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Democrat Warns of Cyber Threat to US Infrastructure

Democrat Warns of Cyber Threat to US Infrastructure

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Last week, the Department of Homeland Security revealed that a "Trojan Horse" malware program has penetrated software that runs much of the nation’s critical infrastructure and could set off an economic catastrophe.On ABC This Week Sunday, Rhode Island Democratic Congressman Jim Langevin warned that the threat is very real and potentially devastating.According to the lawmaker, "You could see a whole sector of the country without electricity for a period of not just days or weeks, but potentially months, because these generators are large. They're not just like batteries that are sitting on a shelf, that you can take one out and plug another one in. These generators take months to build, ship and install."As of now, nation states, such as Russia, have cyber weapons and the know-how to launch these attacks but they likely won't.However, Langevin says the real concern is al Qaeda or the Islamic State getting their hands on these weapons because they wouldn't hesitate to use them.At best, Langevin says it's a problem that can really only be managed, rather than solved. One important step Congress can take, he said, is passing an information-sharing bill that "would allow classified threat information to be passed to the private sector and for the private sector to pass the threats...or the attacks that they're experiencing back to the government so that information could be more widely shared."

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Five Things to Watch for During President Obama’s Asia Trip

Five Things to Watch for During President Obama’s Asia Trip

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(BEIJING) — Fresh off the bruising midterm loss, President Obama is shifting his focus to a host of foreign policy challenges during a dizzying week-long Asia trip.In eight days, Obama will visit three countries (China, Myanmar and Australia), attend three different summits with world leaders and cross 16 time zones. Here’s a preview of what’s to come:1. The Pivot That Wasn’tIt’s been three years since the Obama administration announced it would “pivot to Asia” as American troops pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, after a host of other crises pulled the administration’s attention away from the region, this trip presents the best, final chance for the president to cement his foreign policy legacy in Asia. During stops in Beijing, Myanmar and Australia, Obama is expected to try to kick-start his “rebalance” and reiterate his commitment to the region. In addition, the president will have to dispel the notion that his political power is waning in the wake of the Democrats’ midterm loss, especially to the increasingly assertive Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is on a charm offensive of his own as he hosts regional powers in Beijing this week.2. Walking a Fine Line in MyanmarObama makes his second trip to Myanmar as president later this week, but the timing is tricky. Obama considers the opening of Myanmar to be one of his major diplomatic achievements, but the fledgling democracy appears to be sliding backward and reforms are languishing. He will have to walk a fine line as he meets with President Thein Sein and presses him on the pace of reforms and growing human rights issues like the increased violence targeted at Myanmar’s Muslim minorities, especially the Rohingya, who the Myanmar/Burma government refuses to recognize officially.“The United States recognizes the progress that Burma has made but notes that real challenges remain and missteps have been made in the course of this transition,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice told reporters at the White House ahead of the trip. “We will stress that our engagement is helping to keep reforms on track, and we’re prepared to continue the support ... the government as it confronts its remaining challenges.”3. Aung San Suu Kyi For President?After attending the East Asia Security summit in Naypyidaw, President Obama will meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon. Though her party is very popular, Suu Kyi is unable to run for president because of a constitutional provision that bans people with foreign spouses or children from holding the office (her husband and children are British). All eyes are on whether or not Obama may call for the government to amend its constitution. He hinted at it in a recent call with Suu Kyi, during which they discussed “how the United States can support efforts to promote tolerance, respect for diversity, and a more inclusive political environment,” according to the White House.4. Skateboarding in NaypyidawObama’s first stop in Myanmar will be to the newly-built capital city of Naypyidaw. The city was inaugurated as the new capital just eight years ago and is one of the world’s fastest-growing cities, although much of it remains empty or under construction. It will be a sight to see the president’s motorcade drive down the massive 20-lane road leading up to the parliament building, as Obama becomes the first American president to visit the new capital.“For those of you who are skateboarders, it’s sort of a paradise for you; there’s 10-lane roads that have no cars on them; you’d really enjoy that,” Ernest Bower, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, joked while previewing the trip.5. Possible Putin Run-InThere’s nothing formal on the schedule, but President Obama and Russian President Putin will likely come face-to-face on the sidelines of APEC in Beijing or the G-20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, at the end of the week. Amid disputes over Ukraine, U.S.-Russian relations are at their lowest point since the Cold War.“I imagine, as in the past, that there will be an opportunity for the G-20 leaders to engage informally on the margins. There is no formal bilateral meeting scheduled or planned, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they had some informal communication,” Rice said.As always, it was be interesting to see how the political foes interact (cue the body-language experts).

