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Head of Phoenix VA System Removed from Post

Head of Phoenix VA System Removed from Post

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, was removed from her post on Monday after an investigation into wait times and substandard care.The decision to remove Helman from her role in command of the Phoenix VA system "underscores VA's commitment to hold leaders accountable and ensure that Veterans have access to quality and timely care," a statement from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs read. "Lack of oversight and misconduct by VA leaders runs counter to our mission of serving Veterans, and VA will not tolerate it," Secretary Robert McDonald said. "We depend on VA employees and leaders to put the needs of Veterans first and honor VA's core values of 'Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.'"It is not immediately clear when the VA will name a new director for their Phoenix system. In the interim, longtime administrator Glenn Grippen has been named the director.

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John Hanson: The Forgotten First President

John Hanson: The Forgotten First President

ABC News/Yahoo! News(WASHINGTON) -- Here’s a Thanksgiving pop quiz: Who was the nation’s first president?If you answered George Washington, pass the gravy and get ready for a history lesson. It was actually John Hanson, a founding father whose name is largely forgotten in the pages of American history -- until now.“They were both first presidents. We've had two governments,” said Peter Michael, a descendent of Hanson’s who is working to revive his memory as the first president of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, the precursor to the Constitution.“George Washington was very famously the first president of our second government under the Constitution,” Michael told ABC News/Yahoo! News during a recent interview outside a replica of Hanson’s historic home in Frederick, Maryland. “But for eight years before the birth of that second government, we had an original government chartered under the Articles of Confederation. It had its presidents, the first of whom was John Hanson."Michael, who has authored a biography about his ancestor’s life and also presides over a memorial association in his honor, explained that Hanson played a central role in putting the United States on solid footing in the wake of the Revolutionary War.“John Hanson and his Congress inherited a blank slate and had to create a government from whole cloth and they did -- and successfully,” Michael said. “If they hadn't, the United States might not have existed."Under the Articles of the Confederation, the young United States was governed under a single unified government, without separate executive and legislative branches. And Hanson, as an elder statesman at age 66, was nominated by his peers in Congress to lead the fragile new government in 1781.“The American icons of the Revolutionary period -- Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, [and] others -- looked to John Hanson as the one [who] twice saved the nation and also to Hanson's way with people,” Michael said. “When no one else could do it, he persuaded the six states with the western lands to cede the western lands.”We also have Hanson to thank for Thanksgiving."Thanksgiving, as an observance, had been recognized since the days of the pilgrims,” Michael said. “But it fell to John Hanson to establish Thanksgiving as an official annual observed holiday. It became a paid holiday, and a day off, in the Franklin Roosevelt administration."Hanson served a one-year term as president and died a year later in 1783.But in the decades and centuries following his death, Hanson’s memory would be largely forgotten to history. So forgotten, in fact, that his home in Frederick, Maryland, was demolished in the 1980s (a replica has since been built in its place) and his grave, in Prince George’s Country, Maryland, was paved over to make way for a parking lot. The burial site remains unmarked today.

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Obama on Ferguson: ‘This Decision Was the Grand Jury’s to Make’

Obama on Ferguson: ‘This Decision Was the Grand Jury’s to Make’

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama spoke at the White House Monday night, reacting to the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decision not to file charges against Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

Obama emphasized the importance of the rule of law.

"We are a nation built on the rule of law and so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury's to make," he said.

Obama also called on Americans to heed Michael Brown's family's wishes.

"Let me repeat Michael's father's words: 'Hurting others or destroying property is not the answer. No matter what the grand jury decides I do not want my son's death to be in vain,'" the president said. "I join Michael's parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully."

At the same time, the president also appealed to law enforcement officials in Ferguson to “show care and restraint."

"The situation in Ferguson speaks to the broader challenges we still face as a nation,” Obama said, noting that “a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color."

More ABC US news | ABC World News

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Five Things We Learned from this Year’s Medal of Freedom Ceremony

Five Things We Learned from this Year’s Medal of Freedom Ceremony

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Monday honored 19 individuals with the nation’s highest civilian honor.

