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Obama Stops at Burger Joint in Delaware

Obama Stops at Burger Joint in Delaware

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WILMINGTON, Del.) — While in Wilmington, Delaware, Thursday to make a speech on rebuilding infrastructure, President Obama stopped by a nearby burger joint for lunch.
Obama dined at the Charcoal Pit, known for its burgers and sundaes, with Tanei Benjamin, a single working mom who wrote to him a year ago about her financial struggles.
Obama, who declared “I’m starving!,” ordered a four-ounce burger with fries. He asked for it to be done medium well, and to have lettuce and tomato.
The president also took time to shake hands and mingle with diners.
Obama was in the First State visiting a damaged highway bridge that has been closed all summer after its supports were found to be tilting. While Congress debates federal money for road repairs, Obama used the Delaware bridge as a backdrop for his latest executive action on spending.
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Some Senators Demand Dismissal of Top GM Lawyer

Some Senators Demand Dismissal of Top GM Lawyer

General Motors(WASHINGTON) — Some U.S. senators Thursday called on General Motors CEO Mary Barra to fire the company’s top lawyer as executives testified on the ongoing investigation into the ignition switch malfunction in some GM vehicles.Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., asked Barra why she did not fire Michael Millikin, GM’s corporate counsel, who said he first heard about the problems with the ignition switches this year.
“This is either gross negligence or gross incompetence,” said McCaskill, chairwoman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation’s subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance.
Barra, who appeared on Capitol Hill for the fourth time this year, defended her decision to not fire Millikin, saying she needed him on her team to help fix the company’s problems and enhance their products’ safety.
“I think there’s been a blind spot here. I really do,” McCaskill said in response. “I think the failure of this legal department is stunning.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Millikin and his staff “enabled a cover-up, concealment, deceit and even fraud.”
“Lawyers typically are supposed to be the corporate conscience. They’re supposed to be the ones that make sure the corporation complies with the law,” Blumenthal said.
Also testifying Thursday was Kenneth Feinberg, who is responsible for administering the company’s compensation fund. Both Feinberg and Barra said the compensation fund would be uncapped, and victims and families can begin filing claims next month. 
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NYC Mayor to Get Honorary Citizenship in Italian Town

NYC Mayor to Get Honorary Citizenship in Italian Town

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio will soon be a citizen of a small town in Italy.
The mayor is taking a nine-day holiday in Italy next week, during which he’ll visit Grassano, a town in southern Italy, where he will be granted honorary citizenship.
De Blasio’s grandmother was reportedly born in Grassano before immigrating to the United States.
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White House Placed on Lockdown Due to Unattended Package

White House Placed on Lockdown Due to Unattended Package

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The White House was placed on lockdown Thursday afternoon as a result of an unattended package left by the North Lawn. The item, placed by the fence line of the North Lawn, closed down both Lafayette Park and Pennsylvania Avenue shortly before 4 p.m.
Officials provided no further details on the incident. An investigation is ongoing.
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Congressman Who Hired a Drone for His Wedding Faces Investigation

Congressman Who Hired a Drone for His Wedding Faces Investigation

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(NEW YORK) — As New York’s first openly gay congressman, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney must have known his June 21 wedding to longtime partner Randy Florke would be a little controversial.
But he probably didn’t realize that video footage from the ceremony would spark a government investigation.
The video, which features stunning aerial footage of the church where the wedding took place in Cold Spring, New York, apparently was filmed using an unmanned commercial drone.
The video has attracted the interest of the Federal Aviation Administration, which bans the unauthorized commercial use of drones because of safety concerns.
In a statement provided to ABC News, the FAA did not mention the congressman by name but announced that it was investigating “a report of an unmanned aircraft operation in Cold Spring, New York, on June 21 to determine if there was any violation of federal regulations or airspace restrictions.”
The photographer who shot the video, Parker Gyokeres, confirmed that he knew the FAA was on his tail.
“I’m just a guy with a single multi-copter in the trunk of my car who was trying to do my job,” Gyokeres said in an interview with ABC News. “But this is a political event now. I’m being used as the stick to poke the skunk.”
Maloney’s office brushed off the matter.
“On their wedding day, Sean and Randy were focused on a ceremony 22 years in the making, not their wedding photographer’s camera mounted on his remote control helicopter,” communications director Stephanie Formas said in a statement.
In an interview, Gyokeres said it was the couple’s wedding videographer, not the congressman, who arranged for the drone, adding that Maloney didn’t request the video that caused the uproar.
“The wedding video that was put online was not done for the congressman. It was B-roll that I brought home after I gave my source material to the videographer,” he said. “This video, I feel horrible about, because it’s not the congressman’s video.”
But Maloney appeared to be pleased with the result. On July 9, he tweeted: “Check out ‘The Fireworks at Randy and Sean’s Wedding’ on Vimeo,” along with video of the footage.
Gyokeres, who maintains his crew was granted permission to film by the local sheriff’s department, said the Capitol Police — purportedly there to protect high-profile guests, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — was aware of his plans and even “vetted me into the area.”
“No one had a problem with me being there,” he said. “I gave out like 50 business cards.”
According to Gyokeres, who has since been contacted by Maloney’s office, he did not brief the congressman on his safety plan, but is “obsessive about safety.”
Maloney is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s aviation subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the FAA.
“Sean briefly spoke with the wedding photographer subcontractor, who assured Sean that there were no laws governing remote control helicopters and it would be done safely,” Formas said, noting that because of a paucity of “‘enforceable’ FAA rules…it’s no wonder that even a lawyer on the subcommittee didn’t grasp the surprising complexity of having wedding photographs taken with this technology.”
Gyokeres said he has not yet been contacted by the FAA. But he took issue with the agency’s ban, saying, “There are no laws that govern this.”
According to the FAA, drone operations “not for hobby or recreation” are authorized “on a case-by-case basis. Violators could face warning notices, letters of correction, and civil penalties.”
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Liberals Outline Goals for End of Obama’s Presidency