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How SCOTUS Could ‘Blow a Big Hole’ in Obama’s Legacy (or Not)

How SCOTUS Could ‘Blow a Big Hole’ in Obama’s Legacy (or Not)

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — “The highest court in the land has now spoken,” an elated and relieved President Obama said after the Supreme Court upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act in 2012.Not so fast.Now the law -- a centerpiece of Obama’s presidency -- is before the Court again after the justices announced last Friday that they would hear a fresh challenge to an important part of Obamacare.“Health Care is the most important part of the president’s legacy, and the most unstable part of his legacy,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “Clearly the Court can have an impact on one of the pillars of his presidency in a negative fashion.”To be sure, the 2012 case was different.It was a constitutional challenge to the individual mandate that required most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. The Court upheld the Affordable Care Act when Chief Justice John Roberts stunned conservatives by casting his vote with the liberals.“Had the conservative justices picked up the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts they would have thrown out the entire Affordable Care Act including the Medicaid expansion and the Medicare reforms,” said Timothy S. Jost, an expert on health law at Washington and Lee School of Law.The new challenge has to do with a different part of the law concerning subsidies granted to low and moderate income Americans who seek to obtain affordable insurance from market places called “exchanges.” Millions of Americans take advantage of the subsidies.Sixteen states have established exchanges of their own while about 34 states rely on exchanges run by the federal government. Challengers say the language of the law makes clear that only those living in the states with state-run exchanges can receive the tax credits. That would disqualify millions of individuals who rely on the federally-created exchanges. Democrats involved in drafting the law say such an interpretation thwarts Congress’ fundamental purpose of making insurance affordable to all Americans.“While a victory for the challengers here would not destroy the whole law,” Jost said, “it would blow a big hole in it.”A judgment for the challengers would lead to widespread destabilization of the individual insurance market, he added: “Insurance will simply be far less accessible in two thirds of the states to anyone who does not have insurance through their employer or a government program.”In the next few weeks briefs will start rolling into the Court and legal observers will study Chief Justice John Roberts, who likely holds a big chunk of the president’s legacy in his hands.

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Rep. Darrell Issa: Iraqi Government ‘Delusional’ About Impact From ISIS

Rep. Darrell Issa: Iraqi Government ‘Delusional’ About Impact From ISIS

issa.house.gov(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, said on This Week that the Iraqi government is "delusional" about the impact of ISIS, and he would back a new congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq to combat the threat from the Islamic militant group."The fact is we're already there. We've had to be there," Issa told This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos. "The government in Baghdad is still quite delusional, if you will, about what the real impact is. They're still talking about long-term training before they're ready to fight.""So the fact is that if we're to protect the gains we made against Islamic extremism, my Marines from Camp Pendleton and others are going to have to go back again," Issa added, speaking of forces based in Issa's home district in California.

The White House announced Friday that an additional 1,500 U.S. forces will be deployed to Iraq, effectively doubling the troop levels on the ground. The Obama administration says the soldiers will still be in an advisory capacity, training and advising Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers.“Iraqis should fight for their country... They've been trained and they should do it. The fact is the Kurds are willing to do it, I have no doubt whatsoever that the Kurds will fight, and all they need is our air support and our technical know-how,” said Issa, who has traveled to Baghdad and Erbil in northern Iraq since August.

The outgoing chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also echoed many of his Republican colleagues in criticizing President Obama's promise to move forward on executive action on immigration reform before the end of the year, saying such action without Congress during the lame duck session would lead to “lost opportunities.”“I'm hoping the president will delay and have a real comprehensive discussion about what's possible because a great deal is possible on immigration reform,” Issa said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and likely incoming Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said this week if President Obama decides to take action on his own, it will effectively “poison the well” for bipartisan efforts on other issues in the new Congress.

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Sen-Elect Cory Gardner: After Taking Congress, GOP Has to ‘Govern Maturely’

Sen-Elect Cory Gardner: After Taking Congress, GOP Has to ‘Govern Maturely’

Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post(WASHINGTON) -- Following sweeping midterm election victories that gave Republicans full control of Congress, Sen.-Elect Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, said that the GOP now has to prove it can “govern maturely” and with competence if it hopes to fix a broken Washington and hold onto gains made in 2014.

“You have to fix it right out of the box, I believe, by working together, Republicans and Democrats, putting ideas forward on the president’s desk, ideas that the broad majority of American people support, and showing that we can govern,” Gardner told This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos Sunday.

“I think it’s important that Republicans show that we can govern maturely, that we can govern with competence,” Gardner added. “And if we do that, in two years from now, we’ll have a good result again with our nominee. If we don’t, we’ll see the same results two years from now, but in a different direction.”

Gardner struck a conciliatory tone on This Week saying that shutting down the government “is a bad idea anytime, anywhere” and saying that although he supports repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, it was not a feasible option while President Obama still occupies the White House.

“I do think we need to repeal and replace Obamacare, but the president named Obama is not going to repeal a bill named Obamacare,” Gardner said.

And Gardner said he hopes President Obama will “do the right thing” and work with Congress on immigration reform rather than taking executive action on his own before the end of the year.

“The question is this: Will the president do the right thing? And I think the president will do the right thing when it comes to immigration reform. And that is working with the House and the Senate instead of going around the House and the Senate,” Gardner said.

