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Attorney General Holder Discusses Ongoing Investigation in Ferguson; Calls for an End to Violence

Attorney General Holder Discusses Ongoing Investigation in Ferguson; Calls for an End to Violence

United States Department of Justice(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday that the federal investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. continues to be handled in an expeditious and complete manner.”The full resources of the Department of Justice are being committed to our federal civil rights investigation into the death of Michael Brown,” Holder said in a statement. “During the day today, more than 40 FBI agents continued their canvassing of the neighborhood where Michael Brown was shot.”Additionally, a federal autopsy was performed on Brown’s body Monday by, “one of the most experienced medical examiners in the United States military,” Holder noted. That autopsy was in addition to at least one other autopsy already completed by the county Medical Examiner. Holder also noted his intention to visit Ferguson himself on Wednesday. During his trip, he plans to meet with FBI investigators and prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “I realize there is tremendous interest in the facts of the incident that led to Michael Brown’s death,” Holder said, calling for the, “public’s patience as we conduct this investigation.” The attorney general also urged both residents and law enforcement to, “begin the process of healing” by seeking, “an end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson. Those who have been peacefully demonstrating should join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters and others seeking to enflame tensions.”
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Survey Indicates Racial, Political Divide in Reactions to Tension in Ferguson

Survey Indicates Racial, Political Divide in Reactions to Tension in Ferguson

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The public perception of the tension between police and residents in Ferguson, Mo. and shows a noticeable racial divide, according to the latest survey from the Pew Research Center.The latest survey was conducted between August 14 and 17 and included 1,000 adults. Pew says that results showed that generally, adults are divided: 44 percent believe that the shooting of Michael Brown, “raises important issues about race that require discussion,” while 40 percent think that the issue of race, “is getting more attention than it deserves.”However, those opinions show a clear racial divide as well. Among African-Americans, 80 percent say that the shooting raises important racial issues, compared to 18 percent who think otherwise. Among white Americans, only 47 percent believe the racial issues are important, compared to 37 percent who believe the topic of race is receiving more attention that it deserves.Additionally, Pew’s survey results indicate that while 65 percent of African-Americans believe the police have “gone too far” in the aftermath of the shooting, whites are far more split. Among whites, 33 percent believe police have gone too far, while 32 percent say the police response “has been about right.”The survey also indicated something of a political divide in terms of reaction to the ongoing tension. Among those respondents who self-identified as Republicans, just 22 percent believe that the shooting raises important racial issues, with 61 percent saying that the topic is getting too much attention. Among self-identified Democrats, 68 percent believe that there are important racial issues raised by the death of Michael Brown and just 21 percent believe that aspect of the nationwide conversation is getting too much attention.
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Perry Lawyers Vow to ‘Prevail’ After Indictment

Perry Lawyers Vow to ‘Prevail’ After Indictment

ABC/Matthew Putney(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s legal team Monday vowed to fight the felony charges the governor faces for threatening to veto public funding and calling for the resignation of the head of the state’s public integrity unit following her public drunk driving arrest.“Governor Perry will fight this indictment 100 percent, and at the end of the day he will prevail,” said lead attorney Tony Buzbee.Perry will be arraigned August 29, according to the Travis County Courts, the same day he is scheduled to appear at an Americans for Prosperity event in Dallas.In 2013, Perry publicly threatened to withhold $7.5 million in funding for the state’s public integrity unit, which investigates corruption, unless Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned following her DUI bust.For the statement and the veto, a grand jury charged Perry last week with abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official, which together carry a maximum sentence of 109 years.The team, which includes Bush recount attorney Ben Ginsberg, called the challenge “beyond the pale” and said the governor was legally entitled to use his veto power and speak freely against Lehmberg.Perry has stood by his actions and said he would repeat the veto.The state of Texas will pay for “part” of Perry’s legal defense, Perry’s team said, adding that the governor’s booking will be public but that the date has not yet been confirmed.The legal team, which also includes David Botsford, the governor’s general counsel, and attorney Bobby Burchfield, showed video clips of Lehmberg resisting arrest.
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Obama Appears Wary About National Guard in Ferguson

