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Cuba: Five Clear Signs Change Is Already Coming

Cuba: Five Clear Signs Change Is Already Coming

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The relationship between the United States and Cuba is changing fast, and that change is already making waves in not just the political sphere, but throughout the private sector as well.The U.S. public supports the shift more than ever, with a recent Gallup poll revealing that 46 percent of Americans view the island nation favorably -- the highest number since the company started polling the question in 1996, when only 10 percent of Americans felt the same way. Here are five indications that, even though the relationship is new, it is already shifting:The Talks Continue: The negotiations between the United States and Cuba, which began in January in Havana after Obama’s December announced goal to improve relations, are slated to continue on Feb. 27, this time in Washington. The Cuban delegation will meet with Roberta Jacobson, head of the U.S. negotiating team, who has acknowledged the “profound differences” between the two sides but remains confident in the countries’ ability to move forward.Congress Visits: Since the historic announcement, there has been one trip after another with congressmen and women heading to the island nation. Most recently, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and a group of Democratic delegates made the voyage to Cuba Tuesday in an effort to “build on the work done by many in Congress over the years,” she said in a statement. The statement also outlined that the delegation’s main focus will be on “agriculture and trade.”Web Availability Increases: While home connections remain illegal, Internet access via nationwide state-run cafes has become cheaper, at least for the time being. Whereas Cubans had to pay $4.50 an hour before, now they will be required to pay $2.21 per hour of online time, at least until this coming April.Netflix Opens Doors: The streaming giant recently made its service available to Cubans, announcing that those with access to the Internet and “international payment methods” will be able to watch movies and shows from a “curated selection.” But even with a Netflix subscription, don’t forget they’d still have to pay for that Internet access.Entrepreneurs Get Busy: With the United States relaxing its regulations on travel to Cuba, an enterprising Fort Lauderdale, Florida man is aiming to start a ferry service using his 200-passenger catamaran that whisks tourists from Marathon City Marina in Florida to Havana in four hours. Brian Hall, who is in the process of applying for the Office of Foreign Assets Control license that would allow his venture to take place, says that he plans to charge $169 per one-way trip and hopes to launch Dec, 1. Even though the first trip is months away, “inquiries are through the roof,” he says. “People are ready to go.”

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Obama Swipes GOP 2016 Field: ‘We’ve Been Walking the Walk’ on Middle Class Economics

Obama Swipes GOP 2016 Field: ‘We’ve Been Walking the Walk’ on Middle Class Economics

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama delivered a rallying cry to Democrats at their winter meeting Friday morning, urging their unabashed embrace of his economic record as the party heads into the 2016 campaign. “We were told by our good friends the Republicans that our actions would crush jobs, explode the deficits and destroy the country. I mean, I want everybody to do a fact check,” Obama told the crowd. “If we were to look at the evidence, it’s pretty clear whose theory works,” he said.The president directly addressed the field of likely GOP contenders -- including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, by name -- who have adopted economic inequality as an issue for the campaign. “You can’t just talk the talk. You’ve got to do what? You’ve got to walk the walk,” Obama said. “We’ve been walking the walk.” As for Republicans, he said, “the shift in rhetoric is good if it leads them to engage in different actions. If it doesn’t, then it’s just spin.”There was no mention or obvious reference to the controversy surrounding former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s comments about Obama’s patriotism. But the president did offer a spirited close to his address, referring to “this great country’s amazing story” and a full-throated “God bless, America.”After the speech, Obama is attending his second fundraiser of the year -- a $33,400 per head event that’s expected to raise north of $835,000 for the Democratic National Committee.

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‘FEBURARY': Check Out the White House’s Spelling Fail

‘FEBURARY': Check Out the White House’s Spelling Fail

(WASHINGTON) -- Admit it: February is just as tough to say as it is to spell. That sneaky ‘r’ in there can confuse just about anyone -- including the White House.February’s spelling is posing quite the problem for the White House Press Office over the past few weeks.On multiple daily guidance and press schedules, the White House spelled the month "FEBURARY."Not only has "February" created an obstacle for the White House press office, but President Obama is not a fan of the word either.Remember the Obama BuzzFeed video, “Things Everybody Does, But Doesn’t Talk About”? Cut to the scene of President Obama looking in the mirror saying, “The deadline to sign up for health insurance is Febru…Febru…that’s not right…Febru…man! FEBRUARY 15th!”