Newly elected to a Senate seat representing the now purple state of Colorado, Gardner offered advice to the 2016 GOP nominee for president if they intend to win a state captured by President Obama in 2008 and 2012, saying it requires an “optimistic message.”

“More than anything, in this Rocky Mountain state, people want to be able to lift their eyes up to the great Rocky Mountain horizon and recognize the fact that we have an ever-hopeful state, and that’s the kind of message that we had to capture to make sure that people were proud again and to make sure that we can build toward a government that we can be proud of,” Gardner said.

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Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall 25 Years Later

Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall 25 Years Later

iStock/Thinkstock(BERLIN) -- Twenty five years ago, on a freezing cold German night, a physical symbol of the Cold War and the divisive split between East and West Germany toppled, fading into the folds of history.Katharina Von Munster was just 13 when the Berlin Wall fell. “It was a dream we never dared to dream,” she told ABC News’ John Donvan.Von Munster grew up just feet from one of the checkpoint towers in East Berlin, a constant reminder that the watchful eyes of the communist government were never far away. She said her first visit to West Berlin, land of Levi’s and Coca Cola, was like going to “a planet far, far away.”Today pieces of that iconic symbol of division are scattered across the world, from the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to the lawn of the Taiwan Center for Democracy in Taipei. When it finally crumbled, the world came to watch.“It was just a big party that was going on, excitement everywhere, people all along the wall,” Congressman Joe Crowley told ABC News. Crowley was an assemblyman traveling through Europe back in 1989, and flew straight to Berlin soon after hearing about those first cracks in the wall.The memory of the stark difference between lively West Berlin and the subdued East have stayed with Crowley, who says “it was almost like color and black and white.”All these years later, he still can’t believe how lucky he was to have witnessed that singular moment in history.“I don’t think I was able really to fully really be cognizant of the magnitude of it all.”

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Loretta Lynch Will Carry on Holder’s Civil Rights Legacy, Obama Says

Loretta Lynch Will Carry on Holder’s Civil Rights Legacy, Obama Says

US Dept of Justice(WASHINGTON) -- As one of the longest-serving attorneys general in U.S. history prepares to leave office, President Obama made it clear Saturday that the woman he's nominated to be Eric Holder's successor will be expected to pick up right where he left off on civil rights."Throughout her 30-year career she has distinguished herself as tough, as fair, an independent lawyer who has twice headed one of the most prominent U.S. attorney's offices in the country," the president said at the nomination ceremony for Loretta Lynch, who is currently the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York."She has spent years in the trenches as a prosecutor aggressively fighting terrorism, financial fraud, cybercrime -- all while vigorously defending civil rights," Obama said.

Flanked by Holder and Lynch, the president repeated that civil rights theme throughout her introduction in the White House. Obama pointed out she was born in Greensboro, N.C., a year before the famous sit-in protest by four black students at a "whites-only" lunch counter in 1960.As a child, Lynch would "ride on the shoulders" of her Baptist minister father as he helped organize desegregation activists, the president said Her grandfather, Obama said, was a sharecropper who had helped poor blacks find legal help in the Jim Crow south of the 1930s.If confirmed by the Senate, Lynch would become the first black woman to hold the office -- succeeding the first black man."Loretta has spent her entire life fighting for fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy," Obama continued, ranking off achievements including the prosecution of suspected terrorists, mob and gang members, and a high-profile case of police brutality against a Haitian immigrant in 1997.Saturday was also Lynch's first public speaking appearance since news of her nomination broke on Friday."No one gets to this place, this room, this podium, this moment, by themselves," she said, thanking her family, colleagues, and Holder himself for "pushing this department to live up to its name.""The Department of Justice is the only cabinet department named for an ideal," she said. "Today I stand before you so thrilled, and frankly so humbled, to have the opportunity to lead this group of wonderful people who work all day and well into the night to make that ideal a manifest reality."As a federal prosecutor Lynch has survived two prior confirmations before Congress, once during the Clinton administration and again after President Obama took office. But her fate in the the Senate is less than certain: Eric Holder was a constant target of conservatives during his tenure, partially for what they viewed as overreach of civil rights activism.But Lynch is not a member of Obama's inner circle and that distance -- combined with a low-profile history -- could aid her in the process.The White House has said it would defer to lawmakers on when those confirmation hearings would begin. With Republicans now having won back control of Senate during last Tuesday's elections it may come before the New Year, when majority power is officially handed over from the Democrats.

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ICYMI: What Happened on Election Night?

ICYMI: What Happened on Election Night?