Liberals Outline Goals for End of Obama’s Presidency

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — From reducing student loan debt to expanding voter rights to dealing with the scourge of violent crime, liberals on Wednesday laid out an ambitious agenda for the waning years of the Obama presidency.At a day-long summit organized by Generation Progress, the youth division of the influential Washington-based think tank Center for American Progress, speakers such as Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi articulated their goals to an audience of more than 1,000.Here are five issues that came up again and again at the Make Progress National Summit, and the ones most likely to be focal points for Democrats in the next two years:1. Student Loan Debt:Catering to a crowd of millennials, members of Congress who spoke at the summit used the crisis as fuel for the liberal fire. Indeed, Warren, dedicated her entire speech to highlighting the crisis and had quite a few choice words for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. When discussing the failure of her “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act” bill, Warren said that a filibuster of the bill was led by McConnell, prompting several boos from the crowd. She went on to say, “We are going to build a better country than the one Mitch McConnell envisions,” garnering applause. Toward the end of her speech, she told the crowd to challenge Republican senators and “ask them why they work for billionaires instead of for students trying to build a better future.”2. Campus Sexual Assault:The high rate of sexual assault on college campuses was also a huge talking point at the summit.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., expressed her frustration with the issue, acknowledging that female college students are more likely to be raped than women of the same age who are not in college. She went on to say, “We are failing our students. This isn’t just a date gone bad or a guy drinking too much. These are predators.” Biden also touched on the issue, ensuring that he is committed to a no-tolerance policy for violence against women on college campuses and that men who physically assault women should be punished.3. Paid Leave:Gillibrand also discussed the issue of paid leave, saying she believes it is time for America to compensate pregnant women and other citizens who take time off to care for family members. “We are the only industrial country in the world without paid leave,” she said. Pelosi, D-Calif., whose speech focused on unleashing the power of women in the work place, also called for paid leave.4. Gun Violence Prevention:Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., spoke about gun violence prevention in urban, rural and residential areas. He called the inability of Congress to pass a bill supporting tougher background checks for gun purchases “a stunning failure of democracy.” He unconventionally suggested that the liberal audience could learn a lesson from the National Rifle Association, saying that the organization ultimately killed gun control legislation by taking decades to build up the powerful organization. He suggested that Democrats would have to be involved in a similarly lengthy drawn out fight to get gun control legislation to pass.5. Voting Rights:Biden also used his soapbox to speak about voting rights and the Supreme Court’s decision last summer to invalidate Section IV of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “I have to tell you, I never ever thought that I’d be standing here as a grown man in a battle for access to the ballot box in the year 2014,”  Biden said. He went on to say that the “single most precious right that an American possesses is unfettered access to the ballot box.”
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VA Seeks $17.6 Billion To Hire Additional Clinical Staff, Add Resources

VA Seeks $17.6 Billion To Hire Additional Clinical Staff, Add Resources

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking $17.6 billion in additional funding to hire 10,000 more clinical staff members and expand its resources following its recent scandal over prolonged wait times for patients. Speaking before a Senate committee Wednesday, Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said the agency is looking to employ another 1,500 doctors to enhance its services for veterans. Extra medical staff would be divided between primary care, specialty care, and mental health care, and would consist of physicians, nurse practitioners, and other support employees. ‘We understand the seriousness of the problems we face. We own them,” Gibson said. “We’re taking decisive action to begin to resolve them. …I will not hold back for asking for resources because we have not been managing to requirements as a department,” he added. “This would never happen in the private sector. You’d never stand for it. You’d fail as a business if you did this.”In an update on the state of the VA, Gibson said the Veterans Health Administration has reached out to more than 160,000 veterans to get them off wait lists and into clinics.
Whistleblowers within the agency have revealed employees routinely falsified wait times and covered up treatment delays that were so long that dozens of veterans died while waiting to see doctors.  
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FBI Probing Lost IRS Emails as DOJ Sets to Defend Its Investigation