 

Post by BuzzFeed Video.

 

Coincidence, perhaps? Or maybe the White House is intentionally misspelling the word. Who knows?

The solution? Let’s get this White House to March.

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Tax Form Error Affects 800,000 HealthCare.gov Customers

Tax Form Error Affects 800,000 HealthCare.gov Customers

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly a million Americans who signed up for subsidized coverage through HealthCare.gov may have to wait longer to get their tax refunds this year.The Obama administration says a critical tax form that HealthCare.gov customers need to complete their 2014 returns was flawed for about 800,000 customers. The document in question -- Form 1095-A -- was sent to customers earlier this month."About 20 percent of the tax filers who had Federally-facilitated Marketplace coverage in 2014 and used tax credits to lower their premium costs -- about 800,000 (< 1% of total tax filers) -- will soon receive an updated Form 1095-A because the original version they were issued listed an incorrect benchmark plan premium amount," a blog post from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Friday reads.Affected customers are being asked to hold off on filing their returns until the first week of March, when they will receive the new form, or go online to get the correct information before they file."For those who have filed their taxes -- approximately 50,000 (< 0.05% of total tax filers) -- the Treasury Department will provide additional information soon," the CMS blog post says.

The Obama administration is still investigating the root cause of the problem.

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Jeb Bush Releases Emails, But Will Other Governors Follow Suit?

Jeb Bush Releases Emails, But Will Other Governors Follow Suit?

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush released more than 275,000 emails from his time as governor earlier this month. He released the massive cache in the name of “transparency,” but will other governors or former governors mulling a 2016 campaign for the White House follow suit?ABC News reached out to every former or current governor mulling or even just flirting with a presidential bid and no one said they would release their emails in a similar fashion, though some declined to comment.It’s important to note that given Florida’s accessible open records laws, it’s likely Bush also knew his emails would be released whether he was behind it or not. News organizations, including ABC News, got access to the emails before Bush released them thanks to those open records laws.

[READ ABC's FULL REPORT ON JEB BUSH's EMAILS]

An aide to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley -- the only Democrat in the group -- said he had no plans to release his emails.An aide to former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said his emails “were requested and released through public information requests,” while he was in office and noted Perry didn’t rely heavily on email, saying he typically conducted business over the phone or in person while in office for 14 years.

Open records laws in the state are very different than Florida, though. During Perry’s administration, emails were deleted every seven days and it was up to Perry’s staff to determine which emails would be considered public record and those would be printed or saved for seven days before being deleted, according to the Houston Chronicle, which points out the controversial policy has now been changed under Gov. Greg Abbott.New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and former New York Gov. George Pataki -- all Republicans -- all declined to comment.Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- also all Republicans -- all did not respond to requests for comment.In his e-book released this month, Bush wrote that when he was inaugurated in 1999, he “didn’t want to disappear into the governor’s office” and e-mail was the way he could “keep track of what Floridians were thinking. I needed their energy and passion and wisdom.”Bush served two terms and said he “earned the nickname ‘The eGovernor,’” because he wrote back and forth with constituents, staff and even children “very early in the morning, late at night, or on Saturday.” He writes that he tried to reserve Sundays for his wife and three children, with “no emails,” but “didn’t always succeed.”Each state does have their own open records laws and they can vary widely. It’s also important to note Bush was well out of office, since 2007, when he released his emails. Five of the governors we asked are still in office, including Christie, Pence, Jindal, Walker and Kasich. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Meet the Adorable Second-Graders Who Scored an Interview with President Obama