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The midterm elections took place Tuesday. Miss the coverage? No problem. We’ve turned to Shushannah Walshe, deputy political director for ABC News and co-author of Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Candidate, to help explain what happened.1. For those not paying attention to the midterm elections, they happened Tuesday and the Republicans, aka the GOP, did really well, right?SW: Yes, really well. Call it a shellacking, thumping, a wave, whatever you want. It was a great night for Republicans and a devastating one for Democrats. The Republicans not only took control of the Senate, with an extra seat to spare (and one more that hasn’t been called yet so there could be another), they gained seats in the House of Representatives and had huge gubernatorial wins, even in blue states, like Massachusetts and Maryland.2. Were there any bright spots for the Democrats?SW: In New Hampshire, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen held on to her seat against her GOP challenger former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who crossed the border to run in the Granite State. Also in that state, Gov. Maggie Hassan held on to her governorship against businessman Walt Havenstein who surged in the polls at the end. In Pennsylvania, Democratic challenger Tom Wolf beat incumbent GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, another bright spot in an otherwise painful night for Dems. In the House, two notable Democratic wins were Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, who beat incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Southerland and in Nebraska, Brad Ashford knocked off incumbent GOP Rep. Lee Terry, the first Democrat Omaha has sent to the House in 20 years. Both are big wins for Democrats.3. But some of the races are still going right on right? What are the important ones and when will they be resolved?SW: Yes! We have a few races that are still unresolved. In Alaska, both the Senate and gubernatorial races are without outcomes, but this is a state where historically it can take longer to determine winners because of results coming in from remote locales. As in all states, absentee ballots can be mailed in from all over, but unlike other states in Alaska absentee and early ballots may come from voters in far-flung locales like commercial salmon fishermen or oil rig workers on the North Slope. Right now in the Senate race, GOP challenger Dan Sullivan is leading Democrat Sen. Mark Begich by about 8,000 votes and in the gubernatorial race independent challenger Bill Walker is leading GOP Gov. Sean Parnell by about 3,000 votes. But, there could be as many as 50,000 votes still to be counted and Alaskans have 15 days to get their absentee ballots in from Election Day, as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 4.4. How does the president feel about the results? I heard something about bourbon.SW: The president admitted the day after that the “Republicans had a good night,” but said it “doesn’t make me mopey, it energizes me, because it means that this democracy’s working.” But, yes let’s get to bourbon. President Obama has only met one-on-one with the man who is set to be Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, once or twice in six years, but the president told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on Wednesday he would be willing to meet the Kentucky Senator for a cocktail.“You know, actually, I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell,” Obama said during a news conference at the White House. “I don’t know what his preferred drink is, but, you know, my interactions with Mitch McConnell, he–you know, he has always been very straightforward with me.”This is a light-hearted turnaround from the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner where he dismissed the idea, garnering huge laughs from the crowd.“Some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress. ‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ they ask,” Obama told the crowd, tongue firmly in cheek. “Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell? I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes.”Now, we can all look forward to a bourbon summit. When will it be? Well the folks over at Knob Creek Bourbon suggested hosting the event on December 5, the day Prohibition ended.

5. OK, so, the government was divided before the election and will still be divided in January. What does that actually mean in terms of governance?SW: It’s hard to say right now. Americans made it very clear at the polls they do not want gridlock anymore and on Friday the president hosted congressional leaders for a long lunch to hammer some areas of agreement. There will, of course, continue to be areas of serious disagreement, but if both sides can agree on some policy including issues like trade and tax reform, that’s a step in the right direction.“Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign. I’m pretty sure I’ll take some actions that some in Congress will not like. That’s natural. That’s how our democracy works,” Obama said at the same news conference Wednesday, acknowledging the obvious difficulties.He will also have to brush off the veto stamp, something he has only used twice. And one more thing. He could still go through with an executive action on immigration, something he has said he will do, but will surely inflame the GOP.6. Last, but not least, who are the rising stars everyone is talking about? Someone named Love?SW: There are quite a few Republican rising stars that were big winners Tuesday, including Mia Love, who won a congressional seat in Utah and is the first Republican African-American woman in the House.

There’s also Elise Stefanik, who won a congressional seat in New York State. At 30, she will be the youngest woman in the House ever.

There’s Joni Ernst, the hog-castrating, motorcycle riding mom and state senator who was vaulted to GOP superstar in her successful bid for the Iowa Senate. Her seat clinched the GOP majority Tuesday night.

There’s also Tom Cotton, who after serving just one term in the House is now the Senator-elect from Arkansas, beating out Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. At only 37, he holds two Harvard degrees and will be the youngest lawmaker in the Senate next year. He’s also a veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. There’s many more, but that’s a sampling. As you can see, the make-up of Congress next year already looks very different and much younger.

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Awkward Ways to Say ‘I Lost’ the Election

Awkward Ways to Say ‘I Lost’ the Election

Erich Schlegel/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There are a million different ways to say, “I lost.” You may choose to give a concession speech where you gracefully concede to your other opponent -– or you could just do what these losing candidates did.

The "What Opponent?" Speech: Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY)The Senate candidate said a lot in her concession speech – minus that she was conceding to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell. Her concession speech sounded more like an early stump speech that highlighted the commonwealth’s needs and the efforts of a grassroots organization.“My hope is the message has been sent to Congress. That we need to work to increase the minimum wage, to close the gender pay gap and to bring good paying jobs back to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This journey, this fight was for each and every one of you.”

