Cruz Invites Obama to Border, Calls for Bombing ISIS ‘Back to the Stone Age’

Posted on: August 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Sen. Ted Cruz today invited President Obama to accompany him to a golf course on the Texas-Mexico border, telling conservatives at an Americans for Prosperity summit in Dallas he thought that was “the only way there is a chance in heaven that he might come” to the region.

The Texas Republican and potential 2016 presidential contender also heavily criticized the president’s foreign policies and suggested that the U.S. should bomb ISIS “back to the stone age.”

“Tonight I am officially extending an invitation for Barack Obama to come join me at the border in Texas,” Cruz said. “I figured the only way there is a chance in heaven that he might come: I am inviting him to a golf course.”

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Cruz told the audience that he is inviting Obama to join him at Lajitas Golf Resort in Big Bend, where, on “the 11th hole, the pin is on the other side of the Rio Grande, so you can only go for a hole in one.”

Cruz devoted much of his speech to lambasting Democratic immigration reforms and warned that it would be “utterly lawless” for Obama to offer “amnesty” without the consent of Congress. Obama is expected to take executive action on immigration sometime this fall, but it has remained unclear when or how aggressively the president would seek to change U.S. policy.

“I’m expecting to get a call back from the president any day now to accept this invitation,” Cruz said.

Cruz briefly mocked Obama’s comment that he has no “strategy” yet to attack ISIS in Syria, a remark the president made in a live news conference on Thursday, on which fellow high-profile Republicans have seized.

“I’m sure everyone was shocked to hear this,” Cruz said sarcastically, of the president’s remark, contrasting it with Ronald Reagan’s strategy in the Cold War and quoting the former president: “We win, they lose.”

Cruz railed against ISIS, the jihadist group that has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria and which shocked many in the West by executing American journalist James Foley.

“America has always been reluctant to use military force, but we have never shied away from defending the United States of America,” Cruz said. “ISIS says they want to go back and reject modernity, well I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the stone age.”

Earlier this month, Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes against ISIS positions in northern Iraq. On Saturday, the U.S. military’s Central Command announced five more drone and fighter-jet strikes had destroyed ISIS positions near the contested Mosul Dam. Those strikes brought the total up to 115 since Obama’s authorization three weeks ago, CENTCOM said.

Cruz criticized Obama’s foreign policy in general, alleging he’s been outplayed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the geopolitical stage. Cruz also blasted the FAA’s short-lived ban on flights to Tel Aviv, during the recent Gaza conflict.

“The Obama Doctrine works very, very well,” Cruz said. “You simply let Putin eat your lunch every day.”

California Passes Plastic Bag Ban

Posted on: August 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — California lawmakers are sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would make California the first to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags.

State lawmakers okayed the bill Friday after protections were added for plastic bag manufacturers.

The measure makes plastic bags illegal statewide at grocery stores and large pharmacies. It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge $0.10 each for paper and reusable plastic.

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Obama Pushes for Increased Minimum Wage in Weekly Address

Posted on: August 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — With Labor Day just around the corner, President Obama outlined the arguments behind his continued push for an increased minimum wage in his weekly address.

Obama reiterated once again that Congress should act to help hardworking Americans around the country. Obama raised the minimum wage for federal workers to $10.10 per hour using an executive order earlier this year, and in his address he praised the 13 states and the District of Columbia who have followed his lead.

“America deserves a raise,” Obama said, because the country built “the greatest middle class the world has ever known” by ensuring that all hardworking Americans can get ahead.

Read the full transcript of the president’s address:

Hi, everybody.  Whether you’re firing up the grill, fired up for some college football, or filling up the car for one last summer roadtrip – Happy Labor Day weekend.

We set aside Labor Day to honor the working men and women of America.  And this Labor Day, we’ve got more to celebrate.  Over the past 53 months, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs.  Last month, for the first time since 1997, we created more than 200,000 jobs for six straight months.  And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders worldwide have declared, two years running, that the number one place to invest isn’t China – it’s America.

So there are reasons to be optimistic about where we’re headed.  And the decisions we make now will determine whether or not we accelerate this progress – whether economic gains flow to a few at the top, or whether a growing economy fuels rising incomes and a thriving middle class.

Think about it this Labor Day.  The things we often take for granted – Social Security and Medicare, workplace safety laws and the right to organize for better pay and benefits, even weekends – we didn’t always have these things.  Workers and the unions who get their back had to fight for them.  And those fights built a stronger middle class.

To build a stronger middle class in today’s changing economy, we’ve got to keep fighting.  We’ve got to fight for the right to affordable health insurance for everybody.  The right to fair pay, family leave, and workplace flexibility.  The right to a fair living wage. 

Let me focus on that last one for a minute.  In America, no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.  A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.  And raising the minimum wage would be one of the best ways to give a boost to working families.  It would help around 28 million Americans from all walks of life pay the bills, provide for their kids, and spend that money at local businesses.  And that grows the economy for everyone.

The bottom line is, America deserves a raise.  But until we’ve got a Congress that cares about raising working folks’ wages, it’s up to the rest of us to make it happen.  And in the year and a half since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, Americans of all walks of life are doing just that.

Thirteen states and D.C. have done their part by raising their minimum wages.  Four more states have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot this November.  And the states where the minimum wage has gone up this year have experienced higher job growth than the states that haven’t. 

Business leaders at companies like The Gap are doing their part.  They’re raising base wages for tens of thousands of workers because they know it’s good for business.
Mayors across the country are doing their part.  Mayor Emanuel in Chicago and Mayor Garcetti in L.A. are working to lift their cities’ wages over time to at least thirteen dollars an hour.

I’ve tried to do my part by requiring companies that get contracts with the federal government to pay their workers a fair wage of ten dollars and ten cents an hour. 

And earlier this month, the president of Kentucky State University set a great example by giving himself a $90,000 pay cut, so that he could give raises to his lowest-paid employees.  His sacrifice will give more of his workers and their families a little extra money to help make ends meet. 

That’s how America built the greatest middle class the world has ever known.  Not by making sure a fortunate few at the top are doing well, but by making sure that everyone who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules can get ahead.  That’s the bedrock this country is built on.  Hard work.  Responsibility.  Sacrifice.  And looking out for one another as one united American family.

Let’s keep that in mind this Labor Day, and every day.  Have a great weekend, everybody.

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GOP Weekly Address: Rep. Larry Bucshon on Bringing Jobs Back to the US

Posted on: August 30th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Congress(WASHINGTON) — In the Republican weekly address, Rep. Larry Bucshon of Indiana discussed what American political leaders must do to bring jobs back to the United States.

With Labor Day on Monday, Bucshon spoke of how “Americas workers make our country go.” He noted, however, that many of those workers are “hurting.”

Bucshon mentioned 40 “good jobs bills awaiting action,” blame for which he pointed at the Democrat-held Senate.

Bucshon argues for lowering energy costs, fixing the tax code and restoring opportunities for all Americans.

Read the full transcript of the GOP address:

Hello, I’m Dr. Larry Bucshon, proudly serving Indiana’s Eighth Congressional District.

I’m honored to be speaking with you from the Heartland of America on this weekend when we tip our hat to the working man and woman.

America’s workers make our country go, so our goal should be to make our economy work for them.

But traveling around Indiana this week, going from job fairs to listening sessions to small businesses, it was easy to see how our workers are still hurting.

