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Cory Booker Brings Selfie Obsession to the Senate

Cory Booker Brings Selfie Obsession to the Senate

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Three months after the Washington Post declared that senators ruined selfies for everyone, Cory Booker is bringing selfies back.The New Jersey senator’s latest online crusade: snapping a selfie with every single one of his Senate colleagues, 99 in total. The campaign started early last month with a shot Booker took with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.”The First in my 99 part Instagram series: Selfies With Fellow Senators. Here with Angus King of Maine. A true gentleman and valued source of wisdom for me in the Senate,” Booker wrote.Last week, he convinced his unlikely ally, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to take a selfie with him — in the middle of a media appearance nonetheless.”10th in my 99 part Instagram series: Selfies With My Fellow Senators. Here with Rand Paul of Kentucky. Across party lines Senator Paul and I have found common ground around the urgent need to reform our criminal justice system and address the anguished and expensive reality of mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders in the USA. We also bonded over our respect for the holiday of Festivus (Senator Paul has a long list of grievances). #BipartisanshipARealAndNeededFeatOfStrenght,” Booker wrote.And it’s not just his Senate colleagues he wants to corral into self-taken photos. Booker seems to be on a mission to rival Ellen DeGeneres’ epic selfie at this year’s Academy Awards, stretching out his long arms to cram in as many people into one photo at a time — whether it’s taking his summer interns to watch Planet of the Apes or hanging out with kids at a middle school.Using social media to connect with people isn’t new for Booker. The 45-year-old started his social media habit as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, where he used Twitter to connect with constituents, often encouraging them to send him direct messages with their problems. And Booker has used Twitter to forge personal relationships in the Senate. His partnership with Paul started after the two bonded on Twitter over Festivus, a made-up holiday popularized by Seinfeld.Booker has found a way to chronicle the ins and outs of being a senator in a way that wasn’t possible before the age of social media — from attending meetings at the White House to having strangers take pictures of you to providing a glimpse at what it takes to get the perfect shot.Judging by his massive following, Booker’s social media outreach seems to be working. Booker has 38,000 followers on Instagram and 1.47 million on Twitter, a whopping one million more than his friend Paul, whose Twitter account following ballooned after a filibuster last year but pales in comparison to Booker’s.
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‘Shocked’ Rep Scolds VA over ‘Deception’ in Latest Revelations

‘Shocked’ Rep Scolds VA over ‘Deception’ in Latest Revelations

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A flabbergasted congressman scolded officials from the Veterans Benefits Administration that it is “clear”  there “is not a corner that VBA leadership will not cut, nor a statistic that they will not manipulate.”The angry rebuke came from House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller during a second hearing into the alleged intimidation of whistleblowers at the scandal scarred Veterans Administration Monday. The hearing went late into the night, ending just before 1 a.m. Tuesday.Miller, R-Fla., asked the VA officials present who was paying the price for agency’s “self-defined success.”“Whatever hooray you shout, whatever ‘win’ you attempt to claim in 2015, you shall not be celebrated,” Miller said. “It has been made clear that there is not a corner that VBA leadership will not cut, nor a statistic that they will not manipulate to lay claim to a hollow victory.”“What we all want to see, both my Republican and Democrat colleagues, is progress — not deception,” Miller said.The committee heard from several whistleblowers for the second straight week, this time to detail how the VBA processed benefits applications, including changing dates of applications that were not fully processed.Kristen Ruell, an authorization quality services representative at the VBA, claimed that some employees at the Philadelphia Regional Office staff were motivated to manipulate data so they’d get better performance reviews and higher bonuses.“Instead of solving problems, I was retaliated against,” Ruell testified. “VA’s problems are the result of morally bankrupt managers.”Ruell told lawmakers her car was dented and covered with coffee one morning and she suspects the culprits were vindictive VBA managers from the Philadelphia office. “If something doesn’t change soon, I don’t know if there’s going to be any good workers left in the VA,” she said.As the hearing stretched into the night, Miller told the committee about a visit some committee staff took to the Philadelphia Regional Office earlier this month. As several committee aides were preparing to meet with officials July 2, one aide visited the restroom. In the restroom, the committee aide found a notebook that belonged to Acting Regional Director Diana Rubens, apparently directing an official preparing for the briefing to ignore a certain committee aide’s questions. The notes also listed the names of two whistleblowers the committee had been in communication with as well as the names of committee investigators.Rubens, who claimed that her comments on the notebook were taken out of context, and that she simply wrote the names down when they were mentioned to her.The committee investigators were directed to a workspace at the regional office which was outfitted with cameras and microphones. Upon discovering they were being monitored, the aides requested to be moved.“Am I surprised? No, I’m shocked,” Miller said. “The VA may ignore everybody, but I stress you will not ignore this committee anymore.”The Under Secretary for Benefits apologized to the committee, clearly embarrassed.“What occurred was not acceptable and not indicative in normal ways of which Ms. Ruben would behave,” Allison Hickey, the VA’s Undersecretary for Benefits, said. “I offer my sincere apologies to your staff and my commitment that it will not happen again. You’ll receive anything you need.”Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., was one lawmaker who didn’t think the Philadelphia episode was a big deal. “I hope nobody loses their job,” Brown said. “Nobody has business reading someone’s pad in the bathroom.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Primary Season Returns: Alabama and North Carolina Vote in Run-Offs

