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Six Questions for Transgender Rights Advocate Mara Keisling

Six Questions for Transgender Rights Advocate Mara Keisling

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — This week we asked Mara Keisling, founding executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, about the biggest challenges facing the transgender community and Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, who Keisling calls a “phenomenal figure in raising public understanding of transgender people.”

1) So first — for those who do not know — can you explain what transgender means? How is gender identity different from sexual orientation?

MK: Being transgender is a deeply personal, deeply held understanding of your gender identity. It’s someone whose gender today is different than the gender they were born as. Some transgender people have undergone some combination of social, legal, and medical transition to live their life as the gender they know they are. As for the relationship between being transgender and one’s sexual orientation, simply put, sexual orientation describes the kind of person one is attracted to, whereas gender identity describes someone’s understanding of themselves. Transgender people can be gay or straight or bisexual or asexual, just like anyone else.

2) What do we know about the number of transgender individuals in the United States?

MK: It’s hard to tell exactly how many transgender people there are in the United States because many national population surveys like the Census or health studies are only beginning to explore how to count transgender people. My background is in public polling and the social scientist in me has sympathy for researchers who recognize how complicated it is to identify transgender people. That being said, Gary Gates at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law estimates that 0.3 percent of adults in the United States are transgender. That percentage is likely much higher when we include gender non-conforming people — that is, people whose gender presentation falls outside of what many view as “traditionally” male or female norms.

3) In your view, what is the biggest misperception about the transgender community?

MK: That we aren’t who we say we are. Too often transgender people are accused of being something other than what they say they are. Too often, we are questioned about our “real” name or our “real” gender. The core of the mistreatment, harassment, and violence facing transgender people stems from this fundamental theme in the way the public doubts and denies us our true selves.

4) What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the transgender community?

MK: There are a lot of challenges out there, and there are a lot of people doing the work on the ground or here in Washington, D.C., who work tirelessly to address these challenges. But for me, I’d say it is the need to be accepted and respected for who we are. The lack of understanding of our humanity continues to cause us to face disrespect, discrimination, and violence and is actually killing us. And when trans people face that and other issues like racism, ableism, and xenophobia, the disrespect and violence can be so much worse.

5) How has Laverne Cox — who will be on This Week — contributed to the transgender awareness?

MK: Laverne has been a phenomenal figure in raising public understanding of transgender people. She has leveraged her platform to really catalyze public acceptance and she has done it with such graciousness, generosity, intelligence and her own story. She is part of this amazing moment we are having right now that is being led by a bunch of amazing trans women of color including Laverne, Andy Marra, Janet Mock, Geena Rocero, Fallon Fox, and some others. They are leading the kind of cultural shift that is making our work in Washington a lot easier and speeding up the pace of change.

6) You’ve praised the president’s actions on behalf of transgender Americans, but what else would you like to see him do?

MK: We still have a fairly full federal policy agenda that needs to be addressed. However, right now, since I know the White House is focused on immigration, I would especially flag the need for immigration reform that anticipates LGBT and queer immigrants. Our people often come to the U.S. because of dangerously anti-transgender climates back home, and they end up being victimized again by solitary confinement, an immoral bed quota, arbitrary asylum rules, and an absolutely broken detention system that simply cannot house transgender detainees safely.

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

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

governor.state.tx.us(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry forcefully defended his decision to veto funding for the state’s public integrity unit after being indicted by a grand jury on charges that he abused the powers of his office.

“I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand by my veto, and I will continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor,” Perry said, speaking to reporters at a Saturday news conference in Austin.

Perry, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was indicted by a grand jury on two counts Friday. Prosecutors say he abusing the power of his office by trying to force the resignation of a Democratic district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, who oversees the state’s public integrity unit.

He vowed to fight the indictments, which he said “amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power.”

Last year the governor publicly threatened to withhold $7.5 million to the public integrity unit, which investigates corruption cases, if Lehmberg, who was arrested for drunk driving, did not step down.

Perry was accused of playing politics with his veto threat. On Saturday, he accused the grand jury–convened in liberal Travis County–of doing the same.

“We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country,” Perry said. “It is outrageous.”

Republicans, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have rallied to defend Perry’s actions. Cruz tweeted on Saturday, “GovernorPerry is a friend, he’s a man of integrity – I am proud to #StandWithRickPerry”

But the governor has also faced calls to resign — most notably from Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro. Castro tweeted on Friday, “For the sake of Texas, Governor Perry should resign following his indictment on two criminal felony counts involving abuse of office.”

Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, could serve a maximum of 109 years in prison if found guilty. But Perry said he would move swiftly to contest the charges.

“I intend to fight those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes,” Perry said. “And I intend to win.”

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Incumbent Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz Wins Democratic Primary

Incumbent Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz Wins Democratic Primary

schatz.senate.gov(HONOLULU) — The Hawaii Democratic Senate primary has finally been called.

For a week, it was too close to call, but now incumbent Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz has defeated his Democratic primary challenger Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.

Schatz was already leading after last Saturday’s primary, but he was not named the winner of the prolonged race until the last two precincts on the Big Island of Hawaii were able to vote.

Due to the damage from Hurricane Iselle, just under 8,000 voters had to wait until Friday to go to the ballot box.

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

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

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has endorsed Tea Party favorite Joe Miller in Alaska’s Republican Senate primary.

The former Vice Presidential nominee also endorsed Miller in 2010, when he won the GOP primary against Senator Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski THE ended up defeating Miller in a successful write-in campaign.

