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11:20 AM ET, February 18, 2014

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 Top Items: 
Tom Kludt / Talking Points Memo:
‘Joe The Plumber’ Describes His New Union Job, Contemplates The Meaning Of ‘Tea Bagger’  —  Samuel Wurzelbacher's encounter with Barack Obama gave some material to Republicans who were eager to brand the Illinois senator a socialist.  Today, the man better-known as “Joe The Plumber” has himself a union job.
Discussion: The Raw Story
RELATED:
Tom Troy / Toledo Blade:
‘Joe the Plumber’ Wurzelbacher gets union job with Chrysler Group
Discussion: Liberaland and Joe For America
Eli Lake / The Daily Beast:
Spy Chief: We Should've Told You We Track Your Calls  —  The U.S. government long considered its collection of Americans' call records to be a state secret.  Now the Director of National Intelligence admits it would have been better if Washington had acknowledged the surveillance in the first place.
Lindsay Kalter / Politico:
Kathleen Sebelius: No job loss under Obamacare  —  Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says there is “absolutely no evidence” that the Affordable Care Act will drive down employment, despite a report from the Congressional Budget Office released Feb. 4 predicting fewer people would be working.
Associated Press:
Melvin Reynolds arrested in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean official says  —  HARARE, Zimbabwe — Former U.S. Rep. Melvin Jay Reynolds has been arrested in Zimbabwe, said a Zimbabwean immigration official.  —  The official, Ario Mabika, told The Associated Press Tuesday that Reynolds is being investigated.
Discussion: JONATHAN TURLEY
RELATED:
Rebecca Shabad / The Hill:
Ex-congressman arrested in Zimbabwe
Robert Costa / Washington Post:
Congressional Republicans are focused on calming their divided ranks  —  After a tumultuous week of party infighting and leadership stumbles, congressional Republicans are focused on calming their divided ranks in the months ahead, mostly by touting proposals that have wide backing within …
RELATED:
Russell Berman / The Hill:
Shifting the focus back to Obama
Discussion: The Plum Line and New York Times
Nicholas Confessore / New York Times:
Financier Plans Big Ad Campaign on Climate Change  —  A billionaire retired investor is forging plans to spend as much as $100 million during the 2014 election, seeking to pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers.
Jonathan Easley / The Hill:
Republicans open investigations into ObamaCare's disaster sites  —  Republicans are launching investigations into three state-run ObamaCare exchanges that are failing disastrously.  —  Lawmakers are setting their sites on exchanges in Oregon, Maryland and Massachusetts where Democratic governors embraced …
Rebecca Riffkin / Gallup:
Unemployment Rises to Top Problem in the U.S.  —  Fewer Americans name the government as the most important problem in February  —  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans have a new No. 1 problem.  Nearly one in four Americans mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January.
CNN:
‘Abundant evidence’ of crimes against humanity in North Korea, panel says  —  (CNN) — A stunning catalog of torture and the widespread abuse of even the weakest of North Koreans reveal a portrait of a brutal state “that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” a United Nations panel reported Monday.
RELATED:
Peter Walker / Guardian:
North Korean human rights abuses systematic and unparalleled, says UN
Discussion: The Verge and The Daily Banter
Jim Yardley / New York Times:
Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if It's Time to Reset Clock  —  MADRID — Dipping into a bucket filled with Mahou beers, Jorge Rodríguez and his friends hunkered down on a recent Wednesday night to watch soccer at Mesón Viña, a local bar.
Discussion: Eschaton
Paul Bond / Hollywood Reporter:
‘Bible’ Producers Cut Satan Scenes From ‘Son of God’ Following Obama Controversy (Video)  —  Eager to avoid a controversy about the devil looking like the president, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett decided to leave the character out of their film, which is based on “The Bible” miniseries.
Discussion: americanthinker.com and Guardian
Walter Russell Mead / The American Interest Podcast:
Lefty Meltdown Leads Latin Revival  —  Are we about to witness a big power shift in Latin America?  —  Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina are languishing in differing shades of turmoil, steadily losing ground to regional underdogs.  The Pacific Alliance, an historic trade agreement between Mexico …
Discussion: The Atlantic Online
ThinkProgress:
Michael Dunn Compares Himself To Rape Victim In Newly Released Calls From Jail  —  CREDIT: AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack, Pool  —  In newly released audio of phone calls made by Michael Dunn while in jail, the man who shot 17-year-old Jordan Davis after a loud music dispute claiming self-defense …
Discussion: CBS News and PoliticusUSA
Zeke J Miller / TIME:
Obama Plays Water Guzzling Desert Golf Courses Amid California Drought  —  After preaching shared sacrifice to assuage the California water shortage, Obama has played some of the country's thirstiest golf courses.  —  President Barack Obama traveled to California Friday to highlight …
Byron York / Washington Examiner:
Why Hillary Clinton's past is fair game in presidential race  —  HILLARY CLINTON BILL CLINTON 2016 ELECTIONS CAMPAIGNS KENNETH STARR WHITEWATER  —  There's a debate going on about Hillary Clinton's past.  If she runs for president in 2016, should Republicans reach back to the scandals of her years as First Lady?
Politico:
Exclusive: Mega-donors plan GOP war council  —  A group of major GOP donors, led by New York billionaire Paul Singer, is quietly expanding its political footprint ahead of the midterm elections in an increasingly assertive effort to shape the direction of the Republican Party.
Valerie Richardson / Washington Times:
Secession movement in New York pushes for Big Apple to split from Upstate  —  When Frank Sinatra sang “New York, New York,” he may have been on to something.  —  A movement is afoot to split New York into two regions — upstate and downstate — to acknowledge the gaping philosophical differences and improve representation.
Shaun Walker / Guardian:
Pussy Riot members among group of activists arrested in Sochi  —  Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who were detained by police, deny claims they stole woman's handbag  —  Members of the punk group Pussy Riot have been detained by Russian police in Sochi, apparently on suspicion of stealing a woman's handbag.
James Freeman / Wall Street Journal:
Obama's Stimulus, Five Years Later  —  Not much growth, but a new costume for Bobber the Water Safety Dog.  —  THE STIMULUS ANNIVERSARY  —  Five years ago today, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law.  The $830 billion spending blowout was sold …
Discussion: RedState
RELATED:
Mitch McConnell / The Great Debate:
Despite stimulus, middle class still struggles
Discussion: Post Politics
Adam Aigner-Treworgy / CNN:
Obama to take next step in fuel efficiency for trucks  —  Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration will take the next step on Tuesday in its multi-year effort to cut emissions and reduce oil use by getting better fuel economy from trucks.  —  President Barack Obama is set to announce …
Discussion: Politico
 