Primary Season Returns: Alabama and North Carolina Vote in Run-Offs

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — After three weeks off, the primary season continues today. Voters go to the polls for run-offs in Alabama and North Carolina, with three races where voters will cast ballots.No incumbents face the chopping block Tuesday night, but there is one race where an incumbent’s backing could determine the race. All three look like they will go to the GOP, so in two of Tuesday night’s run-offs, the primary results could determine the winner in November. There is likely to be low turn-out in all three races so we could see some surprises.Here are the three races to watch Tuesday:AN INCUMBENT’S BACKING: In the GOP run-off for North Carolina’s sixth congressional district, Rockingham County District attorney Phil Berger Jr. is facing off against Baptist minister Mark Walker to replace the retiring Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C. In the initial primary for the Greensboro seat, Coble stayed neutral, but in the run-off the 83-year-old has backed Berger. WHY IT MATTERS: The 15-term Republican has stumped alongside Berger during the run-off, appearing at campaign events, fundraisers, on mailers, and even recording a robocall. Berger — the son of a state Senate leader — bested Walker in the primary, but he did not cross the 40 percent threshold to avoid a run-off. Having that support, as well as more campaign cash, and Coble’s backing could mean victory Tuesday. But with low turn-out and Walker being the pastor of a large congregation, nothing is certain. The winner of what turned into quite a contentious primary will face off against former University of North Carolina system administrator Laura Fjeld in November. The Republican is favored in this race so the winner tonight will likely also be the November victor.THE OTHERS:GOP RUN-OFF FOR ALABAMA’S SIXTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT:  Conservative activist Gary Palmer and Alabama State Rep. Paul DeMarco are facing off in this run-off to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Spencer Bachus. It’s another heavily Republican district, making Tuesday night’s winner the likely November victor as well. Palmer has the support of the anti-tax group Club for Growth in the run-off since its first choice did not make it through the initial primary, but DeMarco bested Palmer in the primary, as well as in fundraising, and has the backing of the NRA. The Club has dumped about $250,000 in the race and its support could help shift the tide towards Palmer in this re-match. Palmer also has strong ties to the religious community in the district, which could help in what is expected to be a low-turnout run-off. The district is one of the strongest Republican House districts in the entire country, meaning Democrat Avery Vise has little chance at victory.DEMOCRATIC RUN-OFF FOR NORTH CAROLINA’S FIFTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Software developer Josh Brannon is up against former State Department employee and former candidate for Winston-Salem mayor, Gardenia Henley. The winner will face five-term incumbent Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. Brannon bested Henley in the primary, but did not cross the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a run-off. This district in the northwestern part of the state is heavily Republican so it’s likely Tuesday night’s winner won’t impact Foxx’s November re-election.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