At the annual Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House, the president heaped praise on the recipients, highlighting their distinguished and varied accomplishments. He also revealed some interesting anecdotes about the trailblazers:1) Obama has a sweet spot for Stevie Wonder…It turns out Stevie Wonder’s classic album Talking Book had a profound impact on Obama when he was growing up.

“This is, by the way, the first album I bought with my own money. I was 10 years old, maybe 11…with my own cash!” the president recounted, as the singer sat beside him. “I didn't have a lot of it.”“And I listened to that thing -- that thing got so worn out, had all scratches -- young people, you won't remember this, but you had albums and they got scratched,” Obama added.2) …But he loves Meryl:“I love Meryl Streep,” the president proudly declared. “I love her. Her husband knows I love her. Michelle knows I love her. There's nothing either of them can do about it.”“She's done it all for her craft. She's sung ABBA, which you know, that's something,” he joked. “She learned violin. She wore a nun's habit, faced down a charging lion, mastered every accent under the sun. She inhabits her characters so fully and compassionately.”3) Sometimes you do want “nobody, nobody sent”:Lauding the works of dedicated public servant Abner Mikva, Obama retold a story of his dogged determination.As a young man, Mikva went to volunteer for a local committee in Chicago. When the committeeman asked who sent him, Mikva said, “Nobody.”“The committeeman said, ‘We don’t want nobody, nobody sent,’” Obama explained. “That’s Chicago for you.”“Despite that abrupt dismissal, Ab went on to devote his life to public service,” Obama said, including reforming the Illinois criminal code and going to great lengths to defend freedom of speech.4) Marlo Thomas “sleeps well”:Singling out the award-winning actress, producer, author and social activist, the president revealed what makes Thomas succeed: She’s a giver.He explained how her father used to say there are two types of people in the world: the takers and the givers. “The takers sometimes eat better, but the givers always sleep better,” he would say.“Marlo Thomas sleeps very well, because she's given so much,” Obama said.5) And “you don’t mess with Ethel”:“To most Americans, Ethel Kennedy is known as a wife, mother and grandma,” Obama said of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow.“On urgent human rights issues of our time, from juvenile justice to environment destruction, Ethel has been a force for change in her quiet, unflashy unstoppable way. As her family will tell you -- and they basically occupy this half of the room -- you don't mess with Ethel,” he said.

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Three People Who Could Replace Outgoing Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel

Three People Who Could Replace Outgoing Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel

William B. Plowman/NBC(WASHINGTON) -- Here are three people who could replace outgoing Defense Sec. Chuck Hagel:

Ashton Carter, Former Deputy Defense SecretaryDr. Ashton Carter served as the Deputy Defense Secretary from October 2011 to December 2013, where he oversaw military budgeting during a troubling financial time for the department.As Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from April 2009 to October 2011, and continuing into his job as Deputy Defense Secretary, Carter was instrumental in supplying U.S. troops based in Iraq and Afghanistan with Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, a counteract to IEDs.He also served in the Clinton administration as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy.Carter graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with degrees in physics and medieval history, and received his doctorate at University of Oxford. Before Dr. Carter got involved in politics, he was chair of Harvard’s International and Global Affairs. Dr. Carter is also the co-author of several books on national security and defense.