We’re seeing some jobs come back, but too many of our fellow Americans are stuck in part-time work or have stopped looking altogether.  And between wages staying flat – and costs on everything from food to health care going up – families are being squeezed at every turn.

Here in Indiana, and in many states throughout the union, we rely on coal to power our homes and provide good-paying middle class jobs – like the one my family relied on when I was a kid.

My dad spent 35 years as a UMWA coal miner in my hometown of Kincaid, Illinois. He was proud of the work he did everyday and rightly so.  The coal mine helped put food on our table and helped me pursue an education and realize the American Dream.

Unfortunately, the current administration is waging a war on this reliable, affordable source of energy and the countless jobs it supports.  This is one example of many where the policies coming from Washington, D.C. just don’t make sense.

As a physician, I took an oath to “do no harm.”  While this Administration’s policies continue to harm our nation’s economy and families struggling to make ends meet, Republicans are offering solutions America’s workers can count on. Our solutions will address the sluggish job market and grow our economy over the long run.

First, we need to get people back into steady, good-paying jobs.  One thing we’ve already done is fix our job training system to make it easier for workers to find the skills they need to get ahead – this was a bipartisan, common-sense compromise with our colleagues in the Senate.  We’ve also offered proposals to jumpstart small business investment and rein in the red tape factory that makes it harder for employers to hire and expand.

All told, we have more than 40 good jobs bills awaiting action in the Democratic-run United States Senate. 

Lowering costs is another area that demands action.  Several of the bipartisan jobs bills we’re asking Senate Democrats to act on would help make energy less expensive for families and small businesses, like the manufacturers that help support the Hoosier economy.  And we need to implement real health care reform that lets patients choose the plans they want at a price they can afford.

And third, we need to restore real opportunities for all Americans.  That’s why we’ve sent the Senate solutions to make education more affordable and accessible for middle-class families.  And we’re ready to fix our tax code to make it simpler and fairer for everyone.

These three things – getting people back to work, lowering costs at home, and restoring opportunity – will continue to be our focus in the weeks ahead.

We call them ‘American Solutions’ because they put the American people first.  Which is exactly what we’re asking of President Obama and Senate Democrats as we celebrate our nation’s workforce: put aside politics, and do what Americans do every day, and that’s get to work.

Thanks for listening. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

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Federal Judge Rejects Part of Restrictive Texas Abortion Law

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — A federal judge rejected part of the state’s abortion law that would have required abortion clinics to meet hospital-level operating room standards by Sept. 1 or close.

The law would have left just seven facilities in Texas as legal abortion sites. For now, at least 19 such facilities will remain open. An appeal from the state is expected.

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis called the decision “a victory for women’s health care.” Davis notably filibustered the abortion bill for 11 hours before it passed during a special session. “These decisions,” Davis said, “should only be made between a woman, her doctor and her God — not Austin politicians like Attorney General Greg Abbott, who would make abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest.”

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Mississippi Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Seeking to Overturn Sen. Thad Cochran’s Primary Win

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) — A Mississippi judge threw out a lawsuit Friday filed by Senate candidate Chris McDaniel who sought to overturn Senator Thad Cochran’s narrow victory in their June primary runoff.

Judge Hollis McGehee ruled that McDaniel failed to file the challenge within the 20-day period required by Mississippi law.

McGehee’s decision was issued a day after hearing arguments regarding the timing of the lawsuit.

The challenge by McDaniel centered on his frustration over the means by which Cochran won the runoff to their June 3 Republican primary. Refusing to concede his loss, McDaniel argued that he and his campaign team discovered over a thousand ineligible ballots, largely cast by voters who also participated in the state’s Democratic primary the day before. Though state law does not require that voters register with a particular party to vote in a primary, it requires voters to align in the runoff with the party they voted for in the primary.

Out of more than 380,000 ballots cast, McDaniel lost to Cochran in the runoff by fewer than 8,000 votes.

McGehee sided with Cochran’s lawyers, who referenced a Mississippi Supreme Court Law issued in 1959 that stated election challenges must occur within 20 days of the final day of voting. McDaniel filed the challenge on Aug. 14, well past the deadline.

An aide to McDaniel told ABC News it is currently “unclear” whether they will appeal to a higher court, perhaps the same Supreme Court that issued the law that prevented the successful challenge in the first place.

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A Mississippi judge  threw out a lawsuit today filed by Senate candidate Chris McDaniel who seeking to overturn Senator Thad Cochran’s narrow victory in their June primary runoff.

Judge Hollis McGehee ruled that McDaniel failed to file the challenge within the 20-day period required by Mississippi law.

McGehee’s decision was issued a day after hearing arguments regarding the timing of the lawsuit.

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The challenge by McDaniel centered on his frustration over the means by which  Cochran won the runoff to their June 3 Republican primary. Refusing to concede his loss, McDaniel argued that he and his campaign team discovered over a thousand ineligible ballots, largely cast by voters who also participated in the state’s Democratic primary the day before. Though state law does not require that voters register with a particular party to vote in a primary, it requires voters to align in the runoff with the party they voted for in the primary.

Out of more than 380,000 ballots cast, McDaniel lost to Cochran in the runoff by fewer than 8,000 votes.

McGehee sided with Cochran’s lawyers, who referenced a Mississippi Supreme Court Law issued in 1959 that stated election challenges must occur within 20 days of the final day of voting. McDaniel filed the challenge on Aug. 14, well past the deadline.

An aide to McDaniel told ABC News it is currently “unclear” whether they will appeal to a higher court, perhaps the same Supreme Court that issued the law that prevented the successful challenge in the first place.

Mississippi Judge Rejects Bid to Overturn GOP Runoff Results

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

gty ht cochran mcdaniels split kb 131210 16x9 608 Mississippi Judge Rejects Bid to Overturn GOP Runoff Results

(J. Scott Applewhite/ AP Photo | Chris McDaniel For Senate)

A Mississippi judge  threw out a lawsuit today filed by Senate candidate Chris McDaniel who seeking to overturn Senator Thad Cochran’s narrow victory in their June primary runoff.

Judge Hollis McGehee ruled that McDaniel failed to file the challenge within the 20-day period required by Mississippi law.

McGehee’s decision was issued a day after hearing arguments regarding the timing of the lawsuit.

Six-Term Incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran Beats Tea Party Challenger, Chris McDaniel

Chris McDaniel Opens Legal Challenge in Mississippi GOP Primary Race

Chris McDaniel Just Won’t Give Up After GOP Senate Primary Loss

The challenge by McDaniel centered on his frustration over the means by which  Cochran won the runoff to their June 3 Republican primary. Refusing to concede his loss, McDaniel argued that he and his campaign team discovered over a thousand ineligible ballots, largely cast by voters who also participated in the state’s Democratic primary the day before. Though state law does not require that voters register with a particular party to vote in a primary, it requires voters to align in the runoff with the party they voted for in the primary.

Out of more than 380,000 ballots cast, McDaniel lost to Cochran in the runoff by fewer than 8,000 votes.

McGehee sided with Cochran’s lawyers, who referenced a Mississippi Supreme Court Law issued in 1959 that stated election challenges must occur within 20 days of the final day of voting. McDaniel filed the challenge on Aug. 14, well past the deadline.

