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Paul Ryan slams IRS commissioner: 'Nobody believes you'

June 20, 2014

Not known for passionate displays of anger, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) couldn't hide his frustration when questioning Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen.

In regards to claims that multiple IRS employees connected with the improper targeting of conservative groups (including Lois Lerner) had mysteriously experienced hard drive crashes — resulting in the loss of their emails — Ryan averred: "I don't believe it... That's your problem, nobody believes you."

Even when controversial topics are discussed, these sort of hearings often tend to feel sterile. But this video is actually worth watching. Ryan was viscerally frustrated and clearly incredulous.

space stuff

NASA's Dawn spacecraft provides 'best-ever view' of dwarf planet Ceres

10:34am ET

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned what it's calling the "best-ever view" of Ceres, a dwarf planet. Ceres is the largest body between Mars and Jupiter, and it may have liquid water beneath its mantle.

The images were taken on Jan. 25 from 147,000 miles away, and they represent "a new milestone for a spacecraft that soon will become the first human-made probe to visit a dwarf planet," according to NASA. On March 6, Dawn will begin orbiting Ceres and will measure variations in the light it reflects.

"We know so little about our vast solar system, but thanks to economical missions like Dawn, those mysteries are being solved," Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. NASA hopes Dawn's images will help scientists better understand how the solar system began.

Shots fired

Nancy Pelosi on Mitt Romney: 'I hope he's their nominee'

10:21am ET

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is confident Hillary Clinton would crush Mitt Romney in a hypothetical presidential election.

"Let me put it this way — I hope he's their nominee," she told The Hill.

2016 Watch

'Undecided' is your new 2016 GOP frontrunner

9:56am ET
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Underscoring the fact that the 2016 Republican primary is an absolute toss-up at this point, 45 percent of GOP respondents in an open-ended USA Today poll could not name a preferred candidate for the nomination. That put "undecided" well ahead of more corporeal candidates like Mitt Romney (16 percent) and Jeb Bush (13 percent.)

On the Democratic side, a 51 percent majority named Hillary Clinton the top choice, while only five percent picked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Coming Soon

Watch the seriously grim trailer for The Fantastic Four

9:35am ET

You can say this for the new Fantastic Four trailer: no one will mistake it for 2005's goofy, widely reviled adaptation of the comic-book series (or its Silver Surfer-focused sequel).

This new Fantastic Four, helmed by Chronicle's Josh Trank, follows the doggedly self-serious model that has infected the entire superhero genre. "How did we get this far?" asks a deep, ponderous voiceover. "Human beings have an immeasurable desire to discover. To invent. To build."

The trailer, which looks more like an Interstellar knockoff than a superhero blockbuster, offers only fleeting glimpses of the four main heroes using their powers: stretchy Reed Richards (Miles Teller), invisible Sue Storm (Kate Mara), fiery Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), and rock-covered Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). It's a start, but Fantastic Four fans will have to until next August to see the superhero team use some real muscle — and maybe even have a little fun doing it.

This is nice

Alaska aquarium trains blinded harbor seal to live without sight

9:32am ET
Facebook.com/The Alaska SeaLife Center

The Alaska SeaLife Center is teaching basic behavior to a blind harbor seal. The pup, Bryce, was rescued in late December.

Veterinary staff at the aquarium told The Associated Press that Bryce likely suffered from a head trauma, causing him to go blind. He is learning to be hand-fed and to identify targets using audible clues. The staff also noted that Bryce's sight may be improving, but only in one eye.

Because he is blind, federal officials said Bryce can't be released back into the wild. He will stay at the Alaska SeaLife Center until officials find him a permanent home.

U.S./Cuba

Fidel Castro cautiously endorses U.S.-Cuba policy reset

9:23am ET
Jorge Rey/Getty Images

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro offered a tepid endorsement of the Obama administration's move to normalize relations with Havana, writing in a letter that he supports renewed diplomacy even though he remains leery of the U.S.

"I don't trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a peaceful solution to the conflicts," he wrote in a letter published Monday by state-run media.

The 88-year-old Castro has remained mostly out of the public eye for the past few years. This was the first time he addressed the landmark policy shift since it was announced in mid-December.

This just in

Harry Reid released from hospital after eye surgery

8:36am ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was released from George Washington University Hospital on Monday afternoon after a successful surgery.

The surgery, which took more than three hours, repaired broken bones in Reid's face from an exercise injury. The injury caused blindness in Reid's right eye.

Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid, told Politico that doctors are "optimistic" Reid will regain sight in his eye, but "there is no definitive verdict yet."

Reid will work from his Washington home for the rest of the week.

This doesn't look good

U.S. prisoner exonerations are at a record high

7:52am ET
iStock

The National Registry of Exonerations has announced that 125 U.S. prisoners were exonerated in 2014 for crimes they didn't commit. The number marks the highest level of exonerated prisoners since the U.S. began recording them in 1989.

2014 marked the first time the total number of U.S. exonerations was above 100 in a single year. In 2013, there were 91 exonerations of U.S. prisoners.

The report notes that last year's number may be higher thanks to the spread of "conviction integrity units," which include experts dedicated to exonerating innocent prisoners. The U.S. now has 15 of these units, six of which were created in 2014. The report also notes that 47 of the 125 prisoners pled guilty to crimes they didn't commit.

This just in

Masked gunmen kill 3 guards, take hostages at Libyan luxury hotel

6:51am ET

Masked gunmen stormed Tripoli's luxury Corinthia Hotel on Tuesday, killing at least three security guards and taking hostages, Libyan security officials tell The Associated Press. The hotel is popular with foreigners, and Libya's prime minister, Omar al-Hassi, sometimes lives there (though he wasn't there at the time of the attack). A hotel employee tells AP that Italian, Turkish, and British guests are staying at the hotel, but most guests were gone when the five masked gunmen arrived and started open-firing. They also set off a car bomb in the hotel parking lot, sending black smoke into the air.

The gunmen and security forces are currently engaged in a standoff. There's no word yet on who the hostages are.

the bent curve

CBO projects that ObamaCare will cost 20 percent less than expected

5:52am ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released its latest update on the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare. The report is mostly good news for supporters of the law. Over the next 10 years, the law will cost the federal government 20 percent less than the last projections, the CBO said, and by the end of President Obama's second term, 24 million fewer Americans will lack health insurance, adding to the 12 million drop in the uninsured so far. That would leave only 8 percent of eligible Americans without insurance by the end of 2016.

Those projection assume that the law will remain essentially the same over the next decade, an expectation that could be upset by the Supreme Court, for instance. The CBO attributed the lower-than-expected costs to "many factors," but primarily "the slowdown in the growth of health care costs" and — to the chagrin of ObamaCare supporters — the Supreme Court–enabled decision by about half the states to forego a federally financed expansion of Medicaid. The projected costs could fall even lower this year, the report said, if premiums drop again, as seems probable.

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