Michelle Flournoy, Former Under Secretary of DefenseMichelle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, became the Pentagon's highest ranking woman ever when she was confirmed by the Senate in 2009. A so-called “key architect” of President Obama’s national security policy, Flournoy served for three years as the principal adviser to then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.In 2012, she stepped down from her Defense Department position to become a national security adviser on Obama's re-election campaign. She later joined the Boston Consulting Group as a senior advisor to the public sector.Flournoy earned a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University and a master’s degree in international relations from Balliol College at the University of Oxford.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.Jack Reed, the senior senator from Rhode Island who just won re-election, is poised to become the top Democrat on the Armed Serves Committee in the next Congress.In 2007, the West Point alumnus rose to national prominence when he delivered Democrats' response to then-President George W. Bush's State of the Union address, calling the war in Iraq "a flawed strategy that diverted attention and resources away from hunting down Osama bin Laden's terrorist network."Prior to his election to the Senate in 1996, Reed served three terms in Rhode Island's State Senate and three terms in the U.S. House. After his graduation from West Point in 1971, he received an active duty commission in the Army, and earned a master's degree in public policy and later a law degree from Harvard.Though Reed's name has been floated as a potential replacement, Reed's spokesperson says the senator "does not wish to be considered" for the Secretary of Defense or any other cabinet position."Senator Reed loves his job and wants to continue serving the people of Rhode Island in the United States Senate," said Reed's press secretary, Chip Unruh. "He has made it very clear that he does not wish to be considered for Secretary of Defense or any other cabinet position. He just asked the people of Rhode Island to hire him for another six-year term and plans on honoring that commitment."

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Rep.-Elect Debbie Dingell on What Her Husband John Is Not Telling Her

Rep.-Elect Debbie Dingell on What Her Husband John Is Not Telling Her

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Rep.-elect Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, is no stranger to the halls of the Congress. Her husband, the 88-year-old dean of the House, Rep. John Dingell, has served on the Hill since 1955.

But now, Rep.-elect Dingell, 61, is set to take on the U.S. Congress herself -- representing her retiring husband’s old district in the 114th Congress.

On the campaign trail, she said, the two were careful to maintain a “concrete wall.”

“I needed to earn the respect of everybody in the 12th and have them to get to know me,” she told ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny.

Asked if her husband would act as an adviser during her tenure, Dingell told ABC, “I think that he’s really afraid to give me advice -- and I hope he gets over that.”

Rep.-elect Dingell, who just chose her new office last week, said she’ll likely use her husband’s desk. It also belonged to Dingell’s father, Rep. John Dingell Sr., who served in the House for 22 years.

“If I could have the desk that the man who authored Social Security and the man who sat in the chair and helped author Medicare and the Civil Rights Act [used], maybe it’ll inspire and help me to do good things while I’m here," Dingell said.

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Hagel Issues Statement to Defense Department on Resignation

Hagel Issues Statement to Defense Department on Resignation

Department of Defense/Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo(WASHINGTON) -- Chuck Hagel announced on Monday that he is stepping down as secretary of defense.After President Obama accepted his resignation, Hagel issued the following statement to the men and women of the Defense Department:

I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that this morning, President Obama accepted my letter of resignation.  I have agreed to continue to serve as Secretary of Defense until my successor is confirmed by the United States Senate.You should know I did not make this decision lightly.  But after much discussion, the President and I agreed that now was the right time for new leadership here at the Pentagon.  I want you to know that I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together.  We have prepared ourselves, our Allies and the Afghan National Security Forces for a successful transition in Afghanistan.  We have taken the fight to ISIL and, with our Iraqi and coalition partners, have blunted the momentum of this barbaric enemy.  We have come to the aid of millions of people around the world who have suffered the ravages of natural disaster and of disease.  We have worked tirelessly to sustain our all-volunteer force that has given so much during 13 years of war.  And we have bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships, all the while setting in motion important reforms that will prepare this institution for the challenges facing us in the decades to come.  Most importantly, we have helped keep this country and our fellow citizens safe.  We have sustained the blessings of liberty our ancestors secured and upheld the oath we took.That work will continue.  It must continue.  The world is still too dangerous, the threats too numerous, for us to lose focus.  And even as I promised the President my full support going forward, so, too, do I promise that I will work hard to support you right up until my last day in office.  I owe you that. There will be time later to say farewell.  For now, please know how much I respect and admire your service and that of your families.  As I gather with my own family this Thanksgiving holiday -- a luxury I realize not all of you will enjoy -- it will be the privilege of having worked with you these last two years for which I will be most grateful.Thank you for all you do for this country.  God bless you. Happy Thanksgiving.Chuck HagelSecretary of Defense

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List of Potential Host Cities for 2016 DNC Shortened

List of Potential Host Cities for 2016 DNC Shortened

Keith Spaulding/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The list of potential host cities for the 2016 Democratic National Convention has been narrowed down to three.Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., announced on Monday that Columbus, Ohio, New York and Philadelphia are the remaining contenders.“We are fortunate to have such a diverse and vibrant group of cities interested in hosting this special event and we thank Phoenix and Birmingham for showcasing their special communities," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. "We look forward to working with Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia as we go forward.”