The "Not Ashamed to Cry on Stage" Speech: Wendy Davis (D-TX)It’s rare to see a candidate to cry on stage when they concede. But Wendy Davis didn’t fight back the tears as she conceded to Greg Abbott and thanked her volunteers.“Please, please know this -– your work is not in vain.”The "This Isn't My First Rodeo" Speech: Clay Aiken (D-NC)The Democrat and American Idol alum noted that this Congressional race wasn’t the first election he’s lost.“The result did not go the way we wanted it to tonight, but we’ve walked down this path once or twice before. About 11 years ago after American Idol we came up short in another vote, we found reason to be happy.”The "It's Okay to be Disappointed" Speech: Bruce Braley (D-IA)After losing to Joni Ersnt, Braley said we live in a country where we have the freedom to vote in an election. He also said we have the freedom to be disappointed in the outcome of an election – but that is not exactly how it came out.“We have the freedom to be disappointed in America.”

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Obama Speaks About Importance of Providing Benefits, Jobs to Veterans in Weekly Address

Obama Speaks About Importance of Providing Benefits, Jobs to Veterans in Weekly Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama honored America's veterans ahead of Veteran's Day in this week's presidential address.Obama, who will make a trip to Asia this weekend, spoke of the "Greatest Generation who freed a continent from fascism and fought across Pacific Islands to preserve our way of life." He also honored the "newest heroes from the 9/11 Generation," who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq."Let's honor our veterans by making sure they get the care and benefits they've earned," Obama said. Touching on the backlog in the Department of Veterans Affairs and the importance of hiring veterans, the president called on "every American" to do their part."We're all keepers of that sacred trust that says, if you put on a uniform and risk your life to keep us safe, we'll do our part for you," Obama said.

Read the full transcript of the president's address:Hi, everybody.  This weekend, I depart for Asia to advance American leadership and promote American jobs in a dynamic region that will be critical to our security and prosperity in the century ahead.  The democracies, progress and growth we see across the Asia Pacific would have been impossible without America’s enduring commitment to that region – especially the service of generations of Americans in uniform.  As we approach Veterans’ Day, we honor them – and all those who’ve served to keep us free and strong.   We salute that Greatest Generation who freed a continent from fascism and fought across Pacific Islands to preserve our way of life.  We pay tribute to Americans who defended the people of South Korea, soldiered through the brutal battles of Vietnam, stood up to a tyrant in Desert Storm and stopped ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.   And we celebrate our newest heroes from the 9/11 Generation – our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  For more than 13 years, we have been at war in Afghanistan.  Next month, our combat mission will be over, and America’s longest war will come to a responsible end.   But the end of a war is just the beginning of our obligations to those who serve in our name.  These men and women will be proud veterans for decades to come, and our service to them has only just begun.  So as we welcome our newest veterans home, let’s honor them by giving them the thanks and respect they deserve.  And let’s make sure we’re there for their families and children, too – because they’ve also made great sacrifices for America. Let’s honor our veterans by making sure they get the care and benefits they’ve earned.  That means health care that’s there for them when they need it.  It means continuing to reduce the disability claims backlog.  And it means giving our wounded warriors all the care and support they need to heal, including mental health care for those with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury.  Some of the most moving moments I’ve experienced as Commander in Chief have been with our wounded warriors.  Some have to learn how to walk again, talk again, write their names again.  But no matter how hard it is, they never give up.  They never quit.  And we can’t ever quit on them. Let’s honor our veterans by making sure they get their shot at the American Dream that they risked their lives to defend – by helping them find jobs worthy of their skills and talents, and making sure the Post-9/11 GI Bill stays strong so more veterans can earn a college education.  When our veterans have the opportunity to succeed, our whole nation is stronger.  And let’s work together to end the tragedy of homelessness among veterans once and for all – because anyone who has defended America deserves to live in dignity in America.   Finally, let’s honor our veterans by remembering that this isn’t just a job for government.  It’s a job for every American.  We’re all keepers of that sacred trust that says, if you put on a uniform and risk your life to keep us safe, we’ll do our part for you.  We’ll make sure you and your family get the support you need.  We’ll have your backs – just like you had ours.   So this Veterans’ Day, and every day, let’s make sure all our veterans know how much we appreciate them.  If you see a veteran, go on up and shake their hand.  Look them in the eye.  Say those words that every veteran deserves to hear:  “Welcome home.  Thank you.  We need you more than ever to help us stay strong and free.” And then, let’s come together, as Americans, to make sure we’re there for them and their families for all the years of all their lives. God bless our veterans and their families.  And God bless the United States of America.

