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9:30 AM ET, December 17, 2014


 Top Items: 
Nate Silver / FiveThirtyEight:
Is Jeb Bush Too Liberal To Win The Republican Nomination In 2016?  —  On Tuesday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced that he will “actively explore” a bid for the White House.  While Bush has not yet formed a presidential exploratory committee, he's “running” for president by any practical definition of the term.
Money men cheer Bush news  —  Republican rivals will struggle to raise big cash.  —  In one swift move, Jeb Bush showed his fundraising prowess without raising a dollar.  —  A number of top tier donors reacted to the Republican's announcement on Facebook that he would “actively explore the possibility” …
Associated Press:
Obama offers help to Australia post-hostage crisis  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is offering U.S. assistance to Australia after the Sydney hostage crisis.  —  The president called Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott Monday night and offered condolences after a gunman took 17 people hostage inside a cafe.
Discussion: Agence France-Presse
Philip Elliott / Associated Press:
Secretive groups ran $25M in ads for state races  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — Shadowy outside groups broadcast an estimated $25 million worth of political ads on local TV stations with a goal of shaping state-level elections this year, and their full roster of donors is unlikely to ever be known, according to an analysis released Wednesday.
John Podhoretz / New York Post:
Jeb's killer flaw — the name, not the ideology  —  Jeb Bush is running for president.  The brother of Bush 43 and son of Bush 41 said as much yesterday on Facebook.  —  If you think you know something about Jeb Bush solely based on his name and connections, truth is, you don't.
Discussion: The Federalist and Washington Post
Steve Peoples / Associated Press:
No doubt now: Jeb Bush eyeing 2016 race
Discussion: The Seattle Times
Jill Colvin / Associated Press:   Clinton denounces torture, says black lives matter
Zeke J Miller / TIME:
Rand Paul is Already Running an Ad Against Jeb Bush
Andrew Taylor / Associated Press:   GOP Sen. Coburn blocks terrorism insurance measure
Associated Press:   Ex-staffer for congressman alleges harassment
Aaron Blake / Washington Post:
Poll: Jeb Bush is a front-runner — but an underwhelming one
Joan Lowy / Associated Press:   Senate approves new auto safety chief
Sandra Sobieraj Westfall /
The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences  —  The Obamas open up about raising their daughters, the impact of stereotypes, and what's on the POTUS dance party playlist.  Subscribe now for instant access to the exclusive PEOPLE interview!  —  The protective bubble that comes …
Associated Press:
Obama: As a black man he's been mistaken for valet  —  WASHINGTON (AP) — He may be president now, but Barack Obama says he's a black man who has been mistaken for the valet.  —  Obama tells People magazine that every black professional male his age has had someone hand over their keys while waiting outside a restaurant.
Associated Press:
Obama signs $1.1 trillion spending bill into law
Discussion: The PJ Tatler
Robert C. Hockett / The Hill:
No author, no law  —  Something very odd has occurred in connection with the atrociously named “cromnibus” bill passed by Congress this weekend — a bill that the president, if only he might repent of the position he has taken to now, still both can and ought to veto.
Discussion: Instapundit
The Huffington Post:
Kevin Yoder MIA After Tucking Wall Street Bailout Into Government Spending Bill
Discussion: Daily Kos, Salon and Medium
Peter Schroeder / The Hill:
Emboldened Wall Street ready to dismantle Dodd-Frank financial law
Discussion: Prairie Weather
Jonathan H. Adler / Washington Post:
District court declares Obama immigration action unconstitutional (Updated)  —  Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama's executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.  —  According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab …
Fox News:   Federal judge: Obama immigration actions ‘unconstitutional’
Ian Millhiser / ThinkProgress:
BREAKING: Republican Judge Strikes Down Obama's Immigration Order
Discussion: Daily Kos and Washington Monthly
Theater Chains Pull “The Interview,” Press Appearances Canceled Amid Threats  —  The stars of Sony's upcoming film pulled out of all planned media appearances, including a live BuzzFeed Brews event, on Tuesday.  UPDATE: The studio also told movie exhibitors it would not object if they pulled the film from theaters.
Brent Lang / Variety:
Sony Hackers Threaten 9/11 Attack on Movie Theaters That Screen ‘The Interview’
ABC News:
Alan Gross: Cuba Releases Him After Five Years in Prison … Held for five years in Cuba, 65-year-old American contractor Alan Gross has been released from prison and is en route to U.S. soil, ABC News has learned exclusively.  —  In a landmark humanitarian prisoner exchange to be announced …
Discussion: Weekly Standard and NPR
Sarah Ferris / The Hill:
Blacks falling behind under ObamaCare  —  African-Americans are less likely to see benefits under ObamaCare compared to other racial groups, according to research released Tuesday.  —  While Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska natives have seen “dramatic” increases in healthcare coverage …
Manu Raju / Politico:
Ted Cruz apologizes to colleagues over antics  —  Ted Cruz privately apologized to GOP senators Tuesday for interrupting their holiday schedules by his surprise tactics that effectively brought the Senate into session over the weekend.  —  According to five senators who attended Tuesday's caucus lunch …
Frances Robles / New York Times:
Ecuador Family Wins Favors After Donations to Democrats  —  MIAMI — The Obama administration overturned a ban preventing a wealthy, politically connected Ecuadorean woman from entering the United States after her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns, according to finance records and government officials.
Gregory Korte / Associated Press:
Obama issues ‘executive orders by another name’  —  By issuing his directives as “memoranda” rather than executive orders, Obama has downplayed the extent of his executive actions.  —  WASHINGTON — President Obama has issued a form of executive action known as the presidential memorandum …
James Carville / The Hill:
Why do people vote against their interests?  —  During my time as a political strategist, one of the most vexing problems was figuring out why so many people vote against their perceived interests.  Commentators like myself have spent countless hours speculating on why so many people vote …
Cameron Joseph / The Hill:
Unshakeable Sestak  —  Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) never really stopped running against Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) after his narrow 2010 loss.  —  But despite lingering unhappiness within his own party about his last run, he might actually be able to avoid a primary challenge …
Discussion: Political Wire
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 More Items: 
Bill Carter / New York Times:
Stephen Colbert Prepares Final ‘Colbert Report’
Discussion: Hullabaloo
USA Today:
Survey: Teen marijuana use declines even as states legalize
Discussion: VodkaPundit and Tech Times
Bruce Weber / New York Times:
Norman Bridwell, Creator of ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ Books, Dies at 86
Discussion: Outside the Beltway
Alan Fram / Associated Press:
SC GOP Senator Thinking About Presidential Run
Discussion: The Federalist and Political Wire
Stephen Ohlemacher / Associated Press:
In final 2014 push, Congress renews tax breaks
Jaime Fuller / Washington Post:
People Magazine's worst selling issue this year? The one with Hillary Clinton on the cover.
Gary Langer / ABC News:
Six in 10 See CIA Actions as Justified As Many Question Committee Report
Discussion: Balloon Juice and
William Desmond / National Law Journal:
Op-Ed: Delaying Exams Is Not a Request from ‘Coddled Millennials’
 Earlier Items: 
Dominic Kelly /
Irate Passenger Throws Cup Of Boiling Noodles At Flight Attendant (Video)
Discussion: FOX News Radio
Brian Krebs / Politico:
Ever Wondered Who's Behind Those Viagra Emails?
The Collapse of Putin's Economic System
Jennifer O'NeillWriter / Yahoo Parenting:
Second Graders Spend Recess Protesting Ferguson. Are They Too Young?
Discussion: FOX News Radio
Victor Fiorillo / Philadelphia Magazine:
Gay-Bashing Suspects Held on All Charges