Obama Appears Wary About National Guard in Ferguson

Credit: The White House(FERGUSON, Mo.) — President Obama appeared wary Monday about the National Guard being sent to Ferguson, Missouri, saying he urged the governor to ensure the troops were involved in a “limited” way.Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the state’s National Guard to be deployed to the city Monday morning after another night of violent  clashes between protesters and police over the shooting death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Protesters have demanded that officer Darren Wilson be held accountable for shooting Brown.The prosecutor’s office in St. Louis County, which has jurisdiction in the case, said Monday a grand jury could begin hearing evidence against Wilson as soon as Wednesday to determine if he will be charged in the shooting.Obama addressed the volatile situation in Ferguson for a second time in recent days and said he called Nixon about his decision to send in the Missouri National Guard.”I spoke to Jay Nixon about this and expressed interest that if it was used, it would be in a limited and appropriate way,” Obama said Monday afternoon. “He described the support role they’d be performing and I’ll be watching to see that it’s helping, not hindering, progress.”The state National Guard will arrive in Ferguson to help protect the city’s police command center during the protests, while the Missouri Highway Patrol continues to patrol the city.Nixon ordered the Guard’s deployment after protesters allegedly threw Molotov cocktails and fired gunshots at police Sunday night after the state-imposed curfew. On Monday there will be no curfew, Nixon said.The governor later issued a statement saying, “The Guard’s immediate and limited responsibilities… are to provide protection, and ensure the safety of our Unified Command Center, which was the target last night of a coordinated attack.”Nixon said he signed the executive order after actions by violent protesters Sunday night included “the firing upon law enforcement officers, the shooting of a civilian, the throwing of Molotov cocktails, looting and a coordinated attempt to overrun the unified Command Center.”He said the Missouri State Highway Patrol and local police would remain in charge of policing the streets.In addition, the governor said, “We will not use a curfew tonight.”Capt. Ron Johnson said Monday that he assured people that “protests will be allowed,” but he added that he would not “allow vandals to impact the safety of this community… or disrupt the soul of this community.”The police used tear gas Sunday night to clear protesters off the streets of the St. Louis suburb, action that police say was necessary because of shooting, looting and vandalism.“When we saw violent acts … We had to act to protect lives and property,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson said at an early morning news conference.The situation “took a very different turn after dark,” Johnson said, deteriorating at 8:25 p.m. with a civilian shooting. Protesters fired at police and threw Molotov cocktails, he said.Sunday’s clashes continued more than a week’s worth of unrest in Ferguson after the Aug. 9 death of Brown, 18. Activists raised their hands, reflecting reports that Brown had his hands raised when the officer fired. Sunday’s clashes come as a preliminary private autopsy shows Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head.One of the bullets entered the top of Brown’s skull, meaning his head was bent forward, ABC News has confirmed. Brown was also shot four times in the right arm, the autopsy found.The autopsy was performed Sunday at the request of Brown’s family.Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered a federal medical examiner to perform a separate autopsy because of the circumstances surrounding the shooting.The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office has also conducted an autopsy which concluded that Brown died from gunshot wounds to the head and chest.Schools in the Ferguson-Florissant School district remained closed Monday because of lingering unrest in the area.
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Recapture of Critical Dam in Iraq Is Successful, Obama Says

Recapture of Critical Dam in Iraq Is Successful, Obama Says

The White House(WASHINGTON) –  Aided by U.S. airstrikes over the weekend, Iraqi and Kurdish forces have successfully recaptured Mosul Dam, which was seized by terrorist group ISIS earlier this month, President Obama told reporters Monday.Helping wrest control of the dam from ISIS is “directly tied to our objective of protecting Americans in Iraq,” Obama said during a news conference.“If that dam was breached it could have proven catastrophic,” the president said.Obama went on to praise the Iraqi and Kurdish forces for working together on “taking the fight” to ISIS and vowed the support of the U.S. The president said the United States will work with its partners to provide humanitarian assistance to people in the region and will continue developing a “long term strategy to turn the tide against” ISIS.Situated just 80 miles northwest of Erbil, the two-mile-wide dam could easily be turned into a weapon of mass destruction: A breach would unleash a torrent of water that would flood nearby Mosul and swamp the capital city of Baghdad, leading to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths.Dam employees continue to perform daily maintenance, even as Kurdish and Iraqi forces attempt to wrest control back from ISIS.President Obama has long promised that U.S. ground troops, removed from Iraq in December 2011, will not return to combat there. But in a letter to congressional leaders, Obama said he believed the Mosul Dam airstrikes were “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”Earlier this month, the president also authorized a series of airstrikes that successfully eradicated munitions stockpiles of ISIS fighters plotting to overtake Erbil, where the U.S. has a consulate.On Monday, the president once again called for a “new, broad-based, inclusive Iraqi government,” and lauded the peaceful transition of power from former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Prime Minister designate, Haider al-Ibadi.“Without that progress, extremists like ISIL can continue to pray upon Iraq’s divisions,” he said. “They’ve got to get this done because the wolf’s at the door and in order for them to be credible with the Iraqi people they’re going to have to put behind some of the old practices and actually create a credible, united government.”“Our goal is to have effective partners on the ground and if we have effective partners on the ground, mission creep is much less likely,” he added.
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Former Sen. Jim Jeffords Passes Away at 80

