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Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown spilled blood in the water when they started spending taxpayers' money on apparently nepotistic hiring, extravagant travel and luxury SUVs.

Incoming House Republicans are dead set on cutting spending anywhere they can, including vulnerable D.C. city services, and now Gray and company will have a tougher time defending them while fending off investigators from Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

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One of the Republican state Senators facing a recall campaign in Wisconsin, Sen. Dan Kapanke, has announced that he has been subject to vandalism and death threats as a result of his support for Gov. Scott Walker's newly passed law curtailing public employee unions -- and as a result, is canceling some local events in his district.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports:

Sen. Dan Kapanke has canceled upcoming district meetings after being the target of threats and vandalism. Rose Smyrski, Kapanke's chief of staff, said the senator's car window was smashed in Madison, and his wife found nails scattered in the driveway of their French Island home.

He also received death threats.

The second-term Republican had scheduled a listening session Friday in Ontario and office hours Monday in West Salem. Another meeting in La Farge had not been announced, legislative aide Hannah Huffman said.

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The House approved a bill Thursday that would bock federal funding to NPR and affiliate stations, drawing the condemnation of the White House, which opposed the legislation.

The final tally was 228-192, largely on party lines. No Democrats voted for it while seven Republicans voted against it. In speeches ahead of the vote, a number of Democrats mocked Republicans for targeting the public broadcaster with a variety of puns based on popular NPR programs.

The bill is considered dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but was fast-tracked in the House via an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee yesterday. A number of Democrats, such as Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), objected to the process, arguing that such urgency was unseemly in the wake of ongoing disasters abroad and a looming government shutdown.

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The U.S. Senate just overwhelmingly passed yet another bill to keep the federal government open for business for another few weeks. Leaders of the Democratic majority say they're starting to get tired of it.

By a vote of 87-13, Senators passed their version of the continuing resolution the House passed on Tuesday. The bill will keep the lights on through April 8, and cuts spending by $6 billion.

It also keeps the houses of congress from fighting over a long-term spending bill, which the House has stuffed with pet conservative causes like defunding Planned Parenthood.

But this short-term spending dance is wearing thin, Senate Democratic leaders say, and they want to bring it to an end.

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Only once since 1944 has Ohio voted for a losing presidential candidate, and if the 2012 election were held today, President Obama would be breathing easy, as a new PPP poll of registered voters shows him building on his lead over a slate of potential Republican challengers.

On Wednesday, PPP released poll results showing that as voters rapidly soured on Republican Gov. John Kasich -- who has pushed to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights -- they were simultaneously sounding much more positive about reelecting Sen. Sherrod Brown. Now, it appears that same Democratic bump has buoyed Obama's reelection odds as well.

In December, Obama led four Republican challengers by between one and seven points; he now leads them all by at least six.

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Add Rudy Giuliani to the list of Republicans who are slamming Mitt Romney for his signature achievement -- universal healthcare in Massachusetts -- and its striking resemblance to President Obama's healthcare reform, with both of them based on an individual mandate to purchase private health insurance, plus subsidies for people with lower incomes.

"It's clear the Massachusetts health care plan was a mistake and Mitt should basically say that and explain how he would act differently now," Giuliani told the New Hampshire Union Leader's John DiStaso.

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Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) thinks the House bill to defund NPR is completely ridiculous. And he thinks the Republicans who rushed it to the floor Thursday are wasting everyone's time.

The way he expressed his feelings to the nation? A sarcastic, mocking rant on the House floor.

"What a relief. I'm glad we got the economy back going. I'm so glad we secured our nuclear power plants. So glad Americans are going back to work," he said. "We discovered a target we can all agree's Click And Clack."

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1||March 17, 2011: The massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan last week has spawned a second crisis, as the nation now struggles to prevent the leakage of radiation from a quake-damaged nuclear plant.

Low levels of radiation have been detected near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, prompting the government to begin checking residents in nearby areas for signs of exposure. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

2||This picture, taken in 2008, shows what the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant looked like before the earthquake struck. ||KYODO/Xinhua/Newscom&&

3||The earthquake knocked the cooling system at the plant -- pictured from an aerial view here -- offline. || DigitalGlobe&&

4||With the cooling system down, and with no way to vent the mounting pressure inside the reactors, two hydrogen explosions rocked the plant, the first on Saturday, and another on Monday. The explosions damaged the containment structures around Reactor No. 1 and Reactor No. 3., circled here in red. ||DigitalGlobe&&

5||Then on Tuesday, two more explosions shook the plant, one of which destroyed the containment structure around Reactor No. 4. You can see a close-up video of the damage here. ||DigitalGlobe&&

6||Japan has raced to cool the fuel rods at the plant to prevent a nuclear meltdown, using helicopters to spray water on the plant. ||nhk/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

7||With fears growing about the potential spread of radiation, people have begun panic-buying on some areas. Food racks at a store in Tokyo were practically picked clean. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

8||Concerns about irradiated food even spread to China. Policemen in China's Anhui province corralled a crowd outside a salt company on Thursday. ||YI FAN/FEATURECHINA/Newscom&&

9||Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan addressed the nation on Tuesday, urging people to evacuate areas near the plant. ||Kyodo/Xinhua/Photoshot/Newscom&&

10||In an unprecedented event, Emperor Akihito gave a live televised address to the nation, seeking to allay growing concerns about the scope of the nuclear crisis. ||SIPA/SIPA/Newscom&&

11||People in protective gear checked residents in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture for radiation exposure on Tuesday. ||AFLO/Newscom&&

12||||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

13||Medical personnel have also checked radiation levels in other areas, including Nihon-Matsu, Fukushima prefecture, which is about 40 miles from the damaged plant. ||n39/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

14||The United States has sent radiological gear and cases of bottled water, among other supplies, to aid in the Japanese relief effort. || USMC/AFLO/Newscom&&


Branded as a revelatory scoop uncovering previously unknown donations from George Soros to NPR, James O'Keefe's latest sting on NPR was debunked as a non-story within hours of its release.

The news that O'Keefe purports to "break" -- that Soros had previously donated to the public broadcaster via grants from Soros' Open Society Institute -- had, in fact, long been publicly known through tax records and even press releases.

"We believe that journalism is a pillar of an open and democratic society and a critical tool for transparency and accountability," a spokeswoman for OSI, Laura Silber, told TPM after sending over a list of previous grants to NPR and affiliates. "A free and independent press serves as a watchdog of both government and the private sector. NPR, which is a respected national news organization, provides an excellent vehicle for regional and national analyses of the most critical issues facing our country."

The new audio recording features NPR director of institutional giving Betsy Liley talking with one of O'Keefe's actors, a member of a phony Muslim group claiming to want to donate $5 million to NPR. In their conversation, Liley discusses donations from George Soros, noting that after conservative attacks on him intensified he asked that his name not be mentioned on the air as a sponsor.

"George Soros and the Open Society Institute gave us $1.8 million, and they have decided not to use on-air credits because of what's happening in Congress," Liley says.

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