An aide to McDaniel told ABC News it is currently “unclear” whether they will appeal to a higher court, perhaps the same Supreme Court that issued the law that prevented the successful challenge in the first place.

Rick Perry Criticizes Obama for Lack of Strategy, Calls ISIS ‘Danger to the Free World’

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC/Matthew Putney(DALLAS) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticized President Obama on Friday at the annual Americans for Prosperity summit in Dallas.

Calling out the commander in chief for his admission that the administration does not yet have a strategy on how to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on Thursday, Perry called the militant group a “clear and present danger to the free world.” Obama, he said, needs to understand that “the peace of the free world requires presidential decisiveness, not dithering and debating.”

Addressing the conservative crowd, Perry called for action, declaring that “presidential leadership is needed now, more than ever.”

Changing topics, Perry also criticized Obama’s overreach on immigration. “On the one hand we’re seeing a willful neglect of clear presidential responsibility,” Perry said, “and on the other, we’re seeing an aggressive overreach into powers that don’t even belong to a president.”

Perry was indicted earlier this month on charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official for his threat to veto funding for the Texas state public integrity unit when District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign following a DUI.

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Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu Facing Questions About Residency

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is facing questions this week after a tea party candidate for her seat filed a letter with the Louisiana Secretary of State urging them to investigate Landrieu’s residency status.

Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, a tea party candidate for the Louisiana Senate seat said that while Landrieu owns a home in Louisiana, she lists a home in Washington, D.C. as her home address on a number of forms and has referred to the D.C. home as her residence. This, Maness says, should disqualify her from the requirements to represent the state. Specifically, Louisiana statutes require a Senator to be an “inhabitant of this state.”

In his letter to the Louisiana Secretary of State, Maness cites numerous media interviews and paperwork in which Landrieu has called Washington her home. Her campaign website refers to the Louisiana home as “the house she grew up in,” and not her current home.

Landrieu is registered to vote at the Louisiana home and is a joint owner of the home along with a limited liability corporation set up for her family’s estate planning. However, Maness argues, that is not the same as being an inhabitant of the state.

Still, Landrieu’s daughter still attends high school in Louisiana and lives in the state regularly, and Landrieu is listed as the partial owner of a home in the state, making it difficult for Maness to prove that she is not legally a Louisiana resident.

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Chelsea Clinton to Leave NBC News

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC(NEW YORK) — Chelsea Clinton announced on Friday that she will leave her job as a special correspondent at NBC News due in part to her pregnancy and in part so that she can focus on her work with the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton joined NBC in 2011, and thanked the company for the opportunity to tell “stories about remarkable people and organizations and [make] a profound difference in our country and our world.” She called her time at NBC a “privilege”

Still, Clinton said, she looks forward to working with NBC in the future.

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Sunday on ‘This Week’: The ISIS Terror Threat

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

 Sunday on This Week: The ISIS Terror Threat

Reuters

This Sunday, “This Week” covers the latest on the terror threat warnings over ISIS.

And the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and ABC News’ Cokie Roberts.

Check the “This Week” page for full guest listings. See the whole political picture, Sunday on “This Week.”

Like “This Week” on Facebook here. You can also follow the show on Twitter here.

Go here to find out when “This Week” is on in your area.


Former Presidents to Announce Partnership, Launch Presidential Leadership Scholars Program

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo Credits: ABC/ JON GARCIA (L) and ABC/Randy Holmes (R)(WASHINGTON) — Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will team up again, they announced on Friday, to launch an educational leadership program.

The Presidential Leadership Scholars program will offer “motivated leaders an opportunity to study presidential decisions, and learn from key administration officials, practitioners, and leading academics.” This program is the product of a partnership between the presidential centers of Bush, Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

The specific details of the program will be unveiled on Sept. 8 during a lunch event at Washington D.C.’s, Newseum. That event will be also be steamed live.

According to a press release, the program’s intent is to allow its participants to “foster the skills they’ll need to address both the challenges and opportunities presented in the 21st century.”

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Homeland Security Secretary Says No Threat Imminent Against US

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Department of Homeland Security(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on Friday in regards to the decision made by the government of the United Kingdom to raise that country’s domestic terror threat level to “severe.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in the statement that the U.S. government has not received any “specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland.” Still, Johnson noted, militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have shown the intent and capability to capture American citizens overseas, making them an “active and serious threat.”

Johnson points out the action that the DHS has taken in recent weeks, including enhanced security at overseas airports and increased tracking of foreign fighters traveling to and from Syria. “Additional security measures” are also under consideration, he said.

Johnson expressed deep concern about the ongoing situation in both Iraq and Syria, saying that the DHS will “continue to evaluate and adopt serious and prudent homeland security measures as the situation warrants.”

Earlier on Friday, the FBI noted that the United Kingdom’s decision was not based on a specific threat. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest echoed that sentiment, saying that he didn’t “anticipate at this point that there is a plan to change” the U.S. terror threat level.

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3 Million Refugees Have Fled Syria, UN Agency Says

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

RT syrian refugees jef 140829 16x9 608 3 Million Refugees Have Fled Syria, UN Agency Says

(Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

More than 3 million people have sought refuge from the fighting in Syria, the United Nations’ refugee agency announced today.

That means the Syrian crisis, which has persisted since a civilian uprising began in 2011, is the biggest refugee operation in the UNHCR’s 64-year history, the agency said.

Escalating Violence Fuels Syrian Refugee Crisis

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UN Calls Syrian Refugee Crisis Worst Since Rwandan Genocide

Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said the international effort to help Syrian refugees was insufficient to meet their growing needs and number.

“The world is failing to meet the needs of [Syrian] refugees and the countries hosting them,” Guterres said, adding that, while the response to the crisis has been generous, “the bitter truth is that it falls far short of what’s needed.”

In addition to the 3 million people who have sought shelter in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, another 6.5 million refugees have been displaced within Syria, the agency said, adding that half of those people were children. The UNHCR concluded that almost half of the  Syrian civilian population has had to leave its homes.

Not only are the refugees fleeing violence, but because they frequently bounce from village to village before finally leaving their home country, they arrive in neighboring countries in increasingly “shocking states[s],” according to a UNHCR statement.

“There are worrying signs too that the journey out of Syria is becoming tougher, with many people forced to pay bribes at armed checkpoints proliferating along the borders,” the statement said.

Long-term medical conditions, steep food and commodity prices and unemployment are also problems that Syrians are plagued with once they escape the areas of greatest danger, the UNHCR added.