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GOP Weekly Address: Boehner Outlines Goals After Republicans Take Control of Senate

GOP Weekly Address: Boehner Outlines Goals After Republicans Take Control of Senate

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Speak of the House John Boehner delivered the Republican Weekly Address this week, outlining what his Republican party aims to accomplish now that they have claimed control of the Senate in Tuesday's election.Boehner quoted scripture, saying that "to whom much is given, much is expected," and adding that "Republicans are humbled by the trust the American people have placed in us." The speaker said that his party bears the responsibility of making the American people's priorities their political priorities.Boehner says his part will focus on helping middle-class families, vote on numerous jobs bills passed by the House, work to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, advance the hiring of veterans and "take on ObamaCare regulations that threaten the 40-hour workweek and the pay and peace of mind of so many Americans."Read the full transcript of the Republican address:This is the time of year when we pause to pay tribute to America’s veterans – the ones who gave all a person can give so that we may live free.

As we consider their sacrifices, let us vow to live up to the promises that we’ve made to them and their families.

We cannot rest until our veterans have the 21st-century health care system they deserve.

It is the least a grateful nation can do.

This is also a time to consider the line in Scripture that says, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Republicans are humbled by the trust the American people have placed in us.

We’ll honor that trust by listening to you, by making your priorities our priorities.

That means focusing first on helping middle-class families still struggling to pay the bills and find good-paying jobs.

We’ll start by debating and voting on the many jobs bills the House has acted on with bipartisan support.

We’ll work to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers.

We’ll advance the Hire More Heroes Act, which will encourage employers to hire more of our nation’s veterans.

And we’ll take on ObamaCare regulations that threaten the 40-hour workweek and the pay and peace of mind of so many Americans.

These types of common-sense solutions, so long ignored by the outgoing Senate majority, offer a good starting point.

They’ll help break the logjam here in Washington, and establish a foundation of certainty and stability that both parties can build on.

From there, more good ideas will follow, and with them, a chance to address some of the most pressing challenges that we face, whether it’s a broken tax code that’s driving jobs overseas, health care costs that continue to rise, or an education system that leaves too many of our young people unprepared for the future.

This is a time for solutions to get our economy moving again, and we’re eager to get to work.

Your priorities will be our priorities.  That’s our pledge to you, the people we serve.

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Secret Service Acting Director Details Misconduct, Breaches in Letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman

Secret Service Acting Director Details Misconduct, Breaches in Letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A letter from U.S. Secret Service Acting Director Joseph Clancy to House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa detailed misconduct by Secret Service agents and officers and breaches of the White House perimeter in the last four years.According to the letter, obtained by ABC News, there have been 47 breaches at the White House since 2010. Those breaches include 10 fence jumpers, 30 breaches of temporary barriers and seven "other" types of breaches.Additionally, there have been 394 cases of misconduct by 356 Secret Service agents and Uniformed Division officers in that same timeframe.Between 2010 and 2014, the Secret Service employed between 4,600 and 4,955 special agents and Uniformed Division officers.The major incidents of misconduct described in the letter have been previously disclosed, including a breach of a State Dinner and the prostitution scandal in Cartagena.Other infractions in the letter range from minor, such as being discourteous, to more severe, including alcohol consumption, negligent discharge of firearms, leaving posts unattended and negligence in performance of official duties.

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Former President George W. Bush Visits Dallas Hospital That Faced Ebola

Former President George W. Bush Visits Dallas Hospital That Faced Ebola

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas(DALLAS) -- The Texas hospital that battled Ebola this fall got a special visit from former President George W. Bush Friday.Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas became the first to diagnose an Ebola patient in the United States and then faced a nightmare as that patient died and two nurses became infected.“The last five weeks have been a trying time for the city and residents of Dallas and especially the people of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas,” Bush told the hospital staff, including Ebola survivor nurse Amber Vinson. “I appreciate the way the hospital and its professionals are sharing lessons learned in a way that helps the broader United States health care community respond to this terrible virus. As someone who has gone to Presbyterian hospital for care myself, I know it is a dedicated, professional and caring place, and I’m confident it is doing what is necessary to reaffirm the community’s trust.”On Friday, Texas' Ebola ordeal ended when the last of its 177 people who had contact with the three Ebola patients completed the 21-day monitoring period, Ebola-free.President Barack Obama also phoned Texas officials Friday including Gov. Rick Perry to thank them for their work on the Ebola situation.

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Democratic Leaders Call for Government Inquiry into Takata Airbags