FBI Probing Lost IRS Emails as DOJ Sets to Defend Its Investigation

Ann Hermes / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Amid a flurry of Republican calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of conservative groups, the Justice Department is set to defend its own probe of the matter as exhaustive and sufficient during a House hearing Thursday on the department’s response to the scandal.A top Justice Department official will tell the hearing that the department is now looking at how some of former senior IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails disappeared — a new area of inquiry, Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News in an exclusive interview Friday.“We’ve expanded the scope of the IRS investigation to deal with these lost emails,” Holder told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas.Specifically, the Justice Department and FBI are looking into “the circumstances of the lost emails,” Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole will tell a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee Thursday, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks provided to ABC News.Last month, the IRS revealed it lost two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails when her hard drive crashed in 2011. The vanished emails spanned January 2009 to April 2011 — exactly when the alleged IRS targeting of conservative groups “was occurring regularly,” as two Republican lawmakers recently put it.Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, has dismissed the whole IRS controversy as “baseless” and not a “conspiracy.” But, in discussing the Justice Department probe, FBI Director James Comey has said there is, “a reasonable basis to believe that crimes may have been committed.”In his interview with ABC News on Friday, Holder said prosecutors and FBI agents — not political appointees — are “doing a good, professional job” investigating whether conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status from the IRS received undue scrutiny.“I’ve been briefed on the progress that they are making,” Holder said. “And I’m satisfied.”The Republican-led House passed a resolution in May calling on Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the matter, and many Republicans in the Senate have echoed that call.In January, the House Republicans leading the congressional probe into the IRS scandal sent a letter to Holder, questioning the “integrity of the DOJ/FBI investigation.”Specifically, the letter from Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, noted that a federal prosecutor who has donated nearly $7,000 to President Obama’s political campaigns and other Democratic causes was coordinating the Justice Department’s investigation.That, “has created a startling conflict of interest … and has compromised the administration’s investigation of the IRS,” said the letter, which also cited, “indications that the [FBI] was not taking the investigation seriously.”Three weeks later, during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told Holder that appointing a special prosecutor “is a no-brainer” because it would avoid even the appearance of bias.But Holder noted that even “career people” — government workers not politically-appointed — have the constitutional right to donate to political causes, and he has rebuffed efforts to appoint a special prosecutor.The House subcommittee’s hearing Thursday is focused solely on the Justice Department’s response to the IRS scandal, and Cole — the sole witness testifying — will continue to defend what Republicans say is the department’s, “refus[al] to address the bipartisan concerns of the House by appointing an independent prosecutor.”Cole, though, will not offer details about what the Justice Department’s investigation has found so far, according to the excerpts of his opening remarks.“While I understand that you are interested in learning about the results of the investigation, in order to protect the integrity and independence of this investigation, we cannot disclose non-public information about the investigation while it remains pending,” he is expected to tell the House panel. “This is consistent with the longstanding department policy, across both Democratic and Republican administrations, which is intended to protect the effectiveness and independence of the criminal justice process, as well as privacy interests of third parties.“While I know you are frustrated by the fact that I cannot at this time disclose any specifics about the investigation,”Cole is expected to add, “I do pledge to you that when our investigation is completed, we will provide Congress with detailed information about the facts that we uncovered and the conclusions we reached in this matter.”
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Lawyer: Ex-Taliban Captive Bowe Bergdahl Says Obama ‘Saved His Life’

Lawyer: Ex-Taliban Captive Bowe Bergdahl Says Obama ‘Saved His Life’