 
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 More Items: 
Keli Goff / The Daily Beast:
How Wendy Davis Became America's Conscience on Abortion
James Hohmann / Politico:
NRSC raised $4.62 million in January
Discussion: Real Clear Politics
Bret Stephens / Wall Street Journal:
Stephens: Climate Prophets and Profiteers
Mike Gonzalez / The Federalist:
The New Contras: Understanding The Left's Grip On Media
Discussion: Vox Popoli
George Monbiot / Guardian:
How we ended up paying farmers to flood our homes
Discussion: Spectator
Eliana Johnson / National Review:
Proposed IRS Rule Change Fractures the Left
 Earlier Items: 
Andrea Peyser / New York Post:
Al Gore's global-warming rhetoric is put on ice
Discussion: his vorpal sword
Paul Caron / TaxProf Blog:
Rutgers Prof Suspended for Telling Students He Was Made to Teach a Course in Which He Had Zero Expertise
Sarah Jean Seman / Townhall.com:
Pelosi: the Founding Fathers Would Totally Support Obamacare
Discussion: Right Wing News and Scared Monkeys
Naomi Schaefer Riley / New York Post:
The economics of sex: Has the price gotten too cheap?
Discussion: The Big Picture and Althouse
Natalie Musumeci / NY Daily News:
EXCLUSIVE: National clown shortage may be approaching, trade organizations fear
 

 
From Techmeme:

Ina Fried / Re/code:
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Carriers Back Anti-Theft Measures for Smartphones

Zach Epstein / BGR:
Amazon's 4.7-inch 720p smartphone to have glasses-free 3D UI, four head-tracking infrared cameras

Dieter Bohn / The Verge:
Building blocks: how Project Ara is reinventing the smartphone

 
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