Meet the Adorable Second-Graders Who Scored an Interview with President Obama

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It’s an opportunity many professional journalists can only dream of: An interview with the president of the United States. But for a group of second-graders in Kansas, that dream has already become a reality.A class of students from Belinder Elementary School in Prairie Village, Kansas, submitted questions to President Obama on behalf of their school newspaper, and the president answered.“What advice do you have for second-graders and other students?” the students wrote to President Obama.“Dream big dreams,” President Obama responded. “You are fortunate to live in a country where if you work hard, do the right thing and listen to your parents, you can be anything you want to be.”The interview is now published in the latest edition of The Belinder School’s newspaper, The Marbel News.So how exactly does a group of second-graders from Kansas land an interview with the president?Their teacher attributes their success in part to what he calls the “the cuteness factor.” It also helped that a parent of one of the students in the class knows White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, and Earnest agreed to pass along some questions to the president’s desk."I thought it would be really cool to interview the president because he's, like, famous," one student said."I thought it was awesome, but I also thought it was too good to be true and I was just having a dream," commented another.

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President Obama Receives Update on Selection Process for Site of Presidential Library

President Obama Receives Update on Selection Process for Site of Presidential Library

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(CHICAGO) -- While in Chicago on Thursday, President Obama received an update on the site selection process for his presidential library.Obama met with Marty Nesbitt, chair of the board of directors for the Barack Obama Foundation, and other members of the team at his Chicago residence. The Obama family is expected to make a decision on the site of the library this spring.In December, the Barack Obama Foundation announced that the finalists for the site of the library included bids from the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University in New York and the University of Hawaii.

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Former New York State Assembly Speaker Indicted on Three Charges

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Indicted on Three Charges

Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A grand jury returned an indictment against former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Thursday. The former speaker is accused of depriving voters of his honest services by taking "millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income" in exchange for legislative favors. No date was set for Silver's arraignment.Silver was arrested last month after more than 20 years as speaker.According to the indictment, "from at least in or about 2000 up to and including in or about January 2015," Silver used "the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars." In total, Silver allegedly obtained $4 million in corrupt payments, the indictment said.

Silver faces charges of honest services mail fraud, honest services wire fraud and extortion.

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Justice Department Looking at Links Between What Attracts Young People to Gangs, Violent Extremism

Justice Department Looking at Links Between What Attracts Young People to Gangs, Violent Extremism

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder will address preliminary research that links the factors that draw young people into criminal gangs to drawing those same individuals towards violent extremism in remarks at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism on Thursday.The Department of Justice is currently funding a pair of studies which aim to explore the connection. If the link is shown to exist, the department notes that several anti-gang strategies have proven effective in recent years -- including the community-based intervention model. There is hope that similar plans could be utilized to curb homegrown terrorism."We are learning that there may be similarities in the factors that lead to gang involvement and violent extremism," Holder planned to say, according to remarks prepared before the event. "In both instances, the sense of belonging to a cause, however misguided, may be a lure for disaffected young people -- and understanding this potential link may help us tackle the problem of violent extremism."

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President Obama Lends a Hand to Rahm Emanuel in Chicago Mayoral Race

President Obama Lends a Hand to Rahm Emanuel in Chicago Mayoral Race

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) --  During his trip to the frozen city of Chicago Thursday, President Obama squeezed in some time to help out an old friend who is locked in a tight re-election battle -- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.The president first appeared alongside Emanuel, who served as White House chief of staff from 2009 to 2010, at an event designating three new national parks, including the Pullman District in Chicago.“Rahm hasn’t just fought for a national park in Pullman, he’s fought for new opportunity and new jobs in Pullman, and for every Chicagoan, in every neighborhood, making sure every single person gets the fair shot at success that they deserve,” the president said in a speech at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy. “I could not be prouder of him and the extraordinary service that he’s provided.”Later in the afternoon, the president and Emanuel visited a campaign office in Kenwood, where the president thanked volunteers for their efforts to re-elect Emanuel.Speaking to volunteers who were phone banking, the president described Emanuel as "somebody who cares deeply about this city.”“Everybody knows that he is passionate and he is tough and he is dogged in making sure the city of Chicago is not just the coldest city but also the greatest city,” he said. "I have confidence as a voter and as a resident of Chicago that he's going to continue to do a good job."The president’s visit comes just five days before Chicagoans cast their ballots for mayor. Emanuel, who is facing off against four other candidates, is currently leading in the polls, but the incumbent Chicago mayor may not reach the 50-percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off.If the mayoral race were to head into the run-off, Emanuel’s position as mayor could be at risk if voters whose candidate did not reach the run-off decide to solidify behind another candidate.A Chicago Tribune poll released earlier this week found Emanuel at 45 percent support, with Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia trailing him with 20 percent support. Alderman Bob Fioretti and businessman Willie Wilson each received 7 percent support in the poll, while community activist William “Dock” Walls garnered about two percent, with about 18 percent of those polled saying they were undecided.The White House said the trip to Chicago was conducted as official White House business and not intended to be a campaign event for Mayor Emanuel.“Today’s [national park] designations are the latest of 16 that we’ve done around the country,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One. “This is not something out of the ordinary for us.”Before Thursday, the president had recorded a radio ad for Emanuel, but it’s unknown if that ad has aired.