POLL: More than Half Back Immigration Plan; Ratings Weak for Obama, GOP Leaders

POLL: More than Half Back Immigration Plan; Ratings Weak for Obama, GOP Leaders

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More than half of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support a White House plan to address an influx of Central American children crossing the border from Mexico, though the president himself receives poor ratings for handling the issue — as do his Republican critics in Congress. Only a third of Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling the issue of undocumented immigrants entering the United States. But even fewer approve of how the Republicans in Congress are dealing with it — 23 percent, including fewer than half of Republicans themselves. Those poor political ratings aside, 53 percent support the plan to spend $3.7 billion to address the immediate problem of unaccompanied, undocumented children entering the country. Still, sharp partisan divisions mark that view: Sixty-six percent of Democrats support the proposal, advanced by Obama last week, dropping to 51 percent of independents and just 35 percent of Republicans. Some frustration on the issue goes beyond partisan predispositions. Perhaps indicating public dismay with political gridlock on immigration, four in 10 Americans simultaneously disapprove of how Obama and Republicans in Congress alike are handling the crisis — and half of them disapprove “strongly.” Further, strong disapprovers of Obama’s work on immigration outnumber strong approvers by a 3-1 margin — and that grows to more than 4-1 strongly negative in terms of the Republicans in Congress in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Obama’s poor numbers are nothing new: Never has a majority approved of his handling of immigration. Still, Americans have been more likely to trust Obama or the Democrats to do a better job than the Republicans in handling immigration in four ABC/Post polls since March 2013. Obama’s proposal would use half of a planned $3.7 billion in emergency spending to provide care for children who’ve crossed the border without documentation while their deportation cases are heard, and the rest on speeding those deportation hearings and increasing border security. This poll’s question described these components, without identifying it as Obama’s proposal. Indeed, among those who support the plan, just half also approve of the way Obama’s handling the situation. Given the partisanship associated with views of the president, either of two outcomes is possible should the plan become more closely identified with Obama: he may gain approval — or it may lose support. Regardless, despite the push on immigration from the White House, the divided Congress is expected to remain at a standstill on the issue until after the midterm elections. And many voters have other priorities: In an ABC/Post poll last month, 49 percent called immigration highly important in their vote for Congress this year, far behind the 84 percent who said the same of the economy. The budget deficit, Obamacare, “the way Washington is working” and women’s issues also ranked higher than immigration. GROUPS – Obama’s approval on handling the issue is highest among some of his core support groups, notably (beyond Democrats) liberals and nonwhites. Support for the emergency spending peaks among these same groups — and among young adults — but also far outstrips approval of Obama’s work on the issue among others, including Republicans, independents, moderates and conservatives. The Republicans in Congress, for their part, get just 48 percent approval in their own party for handling the issue, and even less support, 36 percent, from conservatives. Those numbers drop sharply among independents, moderates, Democrats and liberals alike. Views among Hispanics are not markedly different from those of all Americans on any of these three questions. METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone July 9-13, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,016 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Bipartisan Duo to Introduce Border Bill

Bipartisan Duo to Introduce Border Bill

Texans for Henry Cuellar | Office of Sen. John Cornyn(WASHINGTON) — A pair of Texas lawmakers — one Senate Republican and one House Democrat — are introducing legislation Tuesday to make it easier to swiftly send tens of thousands of young migrants back to Central America after they were caught trying to cross the U.S. border illegally.Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar briefed reporters Monday night on their measure, known as the HUMANE Act, which would change a 2008 law that provided extra protection to children arriving from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — or any non-contiguous country like Mexico and Canada.
The bill effectively calls for all unaccompanied minors to be treated the same as those from other countries — with speedy immigration hearings held within a week — rather than drawn-out proceedings in the backlogged immigration system where the children often slip through the cracks and stay in the United States illegally.“We would treat all the unaccompanied minors the same — whether they are from Central America, Mexico or Canada,” Cornyn said.The legislation allows young migrants to make a case before an immigration judge within seven days. The bill calls for 40 new immigration judges.The proposal is being met with strong opposition from immigrant-rights groups and most Democratic lawmakers, who say the United States has a moral responsibility to step into the humanitarian crisis at the border and help those who are escaping violence at home.Cornyn said he and other Republicans cannot support President Obama’s $3.7 billion request to address the border crisis without significant reforms to the law. The bill could be considered as soon as next week in the Republican-controlled House, but is expected to face significant hurdles in the Democratic-controlled Senate. So far, no Democratic Senator has signed onto the Cornyn-Cuellar proposal.
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Lynne Cheney Mocks Hillary Clinton: ‘We Weren’t Dead Broke’

Lynne Cheney Mocks Hillary Clinton: ‘We Weren’t Dead Broke’

Win McNamee/Getty Images | ABC News(WASHINGTON) — It was standing room only at the Mayflower Hotel on Monday for Politico Playbook’s lunch with the Cheney family. The former vice president was joined by his wife Lynne and daughter Liz for an interview.The conversation bounced from Dick and Liz Cheney’s controversial op-ed in the Wall Street Journal to his Ford F-350 diesel truck (he’s a “proud owner”) to Rand Paul’s foreign policy views.Lynne took a jab at Hillary Clinton, saying she “wasn’t so sure” about Dick Cheney becoming vice president, but that “we weren’t dead broke!”The laughter was quickly eclipsed by several protesters, who interrupted the interview with shouts of war crimes directed at the former vice president.Noticeably absent from lunch was Mary Cheney, Liz’s sister, who is openly gay and married her longtime partner Heather Poe in 2012. Allen addressed her absence, saying she had been invited but had other obligations.The Cheneys largely deflected questions about the family’s feud over gay marriage (Dick Cheney supports it, Liz doesn’t).“I love Mary very much and Heather and the kids,” Liz said, before changing the subject.Most of the conversation revolved around Iraq and foreign policy. Dick Cheney was critical of the current administration’s handling of Iraq. He said entering Iraq in 2003, “was absolutely the right thing to do.”Dick Cheney placed the blame for the recent Islamic militant violence on Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki and the Obama administration. He said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is, “attracting thousands of followers from all over the world,” and there’s a “cauldron out there” with respect to nuclear weapons.At the same time, the former vice president said there is an “isolationist strain developing” inside the GOP, and that “isolationism is crazy.” With the creation of the Alliance for a Strong America, he and his daughter Liz want to bring, “national security front and center in debate and dialogue going forward.”
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Conservative Group Slams Christie over ‘Liberal’ Judges