But this time around, it’s different– according to ABC’s Shushannah Walshe, one of Miller’s opponents is Dan Sullivan, a man Palin appointed Attorney General when she was governor.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Democrat Mark Begich in November.

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Obama Discusses Affording Higher Education in Weekly Address

Obama Discusses Affording Higher Education in Weekly Address

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — In his weekly address, President Obama pointed to the upcoming start of a new school year and the impotrance of higher education.

“In today’s economy,” the president said, “whether you go to a four-year college, a community college, or a professional training program, some higher education is the surest ticket to the middle class.” A typical American with a bachelor’s degree, Obama pointed out, makes about $28,000 per year more than someone with just a high school diploma, and is also significantly more likely to be employed at all.

Pointing to his experience and that of First Lady Michelle Obama, the president acknowledged the difficulty some college graduates have paying off their college loans. Just as he has pushed for loan reform, the president urged students to push themselves academically, to challenge themselves to “reach higher.”

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Hi, everybody.  Over the next couple weeks, schools all across the country will be opening their doors.  Students will suit up for fall sports, marching band, and the school play; moms and dads will snap those first-day-of-school pictures – and that includes me and Michelle. 

And so today, I want to talk directly with students and parents about one of the most important things any of you can do this year – and that’s to begin preparing yourself for an education beyond high school.

We know that in today’s economy, whether you go to a four-year college, a community college, or a professional training program, some higher education is the surest ticket to the middle class. The typical American with a bachelor’s degree or higher earns over $28,000 more per year than someone with just a high school diploma.  And they’re also much more likely to have a job in the first place – the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree is less than one-third of the rate for those without a high school diploma.

But for too many families across the country, paying for higher education is a constant struggle.  Earlier this year, a young woman named Elizabeth Cooper wrote to tell me how hard it is for middle-class families like hers to afford college.  As she said, she feels “not significant enough to be addressed, not poor enough for people to worry [about], and not rich enough to be cared about.”

Michelle and I know the feeling – we only finished paying off our student loans ten years ago.  And so as President, I’m working to make sure young people like Elizabeth can go to college without racking up mountains of debt.  We reformed a student loan system so that more money goes to students instead of big banks.  We expanded grants and college tax credits for students and families.  We took action to offer millions of students a chance to cap their student loan payments at 10% of their income.  And Congress should pass a bill to let students refinance their loans at today’s lower interest rates, just like their parents can refinance their mortgage. 

But as long as college costs keep rising, we can’t just keep throwing money at the problem – colleges have to do their part to bring down costs as well.  That’s why we proposed a plan to tie federal financial aid to a college’s performance, and create a new college scorecard so that students and parents can see which schools provide the biggest bang for your buck.  We launched a new $75 million challenge to inspire colleges to reduce costs and raise graduation rates.  And in January, more than 100 college presidents and nonprofit leaders came to the White House and made commitments to increase opportunities for underserved students.

Since then, we’ve met with even more leaders who want to create new community-based partnerships and support school counselors.  And this week, my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced a series of commitments to support students who need a little extra academic help getting through college.

This is a challenge I take personally.  And to all you young people, now that you’re heading back to school, your education is something you have to take personally, also.  It’s up to you to push yourself; to take hard classes and read challenging books.  Science shows that when you struggle to solve a problem or make a new argument, you’re actually forming new connections in your brain.  So when you’re thinking hard, you’re getting smarter.  Which means this year, challenge yourself to reach higher.  And set your sights on college in the years ahead.  Your country is counting on you.

And don’t forget to have some fun along the way, too. 

Thanks everybody.  Good luck on the year ahead.

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

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

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

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Indicted for Abuse of Official Powers

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Indicted for Abuse of Official Powers

ABC/Matthew Putney(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted on Friday by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas, on accusations that he abused his official powers.

The indictment was announced by Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum on Friday night. The indictment document lists two charges, abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Perry, the indictment claims, improperly vetoed funding for the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

Perry allegedly vetoed the funding after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, refused to resign following a DWI conviction.

Perry’s General Counsel Mary Anne Wiley released a statement on his behalf on Friday, saying that “the veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution.” The statement also noted that Perry plans to defend his “lawful and constitutional action.”

Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, of Texas’ District 20, was quick to call for Perry’s resignation following the indictment.

 

For the sake of Texas, Governor Perry should resign following his indictment on two criminal felony counts involving abuse of office.

— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) August 15, 2014

 

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Mary Landrieu’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Mary Landrieu’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Office of Senator Mary Landrieu(WASHINGTON) — It’s been a tough week for Sen. Mary Landrieu.

If it wasn’t bad enough that the three-term Louisiana Democrat was already considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the 2014 midterms — whose seat could determine control of the Senate — this week, Landrieu’s re-election bid was rocked by turbulence over a private jet scandal and the announcement that her leading opponent now has more money to spend in the campaign.

The campaign of her GOP challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy, announced Thursday that he had pulled ahead of Landrieu with $5.6 million cash on hand, according to new FEC filing posted for Landrieu and Cassidy. That’s compared to Landrieu’s $5.5 million.

It’s a small lead of only about $100,000, but a significant one for Cassidy. This is the first time he has managed to outdo Landrieu’s deep fundraising pockets, and his campaign celebrated the achievement.

“We are incredibly excited about the state of our campaign,” Cassidy campaign spokesman John Cummins said in a statement Thursday. “Dr. Cassidy’s message of common-sense conservative reform is resonating. That’s why he has proven one of the most prolific fundraisers of this cycle and is the only Senate challenger in the country with more cash on hand than the incumbent.”