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President Obama Designates First National Park in Chicago, Others in Colorado, Hawaii

President Obama Designates First National Park in Chicago, Others in Colorado, Hawaii

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) --  It’s always been a dream of President Obama’s to designate a national park in freezing conditions, he joked at a speech Thursday in Chicago.That's what he did.The president announced three new national parks, including one in a Chicago neighborhood he said he used to drive past every day on the way to his first job.It was 6 degrees with winds up to 20 miles per hour in Chicago on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service, leading the president to share his nickname for the frigid streets of Chicago: "Chiberia."The visit took place only days before Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is up for re-election. The president praised the mayor, his former chief of staff, for fighting for the national park and for new opportunity and jobs in Chicago.The three new parks -- in Illinois, Colorado and Hawaii -- are some of the 16 federal parks that Obama has created or expanded using the Antiquities Act, first used by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 to create Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.Next year is the centennial of the National Park Service, and the new parks are part of a campaign to get Americans and students to “Find Your Park.”Representatives of the White House declined to say how much the new parks would cost but said they expected it to balance out with increased visitation and economic benefit to cities around the parks.Pullman Historic NeighborhoodThe Pullman neighborhood was originally built in 1879 outside the city limits of Chicago to house workers employed by the Pullman Palace Car Company, many of whom were former slaves. It was a fully functioning city hailed as the first industrial town. It was one of the featured attractions at the 1893 World's Fair Exhibition, according to the Historic Pullman Foundation website.Pullman workers went on strike in 1894 when George Pullman lowered wages but not rent in the town, which prompted Congress to establish the Labor Day holiday only six days after the strike ended. In the 1920s, workers created the first black labor union.“This place has been a milestone to our dream of building a more perfect union,” Obama said, calling the strikes the beginning of modern workers’ rights, such as a 40-hour work week, overtime pay and the right to organize.The president and first lady have a personal connection to Pullman as well. Michelle Obama’s great-grandfather was one of the porters.“Without this place, Michelle wouldn't be where she is,” Obama said in his remarks.The district became a national historic landmark in 1970 and as one of the first Chicago landmarks in 1972. It is now the first National Park unit in the city.Browns CanyonThis more-than-21,000-acre section of central Colorado is a natural area that is home to many varieties of plants and wildlife. Browns Canyon is about two hours southwest of Denver and a nine-hour drive from the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Along the Arkansas River, the area is a destination for whitewater rafting and is surrounded by national forests.Members of Colorado's congressional delegation and the editorial board of the Denver Post endorsed federal protection of the land after mining claims threatened to disrupt the area, according to a 2013 Denver Post editorial.Honouliuli Internment Camp siteAbout 10 miles from Pearl Harbor, the Honouliuli Internment Camp opened in 1943 and was used to confine up to 400 Japanese-American citizens and immigrants during World War II. Despite being the largest and longest-used internment camp, it was mostly forgotten until 2002.The 160 acres on the island of Oahu were donated to the National Park Service by Monsanto, which has owned the land since 2007.