Former Sen. Jim Jeffords Passes Away at 80

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., passed away Monday morning at the age of 80, a former aide to Jeffords confirmed to ABC News.Jeffords, who once was a Republican before becoming an independent and caucusing with Democrats, was in declining health and died at the Knollwood Military Retirement Residence in Washington, D.C. around 7 a.m.Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., weighed in on Jeffords’ death in a statement to ABC News.“He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend. He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate’s history,” Leahy said.
Later on Monday, President Obama also issued a statement on Jeffords’ passing:

Michelle and I send our deepest sympathies to the family of Senator James M. Jeffords on his passing.  Jim devoted his life to service – as a Naval officer, a local leader in his hometown of Shrewsbury, and eventually as a U.S. Senator representing his beloved Vermont.  During his more than 30 years in Washington, Jim never lost the fiercely independent spirit that made Vermonters, and people across America, trust and respect him.  Whatever the issue – whether it was protecting the environment, supporting Americans with disabilities, or whether to authorize the war in Iraq – Jim voted his principles, even if it sometimes meant taking a lonely or unpopular stance.  Vermonters sent him to Washington to follow his conscience, and he did them proud.  Our prayers are with the Jeffords family, including his son Leonard and daughter Laura.  And we’re grateful to Jim for his legacy of service to Vermont and the United States of America. 

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Chris Christie, John McCain Dance in the Hamptons with Stars

Chris Christie, John McCain Dance in the Hamptons with Stars

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Arizona Sen. John McCain and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie broke it down in the Hamptons this weekend at an Apollo Theater benefit concert.Egged on by Jamie Foxx, McCain appeared to revive everyone’s favorite dance move — the robot — as Christie flailed and wiggled on stage for the star-studded crowd.
Celebrity attendees at Saturday night’s event included Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Paul McCartney, Barbara Streisand and Roger Waters.
Christie, who attended the event as a guest of fellow New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi was summoned on stage when Foxx reportedly shouted to the audience, “I know you’ve got a dance in you, Chris Christie.”
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Meet the District Attorney at Center of Rick Perry Indictment

Meet the District Attorney at Center of Rick Perry Indictment

Stewart F. House/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — In a move panned by most Republicans and even some Democrats as largely “political,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted on two felony charges following his veto of state funding for the Travis County District Attorney’s Office — a public integrity unit led by a Democratic lawyer convicted of driving drunk.Perry, accused of abusing his official capacity and coercing a public servant, said he refused to fund the office because Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg “lost the public’s confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically” following her high-profile DWI arrest and conviction. If she did step down, the governor would name her replacement.Lehmberg, 63, was apprehended in April 2013 with an open bottle of vodka in her car and a blood alcohol level of 0.23 — nearly three times the 0.08 legal limit. She later pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.In videos taken the night of the arrest, a stumbling Lehmberg repeatedly insists she’s not drunk, swats away officers’ attempts to steady her, and maintains she can’t pass the field sobriety test because of a bad back.“I am not doing this. If you want to take me to jail, take me to jail, okay. And you’re going to ruin my career, and that’s fine,” she laughs sardonically. “But I’m not drunk. …I don’t think you smell alcohol and, um, I haven’t erratically drive [sic].”“You having a good time watching this?” she snarls at the officer. “Yes, yes you are.”Once in custody, Lehmberg appears increasingly belligerent, kicking her cell door, grimacing, berating officers and even pantomiming shooting a gun at the camera — forcing officers to place her in restraints.“I’m the district attorney. Get these cuffs off of me,” she demands, calling the arrest “crazy,” “stupid” and “silly.”“Look at this! I’m restrained like a criminal!” she adds.Keenly aware of the effect the visuals could have on her career as the most powerful DA in the state, Lehmberg nevertheless refuses to cooperate with officers.“You’re about to ruin my career,” Lehmberg says. “You don’t understand what you’re doing to me. …Tomorrow morning the [Austin] American Statesman is going to report that I was arrested for DWI. …Congratulations, you guys.”The day after the incident, Lehmberg released a statement apologizing for her behavior but indicating that she did not plan to step down.She later announced she would not seek a third term, saying, “There can be no anger directed at me — or disappointment in me — greater than my own.”Perry said at a news conference Saturday that Lehmberg “is not an individual who is heading up an office that we can afford to fund.”“I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto. … Given that choice again, that is exactly what I would do,” he added.“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution,” Perry’s lawyer, Mary Anne Wiley, said in a statement to ABC News.“We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail,” Wiley added.
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Hillary Clinton Is Finally Going Back to Iowa