Conservative Group Slams Christie over ‘Liberal’ Judges

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A conservative group is running ads in Iowa this week slamming Governor Chris Christie — a Republican — for appointing liberal judges in New Jersey.The ads feature a photo of Christie and President Obama together, with Christie wearing his Hurricane Sandy blue fleece. The spots are scheduled to run while the governor is in Iowa this week. The group behind the ads, the Judicial Crisis Network, is run by a former clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas.Watch the ads HERE and HERE.
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US Condemns Cuba for Arresting Dozens of Protesters

US Condemns Cuba for Arresting Dozens of Protesters

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Cuba over the weekend arrested dozens of Damas de Blanco protesters — the wives of political prisoners who have government permission to protest — on the 20th anniversary of the sinking of a tugboat that killed dozens as they attempted to flee the communist nation. In a statement Monday, the U.S. State Department urged an end to the Cuban government’s use of intimidation tactics. “We strongly condemn the Cuban government’s continued use of this intimidation tactic to silence its critics and disrupt peaceful assembly,” said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.“We urge the Government of Cuba to end these practices and respect the universal human rights of the Cuban people.”The tugboat sinking took the lives of 37 people, including 10 children.
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Vicki Kennedy Testifies on Capitol Hill

Vicki Kennedy Testifies on Capitol Hill

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Nearly five years after her husband, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, passed away, Vicki Kennedy appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to testify about her nomination to the board of governors of the U.S. Postal Service.President Obama nominated Vicki Kennedy to the position in February, and her nomination comes at a time when the USPS is experiencing deep financial difficulties. Mrs. Kennedy expressed her commitment to helping the Postal Service survive and warned that further cutbacks could hurt the already embattled agency.“Anytime you have a cutback in service in any way, whether its delivery standards, whether its daily delivery, you know six days a week…I think it’s a black eye. I think it hurts us, and we want people to feel that the postal service is excellent in every way,” Kennedy said.Vicki Kennedy was introduced at the hearing by Sen. Ed Markey, who was part of the Massachusetts delegation when Ted Kennedy served. Other Kennedy friends and family were in the audience, including former Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Vicki Kennedy’s nomination will still have to be approved by the committee before heading to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.
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Meet the First Somali Ambassador to the US in 20 Years

Meet the First Somali Ambassador to the US in 20 Years

YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Somalia has appointed the country’s first ambassador to the United States in more than two decades.Omar Abdirashid Ali Shamarke had his diplomatic credentials accepted Monday at the White House, where he is expected to attend President Obama’s Iftar celebration Monday evening, a dinner marking the breaking of the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.“Ambassador Sharmarke’s arrival to Washington represents the latest progress in advancing U.S.-Somali relations,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.“We look forward to working with Ambassador Sharmarke and continuing to work with the Federal Government of Somalia to bring stability, security, and prosperity to all Somali people,” Psaki added.Somalia’s embassy in the U.S. closed in 1992 following the fall of long-time president Siad Barre, which plunged the country into chaos. Two years ago, the first elected government in 20 years came into power and the United States has given more than half a billion dollars in aid to help build infrastructure and provide basic services, including security and development of a justice system.Ambassador Shamarke is no stranger to the United States. He spent years in America in exile and his family is based in Virginia. He also served in Somalia’s transitional federal government as prime minister in 2009, resigning a year later due to government infighting.Shamarke told ABC News in an interview shortly after taking office that Somalia needed help fighting the al Qaeda-backed militant group Al Shabaab, which at that time controlled all of southern Somalia and most of the capital Mogadishu.“We don’t have an edge in terms of capability and that’s why we have requested this international emergency help to salvage the country,” said Shamarke. “We cannot prevail on these extremist groups when they have Ak-47s, and other weapons and we only have Ak-47s.”In the last five years, the United States gave more than $1.5 billion in assistance, including equipment and training to African Union troops fighting alongside Somalia security forces to push Shabaab out of Mogadishu, as well as its strongholds in southern and central Somalia.Despite the terror group’s loss of physical territory, it continues to launch deadly strikes in both Somalia and the region.
Last September, Shabaab militants attacked an upscale mall in neighboring Kenya, killing 67 people.
Just last week, militants stormed Somalia’s presidential palace, setting off explosions and shooting guards. African Union and Somali military troops responded quickly and both the prime minister and president were unharmed, but the attack showed the threat the terror group continues to pose to the country’s security and stability.U.S. officials say that despite the ongoing terror threat, the administration remains committed to supporting the new government and increasing ties between the countries. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed to ABC News that up to 120 troops are now in Mogadishu, the largest U.S. military presence in Somalia since the 1993 failed Black Hawk Down operation.The State Department’s top diplomat for political affairs, Ambassador Wendy Sherman announced last month that the U.S. soon will name its own ambassador to Somalia, the first in more than 20 years.But in a nod to the realities of the security situation on the ground, Sherman confirmed that the new ambassador, along with the rest of the Somalia team, will be based out of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi  for the foreseeable future. Though the U.S. has set up a small mission in the airport in Mogadishu it is still too dangerous to have any U.S. staff based there, officials said.
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Harry Reid: Judge Judy Would Throw Out GOP Lawsuit

