Politics

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the FBI's criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service could include potential civil rights violations, false statements and potential violations of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in some partisan political activities.

President Obama is meeting with Treasury officials today to discuss the IRS targeting of conservative groups for special review.

Make no mistake, the acting commissioner of the IRS put himself in historic company Tuesday by writing in USA Today that "mistakes were made" when his agency singled out for extra scrut

(We updated the top of this post with a recap at 11:45 a.m. ET.)

Joking that a reporter's question Tuesday about whether he has "any juice" left to get things done in Washington made it sound like "I should just pack up and go home," President Obama paraphrased Mark Twain:

"Rumors of my demise may be a little exaggerated," the president said, as he predicted that an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws will be among the things that get accomplished in his second term.

President Obama has spoken at two memorial services in just over a week — one for victims of the Boston Marathon attack and one for those who died in the chemical plant explosions in West, Texas. In both speeches, he focused on victims and survivors.

But other Democrats are using these events to talk about another subject: the role of government.

A Twitter account from The Associated Press was hacked Tuesday afternoon and the erroneous message — to be perfectly clear, it WAS NOT TRUE — sent stocks down sharply for a few moments.

The false message claimed there had been two explosions at the White House and that President Obama had been injured. Again, none of that happened.

A poll released days before the opening of George W. Bush's presidential library in Dallas is serving as fodder for some sequestered GOP nostalgia about his two terms in the White House.

The Senate's rejection of more robust gun purchase background checks was a stinging blow to President Obama that raised questions about his second-term agenda.

Expanding background checks had become a key part of Obama's post-Newtown push for tougher federal gun control laws. And in recent weeks, the president had campaigned for overall gun control legislation — especially the bipartisan background-check compromise — with a sense of urgency.

Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister whose time leading Great Britain in the 1980s brought joy to conservatives and despair to liberals, was remembered Wednesday for "a life lived in the heat of political controversy."

With her death last week at the age of 87, "there is great calm" for the Iron Lady, added the bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, during a funeral service at London's St. Paul's Cathedral.

Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush, gave birth over the weekend to a girl.

Margaret Laura "Mila" Hager is named for her grandmothers, the former president announced in a statement. According to The Associated Press, the little girl's nickname is pronounced MEE-luh.

bobperry.us/

Major Republican political donor Bob Perry has died. He was a Houston homebuilder but was best known for writing big checks for GOP candidates.

Perry was not related to Texas Gov. Rick Perry but gave generously to his campaigns. He also supported candidates including Mitt Romney. And he gave millions to the Swift Boat Veterans campaign that helped in the defeat of then-Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

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This story was co-produced with NPR.

Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes — and for free. You'd open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.

It's already a reality in Denmark, Sweden and Spain. The government-prepared return would estimate your taxes using information your employer and bank already send it. Advocates say tens of millions of taxpayers could use such a system each year, saving them a collective $2 billion and 225 million hours in prep costs and time, according to one estimate.

Walking a line meant to show both resolve and willingness to trust in diplomacy, Secretary of State John Kerry warned North Korea on Friday not to engage in more warmongering — but also said the U.S. is willing to talk with that communist state if it's serious about discussing denuclearization.

"No one is going to talk for the sake of talking," Kerry said, but the U.S. does want to see a peaceful resolution of the latest crisis on the Korean peninsula.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Senate Education Committee Thursday approved a bill from Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, that creates a scholarship fund to help low-income students leave failing schools and attend private or religiously-affiliated schools.

The bill offers a 15 percent tax credit to businesses that donate money to the scholarship fund.

This week, Washington took on hip-hop royalty, when two Florida representatives went after Jay-Z and Beyonce for their recent trip to Cuba.

"We're saying that no one is above the law, even if you are the diva Beyoncé, and that's wonderful that she's famous and rich, and Jay-Z, everybody loves him, too. Terrific. But no one's above the law," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told CNN.

As the world waits for what's expected to be another ballistic missile test by North Korea sometime in the next few days, NPR's Frank Langfitt reports there's reason to think that tensions on the Korean Peninsula might soon ease.

The U.S. Postal Service has backed off a plan to halt Saturday mail delivery, saying that Congress has forced it to continue the service despite massive cost overruns.

In a statement released Wednesday, the USPS Board of Governors said restrictive language included in the latest Continuing Resolution, which keeps the government operating until September in lieu of a budget, prevents it from going ahead with the plan.

We last updated this post at 1:50 p.m. ET:

Saying "this is a start and it's not the end of our work," Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia confirmed Wednesday morning that he and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have put together a bipartisan plan that they believe will "keep guns out of dangerous hands."

Veronica Zaragovia

Update: A Texas Senate committee passed a bill last night that would require DNA testing of evidence in cases involving the death penalty.

The proposal will now go to the full senate for a vote.

Margaret Thatcher, who as British prime minister in the 1980s became known as the "Iron Lady" for her tough economic policies, her partnership with President Reagan in standing up to communism and the short war with Argentina over the Falklands, has died.

Her spokesman, Lord Bell, tells the British Press Association that Baroness Thatcher died Monday following a stroke. She was 87.

Todd Wiseman / Stephen Johnson, Texas Tribune

Professional sports and live events are big business in Texas, and a bill before state legislators today aims to ensure fans who buy tickets can resell them or give them away without interference from venues or ticket brokers. But opponents of the measure say it actually protects scalpers and the secondary ticket market — not consumers.

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