The Note: No Strategy

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By CHRIS GOOD (@c_good)

 

NOTABLES

  • ‘WE DON’T HAVE A STRATEGY YET’: President Obama said Thursday that his administration does not yet have a strategy to combat the militant Islamic group ISIS that has seized large chunks of Iraq and Syria. When the president was asked if he would seek Congressional approval for U.S. attacks on ISIS targets in Syria, he responded, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet,” ABC’s John Parkinson and Erin Dooley report. “Some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are,” he added. http://abcn.ws/1sKkQQp
  • MORE ISIS ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: It’s just a Web video, not a TV ad with money behind it, but Scott Brown has posted a one-minute YouTube clip hitting President Obama on ISIS and Ukraine, featuring footage of ISIS fighters. “There are so many issues on the table right now that are affecting our foreign policy, but we have one of the most incoherent foreign policies right now,” Brown alleges in it. http://youtu.be/uslrm_DON-I
  • GOP ’16ERS @ AFP SUMMIT: Americans for Prosperity—poised to be the most influential conservative group in the nation this year, and among the most influential and heaviest spending across the political spectrum this year and into the looming presidential race—will host potential Republican White House aspirants at its Defending the American Dream Summit in Dallas. Today Rick Perry, Ben Carson, and Rand Paul speak; tomorrow, Ted Cruz. http://bit.ly/1ppuB99
  • OBAMA FUNDRAISING TODAY. For the third time this week, President Obama will spend the day out of the public eye, ABC’s Mary Bruce reports. He’ll spend the afternoon fundraising off camera for the DNC and DCCC in Westchester, NY, and Newport, RI.
  • GOOGLE DOES DRONES. Google[x] announces in a press release that it’s been trying out home-delivery drones in Australia. From Google[x]‘s timeline of the project, August 2014 entry: “Team travels to Queensland, Australia, for first delivery flights to real people using prototype vehicle. Two farmers receive candy bars, dog treats, cattle vaccines, water, radios, and more. Nick [Roy, of MIT Aeronautics & Astronautics] heads back to MIT. Dave Vos, a longtime expert in automating systems for aviation, joins to lead the team from research to product.”

THE ROUNDTABLE

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: Those five words from President Obama, “We don’t have a strategy yet,” will hang over the debate as the U.S. prepares to confront Islamic extremists in Syria. His remarks yesterday stood in sharp contrast to those from his top military advisers, who have been dramatically escalating the urgency of the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The president’s phrasing may have been inarftul, considering how swiftly the White House rushed to clarify he simply meant there was no imminent plan to launch air strikes. But those five words carried a real purpose: He was sending a signal to Congress that he’s not yet made a decision. There has been increasing worry — among Democrats, in particular — that the Pentagon was on the verge of opening another full-scale attack in the Middle East. His words were intended to reassure Congress that he will seek their support if he does decide to act. But by bluntly declaring he doesn’t have a strategy, did he make that sales job more difficult?

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: There are carts and there are horses, and there are last opportunities to wear your tan suit. Then there’s the gaffe – and that’s what it was – by President Obama: “We don’t have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS in Syria. The White House clean-up attempts are focusing on the Syria part of that equation. But that doesn’t make it much better: We know ISIS is deeply in Syria, and the “S” in “ISIS” is for … “Syria.” Beyond that, what makes the statement damaging is that it undermines the president from virtually every direction. Republicans are pouncing for quite obvious reasons, viewing at a sign of presidential vacillation and weakness. The statement reinforces liberals’ worry that airstrikes are taking place without a broader plan in place. And the president heads off huddle with NATO allies next week with the United States now on record saying the nation doesn’t have a strategy just yet.

ABC’s CHRIS GOOD: The U.S. hasn’t had a foreign-policy election since 2008, and given the prominence of health care and the financial crash in that one, you have to go back to 2006, when Iraq and congressional ethics scandals dominated as issues. Since then, aside from some very mild buzz about aid to Pakistan, candidates haven’t really played to foreign policy. ISIS and the diplomatic crisis over Ukraine might change that, as Republican candidates learn to hit President Obama over his perceived lack of direction, and as Hillary Clinton becomes a magnet for such questions from journalists and criticism from Republicans as the 2016 frontrunner. Most reporters (I think) are rightly (I think) loath to give free press to candidates’ YouTube videos, but Scott Brown’s one-minute clip hitting Obama’s foreign policy seems significant: It suggests that ISIS, Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine will permeate through campaign ads and talking points this fall and on through 2016. If Scott Brown, whose political identity isn’t built on foreign-policy cred, can level an effective critique, many others probably will too.

 

THE BUZZ, with ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY (@erindooley1)

PROSPECT OF ANOTHER DC SHUTDOWN LOOMS OVER IMMIGRATION SHOWDOWN. The prospect of another economically and politically crippling government shutdown looms over President Obama’s talk of taking executive action on immigration next month and Republican threats to thwart him by blocking certain funding measures, ABC’s Arlette Saenz reports. Republicans insist they are not interested in another shutdown and that the possibility is being raised by fear mongering Democrats, but the GOP does raise the  possibility of using a September vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government as a weapon against any executive action by Obama. http://abcn.ws/1qkHZco

VA SCANDAL TAKING CENTER ROLE IN 2014 POLITICAL ADS. Judging by candidates’ ads, the hottest issue in House and Senate midterm elections this year is easily care for America’s veterans, according to ABC’s Shushannah Walshe.  This month alone, 23 House races and 10 Senate races have seen over 13,000 airings of television ads on the topic of veterans’ healthcare or veterans’ benefits according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG). http://abcn.ws/1paO4En

HILLARY CLINTON BREAKS HER SILENCE ON FERGUSON. Just off a three-week vacation in the Hamptons, Hillary Clinton used her first day back on the speaking circuit Thursday to address the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, applauding President Obama for his response to the protests and calling for a nationwide effort to improve racial inequalities that she said still persist in the American justice system, according to ABC’s Liz Kreutz.  “Watching the recent funeral for Michael Brown, as a mother, as a human being, my heart just broke for his family,” Clinton said. “Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone. Not in America.” http://abcn.ws/1qGKIxX

CANADIAN, RUSSIAN NATO MISSIONS TROLL EACH OTHER ON TWITTER. In case the actual war in Ukraine wasn’t enough, there’s also a Twitter battle raging between the Canadian and Russian missions to NATO, ABC’s Ali Weinberg notes. It all started with the Canadian Twitter account, which on Wednesday tweeted a snarky map intended to “help” the Russian soldiers who ended up in Ukraine but reportedly claimed they didn’t know where they were going. http://abcn.ws/1qMxb4r

IMMIGRATION SIT-IN OUTSIDE WHITE HOUSE RESULTS IN ABOUT 100 ARRESTS. For the second time in a month, progressive activists disillusioned with the Obama administration’s immigration policies intentionally had themselves arrested outside the White House in what they called an act of “civil disobedience,” ABC’s Matt Larotonda reports.  The highly choreographed sit-in, organized by a coalition of labor, immigration reform and religious groups, featured roughly 100 demonstrators who sat down on the sidewalk outside the president’s residence in an area already cordoned off by law enforcement. After several warnings from law enforcement officers on standby, the scores of protesters were peacefully detained for obstructing sidewalk traffic. http://abcn.ws/1qMwHLD

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND RECALLS ‘PORKY’ CRACK BY MALE COLLEAGUE.  In her upcoming book “Off the Sidelines,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., reveals she was the subject of insensitive comments about her weight from male colleagues in the House and Senate, ABC’s Arlette Saenz notes.  According to an excerpt posted by PEOPLE magazine, Gillibrand details an incident in her book where a male colleague  saw her in the gym said, “Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” According to the Huffington Post, Gillibrand responded, “Thanks, a-hole.” http://abcn.ws/1qkHZco

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@politicalwire Romney In Demand by GOP Candidates http://politicalwire.com/archives/2014/08/29/romney_in_demand_by_gop_candidates.html#.VABw60qcaCQ.twitter

@AnupKaphle The birthplace of an outbreak — stunning images from Sierra Leone, epicenter of #Ebola crisis. http://wapo.st/1orTZoq

@usembassybeirut #AmbHale: This weaponry and ordnance is paid for by the American people. #partnership #PromisesToKeep

@Sarah_Boxer Big @oaklandtrib front page: San Jose Police Dept. getting rid of its army vehicle to keep community trust: http://www1.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/hr.asp?fpVname=CA_OT&ref_pge=lst

@gretawire Benghazi chairman says probe should end in ’15 | TheHill http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/216223-gowdy-benghazi-probe-should-be-over-by-end-of-2015#.VABvm9EF5kQ.twitter … via @TheHill

Nice Tan, Mr. President: Reactions to Obama’s Latest Fashion Choice

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama wore a tan suit at his press conference Thursday and the Internet exploded.