But the Landrieu campaign countered that Cassidy’s cash on hand number is “inflated” by the inclusion of $400,000 that could only be used after Nov. 4 in the event that no one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, in which case the two candidates with the largest number of votes would proceed to a runoff.

“We have always had the funds necessary to run the campaign we planned and will raise all the money we’ll need to get out the message that Mary is fighting for Louisianans in the Senate,” Landrieu campaign communications director Fabien Levy said in a statement. “Congressman Cassidy has chosen to inflate his fundraising numbers by including nearly $400,000 in runoff contributions that will be sitting in the bank when Sen. Landrieu wins this election on Nov. 4.”

Cassidy’s cash announcement was just the final straw in Landrieu’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

Things started to get bumpy on Tuesday when a media report alleged that Landrieu had used taxpayer funds to pay for a charter flight to attend a campaign fundraiser. Landrieu spent $3,200 on a round-trip flight from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she attended a $40-per-person fundraiser with women supporters Nov. 8. The flight should have been paid for by Landrieu’s campaign but was instead reportedly paid for by her Senate office, which is a violation of federal law.

The report came on the heels of a USA Today report a week earlier that said Landrieu was among one of the Senate’s biggest spenders in chartering flights for official Senate business, racking up a $47,000 tab in 2013.

Landrieu campaign communications director Fabien Levy told ABC News it was a mistake that taxpayer dollars were used to pay for the flight to Lake Charles and that the campaign took action “immediately” to correct the error when it was first discovered by her office on July 29.

“We take our finances very seriously and are glad we caught the vendor’s mistake and were able to rectify the matter as soon as possible,” Levy said in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday.

Though the Landrieu campaign had already corrected the error, which it blamed on the charter company, Landrieu’s opponents cried foul.

“Sen. Landrieu’s disregard and abuse of taxpayer money is unacceptable and, reportedly, illegal,” Rep. Cassidy said in a statement. “She should return all the taxpayer money she has spent on charter flights, open up her travel logs for further review to ensure there are not more violations, and apologize to American taxpayers immediately.”

Candidate Col. Rob Maness, the tea party favorite in the race, suggested that the $3,200 flight was just the tip of the iceberg.

“In recent weeks, a disturbing pattern-of-behavior has been exposed revealing Sen. Mary Landrieu’s constant abuse of taxpayer dollars,” Maness said in a statement.

Then, the conservative America Rising PAC managed to squeeze a little extra play out of the media maelstrom that formed Wednesday with the rapid release of a Web video “Mary Landrieu, Louisiana’s Frequent Flier,” that mashed up sound bites on the story from local news reports.

Just as it seemed the story might die with the 24-hour news cycle by Thursday morning, a second media report was published late Wednesday night revealing that Landrieu would also reimburse a separate charter flight, for which her Senate office paid $5,700.

Landrieu had chartered the flight through her Senate office to attend an official event in Shreveport, Louisiana. While the Shreveport event qualified as official expense, the same plane then took Landrieu to Dallas, where she attended a fundraiser before returning to Washington.

“Out of an abundance of caution in case there was a cost allocation error connected to this flight, the Senate will be reimbursed for the [Shreveport to Dallas] flight,” Landrieu’s Senate spokesman Matthew Lehner told ABC News in a statement.

Cassidy’s campaign spokesman John Cummins called the second flight reimbursement “a pattern” of disregard for taxpayer money.

“This second offense shows a pattern of mismanagement of her office expenses,” Cummins said. “Sen. Landrieu only complied with federal law, nearly a year later, after she was caught red-handed. She then said she only complied with federal law out of an ‘abundance of caution.’ If an average Louisiana taxpayer broke the law, and then a year later tried to correct it, they couldn’t get away with platitudes.”

Adding fuel the fire, the conservative Keep Louisiana Working group announced soon thereafter that it had filed an FEC complaint against Landrieu over the charter flights; and the Louisiana Republican Party launched an “Air Mary” campaign, complete with a Twitter handle @AirMaryLa. The tongue-in-cheek Twitter handle provides this description: “Taxpayer Funded Flights since 1997, because clout doesn’t fly coach.”

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Lawmakers Rip Ferguson Police Response to Protesters

Lawmakers Rip Ferguson Police Response to Protesters

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — Since protests erupted over the death of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old African American man shot to death by a Caucasian police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, police clad in riot gear have unleashed tear gas and smoke bombs to try to control demonstrators.

The law enforcement response to the protest has been labeled overly combative, even militaristic – and lawmakers are now concerned that the situation is emblematic of a more pervasive problem.

Reps. John Conyers, D-Mich, Bobby Scott, D-Va., and  Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., have officially called for Congressional hearings to examine “the extensive militarization of state and local police.”

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlate, R-Va., they noted: “Mr. Brown’s killing highlights what appears to be a continuing pattern of the use of deadly force by police against unarmed African Americans in cities around the nation.”

Hearings could address the “long-simmering racial tensions between an overwhelmingly white police force and a majority African-American population” in many areas, they wrote. “Why do local police dress in military-style uniforms and body armor…? At best, confronting demonstrators with this show of force is a sign of poor judgment.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia., announced plans to introduce a bill restricting the transfer of surplus equipment from the military to police offices through a controversial Defense Department program. He reportedly calls the bill the “Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act.”

Some lawmakers have even suggested that police in Ferguson resembled soldiers in war-torn regions abroad, rather than officers tasked with keeping peace.