U.S. Army via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The new lawyer representing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl said the former Taliban prisoner is “deeply grateful” to President Obama for his freedom.“He believes President Obama saved his life,” attorney Eugene Fidell told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast on World News with Diane Sawyer.Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale, said that he’s been tasked with leading Bergdahl’s legal team as the Army investigates the circumstances of Bergdahl’s disappearance from his Afghan outpost and his capture by the Taliban in 2009. Military sources previously told ABC News Bergdahl may have simply walked off the Army base of his own volition, echoing the findings of an internal investigation completed in 2009, according to defense officials.“I think it’s important that people, particularly people who have been vilified, have proper representation, and every lawyer has a responsibility to represent even unpopular clients and that’s why I’m involved in this,” Fidell said in an earlier interview Wednesday with ABC News.“I think there are people that have been using Sgt. Bergdahl for target practice in the media. I think that’s extremely unfortunate,” Fidell added later. “People should resist the temptation to try this case in the media… just hold the phone.”Bergdahl was freed in a controversial swap earlier this year for five Taliban prisoners who had been held in the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.“I certainly hope that those people who are trying to score political points, having to do with the release of people from Guantanamo Bay, will calm down and certainly not let that issue cloud what people make of Sgt. Bergdahl’s situation. They’re separate in my opinion,” Fidell said.President Obama discussed Bergdahl’s release in May while standing in the White House Rose Garden with Bergdahl’s parents. “It’s a good day,” Obama said then. “Sgt. Bergdahl has missed birthdays and holidays and the simple moments with family and friends, which all of us take for granted. But while Bowe was gone, he was never forgotten.”High-level critics, including Speaker of the House John Boehner, said that Obama had compromised the notion that “the United States does not negotiate with terrorists” and bristled that Congress was not consulted about the exchange in advance, as some claim the law requires.Fidell, who said he’s working for Bergdahl pro bono, said he met with his client last week, but declined to comment on Bergdahl’s condition. The attorney also would not discuss whether he has spoken with Bergdahl’s parents. Since his return to the U.S. Bergdahl himself has declined to speak with his parents, defense officials said. Earlier this week the military said it put Bergdahl back on regular duty following a long reintegration process. He has been assigned a desk job at the headquarters of U.S. Army North at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.The lawyer said that Bergdahl has not yet been interviewed by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl who is heading the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Bergdahl’s 2009 disappearance. Fidell said he spoke with Dahl Tuesday and they had a “cordial and professional” conversation and he looks forward to meeting him. He doesn’t anticipate Dahl will conduct substantive interviews with Bergdahl for a couple of weeks, and he’ll be present for the interviews.Bergdahl has not been charged with any crimes and not been read his rights in anticipation of any charges, defense officials said this week. Fidell also told ABC News he expects Bergdahl to leave the military at some point – he’s currently on “hold” in the military bureaucracy – and believes his client wants to eventually become “just another face in the crowd.”The lawyer said he hopes Sgt. Bergdahl, “in recognition of the ordeal that he has experienced — remarkable ordeal — will be permitted to go his way… with the benefits that veterans are entitled to and without scars that would make it difficult for him to lead a normal life in the future.”
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Courtney Stodden Strips Down on Capitol Hill for Animal Rights

Courtney Stodden Strips Down on Capitol Hill for Animal Rights

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Wide-eyed interns and congressional staffers lined up on Capitol Hill Wednesday, awaiting the chance to sample a veggie dog served by animal activist and TV personality Courtney Stodden.In celebration of National Hot Dog Day, Stodden served up the soy-based frankfurters while wearing a bikini constructed of “nothing but strategically placed lettuce leaves,” according to a news release from PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.PETA organized and sponsored Wednesday’s “annual congressional veggie dog giveaway” in hopes of sending a message about what goes into making meat-based hot dogs.“I think that most people would get kind of sick if they would see what the pigs go through,” Stodden told ABC News. “I don’t think it’s asking a lot to have people consider what they’re eating. I think it’s asking a lot of an animal to be abused and to satisfy your own appetite.”The veggie dogs contained only soy protein and spices, according to Lindsay Wright, PETA’s associate director of campaigns.“Meat-based hot dogs are not only full of artery clogging cholesterol and saturated animal fats, they’re also full of every imaginable part of a pig from the snout to the spleen,” Wright told ABC News. “The good news is that veggie dogs are good for you. They taste great and there are no disgusting mystery ingredients.”

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Senate Bill to Reverse Hobby Lobby Decision Fails to Advance

Senate Bill to Reverse Hobby Lobby Decision Fails to Advance

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate failed to advance a bill Wednesday that would have reversed the contraceptive decision made in the Hobby Lobby case last month.Sixty votes were needed to invoke cloture on the measure, titled the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference, but the Senate fell three votes short of advancing it.
Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — joined Democrats in voting to move the bill forward.
For technical reasons, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voted against invoking cloture, a move that allows him to bring the bill up for a vote in the future.“Republicans are not only out of touch with women across America, they’re out of touch with men across America. Hobby Lobby hurts husbands. It hurts wives,” Reid, D-Nev., said after the vote. “It’s unfair to what it does to families.”“The Supreme Court got Hobby Lobby wrong, and with their vote today, Senate Republicans got it wrong too and women across the country aren’t going to forget it,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said after the vote.Reid said the Senate will vote on the measure again before the end of the year.
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Bipartisan Duo from Texas Takes Lead to Fix Border Crisis

