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Parallels
3:44 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Iran's Hope Is Sanctions Relief, But Reality Is Struggling Economy

Low-income Iranians line up to receive food supplies in south Tehran. Iran remains an economy of subsidies, although some direct cash payments have been replaced by food baskets for the poor.
Davoud Ghahrdar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 11:07 am

Iran's economy may be struggling, but that doesn't mean everyone is suffering.

In a downtown Tehran restaurant, a well-dressed young man who asks to be identified only as Ahmad sits with a friend enjoying a water pipe of flavored tobacco.

Ahmad is a bit vague about what he does — first he says he's in the petrochemical business, then describes himself as an independent trader. He shares the general consensus that President Hassan Rouhani has brought a better atmosphere to the country but no real economic changes.

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The Two-Way
2:09 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Actor Ralph Waite, Father On 'Waltons,' Dies At 85

Ralph Waite more recently had a recurring role on the CBS drama NCIS as Jackson Gibbs.
Cliff Lipson CBS /Landov

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 11:16 am

Ralph Waite, the actor best known as the father on the hit television show The Waltons, died Thursday. He was 85. His manager, Alan Mills, confirmed the news.

The Waltons aired on CBS from 1972 until 1981.

It was about a family in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains in the Depression-era 1930s.

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It's All Politics
7:41 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Rand Paul's NSA Lawsuit Helps Him Lay Claim To A Big Issue

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in front of the federal district court in Washington, where he filed his lawsuit against the Obama administration and the NSA.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 8:26 pm

By filing his lawsuit against the Obama administration, including the National Security Agency, over the intelligence agency's collection of phone call data, Sen. Rand Paul now has ownership of a major issue in a way no other potential 2016 presidential candidate can lay claim.

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It's All Politics
6:49 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

As Takeover Hopes Fade, House Democrats Remain Upbeat

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., right, pick up box lunches on Feb. 12 before boarding a bus for a trip to a retreat in Cambridge, Md., where House Democrats will hold strategy meetings for two and a half days.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

House Democrats face a decidedly grim election season.

Their hopes of wresting control from the GOP look increasingly remote. Their legislative agenda is stymied. And some of their biggest liberal standard-bearers – Californians Henry Waxman and George Miller — are retiring.

So, as they hunker down on Maryland's Eastern Shore for their annual "issues conference" Thursday and Friday, why do they seem to be in such good spirits?

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World
6:23 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

More Ambassador Posts Are Going To Political Appointees

TV producer Colleen Bell, shown here in a 2013 photo, was a big donor for President Obama before she was nominated to become ambassador to Hungary. Obama has chosen more political appointees than his predecessors.
Handout Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 6:05 pm

The nominee to be U.S. ambassador to, say, Hungary should be able to explain what the U.S. strategic interests are in that country — right?

But Colleen Bell, a soap opera producer and President Obama's appointee to be U.S. envoy to that European country, struggled to answer that simple question during her recent confirmation hearing.

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