“Instead of being respected as citizens of this nation who have the right to vocally oppose what they believe is mistreatment [protesters] were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and police equipped as though they are militia in a war zone,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio. “What I saw last night reminded me of violent responses to uprisings in countries around the world, not here in my own backyard. We are supposed to be better than that.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., joined the chorus:

This is America, not a war zone. The people of #Ferguson just want answers. We all want answers.

— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) August 14, 2014

 

 

Images & reports out of #Ferguson are frightening. Is this a war zone or a US city? Gov’t escalates tensions w/military equipment & tactics.

— Justin Amash (@repjustinamash) August 14, 2014

Democrats aren’t the only ones railing against perceived police brutality.

Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., penned an oped in Time Magazine decrying a “systemic problem with today’s law enforcement:”

Some lawmakers went further, drawing parallels between the police response to Ferguson protesters and law enforcement treatment of civil rights advocates.

“The tragic killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the events that have transpired since the shooting in Ferguson are reminiscent of the violent altercations that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. Countless African Americans endured unwarranted hostility and excessive force from law enforcement while exercising their right to peaceful assembly and civil resistance,” said Rep. Conyers, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “It is a great travesty to find ourselves again witnessing the blatant violation of our right to peaceably assemble.”

Still others took to social media to voice their outrage.

You should not be forced to choke on tear gas to make your voice heard. #Ferguson

— Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford) August 14, 2014

 

 

You should not have to withstand a shower of rubber bullets to assemble. #Ferguson

— Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford) August 14, 2014

This situation must not spiral further into a national crisis. This began as a tragedy & we need to avoid any further escalation. #Ferguson

— Rep. Steven Horsford (@RepHorsford) August 14, 2014

 

The citizens of #Ferguson deserve answers from police, not a military-style offensive.

— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) August 14, 2014

The greatest flaw is not to understand you have a flaw. #Ferguson @CNNSitRoom

— Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (@repcleaver) August 14, 2014

Both the president and Michael Brown’s parents have pled for peace. Following a national outcry, state troopers have supplanted local police to try to calm the situation.

 

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Hillary Clinton, Kevin Spacey Parody “House of Cards” for Bill Clinton’s Birthday

Hillary Clinton, Kevin Spacey Parody “House of Cards” for Bill Clinton’s Birthday

Photo credit: Nathaniel Bell for Netflix/State Dept photo(WASHINGTON) — Best birthday gift ever?

In honor of former president Bill Clinton’s upcoming birthday, the Clinton Foundation has released a clever House of Cards-inspired video for him, featuring both actor Kevin Spacey, who stars in the Netflix series as the cunning politician Frank Underwood, and his wife, Hillary Clinton.

The short video, which begins with Kevin Spacey prank calling Hillary Clinton pretending to be her husband, spoofs the political drama and Clinton’s indecision about whether she’ll run for president in 2016 (“This is a very personal decision,” Clinton says when asked what’s she’s getting her husband for his birthday). In addition, Spacey suggests names for the Clintons’ grandchild — Frank, if it’s a boy, and Claire, if it’s a girl — which insiders know just happen to be the names of the lead, scheming characters in House of Cards.

Ultimately, an exasperated Clinton admits she knows it’s Kevin Spacey and asks him to just sign her husband’s birthday card.

The Clintons are known to be big House of Cards fans. In an interview with People Magazine early this summer, Hillary Clinton said she and her husband “totally binge-watched the first season” of the political series together.

Bill Clinton, who is currently vacationing with his wife in the Hamptons, turns 68 years old on Tuesday.

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Less than 8,000 Voters Will Determine Hawaii Senate Election

Less than 8,000 Voters Will Determine Hawaii Senate Election

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s likely the Democratic Senate brawl in Hawaii is getting closer to its end, with a result coming as soon as Friday for the Aloha State.

It all comes down to less than 8,000 voters who will finally decide the fate of incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz or challenger Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. The election was held last Saturday, but remains too close to call with Schatz leading by just over 1,600 votes.

On Friday, two precincts on the Big Island of Hawaii who were unable to get to their voting locations last Saturday due to the wrath of Hurricane Iselle will get an opportunity to cast their ballots.

Hanabusa was trying to delay the vote, filing a suit Thursday saying people are still trying to get the “basic necessities” of food, ice, water and power so voting is the last thing on their mind. She was also concerned that without power voters may not even know about the rescheduled election.

Both Hanabusa and Schatz traveled to the Puna area of the Hawaii Island, known as the Big Island, after the storm to help with clean-up and campaign for those last critical votes. Both have said the recovery is their priority.

Hanabusa’s campaign says the judge denied their request and Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago says the vote will go on Friday. In a statement, he says the election will continue for those two Big Island precincts.

The two precincts include about 8,000 voters, but about 20 percent voted early or by absentee. With those polls closing at 6 p.m. local or midnight on the east coast, Hawaii officials say they should have a winner late Friday night.

Colin Moore, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii, tells ABC News it may be “technically possible” for Hanabusa to pull ahead, but “it’s very unlikely.” It’s not just making up the votes, Moore points out, but Schatz won in both other precincts in the Puna area of Hawaii Island.

“That means she would have to convince the relatively small number of remaining voters to support her overwhelmingly,” Moore said, adding he expects a “post-election challenge” from Hanabusa if she’s not successful on Friday.

That won’t be easy, though. Unlike other states, Hawaii has no automatic recount or run-off trigger if the vote between Schatz and Hanabusa narrows even more.

Rex Quidilla, spokesman for Nago’s office, says a campaign could choose to file an appeal or a contest of the results with Hawaii’s State Supreme Court and a recount could be one of the remedies that are prescribed. But it’s “not a guarantee,” and they must “prove the results should have been different,” in order for the court to allow a recount, he said.