Harry Reid: Judge Judy Would Throw Out GOP Lawsuit

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Paging Judge Judy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Monday the snarky TV judge would throw out the lawsuit crafted by House Republicans in “half a second.”“This is a phony trial that will come up. It’s a show trial. It’s what Republicans want. I guess that’s what they want, but if that’s really what they want, they should go talk to Judge Judy. Think she would throw this case out in a half a second,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “The United States Congress is no place for inane, politically motivated litigation. I think Judge Judy would agree.”“It’s expensive and wasteful. It’s wasting taxpayers hard earned money on something that is without any merit,” he added. “Enough is enough. The fight over Obamacare should be long since ended. The law’s here to stay.”Last week, House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans released a draft of a resolution which would authorize the House to sue President Obama for not faithfully executing the law. The White House has called the lawsuit a “political stunt.”

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George W. Bush Gets Second Partial Knee Replacement

George W. Bush Gets Second Partial Knee Replacement

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — George W. Bush enjoys his mountain biking and now, the former president will have two new knees to power his rides.Aides say Bush’s left knee was partially replaced over the weekend at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Earlier this year, he had his right knee partially replaced at the same hospital over Memorial Day weekend.Both surgeries were outpatient procedures, and Bush, 68, is making his way back home to Dallas.

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Six Best Barbs in Rand Paul vs. Rick Perry Feud

Six Best Barbs in Rand Paul vs. Rick Perry Feud

Stewart F. House/Getty Images | Tom Pennington/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — When it comes to dealing with ISIS, the militant Islamic group intent on taking over Iraq, there’s a rift within the Republican party — and nowhere is the divide more glaring than in dueling op-eds published by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.First, Perry ripped Paul in a scathing Washington Post op-ed published Friday. Perry’s critique was as pointed as it was blunt, calling Paul out by name and suggesting that Paul’s “isolationist” position (advocating against re-engagement in Iraq) “compounds the threat of terrorism.”Not to be outdone, Paul fired back in an op-ed published in Politico Magazine Monday, labeling Perry’s critique “bombast” — and jeering at Perry’s studious new glasses.The exchange was reminiscent of Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s fiery feud earlier this year, not only in its intensity, but because once again, both combatants are likely 2016 hopefuls.In case you missed it, here’s are the best nuggets of the Perry/Paul tirades:Perry: “It’s disheartening to hear fellow Republicans, such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), suggest that our nation should ignore what’s happening in Iraq. …[ISIS] represents a real threat to our national security — to which Paul seems curiously blind.” Paul: “There are many things I like about Texas Gov. Rick Perry. …But apparently his new glasses haven’t altered his perception of the world, or allowed him to see it any more clearly.”Perry: “Reagan identified Soviet communism as an existential threat to our national security and Western values, and he confronted this threat in every theater. …At the time, though, there were those who said that Reagan’s policies would push the Soviets to war. These voices promoted accommodation and timidity in the face of Soviet advancement as the surest path to peace. This, sadly, is the same policy of inaction that Paul advances today. …Paul is drawing his own red line along the water’s edge, creating a giant moat where superpowers can retire from the world.”Paul: “If the governor continues to insist these proposals mean I’m somehow ‘ignoring ISIS,’ then I’ll make it my personal policy to ignore Rick Perry’s opinions.”Perry: “In the face of the advancement of the Islamic State, Paul and others suggest the best approach to this 21st-century threat is to do next to nothing. I personally don’t believe in a wait-and-see foreign policy for the United States.”Paul: “Tough talk like Perry’s might inspire some for the moment, but when bombast becomes policy, it can have long and disastrous consequences. …On foreign policy, Perry couldn’t be more stuck in the past, doubling down on formulas that haven’t worked, parroting rhetoric that doesn’t make sense and reinforcing petulant attitudes that have cost our nation a great deal.”
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LeBron James Won’t Screw Up Our Convention, GOP Insists