Democratic Leaders Call for Government Inquiry into Takata Airbags

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- A half dozen Democratic leaders on Friday issued calls for governmental inquiries into the Takata airbag issue that has caused millions of vehicles to be recalled.Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri; Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut; Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts; and Reps. Henry Waxman, D-California; Diana DeGette, D-Colorado; and Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois all spoke out on Friday, after The New York Times reported that the Japanese airbag manufacturer had tested the airbags in 2004 and may have known that they were defective.McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate panel on Consumer Protection issued a statement Friday, saying that "if these reports are true," Takata appears to be "a company more concerned with profits than the lives of consumers -- a company that needs to be held fully accountable." She suggests that Takata not only face financial penalties but criminal charges as well. "I trust that safety regulators and Justice Department officials are looking closely at these accusations and considering every tool available under the law," McCaskill's statement read.Earlier this year, the Missouri Senator led the Senate investigation into recalls at General Motors.Blumenthal and Markey, both members of the Senate Commerce Committee, called for clearer guidelines from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration last month in regards to how drivers should handle vehicles with potentially-defective Takata airbags. "Reports that Takata concealed and destroyed test results revealing fatal air bag defects, along with other evidence that the company was aware of these deadly problems," their joint statement read, "clearly require a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice."The two Senators voiced their concern, saying that if the reports are true, "the company must be held accountable for the horrific deaths and injuries that its wrongdoing caused." Their statement also called for a "prompt and aggressive criminal probe."Also on Friday, Reps. Waxman, DeGette, and Schakowsky sent a letter to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, requesting a hearing and an investigation into the safety risks posed by Takata's airbags. Calling the allegations "deeply troubling," the trio of Reps. urged Congress to "move forward rapidly and work together in bipartisan fashion on the investigation and on motor vehicle safety legislation to respond to its findings."Takata's faulty airbags prompted an international recall of over 14 million vehicles. The defect has been linked to at least four deaths and 139 injuries.

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Ed Gillespie Concedes Virginia Senate Race to Mark Warner

Ed Gillespie Concedes Virginia Senate Race to Mark Warner

(L) US SENATE / (C) ED FOR SENATOR / (R) SARVIS FOR SENATE(SPRINGFIELD, Va.) -- Three days after the midterm elections, the Virginia Senate race finally has a winner.Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie conceded to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner on Friday, telling supporters and reporters in a press conference that the “numbers just aren’t there.”“Canvassing is just about complete and the official tally is more than 16,700 votes -- larger than it was on election night,” Gillespie said. “I’ve called Mark Warner this morning to congratulate him on his reelection.”With Warner’s seat secure, Democrats currently have 44 seats in the Senate, plus two Independents in their caucus. Republicans have 52 Senate seats, while two races -- Alaska and Louisiana -- remain undecided.

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CIA Tweets Its Version of “Argo” Rescue in Iran

CIA Tweets Its Version of “Argo” Rescue in Iran

The Central Intelligence Agency(WASHINGTON) -- The CIA used the 35th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis to dispel some of the dramatic license in the Academy Award-winning film Argo, which told the story of the rescue of Americans who eluded capture but were stuck in Iran.The 2012 movie, directed by Ben Affleck, centered around the mission to get six Americans who had hidden in the Canadian embassy out of Iran by using a ruse of a fake film crew.The anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis came earlier this week since the crisis started on Nov. 4, 1981, but the Central Intelligence Agency's social media team waited until Friday to inundate their followers with some behind-the-scenes trivia."We love #Argo, @TheAcademy award winning film by @BenAffleck. Today we tell you what’s 'reel' vs. 'real,'" the CIA said through their official Twitter account.They gave Affleck, who won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film, a second shout out before launching into the facts of the story.You can read the secretive agency's side of the story here:

We love #Argo, @TheAcademy award winning film by @BenAffleck. Today we tell you what’s "reel" vs. "real". pic.twitter.com/QgFC014kUe

— CIA (@CIA) November 7, 2014

Reel #Argo: When the US Embassy is overtaken the 6 US diplomats go right to the Canadian ambassador's residence to live for the 3 months.

— CIA (@CIA) November 7, 2014

Real #Argo: 5 of them went to many different places until they ended up at the homes of the Canadian Ambassador & the Dep. Chief of Mission.

— CIA (@CIA) November 7, 2014

Reel #Argo: The CIA officer and the six diplomats go into town to scout locations. pic.twitter.com/2gx2sHjPBO

— CIA (@CIA) November 7, 2014

Real #Argo: They never went to the marketplace to scout a location. The six hid in the Canadian’s homes for 79 days. pic.twitter.com/szTgt9stvb

— CIA (@CIA) November 7, 2014

Real #Argo: There was an hour long mechanical delay, other than that the escape could not have gone better. #nochase pic.twitter.com/a0TnVeBgBt

— CIA (@CIA) November 7, 2014

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Obama Plans to Send Up to 1,500 More Troops to Iraq

Obama Plans to Send Up to 1,500 More Troops to Iraq

Warrick Page/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama authorized the U.S. military to send up to 1,500 more troops to Iraq in a non-combat role to help battle the growing threat of ISIS, officials said on Friday.In a statement, the Pentagon said Obama had made the decision "at the request of the Iraqi Government.""This mission will be undertaken in coordination with multiple coalition partners and will be funded through the request for an Iraq Train and Equip fund that the Administration will submit to Congress," the statement added.The White House stressed that the troops would function "in a non-combat role to train, advise, and assist Iraqi Security Forces, including Kurdish forces."This would almost double the amount of troops in Iraq, bringing the total number of U.S. forces to about 3,100."Over the coming weeks, as we finalize the training site locations, the United States will work with coalition members to determine how many U.S. and coalition personnel will be required at each location for the training effort," the Pentagon said.