We're getting closer to a final decision on where we'll host @TheDemocrats' 2016 convention! Narrowed it down to Columbus, NYC, and Philly.

— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) November 24, 2014

The announcement came after a round of site visits by the DNC’s Technical Advisory Group to five cities.

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Obama Announces Hagel’s Resignation

Obama Announces Hagel’s Resignation

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Monday praised the work of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he announced his resignation, saying Hagel determined “it was an appropriate time for him to complete his service.”As the lone Republican on his national security team and the first enlisted combat veteran to serve in the position, Obama explained that Hagel “has been no ordinary Secretary of Defense.”“He understands our men and women like few others because he stood where they stood, he’s been in the dirt, and he’s been in the mud. And that’s established a special bond,” the president said in the State Dining Room. “He sees himself in them, and they see themselves in him. And their safety, their lives have always been at the center of Chuck’s service.”The president said Hagel had been critical to helping his administration during a “significant period of transition,” as U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan and the Defense Department faces a host of budgetary challenges. The president also lauded Hagel’s role in tackling the immediate threat from ISIS and shepherding the administration’s response to the Ebola crisis.“Thanks to Chuck, our military is on a firmer footing, engaged in these missions and looking ahead to the future,” Obama said. On a personal note, the president thanked Hagel for showing how the two parties can come together.Recalling that Hagel traveled with him to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008, Obama said “it’s pretty rare, at a time when sometimes this town is so politicized, to have a friend who was willing to accompany a nominee from another party, because he understood that whoever ended up being president, what was most important was that we were unified when we confronted the challenges that we see overseas, and that’s the kind of class and integrity that Chuck Hagel’s always represented.”“We come from different parties, but in accepting this position you send a powerful message, especially to folks in this city. And when it comes to our national security and caring for our troops and their families, we are all Americans first,” he added.Hagel will stay on until his successor has been confirmed by the Senate. The president has yet to announce whom that may be, but he did drop Sen. Jack Reed’s name during his remarks, who is believed to be on his short list.In brief remarks following the president, Hagel said it has been the “greatest privilege” of his life to lead the Defense Department.

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McCain Encouraging Lindsey Graham to Consider 2016 Run

McCain Encouraging Lindsey Graham to Consider 2016 Run

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain is prodding one of his closest allies in the Senate to consider a run for the White House -- Sen. Lindsey Graham. “I think he is looking at it, and I am strongly encouraging him to take a look at it,” McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC News. “I know of no one who is better versed and more important on national security policy and defense than Lindsey Graham, and I don’t think these challenges to our security are going away.” “He is eminently qualified,” McCain added. In an interview with The Weekly Standard last month, Graham, R-S.C., said he might consider a presidential bid after this year’s midterm elections if other candidates aren’t promoting an aggressive foreign policy agenda. “If I get through my general election, if nobody steps up in the presidential mix, if nobody’s out there talking-- me and McCain have been talking -- I may just jump in to get to make these arguments,” Graham said. On CNN's State of the Union Sunday, Graham said running for president is "the hardest thing one could ever do. You go through personal hell. You have got to raise a ton of money. I'm nowhere near there." McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said he expects a “very crowded field” in 2016 that will be compromised of both senators and governors. “I think there's an old saying that if you are a United States senator that unless you are under indictment, or detoxification that you can automatically consider yourself a candidate,” McCain joked. “I think we should let a thousand flowers bloom. I think that the process is wide open right now, and I think not only will members of the Senate be considered, but I think some of our successful Republican governors will also be interested.” While another presidential run isn’t in McCain’s future, the Arizona senator said he will “likely” run for a sixth term in the Senate when he’s up for re-election in 2016. “Most likely I will, and I expect it to be a very tough race as I have every time, and I’m making every preparation,” McCain said. “As one of my Irish friends once said, a fight not joined is a fight not enjoyed.”