As for Hanabusa’s argument that voters may not even be aware of the rescheduled vote, Moore says “there has been a tremendous amount of press coverage about the election.”

“I’m sure the affected voters will hear about it from the two campaigns and from their friends and neighbors,” Moore said. “That said, many people in Puna still don’t have electricity or water, so they may not have an opportunity to vote.”

So, how did things even get to the point where Hanabusa challenged the incumbent senator? It’s been a bruising intra-party brawl. It started in December 2012, when Sen. Daniel Inouye, who had represented Hawaii for 50 years, passed away. His dying wish was that Gov. Neil Abercrombie appoint Hanabusa, his political protégé, to his seat after he died. That didn’t happen and instead he appointed  then-lieutenant governor Brian Schatz.

Abercrombie maintains Inouye said it was ultimately his decision, but Inouye’s widow is backing Hanabusa.

Hanabusa decided to challenge Schatz for the Senate and Abercrombie lost his job by a massive 35 point margin last Saturday, partly because of the Schatz appointment. It was the first time an incumbent ever lost reelection in a primary in the island state.

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Zephyr Teachout Mounts Challenge to NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Zephyr Teachout Mounts Challenge to NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Zephyr Teachout is turning New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reelection race into a dogfight.

Teachout, a law professor who worked for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, has mounted a challenge to Cuomo from his left.

She’s aggressively drawing attention to the failures of Cuomo’s Moreland Commission — the anti-corruption panel that backed down after it began sniffing around organizations close to the governor, according to a New York Times report.

Cuomo has said his office only advised the commission and denied interference with any investigations.

While still a longshot with little name recognition, Teachout, 42, is picking up support by tapping into progressive discontent with Cuomo’s economic positions.

After recently surviving Cuomo’s attempt to get her thrown off the primary ballot, Teachout picked up the endorsement of the state’s second-largest employee union Thursday, after the state teachers union snubbed Cuomo by not endorsing either candidate.

Despite Teachout’s rising stock, Cuomo has kept silent on his primary opponent and ignored her calls for a debate. His campaign did not return a request for comment on Teachout’s bid.

ABC News spoke to Teachout about her challenge to Cuomo, progressive politics and her thoughts on Cuomo’s presidential chances. The following is a Q&A, edited for brevity:

A judge recently threw out  Gov. Cuomo’s legal challenge to your campaign, which argued you weren’t a New York resident.

It turned into an incredible opportunity for us. It’s basically a three-day ad paid for by the Andrew Cuomo campaign. I can’t tell whether he’s scared of a primary, which it seems like he certainly acting like he is.

The governor is afraid of you?

It’s the only logical explanation. It really doesn’t make any sense. The rules are clear. You have to live somewhere for five years. I was there for five years. [A Vermont native, Teachout has worked at Fordham University since June 2009.]

One explanation is that it was a fishing expedition. Another is that he was trying to drain me of money, which backfired, because we’ve raised a lot of money on the court case – I’m truly estimating, but between $70,000 and $100,000.

I’ll put this in a broader context. For years, Gov. Cuomo has managed to keep in control of politics, and now, there are things outside of his control, like what’s happened with the Moreland Commission. You can’t shut down a primary the way you can shut down the Moreland Commission.

You’ve made the Moreland Commission a big part of your campaign.

The [New York Times] report was eye-opening and scalding. It showed that his top aide was attempting to direct the activities of the commission. That kind of disrespect for the idea of law was really audacious.

Four years ago, you supported Cuomo’s initial bid, and considered working for his campaign.

I think I had an experience similar to a lot of New Yorkers.  I really admired his dad [former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo] and I saw him as a real moral force in politics.

But he basically hasn’t been a Democrat! There are a lot of things that Gov. Cuomo does that doesn’t make sense in terms of state politics.

Do you consider yourself a progressive in the same vein of New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio?

Well, I am a progressive, but I am a down-the-line, traditional Democrat. I would be right at home in Mario Cuomo’s cabinet.

But the support for DiBlasio is the same kind of support we’re seeing. That hunger, talking about economic inequality and addressing the root issues of it.

Has he supported your campaign?

He supports the governor. In New York, we have a really powerful governor who uses his budgetary power to punish and reward.

It’s very hard for politicians, without hurting their own constituents, to support a challenger to the governor. I’m not talking about DiBlasio, in particular, but more broadly. But there are an increasing number of brave individuals who are joining us.

How did working for the Howard Dean campaign prepare you for this race?

The heart of the campaign, as much as we touted our technical prowess, was the trust of the people. And the heart of this campaign is the trust of New Yorkers and New York Democrats.

For all the technological advances, there are still relatively few campaigns that really tap into the deep grassroots power that’s there.

By most measures, you’re still considered a long shot.

We’re very focused on the voters most likely to vote. In New York, there’s an extraordinarily powerful anti-fracking movement. There’s a powerful parent and teachers movement that has been bird-dogging Cuomo across the state.

There’s a lot of anger on Cuomo’s silence on the national immigration crisis. New York hasn’t taken leadership, and that’s the role New York has traditionally played.

There are these real pockets of intense anger, and that’s what matters in primary races: intensity.

What are your thoughts on the presidential chatter surrounding Cuomo?


I can tell you, from running against him, that Andrew Cuomo will not be president of the United States.

He’s made some junior-league mistakes running against a relative unknown, and it’s going to be hard for him to run for president after he’s been defeated in the Democratic primary.

