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Cripps aflutter with enthusiasm.

And now the debate.

It is already going on.

The "big-money" contributions were mostly from individuals. There have been other examples recently, from lobbyists on Wall Street.

The big money was not the only one.

A number of super PACs and independent spending groups have thrown money into races around the country. But it was the huge numbers they raised — $150 million in 2015 — that dominated headlines.

All told, more than 4,000 political committees filed for election last year, accounting for more than half of all spending in the 2016 race.

In the primary campaign, the top two candidates on the ballot for president were the two wealthiest donors — David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who are leading both parties, respectively. (David Koch has given $100 million to right-leaning causes.)

But there are far more powerful individuals in the presidential race who have given at least $100,000:

Ted Cruz spent $25 million of his own money in his primary, and the Koch brothers spent over $80 million. And Jeb Bush, the favorite for the Republican presidential nomination, spent around $15 million of his own money to start a super PAC. (The super PAC, the Bush super PAC, gave roughly $3 million.)

The Kochs are not alone in giving big bucks. Last year, the campaign of U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin spent some $8 million and spent more in the general election, according to Center for Responsive Politics data.

There is an enormous focus on the 2016 race, and the Kochs' involvement makes it more likely they'll contribute more money next year.

Yet many of the donors to super PACs are now seeing the 2016 election as the one in which they will receive the biggest returns. The super PACs' new political spending guidelines were put into place in 2013 to limit the number of candidates they can spend. And they include a provision that limits their spending to $100,000.

This doesn't make the big contributions more significant. The super PACs will spend nearly as much next year, $8 million for Johnson's presidential campaign, $4 million for Hillary Clinton's and $1 million for Marco Rubio's. (The super PACs have raised $28 million this year, $18 million more than in 2012.)

This year, however, there are two major candidates the Kochs don't have a preference over, as well as a pair of potential vice presidential candidates. That means it's a different story.

The Kochs will not be able to control the number of super PACs, but they are the party that will be able to pick the next president.
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Judge questions underage boys sex prosecutions

Gardai are investigating claims that two boys were sex criminals when they were aged 13 and 16.

The boys, from Louth, N Ireland and Dun Laoghaire respectively, were accused of having sex with each other on more than three occasions between 2004 and 2008.

Two of the boys, aged 12 and 14, pleaded guilty to a single charge of causing an abortion during their trials, but have denied the allegations.

At the Court of Criminal Appeal, Detective Garda Ian Lyons of Louth Garda Station and Detective Inspector Sean O'Sullivan of the district court said it was difficult to determine a probable cause for the charges in this case because the boys had allegedly been in "a highly vulnerable situation" for so long.

Mr Lyons and Mr O'Sullivan said the boys were "highly vulnerable to being targeted and it would be extremely difficult to understand why they would commit crimes like this".

"It is important that any children concerned about young sex offenders are supported and given the resources they need to be protected," they said.

Detective Garda Lyons said he hoped to speak to the boys at their parents' home at the end of the trial.

Garda Lyons said that even if the boys did not meet the necessary requirements to be prosecuted, he would continue to monitor them.

The boys were given the chance to make their case for prosecution in 2012, but a conviction was not brought until April this year.
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