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Author: Mary Chastain

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Mary Chastain

Mary is the resident libertarian. She covers stories in every vertical, but her favorite thing to do is take on the media. She saw its bias against the right when she was a socialist.

Mary loves the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks, tennis, cats, Oxford comma, Diet Coke, and needlework.

I discussed yesterday how GOP Super PACs have poured more money into saving its senate seats even though it appears the party will maintain its majority. Yet the GOP may lose a seat in Missouri as Democrat Jason Kander moves up in the polls and displays fresh confidence against incumbent Roy Blunt:
“The momentum is really clearly with us,” Mr. Kander, a Georgetown Law School graduate who served a term as a state legislator before being elected secretary of state, said at a small but lively campaign event in St. Louis on Saturday. ”It’s a very clear choice between somebody like myself, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who is focused on a new generation of leadership, and someone like Sen. Blunt, who has been in Washington for 20 years doing what special interests want to him to do.”

The controversy with the American prisoner release by Iran continues to grow as The Wall Street Journal reports the Obama administration agreed to lift sanctions on the same day of the release:
The U.N. Security Council’s delisting of the two banks, Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International, was part of a package of tightly scripted agreements—the others were a controversial prisoner swap and transfer of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran—that were finalized between the U.S. and Iran on Jan. 17, the day the Americans were freed.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson earned another high-end endorsement when the Chicago Tribune editorial board picked him as their choice for president. The board wrote:
This year neither major party presents a good option. So the Chicago Tribune today endorses Libertarian Gary Johnson for president of the United States. Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles — and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016.

The GOP looks like it can maintain its majority in the Senate, but the main Senate super PAC has decided to spend $21 million more in six races just to be on the safe side. The Senate Leadership Fund has moved its concentration to New Hampshire, North Carolina, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Republicans have become more confident since they have seen voters separate GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump from the Senate candidates. This week, The New York Times Upshot blog said the GOP had a 53% of maintaining the majority. That same blog gave the GOP only a 40% chance in August.

FBI Director James Comey has continued to face criticism over his bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's email, including the numerous immunity deals given to her aides. Well, it turns out, the FBI didn't give immunity to Cheryl Mills, a longtime aide:
"Who authorized granting Cheryl Mills immunity?" Rep. John Sensenbrenner asked. "It's a decision made by the Department of Justice, I don't know at what level inside," Comey responded. "In our investigations, any kind of immunity comes from the prosecutors, not the investigators."

DEVELOPING: Officials have reported three injuries, two children and one teacher, at Townville Elementary School in Townville, SC, on Wednesday afternoon. Fox News reports:
The Greenville News reported that two children were injured and a man was found dead near the school. A suspect is reportedly in custody. Lt. Sheila Cole with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office said deputies had received reports of a possible shooting but she could confirm that a shooting had occurred, the station reported. Police units from multiple law enforcement agencies were on their way to the scene.

International prosecutors have concluded that a Buk missile from Russia shot down Malaysia Airlines MH17 over east Ukraine in July 2014, killing all 298 people on board. Russia has constantly denied any involvement in the incident, which came months after Ukraine spiraled into a civil war after parliament ousted Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. East Ukraine split from the pro-Europe west and pledged allegiance to Russia.

Companies in Israel's natural gas field has signed a $10 billion agreement with Jordan to supply the country with gas, thus pushing Israel into a natural gas powerhouse. The Wall Street Journal reported:
Noble Energy Inc. of Houston and its partners in the Leviathan gas field will supply Amman-based National Electric Power Co. with 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas over 15 years, the company said. Leviathan is the largest natural-gas reserve in Israeli waters. The country’s officials hope development of the field can spur regional exports and deepen economic and diplomatic ties with some traditionally hostile neighbors such as Jordan, which has few energy sources of its own.

The Swiss lower parliament has approved a bill to ban women from wearing a burqa in public by a vote of 88 to 87 with 10 abstentions. The commission of representatives will receive the bill, but the members will likely vote against it since the member already "ruled out such a proposal at the beginning of 2016." The Ticino region inspired this bill when the local government banned the burqa. Due to the popularity, people organized a committee to collect signatures "to expand the ban across" Switzerland.

The fight over the short-term spending bill continues to grow as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) warned that his party will vote against the GOP bill if it doesn't include funding for Flint, MI. He said:
"Democrats have been clear that Congress should not leave Flint and other lead-tainted communities out of any (stopgap spending) negotiation that includes emergency disaster funding," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other top Democrats in a Tuesday morning letter to McConnell. "Our request is simple: include both bipartisan disaster relief packages for consideration in the CR. We urge you to include bipartisan Flint legislation in the CR."
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