Hillary Clinton Is Finally Going Back to Iowa

Feng Li/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Hillary Clinton is going back to Iowa for the first time in six years.The former secretary of state will headline Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry in Indianola next month, making her first visit to the state since 2008.Bill and Hillary Clinton will be on hand for Harkin’s final steak fry, a representative for the couple confirmed. It’s a long-standing tradition that launched a young Barack Obama back in the fall of 2006. This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 14.Hillary Clinton’s decision to headline the steak fry, which “might promise to be the best ever,” according to Harkin’s website, could be seen as a swift political move for the former New York senator as she continues to mull a second run for president.The former presidential candidate has not stepped foot in Iowa since she came in third in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 4, 2008. And when she skipped the state during her nationwide book tour this summer, some in Iowa started to feel neglected.The Gazette, an Iowa newspaper, practically begged Mrs. Clinton to visit last month.“We’ve watched as you have flexed your muscles on the international stage and have been impressed with your ability to connect,” the Gazette editorialized. “But as Iowans, we need to see that connection in action. Our hope, if you are really considering a 2016 run, is that you have learned from your experience and come to Iowa intent on having true conversations about what matters to our state and the fine people in it.”The Des Moines Register was first to report the news of Hillary Clinton’s upcoming Iowa appearance Monday. It has been confirmed to ABC News by a top Iowa Democrat with long ties to Harkin, who plans to retire next year at the end of his fifth term.
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Meet the Democrat Who Could Crush Scott Walker’s 2016 Dreams

Meet the Democrat Who Could Crush Scott Walker’s 2016 Dreams

ABC News/Yahoo! News(WASHINGTON) — Scott Walker is widely considered one of the GOP’s presidential hopefuls. But before the Wisconsin governor can run for president in 2016, he needs to win his bid for reelection in 2014 — and that means getting past his Democratic challenger, Mary Burke.Burke, the first woman nominated for governor in Wisconsin by a major political party and a former executive of her family’s successful business, Trek Bicycles, is proving to be a formidable obstacle. The most recent polling shows the partisan rivals locked in a dead heat.In the contentious campaign between Walker and Burke, job creation in the Dairy Land is ground zero.One of Walker’s main lines of attack against Burke has been to criticize her family’s bike business for outsourcing 99 percent of its production overseas, primarily to China — a strategy that harkens back to the Obama campaign’s 2012 tactic to counter Mitt Romney’s business success.“What surprises me about it is that a sitting governor would drag a great Wisconsin home-grown company through the mud for politics,” Burke told ABC News/Yahoo! News in a recent interview. “Trek employs nearly a thousand people in Wisconsin; in addition to that, it buys goods and services from other Wisconsin businesses, which creates more good-paying jobs in the state.”When it comes to job creation, Burke has her own line of attack against Walker.“Under Scott Walker, we’re dead last in the Midwest in terms of job creation,” Burke said, a point she makes frequently. “I’m running in order to make sure that we are able to move Wisconsin forward and lead the country instead of lagging the country,” she later added.Though Burke said she isn’t running “to carry the flag for women,” despite being the state’s first woman of a major party to be nominated for governor, she believes Walker has been waging a war on women.“One of the first things that he did was repeal our equal pay protections, and then, throughout the years, we have now seen more attacks on women’s choice issues from mandatory ultrasounds to waiting periods,” she said. “These are all things that are messing with women’s right to make our own health care choices.”On the topic of health care — and specifically the Affordable Care Act — Burke has a widely divergent perspective from Walker, who declined to create a state-run exchange and turned down additional Medicare and Medicaid funding from the federal government.Burke says that by declining federal money for Medicaid expansion, Walker has put politics ahead of common sense.“As I travel around the state it’s one of the biggest issues that I hear, and unfortunately, I hear stories of people…entrepreneurs with families, two kids, and they’re going without health insurance right now — that’s a real problem,” she said. “So, what Scott Walker has done by turning down the Medicaid expansion is actually making health care more expensive in Wisconsin and throwing people off of their health care.”
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Obama Takes a Break from Vacation