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Biden to Visit New Hampshire, State Republican Committee Encourages Him to Challenge Attempt to ‘Coronate’ Hillary Clinton

Biden to Visit New Hampshire, State Republican Committee Encourages Him to Challenge Attempt to ‘Coronate’ Hillary Clinton

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden will travel to New Hampshire next week, continuing a series of trips to early primary states that began last week in Iowa and continued this week in North Carolina and South Carolina.According to the White House, Biden will spend his time in the Granite State speaking about the administration's economic policies at the Warren B. Rudman Center for Justice, Leadership & Public Policy and taking part in a roundtable discussion at Manchester Community College. The latter event will focus on the importance of sending more American teens to college and the relationships between community colleges and employers.The New Hampshire Republican Party released a statement on the trip on Thursday, calling Biden a "potential presidential candidate." Biden has said he would consider making a run in 2016, but will not make that decision until sometime this summer."The New Hampshire Republican State Committee welcomes all potential presidential candidates -- including Vice President Joe Biden -- to our state to meet with voters and compete in our First in the Nation primary," Republican State Committee Chairman Jennifer Horn said in a statement.

"Recent comments made by the chairman of the New Hampshire Democrat Party have made it clear that their party leadership is trying to coronate Hillary Clinton and stop challengers like Vice President Biden from even having the opportunity to debate her," Horn added.Horn called that approach an insult to "every potential Democrat presidential contender" and noted that it "undermines the traditions of our primary."

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Speaks to Pentagon Employees

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Speaks to Pentagon Employees

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of Defense Ash Carter spoke to members of the military at the Pentagon Thursday for the first time since being sworn in earlier this week.The event was originally scheduled to take place this past Tuesday -- his first day on the job -- but was postponed due to a snowstorm in Washington, D.C."I'm very pleased to be back with you. It's the highest honor of my lifetime and the highest honor that I think an American can have to be a Secretary of Defense," Carter said before Pentagon employees.The new Defense secretary hit on the same three commitments he made in his White House remarks following his swearing in ceremony: A responsibility to care for those in uniform, providing the president with his best advice and preserving the military’s role for the future.Carter said a challenge will be how to make military service appealing to the next generation.“They behave differently, they think differently, they've grown up differently. They're used to a different kind of environment around them, and we have to make ourselves attractive to them,” he said.Carter also said he wants to work for better compensation for service members and strengthen forces in order to be prepared to combat security threats.

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Why White House Picked 4th Graders for Free National Park Admission

Why White House Picked 4th Graders for Free National Park Admission

SumikoPhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama announced a new initiative Thursday to encourage young children to visit national parks -- but it’s not all young kids.It's specific to 4th graders.The program, 'Every Kid in a Park initiative,' allows for free admission for fourth graders and their families to all national parks for a full year.But what is so special about those awesome 9 and 10 year olds?According to a White House official, the school grade was decided on for “logistical, educational and instructional reasons.”“NPS and other land and water agencies already have 4th grade programming in place in many locations,” the official said. “Many states focus on state history during the 4th grade, which aligns well with what NPS and other land managers have to offer.”The White House also points to 4th graders only having one teacher at that age, making it easier for them to reach the group, and research which shows the earlier a youth connects with the outdoors the better for their development long term.The official pointed to age 11 as the last chance to make those important impacts and build a relationship with nature.Teenagers younger than 16 can already access the parks for free, but there is a fee for adults accompanying them and for the family car. An annual nationwide family vehicle pass is $80.The announcement comes as Obama is set to designate three new National Monuments on Thursday.

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Top Dem Slams Rudy Giuliani for Questioning Obama’s Love of America

