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The Two-Way
9:11 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Chinese Ag Scientists Charged With Stealing Patented Seeds

Two agricultural scientists from China have been accused of trying to steal patented seeds from a biopharmaceutical company in Kansas.

Separately, six men from China, including the CEO of a seed corn subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate, were charged Thursday with conspiring to steal patented seed corn from two of the nation's leading seed developers, prosecutors said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

It wasn't immediately clear if the arrests were related, but The AP wrote of the group of six charged:

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The Two-Way
8:05 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

American Who Disappeared In Iran Reportedly Worked For CIA

A "proof of life" photo provided to the family of ex-FBI agent Robert Levinson in April 2011.
Uncredited AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:05 am

The Associated Press reports in an investigative piece that an ex-FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007 and was last seen in a "proof of life" photograph more than two years ago had been working for the CIA, despite official denials from the U.S.

Robert Levinson, who would now be 65, vanished after traveling in March 2007 to the Iranian island of Kish, described by The Associated Press as a resort "awash with tourists, smugglers and organized crime figures."

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The Two-Way
7:20 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

U.N. Report Confirms Chemical Weapons Were Used In Syria

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:23 am

Chemical weapons were used in Syria's civil war, according to a team of international chemical weapons experts sent to investigate claims of chemical attacks.

"The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic," the inspectors say.

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The Two-Way
6:49 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

House Approves Budget Deal; Compromise Heads To Senate

House Speaker John Boehner leaves a news conference Thursday, after criticizing conservative groups that he said held too much sway in Republican politics, "pushing our members in places where they don't want to be."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:05 am

The House has approved a bipartisan budget deal to cut around $23 billion from the federal deficit over 10 years while removing the threat of a possible government shutdown until 2015. A shutdown deadline had loomed for Jan. 15.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 also sets spending levels for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years, which its backers say will add more stability to both the U.S. economy and the government's operations.

Update at 6:35 p.m. ET: The Vote Tally

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It's All Politics
6:20 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Conservative Grass Roots Remains Skeptical Of Budget Deal

The Texas chapter of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity held an event Wednesday called "All I Want for Christmas is Less Federal Spending."
Alan Greenblatt NPR

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 8:26 pm

John Boehner has had it with fielding complaints from the right.

The House Speaker's frustration with conservative groups opposing the budget deal boiled over Wednesday, when he delivered an unusually stinging critique, and again the next day.

"Frankly," he told reporters Thursday at a news conference, "I just think they've lost all credibility."

With Boehner, perhaps.

But at the grass-roots level, a Wednesday event held by one of those groups suggested the speaker's view of the budget agreement will still get some pushback.

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It's All Politics
6:18 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Boehner Blasts Tea Party Groups Over Budget Deal Criticism

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio rebukes conservative groups who oppose the pending bipartisan budget compromise during a Thursday news conference on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Some moments feel like turning points. Speaker John Boehner's rhetorical takedown of his party's Tea Party faction seems like one such moment.

For two days running, Boehner, R-Ohio, has made clear that he's heard just about enough from conservative advocacy groups such as the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks.

On Wednesday, he called them "ridiculous." On Thursday, he said "they've lost all credibility."

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The Two-Way
6:13 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Kim Jong Un's Uncle, Formerly North Korea's No. 2, Is Executed

A still image taken from North Korea's state-run television footage and released Monday shows Jang Song Thaek being forcibly removed by uniformed personnel from a meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang.
Yonhap/Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 6:05 am

North Korea has announced that Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un and formerly the second most powerful man in the country, has been executed after being found guilty of treason by a military tribunal.

"The accused Jang brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction as the boss of a modern day factional group for a long time and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said.

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Law
5:48 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Family Of Ga. Teen Found Dead In A Gym Mat Pushes For Answers

Demonstrators attend a rally on Wednesday in Atlanta for Kendrick Johnson, the Georgia teenager found dead inside a rolled-up wrestling mat in his school.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:16 pm

Activists from across the country are asking Georgia's governor to support an investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old discovered dead in a high school gymnasium almost a year ago. His body was found in a rolled-up gym mat.

State investigators ruled out foul play, but Johnson's parents don't believe it.

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Environment
5:48 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Long Island Wins Ultimate Faceoff Against Hurricane Sandy

Sediment samples from the seafloor near Long Island.
UT Austin Institute for Geophysics

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 8:50 pm

Hurricane Sandy last year did more harm to coastal cities and homes than any hurricane in U.S. history, except Katrina. Most of that damage has been repaired. But there's other damage that people can't see to the underwater coastline, known as the shore face.

Apparently, Long Island's shore face did remarkably well against the storm of the 21st century.

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Books
5:48 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Don't Hate The Players, Learn The Rules Of The Game (Theory)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Nov. 13 at the start of a congressional budget conference.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 6:44 pm

This week, Congress has been pondering yet another deal with a deadline. Congressional leaders have agreed to a bipartisan budget that would set spending levels for the next two years, and if it passes, as expected, it would mark the first bipartisan budget deal since 2011. News of the deal comes again at the last minute, just as Congress begins packing its bags to adjourn for the holidays.

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