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12:25 PM ET, August 17, 2012


 Top Items: 
Matt Rhoades / Barack Obama:
Letter from Jim Messina to Matt Rhoades  —  Dear Matt:  —  I am writing to ask again that the Governor release multiple years of tax returns, but also to make an offer that should address his concerns about the additional disclosures.  Governor Romney apparently fears that the more he offers …
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan pursue united front strategy  —  Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan plan to campaign together again sooner than aides had originally planned, likely twice next week, as part of a new offensive to take on the touchy issue of Medicare, campaign officials tell POLITICO.
Tom Morello / Rolling Stone:
‘Paul Ryan Is the Embodiment of the Machine Our Music Rages Against’  —  Rage Against the Machine's guitarist blasts Romney's VP pick and unlikely Rage fan  —  Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images; Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call … Paul Ryan's love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing …
Charles Krauthammer / Washington Post:
Romney's present, Ryan's future  —  Vice-presidential picks are always judged by their effect on the coming election.  They rarely have any.  —  They haven't had a decisive influence since Lyndon Johnson carried Texas for John Kennedy in 1960.  (That and Illinois put Kennedy over the top.)
Michael Falcone / ABCNEWS:
Mitt Romney's Whiteboard Blues  —  ANALYSIS: Everything you need to know about how this week went for Mitt Romney can be summed up in one word: whiteboard.  —  There he was in Greer, S.C., with a black dry-erase marker in hand scrawling out on a wood-framed whiteboard how — in his view …
Discussion: CNN, ABCNEWS and Politico
Greg Sargent / Washington Post:
The Morning Plum: Romney and Ryan muddy the Medicare waters  —  The Romney and Obama camapigns are again trading blows over Medicare this morning.  The Obama campaign is up with a new ad that hits back at the Romney campaign attacks, defending Obamacare for protecting Medicare against fraud …
TRENDING: Obama camp: Let's make a deal on tax returns. Romney camp: No.
Discussion: CANNONFIRE and Outside the Beltway
Carol E. Lee / Washington Wire:
Obama Campaign Asks Romney for 5 Years of Tax Returns
Discussion: GOP 12 and Wall Street Journal
David Jackson / USA Today:
Romney declines Obama deal on tax return releases
Alexander Burns / Politico:   Messina writes Rhoades on Romney taxes
Lean Forward /   Sandra Fluke: Paul Ryan on women's issues — so bad it's unbelievable ... but true
Pussy Riot members jailed for two years for hooliganism  —  Judge Marina Syrova: “These three plus others... plotted together to undermine civil order, motivated by religious hatred”  —  Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been jailed for two years after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.
Marcin Sobczyk / Emerging Europe Real Time:
Recap: Russian Punk Band Gets Two Years
Dana Milbank / Washington Post:
Hateful speech on hate groups  —  Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization, posted an alert on its blog Tuesday: “Paul Ryan Speaking at Hate Group's Annual Conference.”  —  The “hate group” that the Republicans' vice presidential candidate would be addressing?
Mark Potok / Hatewatch:
SPLC: Family Research Council License-to-Kill Claim ‘Outrageous’
David Simon:
Mitt Romney paid taxes at a rate of at least 13 percent.  And he's proud to say so.  —  Can we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal …
Paul Ryan — THE TOPLESS PHOTO  —  THE TOPLESS PHOTO  —  EXCLUSIVE  —  Here it is ... the very first photo of Paul Ryan's mysterious athletic physique ... REVEALED!!!  —  TMZ has (finally) obtained a photo of Mitt Romney's running mate — sans shirt — taken roughly 6 years ago ... right before Ryan got hooked on the P90X workout.
Gregory J. Krieg / ABCNEWS:
Presented With Letters, Ryan Admits Requesting Stimulus Cash  —  After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.  —  Ryan had denied doing so as recently as Wednesday, when he spoke to ABC's Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, in Ohio.
Matthew Mosk / ABCNEWS:
Secret ‘Menu’ Details Perks for Big Democratic Donors  —  Those seeking invites to the most lavish receptions at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, “gold ticket” access to “dialogues,” and private breakfast briefings with party luminaries, can expect a hefty price of admission.
Discussion: Weekly Standard
Christopher Bedford / The Daily Caller:
Biden's ‘good friend,’ donor receives $20M federal loan to open foreign luxury car dealership in Ukraine  —  In late July, John Hynansky — a longtime friend of Vice President Joe Biden, and a major donor to Biden's campaigns as well as President Barack Obama's — was awarded a $20 million taxpayer loan …
Jeff Mason / Reuters:
Exclusive: White House studying potential oil reserve release  —  (Reuters) - The White House is “dusting off old plans” for a potential release of oil reserves to dampen prices and prevent high energy costs from undermining sanctions against Iran, a source with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday.
Moscow bans gay pride for century  —  Nikolay Alexeyev has been campaigning for years for the right to stage gay parades in Russia  —  Moscow's top court has upheld a ban on gay pride marches in the Russian capital for the next 100 years.  —  Earlier Russia's best-known gay rights campaigner …
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard / Telegraph:
Finland prepares for break-up of eurozone  —  Finland is preparing for the break-up of the eurozone, the country's foreign minister warned today.  —  Erkki Tuomioja, Finland's foreign minister: “We have to face openly the possibility of a euro-break up”.
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 More Items: 
Philip Reeves / NPR:
WikiLeaks Founder Caught In Diplomatic Standoff
Discussion: The Moderate Voice
Michael A. Memoli / Los Angeles Times:
Biden's unscripted moments keep campaign on its toes
Ed Morrissey / Hot Air:
CBS, AP: Dem chair of House Oversight covered up ties to Countrywide for himself, colleagues, and staff
Discussion: protein wisdom
Noah Rothman / Mediaite:
Geraldo Investigates: Is There A ‘Lesbian Cabal’ Leading The Department Of Homeland Security?
Ashley Parker / New York Times:
Mitt Romney's Transition Team Is Hard at Work
Christine Haughney / Media Decoder:
Time and CNN Reinstate Journalist After Review
 Earlier Items: 
Jen Chung / Gothamist:
Islamophobic Billboard At Metro-North Station Encourages Hatred, Says Local Pol
Discussion: New York Magazine and Atlas Shrugs
Patrick Gavin / Politico:
Fit for office: Candidates in best shape ever
Discussion: Towleroad News #gay
David A. Graham / The Atlantic Online:
The Obama Campaign's Forlorn Hope: Just Get Unlikely Voters to Turn Out
Michael Gerson / Washington Post:
Obama's betrayal  —  In the innocent, bygone days of February …
Michael A. Fletcher / Washington Post:
New rules expose bigger funding gaps for public pensions
Discussion: and USA Today
Andrew Kirell / Mediaite:
MSNBC's Touré: Romney Engaging In The ‘Niggerization’ Of Obama