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SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation."

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Some things in life have a high price tag: gold, high-end champagne, yachts. Democracy shouldn’t be one of them.

A set of new studies show, again, that two strong trends are putting political participation out of reach for too many Americans: the influence of the very wealthy on the political process, and a shrinking middle class with ever-diminishing economic power.

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Updated: April 24, 2014, 10:25 AM

Once it was the Internal Revenue Service, then it was the National Parks Service. Now, quickly, the Bureau of Land Management is becoming the agency of the federal government conservatives love to hate as a sign of federal overreach into local affairs.

The spark was a showdown between Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials and cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in Nevada but, more recently, Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for governor, has taken an adversarial stance against the agency as well. On Tuesday Abbott sent a letter to the head of the BLM with a list of questions about a possible land acquisition near the Red River in Texas.

"As Attorney General of Texas, I am deeply troubled by reports from BLM field hearings that the federal government may claim — for the first time — that 90,000 acres of territory along the Red River now belong to the federal government," Abbott wrote.

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An Associated Press reporter on Tuesday challenged a State Department spokesperson to name an achievement from an initiative launched under former Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki was discussing the start of the second Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a general assessment of the department's progress and opportunities.

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