public policy issue in recent years. The tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 were passed amid firestorms of debate about their likely effects. Some policymakers claimed that the cuts would both stimulate the economy in the short run and increase normal output in the long run. Others argued that they would raise interest rates and lower confidence and thereby reduce output in both the short run and the long run.

That views of the effects of tax changes vary so radically largely reflects the fact that measuring these effects is very difficult. Tax changes occur for many reasons. Some legislated tax changes are passed for philosophical reasons or to reduce an inherited budget deficit. Others are passed because the economy is weak and predicted to fall further, or because a war is in progress and government spending is rising. And many tax changes are not legislated at all, but occur automatically because the tax base varies with the overall level of income, or because of changes in stock prices, inflation, and other nonpolicy forces. Because the factors that give rise to tax changes are often correlated with other developments in the economy, disentangling the effects of the tax changes from the effects of these underlying factors is inherently difficult. There is pervasive omitted variable bias in any regression of output on an aggregate measure of tax changes.

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