LeBron James Won’t Screw Up Our Convention, GOP Insists

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Republican Party says they anticipated LeBron James’ move back to Cleveland and the NBA star won’t be able to block their convention plans.In fact, they may have been planning for it, according to party and city officials.“We’ve worked through all of these contingencies,” said Terry Egger, the chair of Cleveland’s host committee. “For all of the [host] cities that had NBA teams, [playoff basketball] was one of the considerations you had to put in to the equation.”James, 29, announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers three days after Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus revealed Cleveland as the party’s choice to host the 2016 national convention.Priebus told Fox News the GOP hopes to begin the convention on either June 28 or July 18 to allow the party’s candidate to begin raising general election funds earlier in the summer.Should the Cavaliers make it to the league finals in 2016, they could be playing well into June. In 2013, the last game was played on June 20, roughly a week before the RNC’s earliest date.Some — including Priebus — wondered if James-induced playoff basketball would throw off convention plans.“Obviously if the Cavaliers are in the finals, it makes things difficult for a June 28 start,” Priebus said in his announcement.Conventions, which have traditionally been held in August, can take up to six weeks of preparation.RNC spokesperson Ryan Mahoney said the party will “choose a date that allows us to put on the best convention possible and all options remain on the table.”According to Egger, party officials “absolutely” factored postseason basketball into account.“The tech team from the RNC, they covered every conceivable detail,” he said.The RNC has until Aug. 8 to decide on a start date, when delegates will gather in Chicago to approve Cleveland’s nomination.While contemplating a potential playoff run, Republicans shouldn’t plan on an endorsement from James.In March, the basketball superstar lent his talents to the White House for an Obamacare ad, and donated $20,000 to the Democratic Party in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
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Safety Advocacy Group Launches White House Petition to Prevent Hot Car Deaths

Safety Advocacy Group Launches White House Petition to Prevent Hot Car Deaths

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Safety advocacy group KidsAndCars.org launched a White House petition Monday, calling attention to child deaths in hot vehicles and urging the Obama administration to provide funding for related research and technology. The request asks the U.S. Department of Transportation to finance innovative technology that may detect when a child is left alone in the back of a car, and suggests the installation of such devices in all vehicles. “These memory errors are committed by normal, attentive and loving parents. Many of these parents had believed that they could never forget their children, until their children died,” said David Diamond, neuroscientist with KidsandCars.org. “Scientific studies confirm that you can’t assume your memory will never fail, and the consequences of a memory failure can be tragic.”More than 670 children have died in hot cars in the past 20 years, with at least 17 cases in 2014, according to the group. The petition comes on the heels of several related incidents, including the death of a 22-month-old Georgia boy who was left in an SUV by his father. KidsandCars.org requests 100,000 signatures by Aug. 12. “We believe the public wants action now,” said Janette Fennell, the group’s founder and president. “These deaths are happening too frequently in communities across the country and the petition will ensure White House attention and a response.”
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McCain Calls for Return of All Undocumented Children

McCain Calls for Return of All Undocumented Children

United States Congress(WASHINGTON) — Addressing the influx of thousands of children crossing into America from Central America, Sen. John McCain said the best solution is to send them back where they came from.Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, McCain criticized President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion to find temporary shelter for the undocumented immigrants while facilitating deportations.Arguing that he and fellow Republicans won’t approve the funds, the Arizona lawmaker maintained, “The best way to do that is to send planeloads of people…to their country of origin.”McCain acknowledged that although the situation is “terrible and tragic,” the U.S. cannot allow unaccompanied children to remain in this country.What the Obama administration should be looking into doing, according to the senator, is changing trafficking laws to show “that if you come to this country illegally, you will be sent back.”In the long term, McCain said the White House needs to learn more about the living conditions in Central America that compel parents to send their children to the U.S. under the mistaken impression that they can live here without repercussions.
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DOJ Set to Fight Same-Sex Marriage Bans in Supreme Court

DOJ Set to Fight Same-Sex Marriage Bans in Supreme Court

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department is set to urge the Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court ruling and block states from banning same-sex marriage, Attorney General Eric Holder said.The nation’s top law enforcement official’s remarks come just days after Utah officials announced they will ask the Supreme Court to overrule a lower court that concluded gay couples can legally marry in the state.Last month, a federal appeals court ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, approved voters in 2004, was unconstitutional, finding that states cannot keep two people from marrying simply because they are of the same sex.Now the state of Utah is asking the Supreme Court to weigh in, as several other federal appeals courts across the nation consider similar cases that could make their way to the Supreme Court.If the Supreme Court agrees to hear any of those cases, the Justice Department will file a brief with the court that “will be in support of same-sex marriage,” Holder said in a rare interview, sitting down with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas.Holder said the brief would be “consistent with the actions that we have taken over the past couple of years.” The Justice Department has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and its legal efforts to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples have been successful.Those efforts, Holder said, were “vindicated by the Supreme Court,” which ruled last year that same-sex couples must receive the same federal benefits as other married people. That ruling in the so-called “Windsor decision,” however, did not specifically address whether gay marriage is a constitutional right.The Supreme Court could rule on that question if it takes up Utah’s appeal or any of the similar cases.Holder said he believes banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and he’s confident the nation’s highest court will agree.”I think a lot of these measures that ultimately will come before the court will not survive a heightened scrutiny examination,” he said.