A senior administration official told ABC News there is “no ceiling” on the number of U.S. troops who could potentially be sent back to Iraq. But the White House insists that what matters more is that the strict mission still holds -- only to advise, train and assist Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, not to participate in combat.Officials cited a need for “geographic flexibility” in the train and assist mission -- more troops, they say, gives the U.S. a “broader base” and “greater reach in different parts of the country.”“It speaks to how to cover the broadest possible ground and provide advice, counsel and intelligence support,” the official said.

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Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Obamacare

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Obamacare

AdamParent/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court decided on Friday that it will hear a new legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Despite the Supreme Court decision, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that "the ACA is working."The lawsuit, the Washington Post reports, challenges the IRS rule that authorizes tax credits and subsidies for health insurance purchased on federal exchanges. Earnest said Friday, however, that "these lawsuits won't stand in the way of the Affordable Care Act and the millions of American who can now afford health insurance because of it.""We are confident that the financial help afforded millions of Americans was the intent of the law and it is working as Congress designed," Earnest added.He also called the lawsuit "just another partisan attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act and strip millions of American families of tax credits that Congress intended for them to have."

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Obama Lunches with Congressional Leaders

Obama Lunches with Congressional Leaders

Pete Souza / The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Water, not bourbon, was on the table for President Obama’s post-election lunch with congressional leaders on Friday. And if their stone-faced expressions are any indication of mood, maybe they could use a glass of the latter. House Speaker John Boehner and likely new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t so much as crack a smile as Obama welcomed them for a meal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sat expressionless as well.The president reiterated that “Republicans had a good night” on Tuesday for which McConnell and Boehner deserve credit.They ran “very strong campaigns,” Obama said. “What we’ve seen now for a number of cycles is that the American people just want to see work done here in Washington. I think they’re frustrated by gridlock, they’d like to see more cooperation,” the president said. “And all of us have responsibility, me in particular, to make that happen. This gives us a good opportunity to explore where we can make progress on behalf of the American people.”The agenda is expected to include near-term issues like Ebola and the fight against ISIS, as well as a discussion of legislative priorities for the next two years. “I am not going to judge ideas based on whether they are Democrat or Republican. I’m going to be judging them based on whether or not they work,” Obama said, using a familiar line that signals he is not going to make a significant course correction in spite of the GOP wave. Ahead of the meeting, a House Republican leadership aide said that Boehner and McConnell planned to focus on economic measures in the meeting. “The top issue in this election was jobs and the economy. Republican leaders will remind the president that the list of House-passed jobs bills is a great place to start for immediate, bipartisan action to help create more private-sector American jobs,” the aide said.

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GOP Presidential Candidate Must Pass Beer Test, Party Chairman Says

GOP Presidential Candidate Must Pass Beer Test, Party Chairman Says

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Reince Priebus, the national chairman of the Republican Party, said Friday that despite the sweeping victories in Congressional and governor's races across the country, the party still faced an "uphill battle" in its quest to win back the White House.He said Republicans should neither rest on their laurels nor slip into a false sense of security, or the GOP wave in the midterm election will be a short-lived prize."We've got a long way to go to be ready for 2016," Priebus told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington. "We’ve got to be about perfect as a national party to win the national cultural vote in this country. Democrats can be good to win. We have to be great.”Facing one of the most wide-open Republican presidential races in more than a generation, Priebus said the party needed to move swiftly to find a nominee who appealed to a broad cross-section of voters. He said Republicans should avoid a long and messy nominating process -- filled with ideological infighting -- and search for a “hopeful” and forward-looking candidate.“If we have a candidate on the ballot who someone actually wants to have a beer with, we can win,” Priebus said, stopping short of offering names of those he believed would -- or wouldn’t -- fall into that category.He said he would try to instill discipline and order in the Republican presidential campaign, saying: “I can’t always control everyone’s mouth, but I can control how long we fight with each other.”He and other Republican leaders have long talked about the need to pursue immigration reform, which was one of the key findings in the Republican National Committee’s autopsy of the failed 2012 presidential campaign. But he said President Obama bypassing Congress and signing an executive order on immigration would be “a nuclear threat.”"The president is just throwing a barrel of kerosene on a fire if he signs an executive amnesty order,” Priebus said.With Republicans winning a majority in the Senate and expanding their control of the House, Priebus said the burden of governing now rests with the GOP. How the party conducts itself over the next two years, he said, will influence the party’s ability to win the White House.“If all we get out of this is a bunch of fighting and bickering, that’s not a good result,” Priebus said. “Midterm elections are judgments on the past. Presidential elections are about the future.”While he said it’s far too early to know who would make the strongest Republican nominee, he said he believes the Democratic nominee is obvious and would ultimately help galvanize Republicans.“I sure as heck hope we’re running against Hillary Clinton,” Priebus said. “If your job was to unify the party, raise a ton of money and get a ton of volunteers on the ground, I promise you, you would want no other opponent than Hillary Clinton to run against.”

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