Obama Takes a Break from Vacation

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama headed back to the White House Sunday night, briefly interrupting his family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard to address unspecified matters.Administration officials were initially tight-lipped about what the president will deal with during his two days in Washington, although late Sunday the White House released Obama’s itinerary for Monday that includes meeting Vice President Joe Biden and members of the National Security Council to receive an update on U.S. military and humanitarian action in Iraq.Later Monday, the president and Attorney General Eric Holder will talk about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, involving the fatal shooting of teen Michael Brown.There is also speculation that one issue Obama might discuss is the stagnation of immigration reform, which House Republicans have said won’t be debated until after the November mid-term elections.Although no specific action is expected during his brief White House stay, Obama might use executive orders following the congressional recess to lift the threat of deportation facing millions of undocumented immigrants, a politically risky move that could either empower the Latino base or increase anti-immigration fervor before the election.Meanwhile, Obama’s due back with his family sometime Tuesday to spend the remainder of the week vacationing.
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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ‘Thunderstruck’ By Images of Ferguson Police

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon ‘Thunderstruck’ By Images of Ferguson Police

governor.mo.gov(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Sunday on This Week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, sitting down for an interview in Ferguson, told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz that he was astounded by some of the images that came out of Ferguson depicting what he described as an “over-militarization” of the police force.”I, all of us were thunderstruck by the pictures we saw,” Nixon said on This Week. “I mean, the over-militarization, the MRAPs rolling in, the guns pointed at kids in the street. All of that I think instead of ratcheting down brought emotion up.”But Nixon rejected responsibility for failing to quell the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, responding, “I’ve been here almost every day… The bottom line: we’ve been focused on meeting with groups, meeting with the parents, making sure that we were set up and then taking the unprecedented action on Wednesday to replace and to bring in the highway patrol.”
Nixon declared a state of emergency in Ferguson on Saturday and imposed a curfew following days of protests that erupted after an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, identified Friday as Darren Wilson.During his interview on This Week, the governor revealed that the state was caught off-guard by the Ferguson Police Department’s decision to release surveillance video of Brown during an alleged store robbery on the same day they named the officer responsible for his death.”We were unaware that they were going to release it and we certainly were not happy with that being released. Especially in the way that it was it appeared to you know cast dispersions on a young man that was gunned down in the street,” Nixon told Raddatz.The security footage, apparently showing Brown committing a robbery at a convenience store just minutes before his death, reignited civil unrest in the town over the weekend. The Police Department claims that they were obligated to release the tape because of requests made by journalists under Missouri’s “Sunshine,” or freedom-of-information law, despite the Department of Justice and federal investigators opposing its release.The attorney for the Brown family Anthony Gray, who also appeared on This Week, said the family was disturbed by the release of the surveillance video.”Well, they first of all they were very appalled by it,” Gray said on This Week. “They saw it for the first time, at least a glimpse of it, on nationwide TV. They had requested an opportunity through the attorneys to see any video footage before it was released. That request obviously was not honored. So quite naturally, the reaction was very, on the part of the family, they were very disturbed by it. And I would just point out that no one from the family was given the opportunity to even authenticate that that was actually Mike Brown Jr. in the video.””There’s no reason not to believe that it’s him but much like when you identify somebody who is deceased, you have a family member that come in and make a positive ID. And they have not had an opportunity to do that,” Gray added.
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Rep. Kinzinger Says ‘Worst Case Scenario’ for Mideast Playing Out in Iraq, Syria