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House Judiciary Chair Goodlatte Dismisses Calls for Obama Impeachment

House Judiciary Chair Goodlatte Dismisses Calls for Obama Impeachment

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(NEW YORK) — House Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, said Sunday on This Week that he won’t push for the impeachment of President Obama, despite recent calls by some Republicans.“We are not working on or drawing up articles of impeachment,” Goodlatte told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday. “The Constitution is very clear as to what constitutes grounds for impeachment of the President of the United States. He has not committed the kind of criminal acts that call for that.”Other Republicans, including former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, have rallied for impeachment charges against Obama. In a recent column published on Breitbart.com, Palin wrote “It’s time to impeach…The many impeachable offenses of Barack Obama can no longer be ignored.”While Goodlatte said Sunday morning that he won’t pursue impeachment, he did express support for House Speaker John Boehner’s efforts to sue Obama for overstepping presidential authority through his use of executive orders to modify aspects of the Affordable Care Act.We do believe that the president is not enforcing the law,” Goodlatte said. “And that’s why [Speaker Boehner] and many of us in the Congress are getting ready to take legal action to stand up for the people’s right for their elected representatives to be the part of our government that passes laws, not a president with his pen and his cellphone.”In his weekly address, Obama called the lawsuit against him “a political stunt that’s going to waste months of America’s time.”Although Goodlatte stopped short of calling for Obama’s impeachment, he did criticize the President’s handling of the escalating border crisis in the U.S. and his recent request for $3.7 billion in emergency assistance.“Yes, we should do targeted appropriations where it’s needed to make sure that we are able to detain people and send them back to their countries,” Goodlatte said. “But there is an awful lot that the president can do right now without any action on the part of the Congress. ”Goodlatte suggested that President Obama should act to stop the flow of illegal immigration from Central America, saying he should “make it very clear that people who illegally enter the United States are going to be sent home.”“This matter can be addressed if the president will exercise leadership and stop not enforcing the law. He doesn’t enforce law,” Goodlatte told Stephanopoulos. “He’s releasing criminal aliens back onto our streets that have been detained rather than making sure that they get sent back to their home countries.”President Obama described the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border as a “humanitarian crisis” during a recent exclusive interview with Stephanopoulos.
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Holder: Palin Wasn’t a Good VP Candidate, Worse Judge of Who Should Be Impeached

Holder: Palin Wasn’t a Good VP Candidate, Worse Judge of Who Should Be Impeached

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) –  Attorney General Eric Holder is challenging Republicans who are calling for his and President Obama’s impeachment, and denouncing what he calls a “gridlocked Washington” stalled by what he says is a Republican Party bent on blocking any of the administration’s efforts.“For whatever reason, [some] Republicans decided early on that this was a president they were just simply not going to cooperate with,” Holder said in a rare interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas. “And over the past five-and-a-half years, we have seen demonstrations of that, where the president has reached out his hand, offered compromises that have simply not been met [in the way] they have been in the past by a Republican Party willing to do the appropriate things.”Administration efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, for example, have failed. Asked about calls by Sarah Palin to impeach Obama over the administration’s immigration policies, Holder said: “She wasn’t a particularly good vice presidential candidate. She’s an even worse judge of who ought to be impeached and why.”Holder similarly dismissed calls for himself to be impeached for declining to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal. Holder insisted that a special prosecutor isn’t necessary, with “career people” and FBI agents “doing a good, professional job” investigating the matter.As for House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against the administration over the Affordable Care Act, Holder said he doesn’t think “that lawsuit’s going to have legs.”“It’s a more, I think, a political gesture than a truly legal one,” he said. “Filing a lawsuit against the president that has no basis is not going to improve the quality of life for the American people.”In the wide-ranging interview for This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Holder spoke at length about race and discrimination in America, saying the country is in “a fundamentally better place than we were 50 years ago.”“We’ve made lots of progress,” he said. “I sit here as the first African-American attorney general, serving the first African-American President of the United States. And that has to show that we have made a great deal of progress.“But there’s still more we have to travel along this road so we get to the place that is consistent with our founding ideals,” he said.Holder said that he and President Obama are treated differently than their predecessors.“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder said. “You know, people talking about taking their country back. … There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.”Asked about his controversial comments from 2009, in which he called the United States a “nation of cowards” when it comes to race, Holder stood firm.“I wouldn’t walk away from that speech,” Holder said. “I think we are still a nation that is too afraid to confront racial issues,” rarely engaging “one another across the color line [to] talk about racial issues.”In addition, Holder took Republicans to task for efforts to, among other things, enact voter ID laws in some states. He called such moves “political efforts” aimed at making it “more difficult” for “groups that are not supportive of those in power” to “have access to the ballot.”“Who is disproportionately impacted by them? Young people, African Americans, Hispanics, older people, people who, for whatever reason, aren’t necessarily supportive of the Republican Party,” Holder said, noting that “this notion that there is widespread in-person voter fraud is simply belied by the facts.”Holder said the Justice Department is expected to soon file challenges to restrictive voting laws in Ohio and Wisconsin, as the department already did in Texas and North Carolina.“I’m attorney general of the United States. I will not stand for — I will not allow people to take away that which people gave their lives to give, and that is the ability for the American people to vote,” Holder said.In the interview, Holder was also asked about the controversy now surrounding the name of Washington’s professional football team, the Redskins.“I think the name ought to be changed,” Holder, a long-time Washingtonian, said. “I think it is an offensive name. And the Redskins are … a team with a storied history that has huge amounts of support in Washington, D.C. And I think in the 21st Century, they could increase their fan base, increase their level of support if they did something that is so, from my perspective, so obviously right.”
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Holder: Palin Wasn’t a Good VP Candidate, Worse Judge of Who Should Be Impeached