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Step Down

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Step Down

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down from his post.Flanked by Hagel and Vice President Biden, President Obama announced the secretary’s departure Monday morning from the White House State Dining Room.“Chuck Hagel has been no ordinary secretary of defense. He was the first enlisted combat veteran in that position,” the president said. “He’s been in the dirt and he’s been in the mud. And that’s established a special bond. He sees himself in [our troops].” "Thanks to Chuck, our military is on a firmer footing,” Obama continued. “I consider myself extraordinary lucky to have had him by my side for two years.” According to a senior administration official, “Secretary Hagel began speaking with the president about departing the administration given the natural post-midterms transition time” in October.

It didn't come as a big surprise, one longtime associate of Hagel tells ABC News. "He took the job to end the war -- not start another one," this associate of Hagel's told ABC News. The senior administration official indicated that a successor “will be named in short order.” Hagel will remain on until the successor has been confirmed. Over the past two years, Secretary Hagel helped manage an intense period of transition for the United States Armed Forces, including the drawdown in Afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions, and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready, said the official. “Over nearly two years, Secretary Hagel has been a steady hand, guiding our military through this transition, and helping us respond to challenges from ISIL to Ebola.” The official’s comments reflect that Hagel had been brought on to be a defense secretary who would be at the helm of a military winding down the war in Afghanistan and dealing with budget cutbacks in a tighter financial climate. Hagel overcame a tough confirmation fight in the Senate from some of his skeptical colleagues who pointed to his previous comments on Iran and Israel as indicators that he was not suited for the job. After his confirmation his tenure was marked by the rise of new national security threats like the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria that necessitated a return to a U.S. military presence in Iraq. Hagel and other top administration officials have said repeatedly that the fight against ISIS is going to be a years-long effort. There had been recent speculation that Hagel had lost the confidence of the administration, but officials discounted press speculation. And the U.S. military is now involved in fighting the threat of Ebola in western Africa in another mission that could last as long as a year. With his departure, Hagel will have served just longer than the 20 months served by his predecessor Leon Panetta. He had previously served as a U.S. senator, representing Nebraska from 1996 to 2009. Following his career in the Senate, Hagel served as Co-Chairman of Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board and was a member of the Secretary of Defense Policy Board.

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Gabby Giffords Completes 11-Mile Bike Race

Gabby Giffords Completes 11-Mile Bike Race

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords completed the 11 mile El Tour de Tucson on Sunday on a reclining three-wheeled bicycle.Giffords, who was critically wounded in a 2011 shooting during a public appearance, had been training for the event for six months. The former Representative posted a photo from the event to her Facebook page on Sunday.

 

Post by Gabby Giffords. Post by Gabby Giffords.

Giffords was an avid cyclist before the 2011 shooting. Her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly said he wants Giffords to do everything she did before the shooting.

 

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President Obama Defends Use of Executive Action on Immigration

President Obama Defends Use of Executive Action on Immigration

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama defended his decision to use executive authority to enact changes to the U.S. immigration system during an exclusive interview with This Week, challenging Republican Speaker John Boehner to “pass a bill” if he was not satisfied with the president’s unilateral actions.“Congress has a responsibility to deal with these issues and there are some things that I can’t do on my own,” the president told ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview in Las Vegas on Friday. “What I do have is the legal authority to try to make the system better. Given the resource constraints that we have, we have to prioritize.”During a primetime address on Thursday from the White House, the president – expressing frustration over a lack of Congressional action — announced he would be employing executive action to circumvent Congress and offer temporary legal status to approximately five million undocumented immigrants, among other actions.During the interview with Stephanopoulos, the president pushed back against the argument made by some of his detractors that he is taking action that he previously said he did not have the authority to take.“What is absolutely true is that we couldn’t solve the entire problem and still can’t solve the entire problem,” Obama said. “But what we can do is to prioritize felons, criminals, recent arrivals, folks who are coming right at the border and acknowledge that if somebody’s been here for over five years — they may have an American child or a legal permanent resident child — it doesn’t make sense for us to prioritize them when we know that we need more resources.”“If you look, every president – Democrat and Republican – over decades has done the same thing as I mentioned in my remarks,” he added. “George H. W. Bush, about 40 percent of the undocumented persons at the time were provided a similar kind of relief as a consequence of executive action.”When asked about using executive action, the president said his view on the issue has not changed.“If you look – the history is that I have issued fewer executive actions than most of my predecessors, by a longshot,” Obama said. “The difference is the response of Congress, and specifically the response of some of the Republicans. But if you ask historians, take a look at the track records of the modern presidency, I’ve actually been very restrained, and I’ve been very restrained with respect to immigration. I bent over backwards and will continue to do everything I can to get Congress to work because that’s my preference.”

