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Arkansas' New Abortion Ban: Associated Press: "The Arkansas House on Wednesday voted to override Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of a bill that would ban most abortions from the 12th week of pregnancy onward, giving the state the country's most restrictive abortion laws and setting the stage for a certain court challenge. ... The vote comes less than a week after the Legislature voted to override the governor's veto of a separate bill banning most abortions starting in the 20th week of pregnancy. That bill took effect immediately after the final override vote, whereas the 12-week ban wouldn't take effect until this summer."
Washington Dinner Party: ABC News: "As Washington gets socked by a snowstorm and sequester, President Obama begins a new strategy of personal outreach to congressional Republicans. Tonight Obama will host a dinner party for a small group of 11 GOP senators, aides to several participants confirmed. Among the guests expected at the table are Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. After a first term marred by gridlock with Republicans on core fiscal issues, the invite signals a new attempt to break the partisan impasse on taxes and spending cuts. The overture also suggests Obama wants to salvage prospects for his other top agenda items, including an overhaul of the nation's immigration system and a compromise on gun control."
99.6-Percent Positive: Associated Press: "Physicists in Italy said Wednesday they are achingly close to concluding that what they found last year was the Higgs boson, the elusive 'God particle.' They need to eliminate one last remote possibility that it's something else. The long theorized subatomic particle would explain why matter has mass and has been called a missing cornerstone of physics. With new analyses, scientists are 99.6 percent certain they found the crucial Higgs boson. But they want to be 99.9 percent positive, said Pauline Gagnon, a physicist with the European Center for Nuclear Research."
Keeping Things Running: Washington Post: "The House took its first step Wednesday to avoid a government shutdown, passing a measure that funds the government through the end of the current fiscal year. The measure was approved by a vote of 267 to 151, with most Republicans supporting it and most Democrats voting against it. The Republican measure provides $982 billion in funding for the second half of the fiscal year, keeping agencies humming when the mechanism currently funding government expires March 27. The vote came as Washington looks to forgo forcing a fiscal crisis this month and instead turns its attention to a more deliberate debate over long-term deficit reduction. Accepting that the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester are here to stay for the moment, President Obama is focusing on wooing rank-and-file Republicans in the Senate who might be interested in a deal that would pair tax reform that produces new revenues with cuts to entitlement programs."
Dow Climbs Higher Still: USA Today: "A record-high Dow Jones industrial average and an upbeat hiring report propelled global markets higher Wednesday. The Dow, after setting an all-time high Tuesday, did it again Wednesday, after climbing another 0.3% from that previous close. It now stands at 14,296, according to preliminary figures—about 42 points above Tuesday's close of 14,254.38."
Moneybox: You Still Shouldn't Care
Gabby Talks Guns: New York Times: " 'Fight, fight, fight' were the first words by Gabrielle Giffords during a news conference on Wednesday from the same supermarket parking lot where a gunman opened fire on Jan. 8, 2011, wounding her and 12 others and taking six lives. Ms. Giffords, a former congresswoman for Arizona, was embracing the role of constituent to her senators, Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, asking them to support legislation requiring background checks for every gun purchase. ... Mr. Kelly and others urged voters to nudge Mr. McCain and Mr. Flake to help pass gun legislation, repeatedly citing polls offering broad support for background checks for gun buyers. As it stands, buyers can skip the checks if they get their guns from private sellers at gun shows or on the Internet."
Meanwhile, in Syria ... : Reuters: "Syrian rebels have seized a convoy of U.N. peacekeepers near the Golan Heights and say they will hold them captive until President Bashar al-Assad's forces pull back from a rebel-held village which has seen heavy recent fighting. The capture was announced in rebel videos posted on the Internet and confirmed on Wednesday by the United Nations in New York, which said about 20 peacekeepers had been detained. The seizure is the most direct threat to U.N. personnel in the nearly two-year-old uprising against Assad and Human Rights Watch said it was investigating the same brigade for past executions."
Mitt's New Job: NBC News: "Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has a new job. NBC News has learned that Romney is returning to the private sector, joining his eldest son Tagg's investment firm, Solamere Capital, as chairman of the executive committee. A person with knowledge of the deal tells NBC that Romney is planning to work with Solamere for one week a month. He will be advising on matters of private equity, and is not planning to fundraise at all for the firm. An email is expected to go out tomorrow heralding the news to top investors."
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate—
Future Tense: Maybe WhiteHouse.gov Petitions Aren't Useless After All
Future Tense: Grandparents Play More Computer Games Than You Think
Map of the Week: What Places Have the Worst Commutes?
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