Although the president was making important statements about the Islamic State and Russia, supporters and critics focused more on Obama’s attire, a departure from the usual dark suits or sports jackets he wears in public.

Some of the tweets included:

“Obama vows to defeat whoever made him wear this suit.”

“Who gave President Obama that old church suit from my dad’s closet?”

“I don’t care that Obama’s suit is tan. The problem with the suit is that it’s EMPTY.”

“Obama’s tan suit is a distraction from Benghazi.”

“If Obama is catching hell for wearing a tan suit now, then God help him when he wears white after Labor Day.”

“Message from senior White House official: ‘He loves that suit.’”

Michigan Congressman John Dingell tweeted, “I see no problem with the suit,” while also posting a photo of himself in a tan suit.

FYI: Obama was also photographed wearing what looks like the same suit after attending Easter Sunday services.
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Prosecution Rests in McDonnell Trial, Closing Arguments Friday

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — After the prosecution rested in the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, closing arguments will begin on Friday.

The jury was sent home on Thursday afternoon and will hear four closing arguments before they will be asked to come to a verdict. McDonnell and his wife are accused of taking gifts from a businessman in exchange for special treatment.

The defense rested on Wednesday. Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams said that he provided the McDonnells with gifts in exchange for help with his business. The McDonnells, however, claim that he was never given special treatment.

The final witness for the prosecution was an FBI special agent who testified that the couple spent most of their nights together, the Washington Post said, a claim that would undermine their defense that their marriage was sufficiently damaged by his political status that they could not have engaged in a conspiracy.

After the testimony ended, defense attorneys moved to have the couple acquitted, but the judge denied that request.

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President Obama Says ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy Yet’ to Fight ISIS

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) –  President Obama admitted Thursday that his administration does not have a strategy to combat the militant Islamic group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that has grabbed large chunks of Iraq and Syria.

The president said he would be meeting later Thursday with the National Security Council.

“The options that I’m asking for from the Joint Chiefs focuses primarily on making sure that ISIL is not overrunning Iraq,” Obama said during a news conference in the White House briefing room, using another acronym for the militant Islamic group ISIS.

When the president was asked if he would seek congressional approval for U.S. attacks on ISIS targets in Syria, he responded, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet…Some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.”

Earlier this week, the president approved military surveillance flights over Syria, but airstrikes in that country have not been authorized. U.S. military planes have carried out over 100 airstrikes in Iraq.

“As commander-in-chief, I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people,” he said. “Our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to [ISIS].”

Obama said he is dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to the area to work with allies, and ordered Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to prepare “a range of options” as he considers future military action.

“It also means that states in the region stop being ambivalent about these extremist groups,” Obama said. “This should be a wake-up call to Sunni, to Shia, to everybody that a group like ISIS is beyond the pale; that they have no vision or ideology beyond violence and chaos and the slaughter of innocent people.”

“We’ve got to all join together — even if we have differences on a range of political issues — to make sure that they’re rooted out,” he added.

The president promised to continue to consult with Congress in the days and weeks ahead.

“I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in, or that our consultations with Congress continue to develop, so that the American people are part of the debate.” he said. “I will consult with Congress and made sure their voices are heard.”

Following Obama’s remarks, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted the president would have “significant congressional support” if he engages legislators in the development of his plans.

“The President needs to develop a regional strategy, working with our allies, to defeat ISIL and to use the full extent of his authorities to attack this enemy force,” McConnell, R-Ky., wrote in a statement. “But don’t forget, the threat from ISIL is real and it’s growing — and it is time for President Obama to exercise some leadership in launching a response.”

Secretary of State John Kerry has also consistently advocated for a powerful response.

“The world must know that the United States of America will never back down in the face of such evil,” Kerry said in a statement released last week. “ISIL and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed.”

Following his remarks, Obama was scheduled to meet with his National Security Council in the Situation Room, with Vice President Joe Biden and Kerry.

Since video emerged Aug. 19 showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley, Obama has fought back against fresh criticism of his foreign policy, promising to be “relentless” in his fight against the emerging threat posed by ISIS.

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Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill to Lead Senate Hearing on Demilitarization of Local Police

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, will chair a Senate hearing on the militarization of local police, she announced on Thursday.

The hearing will take place on Sept. 9 and McCaskill, the chairperson of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight — and also a senator from the state where police utilized military-style equipment in confrontations with protesters following the officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown earlier this month — will lead. McCaskill was one of a number of political leaders who called on local authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, to “demilitarize” the tense situation.

The hearing will be held by the full Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 9.

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Hillary Clinton Breaks Her Silence on Ferguson

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

State Department(SAN FRANCISCO) — Just off a three-week vacation in the Hamptons, Hillary Clinton used her first day back on the speaking circuit Thursday to address the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, applauding President Obama for his response to the protests and calling for a nationwide effort to improve racial inequalities that she said still persist in the American justice system.

“Watching the recent funeral for Michael Brown, as a mother, as a human being, my heart just broke for his family,” Clinton said during her prepared remarks at a tech conference in San Francisco.

“Nobody wants to see our streets look like a war zone. Not in America. We are better than that,” she added, referencing “dramatic, terrible” pictures she watched on television.

Brown, 18, was killed when a police officer in Ferguson evidently shot him six times after a confrontation in the street on Aug. 9, setting off two weeks of protests and clashes with police.

Until now, Clinton was silent on the situation.

“Imagine what we would feel and do if white drivers were three times more likely to be searched than black drivers…if white offenders received prison sentences longer than black…if a third of all white men went to prison during their lifetime. Imagine that,” Clinton told an audience of Silicon Valley tech employees. “That is the reality of the lives of so many of our fellow Americans and the communities in which they live.”

The former secretary of state and likely 2016 presidential candidate praised Obama for sending Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson, saying it was “necessary” to find out what happened during the shooting and “see that justice is done.”

Clinton, on vacation most of this month, has faced criticism for her silence during the unrest, particularly last week, when she ignored questions on the subject from two reporters at a book signing on Long Island, NY.

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VA Scandal Taking Center Role in 2014 Political Ads

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Judging by candidates’ ads, the hottest issue in House and Senate midterm elections this year is easily care for America’s veterans.

This month alone, 23 House races and 10 Senate races have seen over 13,000 airings of television ads on the topic of veterans’ healthcare or veterans’ benefits, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).

The number of ads focusing on veterans’ care and benefits has been steadily climbing in both House and Senate races. In May of this year there were 3,405 airings of TV ads, in June 6,366 airings, in July just over 8,000.

Elizabeth Wilner, senior vice president at Kantar Media Intelligence, said the number of political ads on the issue of veterans swamps every other issue.

“I’m struck by how many veterans-themed ads are popping up and really cannot think of any other issue this year… that started resonating in such a widespread way across so many races,” Wilner said.