Bipartisan Duo from Texas Takes Lead to Fix Border Crisis

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A bipartisan duo of lawmakers from the Lone Star State have joined forces to present a Texas-style solution to the nation’s border crisis.Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, have introduced legislation aimed at easing what’s been called a humanitarian crisis caused by a wave of unaccompanied Central American children who have flowed into the United States across the Mexican border.“The cartels, the transnational criminal organizations that smuggle people from Central America into the United States, have figured out this loophole in a 2008 law, which dealt with human trafficking,” Cornyn told ABC News in an interview.“This is part of their business model, exploiting this,” Cornyn continued. “So, what we would do is we would treat children that come from Central America the same…as we do now from children that come in from Mexico.”The pair’s new bill, known as the Humane Act, would speed up the process by which the undocumented children currently stuck in legal limbo in the United States would have their cases heard by a judge. Cuellar noted that there are currently 375,000 such children waiting for a judicial hearing.  “It takes three to five years to have a hearing,” Cuellar said. “So just like we are used in America to a speedy trial date, we’re going to give them a speedy trial date so they won’t have to wait three to five years to present their claim for asylum.”The bill, which was sharply criticized by several Democrats and immigrant-rights groups, calls for shortening the waiting period from years to a matter of only seven days. It also requires the judge to deliver a ruling within 72 hours of the case being heard.“If you have credible fears of persecution in your home country, you might be eligible for asylum,” Cornyn explained. “But otherwise you’re going to have to go back home and come back in the right way, and so this is something can be done on an expedited basis.”Cuellar, recently back from a Congressional trip to Central America, said that although there is an undeniable humanitarian element to the crisis — with many of these children fleeing from situations of violence and poverty — the bigger factor at play is that the drug cartels have a business incentive in bringing the children across the U.S. border.“The drug cartels found an incentive, and this is what we’re trying to cut off — this incentive,” Cuellar said. “Did you know that they’re even using social media? Social media saying, ‘If you get recruited, we’ll give you a rebate if you bring another child with you.’”Cuellar also pointed out that the flow of children out of their home countries is causing a “brain drain” problem for Central America.“They’re taking young kids with potentials away from their countries,” Cuellar said. “There’s a superhighway where the drug cartels have routes. They can move people, they can move drugs, and now they’re moving, of course, young kids.”President Obama recently asked Congress to authorize $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the border crisis, but Cornyn said he would not vote to support the request for money, because he said the president’s request won’t solve the problem.“What Henry and I have tried to do is give them a roadmap on how to fix this gap, this problem with the 2008 law, that none of us would’ve dreamed of at the time,” he said. “Essentially we all voted for it, but now it’s been exploited by the cartels. And if we fix that, then I think we can resolve this, at least this narrow part of the immigration puzzle very quickly.”Cuellar, though a Democrat, has also been critical of Obama’s handling of the current border crisis. He pointed out that while Obama criticized President George W. Bush for only flying over the wreckage caused by Hurricane Katrina a week after the storm first hit the Gulf Coast, Obama has not visited the border to see the unfolding humanitarian crisis.“All I’m saying is if he’s asking for $3.7 billion and he’s calling this a humanitarian crisis, doesn’t that call for a visit?” Cuellar said. “I invite the president to come down there to see the human faces. When you talk to Emilia from Honduras, 90 years old, or 14-year-old Miguel from El Salvador, you’ve got to see the human, humanitarian crisis that I’ve seen so many times.”
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Congressional Hopeful Mistakes YMCA Campers for Migrants

Congressional Hopeful Mistakes YMCA Campers for Migrants

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — An Arizona Congressional candidate told a rally protesting immigration policies about the fear he saw on the faces of Central American migrant children in custody — and tweeted out a photo of kids on a bus headed for a YMCA camp.Adam Kwasman, a Republican state legislator running to represent Arizona’s 1st Congressional district, tweeted a photo of a yellow school bus while attending a protest outside of Tucson, with the caption, “Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law.”“I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses, and the fear on their faces…This is not compassion,” Kwasman told the Arizona Republic.Turns out the children were not migrants, but campers headed to the YMCA’s Triangle Y Ranch Camp, which offers horseback riding, archery and rock climbing, among other activities.The buses of immigrant children never showed up, according to the Arizona Republic.When informed of the mix-up by a reporter, Kwasman said the campers “were sad too” before apologizing.“OK, I apologize, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I was leaving when I saw the school bus,” Kwasman said.He later deleted his tweet and apologized on social media.

Last tweet not the bus of illegal immigrant children. Thank God.
— Adam Kwasman (@AdamKwasman) July 15, 2014

I apologize for the confusion. That was my error
— Adam Kwasman (@AdamKwasman) July 15, 2014

Kwasman, a tea party candidate, will face former Arizona House Majority Leader Andy Tobin and businessman Gary Kiehne in the July 28 Republican primary for Arizona’s first congressional district. The winner will challenge Democratic incumbent Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick.
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Marco Rubio: LeBron James Will Be Economic Boon for Cleveland