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President Obama: American People Want ‘New Car Smell’ in 2016 Campaign

President Obama: American People Want ‘New Car Smell’ in 2016 Campaign

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama, acknowledging he's taken some political "dings" during his time in the White House, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that the American people will want that "new car smell" when it comes to the 2016 presidential campaign, suggesting he may not have a prominent role on the campaign trail as the country prepares to select his replacement."I think the American people, you know, they're going to want -- you know, that new car smell. You know, their own -- they want to drive something off the lot that doesn't have as much mileage as me," Obama told ABC News Chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.During the interview conducted in Las Vegas on Friday, Stephanopoulos asked the president how he would navigate a potential White House bid by his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.The president, who said he talks regularly with Clinton, called her a friend and seemed prepared for Clinton to differentiate herself politically should she choose to pursue the presidency, which appears likely."She's not going to agree with me on everything. And, you know, one of the benefits of running for president is you can stake out your own positions," Obama said.Earlier in the conversation he'd said he thought she'd make a "formidable candidate" and a "great" president.The president, who said there were "a number" of potential Democratic candidates who would make great presidents, said he would do everything he could to ensure that a member of his own party succeeded him."I am very interested in making sure that I've got a Democratic successor," he said. "So I'm going do everything I can, obviously, to make sure that whoever the nominee is is successful."

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Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Dies

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Dies(NEW YORK) -- Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry has died at the age of 78. Barry D.C. council spokeswoman LaToya Foster says he died shortly after midnight Sunday at a hospital in Washington. He served 4 terms as mayor of Washington D.C. , but his terms w...

Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on Pro Sports League Domestic Violence Policies

Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on Pro Sports League Domestic Violence Policies

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee announced on Friday that the committee would hold a hearing regarding addressing domestic violence in professional sports.Rockefeller, D-W. Va., said that the hearing will examine the current policies held by the four major sports leagues -- the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League. The hearing is expected to focus on how those policies deter violence, promote awareness, provide due process and punish those who commit acts of domestic violence.The hearing, to be held on the afternoon of Dec. 2, will also examine potential future policies.

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House Intelligence Committee’s Benghazi Report Finds No Intelligence Failure Before Attacks

House Intelligence Committee’s Benghazi Report Finds No Intelligence Failure Before Attacks

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The House Intelligence Committee released a report on Friday concluding that there was no intelligence failure prior to the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012.The report took more than two years to investigate, and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., determined that while there was no intelligence failure, "the early intelligence assessments and the Administrations' public narrative on the causes and motivations for the attack were not fully accurate." The committee also determined that the CIA didn't conduct any "unauthorized activities in Benghazi, and "did not intimidate any officer or otherwise dissuade them from telling their stories to Congress."The report is at least the seventh Congressional report on the Benghazi attacks, though the most notable one, by a special House select committee remains ongoing.

