A few items that caught our attention Thursday:

(Courtesy of Bailey family) - Paul Bailey, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who is gravely ill with cancer, attends a veterans memorial in Concord, N.H. Paul Bailey, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who is gravely ill with cancer, at a veterans memorial in Concord, N.H. (Bailey family)

VA reverses decision in Agent Orange case: The Department of Veterans Affairs has reversed its denial of Agent Orange-related disability benefits for Air Force veteran Paul Bailey, a retired lieutenant colonel who flew on potentially-contaminated C-123 aircraft after the Vietnam War. Advocates say the decision, which came on the heels of a Washington Post report about the issue, is the first of its kind for veterans seeking compensation for postwar exposure, according to a follow-up article.

Federal agency turns thermostat up to 80 degrees under sequester: Among the many solutions agencies have developed for dealing with the government’s automatic spending cuts, at least one has decided to skimp on air conditioning, causing a decline in worker morale, according to a Huffington Post article.

U.S. Special Operations Command studied how to mine social-networking data: An unclassified document from 2012 shows that the D.C. branch of U.S. Special Operations Command met with at least a dozen data-mining companies to learn about exploiting the personal information Americans post on the Web. The command now claims that the project has been disbanded, according to a Mother Jones report.

DHS developing response plans for cyber attacks: Homeland Security officials say they’re working to build plans that public and private-sector responders can act on in the event of a major attack, but organizations and individuals may not be thrilled about sharing information about the threats they face, according to a Federal News Radio article.

McCain may be only hope for reaching fiscal deal: The National Journal has suggested that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), with his maverick ways and moderate brand of Republicanism, may represent the best chance for salvaging budget talks this year. Read the analysis here.

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