Marco Rubio: LeBron James Will Be Economic Boon for Cleveland

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — As a Miami resident and die-hard sports fan, Sen. Marco Rubio was among the disappointed south Floridians last week when LeBron James announced he’d be returning to Cleveland after four years with the Miami Heat.But despite a confident tweet predicting that Cleveland wouldn’t snag James back, Rubio said the decision makes sense from James’ perspective. He predicted that “King James” will have his number retired by the Heat and will be “very warmly welcomed” by Miami fans whenever he’s back in town.“This was one of the things we were surprised about, but not in hindsight shouldn’t have been,” Rubio, R-Fla., said in the latest edition of the Capital Games podcast.“I think if LeBron James is going to make that move back, this is probably the right time to do it, given those young guys that he wants to play with over there — it’s going to take them a couple of years to get ramped up so,” Rubio said.“And we forget these people have lives. I mean, they don’t just play basketball at night. I mean they have children and families and all sorts of things that surround regular daily life, and I imagine he felt like it was time to go back to Cleveland. So I respect that decision,” the senator added.James’ time in Miami, Rubio said, contributed to strong economic growth in the downtown area. Residents of northeast Ohio might expect something similar, now that they’re likely to have a competitive basketball franchise again.“I’m not saying that the real estate market took off because of LeBron James. I’m saying it was a factor,” Rubio said. “I imagine it would be positive [for Ohio]. From a point of view of civic pride, that’s been important.”The Cavaliers have suffered since James left, Rubio said, but are now “relevant again.”Rubio also discussed tax issues that face professional athletes, who typically have to file multiple state tax returns for income earned both at home and away games.He said pro franchises are smart to advertise favorable tax situations in the states they’re based in. States including Florida and Texas have no state income taxes, whereas playing in New York or California means higher taxes and therefore smaller paychecks.“If you start to add up that money it means that a million-dollar contract in Florida is more than a million-dollar contract in New York,” Rubio said.The podcast also checked in with Robert Raiola, a prominent accountant who specializes in tax issues surrounding sports. He said teams make their relative tax rates part of their pitches to free agents. And he added that athletes are smart to take that into account.“What you always say: It’s not what you make, it’s what you’re able to keep away. And these NBA players [have] got to be careful because one day the music is going to stop, and it’s not what you make, it’s what you save,” Raiola said.Former NBA executive Tom Penn recalled comparing tax rates for free agents as part of the regular pitch when he worked for the Memphis Grizzlies.“Every time we talked to any free agent whatsoever. We didn’t lead with that, but it was right there, top of the list,” said Penn, now an ESPN NBA analyst. “It’s a real differentiator. …We had our spreadsheets that laid it all out and showed the net effect of working in Tennessee versus working in one of those high income tax states.”
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007′s Son Interns on Capitol Hill

007′s Son Interns on Capitol Hill

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — The son of 007 has made his way to Capitol Hill.Actor Pierce Brosnan’s son Dylan is interning this summer in Sen. Ed Markey’s office.Pierce Brosnan, best known for playing the role of Bond, James Bond, posted several pictures around Washington two weeks ago, including one shot with his son, 17, and Markey, D-Mass., at the World War II Memorial.

“Senator Ed Markey Dylan and I….world war two memorial…reading the words aloud in the night,” Brosnan wrote on Instagram.The two Brosnans also took a very James Bond-esque photo in front of the Supreme Court.

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Former Utah Attorney General Tried to Sell Access to Harry Reid

Former Utah Attorney General Tried to Sell Access to Harry Reid

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Charging documents released Tuesday after the arrest of two former Utah attorneys general detailed a battery of corruption and bribery accusations that included the allegation that one of them accepted payments to try and help an embattled local businessman make his case to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.The charging documents quote an email exchange in which former state Attorney General John Swallow allegedly tells the businessman — who was facing a federal fraud investigation — that he could help him gain access to Reid through an intermediary, but it “won’t be cheap.”The anecdote was a pointed reminder that a case which has made headlines for months in Utah could eventually have national implications.“This has been a complex, nuanced, large investigation,” said Utah County Prosecutor Sim Gill, a Democrat, who led the joint investigation with Republican Troy Rawlings from neighboring Davis County. “There are multiple players in it, and there have been very productive leads that continue to be investigated.”Both Swallow and former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff denied the charges, with Shurtleff holding a press conference after being booked to accuse prosecutors of having political motives “all coming to fruition in an election year.” “The allegations against me are completely false,” he told reporters.With the men facing a combined 23 charges of bribery and corruption in Utah state court, the arrests raised the stakes in a complicated case that has been simmering since November, when Swallow was forced to resign his post in the face of a politically-damaging legislative probe.With conflicts of interest forcing both state and federal prosecutors to step away from the criminal investigation, the two local prosecutors took on the case with help from a team of FBI agents assigned to them.ABC News interviewed Gill and Rawlings about their investigation in March, and both said that they had already seen troubling evidence suggesting law enforcement officials needed to expand the examination to look at the campaigns of federal figures, including Reid and Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R). Both investigators said they felt that part of the investigation should fall to public corruption investigators at the Department of Justice.Specifically, Rawlings said in March that the agents began picking up “bread crumbs” relating to Senator Reid’s contacts with representatives of online poker industry.“As we do our investigation focusing primarily on the state officials, we are sweeping up these bread crumbs and then, [will] combine them to see where they go,” Rawlings said.Representatives for Reid and Lee dismissed the comments at the time as the product of political grandstanding. Reached Tuesday, a spokesman for Reid reiterated that view.“I don’t have anything to add to what we’ve said before, that these are clearly desperate men making things up,” said Adam Jentleson, Reid’s spokesman.Rawlings declined on Tuesday to speculate about where the case might go next but reiterated there is much work left to be done.”Our joint investigation with the FBI to this point has not focused on any federal elected official,” Rawlings said. “The charges today, while they remain unchallenged and the defendants are innocent until proven guilty, show that in the state of Utah we are willing to take seriously allegations of political or public corruption against anybody. We’re not going to run from it.”Reid’s name did surface in charging documents for Swallow, which spelled out a lengthy narrative of events that in part led to the arrests. The documents describe a deal-gone-bad in which prosecutors say Swallow tried to play the role of match-maker. Swallow allegedly took a cut of a $250,000 payment he brokered from Internet marketing mogul Jeremy Johnson, who was facing an investigation into his business by the Federal Trade Commission. In exchange, Swallow promised to enlist the help of a prominent businessman to reach out to Reid on Johnson’s behalf.
Although Johnson paid the money, he never got a meeting with Reid. He was later sued by the FTC and faces fraud charges. He has pleaded not guilty.The entire episode splashed into public view last year after a local newspaper posted an audio recording on its website in which Swallow and Johnson were discussing the deal. Johnson can be heard urging Swallow to get him his money back because the payments had not yielded help from Reid.Reid has denied any knowledge of the deal, with his spokesman calling Johnson “a desperate individual who’s been indicted on over 80 counts.”“His allegations are false and [are] the flailings of a desperate man,” the spokesman said.
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Hillary Clinton Tells Stewart Leaders Face ‘Hard Choices’ on Middle East Crisis