Rep. Kinzinger Says ‘Worst Case Scenario’ for Mideast Playing Out in Iraq, Syria

http://kinzinger.house.gov(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Adam Kinzinger issued a stark warning about recent events in Iraq Sunday on This Week and called for the extremist group ISIS, which has seized large amounts of territory within the country, to be crushed.”What we’re watching in Iraq and Syria frankly is the worst case scenario for the Middle East,” Kinzinger, R-Ill., told ABC’s Martha Raddatz.“What we’ve begun doing is very good, but I think we have to get even bigger and realize that the crushing and pushing back of ISIS, not only in Iraq but also in Syria, is utmost priority,” he said.His comments follow a week of targeted airstrikes by the United States near the Mosul Dam, now under ISIS control, and aid operations by international forces to combat the persecution of the Yazidi religious minority.Kinzinger, who served in the U.S. Air Force in Iraq and is currently a reserve in the National Guard, was positive about the U.S. response but said the Obama administration could do more to push back ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.”The president has got to stand up in front of the American people and say, ‘Look, you may be war-weary, but in five or ten years we don’t want to look back and say we missed all the signs,’” Kinzinger said.Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who served in the National Guard in Iraq, said the U.S. needs to clarify its mission.”What is our mission?” she asked. “What are we trying to accomplish here?”Gabbard agreed the U.S. could do more such as arming Kurdish forces with heavy weapons, while Kinzinger suggested that U.S. Special Forces embed with the Iraqi military.
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“Orange Is the New Black” Star Laverne Cox’s One Wish for America

“Orange Is the New Black” Star Laverne Cox’s One Wish for America

ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) — Laverne Cox, star of the Netflix hit series Orange Is the New Black, is breaking barriers for the transgender community both on and off the screen.
Cox has helped raise awareness and give voice to members of the trans community, pushing forward this newest battle on the civil rights front.
In an interview for This Week, she shared her one wish for America with ABC’s Byron Pitts.”One thing I would wish for American [are] spaces where we have real gender freedom, where we create spaces of gender self-determination, where we don’t police people’s genders…[and where] we don’t tell people that they’re not supposed to act a certain way,” Cox said.Cox has spent her whole life dealing with discrimination and harassment. Growing up in Mobile, Ala., she was constantly bullied for her gender expression, she said.
“I was bullied and I internalized a lot of shame about who I was as a child,” Cox said. “Bullied because I didn’t act the way someone assigned male at birth was supposed to act. And so I was called sissy, I was called the F-word. I was chased home from school practically every day. There was always a kid or groups of kids who wanted to beat me up,” she said.Overwhelmed by social persecution, she attempted suicide at an early age, Cox said.”The suicide attempt happened when I was in sixth grade and I was having all these feelings about other boys. And I didn’t want to live,” Cox said.Hollywood blockbusters and hit TV series like Orange Is the New Black are shining a new spotlight on transgender rights, starring characters like her own that Cox says many in the trans community can relate to.
“So many trans folks have said that they see themselves reflected in this character,” Cox said. “Having your story told validates your experience. It’s like, ‘I’m not alone anymore, and maybe I’ll be OK.’”
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Six Questions for Transgender Rights Advocate Mara Keisling

