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10 things you need to know today: May 15, 2013
The Justice Department launches a criminal investigation of the IRS, Anthony Weiner hires a campaign manager, and more
 
Mayor Anthony Weiner? It could happen...
Mayor Anthony Weiner? It could happen... AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

1. HOLDER ORDERS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF IRS
The Justice Department is starting a criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service over its targeting of Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. Attorney General Eric Holder, who testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, called the agency's singling out of conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections "outrageous and unacceptable." An IRS report released Tuesday called the agency's conduct improper. [Associated Press]
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2. RUSSIA KICKS OUT U.S. DIPLOMAT IT CALLS A CIA SPY
Russia's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday ordered the expulsion of an American embassy employee, Ryan Christopher Fogle, after accusing him of being a CIA spy. Moscow says Fogle was caught wearing a blond wig and carrying another wig, a street atlas, a compass, $130,000 in cash, and a letter offering a Russian counterterrorism agent "up to $1 million a year for long-term cooperation." The U.S. Embassy in Russia and the CIA in Washington declined to comment. [New York Times]
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3. FEDERAL DEFICIT SHRINKS
The federal budget deficit is shrinking faster than expected, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday. The budget shortfall has topped $1 trillion every year since the recession ended four years ago, but it's now expected to fall to about $642 billion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 — $200 billion less than estimated three months ago. Economists credit strong tax revenue generated by a slightly stronger than anticipated recovery. [New York Times]
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4. ARMY SEXUAL ASSAULT WATCHDOG ACCUSED OF MISCONDUCT
The Army said Tuesday that a sergeant coordinating a Texas sexual assault awareness program had been suspended pending an investigation for alleged misconduct, including "abusive sexual contact." Last week, an Air Force officer running a sexual assault prevention office was arrested on charges that he groped a civilian woman. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the retraining of sexual assault prevention personnel after the back-to-back cases, which highlighted the military's sexual assault epidemic. [CNN]
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5. WEINER HIRES STAFF FOR POSSIBLE POLITICAL COMEBACK
Disgraced former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner has hired a campaign manager, Danny Kedem, to run his possible bid for New York City mayor, which he's expected to announce next week, Politico reported on Tuesday. Weiner has also reportedly brought on board a press secretary. Still, his comeback faces significant hurdles. Rival candidates have been campaigning for months already, and memories of the sexting scandal that derailed his career nearly two years ago remain fresh. [Politico, Huffington Post]
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6. BANGLADESH LAUNCHES MASS EVACUATION AHEAD OF CYCLONE
Bangladesh on Wednesday suspended flights at two airports and closed a port, and evacuated hundreds of thousands of people from coastal areas threatened by Cyclone Mahasen. The storm is expected to hit land on Thursday. Evacuation efforts are also underway in nearby Myanmar, also known as Burma, where tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims live in camps in low-lying areas. At least 50 Rohingya Muslims were feared drowned when boats carrying them to safer ground capsized on Tuesday. [BBC News]
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7. AMERICAN STARTS SENTENCE IN NORTH KOREA
North Korea said that Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen accused of hostile acts against the communist regime, started a 15-year sentence Wednesday at a "special prison." Two South Korean experts on North Korean law said they had no idea what a "special prison" was. A North Korean academic says Bae, a tour guide who traveled frequently to North Korea to feed orphans, told his family via cellphone that he couldn't appeal his sentence and that they should urge the U.S. government to plead for amnesty. [Associated Press]
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8. FRANCE FALLS INTO RECESSION AGAIN
France has slipped back into recession as Europe's economic troubles drag on, according to government statistics released on Wednesday. The country's gross domestic product fell by 0.2 percent in the first quarter, after a similar decline the quarter before. A recession is defined as two straight quarters of contraction. This would have marked a triple dip for Europe's second biggest economy, but revised figures showed that it only had one negative quarter in 2012. [BBC News]
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9. GOSNELL DODGES DEATH PENALTY
West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday after being convicted of murder for killing three babies born alive after botched illegal late-term abortions. Gosnell, 72, waived his right to appeal to escape the chance of death by lethal injection, essentially acknowledging that he would never leave prison. Gosnell received two consecutive terms for two of the murders, and returns to court Wednesday for sentencing for the third. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
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10. POWERBALL JACKPOT REACHES $360 MILLION
Wednesday night's Powerball jackpot grew to $360 million after nobody won the weekend drawing. That makes it the third largest Powerball lottery prize of all time. The largest one — $587.5 million — was split between a Michigan couple and an Arizona man in November 2012. The cash option for those winning tickets was worth a total of $384.7 million This time, if one person matches all five numbers and the red Powerball, a lone winning ticket will be worth $229.2 million, before taxes. [ABC News]

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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