Holder: Palin Wasn’t a Good VP Candidate, Worse Judge of Who Should Be Impeached

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) –  Attorney General Eric Holder is challenging Republicans who are calling for his and President Obama’s impeachment, and denouncing what he calls a “gridlocked Washington” stalled by what he says is a Republican Party bent on blocking any of the administration’s efforts.“For whatever reason, [some] Republicans decided early on that this was a president they were just simply not going to cooperate with,” Holder said in a rare interview with ABC News’ Pierre Thomas. “And over the past five-and-a-half years, we have seen demonstrations of that, where the president has reached out his hand, offered compromises that have simply not been met [in the way] they have been in the past by a Republican Party willing to do the appropriate things.”Administration efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform, for example, have failed. Asked about calls by Sarah Palin to impeach Obama over the administration’s immigration policies, Holder said: “She wasn’t a particularly good vice presidential candidate. She’s an even worse judge of who ought to be impeached and why.”Holder similarly dismissed calls for himself to be impeached for declining to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal. Holder insisted that a special prosecutor isn’t necessary, with “career people” and FBI agents “doing a good, professional job” investigating the matter.As for House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit against the administration over the Affordable Care Act, Holder said he doesn’t think “that lawsuit’s going to have legs.”“It’s a more, I think, a political gesture than a truly legal one,” he said. “Filing a lawsuit against the president that has no basis is not going to improve the quality of life for the American people.”In the wide-ranging interview for This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Holder spoke at length about race and discrimination in America, saying the country is in “a fundamentally better place than we were 50 years ago.”“We’ve made lots of progress,” he said. “I sit here as the first African-American attorney general, serving the first African-American President of the United States. And that has to show that we have made a great deal of progress.“But there’s still more we have to travel along this road so we get to the place that is consistent with our founding ideals,” he said.Holder said that he and President Obama are treated differently than their predecessors.“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder said. “You know, people talking about taking their country back. … There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.”Asked about his controversial comments from 2009, in which he called the United States a “nation of cowards” when it comes to race, Holder stood firm.“I wouldn’t walk away from that speech,” Holder said. “I think we are still a nation that is too afraid to confront racial issues,” rarely engaging “one another across the color line [to] talk about racial issues.”In addition, Holder took Republicans to task for efforts to, among other things, enact voter ID laws in some states. He called such moves “political efforts” aimed at making it “more difficult” for “groups that are not supportive of those in power” to “have access to the ballot.”“Who is disproportionately impacted by them? Young people, African Americans, Hispanics, older people, people who, for whatever reason, aren’t necessarily supportive of the Republican Party,” Holder said, noting that “this notion that there is widespread in-person voter fraud is simply belied by the facts.”Holder said the Justice Department is expected to soon file challenges to restrictive voting laws in Ohio and Wisconsin, as the department already did in Texas and North Carolina.“I’m attorney general of the United States. I will not stand for — I will not allow people to take away that which people gave their lives to give, and that is the ability for the American people to vote,” Holder said.In the interview, Holder was also asked about the controversy now surrounding the name of Washington’s professional football team, the Redskins.“I think the name ought to be changed,” Holder, a long-time Washingtonian, said. “I think it is an offensive name. And the Redskins are … a team with a storied history that has huge amounts of support in Washington, D.C. And I think in the 21st Century, they could increase their fan base, increase their level of support if they did something that is so, from my perspective, so obviously right.”
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