Six Questions for Transgender Rights Advocate Mara Keisling

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — This week we asked Mara Keisling, founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, about the biggest challenges facing the transgender community and Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, who Keisling calls a “phenomenal figure in raising public understanding of transgender people.”1) So first — for those who do not know — can you explain what transgender means? How is gender identity different from sexual orientation?MK: Being transgender is a deeply personal, deeply held understanding of your gender identity. It’s someone whose gender today is different than the gender they were born as. Some transgender people have undergone some combination of social, legal, and medical transition to live their life as the gender they know they are. As for the relationship between being transgender and one’s sexual orientation, simply put, sexual orientation describes the kind of person one is attracted to, whereas gender identity describes someone’s understanding of themselves. Transgender people can be gay or straight or bisexual or asexual, just like anyone else.2) What do we know about the number of transgender individuals in the United States?MK: It’s hard to tell exactly how many transgender people there are in the United States because many national population surveys like the Census or health studies are only beginning to explore how to count transgender people. My background is in public polling and the social scientist in me has sympathy for researchers who recognize how complicated it is to identify transgender people. That being said, Gary Gates at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that 0.3 percent of adults in the United States are transgender. That percentage is likely much higher when we include gender non-conforming people — that is, people whose gender presentation falls outside of what many view as “traditionally” male or female norms.3) In your view, what is the biggest misperception about the transgender community?MK: That we aren’t who we say we are. Too often transgender people are accused of being something other than what they say they are. Too often, we are questioned about our “real” name or our “real” gender. The core of the mistreatment, harassment, and violence facing transgender people stems from this fundamental theme in the way the public doubts and denies us our true selves.4) What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the transgender community?MK: There are a lot of challenges out there, and there are a lot of people doing the work on the ground or here in Washington, D.C., who work tirelessly to address these challenges. But for me, I’d say it is the need to be accepted and respected for who we are. The lack of understanding of our humanity continues to cause us to face disrespect, discrimination, and violence and is actually killing us. And when trans people face that and other issues like racism, ableism, and xenophobia, the disrespect and violence can be so much worse.5) How has Laverne Cox — who will be on This Week — contributed to the transgender awareness?MK: Laverne has been a phenomenal figure in raising public understanding of transgender people. She has leveraged her platform to really catalyze public acceptance and she has done it with such graciousness, generosity, intelligence and her own story. She is part of this amazing moment we are having right now that is being led by a bunch of amazing trans women of color including Laverne, Andy Marra, Janet Mock, Geena Rocero, Fallon Fox, and some others. They are leading the kind of cultural shift that is making our work in Washington a lot easier and speeding up the pace of change.6) You’ve praised the president’s actions on behalf of transgender Americans, but what else would you like to see him do?MK: We still have a fairly full federal policy agenda that needs to be addressed. However, right now, since I know the White House is focused on immigration, I would especially flag the need for immigration reform that anticipates LGBT and queer immigrants. Our people often come to the U.S. because of dangerously anti-transgender climates back home, and they end up being victimized again by solitary confinement, an immoral bed quota, arbitrary asylum rules, and an absolutely broken detention system that simply cannot house transgender detainees safely.
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Gov. Rick Perry Calls Grand Jury Indictment Against Him ‘An Abuse of Power’

Gov. Rick Perry Calls Grand Jury Indictment Against Him ‘An Abuse of Power’

governor.state.tx.us(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry forcefully defended his decision to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit after being indicted by a grand jury on charges that he abused the powers of his office.
“I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand by my veto, and I will continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor,” Perry said, speaking to reporters at a Saturday news conference in Austin.Perry, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was indicted by a grand jury on two counts Friday. Prosecutors say he abusing the power of his office by trying to force the resignation of a Democratic district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, who oversees the state’s public integrity unit.He vowed to fight the indictments, which he said “amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power.”Last year the governor publicly threatened to withhold $7.5 million to the public integrity unit, which investigates corruption cases, if Lehmberg, who was arrested for drunk driving, did not step down.Perry was accused of playing politics with his veto threat. On Saturday, he accused the grand jury–convened in liberal Travis County–of doing the same.”We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry said. “It is outrageous.”Republicans, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have rallied to defend Perry’s actions. Cruz tweeted on Saturday, “GovernorPerry is a friend, he’s a man of integrity – I am proud to #StandWithRickPerry”
But the governor has also faced calls to resign — most notably from Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro. Castro tweeted on Friday, “For the sake of Texas, Governor Perry should resign following his indictment on two criminal felony counts involving abuse of office.”
Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, could serve a maximum of 109 years in prison if found guilty. But Perry said he would move swiftly to contest the charges.”I intend to fight those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes,” Perry said. “And I intend to win.”
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Incumbent Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz Wins Democratic Primary

Incumbent Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz Wins Democratic Primary

schatz.senate.gov(HONOLULU) — The Hawaii Democratic Senate primary has finally been called.
For a week, it was too close to call, but now incumbent Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz has defeated his Democratic primary challenger Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa. Schatz was already leading after last Saturday’s primary, but he was not named the winner of the prolonged race until the last two precincts on the Big Island of Hawaii were able to vote.Due to the damage from Hurricane Iselle, just under 8,000 voters had to wait until Friday to go to the ballot box.
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Sarah Palin Endorses Joe Miller in Alaska’s Republican Senate Primary