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Obama Goes for Bike Ride with Family, Golfs on Vacation

Obama Goes for Bike Ride with Family, Golfs on Vacation

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WEST TISBURY, Mass.) — President Obama, the first lady and daughter Malia went for a leisurely bike ride Friday, enjoying a sunny afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard.

“Hey guys, nice day, huh?” the president asked reporters as he briefly peddled past them on the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest bike path outside West Tisbury.

All three Obamas sported athletic gear and helmets. Michelle Obama wore spandex capri pants and a short-sleeved top, while Malia was in running shorts and a Stanford tee-shirt.

The president wore a dark athletic shirt, gray pants and Nike sneakers with white socks.

The travel pool got a brief glimpse of the first family on-camera as they biked past. The threesome were preceded by teams of advance security and agents on bikes.

After their ride, the president headed back to the golf course to play at the Farm Neck Country Club with businessman Glenn Hutchins, Valerie Jarrett’s cousin Cyrus Walker, and mega-donor Robert Wolf.

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A Look Back at Presidential Responses to Racial Violence

A Look Back at Presidential Responses to Racial Violence

The White House(WASHINGTON) — At the height of the racial turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri, President Obama interrupted his Martha Vineyard vacation to urge calm and promised an open invesitgation into the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager shot and killed by a police officer.

Since the shooting, five days of protest have rocked the St. Louis suburb, where police have unleashed tear gas and smoke bombs to try to control the angry mob.

ABC News takes a look back at race riots across America and how presidents have responded throughout history:

Tulsa, May – June 1921

Post-WWI Oklahoma erupted in a deadly race riot in 1921 in the prosperous Greenwood District, a mostly African American neighborhood of Tulsa. Left out of history books for decades, the 18-hour violent clash left between 50 and 300 dead and over 1,000 homes and businesses destroyed, according to the historical society.

By the time the National Guard arrived the morning after the riot, 35 city blocks had been burned to the ground and countless were injured.

President Warren G. Harding discussed the riot while addressing students at Lincoln University. The president was “shocked” and expressed hope that “such a spectacle would never again be witnessed in this country,” according to a New York Times article from June 7, 1921.

Detroit, June 1943

Riots between blacks and whites at the Belle Isle integrated amusement park led to three days of violence beginning on June 20, 1943. Thirty-four people lost their lives. Of the 25 blacks who perished, 17 were killed by white police officers. President Franklin D. Roosevelt released a “proclamation” on June 21, saying:

“Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby make proclamation and I do hereby command all persons engaged in said unlawful and insurrectionary proceedings to disperse and retire peacefully to their respective abodes immediately, and hereafter abandon said combinations and submit themselves to the laws and constituted authorities of said State; And I invoke the aid and cooperation of all good citizens thereof to uphold the laws and preserve the public peace.”

New York City, July 1964

On July 18, 1964 in Harlem, a white police officer shot and killed James Brown, a 15-year-old African American. His death inspired thousands of residents to riot in New York City neighborhoods for six days. On July 21, President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the nation, saying:

“It must be made clear once and for all that violence and lawlessness cannot, must not, and will not be tolerated. In this determination, New York officials shall have all of the help that we can give them. And this includes help in correcting the evil social conditions that breed despair and disorder.

American citizens have a right to protection of life and limb-whether driving along a highway in Georgia, a road in Mississippi, or a street in New York City.

I believe that the overwhelming majority of Americans will join in preserving law and order and reject resolutely those who espouse violence no matter what the cause.

Evils acts of the past are never rectified by evil acts of the present. We must put aside the quarrels and the hatreds of bygone days; resolutely reject bigotry and vengeance; and proceed to work together toward our national goals.”

Los Angeles, April 1992

On April 29, 1992, officers charged with brutally beating Rodney King were deemed “not guilty” by a jury of 10 whites and no African Americans. For three days, violence erupted across Los Angeles, prompting President George H. W. Bush to send military troops and riot-trained law enforcement to the city.

On May 1, the president spoke about the “civil disturbances,” saying:

“Television has become a medium that often brings us together. But its vivid display of Rodney King’s beating shocked us. The America it has shown us on our screens these last 48 hours has appalled us. None of this is what we wish to think of as American. It’s as if we were looking in a mirror that distorted our better selves and turned us ugly. We cannot let that happen. We cannot do that to ourselves…

Tonight, I ask all Americans to lend their hearts, their voices, and their prayers to the healing of hatred. As President, I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, an oath that requires every President to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility. That duty is foremost in my mind tonight.”

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NCAA Rulings Divide Congress — But Not Along Party Lines

NCAA Rulings Divide Congress — But Not Along Party Lines

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The fate of two recent rulings by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and a federal district court judge on the power of big college athletic conferences and compensation of its players may rest on the most famous deliberative body in America: the United States Congress, which, until now, has yet to speak up on the ramifications of the decisions.

In a series of interviews with ABC News, members of Congress exposed another significant rift on a prominent national issue. The difference this time? Political parties have nothing to do with it. Republicans and Democrats alike expressed either fear of or support for the growth of college sports in light of the rulings.

In the first major decision from Aug. 7, the Division I board of directors gave the five richest athletic conferences the right to set their own rules on the value of scholarships and student health insurance arrangements, among a slate of new powers. And in Oakland, California on Aug. 8, a district judge issued a 99-page ruling, commonly known as the O’Bannon ruling, arguing that the NCAA’s policy of prohibiting payments to college athletes violates antitrust laws.

Voices from all over the country have warned of further enlarging the already large influence of big-time college sports in America, where around $16 billion is fought over annually by university administrators, the NCAA, television networks, coaching staffs and students.