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Biden Announces $135 Million in Humanitarian Aid for Syrians Affected by Conflict

Biden Announces $135 Million in Humanitarian Aid for Syrians Affected by Conflict

Official White House Photo by David Lienemann(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden announced on Saturday that the U.S. would pledge an additional $135 million in humanitarian aid to help feed citizens impacted by the conflict in Syria.According to a release from the White House, the latest round of humanitarian assistance brings the total pledged by the U.S. to over $3 billion since the start of the crisis, including $222 million to international humanitarian organizations working with the Turkish government. The White House notes that an estimated 1.6 million refugees from Syria have received aid from Turkey, and 190,000 refugees have left the town of Kobani for Turkey in recent weeks.The breakdown of the aid money includes $133 in regufee food needs -- $63 million for those displaced by the conflict to other parts of Syria and $70 million for those forced to neighboring countries. About $11 million of the $70 million will go towards food assistance for those refugees in Turkey.Biden made the announcement from Istanbul, following a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Obama Expands Scope of US Mission in Afghanistan

Obama Expands Scope of US Mission in Afghanistan

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. official confirmed to ABC News on Saturday that President Obama signed an executive order expanding the scope of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan beyond what had been initially planned.As part of the order, U.S. troops will be allowed to target Taliban forces that threaten U.S. troops within Afghanistan or that provide support to al-Qaeda. Originally, the 9,800 U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan were expected to be involved in training. The order will also allow American aircraft to provide air support for Afghan troops on combat missions.The ongoing combat mission is slated to end on Dec. 31.According to the New York Times, the new name for the mission in Afghanistan will be Operation Resolute Support.

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Obama Talks Immigration Reform in Weekly Address

Obama Talks Immigration Reform in Weekly Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's address, President Obama discusses immigration reform.

Obama talks about the specific steps he outlined this week.

"We’re providing more resources at the border to help law enforcement personnel stop illegal crossings, and send home those who do cross over," Obama says. "We’ll focus enforcement resources on people who are threats to our security – felons, not families; criminals, not children.  And we’ll bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can play by the rules, pay their full share of taxes, pass a criminal background check, and get right with the law."Obama says he will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan bill that can fix the immigration system.

Read the full transcript of Obama's address:

Hi everybody.  Today, I’m at Del Sol High School, in Las Vegas, to talk with students and families about immigration.  We are a nation of immigrants.  It has always given America a big advantage over other nations.  It keeps our country young, dynamic, and entrepreneurial.  But today, our immigration system is broken, and everybody knows it. That’s why, nearly two years ago, I came to this school and laid out principles for immigration reform.  And five months later, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense compromise bill.  That bill would have secured our border, while giving undocumented immigrants who already live here a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line.  Independent experts said it would grow our economy, and shrink our deficits. Now, had the House of Representatives allowed a yes-or-no vote on that kind of bill, it would have passed with support from both parties. Today it would be the law. But for a year and a half, Republican leaders in the House have refused to allow that simple vote.  Now, I still believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together – both parties – to pass that kind of bipartisan law.  But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican Presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just. I took those actions this week.  We’re providing more resources at the border to help law enforcement personnel stop illegal crossings, and send home those who do cross over.  We’ll focus enforcement resources on people who are threats to our security – felons, not families; criminals, not children.  And we’ll bring more undocumented immigrants out of the shadows so they can play by the rules, pay their full share of taxes, pass a criminal background check, and get right with the law.  Nothing about this action will benefit anyone who has come to this country recently, or who might try and come to America illegally in the future.  It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive.  And it’s certainly not amnesty, no matter how often the critics say it.  Amnesty is the immigration system we have today – millions of people living here without paying their taxes, or playing by the rules.  And the actions I took this week will finally start fixing that. As you might have heard, there are Members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better.  Well, I have one answer for that:  Pass a bill.  The day I sign it into law, the actions I’ve taken to help solve this problem will no longer be necessary.  In the meantime, we can’t allow a disagreement over a single issue to be a dealbreaker on every issue.  That’s not how our democracy works.  This debate deserves more than politics as usual.  It’s important for our future.  It’s about who we are, and the future we want to build. We are only here because this country welcomed our forebears, and taught them that being American is about more than what we look like or where we come from.  What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will.  That’s the country we inherited, and it’s the one we have to leave for future generations. Thank you, God bless you, and have a great weekend.

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