Hillary Clinton Tells Stewart Leaders Face ‘Hard Choices’ on Middle East Crisis

U.S. Department of State(NEW YORK) — Hillary Clinton weighed in on the crisis in Israel and Gaza for the first time Tuesday in an appearance on The Daily Show, a serious moment in an interview that had plenty of laughter as she bantered with the host about her potential presidential bid.Host Jon Stewart asked the former Secretary of State about the current situation, noting her involvement in the previous 2012 crisis, and asked Clinton, “Can we at least agree the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is overwhelming and the world must do more for the people who are trapped by this conflict?”“Yes,” she said. “They are trapped by their leadership, unfortunately,” Mrs. Clinton commented. “It’s a two-prong trapping. They have leadership that is committed to resistance and violence and therefore their actions are mostly about, ‘How do we get new and better missiles to launch them at Israel?’ Instead of saying, ‘Hey, let’s try to figure out how we are going to help make your lives better,’” Clinton told Stewart, referring to Hamas.In a lengthy back-and-forth with Stewart she said Israel is “absolutely right” that it has to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks, but expressed sympathy for the people of Gaza who she said are “trapped.”“They are trapped first and foremost by leadership that doesn’t really want to make the situation too much better because that gives them a lot of leverage over the poor people in Gaza,” she said, noting the current crisis is a “terrible dilemma.”“Unless we can give people enough of a sense of security on both sides that they will be better off and their children are going to be better off, then the guys with the guns can always disrupt anything,” Clinton said.“There are extremists on all sides and people with guns on all sides so leadership has to be very tough minded and very strong to make the hard choices,” Clinton said, plugging the name of her memoir, a reference that Stewart immediately jumped on: “What? You did not do that? Wow.”The audience, as well as Clinton, burst into laughter.Stewart opened up the show, before the interview, telling his audience Clinton would “publicly and “definitively” declare her candidacy, which drew huge applause from the crowd.Almost immediately the 2016 talk started, even as Clinton began to discuss her memoir, the sales of which have reportedly been poor.“I think I speak for everybody when I say nobody cares, they just want to know if you are running for president,” Stewart deadpanned.Clinton, wearing a black pant suit with gray polka dots, played along, telling Stewart she “was going to make an announcement,” but his opener “spoiled it for me,” adding “I think I’ll just reconsider where I go do it.”Stewart said he “sensed confusion” from Clinton and told her he would give her a “career aptitude test,” telling her it will help “hone in” on whether she even wants to be president.The first question was whether Clinton likes “commuting to work” or if she prefers a “home office.”“I spent so many years commuting, I kind of prefer a home office,” she quipped.Stewart then asked if she has a “favorite shape” for that home office, asking if she would prefer it to have “corners or not to have corners?”She answered since “the world is so complicated” she would prefer “fewer corners,” to loud applause from the audience.Stewart ended the bit by saying it sounded to him like she “declared for president.”The appearance was the third for Clinton on the show and Stewart noted the massive amount of press attention she gets, asking if she thinks it will stop if she decides against running. She answered, “I think a lot of people would lose their jobs if it stopped.”“I’ve been amazed at what a cottage industry it has become,” Clinton answered, referring to not only press attention, but also books that have been written about her, including Ed Klein’s Blood Feud, which has tantalized readers with insider stories about a reported feud between the Clintons and the Obamas.The Daily Show interview will aired Tuesday night.
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Republicans Accuse Democrats of Misleading Voters About Hobby Lobby Decision to ‘Score Election-Year Points’