“My general sense is that both of these decisions are due to the inertia and abdication of the NCAA in terms of trying to catch up with reality, in terms of what’s happened to TV revenue, marketing, merchandise, video games and everything else,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., whose district covers the University of Connecticut, a perennial basketball powerhouse. “In both instances, clinging to a model that is overtaken by events decades ago has resulted in a situation where I think it’s kind of an unstable and negative path.”

The O’Bannon ruling centers on the use of player likenesses in video games, which became a hot-button issue after former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon complained of his figure being used in a video game without being compensated in any form.

“When the [O'Bannon] lawsuit was started…it was an outlier opinion. Now, it’s sort of evolved to the point where more people are accepting the fact that the athletes should get the share,” said Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., a former linebacker at Division III Wabash College. “We’re not going to go back to world where money is taken out of this process. The question becomes how we best allocate those rewards.”

Few congressmen have been more active in pursuing legislation on behalf of college athletes than Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, who presides over the third district in Ohio, home to Ohio State University, where she was formerly the senior vice president for outreach and engagement. Beatty has helped introduce two bills in Congress that address health and scholarship concerns in college athletics, including support for concussions and for athletes at risk of losing scholarships because of injuries.

To Beatty, the rulings last week are an extension of a slate of ongoing debates about the NCAA’s responsibility in protecting the livelihood of students.

“It sounds like [the NCAA] has been listening to some of the things we’ve been saying in Congress,” she told ABC News. “We don’t do business the same as we did 30 or 50 years ago. I don’t think we should hold student-athletes to the exact same standards we did decades ago.”

Senators also are reacting to the two rulings. In separate statements to ABC News, Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., agreed it’s time for the NCAA to be more accountable for the financial well-being of its most prized athletes.

“While recent rulings have shaken the foundation of the NCAA, we should seize this opportunity to examine how we prioritize and reward work…in our nation’s colleges and universities,” Brown said. “I stand in solidarity with all NCAA athletes to ensure they get the education, health care and support they deserve.

Nelson struck a more personal tone in advocating for the players.

“So many of these players come from families that don’t have a lot of money. Many of them don’t have the same opportunities that others do,” he said. “I think they should be given stipends, especially if they’re contributing to the financial well-being of the university.

Yet as with the rest of the congressional agenda, a deep divide exists between those supporting player compensation and big conference autonomy, and those who believe the rulings send big time college sports even further down the financial rabbit hole.

“There’s bound to be a way for us to address the problem without making broad rules,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala. “The vast majority of college administrators and coaches are dealing with students for whom their college experience is a lot more than just playing sports.”

If the legal system usurps the authority of university executives, Byrne said, “we start destroying what’s been a real strength of America, with the best higher education system in the world.”

“I think it’s going to be the end of college athletics as we see it,” said Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn.

Roe, along with Byrne and Messer, sits on the Education and the Workforce Committee in Congress, responsible for overseeing much of the controversy surrounding these subjects. The committee held a hearing on May 8 to examine the possibility and consequences of college athletes unionizing.

Roe’s main concern was the fate of mid-level and smaller schools in less-wealthy conferences, in which most athletic departments barely break even. As the richer schools and athletic departments have become more independent, the nature of their participation in organized college sports has been remodeled.

“What you’ve created is a semi-pro or low-level professional league,” he added.

The debate over the rulings could result in congressional action, including an antitrust exemption for the NCAA in negotiating with universities. What’s likelier is hearings and floor discussion on the rulings, particularly in a Congress that struggles to debate and act on even the most boilerplate issues.

“I’ve certainly been trying to talk it up with some of my colleagues. … I just don’t see any appetite to weigh into this among majority members,” Courtney said. “The outcome is chaotic in terms of where things are headed.”

“It’s an important cultural issue … but my hope is that it gets resolved by the private parties,” Messer added. “If Congress has to intervene, it’ll be because the NCAA has failed to intervene.”

To Rep. Byrne, mere discussion of and attention to the O’Bannon and Big Five rulings among Congress serves the right purpose.

“I think that’s probably the most important role we can play,” he said.

Pushing federal action after the decisions could have a counterproductive effect on the triangular relationship between universities, the NCAA and Congress. Interference by the House or Senate may actually impede what all parties hope are smoother negotiations between athletic conferences, athletes and the NCAA.

What could be at stake is something more symbolic and morally urgent than a $5,000 stipend awarded to players used in NCAA-sanctioned video games: the two rulings could be a slippery slope leading to bigger, more expansive rewards for the athletes and schools best positioned to benefit from them.

Post-O’Bannon, the use of the term “student-athlete” might effectively be a smoke screen, a way to disguise serious threats to the structure of higher education in America.

“We love our sports in this country, but it’s gotten a little crazy,” Roe said.

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State Department: White House, DOD ‘Incredibly Linked Up’ on All Israel Weapons Transfers

State Department: White House, DOD ‘Incredibly Linked Up’ on All Israel Weapons Transfers

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — State Department spokesperson Marie Harf denied Thursday that officials at the State Department and the White House were “caught off-guard” upon learning that the Department of Defense was providing weapons to Israel.

Harf, in light of a Wall Street Journal article that said that officials at the White House and the State Department were “caught off-guard” upon learning of the Department of Defense’s supplying of the Israel Defense Forces with ammunition, said that the agencies and the White House are “incredibly linked up on everything we do on Israel.” She was, however, unable to comment on reports that the U.S. had halted the sale of Hellfire missiles to Israel.