Serving in the military has always been something candidates tout, especially in what is known as a “bio ad,” or the ad that introduces the candidate to the viewer. This year voters saw GOP nominee Dan Sullivan’s first general election ad telling Alaskans, “The Marine Corps shaped who I am.” Rep. Tom Cotton, running for Senate in Arkansas, touts his service, saying in an ad that the values he learned in the Army is what he’ll bring to Washington. “Serious times deserve serious leaders,” Cotton says.

The VA scandal, though, has given a reason for candidates running that perhaps don’t have a military background to mention their care for veterans. Some are using service members in their ads explaining why the candidate will help fellow veterans.

Republicans have especially taken advantage of the scandal, using it to criticize the Obama administration and their Democratic opponents. The first ad to mention the scandal was the Karl Rove-backed group Crossroads GPS; the ad aired in Alaska in May. “A national disgrace,” the narrator says. “Veterans died waiting for care that never came,” with the spot reminding viewers their “Senator Mark Begich sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee.” Begich then aired two ads of his own featuring veterans, calling the attack ads false, and stressing his efforts to help Alaska veterans get the healthcare they need.

An audit by the VA’s Office of Inspector General released this week, however, found that no veterans died because of delayed care at VA facilities.

Democrats have been more cautious in using the issue in ads. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is running an ad in Louisiana accusing Republican nominee Bill Cassidy of putting “millionaires before veterans.”

In Iowa, where Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley is in one of the tightest Senate races this cycle against National Guardsman Joni Ernst, a Braley ad features another National Guardsman saying, “We were the longest serving unit in the history of the Iraq conflict,” and because of the extended stay is entitled to extra pay which he says Braley “fought for us” to get. A Crossroads ad then aired hitting Braley on the veterans’ care issue directly, saying he missed meetings of the Veterans’ Affairs committee.

In House races, some candidates are lumping the VA scandal in with other administration crises or other issues. In the fight for New Hampshire’s second congressional district, state Rep. Marilinda Garcia says in an ad the “IRS and Benghazi scandals, the VA disaster, and Obamacare’s broken promises” are all reasons “we need a new generation of conservative leaders” in Washington. In Florida’s 18th district, Democratic incumbent Rep. Patrick Murphy is in a tight toss-up race in the Palm Beach County area. His first general election ad features him talking to elderly veterans and stressing his work on their behalf, as well as “hold(ing) the VA accountable for excessive wait times.”

Labor Day weekend is considered the unofficial kick-off to the midterm season, and it’s only after the summer finally dwindles away that Americans really start paying attention to the campaigns. If that’s true, it’s possible we may see even more ads stressing the VA scandal and mentioning veterans as we get closer to November.

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Immigration Sit-In Outside White House Results in About 100 Arrests

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — For the second time in a month, progressive activists disillusioned with the Obama administration’s immigration policies intentionally had themselves arrested outside the White House in what they called an act of “civil disobedience.”

The highly choreographed sit-in, organized by a coalition of labor, immigration reform and religious groups, featured roughly 100 demonstrators who sat down on the sidewalk outside the president’s residence in an area already cordoned off by law enforcement. After several warnings from law enforcement officers on standby, the scores of protesters were peacefully detained for obstructing sidewalk traffic.

The demonstrators are demanding the federal government cease an estimated 1,000 deportations a day of undocumented immigrants, a number likely to rise as the administration grapples with a surge of thousands who have overwhelmed Southwest states in the last several months, creating a humanitarian crisis. The migrants come mostly from Central America, fleeing violence and epidemic poverty.

Hundreds of their supporters looked on, waving picket signs that read “Don’t deport my dad,” and, “Immigration reform is obstructed by racism.”

A mile away at a pre-rally outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency headquarters, organizers said the undocumented “would have justice.”

“Seventeen American citizen children, today, will be losing their moms or dads for a senseless deportation system that ICE does on daily basis,” said AFL-CIO executive vice president Tefere Gebre. “The president can and will stop this. Yes, we can!”

Other groups present included CASA de Maryland, the National Organization for Women and the Sisters of Mercy.

Arrests were made by the National Park Service Police, which has jurisdiction over the park land adjacent to the White House compound. Officers were prepared with tents and foldout tables to quickly process those who were arrested.

Staged arrests inside the nation’s capital are not an uncommon occurrence, and several of the groups present Thursday were veterans of the tactic, used to draw attention to their cause. Typically, detained demonstrators are handed over to the city’s metropolitan police force for processing and released after a few hours, with no fine or further punitive action. Even members of the U.S. Congress have been known to participate.

In June, President Obama announced he would exercise his executive authority to circumvent congressional intransigence on long-term immigration reform. Senior officials told ABC News a decision would come by mid-September, but the end result will likely not be as sweeping as many progressive activists have hoped.

Early summer reports suggested the administration was considering measures that would allow millions of the undocumented to remain in the U.S. without deportation. Now, with the fall midterm elections rapidly approaching, red state Democrats fear comprehensive reform could tip a precariously balanced battle for majority control against them, particularly in the Senate.

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Gillibrand Recalls ‘Porky’ Crack by Male Colleague

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand(WASHINGTON) — In her upcoming book Off the Sidelines, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., reveals she was the subject of insensitive comments about her weight from male colleagues in the House and Senate.

According to an excerpt posted by People, Gillibrand details an incident in her book where a male colleague saw her in the gym said, “Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” According to the Huffington Post, Gillibrand responded, “”Thanks, a–hole.”

Gillibrand also discussed an episode where a senator commented on her weight after she lost 50 pounds. The senator grabbed her stomach and said, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!”

The New York senator has talked about struggling with her weight after giving birth to her sons, saying she’s fluctuated between a size 6 and size 16. 

In her book, Gillibrand brushes off the comments from her male colleagues.

“It was all statements that were being made by men who were well into their 60s, 70s or 80s,” she writes. “They had no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general.”

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Recalls ‘Porky’ Crack By Male Colleague

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

GTY kirsten gillibrand jef 140828 16x9 608 Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Recalls Porky Crack By Male Colleague

(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images)

In her upcoming book “Off the Sidelines,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., reveals she was the subject of insensitive comments about her weight from male colleagues in the House and Senate.

According to an excerpt posted by PEOPLE magazine, Gillibrand details an incident in her book where a male colleague  saw her in the gym said, “Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” According to the Huffington Post, Gillibrand responded, “”Thanks, a–hole.”

Gillibrand also discussed an episode where a senator commented on her weight after she lost 50 pounds. The senator grabbed her stomach and said, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my girls chubby!”

The New York senator has talked about struggling with her weight after giving birth to her sons, saying she’s fluctuated between a size 6 and size 16.  In her book, Gillibrand brushes off the comments from her male colleagues.

“It was all statements that were being made by men who were well into their 60s, 70s or 80s,” she writes. “They had no clue that those are inappropriate things to say to a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a baby or to women in general.”

 

Prospect of Another DC Shutdown Looms over Immigration Showdown

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — The prospect of another economically and politically crippling government shutdown looms over President Obama’s talk of taking executive action on immigration next month and Republican threats to thwart him by blocking certain funding measures.

Republicans insist they are not interested in another shutdown and that the possibility is being raised by fear mongering Democrats, but the GOP does raise the possibility of using a September vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government as a weapon against any executive action by Obama.

