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Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old accused of attempting to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and killing several others in a mass shooting spree in Arizona earlier this month, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Phoenix on Monday.

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Arizona State Sen. Linda Gray (R) argued over the weekend that gun control is not the way to prevent another shooting like the one in Tucson. The real answer, she said when asked about preventing such a shooting in the future, is to better "respect the life of an unborn."

"It is ironic that today is the day 38 years ago that the Supreme Court said we do not have to respect the life of an unborn and we have gone through now more then a generation of people, a large number of people who believe that it is fine to take an infant prior to it being born and to kill it. What type of respect is that for human life?"

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Former MSNBC anchor David Shuster on Sunday sharply criticized Fox News over the network's lack of "journalistic standards."

In a roundtable discussion on CNN's Reliable Sources just days after Keith Olbermann's abrupt exit from MSNBC, Shuster dismissed the claim that there is a "moral equivalency" between Glenn Beck and Olbermann.

"When people say that MSNBC is the liberal antidote to Fox News, and that there's an equal balance there, that's simply not true," he said.

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I've been catching some gentle pushback for writing this piece about Republicans claiming credit for an economic recovery. The gist is this: If the tax cut compromise doesn't explain economic growth projections, then why do even Barack Obama and Harry Reid say the opposite?

It's a good point. But let's be perfectly clear that it's a purely political point. The White House in particular is invested in the success -- real or perceived -- of the tax compromise. And the tax compromise itself was in large part a product of the GOP's electoral success. Thus, there's a simple line of argument: the White House says the tax compromise helped stabilize the economy, Republicans correctly point out that they were the principal drivers of that compromise, ergo Republicans deserve credit for stabilizing the economy. QED.

But that conclusion is only accurate if the White House isn't also exaggerating the impact of the deal. Dave Weigel talked to Bruce Bartlett who claimed the Republicans, "[a]s usual, they are full of shit." It's not just Bartlett, either -- you could repeat that exercise ad infinitum. There's simply no plausible way that two-weeks worth of extended tax rates are responsible for what's actually a slow job growth trend.

None of that matters insofar as the politics are concerned. What Democrats have not done, and are not doing, is claiming that the looming recovery is the result of two-years worth of their economic policies: stimulus spending, tax credits, unemployment, and the compromise. They've basically closed the door on that interpretation of events, and have instead allowed the GOP to reverse the obvious narrative of the last half-decade: that Republican policies led to inequality, then crisis, then recession and that Democratic policies (barely) righted our course after the 2008 election.

For now that means Republicans will catch a bunch of flack, and critics will mock them, because, you know, everyone gets what's up. But they'll plant these seeds nonetheless, and then three, six, nine months later, if the recovery is real, it will have a big impact on the public's understanding of events.

The three senators who have announced their 2012 retirements thus far appeared Sunday on This Week. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) both maintained that they think they could have won re-election -- and the other, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), only commented on why his state has turned against the status quo in Washington.

All in all, these reactions seemed to coincide with the chances that these same individual Senators' seats would stay with their current party or caucus.

Following Conrad's retirement, the Cook Report changed the rating of this race from "Likely Democratic" to "Toss Up." Before Lieberman announced his retirement, Cook had the race as only "Leans Democratic," due in part to the possibility that a three-way race could split the Dem vote and throw the seat to the Republicans -- but it is now the much safer "Likely Democratic." And Hutchison's seat has seen no change -- it was "Likely Republican" before she announced her retirement, and it is "Likely Republican" now.

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by Marian Wang ProPublica, Jan. 24, 2011, 11:37 a.m.

Concerned about the potential for corrosion, inspectors for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System flagged a segment for replacement in a 2008 risk assessment, according to Reuters [1] and The Hill [2]. As we've noted [3], a leak was detected along that segment earlier this month, necessitating emergency shutdowns of the pipeline.

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A majority of Americans do not expect President Obama's State of the Union speech to alter their opinion of the country's direction, according to a Marist poll conducted in the run up to Tuesday's address.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they thought the address would not change their level of confidence in the direction the country is heading. Only 28% said they thought the speech would boost their confidence, while 8% said they expected to feel less confident following the speech. An additional 11% said they were unsure how the address would impact their view of the nation's future.

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Lawyers for Milton McGregor, the proprietor of Alabama's VictoryLand -- who the government says illegally bribed members of the state legislature to support legislation which allowed electronic bingo -- says the feds are dragging their feet in their case against him and demanded an immediate trial.

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Former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) has officially launched his campaign to run again for the Senate seat he held from 2001-2007, before he was defeated in a major upset by Democrat Jim Webb in 2006. Allen's campaign is being pitched as part of an "American comeback."

"The pivotal elections coming up in 2012 are gonna determine the trajectory of our country," Allen said in his YouTube announcement video. "Whether the opportunity to achieve the American Dream will continue to decline, or begin to ascend again.

"Friends, it's time for an American comeback. A comeback with leaders in Washington who listen to 'We the People,' adhere to foundational principles, rein in spending, and start creating opportunities for more jobs."

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