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Updated at 12:12 p.m. ET

The Trump administration imposed new sanctions against Russia on Thursday, slapping punitive measures on 19 people and five entities over their alleged role in Moscow's interference in the 2016 election and other "destructive" cyberattacks.

The Federal Election Commission, better known for deadlocks than decisions, has unanimously agreed to take a first step against anonymous political advertising on the internet.

The proposed rule deals with disclaimers — the "authorized by" taglines that are mandatory in print, television and radio ads that explicitly support or attack candidates.

The Parkland shooting last month has energized student activists, who are angry and frustrated over gun violence. But it's also contributed to the impression that school shootings are a growing epidemic in America.

In truth, they're not.

"Schools are safer today than they had been in previous decades," says James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University who has studied the phenomenon of mass murder since the 1980s.

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Morning News Brief

Mar 15, 2018

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It looks like the Democrats have pulled off that upset we have been talking about in Pennsylvania.

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Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have won the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District.

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The House intelligence committee has completed its "Choose Your Own Adventure" story about the Russia imbroglio. Republicans wrote a happy ending for President Trump. Democrats wrote a cliffhanger.

Even though members of the committee say they're taking separate ramps off this highway, however, the road goes ever on. Here are 4 more mileposts still to come in the remainder of the Russia imbroglio.

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Just five months ago, almost no one in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District knew Conor Lamb's name.

But since quitting his job as a federal prosecutor to run for a vacant House seat, the 33-year-old has spent a lot of time introducing himself to people.

The parents of slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich have filed a lawsuit against the Fox News Channel for coverage linking their son to the leak of thousands of party emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign. The lawsuit also names Fox reporters Malia Zimmerman and a periodic Fox commentator.

The Trump administration sent an all-star team of five Cabinet secretaries to a Senate hearing Wednesday to talk up its infrastructure proposals. But not even the combined talents of the secretaries of Transportation, Commerce, Labor, Agriculture and Energy seemed enough to move the ball on the $1.5 trillion plan, and it remains unclear whether the measure will ever find its way to a vote in the House or Senate.

Editor's note on March 16: On March 14, NPR broadcast this conversation with journalist Raymond Bonner about his reporting for ProPublica. The subject was his report claiming that Gina Haspel, who has been nominated to be the next CIA director, played a role in the treatment of al-Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah during interrogations at a "black site" in Thailand and that she had "mocked" Zubaydah.

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The Senate confirmation hearing for Gina Haspel, President Trump's choice to lead the CIA, hasn't yet been scheduled. But several senators have already expressed reservations because of Haspel's role in the CIA's waterboarding of al-Qaida suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, posted this tweet Tuesday:

Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET

President Trump has picked economist and CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow as director of the White House National Economic Council, and Kudlow has accepted the post, the White House said Wednesday.

Kudlow, 70, will replace Gary Cohn, who stepped down after losing a battle against imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have won the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, defeating Republican Rick Saccone in an upset for President Trump and congressional Republicans, based on a review of the vote by member station WESA and barring a recount.

It took just about two weeks from the public announcement to Sunday's legislative vote that erased presidential term limits from the constitution, potentially allowing Xi Jinping to rule China indefinitely.

"After it was announced, the move sent tremors through the Communist Party's intelligentsia," observes Zhang Xixian, an expert on party politics at the Central Party School in Beijing. But thanks to heavy government censorship of media and the Internet, there was little visible debate or opposition to the move.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

As students staged a national walkout Wednesday morning over gun violence, senior federal officials sat down for a grilling from Congress over law enforcement's failure to act on tips about the suspect in last month's school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

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The vote tally is still too close to call in Tuesday's special House election in Pennsylvania, but both candidates spoke like winners last night.

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CONOR LAMB: It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it.

Virginia is among 18 states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. But this year, the state legislature is going into a special session to continue discussions about whether or not to include it in its budget.

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