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February 1, 2016
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Iowa's Republican caucus looks to be a battle between Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), and both are heavily courting the evangelical Christian voters who helped Rick Santorum win the first-in-the-nation vote in 2012 and Mike Huckabee triumph in 2008. Cruz, a Baptist whose father is a fire-and-brimstone preacher, speaks Christianity more fluently and frequently than Trump, but that won't necessarily translate into evangelical votes. "Some say they feel manipulated by blunt appeals to their Christian identity," reports NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben, and "many evangelical voters simply aren't first and foremost religious voters."

"I don't give support simply by quoting the Bible. I want to see it lived out in the policy," John Lee, a pastor in conservative Sioux Center, tells NPR. "I'm not electing a pastor in chief. I'm electing a commander in chief."

Trump is doing well among many evangelicals who don't consider him especially pious, and some voters question the sincerity of Cruz's religious fervor. That's due in part to attacks over Cruz's lack of tithing — he's been attacked for donating less than 1 percent of his income to charity, not the 10 percent suggested in the Bible, BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins details — and probably also because Cruz's rivals have been painting him generally as a flip-flopping ideological phony. Cruz is still leading among Iowa evangelical voters, according to the latest Des Moines Register poll, 33 percent to 19 percent for Trump. The question is whether those voters will turn out in sufficient numbers, and whether they'll stick with Cruz. Peter Weber

12:22 p.m. ET

The oldest images in the world might have been discovered in France — and they're made of "pixels."

Archaeologists have uncovered 16 stones in a prehistoric camp in France's Vézère Valley, where people belonging to the earliest modern human culture in Europe used to live, The Independent reports. The images on the stones illustrate mammoths and wild cows using a technique shared by computers and televisions, in which a picture is formed using an arrangements of tiny dots. The images from Vézère are estimated to be 38,000 years old.

"It's not so much the final effect that we found interesting, it's the conception of it — the use of individual points to form the body or the outline of a figure," explained New York University Professor Randall White to The Independent. "If you look carefully at the aurochs, there's really a significant control of the line."

The technique of creating an image from small dots would be used again thousands of years later by "pointillists" such as Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat. But the images on the prehistoric stones date back to a "very early [time] when people [were] really just beginning to grapple with the production of images," White said. "They have mastered some of the fundamental aspects of line and shape, but there's clearly a long way to go in terms of precise reproductions."

"It's almost digital in its nature," White said. "Why this fixation on dots? I'll admit it's a puzzle."

Jeva Lange

11:45 a.m. ET

President Trump has repeatedly expressed his intent to "get along well" with Russia, although some of his critics worry about exactly how friendly he means to be. Certainly this stunt will do nothing to lessen their concerns: At CPAC on Friday, someone passed out Russian flags emblazoned with the word "Trump" to the audience.

The optics apparently sparked some concern. Staffers quickly confiscated the flags:

Snap Inc.'s Peter Hamby reports that the flags weren't a rogue move by protesters — rather, they were passed out by "unwitting college kids," who, judging by their sense of humor, might want to pick up a copy of next week's New Yorker. Jeva Lange

11:36 a.m. ET

President Trump vowed Friday that his administration, with the help of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will be rounding up "the gang members, the drug dealers, and the criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out of our country." "And we will not let them back in," Trump assured the audience while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the largest annual gathering of conservatives. "They're not coming back in, folks. If they do, they're going to have bigger problems than they've ever dreamt of."

Trump touted his administration's "swift action" to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, and promised construction of a "great, great border wall" will begin very soon. He insisted these steps would allow the U.S. to stop the drugs from "pouring into our country and poisoning our youth." "We get the drugs, they get the money. We get the problems, they get the cash," Trump said. "No good, no good. Going to stop."

Trump's promise came a day after Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Mexico that there would be "no mass deportations."

Catch Trump's comments below, at the 25:45 mark. Becca Stanek

11:21 a.m. ET

You might say President Trump is a "glass half-full" kind of guy. While complaining about how slow his Cabinet nominees are being confirmed, Trump suggested that "the only good thing" about the Democrats' pushback is "I'm setting records. I love setting records."

Senate Democrats are on track to vote against more of Trump's nominees — and cast more total votes against them — than any other first-term president in American history, Newsday reports.

And if Trump can't get enough of those records, he might want to check out another one he's broken: the first-month disapproval rating. Jeva Lange

10:54 a.m. ET

President Trump slammed the media for protecting their confidential sources during his speech at CPAC on Friday morning. "They have no sources. They just make them up when there are none," Trump told the audience.

As evidence, Trump referred to a nine-source story written by The Washington Post that reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had discussed sanctions in phone calls with the Russian ambassador before President Trump's inauguration. Following the report, the White House confirmed Flynn's phone calls and his denial of them to Vice President Mike Pence, which resulted in his resignation:

"I know who they talked to," Trump told the audience. "There were no nine people."

Trump went on to say that journalists should not use anonymous sources in their reporting: "They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use a name," Trump said. "Let their name be put out there ... Let them say it to my face."

Journalists use anonymous sources to allow people with knowledge of certain situations to speak freely on topics that they might not otherwise be able to discuss. "Anonymous sources are sometimes the only key to unlocking that big story, throwing back the curtain on corruption, fulfilling the journalistic missions of watchdog on the government and informant to the citizens," the Society of Professional Journalists writes.

Even many Republicans agree with these source protections. When he was an Indiana representative, Vice President Mike Pence fought to protect journalists and their sources. Forcing reporters to reveal their anonymous sources, he argued, "chills reporting of the news and restricts the free flow of information to the public." Jeva Lange

10:38 a.m. ET
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

The Iraqi air force on Friday morning carried out its first airstrike against the Islamic State in Syria, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed. "We are determined to chase terrorism that tries to kill our sons and citizens wherever it is found, so we gave orders to the air force command to strike Islamic State positions in [the Iraqi towns of] Hosaiba and Albu Kamal inside Syrian territory as they were responsible for recent bombings in Baghdad," Abadi said in a statement. The Joint Operations Command said the strikes "destroyed Islamic State headquarters in Albu Kamal," Reuters reported.

The strike, which was reportedly carried out in "complete coordination" with the Syrian government, follows several ISIS-claimed car bombings in Iraq and comes amid Iraqi troops' final push into western Mosul, the terrorist group's last major stronghold in Iraq. Becca Stanek

10:38 a.m. ET

U.S.-supported Iraqi forces continue to retake territory from the Islamic State in Mosul, the last major Iraqi city under ISIS control. Among the survivors in newly rescued neighborhoods are one lion and one bear, the sole animal survivors of the Mosul zoo.

Simba the lion and Lula the bear are now receiving treatment from a "roving war zone veterinarian" named Dr. Amir Khalil, who is working with an animal charity called Four Paws. The zoo's other creatures all escaped or died during the two-year ISIS occupation. Some were killed by bombs; others ate each other; and some animals simply flew the coop.

Iraqi soldiers also retook Mosul's airport this week, Brig. Gen. Abbas al-Juburi confirmed Friday, which means ISIS fighters in Mosul are trapped in a shrinking circle of territory they still control. The airport is mostly destroyed, but it gives the Iraqis a strategically important foothold on the western side of the city. Bonnie Kristian

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