Had sexual relations with that woman
July 6, 2014
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A treasure trove of love letters between President Warren Harding and his mistress Carrie Phillips, during a relationship that took place in the years before he was elected president, is set to go on public display from the Library of Congress, The Washington Post reports.

The collection will be open to the public, and posted on the internet, July 29. The 900 pages of often steamy correspondence, which were kept by Phillips, were bequeathed by the Harding family to the library in 1964 — on the condition that they be kept sealed for 50 years.

On Jan. 2, 1913, Harding wrote to Phillips: "I have been thinking about all those letters you have."

"I think you [should] have a fire, chuck 'em! Do. You must. If there is one impassioned one that appeals to you, keep it... [but] please, chuck the extra pictures, letters, and verses. They are too inflammable to keep."

Phillips did not heed those instructions. As for Harding himself, by Sept. 15, 1913, he was writing her yet another impassioned letter recalling one of their meetings:

"I do not know what inspired you, but you... resurrected me, and set me aflame with the fullness of your beauty and the fire of your desire... imprisoned me in your embrace and gave me transport — God! My breath quickens to recall it."

The collection has also previously been seen by Ohio attorney and author James Robenalt. He was given access to an extra, bootlegged microfilm copy at a local historical society, while researching a book on Harding several years ago. "When I first read these, I felt like a voyeur," Robenalt told The Post. "I shouldn’t be reading this. I should look the other way." Eric Kleefeld

3:45 p.m. ET
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Political pundits have been quick to declare last week President Obama's best week ever. But Obama himself is quick to say that actually, he's had better.

Never mind that his approval rating is now the highest it's been in two years, apparently fueled by last week's successes with marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, the widely applauded eulogy he delivered in Charleston, the GOP about-face on the Confederate flag, and the success in Congress of his Trans-Pacific Partnership. Nope, to the contrary, last week was not, in fact, Obama's greatest ever.

"In terms of my best week, now my best week, I will tell you, was marrying Michelle. That was a really good week," Obama said when asked by a journalist during a press conference on Tuesday. "Malia and Sasha being born, excellent weeks."

The president paused, thinking.

"There was a game where I scored 27 points," he said. "That was a pretty good week."

Still, Obama went on to agree that his victories last week were indeed "gratifying." "In many ways, last week was simply a culmination of a lot of work we've been doing since I came into office," the president said. Right. No biggie.

Watch the video below. Jeva Lange

Abortion Debate
3:42 p.m. ET

A new Florida state law mandating that women wait 24 hours before getting an abortion was set to go into effect on Wednesday. But on Tuesday — just one day before — Chief Circuit Judge Charles Francis blocked it. After Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the law interfered with a woman's right to privacy and to have an abortion. In the judge's opinion, state officials didn't exactly have evidence to prove the contrary.

This is the second ruling this week in favor of abortion rights. On Monday, a Supreme Court ruling blocked a lower court ruling that would have closed down all but a few Texas abortion clinics. Becca Stanek

2:52 p.m. ET

Clashes in Yemen have led to 1,200 prisoners escaping — and members of al Qaeda are thought to be among them, Reuters reports.

"Groups of al Qaeda supporters... today attacked the central prison in the city of Taiz," the state news agency, Saba, reportedly quoted an official as saying. "More than 1,200 of the dangerous prisoners escaped."

In an apparently similar case in April, 270 prisoners were broken out of a prison in Al Mukallah by al Qaeda militants; among those freed were senior al Qaeda officials.

Yemen remains in the throes of an ongoing power struggle between the forces of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and Houthi rebels. Both Hadi and the Houthis are opposed by al Qaeda. Yemen also has its own Islamic State jihadist group, which is another al Qaeda antagonist. (Learn more about the various power players with this helpful BBC explainer.)

A car bomb yesterday killed 10 at a funeral in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. Jeva Lange

Germanwings Crash
2:48 p.m. ET
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Germanwings announced Tuesday that it will be offering "emotional damage payments" to the relatives of the 150 victims of the March 24 plane crash, Reuters reports. The payments of 25,000 euros, the equivalent of $27,958, are intended as compensation for pain and suffering. This offering, which is outside the norms of German law, is an addition to the 50,000 euros that the airline paid to the families for immediate assistance. Emotional damage payments will be made to parents, spouses, partners, and children of the victims.

Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit and deliberately crashed the Dusseldorf-bound plane in the Alps on March 24, killing all 150 people on board. Becca Stanek

Law And Order
2:04 p.m. ET
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A dozen officials from Clinton Correctional facility, including its superintendent, have been placed on administrative leave in the wake of the investigation into the recent escape of two prisoners from the maximum-security prison. The New York State Department of Corrections said that three of the officials are members of the prison's executive team and nine are security staff.

The FBI is investigating Clinton Correctional, exploring possibilities of drug trafficking and other criminal behavior. A new inquiry is also being fueled by evidence uncovered by authorities while investigating Richard Matt and David Sweat's jailbreak. Corrections officer Joyce Mitchell has been accused of smuggling in the tools Matt and Sweat used to break out of prison, while another prison worker, Gene Palmer, is charged with delivering those tools.

Matt was killed before capture; Sweat was shot in the torso and remains in stable condition. Sweat has told authorities that he and Matt began preparing for their jailbreak six months before actually making their escape, The New York Times reports. The pair practiced the escape the night before they enacted it for real on the morning of June 6. Jeva Lange

Thou shalt not
1:50 p.m. ET

Oklahoma's high court ruled Tuesday that the Ten Commandments monument in place at the state's Capitol indirectly benefits the Jewish and Christian faiths, and thus must be taken down, the The Associated Press reports.

Though it was funded with private money, the 6-foot monument violates the state's Constitution, which prohibits the use of public property for religious benefit.

In defense of the display, Attorney General Scott Pruitt cited a nearly identical monument in Texas, which the U.S. Supreme Court found to be constitutional. Other lawmakers have argued it serves a historical, as opposed to religious, purpose. That argument, however, led other groups — including Satanists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — to advocate for permission to erect displays at the Capitol marking their own historical events. Stephanie Talmadge

This just in
1:29 p.m. ET
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After California legislators voted Monday to eliminate the state's personal belief exemption for school vaccinations, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the bill into law Tuesday. The legislation will require virtually all school-attending children in California to be fully vaccinated, the San Jose Mercury News reports, whether the school is public or private and regardless of their parents' religious or personal beliefs.

California's law does allow medical exemptions for children with serious health concerns and permits children with existing personal belief exemptions to go unvaccinated until their next checkpoint. Otherwise, the new law effectively requires all of California's school-age children to either be vaccinated or homeschooled. Only Mississippi and West Virginia have similarly strict laws.

"The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases," Brown wrote in an official statement. "While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community." Kimberly Alters

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