Top Dem Slams Rudy Giuliani for Questioning Obama’s Love of America

Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Thursday called on GOP presidential candidates to disavow comments made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in which he said he doesn’t believe President Obama “loves America.”Giuliani made the comments at a private dinner Wednesday featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, according to Politico.“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said at the dinner in New York City, Politico reported. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”Wasserman Schultz, in a speech to the Association of Democratic State Chairs at the DNC Winter Meeting Thursday in Washington, D.C., called on the possible candidates to “start leading.”“One of the GOP frontrunners was sitting just feet away, and didn’t say a word,” the Florida congresswoman said, referring to Walker.“If the Republican Party really wants to be taken seriously, really wants to avoid its problems of the past, now is the time for its leaders to stop this kind of nonsense. Enough…I would challenge my Republican colleagues and anyone in the Republican Party to say enough. They need to start leading,” she added.Wasserman Schultz mentioned several of the possible contenders by name and said she “rarely agreed with President Bush, but I never questioned his love for our country. I don’t often agree with my Republican colleagues on the Hill, but I know they love America.”She isn’t the only Democrat to speak out. In a news conference Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned Giuliani’s remarks but, of Walker said, “I hear a deafening silence.”At the dinner, Giuliani said “with all our flaws we’re the most exceptional country in the world. I’m looking for a presidential candidate who can express that, do that and carry it out,” according to Politico. “And if it’s you Scott, I’ll endorse you,” he said. “And if it’s somebody else, I’ll support somebody else.”Walker has not returned requests for comment from ABC News, but he said on CNBC’s Squawk Box, "The mayor can speak for himself. I'm not going to comment on what the president thinks or not. He can speak for himself as well.”Giuliani tried to walk back the comments Thursday morning on Fox News, saying he is “not questioning his patriotism,” referring to the president.“He’s a patriot, I’m sure,” Giuliani said. “What I’m saying is, in his rhetoric, I very rarely hear the things that I used to hear Ronald Reagan say, the things that I used to hear Bill Clinton say about how much he loves America.”

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Obama Taps Jen Psaki as Next Communications Director

Obama Taps Jen Psaki as Next Communications Director

Kasim Ileri/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama has tapped State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki to replace Jen Palmieri as the next White House communications director.In a statement Thursday, Obama praised Palmieri's work over the past three years and said he will "miss her deeply -- and I wish her success in the future.""I'd say Jen is irreplaceable -- if Jen Psaki hadn't agreed to step in. Jen worked on both my campaigns, she's served in the White House, and she's traveled the world as an advisor to Secretary [of State John] Kerry. I fully trust Jen -- and I am thrilled she's agreed to come back to the White House as Communications Director,” the president said.Psaki said she was "honored" to be returning to the White House.

 

Honored to be rejoining the team @WhiteHouse in April, exciting two years for @BarackObama ahead. Wil miss incredible colleagues @StateDept

— Jen Psaki (@statedeptspox) February 19, 2015

 

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Obama Vows US and International Coalition ‘Will Not Relent’ in Fight Against ISIS

Obama Vows US and International Coalition ‘Will Not Relent’ in Fight Against ISIS

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Thursday challenged the idea that terrorist groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State are connected to the Islamic faith during remarks at the White house Summit to Counter Violent Extremism.

“These terrorists are desperate for legitimacy,” Obama said, which is why he said they target Muslim communities.

Speaking at the State Department on the third day of the summit, he called on countries to address the conditions, or “political grievances,” that terrorists exploit such as human rights violations, lack of free speech and tension between social groups.

"We need to break the cycle of conflict, especially sectarian conflict, that have become magnets for violent extremism,” he added.

The president said that the coalition of 60 countries that has been conducting air strikes against ISIS “will not relent” to destroy the organization in Iraq and Syria.

Obama said both wealthy and developing nations need to take steps to improve the economic situation around the world, though he said poverty alone does not prompt someone to become a terrorist.

Obama said many people in countries with small Muslim populations get a distorted impression from news coverage. He specifically called out groups like women and young people to help prevent potential recruits from joining terrorist groups.

“Young people are not tapped for hate, it doesn’t come naturally to them. We adults teach them,” he said.

Obama continued to say that everyone has to work to bring more positive attention to the Muslim community.

“Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL peddle the lie that some of our countries are hostile to Muslims,” he said, adding that “we can’t allow cycles of suspicion to tear at the fabric of our cultures."

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Poll Shows Swing States Want New President to Depart from Obama Policies

Poll Shows Swing States Want New President to Depart from Obama Policies Official White House Photo by Pete Souz (NEW YORK) -- President Obama isn't doing such a great job, according to voters polled in three critical swing states.   Data from a Quinnipiac University poll shows voters in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, disapprove by margins of 9 percentage points (43-52 percent in Colorado; 43-52 percent in Iowa; 44-53 percent in Virginia) of the job President Obama is doing.  "Events change and issues move on and off the front-burner, but President Barack Obama's job approval stays relatively the same -- low," said Peter A. Brown, assisstant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. "That's about where it has ben for most of the last few years." By even bigger margins, voters want the next president to change directions from President Obama’s policies.  "By margins of 24 points or higher, voters say they want the next president to change direction and not follow President Obama's policies. Whether that desire for a new direction will hurt the eventual Democratic nominee in 2016, time will tell," Brown said. Voters in those states, however, support by wide margins, Obama’s proposal to increase taxes on higher income earners to reduce taxes on the middle class.   As for the current state of the economy, Brown said voters in all three states say their personal financial situation is improving, but "at this point the president is not getting much credit for the improving economy." Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Senator: Guardrail Test Video ‘Hideously Shocking’