Obama is considering executive action to fix the country’s immigration system as Congress remains at a stalemate over immigration legislation passed in the Senate last summer. The White House has not laid out a concrete deadline, but it’s expected he will announce his decision in September.

In a letter to the president earlier this week, Rubio warned that any executive action on immigration would kill the prospect of immigration reform in Congress.

“If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future,” Rubio wrote.

Rep. Steve King, R-Ill., told the Des Moines Register “all bets are off” for passing a continuing resolution if President Obama decides to take executive action on immigration.

“If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear,” King said. “I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that.”

In an interview with Breitbart News, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., hinted at Congress potentially using the budget process to address any executive action on immigration this year.

“There will have to be some sort of a budget vote or a Continuing Resolution vote, so I assume there will be some sort of a vote on this,” Rubio said. “I’m interested to see what kinds of ideas my colleagues have about using funding mechanisms to address this issue. Beyond that, I’m not sure if the president is going to make this decision before we go back or after.”

Democrats are highlighting these statements as examples of Republicans threatening to allow another government shutdown to take place.

“As we near the 1-year anniversary of the Republican Government Shutdown of 2013 that cost our nation’s economy $24 billion Republican leaders, once again, prefer to threaten another government shutdown over advancing essential legislation,” said Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “It’s time to end the kowtowing to the Tea Party extremist elements, get serious about legislating for the American people, and take these ridiculous threats off the table.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said a government shutdown threat would not make the president reconsider potential executive action on immigration.

“No, it won’t because the president has determined to take the kinds of common sense steps that are required to address the worst problems of our…broken immigrations system,” Earnest said. “It would be a real shame if Republicans were to engage in an effort to shut down the government over a common sense solution like that, but they’ve done it before. Hopefully they won’t do it again.”

A spokesman for Rubio said the senator is not interested in shutting down the government over an immigration fight.

“The only people talking about shutting down the government are partisan extremists like Debbie Wasserman Schultz who are looking for a way to raise money and divert attention from the failed presidency of Barack Obama,” said Alex Conant, a spokesman for Rubio. “All Senator Rubio has called for is for Senator Reid to allow votes on Republican solutions to the immigration catastrophe our nation faces. Let’s be clear: The only thing Senator Rubio wants to shut down is Harry Reid’s tenure as majority leader by winning a Republican majority this November.”

Congress is set to return from recess on Sept. 8 and will have only a few weeks to pass a continuing resolution to avoid another government shutdown. Last October, the government shutdown for 16 days after Republicans fought to defund the Affordable Care Act.

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The Note: Stepping Toward Showdown

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

By John R. Parkinson (jparkABC)

 

NOTABLES

  • WHITE HOUSE PREPS LEGAL CASE FOR IMMIGRATION STEPS, the AP’s JOSH LEDERMAN notes: “With impeachment threats and potential lawsuits looming, President Barack Obama knows whatever executive actions he takes on immigration will face intense opposition. So as a self-imposed, end-of-summer deadline to act approaches, Obama’s lawyers are carefully crafting a legal rationale they believe will withstand scrutiny and survive any court challenges, administration officials say.” http://abcn.ws/1lhwVOb
  • IMMIGRATION JUDGE CALLS COURTS ‘ALTERNATE LEGAL UNIVERSE.’ It’s an “alternate legal universe.” No bailiffs, no court reporters, no Miranda rights, no witnesses — and it’s happening everyday on American soil. Immigration courts so full there are more than 375,000 cases pending on the dockets of only 227 judges, ABC’s SERENA MARSHALL reports. “We look like the guy behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz,” said Dana Marks, a federal judge and the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. http://abcn.ws/1nEqH6M

 

THE ROUNDTABLE 

ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: It’s been two months since President Obama stood in the Rose Garden and pledged to act on immigration reform by the end of the summer, declaring: “If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours.” His forceful words were applauded by immigration reform advocates. But that promise to act — through a series of executive actions — has raised expectations far beyond what Obama was ever likely to announce. The headlines have been filled with optimistic suggestions that the White House could defer the deportations of millions of people living in the country illegally. It has actually fanned the flames of conservative outrage and created a new wave of worry among Red State Democrats already fighting an uphill battle toward re-election. So as the summer quickly draws to a close, the administration now says any announcement won’t come until mid-September. The delay has given the besieged West Wing more time to make a decision. But as the midterm elections get closer, the voices against immigration reform are getting louder, just in time to fire up the GOP’s base.

ABC’s RICK KLEIN: It’s easy to issue August predictions about game-changers – that action or lack thereof on any particular issue will scramble midterm politics. But in the case of immigration, it sure doesn’t seem like an exaggeration. Consider the circumstances: President Obama is set to act unilaterally on immigration in September. A growing number of Republicans is pre-acting by threatening funding mechanisms – and maybe, ultimately, another government shutdown – depending on how far he goes. And a growing number of endangered Democrats are pleading with the White House to pursue legislative, as opposed to executive, actions, as reported by Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa in The Washington Post. The issue brings long-term demographic forces into collision with short-term political urgencies, with countless pressure points along the way. That assures noise, and probably far more. http://wapo.st/1rAJ3wK

ABC’S SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: After five weeks of testimony, the trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen is nearing its end. The defense rested yesterday and closing arguments could come today or tomorrow. Jurors have heard weeks of testimony of the couple’s intimate marital issues, critical to the defense’s case that the two were hardly speaking and no way in cahoots over a quid pro quo scheme with Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. They have also heard jaw dropping details of the lavish vacations, pricey gifts, luxury goods, and loans from Williams to the McDonnells, as well as their children, reaching about $177,000. So were the gifts illegally traded for help promoting Williams’ nutritional supplement or merely inappropriate, but legal? That is essentially what the jury must decide. McDonnell has expressed regret, but innocence throughout the trial often blaming his wife and saying he didn’t know about many of the items. It will be up to the jury to decide if they believe that argument. We may know soon.

ABC’s PIERRE THOMAS: JPMorgan Chase – one of the nation’s biggest banks – has apparently been hacked. Today the FBI and Secret Service say they are trying to determine how deep the cyber attack penetrated and whether sensitive customer account information was part of a potential major breach of JPMorgan Chase computers and those of at least one other financial institution. One official told ABC News that when a bank the size of JPMorgan Chase is targeted, it is not just considered a financial crime, but it also potentially is a national security matter. Investigators will look at whether organized crime rings were involved and whether the attack originated in Russia. A spokesman says for the bank says it experiences cyber attacks “nearly every day” but that there are multiple layers of defense to combat such threats. JPMorgan Chase also says is it working closely with law enforcement on this active investigation and taking additional steps to safeguard confidential information. As the bank learns more it will contact anyone who might have been affected.  Customers should contact bank if they suspect they’ve been the victim of fraud. The bank says it has seen no unusual levels of fraud activity. Still, many customers today may be uneasy over exactly what the hackers tapped into.