Republicans Accuse Democrats of Misleading Voters About Hobby Lobby Decision to ‘Score Election-Year Points’

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Republicans fired back Tuesday at Democrats’ plans to counter the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision — which allows a contraception exclusion for closely-held companies with religious beliefs — with the GOP members saying they will propose a measure of their own.It was a dose of election-year reality, dashing Democratic efforts at drawing bipartisan support for their plan.Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said the dialogue has been driven away from the religious freedom rationale of the ruling and distorted for political leverage.“I really am disappointed that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would try to score election-year points by misrepresenting what the Hobby Lobby decision stands for, and allow American women to believe that the decision affects their access to contraception,” Ayotte told reporters Tuesday.The tagline “not my boss’s business” that Democrats have used to promote their bill is misleading, Ayotte said, because nothing in the Supreme Court ruling allows an employer to interfere with a woman getting a contraception prescription.Republicans, she said, will introduce an alternative bill that makes it “very clear that women have the same rights today to access contraception as they did before Obamacare was passed and before the Hobby Lobby decision.”The proposal, which Republicans are calling the Preserving Religious Freedom and a Woman’s Access to Contraception Act, was written by Ayotte, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb. It aims to clarify the law and expand access for women to have contraception and increase affordability. It also allocates funding for the FDA to study over-the-counter birth control for effectiveness.“Our bill will reaffirm that no employer can prohibit an employee from purchasing an FDA-approved drug or medical device, including contraception,” Ayotte said.The Republican bill shares some policy objectives with the Democratic legislation, introduced by Sens. Patty Murray and Mark Udall last Thursday, which seeks to mandate that employers cannot disrupt coverage for contraception or other health services that are guaranteed under federal law. This bill is up for a vote in the Senate on Wednesday, but Republicans are threatening to block it.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who last week called the Hobby Lobby decision “the worst Supreme Court ruling in 25 years,” criticized the Republican response by again claiming the measure blocks women from getting contraception.“How long do women have to wait before Republicans will join Democrats, stand up for them?” Reid asked at the news conference. “Women should not be denied health care because Republican men are too afraid to debate the issue on the Senate floor. Women across the country are watching.”The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, issued in late June, laid out a decision focused on contraception and rooted in the rationale that for-profit companies, characterized as people under the law, were protected from providing contraceptive coverage they deemed against their beliefs as protected under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).Republican lawmakers said Tuesday that the high court’s decision is rooted in RFRA. The Republican bill, they said, protects freedom of religion and a women’s ability to make contraceptive choices.“The American people know you can support religious freedom and access to contraception,” McConnell said. “The goal shouldn’t be to protect the freedoms of some while denying the freedoms of others. The goal is to preserve everyone’s freedoms.”Ayotte pointed out that RFRA, signed by President Clinton, received the support of 16 current senators.But for the past weeks Democrats, including some who voted for RFRA, have argued that the Supreme Court was misguided in its recent interpretation.Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who voted for RFRA in 1993, has been particularly vocal in the wake of the decision.“I can tell you that was never the intent of the law,” Boxer said in a Huffington Post op-ed. “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was written to protect an individual’s freedom of religion. But the conservatives on the court turned the law on its head.”Republican leaders have criticized Democrats for using this issue to sway voters in the midterm elections, but Reid has been firm in his decision that not responding to the court’s “horrible decision” would be “political malpractice.”
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House Passes $11 Billion Highway Bill in Bipartisan Vote

House Passes $11 Billion Highway Bill in Bipartisan Vote

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Behind a majority of Democratic votes, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted late Tuesday afternoon to approve a $10.8 billion short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund.The measure benefitting the natio…

Holder Calls for New Civil Rights Legislation

Holder Calls for New Civil Rights Legislation

United States Department of Justice (WASHINGTON) — Paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder called on Congress to pass new legislation addressing present-day inequality and injustices throughout the nation.
The 1964 landmark law aids with current civil rights challenges, Holder said, but there’s still more work to be done. “Half a century after its passage, the Civil Rights Act continues to provide an arsenal of singularly useful tools in waging this struggle,” the Attorney General said. In his keynote speech, Holder emphasized the need for new anti-discrimination laws to prevent prejudice based on gender identity and marital status in housing. He also called for new workplace protections for women, along with education legislation against LGBT discrimination. “Without the sacrifices of countless activists and citizens, I would not stand before you as Attorney General of the United States, proudly serving in the administration of our first African-American president,” Holder added.
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