Senator: Guardrail Test Video ‘Hideously Shocking’

U.S. Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Even before the official government conclusions have been issued, Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling the video of a guardrail safety test “hideously shocking.” “The damage done to the driver’s side is very simply supposed to not happen and so that final test is deeply disturbing and gives me strong reason to say there ought to be more testing,” Blumenthal, D-Conn., told ABC News on Wednesday. Blumenthal was reacting to helicopter-shot video of a guardrail safety test conducted late last month in Texas, where the safety of Trinity Industries’ ET-Plus guardrail system -- a system used on many roads across the country -- is under the microscope. The government ordered eight crash tests after Trinity was found late last year to have committed fraud when it modified the guardrail end terminal a decade ago but failed to tell state or federal officials about the change at the time.

Accident victims and critics say the modified guardrail end terminal can malfunction when struck from the front, sending pieces of metal through the car and potentially killing or dismembering its occupants. The government said the ET-Plus system passed its first four crash tests, but it has not released the results of the last four. It’s the very last one, the eighth, that has proved controversial already after critics said the crash appeared to severely damage the driver’s side of the car. Trinity, however, disputes what it calls conclusions made far too early. “You can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a crash test by pictures,” Jeff Eller, a Trinity spokesperson, told ABC News in the company’s first on-camera interview since ABC News started investigating the controversial guardrail last fall. “You’ve got to wait until all the data is analyzed, until it is looked at. Until you do that, you’re basically just making it up.” Per the terms of the government’s agreement with Trinity on the crash tests, media was not allowed to take pictures on the ground during the crash tests, which is why early reactions on the test are based on aerial imagery from ABC News affiliate KSAT-TV in San Antonio and on reports from inside the testing. ABC News producer Tonya Kerr was present for the tests, including the final one. “It was a significant impact and it looked like substantial damage compared to tests in the past,” Kerr said of the eighth test. Kerr said she was told there was no “intrusion,” meaning the guardrail did not pierce the vehicle -- the alleged recurring problem described by real life accident victims. The controversy over the final test has already sparked a battle between expert witnesses from either side of the Texas case -- one accident expert who said it appears the test was a “clear failure” and another who said the first expert’s assertion was, “premature, scientifically unsound and irresponsible.” “It’s too soon to tell,” Eller said, echoing Trinity’s expert witness. “The data has to go to the Federal Highway Administration. They’ve got to take a look at it. They’re the ones who will make the final determination. And until then, anything other than waiting on that is nothing but pure speculation.” That’s what state departments of transportation across the nation are doing now: waiting. More than half the states in the country have stopped installing ET-Plus guardrail systems on their roads and many said they are awaiting the results of the tests to see if they’ll be ripping out the ones that are already there. Trinity has maintained that their guardrail system is safe and has noted that it was approved by the FHWA after questions were raised about the modifications in 2012. The company has also indicated it will appeal the fraud judgment against it.

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Oregon’s New Governor Sworn In

Oregon’s New Governor Sworn In

Office of the Governor(SALEM, Ore.) -- Oregon officially has a new governor. Former Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn on Wednesday as the state’s 38th governor. Brown becomes the nation's first openly-bisexual governor, taking over for fellow Democrat John Kitzhaber, who was entering his historic fourth term embroiled in an ethics scandal. Brown said in her inaugural speech that her first priority is to strengthen the state's public records laws and the state ethics commission. “We must seize this moment to work across party lines to restore the public's trust,” she said. Kitzhaber and his fiancée Cylvia Hayes are under investigation by the FBI and the Oregon Attorney General for alleged influence-peddling. Brown said on Wednesday she and no one in her family will accept compensation from outside sources.

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