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Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., speaks during a news conference on June 13, 2014, in Chicago. | Stacy Thacker/AP

Dem Rep. Bill Foster talking to big donors about U.S. Senate race

Exclusive: Foster, who represents the west suburban 11th Congressional District, is putting himself in play as Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. — who could have the nomination for the asking — also considers a run. The two centrist Democrats would share much of the same high-end Illinois Democratic donor base.

Alan Gross takes a selfie with his wife, Judy Gross, on board a government plane headed back to the United States from Cuba on Dec. 17, 2014. | Official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson

Durbin, Kirk split on Obama’s shift on Cuba policy

Sen. Dick Durbin, who has worked for years to secure Alan Gross’ freedom, said establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and relaxing sanctions was “long overdue.” Sen. Mark Kirk said getting Gross out of prison was a “welcome relief” but the deal amounted to “appeasement” because it included a related prisoner swap. A statement from Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., echoed Kirk’s concerns.

Obama pardons Naperville man, Brian Sledz

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama granted a pardon on Wednesday to, among others, Brian Edward Sledz of Naperville, a former trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange convicted in the early 1990s of wire fraud and violation of the Commodity Exchange Act.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday that he plans to actively explore a campaign for the 2016 presidential bid. | Andy Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Jeb Bush to hit Chicago Friday as he explores 2016 run

Lynn Sweet exclusive: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday announced he will “actively explore” a 2016 presidential run, and I have learned that Bush plans to hit Chicago on Friday to meet with major Illinois GOP donors and fundraisers.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, is shown with Çhicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (left) and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Zachary T. Fardon (right) at a roundtable discussion with police and community leaders in Chicago last week. | Associated Press

AG Holder: Wants to create Center for Justice and Reconciliation

Attorney General Eric Holder, who is leaving office next year, is winding up his tenure by organizing meetings in Chicago and other cities to build relationships between police and black communities, fractured in the wake of Ferguson and Staten Island, where unarmed black men were killed by white officers.

Obama guidance, press schedule, Dec. 16, 2014. Archbishop Kurtz

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday meets with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, lunches with Vice President Joe Biden and then meets with his National Security team.