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Special Report

Inside Story of Why President Obama Changed His Tune on Iran

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Changing His Tune

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly spent two days urging President Obama to toughen his language on Iran's post-election crackdown before he finally took her advice. The Washington Times writes that the president resisted Clinton's initial counsel, and that when he finally relented, he did not tell her first.

The president had been criticized for his cautious tone on the situation. Then at last week's news conference, Mr. Obama said he was "appalled and outraged," and he "strongly condemned" the violence.

An administration official called it "a happy surprise. It was echoing the line the secretary had been pushing for a couple of days."

But the Times characterized it as — "the first known example of awkwardness between the two former rivals" — since Clinton took the job.

Social Security Audit

The Social Security Administration is paying millions of dollars in benefits to dead Americans, while other elderly people who are incorrectly said to be deceased, get nothing.

McClatchy Newspapers reports one study revealed at least 88 of 305 Social Security recipients listed as deceased were still receiving checks. And at least 140 of the 305 supposedly dead people, were in fact still very much alive.

Overall, investigators say more than 6,700 people currently receiving Social Security benefits have master files that include a date of death. They estimate more than $40 million may have been improperly paid out to deceased beneficiaries.

Rocking the Boat

And for the second time in a year, a relief boat carrying former Georgia Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has been seized by Israeli forces off the coast of Gaza. McKinney is a longtime activist for the Palestinian cause, and was last year's Green Party candidate for president. She has been detained with 20 others.

She says: "This is an outrageous violation of international law against us. Our boat was not in Israeli waters and we were on a human rights mission to the Gaza Strip."

The Israeli military says the boat attempted to break a blockade of Gaza, and would not respond to a radio message. In December, McKinney was among 16 people aboard a medical supply boat that collided with an Israeli naval ship during a similar mission.

— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.