According to Harf, the increased scrutiny on weapons transfers is solely about additional “care” with the weapons being provided to Israel. “Given the crisis in Gaza, it’s natural that agencies take additional care to review deliveries as part of an interagency process,” Harf said. “That is by no means unusual and…does not indicate any change in policy.”

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Texas Gov. Perry Sees Off Guard Heading to the Southern Border

Texas Gov. Perry Sees Off Guard Heading to the Southern Border

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) — Denying he was engaging in a political stunt, Texas Governor Rick Perry called National and State Guard heading to the border with Mexico “the tip of the spear, protecting Americans from these cartels and gangs.”

Perry had previously announced that he was sending 1,000 Guard troops to the border in the wake of the influx of tens of thousands of children from Central America who’ve entered the U.S just in the past year.

According to Perry, 2,200 people have volunteered from various branches, including the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard and the State Guard.

The governor suggested that anticipation of the mission has reduced the number of people trying to sneak over the border over the past five weeks.

As for whether he ordered the increase of manpower to burnish his conservative credentials ahead of the 2016 presidential race, Perry scoffed, “The idea that what we’re doing is politics versus protecting the people of Texas and the people of this country is just false on its face.”

He called the members of the drug cartels, “narco-terrorists.”

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Missouri Gov. Says State Highway Patrol to Take Over Security in Ferguson

Missouri Gov. Says State Highway Patrol to Take Over Security in Ferguson

Photo Courtesy – Office of Governor Jay Nixon(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spoke out publicly Thursday against the at-times violent clashes involving police officers and the public in the aftermath of the fatal police-involved shooting of Michael Brown.

Nixon pointedly noted that the right to peacefully protest needs to be respected, while insisting on a need for “safety so that people feel good and happy and safe about walking about their communities in all corners of our state.” Nixon made his statement after protests on Wednesday night turned violent, with police firing rubber bullets and using tear gas, while some protesters reportedly used Molotov cocktails.

Perhaps most notably, Nixon announced on Thursday that the street patrol in the city of Ferguson would be taken over by troopers from the Missouri Highway Patrol. Those troopers will be under the supervision of Capt. Ron Johnson, who grew up in the area.

“What’s gone on here over the last few days…is not what Missouri’s about, it’s not what Ferguson is about,” Nixon said.

The governor noted that residents of Ferguson have been clear, “they told me that they want a community that’s healthy and happy and safe. They want their streets to be free from intimidation and fear. They told me they want peace, they want truth — and they want to be treated with respect,” Nixon said. “My message to the people of Ferguson is that these voices have been heard.”

Nixon also said on Thursday that he would call on officials to publicly release the name of the officer involved in the shooting that left Brown, 18, dead, along with security to prevent additional acts of violence. “I think it would be…an important milestone here…to get that out as expeditiously as possible,” Nixon said.

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NJ Sen. Cory Booker Calls for Expansion of DOJ Probe into Ferguson Shooting

NJ Sen. Cory Booker Calls for Expansion of DOJ Probe into Ferguson Shooting

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker on Thursday wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, urging him to expand the Department of Justice’s probe into the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri.

Booker praised the DOJ’s decision to investigate the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, 18, on Saturday. “However,” his letter reads, “given recent events, I respectfully request that the Department of Justice expand its probe to include a review of unnecessary infringement of the protected right to peacefully protest and the right of a free press.”

Booker’s letter comes after reports that police in Ferguson on Wednesday night used tear gas on protesters and arrested a pair of reporters.

Booker noted his own past, saying that through “personal experience in my own city I have come to learn the value of federal involvement.”

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How US Military Slipped On and Off Mount Sinjar

How US Military Slipped On and Off Mount Sinjar

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SINJAR, Iraq) — Expecting the worst, a small team of U.S. special operations forces and relief workers sent to Mount Sinjar was surprised to find far fewer Yazidis trapped on the mountain than initially feared, leading the Obama administration to decide that a large-scale evacuation mission was not necessary.

The 16-member team had been sent to Mount Sinjar to make a first-hand assessment that would help policymakers plan for what could have potentially been a risky and lengthy mission to get tens of thousands of Yazidi refugees off the mountain.

The assessment team arrived in the Kurdish capital of Erbil on Tuesday as part of a larger force of 129 Marines and special operations forces that would support logistical and communications support for their mission.

Shortly after arriving in Erbil the team of military personnel and USAID workers prepared to be flown to Mount Sinjar. The helicopters that took them there flew under the cover of darkness to minimize any risk that might be posed by ISIS fighters located at the base of the mountain.

Once on the mountain, the assessment team began to get a clearer picture of the situation on Mount Sinjar — a picture that did not match what they were expecting to see.

Instead of finding tens of thousands of Yazidi refugees, they found that only 4,000 to 5,000 Yazidis remained on the mountain, and half that number lived on the mountain and did not want to leave their homes.

The team members were soon told that thousands more Yazidis had walked away from the mountain on their own, encouraged by American airstrikes that had targeted ISIS fighters nearby.

American drones flying overhead had not detected nightly evacuations from the mountain of thousands of Yazidis.

The team found that the U.S. military airdrops of water and food had eased the thirst and starvation among the larger number of Yazidis who had been trapped earlier in the week.

The team determined that the airdrops had been successful and had helped alleviate the crisis on the mountain. With fewer Yazidis still left on the mountain, the team found that some airdropped palettes had gone untouched because supplies were now plentiful.

The team spent less than 24 hours on the mountain before they were once again flown at night by helicopter to Erbil.

Their quick initial assessment was forwarded to the Pentagon, where an interagency team determined that an evacuation mission was not warranted.

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