 

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

ABC’s DIANE SAWYER SIGNS OFF: The trailblazing anchor of ABC News’ flagship broadcast signed off Wednesday evening for the last time from the anchor chair of World News. http://abcn.ws/1pIUtfa

POWER PLAYERS: WHY IOWA? ABC’s RICK KLEIN and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE sit with down with Filmmaker AJ Shnack to discuss his new documentary “Caucus.” As the first state in the nation to vote in the presidential nominating process, the Iowa is where rubber meets the road for candidates looking to make their White House dreams a reality, converging on the state to make their sale directly to voters in the months before the caucuses. http://yhoo.it/1pa0soh

 

THE BUZZ
with ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY (@erindooley1)

RUSSIAN INCURSION IN UKRAINE ‘LIKELY UNDERWAY,’ US SAYS. The United States is concerned that a Russian-directed counteroffensive is “likely underway” in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday, citing Russian troops and equipment pushing into Ukraine, shelling in residential towns near the border and heavy fighting near the airport in Donetsk, according to ABC’s ALI WEINBERG. “These incursion — incursions — indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in Donetsk and Luhansk. Clearly, that is of deep concern to us,” she said. http://abcn.ws/1qiQDs2

NEW FLORIDA REP, 23, GOES FROM PARENTS’ HOUSE TO STATE HOUSE.  Boomerang kids, take heart: One of your own is making a splash in Florida politics. Jennifer Sullivan still lives at home with her parents and is just about halfway through college. But the 23-year-old, who admits she still quibbles with her siblings about who’s stuck with dish duty, will soon represent more than 150,000 constituents in the Florida statehouse, ABC’s ERIN DOOLEY reports. Elected to the Sunshine State’s House of Representatives by a 6-point margin Tuesday, Sullivan, a Republican, concedes her age made some voters nervous. http://abcn.ws/VOhotA

EBOLA OUTBREAK BECOMES ISSUE IN ARKANSAS SENATE RACE. An unexpected issue popped up in the Arkansas Senate race this week — Ebola, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ reports. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., released an ad titled “Emergency Response,” highlighting the recent Ebola outbreak, saying his opponent Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., voted against funding for medical disaster aid. http://abcn.ws/1tVoZ54

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

WILLIAM KENNEDY SMITH MOUNTS FIRST CAMPAIGN (FOR DC NEIGHBORHOOD BOARD) by the Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis: “William Kennedy Smith, who counts among his uncles two senators and a president, is going into the family business — in the political equivalent of the mailroom.” http://wapo.st/1pa7dpT

 

IN THE NOTE’S INBOX 

DNC RELEASES NEW RICK PERRY INDICTMENT VIDEO As Texas Gov. Rick Perry campaigns in South Carolina today, the Democratic National Committee posts a new video in the form of a satirical advertisement on YouTube. “Unfortunately for Perry, it seems the only thing the Governor really has going for him is that he’s the first of the scandal laden GOP governors to actually be indicted by a grand jury of his peers – with a mug shot to boot!” the DNC notes. http://bit.ly/1zKgYS4

 

WHO’S TWEETING?

@abbydphillip Ebola could infect 20,000 people before the outbreak is over. Death toll will exceed all previous outbreaks combined: http://wapo.st/1pa4Gfw

@HotlineJosh Dispatch from Minnesota, where Sen. Al Franken is working overtime to avoid attention. Will GOP get the last laugh? http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/finding-al-franken-20140828 …

@etchaStech seems like GOP would rather talk about/throw $$ at their problems w/women, rather than fix ‘em http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/gop-poll-of-women-party-stuck-in-past-110398.html …

@ABCWorldNews .@DianeSawyer gives a behind the scenes look at how the #ABCWorldNews team makes the magic happen every night: http://on.fb.me/1tESmtY 

@NancyPelosi Best wishes to a real trailblazer, @DianeSawyer! Good luck as you depart @ABCWorldNews for new adventures at @ABCNetwork! 

@SpeakerBoehner All the best to @DianeSawyer as she anchors her last @ABCWorldNews.

Scott Walker Facing Stiff Challenge in Reelection Bid

Posted on: August 28th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) — With the election a little more than two months away, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker trails Democratic opponent Mary Burke in a new Marquette University poll.

Although the numbers 48.6 percent to 46.5. percent mean it’s a statistical dead heat, the latest results are largely unchanged from a poll conducted in July.

Walker has been regarded as a rising star within the GOP and a possible candidate for the 2016 presidential nomination, having survived a recall election two years ago over his decision to weaken union workers’ collective bargaining rights.

However, Walker has not been able to shake controversy during his four years in office, including the latest allegations that he illegally contacted outside groups for funding during his bid to avoid a recall in 2012.

Burke, an executive for the Trek bicycle company her father started, has made growing Wisconsin’s economy her top priority.

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Missouri Gov. Names New Public Safety Director

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

Office of Governor Jay Nixon(SAINT LOUIS) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon named a new head of the Missouri Department of Public Safety on Wednesday, selecting former St. Louis City Police Chief Daniel Isom for the position.

Isom will take over the position on Sept. 1 for current Director Jerry Lee, who is retiring. Isom currently works as the professor of Policing and the Community for the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

The decision comes just about three weeks after a Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen. Isom will be the first and only black member of Nixon’s cabinet.

Isom’s selection is still subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

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Russian Incursion in Ukraine ‘Likely Underway,’ US Says

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

The United States is concerned that a Russian-directed counteroffensive is “likely underway” in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday, citing Russian troops and equipment pushing into Ukraine, shelling in residential towns near the border and heavy fighting near the airport in Donetsk.

“These incursion — incursions — indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in Donetsk and Luhansk. Clearly, that is of deep concern to us,” she said.

One potential consequence of Russia’s advance is its ability to create a land bridge between eastern Ukraine and the region of Crimea, which Russia officially claimed as its own in March.

“It’s hard for us to ascribe what the motivation is, but certainly we’re closely watching this incursion and any steps [Russia] is taking in southeastern Ukraine, whether it’s next to Crimea or not,” she said.

Psaki said the U.S. is also troubled by the fact that Russian soldiers have been found 30 miles inside Ukraine, and, according to videos released by the Ukrainian government, were not told where they were going by their commanders.

“Russia is sending its young men into Ukraine, but [is] not telling them where they’re going or telling their parents what they’re doing,” she said.

News of Russian troops and equipment entering Ukraine is only the latest development in fighting that sprouted from protests over the previous, pro-Russian government that was later ousted. Pro-Russian separatists have sought to take over parts of eastern Ukraine, but in recent weeks have been pushed back by the Ukrainian military.

Russia’s actions over the past 24 hours could be an indication it’s trying to shift the balance toward the rebels in the east against the central Ukrainian government.

Despite voicing these concerns, Psaki did not announce any plans by the United States to further punish Russia on top of economic sanctions already imposed since Russia began its move on eastern Ukraine.

She said President Obama would likely discuss Russia’s actions next week at a NATO leaders’ summit in Wales.

US Attorney’s Office Declines to Press Charges in Death of Navy Yard Shooter

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 by ABC News No Comments

FBI(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced Wednesday that there will be no charges filed against law enforcement officers in the shooting death of Aaron Alexis, the man who attacked and killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last year.

After reviewing witness statements, surveillance video, photographs, diagrams and other evidence and reports, the U.S. Attorney’s Office decided that no actions undertaken by law enforcement officers had criminal intent and that their actions were undertaken in the interest of their own defense and the defense of others. Officers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, “acted reasonably at all times to neutralize a life-threatening situation.”

Alexis, a 34-year-old military contractor for the Department of Defense, entered the Navy Yard on Sept. 16, 2013, killing 12 civilians and injuring three civilians and a Metropolitan Police Department officer.

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