Sarah Palin Endorses Joe Miller in Alaska’s Republican Senate Primary

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has endorsed Tea Party favorite Joe Miller in Alaska’s Republican Senate primary.
The former Vice Presidential nominee also endorsed Miller in 2010, when he won the GOP primary against Senator Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski THE ended up defeating Miller in a successful write-in campaign.
But this time around, it’s different– according to ABC’s Shushannah Walshe, one of Miller’s opponents is Dan Sullivan, a man Palin appointed Attorney General when she was governor.
The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Democrat Mark Begich in November.
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Obama Discusses Affording Higher Education in Weekly Address

Obama Discusses Affording Higher Education in Weekly Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — In his weekly address, President Obama pointed to the upcoming start of a new school year and the impotrance of higher education.
“In today’s economy,” the president said, “whether you go to a four-year college, a community college, or a professional training program, some higher education is the surest ticket to the middle class.” A typical American with a bachelor’s degree, Obama pointed out, makes about $28,000 per year more than someone with just a high school diploma, and is also significantly more likely to be employed at all.
Pointing to his experience and that of First Lady Michelle Obama, the president acknowledged the difficulty some college graduates have paying off their college loans. Just as he has pushed for loan reform, the president urged students to push themselves academically, to challenge themselves to “reach higher.”
Read the full transcript of the president’s address:
Hi, everybody.  Over the next couple weeks, schools all across the country will be opening their doors.  Students will suit up for fall sports, marching band, and the school play; moms and dads will snap those first-day-of-school pictures – and that includes me and Michelle.  And so today, I want to talk directly with students and parents about one of the most important things any of you can do this year – and that’s to begin preparing yourself for an education beyond high school. We know that in today’s economy, whether you go to a four-year college, a community college, or a professional training program, some higher education is the surest ticket to the middle class. The typical American with a bachelor’s degree or higher earns over $28,000 more per year than someone with just a high school diploma.  And they’re also much more likely to have a job in the first place – the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree is less than one-third of the rate for those without a high school diploma.But for too many families across the country, paying for higher education is a constant struggle.  Earlier this year, a young woman named Elizabeth Cooper wrote to tell me how hard it is for middle-class families like hers to afford college.  As she said, she feels “not significant enough to be addressed, not poor enough for people to worry [about], and not rich enough to be cared about.”Michelle and I know the feeling – we only finished paying off our student loans ten years ago.  And so as President, I’m working to make sure young people like Elizabeth can go to college without racking up mountains of debt.  We reformed a student loan system so that more money goes to students instead of big banks.  We expanded grants and college tax credits for students and families.  We took action to offer millions of students a chance to cap their student loan payments at 10% of their income.  And Congress should pass a bill to let students refinance their loans at today’s lower interest rates, just like their parents can refinance their mortgage.  But as long as college costs keep rising, we can’t just keep throwing money at the problem – colleges have to do their part to bring down costs as well.  That’s why we proposed a plan to tie federal financial aid to a college’s performance, and create a new college scorecard so that students and parents can see which schools provide the biggest bang for your buck.  We launched a new $75 million challenge to inspire colleges to reduce costs and raise graduation rates.  And in January, more than 100 college presidents and nonprofit leaders came to the White House and made commitments to increase opportunities for underserved students.Since then, we’ve met with even more leaders who want to create new community-based partnerships and support school counselors.  And this week, my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced a series of commitments to support students who need a little extra academic help getting through college. This is a challenge I take personally.  And to all you young people, now that you’re heading back to school, your education is something you have to take personally, also.  It’s up to you to push yourself; to take hard classes and read challenging books.  Science shows that when you struggle to solve a problem or make a new argument, you’re actually forming new connections in your brain.  So when you’re thinking hard, you’re getting smarter.  Which means this year, challenge yourself to reach higher.  And set your sights on college in the years ahead.  Your country is counting on you.And don’t forget to have some fun along the way, too.  Thanks everybody.  Good luck on the year ahead.
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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

GOP Weekly Address: Rep. Doug Collins Urges Democrats in Senate to Act

GOP Weekly Address: Rep. Doug Collins Urges Democrats in Senate to Act

Office of Congressman Doug Collins(WASHINGTON) — In this week’s Republican address, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia urged the Democratic Senate to act on jobs bills that have been passed in the Republican-held House of Representatives.Collins says in his…

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